Archive for April, 2012

Test train runs to Okecie

Monday, 30 April 2012

1st test train at Okecie 20.04.2011. Photo PKP PLK.

On Friday 20 April, the first passenger train – albeit without any passengers – ran along the new spur to the brand new station constructed next to Terminal 2 at Warsaw’s Chopin airport. The unit was a PESA built Elf EMU belonging to SKM Warszawa. Test runs were carried out on both tracks without any mishaps. The line must now go through a rigorous acceptance process involving both building regulations inspectors and the Warsaw Fire Department before passenger services can commence.

PKP PLK are hoping to open the line to traffic at the beginning of June, a week before the Euro 2012 championships start in Poland. However, on 26 April, Poland’s Sport Minister, Joanna Much, added the Warsaw airport spur to her list of railway investments – including the rebuilding of Wroclaw and Poznan stations – where there is considerable doubt whether commissioning can be completed in time for the start of the championships.

 

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May Days – Spoilt for choice

Saturday, 28 April 2012

But not everyone is celebrating!

Chabowka Tkt48-191 at the 2010 Wolsztyn Parade. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

With so much going on during the Majowka (May Days) week for narrow gauge enthusiasts, it is only fair that BTWT should also cover some of the standard gauge attractions as well. When we look at something we look under the carpet as well, so be prepared for some critical comments!

Wolsztyn 28 – 29 April

The May festivities start with today’s annual Wolsztyn Steam Locomotive Parade. This is the biggest event of this kind in Poland and is attended by some 30,000 people. One would think that, with so many visitors coming from outside the area, the burghers of Wolsztyn would be enthusiastic supporters of the event. True, Wolsztyn Council does provide the security guards, but that is all.

How wonderful it would be to have some sponsorship from the town towards the costs of running steam specials from Warsaw and Wroclaw connecting with the event. (There is a special train from Wroclaw, but it is not steam-hauled; and one steam-hauled service from Poznan.)

The Council members appear to regard Parada Parowzow as a side show to their Dni Wolsztyna (Wolsztyn Days). They put on pop concerts, a sailing regatta, fishing competitions and support events put on by local schools. A couple of years ago the Mayor of Wolsztyn was overheard by one of our friends listing the attractions of Wolsztyn at a tourism promotion event in Warsaw. Not once did he mention the Steam Depot, the Steam Locomotive Parade or the steam-hauled trains to Poznan!

If today’s huge crowds, steam engines charging up and down a short piece of track and a light show are not your cup of tea, why not go to Wolsztyn tomorrow? The crowds and overseas steam locomotives will have gone, but there will be steam trains running from Wolsztyn to Stefanowo and Rakonowice and a chance to see Chabowka’s Tkt48-91 doing some useful work.

At the end of each year’s Parada Parowozow the same question is asked, Will there be another parade next year? And each year the answer is the same, With PKP Cargo on the verge of privatisation and with Wolsztyn Town Council being so laid back about their steam shed and steam trains, who knows?

Jaworzyna Slask – 28 April – 6 May

The Industry and Railways Museum at the old Jaworzyna Slask steam depot is running special attractions during the whole week. There will be conducted tours of the museum and its collection. Demonstrations of the turntable, a chance to ride in vintage coaches, and from 1 May a chance for a cab ride in the museum’s Tkt48-18.

The management of Jaworzyna Slask is not loved by the Polish railway enthusiast community. Some difficult decisions had to be made at the start of the museum’s existence, not dissimilar to the Festiniog Railway’s scrapping Moel Tryfan in 1954.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the affair, today the museum’s collection looks superb, Tkt48-18 (thanks to the generosity of Wolsztyn Experience) is in working order, and the museum’s approach to its paying visitors is 100% professional.

Koscierzyna – 2 May

Koscierzyna is one ex PKP Skasen that nearly got away. Its rescue is largely due to the efforts of Miroslaw Szymanski, the former Chief Executive of Fundacja Era Parowozow who lobbied tirelessly for its takeover by the local council.

