Archive for June, 2013

Ryszard Kuć new boss at Przewozy Regionalne

Saturday, 29 June 2013

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Ryszard Kuć congratulating Bogdan Pałżewicz on the latter’s retirement in February 2011. Photo Radio Olsztyn.

(Click image to see photo in its original context on Radio Olsztyn’s website.)

Ryszard Kuć, formerly the director of Przewozy Regionalne’s Olsztyn region has been appointed Chairman of PR’s management board. Unlike his predecessor, Małgorzata Kuczewska-Łaska who was dismissed in April, or chairman-designate Robert Nowakowski who failed to agree terms with PR’s supervisory board, Mr Kuc has kept a low profile to date. We hope to be able to publish a career profile of Mr Kuć shortly.

Poland’s oldest loco works faces closure

Sunday, 23 June 2013

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Fablok employees in 1959, in front of the 5,000th steam locomotive built in the factory. The WP class pacific was produced for export to India. Long serving Fablok Technical director Klemens Stefan Sielecki is the sixth person (front row from left) with his hat in his right hand. Photo public domain via Wikipedia.

(Click to enlarge.)

Poland’s oldest locomotive factory, Fablok in Chrzanow which was established in 1919, has been declared bankrupt. An application for bankruptcy was moved by a trade union and a group of employees, It was approved by the Cracow District Court on 23 May. The first redundancy notices were expected to have been issued by the end of May.

According to court documents, the company, which employs about 350 workers, has liabilities to more than 200 creditors of over 64 million zł. The Company’s assets are estimated at about 44 million zł, and are almost entirely already tied up as securities to creditors such as: the tax office, Social Security and banks. The company lacks cash which would enable it to continue production.

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Modernised ST Co Co diesels for the 1520 mm gauge LHS line. Photo Fablok company archive.

The court-appointed trustee, Leslaw Kolczynski, has begun an inventory of the assets and contracts of the company, after which he will decide upon the future of the factory.  “Bankruptcy does not necessarily mean liquidation, perhaps there is an investor who may want to take over or lease the property and the factory will be able to work on, now without the old burdens”, said Mr Kolczynskie.

The trustee intends to apply to the Guaranteed Employee Benefits Fund for the payment of overdue salaries to employees for three months back from the date of the declaration of bankruptcy. Fablok employees have not received payment for nearly half a year. The last major shareholder of Chrzanow factory, was a company registered in Cyprus.

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Nice train… pity about the seats

Friday, 21 June 2013

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PKP’s Pendolino train in Savigliano. Photo Alstom.

The Polish Government has been cuddling up to Alstom, the builders of PKP’s special fleet of non-tilting Pendolinos. Today, 21 June 2013, Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk,, accompanied by the Minister of Regional Development, Mrs Elzbieta Bienkowska, visited Alstom’s turbine factory in Elbląg, Poland. On 17 June, the Undersecretary of State responsible for Poland’s railways, Andrzej Massel met his Italian counterpart Rocco Girlanda on Alstom’s site in Savigliano, Italy. The event was part of the official presentation to the board of PKP and PKP Intercity of the first Pendolino train for Poland.

The event is seen as a significant milestone in the €665m contract signed between Alstom and PKP IC in May 2011 for the delivery of 20 Pendolinos. The contract also covers the construction of the train depot in Grochow district of Warsaw and the maintenance of the trains for 17 years. The 250 km/h (156 mph) Pendolinos are scheduled to go into service from December 2014 and will connect northern and southern Poland, linking the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Tricity, Warsaw, Cracow, and Katowice.

Rather like the wicked fairy in the tale of Sleeping Beauty, Dyspozytor, was not invited to the champagne-popping and feasting. So instead, he got out his wand and…  a puff of smoke and lots of red stars appear and there’s Andrzej Massel sitting inside the Pendolino, but something is not right, Andrzej Massel is too big, or the seat’s too small, or… .

