Archive for November, 2012

Double celebrations at Rogow

Friday, 30 November 2012

Return to Gluchow – the first train since the track was damaged by thieves almost a year ago. Photo FPKW.

On Saturday 17 November the Rogow narrow gauge railway celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first trains in preservation. PKP ceased passenger operations on the Rogow narrow gauge railway on 9 June 2001 and freight operations at the end of September 2001.

It took a year for PKP to hand over responsibility for the line to Rawa Mazowiecka district council and for the council to conclude the necessary licence with FPKW, The Polish Narrow Gauge Railways Foundation, with the formalities complete in October 2002. The first public passenger trains under FPKW ran on the All Saints Day public holiday, 1 November 2002.

Track repairs on the Rogow narrow gauge railway. Photo FPKW.

This year’s event was more than a celebration of the 10th anniversary; it was also a celebration of the reopening of the line beyond Jezow, where in December last year thieves stole 11.5 tonnes of rail bolts and chairs, and in the process damaged 460 sleepers.

Behind the Water Tower readers supported the campaign to raise funds for the repair of the line, and the foundation also received support from the Rawa Mazowiecka district council, and donation of materials from PKP PLK. In the end the task was too large to be completed by volunteer labour so contractors were employed to repair the line between Jezow and Gluchow, while volunteers repaired other smaller areas of damage that had occurred beyond Gluchow during the period that the line was closed.

Tenth anniversary special train on the bridge over the river Rawce. Photo FPKW.

The special train on 17 November consisted of diesel locomotive Lyd1-215, van, traditional Polish 1Aw passenger coach and brake/postal van. Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers the train was able to reach not only Gluchow, but all the way to Zamkowa Wola, the first station beyond Rawa Mazowiecka, 32km from Rogow. Congratulations to all at FPKW and Rogow for this fantastic achievement.

However, the work is not yet complete – there is more damage to repair beyond Zamkowa Wola. FPKW have again appealed for help in raising the money to restore the final 17km of the railway between Zamkowa Wola and Biala Rawska. Any donations would be gratefully received. Behind the Water Tower readers who would like to make a donation can do so without incurring bank transfer fees by using the PayPal donation button on the FPKW homepage.

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Bydgoszcz station regains a tram link…

Friday, 23 November 2012

…23 years after the earlier line was closed!

The opening ceremonies. Video by .

On Thursday (22 November), almost 23 years after the closure of the old line, Bydgoszcz railway station is again connected to the city’s tram network. Rafal Bruski, the Mayor of Bydgoszcz, hopes that the 80 million zl investment is just the first of a series of major public transport, which the city plans to implement in the coming years.

The new 1.75 km spur to the station. Map courtesy OpenStreetMap.

The 1.75 km spur leads from ul. Focha, and crosses the River Brda by means of a 70 metre suspension bridge to terminate in a loop near Bydgoszcz Glowny railway station. In addition to the construction of the track the project also included the reconstruction of streets and pavements, construction of bike paths and the installation of a modern passenger information system.

A hat tip to podroznik for the story.

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Warsaw Railway Museum – PKP goes to court

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Warsaw Railway Museum occupies some prime development land. Map courtesy Google Maps.

For some time now, it has been clear that PKP SA and the Warsaw Railway Museum were on a collision course. PKP bosses have wanted the Railway Museum to move to another location so that they could develop the former Warszawa Glowna land. It is PKP’s premium development site in the centre of Warsaw. Ferdinand Ruszczyc, the museum director and his staff do not want to move. The current location is comfortable for their commuting and, if there is going to be a profitable development, they feel the museum should share in any development premium going.

In July this year, Infrastructure Minister, Slawomir Nowak, refused a request from the museum to stay PKP’s hand with respect to starting court proceedings to expel the Museum. The first salvoes were fired  in a Warsaw court this Tuesday (20 November). There will be several more sessions before the court reaches its decision. While it is totally unacceptable that PKP appears to shirk its responsibilities with respect to its history and heritage, it is difficult in this case not to have some sympathy with its position.