The museum is open every day, on 2 May the Skansen celebrates its 20th birthday and entry will be free. There will be a railway themed concert and the unveiling of a statue commissioned by the council celebrating the line of 18° latitude. One wonders why the council could not have commissioned the restoration of a particular item or rolling stock instead?

Skierniewice – 5 May

The Polskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Kolejowych (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association) are holding an open day at Skierniewice on 5 May. The amazing collection of railway rolling stock at Skierniewice deserves to be better known outside Poland and this is one event which we would enthusiastically endorse with no reservations.

We do have one question which though we have asked the PSMK authorities several times has not been satisfactorily answered. Why – given the society’s very visible need for money – don’t they charge admission to their open days and raise income from ancillary activities like selling guides and refreshments? Or are they afraid that if they do the local council will turn round and hit them with local taxes levied at commercial rates?

Those not celebrating!

Chabowka

Amazingly, with a permanent staff of some 8 people, some 6 locomotives in working order and a full time official responsible for marketing, the Chabowka skansen  is not putting on anything special during the May Days holiday. It is true that the skansen despatched Tkt48-191 to Wolsztyn with a couple of coaches and its also true that Chabowka put on the annual Parowozjada steam gala in August, but given the resources devoted to the skansen we find it incredible that no attractions – however modest – are being put on during this period.

Just to show what the skansen team are capable of – when they put their mind to it – the official web pages boast that on 31 March a private freight train was run at the behest of a – presumably wealthy – German enthusiast from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz along this disused line.

We have long admired the engineering expertise of the technical team at Chabowka and their achievement in keeping so many engines in working order with minimum resources. It is a great pity that the people responsible for marketing the skansen do not have the same ‘can do’ attitude.

Karsnice

Images of Karsnice. Video by .

The Karsnice skansen is a very sad case. It was started by the manager of the railway workshops there in 1989 and a sizeable collection of locomotives and railway rolling stock was built up. His plan was to transfer the collection to a special trust, but he received early retirement (and a reduced pension!) before the trust could be set up.

When he left the Karsnice workshops the collection was left in limbo and then PKP’s real estate department, PKP Nieruchomosci, started selling the exhibits. One Ty2 went to the Lodz holocaust museum a couple of other locos were sold to the PSMK at Skierniewice.

A ‘Save Our Skansen’ campaign was run by the neighbouring town of Zdunska Wola and some leverage at ministerial level was provided by some international friends. Officially the skansen was repreived. The rolling stock and the land it stood on was transferred to the Zdunska Wola Town Council.

The council managed to raise some funds and obtain an EU grant to cosmetically restore some of the rolling stock. But Nieruchomosci transferred only the bare minimum parcel of land. The shed where the Karsnice vintage train of wooden four wheel carriages was not included. This great video by Lukasz Szyczyk shows the tragic result.

Elk

Sadly, the orphaned skansen here never found a local council ready to take it over with devastating results. Now Nieruchomosci are auctioning the surviving Ol49-80 and the remaining workshop equipment.

Wegerzewo – Ketrzyn railway line

This was Poland’s only ‘preserved’ standard gauge railway line. It was saved by the Stowarzyszenie Hobbystow Kolejowych (Society of Railway Enthusiasts) who persuaded the local council to take the line over.

There was a flurry of activity here in 2008 since then nothing!

Pyskowice

The threat of court action continues to hang over the skansen. There was a court hearing last week which was immediately suspended because key PKP witnesses had not attended. The next session will take place on July 10. Till the matter is resolved the Skansen remains closed. More BTWT readers are needed to assist with the lobbying effort that is going on behind the scenes. Please get in touch if you would like to help.

Skierniewice or Naleczow or both?

So where to go next week? It has been a while since I visited the Skiernievice Skansen so the open day there is a big temptation, but Gregorz Sykut writes that the Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Rozwoju Nadwislanskiej Kolei Wąskotorowej (Association for the Development of the Nadwislanska Narrow Gauge Railway) is running a special train followed by a film show at Karczmiska station.

The train, film show and car parking are free. The start is at 5.30 PM and the Society have a plan to finish at 9:30 PM. At the station there will be an  opportunity to purchase a meal from the grill and drinks. More details from: gsykut@gmail.com.

