Karsnice, the forgotten skansen awakes

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SM41-175, Bo ‘Bo’ Ganz-Mavag diesel electric before repainting. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Karsnice – the forgotten skansen – slowly awakes. Few English gricers make it to Karsnice, but if you like big engines it is still one of the most interesting PKP ‘skansens’. The collection of historic rolling stock at Karsnice was the personal initiative of the Karsnice Railway Works foreman, Marian Fiolek. He set himself the task of collecting one engine of every class that ever worked the Gynia – Katowice ‘trunk coal line’ which is served by the works.

SM41-175, cosmetic restoration complete. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

In time he added other exotica to his collection – an ex USA army crane, a portable steam engine, the original coaches from the Gubalowka funicular railway in Zakopane, and a model railway. In 1993, the Karsnice Works celebrated their 60th anniversary and the skansen received its gala opening.


Ty43-1 under treatment. In Poland restoration starts with the tender. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Marian Fiolek had hoped that the town of Zdunska Wola would take over the ‘skansen’ and that the Karsnice railwayman’s association would take on responsibility for looking after the rolling stock. But he was unable to personally guide his plans to fruition. He was still one locomotive short from completing his collection when he received compulsory early retirement. The then by now strapped-for-cash PKP began looking for ways of turning the collection into money. One locomotive was sold to the Lodz City Council for a Holocaust memorial, three more locos were sold to the PSMK for transfer to Skierniewice.


Ty42-9’s tender in primer. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Zdunska Wola Town Council made overtures to PKP about taking over the collection and rolling stock only to be told that they could have the skansen on condition that they bought the collection at the market rate! At this stage, some four or five years, ago I became involved… a number of influential friends made representations at the highest level. Suddenly the log jam was cleared and the transfer of the skansen and its remaining rolling stock to the care of the town was approved by the Minister.

Ty45-39’s tender awaits its topcoat, the rest of the loco awaits the ‘full treatment’. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Sadly the amount of PKP real estate transferred under the deal is tiny. The ex Gubalowka funicular cars sit on land which still belongs to PKP. The ancient wooden bodied four wheeler carriages have been taken out of their shed (partially shown in the photo of Ty45-39’s tender) where they were kept secure for 20 years and now languish in the open. As soon as the skansen’s transfer to Zdunska Wola was finalised the Town Council submitted an application for an EU assisted project to cosmetically restore the entire collection. Their application rejected because some of the rolling stock was the property of the Railway Museum in Warsaw and proper agreements for their custody in Karsnice were not in place! Undeterred the Council recently announced a tender for the cosmetic restoration of three steam engines and one diesel locomotive. The tender was won by Przemyslaw Krol’s company, Rem-Team. Although work has now ceased for the winter (A fierce snowstorm has hit central Poland.) a vigorous start has been made, as Robert Dylewski’s photos show.

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