Archive for July, 2013

Lost narrow gauge

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


N.g. wagons, but when and where? Photo BTWT.

Just when you thought that BTWT had faded away to just a memory, here is another of our infamous competitions! Dyspozytor has delved deep into his box of B&W photos and came up with the picture above.

A couple of narrow gauge wagons stand on a factory siding. In the background a would-be passenger makes a dash for a waiting tram.

30 or so years ago this could have been taken anywhere in Poland. So, where was the photo taken, and for some bonus points, when?

As usual the first BTWT reader to get the answer right wins our first prize: instant fame on the pages of BTWT and the chance to take Dyspozytor out for a meal of fish and chips.

Please send your answers to railfan [at] go2 [dot] pl. Good luck!

Jarocin District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: The Jarocin District Railway, 1939 Pt. 1 )

The 08:25 from Witaszyce has just reached the junction station of Sucha…


Tx3-194 near Sucha in 1977. Photo Werner and Hansjorg Brutzer.

(Click to see the full size image on Werner and Hansjorg Brutzer’s flickr photostream)

The 08.25 from Witaszyce is shown in the timetable as train no. 1 and has taken 52 minutes to cover the 16km to Sucha, an average speed of just over 18kph (less than 12mph). Now it morphs into train no. 2B and after a few minutes sets off up the branch line to Robakow.


The Robakow and Lubinia Wielka branches. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The 4km branch has one intermediate stop at Grab, with a single siding, and the terminus, reached after a 14 minute run from Sucha, features just a run-round loop and loading siding. Whilst Grab was a modest hamlet, the terminus of the branch seems to be a road junction in the middle of nowhere. Just down the road, across a branch of the Prosna river, can be seen the settlement of Robakow, about half a dozen cottages and a large farm.

A solitary passenger leaves the train and heads off down the road, while nobody joins the train – why would they? Anybody wishing to travel to Witaszyce would have to wait at Sucha for nearly four hours until the train returns from Komorze, while anybody wanting to travel to Komorze, or stations en route, would probably walk the 3km or so to the station at Lubinia Wielka to catch the train. The locomotive runs round and after ten minutes we are heading back to Sucha as train 2A.

Upon arrival at Sucha (another 14 minute, 4km run) the locomotive swiftly runs round the train again, resumes its identity as train No. 1 and sets off once more along the main line for Komorze. The next stop is Lubinia Wielka, where a freight line branches off to the left; it runs a couple of kilometres to end in the fields. Then comes Miniszew, a simple halt, followed by the halt and loop at Kretkow. The scenery along the way is once again open fields with the occasional block of woodland; a few passengers board or leave the train at these halts.


Przybyslaw and the freight branch towards Lgow. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

Then comes Przybyslaw, where a long loop forms the base of a triangular junction for the 8km freight branch to Lgow, off which a number of subsidiary branches run to various loading points, farms and at least one distillery(6).

At Przybyslaw itself a long siding leads from the loop to serve a dairy and distillery. Unlike Twardow, there is no sign of another train serving this branch, but perhaps during the two-hour layover at Komorze our locomotive will run down the branch to pick up a few wagons.

For the time being, however, we pause here only briefly as a few passengers alight, and then amble the final two kilometres to Komorze, another simple terminus with run-round loop and loading siding. Because of the diversion to Robakow, the 29km journey from Witaszyce has taken 2 hours and 23 minutes, an average speed of some 12kph (8mph); it is not surprising the train only runs twice a week.


Two narrow gauge railway termini: Komorze and Pyzdry. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

Beside the station at Komorze is the building of the long-defunct sugar factory – rendered redundant when the railway opened and beet could be transported to the much larger facility at Witaszyce – and beyond that another distillery. A separate field railway heads off north for a couple of kilometres alongside a cart track, to a nearby farm.

As the few passengers who have travelled this far wander off in various directions, we pick up our bags and set off on foot. Our destination is Pyzdry, terminus of the Wrzesnia district railway, but to reach the town we must cross the river Warta, and river crossings are few and far between.

Initially we head in a generally easterly direction, crossing the Prosna to Ruda Komorska. Traffic on this country road is light, consisting of a few horse-drawn carts and pedestrians; we see no motor vehicles. In crossing the Prosna, we cross what was, until 25 years ago, the border between Germany and Russia.

From Ruda Komorska we head north east, again along cart tracks, along the edge of the uncultivated Warta flood plain, to the main Kalisz-Pyzdry road and then, heading north west, reach the bridge over the river, crossing which brings us to Pyzdry itself. On this more major route we are passed by one light motor lorry and a motor charabanc, but otherwise the road traffic is much as it has been for the last century or so.

The walk has been pleasant enough but the hot sun and dusty roads have left our throats rather dry. Fortunately, however, we have plenty of time to slake our thirst on the local brew and partake of a late lunch in one of the town’s hostelries before walking up to the station on the north side of town.



6) The Lgow branch opened in sections between 1909 and 1911. It closed in 1979.

Canada – Runaway train derails then explodes

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Film from a Quebec TV station rebroadcast by BBC and posted on YouTube by CrashDiscoveryTV.

Yesterday’s horrific railway disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada has destroyed the centre of the town. Thousands of local residents have been evacuated from a town that has a population of 6,0000. Scores of people missing with local police fearing that many of these may turn out to be fatalities.

The catastrophe has sent shivers down the spine of residents in Bialystok, eastern Poland where a head on crash between two trains in November 2010 also led to a rail tanker fire, but then only railway infrastructure was destroyed and the town miraculously escaped unscathed.