Hmm, narrow or standard gauge? Naleczow is not all that far from Skierniewice… it would be great to visit both!

Dyspozytor

Board changes at PKP PLK

Thursday, 26 April 2012

 

New broom, Remigiusz Paszkiewicz. Photo European Economic Congress.

Remigiusz Paszkiewicz was appointed today Chairman of the Board of PKP PLK, the PKP subsidiary responsible for Poland’s railway infrastructure in place of Zbigniew Szafranski.

Remigiusz Paszkiewicz’s previous appointment was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of petrochemical giant Grupa Orlen’s chemical subsidiary Anwil. He graduated from the Environmental Engineering Faculty at Warsaw Polytechnic and from the Polish National School of Public Administration. Since 1994 he worked in the Projects Office (today ORLEN Projekt) in Petrochemia Płock S.A.

In the years 1996-2001 he was employed in the Ministry of Finance and then, till 2007, in Narodowy Bank Polski, the National Polish National Bank. He came back to PKN ORLEN in 2007 and was Deputy Director in the Capital Group Office. Then, he was Director of the Office for Unipetrol Affairs and Acting President of the Board in Inowrocławskie Kopalnie Soli SOLINO SA. On 1st January 2009 he has became a Member of the Board of ANWIL S.A. On 29th June 2010 he was appointed acting Chairman and on 1st October 2010 Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Yesterday, Jacek Kałlur, formerly HR Director of TPSA was appointed HR Director of PKP PLK. The position of Director for Investment remains vacant.

On his way out, Zbigniew Szafranski. Photo BTWT.

May Holiday – A Narrow Gauge Feast

Friday, 20 April 2012

Updated

Crossing one of the long viaducts on the Jedrzejow line. The operating season at Jedrzejow starts on 1 May. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The first week in May is traditionally a holiday week in Poland with its two public holidays on 1 and 3 May. Many narrow gauge railways start their operating seasons during this week with trains at the weekends or on 1, 2 or 3 May. This year, 17 narrow gauge railways will be operating during the May holiday week. The special train at Przeworsk on Saturday 5 May must be booked in advance by email to smpkw [at] wp.pl before 22 April. The other trains do not need to be booked in advance.

  1. Bieszczady Forest Railway: 28 and 29 April, 1, 3, 5 and 6 May at 10:00 (to Przyslup) and 13:00 (to Balnica).
  2. Elk: Tuesday 1 May at 10:00.
  3. Hajnowka Forest Railway: 1-5 May at 10:00, 14:00 and 17:00.
  4. Hel Military Railway: 1, 3, 5 and 6 May.
  5. Jedrzejow: Tuesday 1 and Sunday 6 May at 10:00.
  6. Karczmiska: Thursday 3 and Sunday 6 May at 11:00.
  7. Koszalin: Tuesday 1 May at 11:00.
  8. Nowy Dwor Gdanski: 28 April to 6 May at 09:00, steam on 1 and 2 May.
  9. Piaseczno: 29 April, 1, 3 and 6 May at 11:00.
  10. Plociczno Forest Railway: Daily from 1 May at 13:00.
  11. Przeworsk: Special train with historic stock on Saturday 5 May (bookings by email to smpkw [at] wp.pl before 22 April).
  12. Rogow: 29 April, 1, 2, 3 and 6 May, four trains daily.
  13. Rudy: 28 and 29 April, eight trains to Paproc. 1, 3, 5 and 6 May, six trains to Paproc and 2 trains to Stanica.
  14. Smigiel: Thursday 3 May.
  15. Sroda: Tuesday 1 May, festival at Sroda Miasto station with short train trips to Kipa between 15:00 and 19:00.
  16. Starachowice: 1 and 6 May at 14:00 from Starachowice, 1-3 and 6 May at 14:00 from Ilza.
  17. Znin: Daily from Saturday 28 April, six trains each day.

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The Englishman’s Swan Song

Sunday, 15 April 2012

by John Savery

EU06-12 locomotive. Photo transportszynowy.pl.

