Archive for the ‘600 mm’ Category

Narrow Gauge revival

Friday, 29 May 2015

Pleszew railcar in December 2011. Photo Ed Beale.

The beginning of May in Poland is memorable not just for the annual Wolsztyn Parade of Steam locomotives, but for the start of tourist services on Poland’s preserved narrow gauge railways. Most lines run trains just over the weekend, sometimes only a couple of return trips on Sundays.

To the best of our knowledge (please tell us if you know of others!) only three lines operate daily services during the operating season: the Nadmorska Kolej Wąskotorowa, aka the Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway; the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway; and the Bieszczady Forest Railway. The Bieszczady weekday service runs only in July and August, while the Gryfice and Znin lines run daily from May through to September.

Pleszew_timetable

Pleszew Railway timetable 4 May until 13 June 2015.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Notes

(B) runs Mondays to Fridays & Sundays (except 4.6.2015)
(D) runs Mondays to Fridays except bank holidays
(E) runs Mondays to Saturdays except bank holidays
(6) runs on Saturdays
(7) runs on Sundays (except 4.6.2015)

All of us a BTWT were surprised and delighted to be told by SKPL that they have brought back daily ordinary passenger services (not tourist services!) on the Pleszew narrow gauge railway, and that funding is in place for the services to run to the end of 2015.

The Pleszew n.g. line is a mixed gauge line – standard gauge and narrow gauge trains share one rail. It is a 3 km fragment of the erstwhile Krotoszyn Narrow Gauge Railway which at its height was nearly 50 km long. The last train ran from Krotoszyn to Pleszew Miasto on 12 January 1986. The line was taken over by the Pleszew Town Council who licensed it to SKPL in 2006. SKPL operate freight trains over the standard gauge tracks from the interchange with the main line to an oil depot in Pleszew.

In February 2013, BTWT reported that passenger services using a diesel railcar operating over the n.g. tracks had been suspended. We are delighted to report that as from 4 May 2015 Poland’s last surviving n.g. regular passenger service is again operational.

Anastazewo to Jablonka, 1939

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 4)

On 5 July 2013, BTWT published the first part of the imaginary diary of a railway enthusiast exploring the magnificent narrow gauge railways of the Kujawy region of Poland in 1939. Carefully researched by ‘Inzynier’ and brilliantly presented by narrow gauge expert Ed Beale, they are an evocative recreation of a lost world.

At the start of the fifth day, we have a very early start to head East from Anastazewo…

Anastazewo-station-postcard

A very early postcard view of Anastazewo station.

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

Around 5am we are woken from our slumber in the loco depot at Anastazewo as work starts on preparing the loco and train for the 06:00 departure.  Half an hour or so later we start to hear a train approaching from the east and at 05:48 the connecting service from Konin (Tuesdays and Fridays only) rolls across the level crossing and into the station.  The locomotive is another 0-8-0T, bearing the number D1-345, while the train consists of two coaches (but no passengers), the usual van and three open wagons(31).  One of the coaches appears to have been converted from a freight van, while the other is purpose-built.  Mail bags are exchanged between trains (and one goes into the station building), while one of the wagons (presumably loaded, as it is sheeted over) is added to the Gniezno train.

At 06:00 No. 6 and its train depart westward.  D1-345 takes water, shunts the other two wagons into the siding and couples up to the coaches, while the fireman prepares his fire for the journey ahead and the injector sings as the water level rises in the boiler.  Unlike the Gniezno men, this crew from Konin do not have the luxury of a few hours’ sleep before starting the return journey; they ‘clocked on’ quite a few hours ago, set out from their home station at 03:35, and will not get back until 08:35.

All too soon for the fireman it is time to depart and we join the other three passengers who have arrived at the station to board the 06:12 departure.  The train shuffles out of the station (the locomotive is fitted with a spark arrestor on the chimney, which muffles any real ‘chuff’) and back across the road as the next stage of our journey begins(32).

anastzewo-departure

A much more recent departure from Anastazewo, at the turn of the 1980s/90s. Photo Milosz Telesinski.

(Click to see the original image on Baza Kolejowa)

So far all of our travels have been on railways owned and operated by the respective local authorities (Jarocin, Wrzesnia and Gniezno).  Now we are on the state railway system but ironically the locomotive and coaches seem inferior to anything we have previously experienced.  We briefly run alongside the road, cross over it again and run along the other side of it.

After about a kilometre a branch trails in on the right, this is Goslawice sugar factory’s 7 km line to beet loading points at Naprusewo(33).  Our train trundles over a road junction and we find the road is on our right instead of left, but that soon changes when we cross to the other side again.  Various other trackways are crossed and then we leave the road for a while.  Curving to the left we cross a small river and another couple of roadways and arrive at Budzislaw Koscielny halt.  Here another Goslawice sugar factory line trails in, this time from the left and with a loop; it runs 4 km to a loading point at Marszewo(34).

anastazewo-budzislaw-map

Anastazewo to Budzislaw-Koscielny and branches. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

A small crowd is awaiting the train at Budzislaw and perhaps a dozen people board the train, most carrying baskets full of produce, while those with more bulky goods load them into the van.  Within a minute or so we are on our way again, alongside a road for a couple of kilometres to the next halt at Nieborzyn, where the three waiting passengers quickly climb aboard.

Shortly after the halt, the road crosses to our other side, but roadside running remains the order of the day until we cross over again and then curve away from the road on the approach to Zlotkow.  This halt has a loop and another handful of passengers join the train.  There now follows a fairly straight section across open country, crossing the odd road or watercourse, to Dankow, another halt with a loading siding, at which another couple of passengers board.

Shortly after Dankow comes a pair of tight bends, then we cross a couple of streams and finally cross the road into Jablonka Slupecka, a quite sizeable station with loops and a number of sidings holding various wagons and vans, as well as the line from Sompolno trailing in from the east.  The 14 km from Anastazewo have taken us 53 minutes to cover (16 kph or 10 mph), but the importance of Jablonka is underlined by the fact that the train pauses here for 17 minutes – the loco takes water and the fireman again tends to his fire, while another half dozen or so passengers join the train.  Meanwhile, another 0-8-0T, number D1-332, is shunting wagons from one siding to another(35).

to be continued…

    Notes

    31) D1-345 was a ‘Brigadelok’ built by Henschel (works number 13312) in 1915 and initially numbered HF 349.  It was amongst the locomotives inherited by PKP when the Kujawy system was taken over after the First World War.  It remained on the system until the Second World War, when it became DR’s 99 1553, but was taken away from the system during that war and nothing further is known about it.

    32) The Anastezewo – Maly Patnow section was built by Goslawice sugar factory in 1912 as a 750mm gauge ‘industrial’ railway.  It was converted to 600mm gauge by the invading Germans in 1914, passenger services later started and the line was taken over by PKP after the First World War.  It was converted back to 750mm gauge in the 1950s, but passenger services west of Jablonka Slupecka ceased in 1954/5.  Jablonka Slupecka – Maly Patnow closed in 1965 as a result of brown coal mining in the area.  Freight traffic on the remaining section gradually declined to zero, but it remained in place as a link between the Gniezno and Sompolno operations.  Following cessation of PKP narrow gauge operations in 2001 it was officially transferred to the Gniezno division, but saw no regular traffic and sections have since been lifted to facilitate further brown coal mining.

    33) Goslawice sugar factory’s branch to Naprusewo was built to 600mm gauge in the 1920s and regauged to 750mm in the 1950s.  It closed in about 1975.

    34) Goslawice sugar factory’s branch to Marszewo was built in the 1920s to 600mm gauge.  It probably closed in the 1950s when the other lines were regauged.

    35) D1-332 was a ‘Brigadelok’ built by Henschel (works number 12557) in 1914 and initially numbered HF 255.  It was amongst the locomotives inherited by PKP when the Kujawy system was taken over after the First World War.  It remained on the system until the Second World War, when it became DR’s 99 1548.  It was taken away from the system during that war but later returned and became PKP’s Tx1-328.  It went to Rogow about 1950, to Mlawa on 1st September 1954 and was withdrawn on 16th November 1955.

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 4)

Friday, 12 September 2014

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.

Krosniewice death watch

Monday, 11 August 2014

With perhaps, the future of the daily ex Wolsztyn steam services being the one exception, no campaign has mobilised BTWT readers as much as the battle to save the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway. Alas it seems that all our attempts – as well as the stalwart efforts of local enthusiasts – have failed to influence the decision makers.

As the various local authorities prepare to take over sections of the line, rip up the track and convert them into cycle paths, on July 6 our reporter paid a last nostalgic visit to photograph the railway’s remains at Ozorkow and Krosniewice.

The text and photographs in this article may be republished under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

Krosniewice-1020907

Volunteers tidy the path leading to the narrow gauge platform at Ozorkow. An Open Day is held each Sunday afternoon at the station. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

(All photos can be expanded by double clicking on the images.)

In its heyday the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways – comprising some 1,000 km of 600mm and 750mm lines – were Poland’s largest narrow gauge network. Starting from various independent agricultural and sugar beet railways the lines were expanded and connected together into a 600mm network for the purposes of supplying the Prussian forces during WW I.

When Poland recovered its independence the ‘main line’ was converted to 750mm. PKP constructed two new buildings at Krosniewice in the latest Art Deco style – the station building and the running shed.

Krosniewice-1020903

One of the attractions of the Sunday Open Days is the possibility of a ride on a platelayer’s trolley. Local volunteers pose with an itinerant Englishman. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The Kujawy Railways survived WWW II and some of the remaining 600mm feeder lines were converted to 750mm gauge. At the start of 1991, PKP reorganised the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways into three independent railways the Gniezno Narrow Gauge Railway, the Sompolno Narrow Gauge Railway, and the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway.

