Archive for May, 2013

New 750mm line opens!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Px48-1907 undergoing trials on the Krosnice N.G. Railway in 2012. Video by Krośnicka Kolej Wąskotorowa.

Although purists will grumble that it is not a real narrow gauge railway, the formal opening of the Krosnice  Narrow Gauge Railway, which takes place over the weekend of 25-6 May is a burst of sunlight in an otherwise murky landscape. Px48-1907, which graces the line, has been immaculately restored to a no-expense-spared finish.

Let us hope that Interlok at Pila have done as good a job on the boiler and moving parts of the loco as they have done on its external appearance. The engine will perform on new track laid on a brand new trackbed so, hopefully, given the light loads that the engine will now haul, everything will work perfectly for many years to come.

Px48-1907 on the Zulawy Railway in autumn 2010. Video by LukaszWMG

It may seem strange that, while some local authorities with narrow gauge lines would like nothing better than to dispose of them, Krosnice has built itself a brand-new line, albeit only a park railway, and have graced it with a real live Px48. However, given the way the Polish grapevine works, if the Krosnice Railway is successful, it may influence other local authorities to look again at their own lines.

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Railway film festival at Krosniewice

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

STOP PRESS – TRAINS CANCELLED

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Krosniewice’s restored MBxd1-204 railcar, built in 1967. Photo Krosniewicka Kolej Waskotorowa.

(Click to see the original photo on Facebook)

The railway film festival to be held in Krosniewice from 24 to 26 May promises trains to Krzewie using restored Polish railcar MBxd1-204, pictured above. These will be the first public trains on the railway for several years. This is the first event following the setting up of the new Krosniewicka Kolej Waskotorowa (Krosniewice narrow gauge railway) Facebook page on 25 April 2013.

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Krosniewice – Krzewie timetable for 25 and 26 May 2013

(Click to see the original on Facebook)

The timetable shows five return trains between Krosniewice and Krzewie, four of them connecting with Koleje Wielkopolskie’s local trains between Poznan and Kutno. The fifth train is an out and back ‘special’ including photo stops. Krzewie Wask is the narrow gauge platform on the south side of Krzewie station, reached by the same subway used to access the standard gauge platforms. Although the film festival is advertised as starting on Friday 24 May, the trains will only run on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May.

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Film Festival poster

(Click to see the original poster on Facebook)

The poster lists the other attractions of the film festival weekend, including the screening of Polish Film Chronicle material made by PKP between 1950 and 1960, the opportunity for visitors to bring and screen their own films, manual draisine rides, and snack and drinks stalls.

It is wonderful to see the return of railway activity at Krosniewice, and especially encouraging to see the list of organisations supporting or sponsoring the event, namely Krosniewice town council, the Lodz marshal’s office, PKP SA, the Lodz Society for the Protection of Monuments, the arts and cultural group NEO, and the Krosniewice narrow gauge railway volunteer group SKKW.

It is now just over 5 years since the regular scheduled railbuses to Wielka Wies, Dabrowice and Ostrowy, and the profitable freight traffic, ceased on 31 March 2008 when the mayor of Krosniewice terminated SKPL’s operating licence.  Since then, there has been little real activity on what was once one of the biggest and most active of PKP’s narrow gauge networks. Instead there has been much political wrangling behind the scenes. Elsewhere, the demand from tourists to travel on Poland’s remaining narrow gauge railways is growing strongly, so fingers crossed that this event will be the start of a new dawn for Krosniewice, and that the railway will continue to receive the support it needs from local politicians.

UPDATE

An update on the Krosniewice Kolej Waskotorowa Facebook page says that the planned Krosniewice-Krzewie trains using MBxd1-204 have had to be cancelled for technical reasons.

The film festival is going ahead, and there will be the possibility of platelayers trolley rides using either a Wmc diesel trolley or a manual trolley within the station area. Film festival attendees wishing to arrive at Krzewie should telephone 696 197 757 or 784 121 830 for replacement road transport. The event organisers sincerely apologise.