(Click on image to see original on Wikipedia.pl and for licensing info.)

The EU06 electric locos are reaching the end of their working lives, 50 years after being delivered from the Vulcan Foundry, in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire. Of the 20 locomotives built, as at 14 December 2011, only 7 locomotives remained in service: EU06… 01, 07, 10, 12, 17, 18 and 20.

A farewell trip is planned for 19 May, and is a circular railtour starting at Krakow. It is being organised by a new society, the Fundacja Kolejowa “Stacja Lubsko / Sommerfeld” (Lubsko / Sommerfeld Railway Foundation) and Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei z Jaworzyny Śląskiej (Jaworzyna Slaska Railway Fans Association). The latter are not the same as the organisation operating the railway museum at Jaworzyna Slask.

Further details of the railtour can be found on the organiser’s website www.EU06.com

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Another difficult year ahead for Bytom

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Track severed by A1 Motorway construction, 2011. Photo SGKW.

The Bytom narrow gauge railway is the longest surviving fragment of the Upper Silesian narrow gauge railway, an extensive 785mm gauge freight network that carried heavy coal traffic until as recently as May 2001. The tourist service dates back to 1993 when the railway was still operated by PKP.

Since PKP closed all of its surviving narrow gauge lines at the end of 2001, the railway has been owned by Bytom, Tarnowskie Gory and Miasteczko Slaskie councils. It has been operated under licence by Stowarzyszenie Górnosląskich Kolei Wąskotorowych (The Upper Silesian Narrow Gauge Railway).

The new operators survived a very tough first year or two, when track theft was a major unchecked problem in Upper Silesia. Vast swathes of the former network were lost to theft, including the lines to the southern tourist train terminus of Siemianowice Slaskie and to the repair workshops at Bytom Rozbark. Following this, the railway entered a period of relative stability, operating daily tourist trains in the summer over the core Bytom to Miasteczko Slaskie route. The line gave access to the popular recreational lake Chechlo-Naklo, and long trains were well loaded with tourists.

The recent problems started in 2010 when floods in the middle of May badly damaged the bridge over the river Stola at Tarnowskie Gory. Trains were unable to run over the northern section of the line for two months while repairs were carried out, resuming on 15 July. Then in 2011, construction of the A1 motorway severed the route for the whole of the summer operating season. Originally due to be complete in October 2011, the work overran considerably and the new viaduct is only now ready for track laying.  At the time of writing, SGKW are expecting the new bridge to be ready for use by the end of April.

The new viaduct ready for track laying. Photo SGKW via Facebook.

But already a new problem is looming on the horizon. The two viaducts either side of Szombierki power station, which carry the narrow gauge line over first the Bytom to Gliwice line, and then the Bytom to Tarnowskie Gory line, are both in very poor condition and in urgent need of repair. Bytom council have received an EU grant to cover part of the cost of the repair, but the conditions of the building permit mean that work must start by July. So for the third year running SGKW are faced with a key part of their route being closed for the main tourist season. Trains will have to start from Bytom Karb instead of from the platform at the main Bytom Glowny station, and the society fear that far fewer passengers will travel on the trains as a result.

If all this were not enough, the railway is also suffering from mining subsidence from the Bobrek-Centrum coal mine in Bytom. A 1.5km section of the line is affected, at the centre of which the track level has fallen by 8 metres. The resulting gradients are so steep in places that they make operation of the trains difficult, as well as causing ongoing damage to rails and sleepers. The mine owners should be liable to repair the damage, but this may take time.

SGKW board members have shown considerable resourcefulness in trying to overcome the problems they face and have come up with several new ways to attract passengers to the railway. In 2008 they introduced power station tours which were a great success, involving a short train ride from Bytom to Szombierki power station, then a guided tour of the power station and train back. Unfortunately, the new Finnish owner of the power station is concerned about health and safety and these tours are unlikely to run again this year. Other recent new ventures include involvement in the annual Industriada event celebrating the industrial heritage of Upper Silesia, and “cinema trains”, evening events consisting of a train ride from Bytom to Bytom Karb for film showings in a converted railway carriage.