The current site is far from ideal. Locomotives and rolling stock are cramped together nose to tail and slowly rust away under open skys in the toxic city air. The Museum has had several years to develop a ‘Plan B’. That time has been frittered away in its dispute with PKP. Meanwhile the opportunity to create a world-class railway museum elsewhere with the aid of EU funding has slipped away. Projects which lack a minimum of five years security of tenure cannot be funded from EU funds. On Tuesday this week, the first legal salvoes were fired in Warsaw court.

One of several meetings organised by the Railway Museum to promote its own plans for the Warszawa Glowna Site. The PKP SA team state their position. Photo BTWT.

Adam Struzik, the chief executive of Mazowsze province (the operators of the Museum), says that he has no money to fund the move of the rolling stock, nor to develop a new museum in another location. PKP are unapologetic, they are between a rock and a hard place and need to generate the maximum possible returns from the redevelopment of their redundant real estate. Any surplus left after making the scheduled yearly debt repayment, is desperately needed as ‘own funds’ for the next round of EU-funded investment projects.

As often is the case with problems that appear to be insoluble, the solution lies in some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. It seems unreasonable that all the burdens of running what is de facto a national railway museum should rest on the shoulders of the Mazowsze provincial government. The Mazowsze province includes the city of Warsaw and has much of its funds is committed to modernising the trunk transport infrastructure of the region.

If the province cannot fund the running of a proper national railway museum, then why not look to a more modest objective. If the city of Szczecin, which is hard up relative to Warsaw, can develop a municipal transport museum in an old tram depot, then why does the provincial and city government not work together to do the same? After all there is a tram depot complete with workshops and skilled staff less than half a kilometre from the current Museum site!

This would be a grand place to display limited collection of locomotives and rolling stock that have connections with the city and province as well as trams and road vehicles that have local links. Meanwhile time is fast running out for discussions with local government officials elsewhere as regards establishing a proper national railway museum worthy of Poland’s rich railway heritage and history.

Dyspozytor

Note:

  • The PKP press office was asked for a comment regarding the company’s dispute with the Museum, but were unwilling to do so over the telephone.

Tram/van crash in Lodz

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The accident site looking west. Only one eastbound lane of ul. Limanowskiego was closed and westbound trams continued to run past the accident site, a yellow recovery van is just arriving at the scene. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

At around 09:30 this morning, just as the rush hour traffic was starting to ease off, a No.2 tram, comprising Konstal 105Na driving car and trailer, was running westwards along Ul. Limanowskiego towards Lodz town centre. The tram had crossed the pointwork and dual carriageway road crossing with al. Wlokniarzy and had accelerated away along the recently relaid track towards its next stop at ul. Mokra.

The driver of a Fiat Ducato van in UPS livery attempted to turn in front of the tram into a private road belonging to a motor dealership. The tram hit the side of the van and propelled the van sideways some 14 metres before the both vehicles stopped.

A MPK (Municipal Transport Department) breakdown truck and one of three fire department trucks that were despatched to the scene. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Both drivers were taken to hospital. The tram driver is not believed to be seriously hurt. The condition of the van driver is not known at the moment. According to local residents, ince the tram tracks were relaid along ul. Limanowskiego, trams are running much faster than they did before and the area around the crossings with al. Wlokniarzy and ul. Mokra has become an notorious accident black spot.

On 23 October, an articulated truck collided with a tram injuring one person, on 27 March, an 18 year-old girl was killed when she walked in front of a tram on the pedestrian crossing by ul. Mokra while talking on her mobile telephone, and on 19 January, a 32 year old cyclist died after being run over by a tram near the spot where today’s accident took place.

The level crossing that was the site of the collision. The long scratch on the concrete blocks is the result of an earlier accident. Photo BTWT.

