Archive for August, 2013

Ty42-24 star of Chabowka Steam Gala

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The first part of Marek Ciesielski’s photoreport

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Ty42-24 with its first train of fare-paying passengers after a 4-year overhaul. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

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Everybody wants a view, of Pyskowice’s Ty42. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

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A fun day for the whole family. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

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The heroes of the day, Krzysztof and Zbyszek Jakubina of TOZKiOS. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

Our thanks to Marek Ciesielski for sharing his superb photos with us. All the images can be enlarged by the simple expedient of clicking on them.

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Champion appointed for Polish rail

Monday, 26 August 2013

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Jacek Prześluga. Photo courtesy Fotorzepa, Rafał Guz.

As if on cue, after Finance Minister Jacek Rostocki’s shock announcement of a 1 billion PLN cut to the railway budget, five of Poland’s largest railway operating companies, all outside the PKP group, have announced that they have formed the Fundacja “Pro Kolej” (Pro-rail Foundation) to act as an advocacy group for Poland’s beleaguered railway industry.

Taking rail lobby groups such as Campaign for Better Transport or Allianz Pro Schiene as their model, the founders (Arriva, CTL Logistics, DB Schenker, Freightliner and Przewozy Regionalne) hope to persuade Poland’s decision-makers that the railway network should play a greater role in the country’s transport mix.

Simultaneously to announcing the formation of the Foundation, the Foundation’s trustees announced the appointment of Jacek Prześluga to the position of chairman of the Foundation’s management board.

We have chosen the ideal candidate for the position, said Andrew Goltz, secretary of the Foundation. Mr Preśluga is an author, journalist, respected commentator on the political scene, a specialist in marketing and public relations, and a former PKP IC chairman – all vital skills for the battle for non-discriminatory treatment for Poland’s railway network.

Czech giant to grace Parowozjada

Friday, 23 August 2013



475.101, Šlachtična. Video zavadilvilem.

Šlachtična, a powerful mixed traffic 4-8-2 built by Skoda in 1947, will be a star attraction at this year’s Parowozjada. Other locomotives expected to be in steam include Chabowka’s own: Ol12-7, Tkt48-191, Ty42-107, and TKh49-1. Ol49-99 (ex Ol49-69) will be visiting from Wolsztyn. Polish railfans will be looking out for Ty42-24 which has recently completed a four year overhaul carried out by a small team of volunteers at Pyskowice.

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2-8-2T, TKt48-191 at Chabowka Station in August 2011. Photo BTWT.

Making a welcome return this year are the special vintage trains to bring guests to the gala. These will be running on Saturday 24 August from Dobra k. Limanowej and Zakopane. Ty42-107 is booked to haul the Dobra train, while TKt48-191 is scheduled to work the train from Zakopane. Sadly the special vintage trains which used to bring guests from Cracow have not been running for several years.

This year’s Parowozjada, the 9th such event, takes place in the Chabowka Skansen (open air railway museum), near Rabka Zdroj this weekend (24 & 25 August). Further details (in English) can be found on Milos Mazurek’s website, see below.

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Finance Minister cuts 1,000,000,000PLN from rail

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

'Update 2009: Europe': Jacek Rostowski

Jacek Rostocki, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland.

(Click image to see original on Wikipedia and for details of source and licensing.)

Faced with a 23.6 billion PLN ‘hole’ in this year’s budget, yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers approved savings of 7.6 billion PLN proposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland, Jacek Rostocki.

The largest cut, 3.14 billion falls on the Ministry of Defence, while the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs faces a cut of 1.01 billion PLN. The savings will be ‘shared’ by Directorate of Motorways and Trunk roads which loses 2 million PLN and polish railways which lose 1 billion PLN.

Sadly rail, lacking a convincing lobby to defend its interests, is perceived as a ‘soft target’ by the Polish government and is regularly singled out for swingeing cuts which leave road investment effectively unscathed.

While government sources emphasise that the cuts will not effect investment in rail infrastructure upgrades, it seems highly unlikely that Polish railways will be able to take up all the EU infrastructure funds that would have been available had Poland’s rail infrastructure manager, PKP PLK, been more generously funded.

