Make a difference! Part 2

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Ol49-100 at Krakow Biezanow, 08:33, 30 July 2006. A group of Spa Valley Railway volunteers visiting Poland on a railway heritage study tour had just travelled overnight from Chabowka in a vintage train empty stock working. Photo BTWT.

(All photos can be clicked to see a larger image in a new window.)

Our last post Make a Difference – Part 1 generated a number of interesting comments and e-mails. One of our regular readers sent in a detailed report about a project which involves a group Brits working with a Polish society to restore a tank locomotive to working order. In order to keep costs down to the minimum, the involvement of the Brits is – for the time being – being kept under wraps. We have been asked not to divulge any detailed information at the moment, though we will publish a full report about the project just as soon as the restoration team decide that the embargo can be lifted.

Ol49-100 had been assisted by vintage electric loco EP03-01. A temporary hiatus – how do you get out of Krakow Biezanow early on a Saturday morning – was solved by the PKP Cargo Dyspozytor who arranged for a van to take the group to Krakow Plaszow station. Photo BTWT.

Another encouraging piece of news concerns the visit of a couple of British boilersmiths who visited Poland to help repair the riveted boiler of a small narrow gauge locomotive. The boilersmiths were provided with accommodation in one of the major railway heritage centres in Poland and having taken a look at the steam locomotives stored there, further visits to Poland are being discussed…

We stayed overnight at the Nocy i Dnie hotel in Russow and, on 1 August 2006, SKPL ran their last ever train along the Kalisz narrow gauge railway’s branch to the former sugar beet holding area at Russow to collect us. Photo BTWT.

Finally, former Fedecrail treasurer, Rik Degruyter used our comments section to announce that he is putting his Tkt48-23, currently stored at Pyskowice, for sale at 12.500 euros. It is a very good price; Tkh 2191 – a much smaller locomotive – was sold recently at an auction for over 70,000 zloty (17,750 euro).

No derailments and our train had successfully made it through the jungle. The driver of Lxd2-303 looks as pleased as we were. Photo BTWT.

As well as being keen to promote ‘hands on’ involvement of the sort described above, we also regularly ask BTWT readers to put pen to paper and to write to key Polish decision makers regarding particular endangered items of Polish railway heritage. Without going into too many details – lobbying is much more effective if it seems spontaneous and not coordinated – BTWT campaigners will be glad to know that their letters form a part of a much wider lobbying strategy to raise the profile of Polish railway heritage much of which cannot be reported in the pages of BTWT.

Pause to find the location of the erstwhile ‘main line’ to Kalisz. Photo BTWT.

Robert Hall’s recent trip to Poland reminds us that there is a third way that we can directly help Polish preserved railways. His afternoon working party at Smigiel – in which a group from Wolsztyn Experience also took part – made the desired impression on Smigiel Town Council: the deputy major told me recently that a group of Brits had come for a week to work at Smigiel! Such study visits provide valuable revenue to the lines and heritage centres that we visit and raise their profile in the eyes of the local authorities on whose good will the ventures depend.

‘There it is!’ Photo BTWT.

The photographs illustrating this article show a small part of a study visit which we had the pleasure to organise for volunteers from the Spa Valley Railway in conjunction with the Parowozjazda steam gala in 2006. At least two of the lines that we travelled on in 2006 are currently impassable: the Kalisz Railway’s Russow branch and the section from Zbiersk to Turek.

With the Romanian trailer changed to a 1Aw the group’s special train became one of the last workings to Turek. Photo BTWT.

In the first week of 2011, we are planning another study visit to Poland – we will visit some 15 railway heritage locations and view the annual Wolsztyn Steam Gala and Locomotive Parade. To make the visit as enjoyable as possible – and keep things informal the size of the group will be kept small. If you are interested in taking part please drop us a line.

Pt47-93, which had received a quick lick of paint in anticipation of the study tour visit, at the ‘Forgotten Skansen’ in Karsnice. Photo BTWT.

The current plan is a 10 day visit – travelling out to Poland on Wednesday 28 April and returning home on Sunday 8 May – and to visit many of the locations visited by Robert Hall. If there any particular railway heritage locations that you would like to be included in this visit please drop us a line.

The BTWT e-mail address is: railfan [at] go2 [dot] pl. Please remove the spaces and convert ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to the appropriate characters.

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One Response to “Make a difference! Part 2”

  1. John Ball Says:

    This looks very interesting. All is not lost for Polish narrow gauge, and it is worth saving for the future. I had wanted to do such a tour in 2010, but illness in the family prevented it – 2011 is not too late!

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