Local residents had got used to trams creeping slowly along ul. Limanowskiego over many years  and when the track got too bad tram services were suspended for a couple of years.  The speeded up trams have become an unexpected hazard at all the various road, pedestrian and cycle crossings in the area. The problem is compounded by poor visibility at some of the crossings.

Given all the circumstances, it seems extraordinary that when the track was improved, and tram speeds were raised, no warning were lights installed. Apparently minor collisions occur every week on the crossing where today’s accident took place!

The site of the collision. The No.2 tram was running westwards and accelerating away from the junction and crossroads with al. Wlokniarzy. The van driver was proceeding across the level crossing (red dot). Map OpenStreetMap.

What was impressive about today’s incident was the minimum amount of fuss made by the police and emergency services. Ul. Limanowskiego remained open to road traffic albeit with only one lane in operation, and westbound trams continued to operate, while trams running towards the city centre were re-routed down ul. Wlokniarzy.

The photography of the late Tomasz Wach

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A postscript to Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy.

Lesmierz No 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T on a sugar beet train in January 1980. Photo ©Tomasz Wach estate.

(Click to see original on Wciaz pod Para.)

It seems like another age, yet it was not quite 50 years ago (1964 or 5), that a cousin took me to see  the yard (1) of the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa at Gdansk Wask and I had my first taste of Polish narrow gauge steam. Sadly, ten years later in 1974 the whole of the GKD on the left bank of the Vistula was closed and much, but not all, of the GDK followed suit in subsequent years.

During that same trip to Poland I found myself on a family organised visit to the palace to Wilanow to the south of Warsaw. In those days one went by tram to Wilanow, so I was happy enough, but when I discovered that the Wilanowska Kolej Dojazdowska ran from the gates of the park, I decided to pursue my own itinerary and, while the rest of my family went sight seeing at the palace, I and an attractive Warsaw cousin minder explored the WKD and the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa for the rest of the day.

We took a strange looking petrol(?) railcar to Piaseczno. I remember being disappointed that the line from the then terminus at Wilanow (the line had run once run as far as pl. Lubelski) ran as a roadside tramway through Powsin and Klarysew, but then the ride became more interesting as we passed the junction to Konstancin and I spotted some dumped 0-6-2Ts (2) before we reached Piaseczno Miasto. Miraculously three of these locos have survived and are now mouldering in the open at the skansen in Gryfice.

Piaseczno Miasto yard was bigger in those days (a few sidings have since been removed to make room for a road) and resembled a busy main line junction. Here we changed trains to ride in what I regarded to be a ‘proper train’ hauled by a Px48 as far as Warszawa Poludniowa. From here we took the tram back to the city centre. A few days later I had another Px48-hauled trip on the Marecka Kolej Dojazdowa from Warszawa Wilenska to Radzymin.

When Ed Beale brought my attention to the wonderful narrow gauge pictures of the late Tomasz Wach, as part of his photographic research for the Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy article, all these memories came flooding back. We wanted to reproduce Wach’s photographs of engines working on the Dobrzelin and Lesmierz sugar beet railways to illustrate the article and corresponded with Tomislaw Czarnecki on whose website Wciaz pod Para Wach’s photos are hosted as well a contact that we had been given for a representative of Wach’s estate. Sadly, though at first our correspondence seemed to be leading to a positive conclusion, it then petered out without us receiving a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Wach’s collection goes back to 1962 and continues through to 1995. It includes pictures of narrow gauge engines working on the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa, the Mlawska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Nasielska Kolej Dojazdowa as well as on the narrow gauge railways belonging to the sugar refineries at Dobrzelin, Guzow, Lesmierz and Mala Wies. There are also preservation era photos of unusual steam working on the narrow gauge lines in Elk and Sochaczew. In addition there are some splendid pictures of – mostly older – standard gauge locos working in various locations.

Wach’s pictures are from a past era when railway photography was strictly forbidden and only a handful of photographers managed to record what was an an amazingly diverse steam scene. We publish this review to celebrate Wach’s achievement and courage. It would be wonderful if someone (maybe FPKW?) manages to secure the right to reproduce these pictures in print and so preserves this wonderful collection for future generations.