During the period 2007-2013 Polish railways were allocated a pool some 20 billion PLN from EU funds. Unfortunately due to problems in finding “own funds” it appears likely that over 5 billion PLN will be lost.

As for the next funding round, sources close to the European Commission have reported that while Poland has been lobbying hard for funding for light rail and tram projects the same has not been happening for prospective heavy rail investments.

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Tall Tales about Toad, or…

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

No trains to Vilnius

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Vilnius railway station, Warsaw – St. Petersburg Railway. Photo Arz.

(Click on image to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)

Of all of my extraordinary friends Ropucha is the most eccentric. He once bought a waterworks with a view of turning its underground reservoir into a contemporary version of Bilbo Baggins’s home.

His enormous Warsaw flat is decorated in the minimalist style of Andy Warhol’s New York Studio. Yet not everything is simple. The huge bath, large enough to accommodate a dinner party, is worked by a TV-like remote. One press and a stream of apparently red-coloured hot water starts to fill the bath, another press and blue cold water spurts out, a third button projects Debbie Harry singing Heart of Glass on the back wall. Ropucha hardly ever visits Warsaw.

Ropucha recently bought a yellow sports car, but when I suggested that he might like to give it a quick run on the brand-new motorway and pop in to see me, he replied that it was having an oil change.

A couple of days ago he rang me and asked me how I felt about  the Baltic States. I got very excited, assuming that he was asking me to come as a co-driver for a quick dash in his shiny new toy to Vilnius, Tallinn and Riga, but in fact was buttering me up to check out some international train services.

It seems Mrs Ropucha rather fancies a visit to Saint Petersburg and not wanting to risk his yellow peril on the trip, Ropucha wanted some advice in putting together an interesting rail journey. Perhaps Warsaw – Saint Petersburg – Moscow – Warsaw or even a leisurely return run through the Baltic States? Would I conduct some preliminary research?

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Warsaw – St. Petersburg services. Timetable T K Telekom.

(Click to expand.)

A little bit of work on the T K Telekom on-line timetable revealed an every second day train service running direct from Warsaw to Saint Petersburg complete with a romantic sleeping compartments. Just the thing, I thought!

But hold on a minute my friend Kret completed the train to China, but opted to do the first leg: Warsaw – Moscow by plane. I rang him and asked him why he had avoided the comforts of the Warsaw – Moscow sleeping cars. There’s nothing wrong with the train he assured me, but he end his wife baulked at paying the transit visa fee of £50 each for the privilege of travelling through Belarus.

Setting up the Warsaw – Saint Petersburg journey on Google Maps shows that the shortest route from Warsaw is through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Surely the train journey is routed the same way?

Well, it is not. A further check on T K Telekom shows that the train runs through Belarus. Now Ropucha, although quite well off, hates paying the going price for anything, so I could see that he might baulk at paying £200 for four sets of Belarus visas.

Perhaps it might be possible to reach Saint Petersburg via the Baltic States? All three countries are Poland’s near neighbours and are in the EU.

A short session on Google maps revealed that there is one railway line that connects Poland and Lithuania without crossing the Kaliningrad enclave. However, zooming in on the line shaded as distinctly overgrown especially in Lithuania, while in Poland a road appears to have been built over some of the railway track.

I phoned Prezes who knows about all of these things. Is it true that the only direct rail connection between Poland and Lithuania is disused I asked. No, he answered, there is a daily train connection but it does involve two train changes in Lithuania.

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Warsaw – Vilnius by rail? Timetable T K Telekom.

Alas no longer! A last visit to T K Telekom sure that the actual border crossing between Poland and Lithuania is carried out by coach. I find this is really amazing. Two neighbouring countries: both members of the EU, with a great deal of common culture and history, and many families living in both countries; yet their capitals – only some 400 km apart – have no direct rail services!

Surely providing such a connection should be an EU priority? It is extraordinary that it is easier to travel by rail from Warsaw to Moscow than between Warsaw and Vilnius.