Due to the uncertainty concerning the viaducts at Szombierki the timetable for the 2012 season has not yet been finalised, but trains from Bytom Karb to Miasteczko are expected to run on summer weekends, and perhaps also on weekdays in the school summer holidays. The line has considerable scenic as well as railway interest, and is well worth a visit.

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Regulator sets up n.g. portal!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The ‘World of Narrow gauge Railways’ according to UTK.

(Click on image to go to the UTK interactive map.)

With no effective umbrella body representing or promoting Poland’s tourist and heritage railways, it has fallen to Poland’s railway regulator, Urząd Transportu Kolejowego (Office of Railway Transport) to publish the first Polish language on-line atlas of operational narrow gauge lines.

Although we welcome this atlas, it does seem a somewhat bizarre thing for the UTK to publish. Have they not got more urgent priorities in the wake of the Szczekociny disaster?

Inevitably as always occurs with ‘first editions’, there are some omissions and inaccuracies. At first glance, two operational n.g. lines have been missed out, and one no-longer-operational line has been included.

We invite readers to submit their own corrections to BTWT. We will consolidate the corrections into one document and forward it to the UTK.

For readers planning their own visit to Poland we also recommend accessing Ed Beale’s own Narrow Gauge Railways in Poland portal for up to date information regarding operations in 2012. For information about the history of the lines Andrew Goodwin’s Polish Narrow Gauge Railways – though now somewhat dated – remains an invaluable resource.

(With a hat tip to Prezes for the link.)

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1992 lost narrow gauge

Monday, 9 April 2012

MBxd2-228 at Trzcianka Zachodnia in April 1992. Photo Detlef Schikorr.

The Drehscheibe Online forum regularly carries posts with member’s photographs of past narrow gauge operations in Poland. Yesterday, Detlef Schikorr published a delightful illustrated article describing a trip to Poland 20 years ago.

Pride of place are photographs of the Bydgosko – Wyrzyskie Koleje Dojazdowe (Bydgoszcz – Wyrzysk Narrow Gauge Railway) in 1992 and the Opalenicka Kolej Dojazdowa (Opalenica Narrow Gauge Railway). The BWKD was still carrying freight (it was closed in 1994) and the OKD was still running freight and passenger services when Detlef visited the line.

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Brake blocks and tranporter wagons

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Smigiel Railway Freight in 2008. Video by .

Good Friday starts with early morning phone call from France, Can you help us source brake blocks for the L45h (PKP-Lxd2) locomotive? Hmm. So who else runs an intensive train service using Lxd2s and might be wearing out their brake blocks?

Dark thoughts gather. There’s nothing like hauling heavy standard gauge wagons on top of narrow gauge transporter wagons to wear out loco brake blocks. When BTWT started, Lxd2s operated a regular SKPL-operated freight service on the Krosniewice Railway. Now that’s gone. They also hauled frequent freight trains on the Smigiel Railway, now that Smigiel Council has cut up the majority of the transporter wagons, that’s gone for good.

The Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway – now ominously renamed Nadmorska Kolej Dojazdowa (The Costal Narrow Gauge Railway) – runs a passenger service along its coastal stretch with almost tram-like intensity and that is either Lxd2 or Px48 hauled. But Gryfice is a long way away and Zbiersk is nearer.

The Kalisz narrow gauge railway remains the last narrow gauge railway operating regular freight services in Poland. I call my SKPL contact, Your French friend is in luck we are about to place an order with the foundry to get the next batch of brake blocks cast.

I am pleased that I have been able to help the Frenchman, but I cannot fight the growing feeling of dark despondency, The battle to retain narrow gauge freight operations in Poland is virtually lost.

How long until the only active Polish transporter wagons will be scale models? Video by .<

Karnowski replaces Wasiak in the chair of PKP

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Jakub Karnowski. Photo SGH.

As we go to press, Infrastructure Minister, Slawomir Nowak, has just completed a press conference in Warsaw where he announced the composition of a new slimmed-down PKP SA main board .

