Ol49-69 heads towards Poznan at Steszew on 3 May 2012. Photo John Savery
The daily scheduled steam operation at Wolsztyn looks as though it will end next week. The Wielkopolska provincial government and PKP Cargo have failed to reach agreement on the cost of the service, and with no funding agreed from 31 March, the daily steam service to Leszno will not operate unless a compromise is agreed.
Sources indicate that the cost per kilometre that PKP Cargo wish to charge have increased dramatically since the service was moved over to the Leszno line. In itself, this is hardly surprising. There are the fixed costs of operating the shed at Wolsztyn, and the overhaul of the locomotives, which are done on a time based system, not a miles operated, or days in steam system. Nevertheless, it is believed that the charges have increased disproportionately.
TurKol’s charter traffic is covered by a separate contract and would remain unaffected, nevertheless, the viability of the depot must be questionable with the reduced mileage and income.
Wolsztyn is unique in being the last place in Europe (if not the world) where standard gauge steam still hauls daily scheduled services. It entices tourists from around the world, all of whom come because it is unique. All spend money whilst visiting, and this is estimated to be in excess of one million zloty annually.
If the services ends, scheduled standard gauge steam will have had its last stand in Europe.
For those wishing to put pen to paper, and explaining why the service should be retained, the following addresses may be useful. We understand that a ‘last chance’ meeting between the parties is scheduled for Friday this week, so this could be the final chance to influence the outcome.
1. Minister of Culture
Mr. Bogdan Zdrojewski
2. Minister of Infrastructure and Development (Transport)
Mrs. Elżbieta Bieńkowska
3. Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Provincial Government
Mr. Wojciech Jankowiak
4. PKP Cargo Wielkopolska Division Manager
Mr. Andrzej Jabłoński