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Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Monday, 19 August 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: The Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 Part 1 )

Having started our narrow gauge exploration at 08:25 at Witaszyce, we are on the last leg of our first day’s travels – the 19:21 from Pyzdry to Wrzesnia – approaching the junction station of Zieliniec…

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Zieliniec, the major junction on the system. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

After a couple of kilometres with the main road still on our right comes Zieliniec, clearly a major location in railway terms. We pass through the first loading loop alongside the road, then swing left, away from the road, and a branch comes in from the right – this runs some 4km to loading points and a farm at Bieganowo(10).

Then comes the station itself, alongside a road and with the passing loop straddling a trackway that leads off to the south. Here we wait for about 3 minutes, while the guard uses the telephone to get clearance for the section ahead. From the west end of the loop another branch heads back to the left, running 8km to Krzywa Gora. Curiously, this line initially runs south, parallel to the main line, before heading off west to serve various farms and loading points, with a couple of short subsidiary branches.

With permission obtained to enter the next section we start away again and curve right, across the minor road, and encounter the third part of the Zieliniec ‘complex’ as a siding to the left is followed by another loading loop, from which yet another siding branches back right to the estate farm. Now we head out across open country, the main Wrzesnia road now some way off to our right and gradually diverging from the railway.

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Neryngowo station in 1970. Photo Andrzej Smigielski.

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

Soon we pass the halt at Janowo, with a loading loop into which runs a field railway from the east, and shortly afterwards we cross a road and pause briefly at Neryngowo, which again has a loading loop and a short branch running in from the right, which was only built in the last year or so(11).

Setting off again, we soon lose the trackway that serves the loading point, and as we run across the fields we pass over a small river before reaching Nadarzyce, with another loading loop and a short branch heading off to the north east(12). We curve slightly to the left, following the slight valley of the Wrzesnica river, and cross another small river before reaching Kaczanowo halt – another loading loop but no branch this time.

wrzesnia

Leaving Kaczanowo we cross a road and curve right to run alongside it, following the right and left hand curves of the road, crossing a few trackways and another watercourse as the buildings of Wrzesnia come into sight. A curve to the left brings us to Wrzesnia Miasto halt, its loading loop sandwiched in the fork between two roads. The location is obviously considered more convenient for the town than the standard gauge station, for it boasts a quite sizeable and very modern station building; a number of passengers alight here.

Leaving the halt we cross a fairly major road and after a few hundred metres turn sharply right across a more minor road and then there opens out a fan of narrow gauge tracks. On the left we pass the railway’s offices and a transhipment facility with the standard gauge tracks, while on the right a multitude of parked up wagons and vans partly obscures our view until, at the north end of the yard, we pass the workshops and four-track loco depot, accessed via a turntable in roundhouse style.

Our train, moving fairly slowly now, crosses a standard gauge siding serving the sugar factory on our right, while to the left is a range of standard gauge sidings forming part of the main station yard. We trundle over a couple of turnouts that give access to the narrow gauge sidings serving the factory, pass a run-round loop and weighbridge, cross a road and then grind to a halt at Wrzesnia station, consisting of another run-round loop, another weighbridge, a siding heading back to the sugar factory and a small ticket office.

The 24km from Pyzdry to Wrzesnia have been covered in 1 hour and 17 minutes, an average speed of just under 19kph (around 12 mph). A few passengers from our train walk across to the standard gauge station and, as the locomotive heads off for the shed, we gather our bags and walk to our inn for the night, fortunately not far from the station, for it is already after 20:30 and the day’s exploration has left us weary and ready for a quick meal, some beer and bed.

to be continued…

Notes:

10) The Bieganowo and Krzywa Gora branches opened about 1911, were regauged to 750mm in 1957 and closed in 1966.

11) The Neryngowo – Gozdowo branch opened about 1938, but was closed in 1946.

12) The Nadarzyce branch opened in 1898, was cut back to a few hundred metres after 1945 and probably closed in 1957 when the rest of the railway was re-gauged.

Tourist Trains to the Wolf’s Lair

Friday, 16 August 2013

wegorzewo

Test train reaches Wegorzewo. Photo Szymon Błaszczyk/SKPL.

(Click image for more photos on SKPL’s Facebook page.)

After many vicissitudes, tourist trains are finally running on the Ketrzyn – Wegorzewo railway line. For six years the Stowarzyszenie Hobbystów Kolejowych (SHK, The Association of Railway Hobbyists) have been working to bring back passenger services to the line during the holiday season. Despite the huge enthusiasm of everybody involved, success remained elusive.