Out go: Finance Director, Pawel Piesniewski; Director of Property, Pawel Olczyk; and Director of Real Estate Management, Romuald Bosakowski. In come: Jakub Karnowski, to take the post of chairman; and Piotr Cizkowicz, whose title is yet to be announced. Maria Wasiak, formerly in the chair, retains her position on the board.

According to Radio Zet, the savings made by reducing the PKP main board to three persons will allow the company to pay sufficiently attractive salaries to employ suitable qualified ‘professionals’. The old 4-person board cost 120k PLN/month, the new board will cost 138k PLN/month.The deposed board members will not be sacked, but rather moved to other positions in PKP.

According to Puls Biznesu, Nowak wants Karnowski to set up an investment fund based on PKP’s real estate assets, and to use this fund to ensure that PKP has ‘own funds’ available for the completion of projects for which EU funding has been allocated. Karnowski’s other challenges will include reducing the PKP debt mountain and arranging for the privatisation of PKP Cargo.

Nowak announced the new board’s priorities as:

  • modernizing the PKP IC rolling stock fleet and the purchase of new rolling stock
  • completion of the upgrade of existing lines; Warsaw – Wroclaw journey times to be reduced to 3.5 hours by 2015
  • replacement of life expired points
  • improving safety at level crossings – 2,000 level crossings to be modernised by 2015

Jakub Karnowski

Karnowski obtained a PhD in economics from SGH (the Warsaw School of Economics). He is a member of the USA Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, was awarded an MBA by  University of Minnesota (USA). He was awarded a scholarship by The Margaret Thatcher Foundation to study at the London School of Economics.

Karnowski’s last position – which he left to take up his new job as boss of PKP – was chairman of PKO Banks investment fund, PKO TFI, a position he occupied since October 2008. Between 2003 – 2008 he worked in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency | World Bank Group. In 2002 he was appointed the Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the National Bank of Poland. Karnowski is probably best known in Poland for introducing a student loan scheme in 1997.

Piotr Cizkowicz

Cizkowicz studied at SGH under Professor Leszek Balcerowicz and has now returned to his alma mater as a research fellow specialising in economic growth, monetary policy, public financing and econometrics.

Since 2008 he has also worked for Ernst and Young where he managed a number of reseaarch projects for private and public clients and also manged the Sprawne Panstwo (Efficient State) programme for the company. Between 2007-2009 he was an adviser to the Ombudsman for Civil Rights regarding the reform of the Polish Health Service. In 2002, he started working for the National Bank of Poland.  From 2004 – 2008 he headed the bank’s department responsible for international benchmarking.

(A hat tip to Marek Ciesielski for alerting us to the changes at PKP’s main board.)

Smigiel – Tourist trains from May

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Neat station but rusty rails at Smigiel. Photo John Savery

John Savery was in Poland a week ago and called into Smigiel while passing. He sent us some photos of the slumbering yard and shed, and reported that little had visibly changed since his last visit, apart from the loss of the majority of the transporter wagons.

Meanwhile, operating dates for tourist trains in 2012 have been announced on the new Smigielska Kolej Waskotorowa website. Public trains will run on the following dates:

  1. Thursday 3 May
  2. Saturday 26 May – Smigiel Days
  3. Sunday 27 May – Mother’s Day
  4. Sunday 3 June – Children’s Day
  5. Saturday 23 June – An evening ride to welcome the summer
  6. Saturday 14 July
  7. Sunday 12 August
  8. Wednesday 15 – Sunday 19 August – International Folklore Festival
  9. Sunday 16 September – Smigiel Railway anniversary
  10. Sunday 11 November

No further details have been released yet, including timetables or prices. It seems fair to assume that the trains will only run over the Smigiel to Stare Bojanowo section of the line.

The remaining transporter wagons. Photo John Savery

John Savery writes: Around the back of the shed are 4 surviving transporter wagons.  The remainder appear to have gone for scrap.  They were lined up in the station area when I last called in, and there is solidified molten metal on the ground (evidence of oxy-acetylene cutting).

Derelict Romanian railcar outside the shed. Photo John Savery.

The railcar that has been up on a transport wagon for years is still there, still sitting on a transporter wagon.