Dyspozytor

Notes

(1) Ty1-1096 caught in Gdansk Wask in 1963
(2) Tyb5-3386 at Iwiczna on the Grójecka KD in May 1962

More Tomasz Wach photos (links to Wciaz pod Para):

Acknowledgements

All photographs linked to in this article are from the collection of the late Tomasz Wach hosted on Tomislaw Czarnecki’s web site Wciaz pod Para. All the maps linked to from this article are courtesy Jaroslaw Wozny and Railmap – Kolejowa Mapa Polski. Thanks also to Ed Beale for doing the original photographic research.

Early sugar beet railways in Kujawy

Monday, 12 November 2012

by ‘Inzynier’

With thanks to Ed Beale for sourcing the photographs.

Brigadelok at Irena sugar factory in Lyszkowice.

(Click to see original image in Ziemia Lodzka, page 18)

As followers of BTWT will be aware, the First World War saw construction of many narrow gauge ‘field railways’ in what is now Poland, a number of which subsequently found use as common carrier railways under PKP.  While Austria and Russia built such lines, the vast majority were the German Heeresfeldbahnen (miltary field railways).

Of the lines (or networks) taken over by PKP, the Kujawy network is probably the most widely known today and, following eventual conversion to 750mm gauge, was the last of the classic former Feldbahnen to survive in operation; although the Zbiersk line was a First World War creation, it was always 750mm gauge and was built for economic rather than purely military purposes.

Apart from the Kujawy system, a significant number of other railways were taken over by PKP:

  • most of the Torun – Sierpc – Nasielsk line, with a branch to Rypin, was a 600mm gauge PKP railway with public services until the last sections were replaced by standard gauge lines in the mid 1930s;
  • the Mlawa railway was built as a 600mm gauge military field railway, taken over by PKP for civilian services, converted to 750mm gauge in the early 1960s and lasting for freight purposes until 2001;
  • the extensive Jedrzejow system has its origins in Austrian military railways of 700mm gauge, rebuilt as a 600mm gauge line still during the war, expanded by various local authority and private initiatives between the wars, regauged to 750mm in the 1950s and lasting with ‘regular’ traffic into the 1990s;
  • the Rogow line was another that survived, converted to 750mm gauge, until the end of PKP narrow gauge operations in 2001;
  • the system based around Myszyniec remained 600mm gauge until closed in the 1970s;
  • the Zwierzyniec – Bilgoraj line probably takes the prize for the number of different gauges, being originally built by the Russians on 750mm gauge, later a 600mm gauge line built during the war, converted to 750mm gauge by PKP in the 1960s and closed in the 1970s to be replaced by a standard gauge line that was later joined by a Russian gauge railway!

There were various other lines in present-day Poland which saw short-lived civilian service and also, largely forgotten today, PKP operated significant former Heeresfeldbahnen in those regions lost to the Soviet Union in the Second World War: the 90+km Dukszty-Druja line, the 66km Nowojelnia – Nowogrodek – Lubcz line, the Baranowicze network and the Iwacewicze – Janow – Kamien system (on which PKP still operated passenger services over 214 route kilometres in 1939) to name only a few.

Besides these significant lengths of railway for which a post-war use was found, there were as many, probably many more, which were redundant.  As these lines were dismantled; the track materials were sold off.  Furthermore, the German authorities had ordered around 2,500 of their standard 0-8-0T Brigadelokomotiven (commonly known in Britain as ‘Feldbahn’ locomotives), many of which were stored or still under construction when the war ended – locomotives were still being delivered to military stores depots well into 1919.  These locomotives were also soon on the market.

Transhipment from a Wisla barge on the Borowiczki sugar beet railway, 1941.

