Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 (Part 3)

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by ‘Inzynier’

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

After a long first day travelling north from Witaszyce to Wrzesnia via Pyzdry, we have slept well and are ready to continue our journey north towards Gniezno…

wrzesnia-north

Wrzesnia and the freight-only narrow gauge railway north-east towards Kleparz. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

After a long day and an evening talking politics over a few glasses with the locals in our Wrzesnia hotel, we have slept well. We wake refreshed and have a hearty breakfast, for we have another heavy day ahead.

The Wrzesnia district railway, on which we reached the town the previous evening, is linked to the Gniezno district railway and, through it, with the main PKP Kujawy system. The link line to the Gniezno railway once had a passenger service, but this last ran in 1928. Fortunately, however, our discussion with the locomotive crew during our long wait at Pyzdry yesterday revealed that they were rostered for a freight train north from Wrzesnia today, and they have invited us to join them. So, after breakfast we pay our bill and walk back to the yard.

While the regular passenger service to Pyzdry warrants use of the railway’s most modern motive power, freight services on the line north are not required to adhere to a strict timetable and so the older locomotives are used. Consequently, we can see at the depot loco No. 3 raising steam, a Krauss 0-6-2T dating from 1897(13). A cheery wave from the crew hastens us across to join them.

Before we can depart, however, there is much shunting to be done, so we take the opportunity to have a look at the loco depot, where we see No. 2 standing cold inside the shed(14) and No. 4 outside undergoing boiler washout(15). An hour or more passes as wagons are moved from one siding to another and finally we are ready to depart with a train consisting of a couple of bogie wagons full of coal and half a dozen empties, plus the inevitable brake van.

Leaving the yard we pass the station and head north and north east(16). On the outskirts of town a siding runs back to the right, serving a dairy, and soon afterwards we cross on the level the standard gauge Wrzesnia – Strzalkowo line which, when the narrow gauge was built, was just a branch to a village near the border with Russia. Since the early ’20s, however, it has become part of the main line between Poznan and Warszawa; this may be one of the reasons why passenger trains no longer run on the northern part of the Wrzesnia system.

We cross the standard gauge with the main Wrzesnia – Gniezno highway on our right, and continue alongside the road (seeing a motor car as well as a bus) for a while before crossing it to set out into the countryside. We cross a watercourse and a couple of trackways to reach the halt at Sokolowo, with its loading loop, beside a large farm at a junction of trackways.

Continuing alongside a trackway (and beyond that a drainage channel), we pass the loading loop at Ostrowo Poludnie, the classic ‘halt in the middle of nowhere’. We soon curve left across another ditch, still alongside the trackway and then head right, leaving the trackway, across another roadway and enter Ostrowo Wask., another loading loop beside a large farm and junction of trackways, but this time a siding leads off from the loop to the farm on the left. Here there is a brief pause while the fireman rakes the fire and adds some more coal, then we continue eastward, across a couple of ditches, and curve slightly right before passing the loading loop at Ostrowo Wschod.

kleparz

Kleparz, where the Wrzesnia and Gniezno narrow gauge systems officially joined. All three branch lines had closed by 1939. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

After another kilometre we turn sharply left to run alongside a road, noting as we do so a turnout to the right that was the start of a siding back alongside the road to Gutowo Male; this siding has obviously been lifted relatively recently. And so we arrive at Kleparz, 8km from Wrzesnia, the original ‘terminus’ of the Wrzesnia district railway, but on the same day that the line opened to here, the Gniezno district railway extended its Mierzewo branch to form an end-on junction with the Wrzesnia line.

The Kleparz – Mierzewo section seems to have been worked by the Wrzesnia railway from the outset, though quite when this was formalised by way of a lease is not entirely clear. What is clear, however, is that the heyday of Kleparz as a railway centre is now over, for although the loading loop survives (with a couple of empty wagons in it), along with the halt’s short ‘platform’, beyond it we pass remnants of two more recently dismantled lines: one runs back on the right, now only to the far side of the road crossing, while the other consists only of a diamond crossing with the main line and again the level crossing with the road. The first line used to run east and south some 3km to Gutowo Wielkie, crossing the standard gauge Poznan – Wrzesnia line and having a short branch to Gutowo standard gauge station, while the second ran north west for about a kilometre.

to be continued…

Notes:

13) Wrzesnia no. 3 was Krauss works no. 3594. It was renumbered 5 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Pxb2-852. It went to Bialosliwie in 1957, became Pyb3-852 in 1961 and was withdrawn in 1963.

14) Wrzesnia no. 2 was another Krauss 0-6-2T, works no. 3593 of 1897. It was renumbered 1 in 1939, and became PKP’s Pxb2-851 in 1949. It went to Bialosliwie in 1957, became Pyb3-851 in 1961 and was withdrawn in 1966.

15) Wrzesnia no. 4 was a Krauss 0-6-0T, works no. 5156 of 1904. It was renumbered 2 in 1939 and became PKP’s Ty1-155 in 1949. It was sold to industry in 1955.

16) The Wrzesnia – Kleparz and Kleparz – Mierzewo sections opened in 1898 and were converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. Wrzesnia – Sokolowo closed in 1972, severing the remaining part of the Wrzesnia line from the main Kujawy system. Sokolowo – Mierzewo closed in 1979. Kleparz – Mierzewo reopened for the 1980 sugar campaign, but closed again the following year.

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