Archive for August, 2011

Exhibition train

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The ultimate exhibition train. But where is the picture from?

It’s ages since BTWT ran a competition. Our last one stumped everyone of our 500 or so readers. It was taken on the extensive internal railway system of the Gdansk shipyard sometime in the 1950s. Our correspondents penetrate the security systems of some of Poland’s most interesting rail-connected places!

I have a soft spot for exhibition trains, particularly since the day I discovered a closed Blandford Forum station with its trackwork almost complete when it was being used as a base for BR’s exhibition train subsidiary. So as a taster for our next competition, who will be the first to tell us where the above picture is from? Look closely. That’s a clue!

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Poznan – 115 m PLN PST extension signed

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tram station at Dworzec Zachodni adjacent to the main line station – Poznan Glowny. Artist’s impression courtesy Urzad Miasta Poznania.

On Tuesday, 9 August a 115 m PLN contract for the extension of Poznan’s Szybki Tramwaj (PST) was signed between infrastructure company, EURO Poznan 2012, and the Krakow-based civil engineering contractor Grupa ZUE. The Mayor of Poznan, Miroslaw Kruszyński, attended the signing ceremony.

The 2 km extension will extend the grade separated ‘fast tram’ route from Most Teatralny to Dworzec Zachodni, allowing trams to by-pass the frequently congested crossroads along ul. Rosevelta at: ul Dabrowskiego, ul. Swiety Marcin and most Dworcowy.

The project was placed on the list of individual key projects of special importance for the development of the region by the Wielkopolska Provincial Government and will benefit from European Regional Development Fund assistance to the tune of 42 775 PLN.

Tram station behind the historic Dworzec Zachodni station buildings. Artist impression courtesy Urzad Miasta Poznania.

The route of the PST extension to Dworzec Zachodni. Map courtesy Urzad Miasta Poznania.

A ride in Poznan’s ‘fast tram’ from its northern terminus at the Jana III Sobieskiego housing estate to the link with the city’s street running tramways at Most Teatralny. YouTube video by motorniczy1989.

Night train primer

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Kasztan will take you from Berlin to Novosibersk via Warsaw. Video by .

It some 40 years since I travelled ‘on the cushions’ in a night train with no more than the space that I was sitting in to spend the night. It was a desperately cold winter and the couchette coaches for the Hoek van Holland – Moscow Express (via Berlin and Warsaw) had not turned up at Hook of Holland for their return journey to Moscow. It was a long, hard night. However, I continue to patronise night trains. And having sampled night trains in various European countries, I can vouch that Polish sleeping cars compare very favourably – in facilities, cleanliness and customer service – with what is available elsewhere.

A week ago Michael Dembinski, who publishes one of Poland’s best blogs, W-wa Jeziorki, wrote a primer about using Polish night trains. It is excellent and I republish a slightly abridged version here for all BTWT readers who do not regularly visit his blog. Do click the link below if you want to read the original version. By the way, there is much of railway interest on W-wa Jeziorki. What is the link between Euston Station and PKP? See today’s post to find out.

There are three forms of night train accommodation. You can (as I did) buy a basic ticket, which entitles you to no more than your seat. If you are unlucky, and you board an overcrowded train – as is standard on Fridays in summer, you won’t even have a seat. You will stand all the way, or sit on your suitcases in the corridor. Standing up for nine hours – all night long – is not pleasant. Booking a 1st class ticket gives you six people rather than eight to the compartment, the higher price means that fewer people are likely to go for it, so it’s likely that there won’t be a full complement of six in your compartment. First class from Warsaw to Międzyzdroje costs 99 złotys as opposed to 66.

Next up from a seat is the kuszetka (couchette). In a compartment, there are six bunk beds, three on one side, three on the other side, of a narrow passage, and a step ladder to reach the middle and top bunks. For a 25.50 złotys supplement, you are assured a lie-down and you’ll not be bothered by the guard once you’re in your compartment (he’ll wake you up ten minutes before reaching your destination). There are no sheets or blankets; you are expected to take off your shoes and lie down in your clothes, covered with a jacket or coat. The couchette and sleeper carriages are sealed off from the rest of the train, for the passengers’ security. And the toilets are cleaner than in the normal carriages, especially after nine hours of travel.

The most luxurious form is the sleeper carriage (wagon sypialny). The compartments are for two or three people; bedding is provided. You need a second class ticket plus an supplementary payment of 70 złotys (three-person compartment) or 130 złotys (two-person compartment) per person for the wagon sypialny. This pushes up the price of a return trip to the seaside quite considerably; I think the kuszetka is the optimal price/comfort trade-off.

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Smigiel smiles in its sleep…

Monday, 8 August 2011

John Savery contributes BTWT’s 800th post

Smigiel Yard on 5 August 2011. Molehills? Photo by John Savery

Actually spot resleepering! Photo by John Savery

Secondhand sleepers. Photo by John Savery

Transporter wagons await their fate.  Photo by John Savery

On 5 August, I called in to Smigiel on the way between Wolsztyn and Jarocin.  I had heard that there had been a tender for the sale of the transporter wagons (details are on the council’s website – see link) but was unclear if any had been sold or not.  As I was within a stone’s throw, I called in to see if there was any sign of them, half expecting to see someone cutting them up (even though the tender had been for rail use only.)

What I found, was a large number of transporters in the station area, all with lot numbers spray painted on.  As I drove down past the side of the station, I noticed a large pile of sleepers in the distance, and, curious as to what they were doing there (and partially fearing the worst – tracklifting) found they were all ex-standard gauge sleepers, and lots of them.  As I parked up, someone came out of the workshop, so I greeted them and asked them about the sleepers.  They explained that it was for remont and indicated the station area.  I said that there were no trains now, and the guy said that the railway was now owned by the town.  I asked who paid for the sleepers, and he replied that the town had bought them. (I assume that this means the council.)  I asked if there would be trains next year, and it got a half shrug, Byc moze.

There were a couple of guys in the workshop area behind the shed.  I didn’t actually see anyone physically working outside, but the activity looks very recent.  There was a clear single shiny line on one set of rails where something had been moved fairly recently.  I couldn’t work out what it was.

As far as the resleepering goes, the size of the pile tells its own story.  There are a fair few there, and I imagine that you could cut them in half and get two out of each one given the gauge difference.

As you can see in the photos looking down the yard, there are a good few excavations where sleepers are being changed.  Each one is marked with an “X” on the rail head.

The stock around the yard is more or less as it was left.  There is a broken window in one coach, the railcar or coach is still minus its bogie and stuck up on a transporter wagon (I don’t remember how many years it has been like that – a good few) and a diesel is still dumped outside the shed.  I’d guess that all the transporters have been moved to Smigiel as part of the tender process.

The Px48 is still there, although the tree behind it has collapsed in the winds (I asked the guy I spoke to about the tree and he said that it collapsed in the winds.)

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