(Click to see the original image on plock24.pl)

Many forestry and industrial concerns in Poland took advantage of this ready availability of 600mm gauge railway equipment to build their own railways in place of horse and cart transport of raw materials and/or finished products.  The advantages of narrow gauge railways had been recognised by sugar factories in the German-controlled part of Kujawy from the 1880s, and those in the Russian-controlled areas had begun to follow suit before the war.

The 1920s saw an explosion in the construction of sugar factory railways.  Some, such as Ostrowite, chose 750mm gauge but for most the availability of Brigadeloks and other equipment led to 600mm gauge being selected.  Amongst the factories that developed 600mm gauge railways at this time were Klemensow, Mala Wies, Izabelin, Borowiczki, Cielce, Guzow, Dobrzelin, Chelmica, Mlynow, Irena and Lesmierz.

German 1944 1:2500 map based upon pre-war Polish WIG cartography showing the end of the Lesmierz line near Unjejow, in the yard of a private estate in Dominikowice. Did the Lesmierz line link up with an existing estate railway?

(Click to expand,)

Lesmierz sugar factory’s railway was built between 1920 and 1928.  The first section built was a link to Sierpow station on PKP’s 600mm gauge Krosniewice – Ozorkow – Strykow line, itself built as a Heeresfeldbahn.  Note that the standard gauge Kutno – Zgierz line through Sierpow did not open until 1924.  From Sierpow the railway was continued westward.

WIG maps show the railway’s most westerly terminus was Dominikowice, south of Uniejow, while there was a lengthy branch running north from near Pelczyska to Swinice and Kozanki.  In 1926, before completion of the network, the Lesmierz sugar factory railway was recorded as having 70km of track, 8 steam locomotives, 160 freight wagons and 2 passenger coaches.  Presumably the link to the PKP line served to deliver coal and limestone to the factory and take away finished sugar, while the lines further west served to bring in sugar beet and take out beet pulp.

Further to the east, Irena sugar factory in Lyszkowice, south of Lowicz, built a 600mm gauge railway in 1920-1 to Domaniewice station on the Lowicz – Lodz standard gauge line, presumably serving only to bring in coal and limestone and take away the finished sugar.  The railway of Mlynow sugar factory at Piatek, south east of Kutno, probably also dates from the 1920s.  The main line of this system ran to Jackowice station on the Lowicz – Kutno standard gauge line, but the fact that there were branches through Janowice to Balkow and through Przezwiska to Borow as well as other short branches (all shown on WIG maps) suggests that the railway transported beet and pulp as well as coal etc.  To the north of these lines Dobrzelin sugar factory also developed a quite extensive 600mm gauge railway between the wars.

German 1940 1:2500 map (reprinted 1944) based upon pre-war Polish WIG cartography showing the line to the sugar beet factory at Lesmierz, but not its WWII extension eastwards to Pokrzywnica.

(Click to expand,)

And then came German occupation.  In the First World War the Germans had created links between various sugar factory railways and they did so again in the Second World War.  In the north of Kujawy they converted the 900mm gauge Pakosc/Tuczno/Wierzchoslawice railway to 750mm gauge and linked it to the Matwy, Kruszica and Dobre systems of that gauge, and created various other links between those railways.

In the south east of this sprawling, still partly 600mm gauge network, they created a number of links.  From Lesmierz a line was built east to join the Mlynow system at Pokrzywnica.  From Domaniewice the Irena sugar factory’s railway was extended north west to join the Mlynow system at Walewice.  From Jackowice the Mlynow system was extended to Czerniew, where a connection was probably created with the Dobrzelin factory’s system.

Soon after the war these lines started to be divided up and partially dismantled.  Irena sugar factory closed in 1947 and although its railway may have been taken over by Dobrzelin, it was probably soon dismantled.  Most of the rest of the Mlynow system was taken over by Lesmierz.