Jarocin District Railway, 1939 (Part 1)

Friday, 5 July 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

InWandering with WIG, published in Behind the Water Tower on 30 July 2010, Dyspozytor set a challenge: “Any readers out there fancy preparing a virtual exploration of the Kujawy Railways, about 1,000 kilometres in all?” Impressively, ‘Inzynier’ has taken up the challenge. Here, in the first of a multi-part article, we turn back the clock to 1939 and board the 08:25 at Witaszyce on the Jarocin District Railway…


Witaszyce, Jarocin District Railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1934.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

What was it like to travel on the narrow gauge railways of Poland in the 1930s? In an attempt to find out, let us take an imaginary journey over the Kujawy network in that uneasy summer of 1939. It is highly unlikely that anybody would have made such a journey – most passengers on these lines were using the train for relatively short, local journeys – but it is just possible that early railway enthusiasts may have made, at least, parts of this trip.

Whilst it will be necessary to travel both ways on a number of lines, the nature of the network allows us to make single directional trips over several routes. However, our narrow gauge travels begin one Monday morning on a line that was not actually part of the linked network – the 600mm gauge Jarocinska Kolej Powiatowa (Jarocin District Railway).

The line sees only one train each way (and even that only runs on Mondays and Fridays), with the morning departure from Witaszyce being at 08:25, allowing connections from a Poznan – Warszawa (via Ostrow Wlkp.) train at 08.00 and an Ostrow – Poznan service at 08.20. The little station of Witsazyce Wask. is quite busy as various local inhabitants avail themselves of this infrequent opportunity to make their journey. Many of them arrive at the station on foot and a few travellers walk across from the standard gauge station as the two connecting services depart.

Beyond the standard gauge line the sugar factory is quiet at this time of year, but in a few months the sugar campaign will start and the factory and railway will become hives of activity. At the brickworks to the north of the narrow gauge station there is some activity, but business is still not what it was before the depression.


Witaszyce station in 1976. Photo Helmut Philipp.

(Click to see the full size image on Baza Kolejowa)

Shuffling around the yard we can see the locomotive for our train, 0-8-0T No. 2, one of three such locomotives built by Hagans in 1901 for the opening of the line(1), while in front of the workshop 0-8-0T No. 4, a Borsig product of 1907, is receiving some attention(2). Standing at the platform are two coaches and a van, all bogie vehicles. Examination of the builder’s plates shows that one coach and the van were produced by Freudenstein for the opening of the line in 1902, while the other coach came from Goerlitz in 1918.

We board the train and soon the loco couples up and without great ceremony our journey begins, across the road beside the station and soon curving north away from the standard gauge(3). As we pass the village itself, we rumble across the flat crossing with the brickworks’ railway and shortly afterwards a bridge takes us over the main road between Jarocin and Pleszew. Then a siding branches off to the right, to some sort of quarry or similar industry.

The train ambles through fields, crossing a few tracks and minor roads, then crosses the biggest structure on the line, the brick arch bridge over the river Lutynia, before curving round the village of Wola Ksiazeca and pulling into the station.


Twardow and the goods line towards Czermin, Jarocin District Railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1934.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

As a few passengers leave and board the train, we notice a siding leading off right to some agricultural buildings in the village. Soon we are off again, running alongside a road to the next station at Twardow. A brief pause and we set off once more across fields and after a kilometre or so there is a loop where the goods line to Czermin branches off(4). Here we see locomotive No. 5, a Borsig 0-6-2T dating from 1913, waiting for us to pass before setting of to Witaszyce with a short rake of wagons that have presumably come off the branch(5).

After our next stop at Racendow the fields give way to forest for a while, but the trees then peter out and we pause at Lubinia Mala. Then we cross the road through the village and turn ninety degrees to the right, pass the village and after another couple of kilometres we reach Sucha, the main junction station of the system.


Lublinia Mala and the junction station of Sucha, Jarocin District Railway. Extract from the WIG maps of 1934 and 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)


1) Jarocin no. 2 was Hagans works no. 456. Its sisters were 455 and 457. They were built as 0-8-0Ts with the rear axle having a sliding arrangement to allow them to go round tight radius curves. This proved troublesome and was later removed (I have assumed in PKP days, but cannot find a date) to make them 0-6-2Ts with the trailing axle being the same diameter as the driven axles. They were taken into PKP stock in 1949 and numbered Txb1-264 to 266 and in 1961 the series designation became Tyb3 or Tyb1, but the running numbers (264 to 266) remained the same. They were all withdrawn in 1965.

2) Jarocin no. 4 was Borsig works no. 6281. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Tx3-429. In 1961 it became Tx4-563 and was withdrawn in 1967.

3) The Witaszyce – Komorze and Sucha – Robakow lines of the Jarocin railway opened in 1902. In 1943 the Robakow branch was extended by 24km to reach Trabczyn. In 1947 a further 6km section of line opened from Grabina (6km short of Trabczyn) to Zagorow and in 1949 the railway was taken over by PKP. Grabina – Trabczyn closed in 1979, Sucha – Komorze in 1987 and Witaszyce – Zagorow in 1991. All lines have been lifted.

4) The Czermin branch opened in 1915 and closed in 1979.

5) Jarocin no. 5 was Borsig works no. 8741. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Txb4-471 (or possibly Tyb4-471). It went to Mlawa in 1950 and was fitted with a tender, became Tyb5-471 in 1961 then went to Myszyniec in 1962 and to Bialosliwie in 1973. It was withdrawn in 1974 and is now in the museum at Wenecja on the Znin line.