Archive for August 12th, 2013

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.

borzykowo-II

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.

borzykowo

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.