The Krosniewice Railway and the Gniezno Railway – but not the Sompolno Railway – were two of the some two dozen railways that were rescued from the wholesale destruction of the remaining PKP narrow gauge lines in 2001.

Thanks to co-operation between the then Mayor of Krosniewice, and the former PKP general manager of the line, the Town Council decided to acquire the Krosniewice line from PKP.

 

Krosniewice-1020919

At first sight Krosniewice station appears to be open. Closer inspection reveals to two changes wrought by Barbara Herman, the Mayor of  Krosniewice – the removal of the level crossing barriers across the main road, and the grave-like display of flowers in the platelayer’s trolley next to the level crossing. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

While the legal formalities for the transfer of the ownership of the line proceeded, the Council obtained an operating licence from PKP SA granted which it sub-licensed to SKPL, a society set up with the objective of carrying on operations on the recently closed narrow gauge railways.

The line’s future seemed secure. SKPL operated a regular passenger service on weekdays linking Krosniewice to the PKP stations at Ostrowy and Krzewie. On market days the service was extended to Dabrowice and Wielka Wies Kujawska.

But the main work on the line was freight – carrying supplies to and refined sugar from sugar refineries situated on the network. At the peak of SKPL operations the line was carrying 100,000 tonnes of freight a year.

Krosniewice-1020921

Looking to the North – everything appears neat and tidy. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The legal wheels turned but slowly – Polish law required PKP to recreate the missing deeds for all the parcels of land over which the line ran before a formal handover could be concluded with Krosniewice Council.

Meanwhile, as a gesture of good faith, PKP transferred the ownership of all the line’s rolling stock – including a working Px48 steam locomotive – to the Council.

Unlike PKP, SKPL received no central government subsidy. During the off-season it was sometimes difficult to find the money to purchase replacement parts for the diesel locomotives and pay staff.

Slowly, disused feeder lines began to vanish…  .

Krosniewice-1020918

But a peek across the wall shows that every piece of glass is smashed in the skylight of the workshop roof. Photo BTWT.

Meanwhile a group of railway enthusiasts started clearing the overgrown trackbed on the disused track bed between Ozorkow and Krosniewice. While senior SKPL management – based in the Zbiersk Cukrownia HQ of the Kalisz narrow gauge railway – backed their efforts, relations with management and staff at Krosniewice were strained.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of local railway enthusiasts was when GDDKiA (Poland’s Directorate of Trunk Roads and Motorways) decided that they needed to take over a section of the narrow gauge railway in the vicinity of Topola Krolewska to build a new wide viaduct across the Lodz-Kutno railway line. Thanks to the energetic lobbying of the enthusiasts, the GDDKiA ended up having to construct a brand new viaduct for the narrow gauge line as well!

Krosniewice-1020910

The narrow gauge freight wagons have received no attention since the line’s closure. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

In 2006, at special meeting in Ozorkow the supporters of the line decided to formally constitute themselves into the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways Society. SKPL Chairman, Tomasz Strapagiel, attended the meeting and gave the venture his support.

The Society acquired a passenger coach from the defunct Piotrkow Trybunalski narrow gauge railway and restored it to running order. The Society’s volunteers cleared the trackbed from Krzewie to Ozorkow and, with the co-operation of SKPL, a number of special trains – which proved very popular – were run through to Ozorkow.

Krosniewice-1020915

The Art Deco building in the background is the running shed. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Then in 2007 or thereabouts a new Mayor was elected in Krosniewice. Whereas the previous Mayor saw the Krosniewice Railway primarily as a transport undertaking, the new Mayor – Barbara Herman – saw the railway as a lucrative development opportunity.

Soon she visited the line, in the company of the local PKP property surveyor, and expressed an interest in demolishing the historic workshop buildings in order to make was for a major new property development – the General Wladyslaw Anders Centre.

Krosniewice-1020917

Recently repainted, the point lever and indicator adds a surreal touch. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Mrs Herman requested that SKPL vacate the workshop buildings. The General Manager pointed out that SKPL needed the workshops to maintain the transporter wagons used to carry the standard gauge freight wagons. The Mayor countered that she had no interest in carrying ant freight though she might be prepared to countenance a small ‘fun fair railway’ somewhere on the site.

SKPL refused to vacate the workshop buildings. The Mayor countered by terminating SKPL’s licence to operate the railway.

Krosniewice-1020916

These coal trucks have a special compartment for a brakeman and were last used on sugar beet trains. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The last train ran on 31 March, 2008. Ironically SKPL were in negotiation with a bulk aggregate supplier to deliver several hundred tonnes of roadstone required for building the A2 and A1 motorways. Ads a result of the Mayor’s decision roads in the Lodz Province were subject to tens of thousands of tonne km of unnecessary road traffic.

The Mayor’s decision provoked a massive storm of protest. Realising which way the wind was blowing, the Mayor trimmed her sails maintaining a public stance that she supported the reopening of the railway. She even allowed local activists to organise a couple of special trains from Krosniewice to Ozorkow to demonstrate her good intentions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Mayor continued her attempts to have the workshop buildings demolished.

Krosniewice-1020911

Barely visible under the undergrowth – a line of standard gauge transporter wagons. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

But the Mayor’s plans hit an unexpected obstacle in the form of the Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, Mr Wojciech Szygendowski. Mr Szygendowski refused to grant permission to have the historic listed buildings demolished.

With her plans apparently thwarted the Mayor decided to reverse her predecessor’s decision to acquire the whole of the Krsoniewice Narrow Gauge Railway from PKP. Instead she came up with the plan that each local council should acquire just that section of line that lay within the its own administrative boundaries.

Now the demise of the railway could become a collective affair – one council could use the line for a cycle path, another for road improvements… and as the line died section by section and the historic workshop buildings deteriorated she could try yet again to have them demolished.

Krosniewice-1020909

The low buildings were the machine shops. The smashed windows and doors tell their own story. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Without any maintenance, the workshop buildings deteriorate year by year. Unless a ‘white knight’ appears on the scene it seems increasingly like that Mrs Barbara Herman will succeed in her plan to bring about the final end of the Krosniewice Railway.

Further reading:

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 3)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 2)

After two days travel, we have reached Gniezno, operating base for the western part of the Kujawy narrow gauge railway network…

gniezno

Gniezno. The narrow gauge line runs south east. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

The third day of our tour presents us with two problems. Firstly, we need to continue our journey across the network via Anastazewo, but that end of the Gniezno system has a rather sparse service. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is an afternoon working, while on Mondays and Thursdays there is an evening train to Anastazewo which overnights there and returns early on Tuesdays and Fridays. Today is Wednesday, so we have no way of reaching Anastazewo by train. Secondly, our mission is to cover the whole of the linked Kujawy system and yesterday we missed out the Mierzewo – Arcugowo section of the Gniezno railway, which links that system to the Wrzesnia line. Consequently, we resolve to spend the day covering the missing link on foot.

Fortunately, the Gniezno – Powidz section of line has a daily passenger service, so we will be able to journey to and from Niechanowo by train and, as we will be staying in the same hotel tonight, we can travel rather more lightly for our railway ramble. The first departure of the day from Gniezno is at 09.15 (there was an arrival from Powidz at 07.40 to bring folk into the city), which turns out to be railcar No.1, built in Hannover in 1928(21). Passenger loadings are relatively light and the car’s 30 seats are more than sufficient as we re-trace yesterday’s route to Niechanowo. The advantages of the railcar are clear in terms of journey time, as we cover the 10km in just 22 minutes at an average speed of 27 km/h (17 mph).

And so we start walking. From Niechanowo station we cross the Witkowo road and pass through the village, turning left (and crossing the field railway we saw yesterday) to eventually reach the crossroads by Arcugowo halt. Here we turn right, for the branch to Mierzewo runs along the right hand side of the road(22). Shortly before Mikolajewice the railway crosses the road and we follow it, skirting round the village, to the unused halt with a loop which clearly is used, as there are two wagons in it, one of them partly loaded with hay. The railway then heads south alongside a road, crossing a couple of streams and then crossing to the other side of the road and throwing off a short siding to the left that crosses back over the road.

At Malczewo comes an oddity, for the railway passes under a road bridge. Why a bridge? From the topography it would seem that the railway could have crossed on the level, while the road is by no means a busy highway; indeed, a few kilometres to the east, the Mielzyn branch crosses the same road on the level. Continuing south of the bridge, the railway runs on the left hand side of another road and shortly a field railway branches back to the left; this splits into three branches, each perhaps a kilometre long. There is also a halt. The main line continues to Czechowo-Grotkowo (various names seem to have been used for this halt) which is a three-way junction beside a crossroads. To the right a field railway runs beside a cart track to the village and farm at Grotkowo, straight ahead runs the district railway’s branch to Czeluscin, with a loading loop alongside the road, while to the left is the main branch to Mierzewo, also alongside a road.

