Jarocin District Railway, 1939 (Part 1)

by

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-wig-1939

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-23-05-1976-helmut-philipp-small

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.

racendow-wig-1939

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.

sucha-wig-1935

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)

Notes:

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.

cont/…

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