A glimpse inside Smigiel shed. Photo John Savery.

Piles of sleepers remaining to be used. Photo John Savery.

The large pile of sleepers, mentioned in Smigiel smiles in its sleep, is still there. They have not been used yet, and there was no sign of activity when I was around (it was a Sunday morning though).

Endgame at Pyskowice

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

by John Savery

Pt47-50 looking immaculate. Photo John Savery.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Weather wise, it may have been a bit damp, cold and grey, but that did not stop us from getting out and about and seeing at first-hand what is happening down in Pyskowice. A drive over to the ‘skansen’ brought a meeting with TOZKiOS Vice Chairman, Krzystof Jakubina, and another member of the society who were in the shed to ensure everything was in good order.

In the gloom of the former wagon shed we spotted, amongst other locos, Pt47-50, and Tkp4422. No lights or power here, and until the dispute with PKP is resolved, that will remain the case. On a positive, at least some of the engines are undercover, protecting them from the harshness of the Polish winters. The Pt47 has been cosmetically restored, and looks resplendent in its black livery.

A large proportion of the collection is stored outdoors, susceptible to the Polish weather, and, at this time of year, too inhospitable to work on. Various locomotives are in various states of cosmetic restoration, with others still bearing the battle scars of the collapsed roof of the main shed.

The main yard area. Photo John Savery.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

It is very evident that finding a resolution to the current dispute with PKP is paramount. Until the tenure of the site is secured, no progress can be made on the infrastructure of the site. If you have not already written, I would again urge you to do so.

On a more positive note, Tuesday saw an off-site visit to see the current progress on the restoration of Ty42-24. This really does show what the Pyskowice team are capable of. Working in co-operation with a local firm with rail access, the society has been given the use of covered working facilities so that they can carry on with the restoration of the Kriegslok.

The boiler has been retubed, in line with Polish regulations. The firebox is in remarkably good condition, as the loco had very little use between its overhaul in 1989 and withdrawal from service in 1991. The official water pressure test is due to be carried out when the remaining parts for the loco have been fabricated. With work progressing on the manufacture and reassembly of a myriad of parts, the intention is to carry out the water pressure test no longer than two months before the steam test, and then to proceed to final reassembly.

It is questionable how long that final reassembly will take what with the limited resources that TOZKiOS has available and the distractions of the ongoing court case.

Additional reporting by Dyspozytor

Since John wrote this article, I have received a letter from Zbyszek and Krzysztof Jakubina, the chairman and vice chairman of TOZKiOS respecvtively. Here is a translation:

Greetings!

Many thanks for taking up the cause of Pyskowice. Recently we had a meeting in the provincial government offices in Katowice where we met with the Deputy Governor, Mr Piotr Spyra. He expressed a great deal of interest in the idea of setting up a permanent railway museum in Pyskowice and offered us his support. We would therefore ask that, as well as appealing to your readers to send letters about the museum to the PKP Chairperson, Maria Wasiak, or the Minister for Rail, Andrzej Massel, similarly worded letters are also sent to him. Follow the link here for his contact details.

The next urgent matter relates to TKt48-23. We have received a letter from the owners of the engine informing us that they would like to sell the loco and are even prepared to sell it to a scrap merchant. They are hoping to raise some 17,500 Euros from the sale. Unfortunately we cannot afford to buy the loco, much as we would like it to remain in Pyskowice. We do not have another TKt48 in our collection. We don’t know what to do. It will be difficult to find anyone prepared to spend so much money. Nevertheless if the loco is not bought and secured it could be sold and scrapped. This would seriously damage the reputation of the skansen. Maybe it might be possible to set up a a special fund for this loco and to launch an appeal among overseas fans of Polish steam locomotives? Have you any advice that you could give us regarding this unusual case?

Best wishes

Krzysiek and Zbyszek Jakubina

It is clear now that the situation at Pyskowice is very serious indeed and that the battle for the future of this amazing railway museum will need more fire power than can be mustered by BTWT acting on its own. To this end I am meeting two senior representatives of the European railway heritage movement tomorrow to ask for their support and advice as to how to proceed.

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