In 1948 work started on converting PKP’s Krosniewice – Ozorkow line to 750mm, being completed in 1951.  Consequently, in 1952 the 3km section of the Lesmierz system linking the factory to PKP’s Sierpow station became mixed 600/750mm gauge; henceforth the beet and pulp were carried in 600mm gauge wagons and coal etc. in 750mm gauge wagons.  Two 750mm gauge locomotives were acquired by the factory to serve this short but vital link.

Lesmierz sugar factory in 1927.

(Click to see original image on fotopolska.eu)

The Lesmierz 600mm gauge network gradually shrunk. By 1950 it had already reduced from around 120km to 90km and by 1970 had declined to 60km.  In the latter year, however, there were 14 steam locomotives, 240 wagons, 2 coaches and 3 diesel locomotives.  The end of narrow gauge operations appears to have come in the 1980s or early 1990s.  The last year in which PKP supplied beet to the factory in narrow gauge wagons was 1986, when some 15,000 tonnes were brought in and almost 13,000 tonnes of pulp taken away.  By way of comparison, ten years later the Tuczno system carried 140,000t of beet and 36,000 tonnes of pulp.

The 600mm gauge steam locomotives of the Lesmierz system were as follows:

  • Lesmierz 1, LHW 1760/191, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2416, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 2, BMAG 6798/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2483, to playground in Kutno 1992
  • Lesmierz 3, LHW 1721/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2239, to Elk, then Skierniewice
  • Lesmierz 4, Fablok 1541/1947, 0-4-0T Rys, at Warszawa Railway Museum since 1994
  • Lesmierz 6, Borsig 10329/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2098, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 7, O&K 8745/1919, 0-10-0T HF 2858, Mlynow, then Lesmierz, still there 9/72
  • Lesmierz 8, O&K 8721/1918, 0-10-0T, ordered as HF 2646 but delivered to Mlynow then to Lesmierz, still there 9/72
  • Lesmierz 9, Henschel 14921/1916, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 991, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2294, withdrawn 1982, remains still existed 1987
  • Lesmierz 11, O&K 8692/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2456
  • Lesmierz 11, Schwartzkopff 6808/1919, 0-10-0T HF 2655, to PKP 1919 as Es 451 or E1-451, Mlawa, DR 99 1611, to Myszyniec by 1940, at Mlawa 1942, Rogow in early 50s as PKP Tx1-591, to Lesmierz 16/4/56, later heating boiler at Mlynow, to Sucha Beskidzka and then Chabowka

The 750mm gauge steam locomotives of the Lesmierz system were:

  • Fablok 1982/1949, 0-6-0T Las, to Bad Muskauer Waldeisenbahn, then Oberoderwitz
  • Fablok 1984/1949, 0-6-0T Las, Lesmierz 610, to PSMK Skierniewice about 1992

The 600mm gauge steam locomotives of the Dobrzelin system were as follows:

  • Dobrzelin 1, LHW 1719/1918,  0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed, out of use, 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 2, Henschel 14471/1916, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, acquired 1920
  • Dobrzelin 3, Jung 2865/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed, out of use, 10/72
  • Dobrzelin 4, O&K 8691/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still at Dobrzelin 8/72
  • Dobrzelin 6, Schwartzkopff 6813/1919, 0-10-0T, M. Stern AG, Essen, for sale 11/22, to PKP as Es-1344, Zwierzyniec, DR 99 1621, then to Dobrzelin
  • Dobrzelin 7, Schwartzkopff 6806/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok. Probably sold to Dobrzelin by M. Stern AG, Essen, where it was for sale 11/22
  • Dobrzelin 8, Henschel 15523/1917, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 10, Jung 2864/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok
  • Dobrzelin 13, Henschel 15549/1917, 0-8-0T Brigadelok,  still existed 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 15,  O&K 8688/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, Krasiniec or Ciechanow sugar factory 4, to PKP Mlawa 1949 as Tx1-350, to Dobrzelin 4/3/58
  • Dobrzelin 15, Schwartzkopff? 6803/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, Krasiniec or Ciechanow sugar factory 4, to PKP Mlawa 1949 as Tx1-353, to Dobrzelin 4/3/50 or 4/3/58
  • Dobrzelin 17, Chrzanow 1625/1953, 0-6-0T Las, to Meldegen, Belgium
  • Dobrzelin 21, Fablok 3297/1954, 0-6-0T Las, to Meldegen, Belgium
  • Dobrzelin 24, Chrzanow 3444/1957, 0-6-0 Las, to De Bakkersmolen, Essen-Wildert, Germany