We turn left and follow the road and railway for a couple of kilometres until the railway swings right, away from the road, to run behind the cottages of Mierzewo and then we come to the station at which we witnessed some shunting yesterday; today all is quiet here. It has taken us well over two hours at a stroll (anything more would be uncomfortable in the heat) to get here from Niechanowo, which is 9.6km by rail, and it is clear that although the narrow gauge trains may seem slow, they are an essential means of transport for the local population, for most of whom walking is the only alternative.

czeluscin-branch

Czechowo-Grotkowo and the Czeluscin branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

After a pause to rest our legs, we walk back to Czechowo-Grotkowo and, as we have plenty of time before the last train leaves Niechanowo, we decide to explore some of the Czeluscin branch. As previously indicated, the line runs along the left hand side of a road for almost two kilometres to Czechowo, where it crosses the road and a siding branches off right to the farm(23). The main branch continues alongside the road for a short distance, past a couple of ponds, and then turns right across fields. We pass what looks like a sand pit and then come alongside another road on our left.

The railway crosses the road and heads across fields again to Zolcz, with a long siding branching off to the left for a few hundred metres. Crossing a couple of lanes in Zolcz the line continues west with a roadway on the right to a T junction, where the railway turns sharply south with another road still on the right. Somewhere along here another line branched off for a few years to a standard gauge interchange at Czerniejewo station, but the route has disappeared under the plough.

Following the road and railway south from the junction we are amazed to see, as we approach Czeluscin, the smoke from a locomotive. As we get nearer we can see that it is Krauss 0-6-0T+T No. 4, one of about eight such locomotives built for this line and the Znin system between 1894 and 1913(24). What seems bizarre is that we can hear standard gauge trains on the Gniezno – Wrzesnia line and Czerniejewo station is less than 2km from Czeluscin, yet this locomotive has travelled about 24km from Gniezno to reach here; presumably it passed Czechowo-Grotkowo while we took our diversion to Mierzewo.

As on the Wrzesnia line, when the crew see our interest in their locomotive we are invited to take a closer look and, when they finish their shunting and are ready to set off back towards Gniezno, we are invited to join the guard in his van, an offer we gratefully accept. The train by now consists of just the loco and van, but at Zolcz we stop to pick up a couple of empty wagons, and at Czechowo a wagon load of manure is added. At Czechowo-Grotkowo the loco uncouples from the train and runs up the siding to Grotkowo, reappearing with a couple of vans, while at Mikolajewice one of the wagons we saw earlier is now completely loaded with hay and is added to the train; at each stop there is a long break in the journey as, not only do the wagons have to be added to the train, but the guard has to do the necessary paperwork.

On arrival at Arcugowo the loco again uncouples, as there are apparently some wagons to collect at Mielzyn. Not knowing how long the business at Mielzyn might take, we bid farewell to the crew and set off on foot again to Niechanowo. We arrive there in plenty of time to rest our feet before railcar 1 arrives from Powidz. After our day’s walking through the countryside it is a relief to know that we only now have the walk from the station to our hotel. There are only two other passengers by this time of day and all the halts are passed without stopping. As we near Gniezno the speed noticeably reduces, to avoid getting too far ahead of schedule, and soon we pull into the platform as a nearby church clock strikes 19.00. Tonight will be early to bed, for not only has our walk and fresh air taken its toll, but tomorrow we travel east towards the main Kujawy network and it will be a few days before we get another night in bed.

to be continued…

NOTES

21) Gniezno’s railcar 1 was tested on the Mecklenburg-Pommersche Schmalspurbahn and possibly on the Bydgoszcz district railway before arriving at Gniezno in 1929. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and designated Mzx-044 but is believed to have been scrapped in 1950.

22) The Arcugowo – Mierzewo line opened in 1896 and was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. Grotkowo – Mierzewo closed in 1979 and Arcugowo – Grotkowo in 1986.

23) Grotkowo – Czeluscin opened in 1916, as did Zolcz – Czerniejewo, but the latter closed in 1923. The Grotkowo to Czechowo section was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957, but Czechowo – Czeluscin was closed rather than regauged. Grotkowo to Czechowo closed in 1973.

24) Gniezno 4 was Krauss works no. 3179 of 1895. It was renumbered 8 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Py1-723. It was sold to industry in 1954 and its fate thereafter is unknown.

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Kujawy 1939 – The journey so far)

On the second day of our imaginary journey over the Kujawy network in 1939, we have just walked between two branch termini to continue our journey to Gniezno from Mielzyn…

mielzyn-karsewo

The Mielzyn branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

The Jaworowo – Mielzyn section of the railway runs largely along the side of the road and Mielzyn station is the basic rural terminus consisting only of a run-round loop and a short siding to a turntable, the latter a relatively recent addition and only a lightweight affair suitable for turning railcars.

We wander further into the village square, find a shop to buy some beer and head back to the station in time to see the afternoon train arrive at 15.01. Quite a number of passengers leave the train, presumably having returned from market in town. We are fortunate it is a Tuesday, as trains only serve Mielzyn on Tuesdays and Fridays, with a morning train which arrives at 06.35 and departs at 06.45, and this afternoon service which lingers at the station until 16.18.

The locomotive is No. 12, a 0-8-0 tender locomotive built by the Warszawa factory in 1927(18). The train is the usual two coaches and a van, plus a few wagons which have been brought in; fortunately there are none waiting to leave, as this would make shunting rather complex. The coaching stock all dates from the early days of the district railway, with plates showing manufacturers to have been Weyer and Hofmann. The locomotive runs round the train, shunts the wagons into the loop and takes water, during which time the fireman also cleans the fire and moves coal forward in the tender; it will be tender-first back to Gniezno.

As departure time nears, the fireman livens up the fire and a handful of passengers arrive. Then we are on our way again, initially running westward alongside the road we earlier walked and then turning north at Jaworowo, passing the halt without stopping(19). We soon join another road, which we follow through a couple of slight left hand curves to Odrowaz, a halt with a loading loop at which one passenger alights and a couple board the train.

We cross a road and shortly curve left, at which point a branch comes in from the right; this runs a few hundred metres to a large farm. After a couple of kilometres through fields we cross a road and pass another halt with loop at Gorzykowo, following which we run roadside again to Karsewo, again a halt with loading loop(20). Crossing over a road junction in the centre of the village, we set out across fields, bridging over the occasional stream, then a road comes alongside again on our left for the run into Arcugowo. The ‘station’ itself has the usual loading loop and at the northern end a field railway branches off right to serve the estate farm.

arcugowo-niechanowo

Arcugowo and Niechanowo. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

Leaving Arcugowo we cross the road and the line from Mierzewo comes in on the left, then we run through fields again to pass the village of Niechanowo, where another field railway heads back to the left, serving a distillery as well as the estate farm. We continue north to cross the Gniezno – Witkowo road and curve left across a couple of lanes as the Witkowo line comes in from the right at a triangular junction.

Soon we are entering  Niechanowo, one of the more significant stations on the Gniezno system with a station building and two-road loco shed which is also used as a wagon repair shop; the track layout is quite extensive, with three through lines, a siding and another line looping round the back of the yard. We pause for a minute or so as a few people leave or board the train and then the stationmaster gives a wave, the driver gives an acknowledging toot on the whistle and opens the regulator.

Now that we are on the main line of the system, we seem to gather a little more pace and the halts are less frequent. At first the main road is some way off to our left and we pass through fields, crossing a couple of roads and watercourses, but at Zelazkowo (the usual halt and loop) we join the main road, which we follow to the edge of the city. The fields give way to woodland on both sides and then we pass Jelonek, a popular destination at weekends for excursions from the city. There is a loop from which a short siding leads to a turntable, and trains can be turned round here, but on this weekday afternoon we pass through without stopping.

Soon we are passing sporadic ribbon development and we pause briefly at the simple halt of Ogrod Wiktorji, where one passenger alights. Here we cross the road and soon run through the outskirts of the city – the cemetery on our right, then the barracks off to our left; with a sports ground on our right we cross the Wrzesnia road. A triangle of tracks on the left then marks the junction with the line to the sugar factory, with sidings full of empty wagons at this time of year. Passing the factory buildings we enter the station yard and come to a halt in front of the workshops and station building.

KDR_crop

Some of the principal lines of the western part of the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways. Map gkw-gniezno.pl.

(Click map to view a larger version.)

The 23 kilometres from Mielzyn have taken us 1 hour and ten minutes – an average speed of almost 20km/h. Once again, we pick up our bags and walk across the long bridge over the standard gauge lines to find our hotel in the city.

to be continued…

Notes:

18) Gniezno no. 12 was Warszawa works no. 094. It was renumbered 5 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Px1-771. It later went to Witaszyce and Zwierzyniec, became Px27-771 in 1961 and was withdrawn in 1964.

19) Mielzyn – Odrowaz officially opened in 1896 and was regauged to 750mm in 1957. It was officially closed in 1984, but had not seen any traffic since 1970.

20) Odrowaz – Niechanowo – Gniezno opened in 1883 as a 900mm gauge line to serve Gniezno sugar factory. In 1895 it was regauged to 600mm and became part of the Witkowo district railway, officially opening in 1896. It was regauged to 750mm in 1957. Mielzyn – Arcugowo closed in 1984 (as noted above, it had seen no trains for 14 years) and Arcugowo – Niechanowo officially closed in 1989 but was probably last used in 1986. Niechanowo – Gniezno is still open for tourist trains.

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…

jarocin-wrzesnia-gniezno-1939-route-small

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.

Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 (Part 3)

Saturday, 14 September 2013

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.

Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Monday, 19 August 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: The Wrzesnia District Railway, 1939 Part 1 )

Having started our narrow gauge exploration at 08:25 at Witaszyce, we are on the last leg of our first day’s travels – the 19:21 from Pyzdry to Wrzesnia – approaching the junction station of Zieliniec…

zieliniec

Zieliniec, the major junction on the system. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

After a couple of kilometres with the main road still on our right comes Zieliniec, clearly a major location in railway terms. We pass through the first loading loop alongside the road, then swing left, away from the road, and a branch comes in from the right – this runs some 4km to loading points and a farm at Bieganowo(10).