However, with the assistance  of SKPL, who provided the rolling stock and technical expertise, the SHK’s dream has become a reality and, after an  absence of four years, passenger trains returned to the line on August 15.

Because the Wegorzewo District Council have only taken over the line within the boundary of the District, this year service trains will run only on the section of line between Gierloz and Wegorzewo. However, it is hoped that next year it may be possible to extend services to Ketrzyn, because the Chief Executive of Wegorzewo District Council has expressed an interest in his Council acquiring the missing section.

Come and ride on this nearly forgotten line on the northen edge of Poland’s delightful Mazury Lake District. Trains are running on August 15, 16, 17, 18, ​​24, 25, & 31, and on 1 September. See the time table below.

ketrzyn-wegorzewo

(Click timetable above to see more details on the SKPL website.)

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Pending Pendolino

Monday, 12 August 2013

Around 04:00hrs ET22-2019, an electric  locomotive designed for hauling heavy freight trains, hauled the first of Poland’s 20 Pendolino trainsets through Wroclaw station. Eight hours later the train was very carefully propelled back into the station for its first showing to its potential customers. So many people wanted to walk through the train that the event, which had been scheduled from 12:00 to 14:00 had to be extended until 15:30.


Pendolino’s first appearance at Wroclaw Glowny. Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

A phone call on Sunday afternoon gives me early warning of today’s media storm. Do I want to take part in an early morning TV breakfast show to discuss PKP’s latest toy: the Pendolino? For various reasons which will rapidly be made clear, I am not a great fan of the PKP Pendolino but neither do I want to spoil beleaguered rail minister, Andrzej Massel’s, moment of triumph. How early is early? 06:40, I’m told.

Hmm. My first train of the morning, the 04:17 ex Lodz Kaliska, is supposed to get in to Warszawa Centralna at 06:23, but there a note on the timetable advising would-be passengers that because of a ‘usterki tchnicznej’ (a technical fault) the train may not reach Centralna until 06:53. I gracefully give my apologies.

Which neatly brings me to the first of my Pendolino reservations. Some 5 years since the introduction of the special 100mph (160km/h) PESA-built ED74s and the start of a multi-billion PLN project to rebuild the the Lodz-Warsaw line for 100mph running, PKP IC TLK trains from Lodz Kaliska to Warszawa Centralna are still timetabled to take between 2hrs 1min and 2hrs 14min.

The run is timetabled (and this is excluding any delays caused by ‘usterki’) for an average speed of 41.3mph (66.1km/h). If PKP cannot run its ‘fast trains’ faster than at an average speed of 40 mph after a hugely expensive track upgrade, what hope is there that the Pendolino will be able to run at anywhere its top service speed of 156mph (250km/h)?

2nd class seating is decidedly tacky. Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

My second reservation is concerned with passenger comfort. The PKP Pendolino is being positioned as a premium service. Yet the seats look decidedly tacky – a cut down version of something I would expect to find on RyanAir and a million miles away from the sumptuous comfort that I recently experienced in a (quite old, but superbly maintained) DB ICE coach. Look at this carefully staged photograph with the models leaning over to make the seats appear bigger.

1st class seating does not seem more comfortable. Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

My third reservation is why, oh why, are PKP buying Alstom rather than supporting Poland’s own railway industry? Both Newag and PESA were quoting for 125mph (200km/h) trains at substantially below the French company’s bid. 125mph running would be a step change from today’s railway and would leave cash to spare for other much-needed improvements.

The start of today’s event in Wroclaw. While the picture quality is appalling the video does capture how the special announcer brought in for today’s event stumbles over the word “Pendolino”. On two occasions he starts to say “Prendolino”, before correcting himself. While “Prendko” is the Polish for ‘fast’ is it really possible that the announcer never heard of a pendulum? Video Gazeta Wroclaw.

My fourth and final reservation is that while PKP bosses focus on shiny new trains, nobody seems very interested in the overall passenger experience. For a relatively small investment on such matters as: decent interchange with public transport transport, secure parking for bikes (and cars!), full height platforms, and fast and friendly ticketing the ‘user experience’ could be transformed for all passengers, not just those lucky enough to be able to travel by ‘Premium InterCity’.

