Archive for December, 2013

Kujawy 1939 – The journey so far

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

witaszyce-sm

Tx3-194 near Sucha in 1976. Photo Werner and Hansjorg Brutzer.

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

It has been three months since the last instalment of our imaginary journey on the 600mm gauge Kujawy narrow gauge railways in 1939. We left our intrepid narrow gauge traveller at the northern extent of the Wrzesnia District Railway.

In Part 1 we travelled north on the Jarocin District Railway from Witaszyce to Sucha. In Part 2 we took the branch line to Robakow, then continued to the northern end of the main line at Komorze. Then we walked to Pyzdry, the southern terminus of the Wrzesnia District Railway. In Part 3 we caught the evening passenger train to Sokolniki, and in Part 4 we continued north to Wrzesnia where we stayed the first night. Part 5 began the second day with a cab ride on a freight train north to Kleparz, where we rejoin the story, now on the Gniezno District Railway…

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The journey so far. Extract from the WIG map of 1935 showing our 1939 narrow gauge route marked in green.

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

Onward from Kleparz we run alongside the road for a while, but then veer away to the left and pass Grzybowo Wlkp., a loading loop with a siding heading back to the left to serve the estate farm. Only a few hundred metres beyond that, beside the crossing of a side road, is the halt and loading loop of Grzybowo Rabiezyce, then we head back towards the road, cross it and turn again to run alongside it, passing Grzybowo Chrzanowice halt and loading loop.

These loading loops may be busy in the sugar beet season, when farmers bring sugar beet to be taken away by railway or collect the pulp to take back to their farms, but at this time of year they are deserted, while it is difficult to imagine the halts ever having seen much traffic during the brief periods when passenger services ran.

We follow the various turns in the road past the halt at Wodki, with its loading loop and siding on the right to the estate farm, only a kilometre beyond the last of the Grzybowo halts. After a further series of curves alongside the road we cross it again (the road is now on our right) and then comes a long straight beside the road to Mierzewo, 15km from Wrzesnia.

Mierzewo is by no means a large station but, after the succession of almost abandoned loading loops, it does give the impression of having arrived somewhere. As we enter the station, the junction with the Stanislawowo branch is formed by a triangle of tracks to the right, at which the main line curves slightly to the left, away from the road, to enter the run-round loop, beyond which is a level crossing and a siding on the right to a farm.

This siding turns out to be the destination for two of the empty wagons we have brought from Wrzesnia; some shunting is required before the loco can propel the two wagons into the siding and then it takes water before coupling up to the remaining wagons ready to propel them down the 4km branch to Stanislawowo. The brake van is detached and left at Mierzewo, while the guard climbs onto the end platform of one of the wagons to provide any braking assistance that may be needed.

mierzewo

Mierzewo, Stanislawowo and field railways towards Mielzyn. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

North of Mierzewo, the Gniezno district railway’s line to Arcugowo once had a passenger service, but this seems to have ceased during or shortly after the Great War, and the line now sees only freight traffic. We could walk the 7km to Arcugowo, but prefer to head for Mielzyn, terminus of another branch of the Gniezno system and, as Stanislawowo is closer to Mielzyn than Mierzewo, we continue with our friendly crew(17).

Initially, the branch seems to be dead straight and, after passing a junction with a short field railway to the left and throwing off a branch to the right, ends at a buffer stop beside a cart track at a location apparently called Krolewiec. It turns out that the branch we passed is in fact the ‘main line’ to Stanislawowo and the end of the straight is a siding, destination for another two of the empty wagons. With these uncoupled, we retrace our steps to the turnout and set off across the fields, passing another short field railway branching off to our left.

The true terminus of the branch is a large farm, at which an estate railway also terminates (we crossed one line of this field railway as we entered Stanislawowo), and for which the remaining empty wagons and the loaded coal wagons are destined. Here we bid farewell to the Wrzesnia crew and their railway and set off on foot for Mielzyn. The journey of some 19km has taken almost three hours, including the shunting at Mierzewo and Krolewiec.

