Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 4)

by

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 3)

After a good night’s sleep in Gniezno, it is time for us to continue our 1939 journey, right the way across the Gniezno system…

tx2-355-koronowo-1969

Tx2-355 in later years at Koronowo (1969). This locomotive arrived in Gniezno around 1937. Photo Ton Pruissen.

(Click to see the original image on Wciaz pod para)

Today we are to travel to the eastern end of the Gniezno system at Anastazewo. However, the Mondays and Thursdays train to that station runs late in the day, so we spend some time looking round the city: the cathedral, main square and surrounding streets are all delightful. We have a relaxed time and gradually make our way to the main station. We pause here relatively briefly, conscious that prolonged observation of standard gauge operations may arouse suspicions of spying.

Soon, therefore, we find ourselves back at the narrow gauge station which, in contrast to the hive of activity at the standard gauge station, is quietly slumbering in the afternoon sunshine. The loco depot and workshops are conveniently located alongside the station building, so we are able to observe the motive power fleet. Inside the shed we can just see 0-6-0T+Ts Nos. 7 and 8, while 0-8-0T No. 9 is in steam in front of the shed and 0-8-0T+T No. 10 is parked in a nearby siding(25). There are also railcars 2 and 3(26).

Eventually there are signs of life and railcar 3 trundles across to the platform to form the 16.50 service to Witkowo. As departure time nears, a respectable number of passengers arrive, having finished their day’s business in the city, and the last few find it is standing room only. As we head out of the city a number of people leave the train at the various halts. Not until a brief stop at Niechanowo do any passengers join the train – from that point we are on new territory and start to pay more attention to our surroundings.

witkowo

Witkowo. The narrow gauge railway runs mainly in the roadside verge. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

The railway runs alongside a lane to the halt at Miroszka, with its loading loop by the farm, at which a couple of people get off(27). We continue alongside the lane, crossing a few trackways, and then re-join the main Witkowo road shortly before the halt (and loading loop) at Malachowo. We then cross the road but continue alongside it and pass another loading loop. Then, approaching Witkowo, we cross the road again and enter the station, where a couple of sidings hold a few wagons. The train terminates here and, as it will be a few hours before another train arrives to take us on to Anastazewo, we head into the town square to find some sustenance at a cafe. The 16km journey has taken 38 minutes, an average speed of 25kph, again showing the advantages of railcars.

After our meal we wander round the town and back to the station and we now take the opportunity to study our surroundings. Witkowo was the original terminus of the railway and the first thing we notice is that the station building is at an angle to the platform and through tracks; until the 1920s the main line ran on the other side of the building and for about half a kilometre was some way to the north of the current alignment. The former station tracks are now sidings, from the furthest north of which a line runs back westward to serve, via a wagon turntable, a warehouse. On the current main line there is a passing loop, and to the south a fan of sidings serves a store and weighbridge, but of the three road loco depot only the turntable remains, the shed itself having been demolished a few years ago.

Eventually, the 21.20 for Anastazewo arrives behind 0-8-0T No. 6(28). The three coaches and van that make up the train are well in excess of requirements for this time of day (there appear to be only two other passengers) but will no doubt be required for the return working tomorrow morning as the train heads into the city. We swiftly board the train and are on our way again, crossing a street and passing through a freight yard, from which a field railway branches north for perhaps a couple of kilometres to serve a farm(29).

Passing round the northern side of town, the line crosses another street, following which a siding runs off to the right to serve a timber yard. After a few more streets there follows a siding to the left serving a sawmill, then we swing right to cross the road to Powidz, alongside which we run to the halt at Strzyzewo. Then we cross the road and run round the north side of the village before coming alongside the road again on our right. After running alongside the road for some time we cross over to the south side, pass the halt and loading loop at Wiekowo and cross back to the north side, run parallel to the road again for a while and then curve away to the north, past the halt and loading loop at Lugi, followed by the siding running back to the right to serve the sand/gravel workings.

powidz

Powidz and Przybrodzin. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

In contrast to the previous section, which was mostly straight or nearly so, the next kilometre or two see us winding through fields and scrub until we reach a trackway, which we follow for a while, passing the halt at Charbin. Then come two tight curves, interspersed with a straight section alongside another track, following which another section alongside a track takes us past a couple of sidings on the left to a sawmill; this was the terminus of a field railway which preceded the district railway. Soon comes Powidz station, where the other passengers leave the train.

The layout of the station was clearly set out as a terminus, for the station building sits squarely across the end of the yard while the main line and passing loop curve sharply left. From the loop, three sidings branch off to the right, two terminating in front of the station building while the third leads to a turntable, with a line branching back from that to the two-road loco shed.

powidz-station

Powidz Station between 1905 and 1915. 