Then comes the station itself, alongside a road and with the passing loop straddling a trackway that leads off to the south. Here we wait for about 3 minutes, while the guard uses the telephone to get clearance for the section ahead. From the west end of the loop another branch heads back to the left, running 8km to Krzywa Gora. Curiously, this line initially runs south, parallel to the main line, before heading off west to serve various farms and loading points, with a couple of short subsidiary branches.

With permission obtained to enter the next section we start away again and curve right, across the minor road, and encounter the third part of the Zieliniec ‘complex’ as a siding to the left is followed by another loading loop, from which yet another siding branches back right to the estate farm. Now we head out across open country, the main Wrzesnia road now some way off to our right and gradually diverging from the railway.

neryngowo

Neryngowo station in 1970. Photo Andrzej Smigielski.

(Click to see the full size image on Baza Kolejowa)

Soon we pass the halt at Janowo, with a loading loop into which runs a field railway from the east, and shortly afterwards we cross a road and pause briefly at Neryngowo, which again has a loading loop and a short branch running in from the right, which was only built in the last year or so(11).

Setting off again, we soon lose the trackway that serves the loading point, and as we run across the fields we pass over a small river before reaching Nadarzyce, with another loading loop and a short branch heading off to the north east(12). We curve slightly to the left, following the slight valley of the Wrzesnica river, and cross another small river before reaching Kaczanowo halt – another loading loop but no branch this time.

wrzesnia

Leaving Kaczanowo we cross a road and curve right to run alongside it, following the right and left hand curves of the road, crossing a few trackways and another watercourse as the buildings of Wrzesnia come into sight. A curve to the left brings us to Wrzesnia Miasto halt, its loading loop sandwiched in the fork between two roads. The location is obviously considered more convenient for the town than the standard gauge station, for it boasts a quite sizeable and very modern station building; a number of passengers alight here.

Leaving the halt we cross a fairly major road and after a few hundred metres turn sharply right across a more minor road and then there opens out a fan of narrow gauge tracks. On the left we pass the railway’s offices and a transhipment facility with the standard gauge tracks, while on the right a multitude of parked up wagons and vans partly obscures our view until, at the north end of the yard, we pass the workshops and four-track loco depot, accessed via a turntable in roundhouse style.

Our train, moving fairly slowly now, crosses a standard gauge siding serving the sugar factory on our right, while to the left is a range of standard gauge sidings forming part of the main station yard. We trundle over a couple of turnouts that give access to the narrow gauge sidings serving the factory, pass a run-round loop and weighbridge, cross a road and then grind to a halt at Wrzesnia station, consisting of another run-round loop, another weighbridge, a siding heading back to the sugar factory and a small ticket office.

The 24km from Pyzdry to Wrzesnia have been covered in 1 hour and 17 minutes, an average speed of just under 19kph (around 12 mph). A few passengers from our train walk across to the standard gauge station and, as the locomotive heads off for the shed, we gather our bags and walk to our inn for the night, fortunately not far from the station, for it is already after 20:30 and the day’s exploration has left us weary and ready for a quick meal, some beer and bed.

to be continued…

Notes:

10) The Bieganowo and Krzywa Gora branches opened about 1911, were regauged to 750mm in 1957 and closed in 1966.

11) The Neryngowo – Gozdowo branch opened about 1938, but was closed in 1946.

12) The Nadarzyce branch opened in 1898, was cut back to a few hundred metres after 1945 and probably closed in 1957 when the rest of the railway was re-gauged.

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.

Jarocin District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: The Jarocin District Railway, 1939 Pt. 1 )

The 08:25 from Witaszyce has just reached the junction station of Sucha…

tx3-194-near-sucha

Tx3-194 near Sucha in 1977. Photo Werner and Hansjorg Brutzer.

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

The 08.25 from Witaszyce is shown in the timetable as train no. 1 and has taken 52 minutes to cover the 16km to Sucha, an average speed of just over 18kph (less than 12mph). Now it morphs into train no. 2B and after a few minutes sets off up the branch line to Robakow.

sucha-robakow

The Robakow and Lubinia Wielka branches. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

The 4km branch has one intermediate stop at Grab, with a single siding, and the terminus, reached after a 14 minute run from Sucha, features just a run-round loop and loading siding. Whilst Grab was a modest hamlet, the terminus of the branch seems to be a road junction in the middle of nowhere. Just down the road, across a branch of the Prosna river, can be seen the settlement of Robakow, about half a dozen cottages and a large farm.

A solitary passenger leaves the train and heads off down the road, while nobody joins the train – why would they? Anybody wishing to travel to Witaszyce would have to wait at Sucha for nearly four hours until the train returns from Komorze, while anybody wanting to travel to Komorze, or stations en route, would probably walk the 3km or so to the station at Lubinia Wielka to catch the train. The locomotive runs round and after ten minutes we are heading back to Sucha as train 2A.

Upon arrival at Sucha (another 14 minute, 4km run) the locomotive swiftly runs round the train again, resumes its identity as train No. 1 and sets off once more along the main line for Komorze. The next stop is Lubinia Wielka, where a freight line branches off to the left; it runs a couple of kilometres to end in the fields. Then comes Miniszew, a simple halt, followed by the halt and loop at Kretkow. The scenery along the way is once again open fields with the occasional block of woodland; a few passengers board or leave the train at these halts.

przybyslaw

Przybyslaw and the freight branch towards Lgow. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

Then comes Przybyslaw, where a long loop forms the base of a triangular junction for the 8km freight branch to Lgow, off which a number of subsidiary branches run to various loading points, farms and at least one distillery(6).

At Przybyslaw itself a long siding leads from the loop to serve a dairy and distillery. Unlike Twardow, there is no sign of another train serving this branch, but perhaps during the two-hour layover at Komorze our locomotive will run down the branch to pick up a few wagons.

For the time being, however, we pause here only briefly as a few passengers alight, and then amble the final two kilometres to Komorze, another simple terminus with run-round loop and loading siding. Because of the diversion to Robakow, the 29km journey from Witaszyce has taken 2 hours and 23 minutes, an average speed of some 12kph (8mph); it is not surprising the train only runs twice a week.

komorze-pyzdry

Two narrow gauge railway termini: Komorze and Pyzdry. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

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

Beside the station at Komorze is the building of the long-defunct sugar factory – rendered redundant when the railway opened and beet could be transported to the much larger facility at Witaszyce – and beyond that another distillery. A separate field railway heads off north for a couple of kilometres alongside a cart track, to a nearby farm.

As the few passengers who have travelled this far wander off in various directions, we pick up our bags and set off on foot. Our destination is Pyzdry, terminus of the Wrzesnia district railway, but to reach the town we must cross the river Warta, and river crossings are few and far between.

Initially we head in a generally easterly direction, crossing the Prosna to Ruda Komorska. Traffic on this country road is light, consisting of a few horse-drawn carts and pedestrians; we see no motor vehicles. In crossing the Prosna, we cross what was, until 25 years ago, the border between Germany and Russia.

From Ruda Komorska we head north east, again along cart tracks, along the edge of the uncultivated Warta flood plain, to the main Kalisz-Pyzdry road and then, heading north west, reach the bridge over the river, crossing which brings us to Pyzdry itself. On this more major route we are passed by one light motor lorry and a motor charabanc, but otherwise the road traffic is much as it has been for the last century or so.

The walk has been pleasant enough but the hot sun and dusty roads have left our throats rather dry. Fortunately, however, we have plenty of time to slake our thirst on the local brew and partake of a late lunch in one of the town’s hostelries before walking up to the station on the north side of town.

cont/…

Notes:

6) The Lgow branch opened in sections between 1909 and 1911. It closed in 1979.

Jarocin District Railway, 1939 (Part 1)

Friday, 5 July 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

InWandering with WIG, published in Behind the Water Tower on 30 July 2010, Dyspozytor set a challenge: “Any readers out there fancy preparing a virtual exploration of the Kujawy Railways, about 1,000 kilometres in all?” Impressively, ‘Inzynier’ has taken up the challenge. Here, in the first of a multi-part article, we turn back the clock to 1939 and board the 08:25 at Witaszyce on the Jarocin District Railway…

witaszyce-wig-1939

Witaszyce, Jarocin District Railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1934.

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

What was it like to travel on the narrow gauge railways of Poland in the 1930s? In an attempt to find out, let us take an imaginary journey over the Kujawy network in that uneasy summer of 1939. It is highly unlikely that anybody would have made such a journey – most passengers on these lines were using the train for relatively short, local journeys – but it is just possible that early railway enthusiasts may have made, at least, parts of this trip.

Whilst it will be necessary to travel both ways on a number of lines, the nature of the network allows us to make single directional trips over several routes. However, our narrow gauge travels begin one Monday morning on a line that was not actually part of the linked network – the 600mm gauge Jarocinska Kolej Powiatowa (Jarocin District Railway).

The line sees only one train each way (and even that only runs on Mondays and Fridays), with the morning departure from Witaszyce being at 08:25, allowing connections from a Poznan – Warszawa (via Ostrow Wlkp.) train at 08.00 and an Ostrow – Poznan service at 08.20. The little station of Witsazyce Wask. is quite busy as various local inhabitants avail themselves of this infrequent opportunity to make their journey. Many of them arrive at the station on foot and a few travellers walk across from the standard gauge station as the two connecting services depart.