The smoke settles and all is clear, the Pendolino bodies are tapered to stay within the loading gauge when they tilt. The Polish Pendolinos have the same narrow bodies. The 4-in-a-row narrow seats are designed around the Mediterranean-diet derrière, but the average Polish backside is a much more substantial affair. Oh dear!

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Last train to Nowy Sacz?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

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Departing shot Ty42-107, and its train. Photo John Savery.

The line from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz is on the list of lines to be closed that was published earlier this year.  The scenic line, with its twisting curves and steep gradients, is worth travelling.  With that in mind, coupled with the fact that I hadn’t travelled further east than Dobra, forced the decision to go out for the steam hauled special on 26 May, organised by the Nowosądeckie Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei (Nowy Sacz Railway Society).  Tickets for the special sold out weeks before, however there were tickets left for the Chabowka to Nowy Sacz leg of the trip, which had been added as a working train, rather than an empty stock move.

A bright early morning start greeted Ty42-107, and the mixed train of retro and ryflak coaches.

IMG_4760-1 Heading to Mszana Dolna

The 5.30 departure didn’t deter people from turning out for the train.  The line is rarely used, and this showed on the stiff climb from Mszana Dolna to Skrzydlna, with the loco slipping to a stand on several occasions.  A wet railhead, along with a rarely used line proved a tough match for the Kriegslok, despite not having a heavy train.  Pausing at some stations on the way for 5 minute breaks, the train made slow progress to Nowy Sacz, but kept time.  Despite the weather, there were several groups of photographers out in force at the lineside.

A large crowd greeted the train at Limanowa, many of whom boarded.

At Nowy Sacz, the train was greeted by brass bands, singers, and a display of period soldiers.

I was fortunate enough to be with a friend who has a wide network in the Polish gricing community, which rallies together to help each other out.  Seeing a contact on the side of the line, a quick handwave, a few gestures, and a follow up text message secured 2 spaces in a car for the return trip.

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Special near Skrydlna. Photo John Savery.

Under worsening weather, the train returned to Chabowka, full, and stopping for approximately half an hour at intermediate stations, where there were festivities laid on.  With decreasing adhesion, the train stalled several times, making for a spectacular display.  At one stage the crew were forced to walk ahead of the loco in pouring rain, placing ballast on the railhead so that the engine could crush it and get a grip.

IMG_4944-1 Mszana to Rabka

Special on the section Mszana to Rabka. Photo John Savery.

Arriving in Chabowka, the passengers boarded waiting coaches to take them back to Nowy Sacz and the intermediate towns.

As we close for press we have heard that the line has been saved from closure as it is of national strategic importance.  There are no further planned workings over the line – the trains scheduled for Parowozjazda are only planned to go as far as Mszana Dolna, missing the steepest sections, and in some cases the most deteriorated parts of the line.  This could well be the last train to Nowy Sacz (via the Transwersalna).  Only time will tell.

IMG_4958 empty tracks, near Rabka Zaryte

Empty tracks near Rabka Zaryte. Photo John Savery.

(All photographs Ⓒ John Savery. Click on the image to view a larger picture.)

More photos of the trip can be seen on Flickr, and video on YouTube.

Ty42-24 – heavy overhaul complete

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

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Ty42-24 on the day of its steam test 18.6.2013.
Photo Marek Ciesielski

(Click image to enlarge.)

Ty42-24’s overhaul is complete. The locomotive passed its official steam test yesterday and now has a boiler certificate for the next 6 years. The locomotive’s heavy overhaul was carried out by TOZKiOS (the Pyskowice Railway Society) under the engineering leadership of the Jakubina brothers.

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to TOZKiOS on the completion of a very challenging task in very difficult circumstances – the court case brought by PKP against TOZKiOS continues to threaten the future of the collection of railway locomotives and rolling stock gathered together at the old MPD at Pyskowice.