Stop press

Ex Lesmierz Fablok 1982/1949 0-6-0T Las, together with a sister engine, ex Plocicznow 3816/1958 Chrzanow have been repatriated to Poland and will be exhibited at the Krosnice Park Railway.

Footnote

Some splendid historic n.g. engine photographs by the late Tomasz Wach – including 8 photos of engines on the Lesmierz sugar beet line – used to be hosted by Tomislaw Czarnecki on his Wciaz pod Para website. Sadly the link to Tomasz Wach’s gallery no longer (as on 12.11.12) appears to work.

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Smigiel tourist trains extended to Nowa Wies

Friday, 9 November 2012

Tourist train at Smigiel on 3 May 2012. Photo Pawel Jakuboszczak.

(Click to see the original photo and several others on www.750mm.pl)

The operating length of the Smigiel narrow gauge railway has been extended by 3km to Nowa Wies. The first public train will run over the reopened section this Sunday 11 November at 12:00. Together with the 5km from Stare Bojanowo to Smigiel this brings the total length in use to 8km of the 24km long line. There are also plans to reopen the 4km section between Nowa Wies and Bielawy.

The full plan for Sunday’s event is:

  • 10:00 Smigiel – Stare Bojanowo – Smigiel with photo stops.
  • 12:00 Smigiel – Nowa Wies – Smigiel with photo stops.
  • 13:00 Smigiel – Stare Bojanowo – Smigiel (no photo stops).
  • 14:00 Smigiel – Nowa Wies – Smigiel (no photo stops).

Diesel locomotive Lxd2-241 will haul the Stare Bojanowo trains, diesel railcar MBxd2-226 the Nowa Wies trains. Fares are 10zl for the trains with photo stops and 5zl for those without.

Details of Sunday’s event were published on the website www.kolejka.smigiel.pl on Wednesday 7 November, unfortunately giving prospective visitors just four days notice!

The first year of the tourist operation has been a mixed experience for the new local council operators. While some events proved very popular, especially the early season school specials which carried around 600 children, and the public trains on 3 May which carried a total of 300 passengers, numbers dropped to around 100 for the ‘Smigiel days’ event on 26 May, and several planned trains were cancelled, on 23 June, 12 and 15-19 August. Rail enthusiasts were also dismayed by the sale for scrap of most of the transporter wagons previously used to carry standard gauge freight wagons on the narrow gauge line, the abandonment of the lines running into the PKP passenger station and freight interchange, as well as by the sale of two of the line’s Lxd2 locomotives.

The end of daily scheduled standard gauge steam in Poland

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ol49-59 undergoing servicing at Wolsztyn. Photo John Savery.

News has reached us that the steam operation at Wolsztyn is set to suffer further cutbacks. The Wielkopolska government is making drastic budget cuts in 2013, believed to be in the region of 25%. One of the casualties will be the daily steam services from Wolsztyn, which are due to end with the December timetable change.

Ten years ago, Wolsztyn would send out three engines a day. For the past few years, this has been reduced to one engine a day. The latest cutbacks will see the 7-days-a-week service reduced to just 5 days per week, with the withdrawal of weekend services.

One would expect the impact on the town to be fairly major. Wolsztyn’s weekend steam tourists come not only from Poland but also from all over Europe and beyond. It is estimated that Wolsztyn Experience clients alone put as much as 500,000 zloty into the local economy each year, with an additional 500,000 zloty coming from other tourists who also visit the region. If the weekend steam services cease it is certain that the number of rail enthusiast tourists visiting Wolsztyn will fall dramatically, and with it, the amount of money that they inject into the local economy.