Beyond the standard gauge line the sugar factory is quiet at this time of year, but in a few months the sugar campaign will start and the factory and railway will become hives of activity. At the brickworks to the north of the narrow gauge station there is some activity, but business is still not what it was before the depression.

witaszyce-23-05-1976-helmut-philipp-small

Witaszyce station in 1976. Photo Helmut Philipp.

(Click to see the full size image on Baza Kolejowa)

Shuffling around the yard we can see the locomotive for our train, 0-8-0T No. 2, one of three such locomotives built by Hagans in 1901 for the opening of the line(1), while in front of the workshop 0-8-0T No. 4, a Borsig product of 1907, is receiving some attention(2). Standing at the platform are two coaches and a van, all bogie vehicles. Examination of the builder’s plates shows that one coach and the van were produced by Freudenstein for the opening of the line in 1902, while the other coach came from Goerlitz in 1918.

We board the train and soon the loco couples up and without great ceremony our journey begins, across the road beside the station and soon curving north away from the standard gauge(3). As we pass the village itself, we rumble across the flat crossing with the brickworks’ railway and shortly afterwards a bridge takes us over the main road between Jarocin and Pleszew. Then a siding branches off to the right, to some sort of quarry or similar industry.

The train ambles through fields, crossing a few tracks and minor roads, then crosses the biggest structure on the line, the brick arch bridge over the river Lutynia, before curving round the village of Wola Ksiazeca and pulling into the station.

racendow-wig-1939

Twardow and the goods line towards Czermin, Jarocin District Railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1934.

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

As a few passengers leave and board the train, we notice a siding leading off right to some agricultural buildings in the village. Soon we are off again, running alongside a road to the next station at Twardow. A brief pause and we set off once more across fields and after a kilometre or so there is a loop where the goods line to Czermin branches off(4). Here we see locomotive No. 5, a Borsig 0-6-2T dating from 1913, waiting for us to pass before setting of to Witaszyce with a short rake of wagons that have presumably come off the branch(5).

After our next stop at Racendow the fields give way to forest for a while, but the trees then peter out and we pause at Lubinia Mala. Then we cross the road through the village and turn ninety degrees to the right, pass the village and after another couple of kilometres we reach Sucha, the main junction station of the system.

sucha-wig-1935

Lublinia Mala and the junction station of Sucha, Jarocin District Railway. Extract from the WIG maps of 1934 and 1935.

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

Notes:

1) Jarocin no. 2 was Hagans works no. 456. Its sisters were 455 and 457. They were built as 0-8-0Ts with the rear axle having a sliding arrangement to allow them to go round tight radius curves. This proved troublesome and was later removed (I have assumed in PKP days, but cannot find a date) to make them 0-6-2Ts with the trailing axle being the same diameter as the driven axles. They were taken into PKP stock in 1949 and numbered Txb1-264 to 266 and in 1961 the series designation became Tyb3 or Tyb1, but the running numbers (264 to 266) remained the same. They were all withdrawn in 1965.

2) Jarocin no. 4 was Borsig works no. 6281. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Tx3-429. In 1961 it became Tx4-563 and was withdrawn in 1967.

3) The Witaszyce – Komorze and Sucha – Robakow lines of the Jarocin railway opened in 1902. In 1943 the Robakow branch was extended by 24km to reach Trabczyn. In 1947 a further 6km section of line opened from Grabina (6km short of Trabczyn) to Zagorow and in 1949 the railway was taken over by PKP. Grabina – Trabczyn closed in 1979, Sucha – Komorze in 1987 and Witaszyce – Zagorow in 1991. All lines have been lifted.

4) The Czermin branch opened in 1915 and closed in 1979.

5) Jarocin no. 5 was Borsig works no. 8741. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Txb4-471 (or possibly Tyb4-471). It went to Mlawa in 1950 and was fitted with a tender, became Tyb5-471 in 1961 then went to Myszyniec in 1962 and to Bialosliwie in 1973. It was withdrawn in 1974 and is now in the museum at Wenecja on the Znin line.

cont/…

Pearl from the past

Sunday, 5 May 2013

lf

Jedrzejow Narrow Gauge Railway in 1974. Lodz Film School.

The Jedrzejow Narrow Gauge Railway (nowadays called the Swietokrzyskie Narrow Gauge Railway) still runs through some outstanding scenery, in spite of having lost, over the years, some of its most attractive fragments. Gone are: a series of spectacular zigzags to cross a high ridge near Pincow, a temporary WWII-era timber bridge across the Vistula near Tarnobrzeg and a more permanent girder bridge across the same river at Szczucin. The latter (which still survives minus the railway) appears in the film.

At its height before WWII, the network comprised many hundreds of kilometres of 600 mm track – both public lines administered by PKP, and freight only lines for carrying sugar beet to sugar refineries. Today, thanks to the efforts of a supporters’ club, the Stowarzyszenia Sympatyków Zabytkowej Jędrzejowskiej Kolejki Dojazdowej, some 31 km of the line have been preserved and are run by an operating company owned by the local authorities.

Like many ‘non-standard’ narrow gauge lines the Jedrzejow system was converted to the Russian ‘standard’ narrow gauge of 750 mm shortly after the end of WWII. When this wonderful video was made by students of the Lodz Film School, the line was past its prime, but was still carrying passengers and freight over a substantial portion of its network.

A hat tip to Piotr Kumelowski for the link.

More (in Polish):

The photography of the late Tomasz Wach

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A postscript to Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy.

Lesmierz No 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T on a sugar beet train in January 1980. Photo ©Tomasz Wach estate.

(Click to see original on Wciaz pod Para.)

It seems like another age, yet it was not quite 50 years ago (1964 or 5), that a cousin took me to see  the yard (1) of the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa at Gdansk Wask and I had my first taste of Polish narrow gauge steam. Sadly, ten years later in 1974 the whole of the GKD on the left bank of the Vistula was closed and much, but not all, of the GDK followed suit in subsequent years.

During that same trip to Poland I found myself on a family organised visit to the palace to Wilanow to the south of Warsaw. In those days one went by tram to Wilanow, so I was happy enough, but when I discovered that the Wilanowska Kolej Dojazdowska ran from the gates of the park, I decided to pursue my own itinerary and, while the rest of my family went sight seeing at the palace, I and an attractive Warsaw cousin minder explored the WKD and the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa for the rest of the day.

We took a strange looking petrol(?) railcar to Piaseczno. I remember being disappointed that the line from the then terminus at Wilanow (the line had run once run as far as pl. Lubelski) ran as a roadside tramway through Powsin and Klarysew, but then the ride became more interesting as we passed the junction to Konstancin and I spotted some dumped 0-6-2Ts (2) before we reached Piaseczno Miasto. Miraculously three of these locos have survived and are now mouldering in the open at the skansen in Gryfice.

Piaseczno Miasto yard was bigger in those days (a few sidings have since been removed to make room for a road) and resembled a busy main line junction. Here we changed trains to ride in what I regarded to be a ‘proper train’ hauled by a Px48 as far as Warszawa Poludniowa. From here we took the tram back to the city centre. A few days later I had another Px48-hauled trip on the Marecka Kolej Dojazdowa from Warszawa Wilenska to Radzymin.

When Ed Beale brought my attention to the wonderful narrow gauge pictures of the late Tomasz Wach, as part of his photographic research for the Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy article, all these memories came flooding back. We wanted to reproduce Wach’s photographs of engines working on the Dobrzelin and Lesmierz sugar beet railways to illustrate the article and corresponded with Tomislaw Czarnecki on whose website Wciaz pod Para Wach’s photos are hosted as well a contact that we had been given for a representative of Wach’s estate. Sadly, though at first our correspondence seemed to be leading to a positive conclusion, it then petered out without us receiving a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Wach’s collection goes back to 1962 and continues through to 1995. It includes pictures of narrow gauge engines working on the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa, the Mlawska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Nasielska Kolej Dojazdowa as well as on the narrow gauge railways belonging to the sugar refineries at Dobrzelin, Guzow, Lesmierz and Mala Wies. There are also preservation era photos of unusual steam working on the narrow gauge lines in Elk and Sochaczew. In addition there are some splendid pictures of – mostly older – standard gauge locos working in various locations.

Wach’s pictures are from a past era when railway photography was strictly forbidden and only a handful of photographers managed to record what was an an amazingly diverse steam scene. We publish this review to celebrate Wach’s achievement and courage. It would be wonderful if someone (maybe FPKW?) manages to secure the right to reproduce these pictures in print and so preserves this wonderful collection for future generations.

Dyspozytor

Notes

(1) Ty1-1096 caught in Gdansk Wask in 1963
(2) Tyb5-3386 at Iwiczna on the Grójecka KD in May 1962

More Tomasz Wach photos (links to Wciaz pod Para):

Acknowledgements

All photographs linked to in this article are from the collection of the late Tomasz Wach hosted on Tomislaw Czarnecki’s web site Wciaz pod Para. All the maps linked to from this article are courtesy Jaroslaw Wozny and Railmap – Kolejowa Mapa Polski. Thanks also to Ed Beale for doing the original photographic research.

Early sugar beet railways in Kujawy

Monday, 12 November 2012

by ‘Inzynier’

With thanks to Ed Beale for sourcing the photographs.

Brigadelok at Irena sugar factory in Lyszkowice.

(Click to see original image in Ziemia Lodzka, page 18)

As followers of BTWT will be aware, the First World War saw construction of many narrow gauge ‘field railways’ in what is now Poland, a number of which subsequently found use as common carrier railways under PKP.  While Austria and Russia built such lines, the vast majority were the German Heeresfeldbahnen (miltary field railways).