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Ty42-24 at Lazy before delivery to Pyskowice. Photo TOZKiOS.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Ty42-24 seems to have led a charmed existence, built in 1945 in Chrzanow to WWII German ‘Kreigslok’ plans, it worked in various locations in the general area of Silesia until 1968 when it was allocated to the MPD at Szopience. Here it was stationed for 16 years until, after a heavy overhaul in Pila, its has its last reallocation in 1984 (some sources give 1988) to Lazy. Here it seems to have some time as a stationary boiler. In 1991 it is officially withdrawn from service, but mysteriously stays on at Lazy, a boiler overhaul is started in 1992, but is suspended when the MPD receives a purpose-built central heating boiler.

Did the loco in those early days in Lazy have a guardian angel sufficiently senior in the local PKP management hierarchy to block any attempts to send it to a scrap yard? Some 6 years later, in 1998, Ty42-24 is ‘removed from the PKP inventory’, but remains in Lazy for the next 10 years, though in a rapidly deteriorating state. In 2005, ownership of the loco is transferred to TOZKiOS though initially the Society lacked the funds to move the loco and the local railwaymen are reluctant to lose a convenient source of scrap which can easily be converted to a few bottles of vodka.

When it was announced that Ty42-24 was to be restored there were many doubters who gave vent to their scepticism and said that the loco would never steam again. Now that they have been proved wrong we hope very much to see the locomotive at various railway events and hope that the attendant publicity may help to persuade the authorities to help the Pyskowice museum secure its future.

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Rogow railway rebuilt!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

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The last missing piece restored. Photo FPKW.

(Click to see the full track repairs photo gallery).

Over the June long weekend, 30 May to 2 June, FPKW volunteers repaired the last missing section of track on the 49km line from Rogow to Biala Rawska. Works draisine Wmc-009 , pictured above, became the first rail vehicle to reach the end of the line since autumn 2011.

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Work begins. New sleepers being laid. Photo FPKW.

The final missing link on the route was a length of stolen rail at km 33.7 near Konopnica. As the sleeper fixings had also been stolen along with the rail, this required completely new sleepers.

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Lifting the first rail into place. Photo FPKW.

The repair was only possible thanks to donations from Rawa Mazowiecka district council, PKP PLK, and the National Sugar Company, as well as the many individual donors to FPKW, including those Behind the Water Tower readers who gave money through FPKW’s PayPal donation facility during our campaign to help restore the railway. Thank you to all.

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Poland’s TWO steam galas

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Behind The Water Tower

The ‘all hands on deck’ highlight of the 2013 Wolsztyn Steam Gala, Video by lukas125p .

There are TWO ‘mainline’ steam galas in Poland: the well publicised Parada Parowozow which takes place each year at Wolsztyn and the less well known Parowozjazda at Chabowka.

The Wolsztyn Gala, whose 20th anniversary was celebrated on the 27 April this year, is  undoubtedly the event which is responsible for keeping working steam locomotives in the public eye in Poland.

The Chabowka event deserves to be better known offering as it does the sight of a parade of vintage trains – freight and passenger – rather than just steam locomotives. A couple of steam specials offering photos stops for enthusiasts are also run on the Chabowka – Nowy Sacz line as far as Dobra k. Limanowej.

This year, the Chabowka gala is due to take place on 24 August and with the Nowy Sacz line on PKP’s closure list it may be the last year that steam specials operate over that line.

Highlights of the 2012 Parowzjazda. Video by rafstak.

Sadly, because of the lack of support from local councils, and lack of imagination from those responsible for marketing the event to potential stakeholders, Parowozjazda is now a pale shadow of days gone by.

Not so long ago, connecting specials ran from Cracow and Zakopane while the parade of vintage trains took place at Rabka Zaryte. Today, the sidings at Rabka Zaryte have been lifted and Parowozjazda takes place within the confines of the Chabowka ‘Skansen’.

With a hat tip to Mike Stollery of the Swanage Railway.

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