We walk along the road, heading north east past Krolewiec; we could have saved ourselves a bit of a walk by disembarking at that location, but we have plenty of time to get to Mielzyn. Turning right through the village of Jaworowo we soon encounter a field railway on our right, and then another crosses the road along which we are walking.

On the far side of the village we see that this second field railway actually joins the Mielzyn branch at Jaworowo halt, where there is also a loading loop and a siding. We could catch the train from here but, as we still have a couple of hours before the train leaves Mielzyn, we continue our walk to the terminus.

Along the road we pass the occasional horse and cart, and one or two people on foot. In the surrounding fields we see the typical scenes of the Polish countryside – gently undulating fields that stretch away into the distance, a few watercourses, in places a group of people loading a horse-drawn cart, in other fields people are working the land by hand. There is little sign of mechanisation other than the railway.

to be continued…

Notes:

17) Mierzewo – Stanislawowo appears to have been a branch of the sugar factory’s 900mm gauge railway, but opened to public traffic on 600mm gauge in 1895; it was regauged to 750mm in 1957. Krolewiec – Stanislawowo closed in 1968 and Mierzewo – Krolewiec in 1973.

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PKP PLK takes over train information

Monday, 16 December 2013

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Timetable change at Lodz Kaliska on 19.09.2013. Photo BTWT.

(All images can be clicked to enlarge.)

At midnight on Saturday 14 December, a new railway timetable was introduced. PKP IC are to run fewer trains than last year. Inter City will run 326 trains on the national railway network (355 – 2012/3) and 40 international trains running across the Polish border (52 – 2012/3).

PKP PLK, the company responsible for Poland’s railway infrastructure, will take overall responsibility for the quality of information provided to passengers at all of Poland’s railway stations with the exception of the Warsaw main line stations: Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Wschodnia.

There will be standards for the way train services are announced as well as the information that is shown on the various display systems. There will quality inspectors to ensure that the standards are met, service level agreements and fines for those responsible for not achieving them.

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Information is inconsistent and incomplete. Photo BTWT.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that PKP bosses are creating yet another management team to solve a problem that would just melt away after the application of a little customer feedback, analysis and common sense. The problem is not that one station announcer says, The train at platform 3, track 5, is for Lodz Kaliska, calling at Zyradow, Skierniewice and Koluszki, and another says, The train for Lodz Kaliska, calling at Zyradow, Skierniewice and Koluszki, is at platform 3, track 5; the problem is that in both cases the information is incomplete.

First of all, it would be helpful – as I hurtle through the station wondering if I have time to reach the platform or would my time be better invested by buying a ticket for the next train – to have the departure time confirmed. In the UK the station announcer informs us, The train at platform 3 is the 16:16hrs for Lodz Kaliska… . Why not also announce the departure time in Poland?

Secondly, the list of calling stations has stations missing. The train also calls at the Lodz main stations: Lodz Widzew and Lodz Chojny, but you will not obtain this information from the printed timetables displayed at Centralna or any of the electronic train departure indicators.

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Heath warning on the PKP PLK passenger information portal.

The printed timetable displayed at stations is a plakat relacyjny which shows the train times and departure details, but not all the calling stations. So if you do not have access to the on-line timetable, or are not Internet-savvy it would seem that PKP wants you to go by bus.

Assuming that you have found the right destination, train and platform – all is well until things go wrong. There is then a dearth of information, and station staff and train crew seem to melt into thin air. A pertinent tale about the 18:46 from Warszawa Srodmiescie to Piaseczno was recently published on the W-wa Jeziorki blog. I wonder just how many people in PKP Informatyka are working on smart travel information systems?

Source:

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Pyskowice – some good news at last!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

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The pride of the fleet, restored Ty42-24 steam test, 18.6.2013.
Photo Marek Ciesielski

On Monday 9 December the District Court in Katowice threw out the case brought by PKP SA against TOZKiOS, the railway society that is responsible for the Pyskowice railway museum. PKP SA were claiming that the society owed several tens of thousands of zloty in unpaid rent and were seeking a court order requiring the society to pay the back rent – or have its assets seized – and forcing TOZKiOS to quit the site.