Of the lines (or networks) taken over by PKP, the Kujawy network is probably the most widely known today and, following eventual conversion to 750mm gauge, was the last of the classic former Feldbahnen to survive in operation; although the Zbiersk line was a First World War creation, it was always 750mm gauge and was built for economic rather than purely military purposes.

Apart from the Kujawy system, a significant number of other railways were taken over by PKP:

  • most of the Torun – Sierpc – Nasielsk line, with a branch to Rypin, was a 600mm gauge PKP railway with public services until the last sections were replaced by standard gauge lines in the mid 1930s;
  • the Mlawa railway was built as a 600mm gauge military field railway, taken over by PKP for civilian services, converted to 750mm gauge in the early 1960s and lasting for freight purposes until 2001;
  • the extensive Jedrzejow system has its origins in Austrian military railways of 700mm gauge, rebuilt as a 600mm gauge line still during the war, expanded by various local authority and private initiatives between the wars, regauged to 750mm in the 1950s and lasting with ‘regular’ traffic into the 1990s;
  • the Rogow line was another that survived, converted to 750mm gauge, until the end of PKP narrow gauge operations in 2001;
  • the system based around Myszyniec remained 600mm gauge until closed in the 1970s;
  • the Zwierzyniec – Bilgoraj line probably takes the prize for the number of different gauges, being originally built by the Russians on 750mm gauge, later a 600mm gauge line built during the war, converted to 750mm gauge by PKP in the 1960s and closed in the 1970s to be replaced by a standard gauge line that was later joined by a Russian gauge railway!

There were various other lines in present-day Poland which saw short-lived civilian service and also, largely forgotten today, PKP operated significant former Heeresfeldbahnen in those regions lost to the Soviet Union in the Second World War: the 90+km Dukszty-Druja line, the 66km Nowojelnia – Nowogrodek – Lubcz line, the Baranowicze network and the Iwacewicze – Janow – Kamien system (on which PKP still operated passenger services over 214 route kilometres in 1939) to name only a few.

Besides these significant lengths of railway for which a post-war use was found, there were as many, probably many more, which were redundant.  As these lines were dismantled; the track materials were sold off.  Furthermore, the German authorities had ordered around 2,500 of their standard 0-8-0T Brigadelokomotiven (commonly known in Britain as ‘Feldbahn’ locomotives), many of which were stored or still under construction when the war ended – locomotives were still being delivered to military stores depots well into 1919.  These locomotives were also soon on the market.

Transhipment from a Wisla barge on the Borowiczki sugar beet railway, 1941.

(Click to see the original image on plock24.pl)

Many forestry and industrial concerns in Poland took advantage of this ready availability of 600mm gauge railway equipment to build their own railways in place of horse and cart transport of raw materials and/or finished products.  The advantages of narrow gauge railways had been recognised by sugar factories in the German-controlled part of Kujawy from the 1880s, and those in the Russian-controlled areas had begun to follow suit before the war.

The 1920s saw an explosion in the construction of sugar factory railways.  Some, such as Ostrowite, chose 750mm gauge but for most the availability of Brigadeloks and other equipment led to 600mm gauge being selected.  Amongst the factories that developed 600mm gauge railways at this time were Klemensow, Mala Wies, Izabelin, Borowiczki, Cielce, Guzow, Dobrzelin, Chelmica, Mlynow, Irena and Lesmierz.

German 1944 1:2500 map based upon pre-war Polish WIG cartography showing the end of the Lesmierz line near Unjejow, in the yard of a private estate in Dominikowice. Did the Lesmierz line link up with an existing estate railway?

(Click to expand,)

Lesmierz sugar factory’s railway was built between 1920 and 1928.  The first section built was a link to Sierpow station on PKP’s 600mm gauge Krosniewice – Ozorkow – Strykow line, itself built as a Heeresfeldbahn.  Note that the standard gauge Kutno – Zgierz line through Sierpow did not open until 1924.  From Sierpow the railway was continued westward.

WIG maps show the railway’s most westerly terminus was Dominikowice, south of Uniejow, while there was a lengthy branch running north from near Pelczyska to Swinice and Kozanki.  In 1926, before completion of the network, the Lesmierz sugar factory railway was recorded as having 70km of track, 8 steam locomotives, 160 freight wagons and 2 passenger coaches.  Presumably the link to the PKP line served to deliver coal and limestone to the factory and take away finished sugar, while the lines further west served to bring in sugar beet and take out beet pulp.

Further to the east, Irena sugar factory in Lyszkowice, south of Lowicz, built a 600mm gauge railway in 1920-1 to Domaniewice station on the Lowicz – Lodz standard gauge line, presumably serving only to bring in coal and limestone and take away the finished sugar.  The railway of Mlynow sugar factory at Piatek, south east of Kutno, probably also dates from the 1920s.  The main line of this system ran to Jackowice station on the Lowicz – Kutno standard gauge line, but the fact that there were branches through Janowice to Balkow and through Przezwiska to Borow as well as other short branches (all shown on WIG maps) suggests that the railway transported beet and pulp as well as coal etc.  To the north of these lines Dobrzelin sugar factory also developed a quite extensive 600mm gauge railway between the wars.

German 1940 1:2500 map (reprinted 1944) based upon pre-war Polish WIG cartography showing the line to the sugar beet factory at Lesmierz, but not its WWII extension eastwards to Pokrzywnica.

(Click to expand,)

And then came German occupation.  In the First World War the Germans had created links between various sugar factory railways and they did so again in the Second World War.  In the north of Kujawy they converted the 900mm gauge Pakosc/Tuczno/Wierzchoslawice railway to 750mm gauge and linked it to the Matwy, Kruszica and Dobre systems of that gauge, and created various other links between those railways.

In the south east of this sprawling, still partly 600mm gauge network, they created a number of links.  From Lesmierz a line was built east to join the Mlynow system at Pokrzywnica.  From Domaniewice the Irena sugar factory’s railway was extended north west to join the Mlynow system at Walewice.  From Jackowice the Mlynow system was extended to Czerniew, where a connection was probably created with the Dobrzelin factory’s system.

Soon after the war these lines started to be divided up and partially dismantled.  Irena sugar factory closed in 1947 and although its railway may have been taken over by Dobrzelin, it was probably soon dismantled.  Most of the rest of the Mlynow system was taken over by Lesmierz.

In 1948 work started on converting PKP’s Krosniewice – Ozorkow line to 750mm, being completed in 1951.  Consequently, in 1952 the 3km section of the Lesmierz system linking the factory to PKP’s Sierpow station became mixed 600/750mm gauge; henceforth the beet and pulp were carried in 600mm gauge wagons and coal etc. in 750mm gauge wagons.  Two 750mm gauge locomotives were acquired by the factory to serve this short but vital link.

Lesmierz sugar factory in 1927.

(Click to see original image on fotopolska.eu)

The Lesmierz 600mm gauge network gradually shrunk. By 1950 it had already reduced from around 120km to 90km and by 1970 had declined to 60km.  In the latter year, however, there were 14 steam locomotives, 240 wagons, 2 coaches and 3 diesel locomotives.  The end of narrow gauge operations appears to have come in the 1980s or early 1990s.  The last year in which PKP supplied beet to the factory in narrow gauge wagons was 1986, when some 15,000 tonnes were brought in and almost 13,000 tonnes of pulp taken away.  By way of comparison, ten years later the Tuczno system carried 140,000t of beet and 36,000 tonnes of pulp.

The 600mm gauge steam locomotives of the Lesmierz system were as follows:

  • Lesmierz 1, LHW 1760/191, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2416, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 2, BMAG 6798/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2483, to playground in Kutno 1992
  • Lesmierz 3, LHW 1721/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2239, to Elk, then Skierniewice
  • Lesmierz 4, Fablok 1541/1947, 0-4-0T Rys, at Warszawa Railway Museum since 1994
  • Lesmierz 6, Borsig 10329/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2098, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 7, O&K 8745/1919, 0-10-0T HF 2858, Mlynow, then Lesmierz, still there 9/72
  • Lesmierz 8, O&K 8721/1918, 0-10-0T, ordered as HF 2646 but delivered to Mlynow then to Lesmierz, still there 9/72
  • Lesmierz 9, Henschel 14921/1916, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 991, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2294, withdrawn 1982, remains still existed 1987
  • Lesmierz 11, O&K 8692/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2456
  • Lesmierz 11, Schwartzkopff 6808/1919, 0-10-0T HF 2655, to PKP 1919 as Es 451 or E1-451, Mlawa, DR 99 1611, to Myszyniec by 1940, at Mlawa 1942, Rogow in early 50s as PKP Tx1-591, to Lesmierz 16/4/56, later heating boiler at Mlynow, to Sucha Beskidzka and then Chabowka

The 750mm gauge steam locomotives of the Lesmierz system were:

  • Fablok 1982/1949, 0-6-0T Las, to Bad Muskauer Waldeisenbahn, then Oberoderwitz
  • Fablok 1984/1949, 0-6-0T Las, Lesmierz 610, to PSMK Skierniewice about 1992

The 600mm gauge steam locomotives of the Dobrzelin system were as follows:

  • Dobrzelin 1, LHW 1719/1918,  0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed, out of use, 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 2, Henschel 14471/1916, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, acquired 1920
  • Dobrzelin 3, Jung 2865/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed, out of use, 10/72
  • Dobrzelin 4, O&K 8691/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still at Dobrzelin 8/72
  • Dobrzelin 6, Schwartzkopff 6813/1919, 0-10-0T, M. Stern AG, Essen, for sale 11/22, to PKP as Es-1344, Zwierzyniec, DR 99 1621, then to Dobrzelin
  • Dobrzelin 7, Schwartzkopff 6806/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok. Probably sold to Dobrzelin by M. Stern AG, Essen, where it was for sale 11/22
  • Dobrzelin 8, Henschel 15523/1917, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 10, Jung 2864/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok
  • Dobrzelin 13, Henschel 15549/1917, 0-8-0T Brigadelok,  still existed 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 15,  O&K 8688/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, Krasiniec or Ciechanow sugar factory 4, to PKP Mlawa 1949 as Tx1-350, to Dobrzelin 4/3/58
  • Dobrzelin 15, Schwartzkopff? 6803/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, Krasiniec or Ciechanow sugar factory 4, to PKP Mlawa 1949 as Tx1-353, to Dobrzelin 4/3/50 or 4/3/58
  • Dobrzelin 17, Chrzanow 1625/1953, 0-6-0T Las, to Meldegen, Belgium
  • Dobrzelin 21, Fablok 3297/1954, 0-6-0T Las, to Meldegen, Belgium
  • Dobrzelin 24, Chrzanow 3444/1957, 0-6-0 Las, to De Bakkersmolen, Essen-Wildert, Germany

Stop press

Ex Lesmierz Fablok 1982/1949 0-6-0T Las, together with a sister engine, ex Plocicznow 3816/1958 Chrzanow have been repatriated to Poland and will be exhibited at the Krosnice Park Railway.

Footnote

Some splendid historic n.g. engine photographs by the late Tomasz Wach – including 8 photos of engines on the Lesmierz sugar beet line – used to be hosted by Tomislaw Czarnecki on his Wciaz pod Para website. Sadly the link to Tomasz Wach’s gallery no longer (as on 12.11.12) appears to work.

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Celebrations at Maltanka

Thursday, 16 August 2012

… but mixed fortunes for Poland’s other park railways

Borsig approaching Maltanka station, 4 May 2012.
Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to expand.)

On 21 July this year the Maltanka park railway in Poznan celebrated its 40th birthday. It was opened on 21 July 1972 as the successor to the first park railway in Poznan, the Scouts Children’s Railway (Harcerska Kolejka Dziecieca). It is 600mm gauge and runs the full length of Lake Malta, from Maltanka station at the western end of the lake near the Rondo Srodka tram stop, to Zwierzyniec station beside Poznan zoo, a total of 4km. Ptys station near the middle of the line serves the new Termy Maltanskie baths. On certain dates of the year the line’s Borsig 0-4-0 steam locomotive is used on one of the two trains. All other trains are hauled by one of the three small diesels, all built by ZNTK Poznan to a standard design used on many industrial narrow gauge railways around Poland. These are WLs40-100 built in 1952, Wls50-1225 built in 1961, and WLs50-1563 built in 1964.

The weekday timetable sees hourly departures from either end of the line, on the hour from Maltanka, and on the half-hour from Zwierzyniec, from 10:00 to 18:30, while at weekends and in the summer holidays there are half-hourly departures in each direction, with the two trains passing at Balbinka station. The line is very popular, especially on sunny days when the plastic coach sides are rolled up.

The Borsig loco, Bn2t-2, was built in 1925 and worked at a chemical plant, Zaklady Azotowe in Chorzow, until 1977 when it was plinthed in a park beside the works. It was brought to Poznan in 1990 by the Railway Modellers Club of Poznan and restored to operating condition in 1999. Steam-hauled trains run every other weekend during the summer. The remaining steam dates this year are 25 and 26 August.

A second steam locomotive, the much larger 0-8-0 tank locomotive Tx26-423, is plinthed at Maltanka station, but has never worked here. It was built in Chrzanow in 1926 and worked on the Jedrzejow system while that was 600mm gauge, and then on the Jarocin District Railway until withdrawal in 1978.

Another item of historic rolling stock which used to run on the Maltanka railway was single-ended railbus MBxc1-41 built in 1934. It originally worked on the Bydgoszcz District Railway, then at Witaszyce from 1953 to 1991, before coming to Maltanka where it worked off-peak trains between 1994 and 2002. Unfortunately it is now out of service and is currently stored at Forteczna tram works in Poznan Staroleka. From photographs it appears that sadly it is being stored in the open and its condition is deteriorating. It was a highlight of my first visit to Maltanka in 2001 and a rare survivor of the railbuses which were once common on Poland’s 600mm narrow gauge lines, so I hope it returns to traffic.

Myslecinek remains, 7 June 2012. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to expand.)

Elsewhere in Poland, park railways are suffering very mixed fortunes. The fire that destroyed virtually all the rolling stock on the Myslecinek park railway in Bydgoszcz was reported in Behind the Water Tower on 25 September 2011. After the fire the majority shareholder in the line, PKP Cargo, was not sufficiently interested in the railway to invest several hundred thousand zloty to restore it, and Bydgoszcz city council did not have the money to restore it either, so the railway was placed into administration seeking a buyer. When I visited in June I found the stock abandoned in the open next to the charred footprint of the old shed. The four coaches which were not affected by the fire had been vandalised, and the rails lay abandoned and rusting.

Chorzow WPKiW park railway, 8 July 2011.
Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to expand.)

The future of the Chorzow WPKiW park railway is also now uncertain after the park authorities terminated the operating contract of SGKW, the society based at the Bytom narrow gauge railway, earlier this year. This is the oldest surviving park railway in Poland, originally built as a metre gauge line in 1957 and converted to the unusual gauge of 900mm in 1966. When I visited in July 2011 I found the railway to be in a fairly run-down state. Wesole Miasteczko station at the southern end of the line close to the tram stop was covered in graffiti and had no timetable on display, the track was overgrown with weeds, and trains were running with just a single coach and far from full.

Px48-1907 on test at Krosnice. Video by Jan Krosnicki.

On a brighter note though, the new park railway at Krosnice, reported in Behind the Water Tower on 11 October 2011, is nearing completion. A total of 4.7 million zloty have been spent on the construction of the railway, which is expected to be complete by October. In a surprise move, the Krosnice railway recently purchased steam locomotive Px48-1907, which previously ran at Nowy Dwor Gdanski but was privately owned. While a boon to the new park railway, this sadly leaves the Nowy Dwor Gdanski railway without a steam locomotive, a further blow to that railway following the recent track theft that closed the Tuja extension.

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Polish diary

Sunday, 27 May 2012

by Chris White

Chris White in an ex Duisberg articulated tram on inter-urban line 46 from Lodz to Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

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Chris White has been involved in the Talyllyn Railway in North Wales since the 1950s. He started as volunteer guard and rose through the ranks to become the TR’s chairman. In the 1960s, he organised the Traffic and Operating Committee working parties some which were attended by Dyspozytor during his school holidays. Today, he is still actively involved in the operation of the TR and The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn. Between 9 and 16 May he came to Poland to explore some of Poland’s cities and their tramways, main line and tourist railways. This is his diary.

Wed 9 May

A Ryanair flight from East Midlands airport to Wroclaw landed me just after 18:00 by the new airport terminal which is largely finished and very impressive. What a change from my first visit in 2006, when the city was approached from the small terminal by what a seemed to be a country lane lined with allotment gardens. Now the whole area is transformed with new roads and developments of all kinds.

Bus 406 was waiting to take people to the city but there was no ticket machine at the stop, the one on the bus, which only takes plastic, was not working and the driver uninterested. So I just took a seat and relaxed. Soon the bus was packed to the doors and eventually set off and reached the city in good time. I stayed at Sifor Premium Europejski, as it was near to the station and not far from the city centre.

Thurs 10 May

In Wroclaw, I bought a 24 hour tram ticket and obtained train tickets for the next day from one of the various ticket outlets near but not at the Dworzec Tymczasowy (Temporary Station). A useful tram map showed two new lines, built since my last visit a year ago, to serve the newly complete Stadion Wroclaw and nearby Dokerska. I visited the city centre with its many monuments, botanical gardens and Szczytnicki Park with its musical fountain, the Centennial Hall built in 1913 to celebrate the liberation of the city from Napoleon and the 1948 steel needle erected to celebrate the regained territories.
polish rail

The light and airy interior of the restored station contrasts with this EN57 unit complete with the plastic seats ready to form the 10:30 Wroclaw Gl to Poznan Gl. Photo Chris White.

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Fri 11 May

Allowing myself plenty of time, I approached the station by a circuitous route and found the subway mentioned in the post Wroclaw Worries. When complete, the station will be modern and functional but whether there will be any passengers left to travel on the slow and, all too often, appalling trains, is another matter. Cheap and frequent local and regional bus services and a growing number of internal flights are alluring alternatives to those without a car.

SA132 railcar making up the Koleje Wielkopolskie 12:35 Leszno to Wolstzyn and Zbaszynek. Photo Chris White.

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Clearly major improvements will be needed to re-gain and grow the passenger traffic and sort out the labyrinthine ticketing systems. I took the 10.30 (Regio 67931) as far as Leszno and changed onto the 12.35 Leszno to Wolstzyn arr 13.34 (KW 79427), a modern diesel railcar. It was staffed by four people, one to drive, one to issue tickets, one to operate the doors and one who appeared to be a trainee.

Ol49-59 about to depart with the regular steam-hauled passenger working from Wolsztyn to Poznan. Photo Chris White.