(Click to see the original image on fotopolska.eu)

After a brief pause we start away again, crossing the road(30). Again we pass round the north side of the town, cross a road and then run alongside the lake, passing Przybrodzin halt and then crossing an isthmus and passing the halts at Ostrowo Nowe and Ostrowo Stare, the latter having a loading loop on the left. We have now entered a wilderness of former frontier country and the halt at Rusin passes almost unnoticed in the fading light and the surrounding woodland. Finally, some 22km from Witkowo (38km from Gniezno), we pull into the former border station at Anastazewo.

anastazewo

Anastazewo, the eastern end of the Gniezno district railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

It is after 10pm and the next train eastward will not depart until after 6am tomorrow. When this was a border crossing there were no doubt additional facilities but today it is, quite frankly, a station in the middle of nowhere, representing only the boundary between the Gniezno district railway to the west and the PKP railway to the east.

Our train has arrived on a line that terminates just short of the station building which, like that at Powidz, sits across the end of the station. To the left is the run-round loop and beyond that, on the other side of a roadway, a siding. To the right is the PKP line eastward, along with another run-round/passing loop, and the two-road loco depot. The crew spend some time watering No. 6, filling the boiler and banking the fire before leaving it to simmer for a few hours. Fortunately, as the temperature drops quite markedly, we are able to join the crew in the depot and grab a few hours’ sleep.

Anastazewo in 1984 retained much of its earlier atmosphere despite the broader gauge. Video © Andrzej Mastalerz.

to be continued…

NOTES

25) Gniezno 7 was Krauss works no 6624 of 1912, originally named ‘Anastazewo’. It was renumbered 1 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Py1-721. It was withdrawn in 1955. Gniezno 8 was Krauss works no 6803 of 1913, became 2 in 1939, PKP’s Py1-722 and was withdrawn in 1957. Gniezno 9 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 6960 of 1915, became 3 in 1939, went to Wrzesnia after 1945, became PKP’s Tx1-354 and went to Mlawa in 1956, became Tx2-354 from 1961 and was withdrawn in 1963. Gniezno 10 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 7865 of 1916, being bought on military instructions to serve Goslawice sugar factory during the First World War. It was renumbered 4 in 1939 and was scrapped or sold in 1949.

26) Gniezno’s railcar 2 was built in the railway’s own workshops in 1931, having a bogie at the front and a single axle at the rear. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Mzy-21. It was regauged to 750mm at Koronowo on the Bydgoszcz system and then went to the Gdansk system in March 1951, working from Lisewo, but was withdrawn in 1954. Railcar 3 was also built in the railway’s own workshops, in 1935, but had two bogies. It became PKP’s Mzx-045, was also regauged at Koronowo and sent to the Gdansk system in March 1951. In 1952 it was allocated to Lisewo but in 1953 was set aside due to the lack of spare parts. It was scrapped in 1956.

27) The Niechanowo – Witkowo section opened in 1896 and was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. It is still open for tourist trains.

28) Gniezno 6 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 5020 of 1911. It was built for the German military and initially numbered HF 302. It became PKP’s D2-401 after the First World War and is believed to have worked on the Mlawa system until being sold to the Gniezno district railway in 1937 (more recent information suggests it did not arrive until after the German invasion). It was taken into PKP stock again in 1949 and became Tx1-355, went to Bialosliwie in 1956, then to Mlawa, and to Koronowo in 1962. It was withdrawn in 1970 and is now in the museum at Wenecja.

29) The Witkowo – Powidz section opened in 1897, was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957 and is still open for tourist trains.

30) Powidz – Anastazewo opened in 1911, was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957 and is still open for tourist trains as far as Ostrowo Stare, although the section beyond there is currently out of use due to the need for repairs to the track.

One Response to “Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 4)”

  1. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    .

    This series of articles is very enjoyable, although it is sad to realise how much of the Kujawy system has been lost in recent years.

    In July Anastzewo station, at the far end of the Gniezno line, was looking very neglected. It appears that someone had started to refurbish the station building but work has stopped, leaving it with missing windows, guttering, etc. In the yard some of the track has been removed and the rest is very overgrown. I wonder if it is still possible for a locomotive to run round its train here. It could be that, for all practical purposes, the station at Ostrowo Stare will become the end of the line. I know that “Inzynier” says that the line beyond this station is currently out of use due to the need for track repairs but have to wonder if they will ever be carried out.

    Beyond Anastzewo station the two level crossings have been removed. Further south the advancing brown coal open cast mining seems to have swallowed part of the railway formation. To the east of the brown coal site though Slesin the rails have been lifted and road/cycleway/footway improvements have encroached on the railway.

    The massive Kujawy system, as seen in the 1990’s, is now only a memory. Well done to “Inzynier” for describing it during earlier days.

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