This threat to the local economy and local tourism flies in the face of the efforts currently being made by the Polish National Tourist Office, who, this very week, are trying to entice visitors, who may have visited during the Euro 2012 championships, back to Poland.

Behind the Water Tower readers are not known to give up without a fight.

Questions need to be asked about the cost/benefit gained by moving to a 5 day-a-week service as opposed to maintaining the 7 day-a-week operation.

Steam locomotives are serviced on a time interval based servicing regime, rather than on a days in steam servicing regime. Boilers become due for overhaul after a fixed time, regardless of whether they are in steam or not. Operating costs are therefore not proportional to usage. Savings on overhauls by a reduction in usage will be limited.

What will PKP Cargo do with the locomotives at weekends? If they are laid up cold, this cycling of the boiler each week is likely to only add to repair bills for the locomotives due to the constant thermal cycling of the boilers causing additional wear. If the locomotives are left in steam over the weekend, then this will still require staff at the depot, limiting the cost savings that are made by not running the locomotives.

Diesel railcars have been prone to failure during cold and snowy weather. Do Koleje Wielkopolskie intend to make improvements to the flimsy design of these railcars to make them more weather proof?

Readers who feel they would like to make their views known to the relevant authorities may care to use the following addresses. A well written hard copy letter carries more weight than an email, however, given the tight timescales involved, it will not hurt to send an email copy as well, with a note that a ‘hard copy’ is in the post.

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 142, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel.: 61 626 66 00
fax: 61 626 66 01
e-mail: marszalek@umww.pl

The Deputy Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Province

Wojciech Jankowiak
Wicemarszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 340, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel.: 61 626 66 10
fax: 61 626 66 11
e-mail: wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

The Wielkopolska Tourist Organisation

Ewa Przydrożny
Dyrektor
Wielkopolska Organizacja Turystyczna
ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, I p
61-737 Poznań
POLAND

ewa.przydrozny@wot.org.pl

The Polish National Tourist Office

Mr Boguslaw Becla
Acting Director
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

bogdan.becla@poland.travel

Mr Roman Gozdzikowski
General Manager
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

roman.gozdzikowski@poland.travel

The Mayor of Wolsztyn

mgr Andrzej Rogozinski
Burmistrz Wolsztyna
Urząd Miejsji
Rynek 1
64-200 Wolsztyn
POLAND

burmistrz@wolsztyn.pl

The Polish Ambassador

Witold Sobków
H.E. The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland
47 Portland Place
London W1B 1JH

london@msz.gov.pl

Pyskowice – Last chance or last rites?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

TOZKiOS volunteers working on Ty42-24 in a secure workshop somewhere in Gorny Slask province. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Following the recent unfavourable  court decision, the conclusion of PKP SA’s lengthy legal proceedings against TOZKiOS, the railway society operating the skansen at Pyskowice, the society has received a notice to quit the former wagon works next to the engine shed site.

It is not quite the end of the Psykowice project, for the society continues to rent the sidings outside the wagon works at a peppercorn rent from PKP PLK, Poland’s approximation for Network Rail. But it is a bitter blow. The move of the restored locomotives and rolling stock from the relative security of the wagon works to the sidings outside will subject them to the same sort of petty thievery as is affecting the remaining collection.

The cab of Ty42-24 in all its restored glory. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

This final blow is particularly painful as the society have almost completed the restoration to working order of Ty42-24. The 2-10-0 has passed preliminary pressure tests and needs only a few more months work before it can move under its own power.

The Pyskowice site. The engine shed with partially collapsed roof is in the foreground, some of the sidings leased from PKP PLK are just visible behind the shed, the wagon works is behind and completely hidden by the roundhouse. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

There is a last chance meeting between society officials and local government representatives this Monday morning 5 November. All of us at BTWT hope that the meeting goes well, but we are not holding our collective breath.