Archive for January, 2013

PKP Cargo boss in surprise resignation

Monday, 28 January 2013

Wojciecj Balczun thumb

Former PKP Cargo boss Wojciech Balczun. Photo Shalom.

(Click on image to see original and for details of licensing.)

PKP Cargo Chairman, Wojciech Balczun, resigned today from the job of leading Poland’s largest rail freight carrier. The shock resignation is reportedly the result of Balczun receiving an offer of a  lucrative post with a major international company. Balczun will work out his three month notice with PKP Cargo and will help the company choose his successor.

Balczun has been in charge of PKP Cargo since January 2008. Prior to that, in the years 2005 – 2007, he was the Chairman of the main board of PKP SA. In 2008, the Cargo’s loss amounted to 178.8 million PLN. After major restructuring, which involved reducing the headcount from 44 k to 24.5k, he turned the company round and it is expect to declare a profit of 340 million PLN for 2012.

As Cargo prepares for an IPO on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, Balczun has emerged as one of the most able bosses in the PKP family and one that the state-owned group can ill afford to loose.

More (in Polish)

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Spies of Warsaw

Sunday, 27 January 2013

david_tennant

David Tennant as Jean-Francois Mercier, 1944 built Ty2-911 as …? Publicity still.

(Click on image to see original on david-tennant.org.)

The BBC and TVP have recently aired the film “Spies of Warsaw”.

Set in late 1930’s Warsaw, the film follows the exploits of a French spy, and his associates, amid the political manuvering in the build up to WWII.  Starring David Tennant (of Dr Who fame), the film was made with some scenes shot in Poland.

Purists will note that the railway scenes feature Chabowka’s Ty2-911, an engine not built until 1944.  The only appearance of a historically accurate locomotive is the scene showing OKz32-2 which is under overhaul in the works at Chabowka (with Ty2-953 seen in close proximity.)  Nevertheless, the railway scenes do feature some great shots of the Chabowka – Mszana Dolna – Nowy Sacz line, which formed part of the Galicyjska Kolej Transwersalna (Galician Transverse Railway).

The shots also include the platform at the Chabowka skansen (look out for Ol49-44  making a guest appearance at the end of the platform), and the station at Kasina Wielka.

The line itself has featured in film several times, notably in the opening scenes of Schindler’s List.  With glorious mountain views, and steep gradients, its clear why film makers use the line, as well as its proximity to Chabowka.

But wait, if film makers can see the benefit in the line, why can’t PKP?  With minimal services over it, and minimal use of the in-ticket engines at Chabowka, you would think that it would be the ideal place for tourist trips.  PKP Cargo seem unable to realise this, and for years have failed to market the line, which is closed to passenger and freight services, and clings to life by a thread.

Chabowka is a wasted asset.  A capable workshop and boiler facility with assets that are under utilised, and exhibits that rust outside in the Polish weather.  It should be a tourist goldmine, set in some of the most beautiful scenery, on a steeply graded line.

For some great photos of the line, see Michal “Doctor” Pawelczyk’s site.

Smigiel winter special

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Operational line extended to Zegrowo

A winter journey from Smigiel to Stare Bojanowo in January 2010. Video by bosz112.

The Smigiel narrow gauge railway is planning a winter special on Saturday 2 February. The event will also see the opening of another short extension of the operational line, 1.8km from Nowa Wies to Zegrowo. This is one of the most scenic sections of the line, running through woodland to the attractive halt of Zegrowo. The plan for the day is as follows:

  • 11:00  Stare Bojanowo to Smigiel (waits for connections from Poznan and Wroclaw)
  • 12:00  Special train from Smigiel to Stare Bojanowo and back with diesel locomotive Lxd2-241 and snowplough. Numerous photo stops.
  • 14:00  Special train from Smigiel to Zegrowo and back with diesel railbus MBxd2-266. Several photo stops.
  • 15:10  Smigiel to Stare Bojanowo (connects with trains to Poznan and Wroclaw)

Anyone wishing to participate is asked to book a place before Monday 28 January by emailing kolejka@smigiel.pl or telephoning 696411584, giving your full name, contact telephone number, and whether you wish to use the optional Stare Bojanowo connecting trains. The cost is 40zl per person, plus an additional 5zl for each of the optional Stare Bojanowo transfers at 11:00 and 15:10.

