Exciting future for Rudy

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by Ed Beale

Test run between Rudy and Stanica. Video by.

On Saturday 3 March, Lyd2-101 made a test run from Rudy to Stanica with a Romanian coach and several passengers. Everything went smoothly, and depending on the weather, the official opening of the 2012 season could take place before the end of March.

The Rudy narrow gauge railway, near Kuznia Raciborska in Upper Silesia, is a surviving remnant of the once extensive Upper Silesian 785mm narrow gauge network. The passenger service between Gliwice and Rudy was both the busiest and the last surviving on the network, with the exception of the summer tourist trains at Bytom.

At its height in 1954, the line carried 1.8 million passengers, and annual passenger numbers did not fall below 1 million until 1964. The Gliwice to Rudy passenger service ceased in 1991 and even in that year it carried 90,000 passengers, or around 250 passengers per day, which would be a healthy figure for some of Poland’s standard gauge branches in 2012!

Today Rudy’s locomotive sheds, yard and station buildings have been turned into a successful museum which is operated by the Municipal Centre of Culture, Sport and Recreation (MOKSiR) of Kuznia Raciborska and enjoys strong local authority support. 6km of the railway remains open, between the stations of Paproc, Rudy and Stanica. During the tourist season which runs from spring to autumn, trains run from Rudy to Paproc daily except Mondays when the museum is closed, and trains also run to Stanica on Sundays.

The Rudy museum has been going from strength to strength in the past few years. Visitor numbers have increased dramatically from 5,000 in 2009 to over 20,000 in 2011. Local authority funding enabled the repair of some of the dilapidated station buildings and the museum has obtained a fairly impressive collection of 785mm gauge rolling stock. 0-6-0 steam locomotive Las 49 was restored to working order in 2010 and is steamed on summer Sundays. Lyd2-101 was regauged from 750mm to 785mm gauge over the winter and had its first test runs in January.

At the end of January, Rudy obtained the three remaining Lxd2 diesel locomotives from the closed Huta Pokoj (Pokoj steelworks) railway in Ruda Slaska: HP-Lxd2-08, 09 and 11. Most exciting of all, in October 2011 the four municipalities of Gliwice, Pilchowice, Kuznia Raciborska and Rybnik signed a joint agreement on a preliminary feasibility study into reconstructing the Gliwice to Rudy line, and constructing a new line from Rudy to Rybnik. There are obviously huge challenges to this project which would certainly require external funding, but it is an exciting possibility.

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