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Non-tilting PKP Pendolino bogie. Photo courtesy PKP IC.

After today’s launch, the Pendolino unit will undergo certification trials on PKP’s test track at Zmigrod test track, and after that further trials and driver training will take place on the main line. If all goes well, the first Pendolino trains will start running in regular service at the end of 2014.

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Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 (Part 1)

Monday, 12 August 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: The Jarocin District Railway, 1939 Part 2 )

After a hot two hour walk we have enjoyed a couple of glasses of the local brew at Pyzdry, the southern terminus of the Wrzesnia District Railway…  .

pyzdry

Pyzdry, the southern terminus of the Wrzesnia District Railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

Pyzdry station is another relatively simple terminus, the railway having extended this far as recently as 1930. The track layout consists of the platform line, run-round loop and dead-end loading siding. The small lavatory is situated at a suitable distance from the main station building which, rather curiously, combines the waiting room, dispatcher’s office, locomotive shed and seemingly train crew lodging in a single block; access to the loco shed is via a turntable which is located, instead of the usual turnout, at the convergence of the platform line and run-round loop.

Compared to the Jarocin district railway, the Wrzesnia line’s timetable is extensive, with a daily service of three trains each way. A locomotive is stabled at Pyzdry overnight, with the first departure of the day being at 05.18 and the last arrival at 23.17. We reach the station in time to see a passenger train arrive shortly after 4pm, but we have a long wait until the next departure at 19.21.

The locomotive today is the almost new No. 5, built the previous year by the factory at Chrzanow(7). The crew see our interest in their steed and proudly show us all the ‘mod cons’ such as the superheated boiler which allows the 0-8-0 tender locomotive to develop no less than 110hp. The train of two bogies coaches and a van, however, are much older, dating from the opening of the line in 1898.

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Wagons in the loading siding at Borzykowo II in 1970. Photo Andrzej Smigielski.

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

During the layover, the crew take the opportunity to clean the fire, pull forward coal and fill up the tender water tank using the pump located beside the turntable and eventually the time comes for our train to depart. Soon we are off across the road and then swinging left to run alongside it(8).

On our way north west to Borzykowo we cross again the former border between Germany and Russia and, after 4km, comes our first stop at Borzykowo II station, once the frontier post, where a line trails in from the left. This was once the terminus of the line and the track leads to a run-round loop and loading siding. About a kilometre further comes Borzykowo I station, again once a terminus, but now just a loading loop. By this time of day there are few passengers and most station stops are brief.

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Zydowo and the Gorazdowo branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

Another couple of kilometres of running alongside the main road brings us to Kolaczkowo, a loop and a long siding off to the left leading to a farm complex, at which our train crosses the main road to Wrzesnia and then turns sharply to the right to run alongside it. Then comes Zydowo, where we cross the road and a branch heads back to the right for 2km to a loading point and distillery at Gorazdowo(9).

The halt has three tracks: the main line, a loading loop and the branch to Gorazdowo sandwiched between them and crossing the access track to the loading siding by means of a diamond crossing. On leaving Zydowo we cross back over the main road and shortly reach Sokolniki, with its loading loop and waiting shelter.

cont/…

Notes:

7) Wrzesnia no. 5 was Chrzanow works no. 727. It was renumbered 4 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation) and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Px2-805. It went to Bialosliwie in 1957 and to Myszyniec in 1958, initially became Px4-805 in 1961 and then Px38-805. It went back to Bialosliwie in 1972 or 1973 and later to Znin. The superheating was later removed and it became PKP’s last operational 600mm gauge steam locomotive. It is still at Znin and believed to be still operational.

8) The Wrzesnia railway opened the Wrzesnia – Borzykowo I line in 1898. In 1905 the line was extended to Borzykowo II; this section may have closed in 1920 but then re-opened and was extended to Pyzdry in 1930. The railway was regauged to 750mm in 1957 and closed in 1976.

9) The Gorazdowo branch opened in 1898, was regauged to 750mm in 1957 and closed in 1966.