Elsewhere on the Polish narrow gauge, the Bieszczady forest railway is operating regular winter trains for the second year in a row (see Narrow gauge trains in the snow). These depart Majdan station at 12:00 on Fridays and Saturdays during the Polish winter school holidays, running 6km to Dolzyca and returning to Majdan at around 13:15. And a special train is planned on the Znin narrow gauge railway on 30 March, including a connecting standard gauge special train and bus from Poznan.

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Wolsztyn Loco Shed

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Some grounds for cautious optimism

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On a hot summer’s day in August 2012, Ol49-69 has just arrived in Wolsztyn with the service train from Poznan. Photo BTWT.

A number of readers followed up our appeal published on 8 November regarding the demise of weekend steam-hauled services between Poznan and Wolsztyn. Now, considerably later, the replies to readers’ letters and e-mails have started to come in. Here is the translation of a typical letter. It has been signed by Jerzy Kriger, the Director of Transport in the Chief Executive’s office of the Wielkopolska provincial government.

Dear Sir,

In answer to your email, regarding the matter of the withdrawal of weekend steam hauled passenger services from Poznan to Wolsztyn, I would like to inform you as follows:

Because of the limited financial means available to the province of Wielkopolska, and bearing in mind the high costs of steam-hauled railway services, as well as the introduction of a new railway time table from 9 January 2012, we have abandoned weekend working of services  with steam haulage. However, it should be borne in mind that the current operations of the locomotive shed in Wolsztyn is based mainly on the operation of scheduled trains which are commissioned by the local government of Wielkopolska province. A different solution for example by retaining only weekend services could, on one hand attract a greater number of tourists, but on the other hand would cause problems for the current owner in covering the cost of the locomotive shed’s operations. An important matter which has to be borne in mind is that the steam locomotives released by this change will be able to serve a larger number of tourist services.

I would like to inform you that the local government of Wielkopolska Is currently working on a project to set up on the basis of the existing facility the Wolsztyn Locomotive Shed Company whose shareholders would include, among others, other local governments. The main object of the company would be tourist / recreational operations such as organising and running of steam-hauled specials and tourist trains as well as the operation of the locomotive shed. It is planned that the new organisation would operate scheduled timetable services as well as special services, particularly the operation of various kinds of chartered trains. The range of operations is intended also to include the provision of passenger services in the area of Wielkopolska.

Thank you for your interest in the matter. I would like to share with my hope that we will be successful in delivering this project. First of all, it would allow the Locomotive Shed to be preserved as part of our cultural heritage, and at the same time there will be a chance to increase the attractiveness and scale of the railway services hauled by steam.

Respectfully yours

Jerzy Kriger

Director of Department

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One less steam engine in Poland

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

But which one?

question_mark

Robert Dylewski, who has established his reputation as a doughty defender of the remaining stock of Polish steam locomotives, sent out an alert today that the Labedy steelworks in Gliwice have received a pile of steel scrap which is undoubtedly a recently cut up steam locomotive boiler.

Robert’s informant speculates that the steel comes from Ty45-6 which was stored at Kezdierzyna Kozla. As yet, this has still to be confirmed.

BTWT will report back on this story as further information reaches us. However, one thing is certain – as the new cold winds of the economic crisis blow ever stronger – the future of Poland’s ‘remainder steam stock’ (i.e. not allocated to specific museums) looks decidedly bleak.

2013 TurKol Programme Published

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Turkol, who run both steam hauled and diesel tourist trains in Poland, have published their programme for the first part of 2013. The dates, which at present are visible to the end of August, show the usual range of long distance, and short haul charters.

The programme starts on 13 February, with the diesel hauled “Wodnik”, the train to the AquaPark in Wagrowiec.

With a lull during March, the programme gets more intense in April, with a train to Torun, plus an add on from Torun, and then the usual trains associated with the Wolsztyn Parade (now in its 20th year, and set for 27 April)

The long distance Pirat (to Kolobrzeg) is set for 1 June, a marathon day out.

This year’s itinery, as published so far, does contain additional trips to last year, including a trip from Poznan to Wroclaw via Ostrow Wielkopolska.

Full details of the itinery can be found on the TurKol website.