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PKP overcharged by 26.5 million PLN

Friday, 10 May 2013

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It seems that ISO certification is not foolproof. Photo BTWT.

Today’s edition of Puls Biznesu breaks the story that PKP SA Chairman, Jakub Karnowski, has ordered the PKP main board to request Poland’s Anti Corruption Bureau (CBA) to investigate the manner in which 27 million PLN worth of contracts for ISO certification were awarded by 10 different PKP companies to Qwantum.

The certification was part of the safety drive ordered by Minister Nowak following the Szczekociny rail crash in March 2012 in which 16 people died and 58 were admitted to hospital. An internal audit revealed that the work should have only cost 550,000 PLN. Qwantum, like the Minister, hails from the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Trójmiasto on the Baltic coast.

Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated story, Wprost carries the story that opposition politicians are demanding that the Minister appears before the Sejm Infrastructure Committee to explain recent press articles about how he accepted expensive entertainment from Cam Media without making the appropriate declaration. The Minister has also acquired a collection of expensive VIP watches we he claims were only ‘swapped’ with businessmen.

Cam Media is the company that came up with the ‘Feel Like At Home’ campaign for Euro 2012. It has received ‘tens of millions’ PLN worth of government contracts and also has worked on campaigns for the ruling Civic Platform party (PO).

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Piaseczno Px48 for sale

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

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Px48-3917 leaving Piaseczno. Photo Kurier Wąskotorowy.

Piaseczno Narrow Gauge Railway’s iconic metre gauge Px48 has been put up for sale. The loco was acquired for the railway by Piaseczno Railway Society chairman, Jerzy Chmielewski. After Mr Chmielewski passed away their was a legal dispute between the Railway Society and Mr Chmielewski’s estate. The court decided in favour of the latter.

The loco left the railway on 12 December last year on a low loader and is now reportedly stored in a car park at Skarzysko Kamiene!

Px48-3917 started life as Px48-1782, a 750mm built by Warszawskie Zaklady Budowy Urządzen Przemyslowych. It was regauged to 1,000mm gauge at ZNTK Nowy Sacz in 1969 and given a new number, Px48-3903. In 1992 it was rebuilt by Interlok at Pila with the boiler from 750 mm gauge Px49-1791 and renumbered Px48-3917. After arriving at Piaseczno it had an extensive overhaul led by Zbyszek Tucholski and a team of volunteers.

The loco was the mainstay of special trains on the line until August 2010 when it was withdrawn with a failed boiler. Repairs have been estimated as costing 200,000PLN. The loco has been put on sale at the Polish Internet auction site Allegro with a ‘buy now’ price of 250,000PLN.

A hat tip to John Savery for the story.

Does Poland have the last steam-hauled passenger service?

Monday, 6 May 2013

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Japanese designed 2-8-2 working a steam hauled passenger train in Kujang, South Pyongan province, North Korea. Video by newslabmedia.

It seems that the Wolsztyn steam kettles which are due to be taken off their regular Wolsztyn-Poznan passenger service by 2017 may not be hauling the world’s last regular steam-hauled passenger service running on the national railway network!

Pearl from the past

Sunday, 5 May 2013

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Jedrzejow Narrow Gauge Railway in 1974. Lodz Film School.

The Jedrzejow Narrow Gauge Railway (nowadays called the Swietokrzyskie Narrow Gauge Railway) still runs through some outstanding scenery, in spite of having lost, over the years, some of its most attractive fragments. Gone are: a series of spectacular zigzags to cross a high ridge near Pincow, a temporary WWII-era timber bridge across the Vistula near Tarnobrzeg and a more permanent girder bridge across the same river at Szczucin. The latter (which still survives minus the railway) appears in the film.

At its height before WWII, the network comprised many hundreds of kilometres of 600 mm track – both public lines administered by PKP, and freight only lines for carrying sugar beet to sugar refineries. Today, thanks to the efforts of a supporters’ club, the Stowarzyszenia Sympatyków Zabytkowej Jędrzejowskiej Kolejki Dojazdowej, some 31 km of the line have been preserved and are run by an operating company owned by the local authorities.

