Blowing hot and cold in the Carpathians

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Bieszczady Railway, Majdan yard, November 2006. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Poland is experiencing a thaw and nearly all the snow has melted. Poland’s two narrow gauge lines in the Carparthian Mountains – the Bieszczady Forest Railway and the Przeworsk Railway are getting ready for the spring.

The Bieszczadzy Railway’s EU project has started. Some 1,442,000 PLN (approx £315,000) is being spent on restoring and improving buildings in the Majdan area, essential work on the track and building new passenger carriages. The engine shed and workshops are being insulated, which will enable fitters to work all year round. At the moment such staff are employed on a seasonal basis. This work will also make it possible for the railway to run special trains during the winter season. During the line’s heyday the principal engine shed was at Rzepedz, and the locomotive workshops, located inside the grounds of the timber mill at Nowy Lupkow, were heated by the mill’s district central heating system.

Some of the project money is being spent on restoring the historic station building at Majdan. When its outer cladding was stripped away, it became apparent that the main structural timbers were completely decayed. Without the support of the cladding, part of the station building collapsed. Meanwhile work on the Kp4 0-8-0 locomotive which the railway acquired in near ‘Barry Dock’ condition is continuing off-site. If everything turns out as planned, the Kp4 will join the railway in May.

Three new steam drivers recently passed out by taking their theory exam at the Railway Museum in Warsaw. [Why on earth is the Railway Museum responsible for passing out heritage railway drivers? D.] The Las locomotive which  featured in some of our earlier articles remains in service. So the Bieszczadzy railway will be  the only Polish narrow gauge line able to roster two operational steam locomotives.

The Bieszczadzy railways EU project is a Polish first – it is the first non-local-authority-owned line to benefit from an EU grant. But it is paying heavily for the privilege. Initially the railway will have to find 1 756 414 PLN (£384,000) being the value of the project plus VAT and, unlike local authority projects where only 25% has to be contributed as ‘own funds’, the railway will responsible for raising some 45% of the project budget itself.

Przeworsk Railway, Przeworsk yard, April 2009. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Meanwhile a meeting took place on 7 Febuary at the offices of the Chief Executive of Przeworsk district Council to discuss the future of the Przeworsk Railway. Among those present were: Mrs Anna Kowalska, the deputy chief executive of the Podkarpackie Provincial Government; Tomasz Strapagiel, the chairman of SKPL; Wladyslaw Zelazny, the general manager of the Przeworsk railway; Zbigniew Kiszka, the chief executives of the Przeworsk district Council; and Grzegorz Krupa of the Przeworsk railway’s supporters association.

The principal subjects discussed were the shortfall between income and expenditure on the railway’s operational account as well as the urgent need for substantial funding to carry out essential work on the railway’s infrastructure. While there have been several meetings before to discuss the future of the line, this was the first time that a meeting to discuss the future of the railway was attended by such a senior representative of the provincial government as Mrs Kowalska.

No final agreement was reached regarding the resolution of financial challenges that the railway faces. However, it was agreed that a meeting of all the local authorities concerned with the future of the line should take place at the offices of the provincial government in Rzeszow under the chairmanship of  Mirosław Karapyta, the new chief executive. All sides felt that significant progress had been made in securing the long-term future of the railway.

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One Response to “Blowing hot and cold in the Carpathians”

  1. Ed Beale Says:

    Thank you for posting this encouraging news from Bieszczady and Przeworsk. It is nice to know that some of Poland’s narrow gauge railways are actively developing even though others may unfortunately still be in decline.

    Back in October 2008 you published an excellent narrow gauge status report https://polishrail.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/poland-status-report/ I found this overview of the status of the narrow gauge very helpful and interesting and would love to see an update if you have time.

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