Smigiel Railway – the end of the line

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Wielichowo, looking towards Rakonowice, 3 May 2010. Photo BTWT.

The Smigiel Railway, for many Poland’s last ‘real’ narrow gauge railway, is no more.

In a letter dated 30 December 2010 to Wiktor Snela, the Mayor of Smigiel, SKPL chairman, Tomasz Strapagiel withdrew from the operating agreement between SKPL and the Council, pointing out that, in 2010, SKPL only received 48,000 zloty of the 100,000 zloty subsidy paid by the Wielkopolska provincial government towards the costs of running the line. The remaining 52,000 zloty were retained by Smigiel Town Council – 32,000 zloty in lieu of local taxes, and 20,000 zloty to fund this year’s 110th anniversary celebrations. In the same letter Mr Strapagiel offers to continue to run the railway until such time the Council is ready to take over the responsibility for running the line on the basis that the Council cover the line’s operating deficit.

A short paragraph appears on the SKPL website to the effect that services are suspended as form 1 January 2011. It is understood that the Smigiel Railway staff have been offered alternative employment by SKPL.

The goods shed at Wielichowo, 3 May 2010. Photo BTWT.

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9 Responses to “Smigiel Railway – the end of the line”

  1. tim sanford Says:

    @#$%^ jerks! What a waste!

  2. Dampfmeisteren Says:

    Bad news indeed.

    I’ve had many enjoyable hours photographing trains on the Smigiel line.
    Here’s to hoping that cooler heads will prevail in keeping the line open.

  3. Alex Fitch Says:

    A short sighted tragic end and a huge loss for the industrial heritage of Poland and future generations.

    Another depressing blow.

  4. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    It is interesting to note that the letter sent by SKPL to the Mayor of Smigiel is dated 30 December 2010 whilst the announcement on the SKPL website indicated that rail services would be suspended from 1 January 2011. I don’t know if SKPL put the letter in the post or if it was faxed, emailed or someone delivered it to the Mayor’s office by hand. How prompt is the mail in Poland? If the letter was posted on 30 December 2010 when was it received by the Mayor? It doesn’t look like SKPL gave him much time to consider if he would like them to continue running the railway in the short term if the Council covered the operating deficit.

    I think that I would have had a little more sympathy for SKPL if they had sent the letter in November 2010 when it was becoming clear what funding the Council was willing to put in place. Writing a letter on a Thursday and suspending the passenger service from the Saturday doesn’t appear to demonstrate any serious intention to arrange an organised handover with the Council or much respect for the few remaining passengers.

    We will have to watch and see what happens now. Will Smigiel just become another disused narrow gauge railway or is there some chance that someone will step in and try to revive it?

  5. Robert Hall Says:

    Concur with Dampfmeisteren and Geoff; though things look decidedly bad, it would seem that this is not yet, with 100% certainty, Smigiel-Railway-wise “the end of the world as we know it”. SKPL is out of the picture (unless some mutual arrangement could still, after all, be retrieved?). However – someone else might, just, weigh in at the last moment? Just conceivably, the Smigiel Council might after all hold by their intent stated – though reckoned probably, “eyewash” – some months ago, to take over the running of at least part of the railway themselves, as a tourist line (which IMO would be dreary, but preferable – if barely – to total abandonment).

    Desperately needed right now, the fantasised millionaire railway enthusiast who would take over operation of the line and pour out money unstintingly, to bring it back into first-class order, all still-in-situ 23 km of it, and keep it thus, for passenger and freight both…

  6. John Ball Says:

    Perhaps a summer tourist operation is the most that we can now hope for. So sad when there has been freight traffic on offer, but denied to the railway by local politics. It seems as if SKLP decided that they had had enough.

    It all looked so hopeful back in October 2007, when I saw a diesel busy shunting at Smigiel, a steam loco working timetabled trains between there and Stare Bojanowo having been borrowed for driving experience, and enjoyed a trip to Wielochowo in a railcar.

  7. John Says:

    So if a group of us got together and chipped-in, could this railway be kept for a further year ? Is there a potential to squeeze a bit more income out of the railway – deals with local householders so that there is B&B for visitors and longer stays etc ?

  8. warwickian Says:

    Back in December, I sent a suggestion to Dyspozytor, based on the proposal for a group of people putting in 2.50 GBP per week (so 10 GBP per month – it’s the price of 4 beers in a pub) to cover the PLN 40,000 deficit that SKPL would have this year. If 75 people all put in 2.50 per week, then this would close the gap for this year. All things being equal, it would even lead to a surplus next year, (as the grant would not be spent on a party, but on the railway instead), which could be used for some well needed maintenance. Appreciate that this may not be viable, and the goal posts have moved since I had my thoughts, but is anyone interested?

  9. Ed Beale Says:

    Yes, I would certainly be interested in making a small weekly/monthly contribution to keeping the Smigiel railway running. It would probably be best if at least half the contributors were Poles though, ideally local to the area, as it would give the best message to the local authority of the value local people place in the railway.

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