Like many ‘non-standard’ narrow gauge lines the Jedrzejow system was converted to the Russian ‘standard’ narrow gauge of 750 mm shortly after the end of WWII. When this wonderful video was made by students of the Lodz Film School, the line was past its prime, but was still carrying passengers and freight over a substantial portion of its network.

A hat tip to Piotr Kumelowski for the link.

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Łódź bridge heave

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The site of the new bridge on April 18 2013. Video BTWT.

Lodz is investing heavily in new roads in anticipation of many more motor vehicles coming into town when the new A1 motorway is completed.

If the same pattern is repeated in Lodz as has happened elsewhere the new roads will persuade even more people to abandon public transport and take to their cars adding yet another twist to the spiral: new roads –> more cars –> more road congestion and air pollution.

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The Gorna area of Lodz. Map OpenStreetMap.

(Click on map to see a larger area of Lodz to a larger scale.)

One of the roads being built is the missing piece of the southern end of Lodz’s inner by-pass, between al. Jana Pawła II and ul. Szeroka, straightening out a kink at the point where the (1) trunk road reaches the city’s road grid.

This communist-era project was postponed for many years because of the cost of constructing a long railway viaduct so that the new road could dive under the railway line at an acute angle.

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Approaching the new bridge on 26 April. Photo BTWT.

While several new roads at the southern end of the city will tempt motorists and HGV drivers to take the al. Wlokniarzy inner by-pass, the road building budget did not stretch to putting in corresponding improvements at the northern end of the city where the inner by-pass stops near Helenowek, a heavily built up area. Residents here already suffer from appalling congestion all along the (1) road to Zgierz.

Sadly the ‘Lodz Regional Tramway’, which was supposed to run all the way to Zgierz and could have helpd to cut motor traffic, stops at Helenowek as well.

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Next to the bridge, the temporary bases are being demolished.

The biggest civil engineering work on the new road was the construction of a 141 m long steel viaduct to take the existing railway line across the new road. During the last eight months trains crept past the construction site while the abutments for the new bridge were constructed under the operational railway track. In addition temporary concrete supports were built to the north of the railway track and the new bridge – which had arrived as a kit of parts – was welded together on these supports.

When the bridge was ready, the track bed was ballasted and railway track laid. Then during a 68 hour possession from Friday 19 April to Sunday 21 April the old railway track was dismantled and sufficient earthworks removed to enable the new bridge to be slid into place. Technical inspections were held on the Sunday evening and trains began running again on Monday 22 April.

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Heavy concrete breaking tractors. All photos BTWT.

On Saturday afternoon,  the Mayor of Lodz, Hanna Zdanowska called a press conference at the building site to enable the media to photograph the new bridge being slid into place. Given the importance of the event Wojciech Pater, the chairman of Mosty Lodz was leaving nothing to chance and arranged for his men to start the move at 07:00 hrs on Saturday morning.

When all was ready the hydraulic rams were pressurised, one failed, but the others were more than sufficient to keep the bridge moving. When you have 7,000 tons of bridge, ballast and railway track moving in the right direction you do not stop for anyone, not even the Mayor of Lodz. Four hours later the move was finished.

So it happened that when the mayor, her followers and the press gathered to photograph the historic event, the new bridge was already sitting proudly in place. It had been positioned to an accuracy of ± 0.2mm, whereas the design tolerance allowed for ± 10.0mm. One hopes that after the appropriate hydraulic fluids were dispensed the media displayed the same degree of tolerance as well.

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Photography:

  • The photos and video were filmed on an iPhone 4; the video was edited and rendered using Final Cut Pro 7 running on an ancient quad core G5 Power Mac. The two minutes of film took 4 hours to render!

Music:

  • The music used for the video is from the track How Long has the Train Been Gone on the Album To Forget An Actor by the London-based band Tranquilizers. If you liked what you hear, why not buy the track or even the whole album from here!