Pleszew – the end of an era

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Last regular n.g. passenger service in Poland ends

pleszew-shed

One year to go – railbus MBxd2-216 on shed at Pleszew Miasto on 1 December 2011. Photo Ed Beale.

On 7 December 2012, unnoticed and unreported, regular passenger trains on the Pleszew narrow gauge railway ceased, bringing to a close the long era of regular passenger services on the Polish narrow gauge.

The end of services was not announced on the SKPL Facebook page (now their only news outlet, since their old website closed down a couple of years ago), and only came to light as the result of a question posted on the 750mm.pl forum. The railway has not closed completely, and it is likely that occasional tourist specials will continue to run on the narrow gauge tracks, as well as regular freight on the standard gauge tracks.

The Pleszew railway, being just 4km long and dual-gauge throughout, seemed an unlikely candidate for Poland’s last regular narrow gauge passenger service, but it outlasted Smigiel by 2 years, and Krosniewice by almost 5 years.

The service survived with local authority funding, and using the staff employed by SKPL’s profitable freight business but, as we reported in September, when the local authority funding was cut last autumn and a through ticketing arrangement with Przewozy Regionalne fell through, the end of the passenger services was inevitable, and in the event it survived for only two months.

The 4km Pleszew Wask to Pleszew Miasto line is the surviving part of the Krotoszyn District Railway, which opened in 1900 and at its maximum extent ran 50km from Krotoszyn, through Dobrzyca and Pleszew, to Broniszewice.

The railway was operated by PKP until 9 June 2001, then closed for 5 years until it was reopened under the management of SKPL on 17 September 2006. As well as the station buildings at Pleszew Wask and Pleszew Miasto, and the locomotive sheds and plinthed Px48 steam locomotive at Pleszew Miasto, some remains of the rest of the railway exist, including another plinthed Px48 and train at Krotoszyn, and the station building at Dobrzyca.

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One Response to “Pleszew – the end of an era”

  1. Alex Says:

    When I first started visiting Poland in the early 1990s it had a treasure trove of steam-operated narrow gauge trundling off into the Polish countryside carrying a mixture of passenger and freight. In many ways it reminded me of the narrow gauge lines of Wales but these lines in Poland were then still part of the national network providing a public service.

    The Great Little Trains of Wales draw in huge numbers of visitors and valuable tourist cash. OK, so maybe many of the Polish lines don’t run through Snowdonia but in some places the attraction of a narrow gauge steam railway would make up for the lack of natural scenery and draw visitors and cash to areas in a way that nothing else would. Depressing.

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