The court found that the society had a perfectly valid agreement with infrastructure company PKP PLK and that it had kept its rental payments up to date. Of course, the court order does not provide TOZKiOS what the society most needs – security of tenure and access to the old roundhouse area of the  site, but it does buy time.

It is to be hoped that it may be possible to persuade both parties that the way forward is the path of conciliation and not litigation and that through constructive dialogue a solution can be found that represents a ‘win-win’ for both sides.

Waiting for some TLC, the Pyskowice engine shed. Photo BTWT.

For many years TOZKiOS has been prevented from accessing the old roundhouse site. Without an effective guardian, the engine shed has been deteriorating fast. Several years ago accumulated snow led to a roof collapse.

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Smashed down and stolen door. Photo TOZKiOS.

TOZKiOS have tried to keep the old shed area secure, but a week ago scrap thieves smashed down an old door and are now helping themselves to the metal contents inside the shed.

PKP boss launches clean up campaign

Friday, 13 December 2013

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Former PKP Cargo Chairman, Lukasz Boron. Photo PKP Cargo.

Shortly after sacking PKP Cargo boss, Lukasz Boron, PKP SA Chairman, Jakob Karnowski, launched a drive to introduce a code of ethics across the whole of the PKP Group.

Each PKP subsidiary is to have its own code of practice and a person responsible for making sure that it is implemented. A senior project manager, reporting direct to Karnowski, will oversee the whole process.

‘Spanish customs’ were once common in PKP. It was not unknown for regional heads in the infrastructure company, PKP PLK, to run their own track maintenance companies employing PKP PLK staff and bidding for PKP PLK contracts.

Conflicts of interest were rife. Some PKP Cargo bosses had shares in Cargosped, a logistics company that bid for freight haulage contracts in competition with PKP Cargo.

Industry sources claim that the wagon standing time scam is still common. PKP Cargo customers are charged for the amount of time wagons are left in sidings waiting to be unloaded, certain Cargo officials are happy – in return for a small consideration – to book a lower amount of standing time.

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Audit Commission slams railway infrastructure

Thursday, 12 December 2013

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Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, Chief Executive of NIK. NIK video.

(Click image to go to the source page on the NIK website.)

Poland’s National Audit Commission published a report today about the poor safety record of Polish railways. Poland’s railways had the second highest accident record in 2010 and 2011 (Romania had first place), though they were knocked down to third place by the Slovak Republic in 2012.

The most common reason for railway accidents was the bad state of the track, points and signalling equipment. Only 43% of Poland’s railway infrastructure is in good condition, 30% is in a satisfactory condition (speed limits are in force and certain elements need renewal); 23% is unsatisfactory (major speed limits are imposed, and many elements require renewal; 4% is in bad condition.

safety league table

European railway accident league table. Source UIC.

(Click to enlarge.)

While the National Audit Commission report highlights the need for more investment in Poland’s railway network, Polish government representatives in Brussels are lobbying hard to be able to use more EU funds on road building. See More on Massel sacking.

More on Massel sacking

Friday, 6 December 2013

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Former Rail Minister Andrzej Massel. Photo Shalom.

BTWT has been told by sources close to the Ministry of Transport the reasons why the Undersecretary of State responsible for Poland’s railways was sacked by Elzbieta Bienkowska, the new Infrastructure and Development Minister – he was too pro rail!

Apparently, the Polish government has been trying to wriggle out of the EU Commission’s requirement that 60% of the next tranche of EU transport infrastructure funding should be spent on rail. Polish government negotiators have been claiming that there was no way that Polish railways could use all the funds and that most of the funding should be spent on road building.

Massel broke ranks and told European Commission officials that Polish railways could use all the funds. So he was sacked.

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