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At Wolstzyn there was time to take a few photos before boarding (KW 77331) a steam train headed by OL49-59 departing at 13.40 for Poznan Głowny: a two hour run arriving at 15.47 . The filthy and dilapidated double deck carriages experienced on my previous trip last year had been replaced by two regular carriages but their interior and outside cleanliness left a lot to be desired. Both of these Koleje Wielkopolskie trains seemed to be enjoying a reasonable level of business. I was very interested to note the re-building of the traditional Prussian style signalling system in the Wolstzyn area.

The new station building under construction at Poznan. Fortunately the old station was still in business. Photo Chris White.

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The station facilities at Poznan, although also being re-built were much more inviting than those Wroclaw and, it being Friday afternoon, were very busy.

The tram system in the area is also undergoing major investment but no tram map was available even on the Internet, which made exploring the city a bit hit and miss. (The map was uploaded on 15 May!) There was a massive thunderstorm just after my return to the Hotel Topaz and the temperature dropped from over 30°C to around 15°C where it remained for most of my stay.

Ol49-69 and TurKol special at Poznan Franowo. Photo Chris White.

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Sat 12 May

Armed with a written list I went to the International Booking Office and bought tickets for the remainder of my stay. I had booked on the steam train trip from Poznan Glowny to Gniezno and received a warm welcome on introducing myself. TL49-69 headed four vintage carriages with frequent photo stops to Gniezno where the train was greeted by a fanfare of trumpets and a large crowd, many of whom opted to take a short trip on the steam train to Wrzesnia and back. Details and pictures on the TurKol website.

It was a big disappointment that there was no train provided on the Gniezno narrow gauge line; although Px48-1919 was posed with TL49-69, it was not in steam. I spent the time looking round this historic little town and even made it to the top of the Cathedral tower, before returning to Poznan on the steam special, which was looped twice for overtaking trains.

Sun 13 May

Back to Gneizno by TLK 65101, then on an ancient bus to Znin.

Work has taken place to renew drainage culverts on the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway. Photo Chris White.

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A sudden rain storm meant that the shelter of the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway’s refreshment room was very welcome before it was time for the train to leave. There were a lot of people around in the Biskupin area but very few on the two trains operating and I visited the iron age fort as well as enjoying the train ride.

A strategic retreat to one of the closed carriages was just as well as more heavy showers of cold rain developed during the afternoon. The station area at Gasawa has been improved recently by the construction of a new footpath to the centre of the village.

I took the 16.10 bus from Znin bus station and, although it was going through to Poznan, I changed at Gneizno and took a Regio train back to base. The Znin Narrow Gauge Railway is to be congratulated on operating a daily train service and deserves every success in this area which is obviously popular with visitors. The town centre is quite attractive but the area around the now closed standard gauge line and station is looking very sorry for itself. Hopefully it will not be too long before this part of town can be re-developed.

Wls40 built in Poznan in 1956 at work on the Maltanka Park Railway. Photo Chris White.

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Mon 14 May

Emil, one of my Polish friends, had recommended a visit to the 60cm gauge Kolej Parkowa Maltanka and I arrived there in time for the second round trip of the day. Being a Monday. a diesel loco was in operation. and I took a return trip before returning to explore some more of the long distance tram lines, or more properly, light rail lines. Then it was time to take TLK 83106 from Poznan to Lodz Kaliska (250km in 3½ hours).

Poznan light rail – route 12 tram heading towards the city at Aleja Solidarnosci. Photo Chris White.

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Tues 15 May

The day was spent exploring two of the three surviving Lodz inter-urban lines with Dyspozytor. Our first run was on line 46 out to Ozokow. This trip was delayed in both directions by a total of 30 minutes by cars crashing into the trams almost as if the local competing bus companies promote this kind of activity.

A very friendly driver on the outward trip spoke with us for a long time at the terminus about hopes and fears for the remaining long inter-urban routes out of Lodz and told us that the tram company staff had been encouraged by the international support for the campaign to save the line. The track beyond the city boundaries is in a very variable state, mostly single with passing loops and in need of heavy repairs in places.

Chris White and friendly tram driver at Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

We found (the only?) restaurant in Ozorkow and, after a schabowy (pork chop) for lunch, rode the line back into Lodz for afternoon tea with vintage tram owner and operator Tomasz Adamkiewicz. We changed trams at Plac Niepodleglosci and took service No 41 to Pabianice in the rain and gathering gloom. The track had been renewed as far as the city boundary but beyond the mixture of double and single track with sections of street and roadside running could do with some investment.

Our service was operated by a single car which was pretty well patronised in the early evening. We changed trams and after a longish wait caught one of the city trams at Port Lodz. We reached our starting point near Manufactura. By now cold and damp was beginning to overcome us and Dyspozytor organised a rescue party to take us to his home for a very welcome hot meal.

Plac Niepodleglosci, the start of line 41, the inter-urban service to Pabianice. Photo BTWT.

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Wed 16 May

Lodz Chojny dep 07:48 (TLK 16101) to Wroclaw Glowny arr 1:.20 – ten minutes late (250km in 4½ hours). A walk round the east side of the city revealed work going on to replace a lot of tram track on routes 0 and 5 and then I had a very late lunch in the Rynek. Buying a ticket for Bus 406 to the Airport again proved a problem. My cash stuck in the machine and another would be purchaser came and inserted their cash, banged the machine and shrugged and got on the bus so I did the same. At the airport I noticed the large number of internal flights and the new service to Lviv which has recently started. By Ryanair from Wroclaw dep 19:05 arr East Midland Airport 20:25.

Lodz Chojny, the 07:48 departure (TLK 16101) to Wroclaw Glowny – one of the through services that does not call at Lodz Kaliska. Photo BTWT.

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On my return I was asked “How was Poland?” to which I replied “Very Polish!” I met lots of friendly people, except for bus drivers who were equally grumpy to every-one. I observed: a lot of re-construction going on at breakneck speed; many monuments to various episodes of the land’s troubled history; much good renewal of the infrastructure of trams and trains. However, a lot more remains to be done, especially to provide user friendly services and much faster connections on the main lines and to develop the full potential of local and tourist lines.

May Holiday – A Narrow Gauge Feast

Friday, 20 April 2012

Updated

Crossing one of the long viaducts on the Jedrzejow line. The operating season at Jedrzejow starts on 1 May. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The first week in May is traditionally a holiday week in Poland with its two public holidays on 1 and 3 May. Many narrow gauge railways start their operating seasons during this week with trains at the weekends or on 1, 2 or 3 May. This year, 17 narrow gauge railways will be operating during the May holiday week. The special train at Przeworsk on Saturday 5 May must be booked in advance by email to smpkw [at] wp.pl before 22 April. The other trains do not need to be booked in advance.

  1. Bieszczady Forest Railway: 28 and 29 April, 1, 3, 5 and 6 May at 10:00 (to Przyslup) and 13:00 (to Balnica).
  2. Elk: Tuesday 1 May at 10:00.
  3. Hajnowka Forest Railway: 1-5 May at 10:00, 14:00 and 17:00.
  4. Hel Military Railway: 1, 3, 5 and 6 May.
  5. Jedrzejow: Tuesday 1 and Sunday 6 May at 10:00.
  6. Karczmiska: Thursday 3 and Sunday 6 May at 11:00.
  7. Koszalin: Tuesday 1 May at 11:00.
  8. Nowy Dwor Gdanski: 28 April to 6 May at 09:00, steam on 1 and 2 May.
  9. Piaseczno: 29 April, 1, 3 and 6 May at 11:00.
  10. Plociczno Forest Railway: Daily from 1 May at 13:00.
  11. Przeworsk: Special train with historic stock on Saturday 5 May (bookings by email to smpkw [at] wp.pl before 22 April).
  12. Rogow: 29 April, 1, 2, 3 and 6 May, four trains daily.
  13. Rudy: 28 and 29 April, eight trains to Paproc. 1, 3, 5 and 6 May, six trains to Paproc and 2 trains to Stanica.
  14. Smigiel: Thursday 3 May.
  15. Sroda: Tuesday 1 May, festival at Sroda Miasto station with short train trips to Kipa between 15:00 and 19:00.
  16. Starachowice: 1 and 6 May at 14:00 from Starachowice, 1-3 and 6 May at 14:00 from Ilza.
  17. Znin: Daily from Saturday 28 April, six trains each day.

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Regulator sets up n.g. portal!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The ‘World of Narrow gauge Railways’ according to UTK.

(Click on image to go to the UTK interactive map.)

With no effective umbrella body representing or promoting Poland’s tourist and heritage railways, it has fallen to Poland’s railway regulator, Urząd Transportu Kolejowego (Office of Railway Transport) to publish the first Polish language on-line atlas of operational narrow gauge lines.

Although we welcome this atlas, it does seem a somewhat bizarre thing for the UTK to publish. Have they not got more urgent priorities in the wake of the Szczekociny disaster?

Inevitably as always occurs with ‘first editions’, there are some omissions and inaccuracies. At first glance, two operational n.g. lines have been missed out, and one no-longer-operational line has been included.

We invite readers to submit their own corrections to BTWT. We will consolidate the corrections into one document and forward it to the UTK.

For readers planning their own visit to Poland we also recommend accessing Ed Beale’s own Narrow Gauge Railways in Poland portal for up to date information regarding operations in 2012. For information about the history of the lines Andrew Goodwin’s Polish Narrow Gauge Railways – though now somewhat dated – remains an invaluable resource.

(With a hat tip to Prezes for the link.)

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Fire destroys Bydgoszcz Railway n.g. relics

Sunday, 25 September 2011

MKP’s burnt out shed and rolling stock. Photo ©Jaroslaw Pruss.

(Click on image to see the rest of Jaroslaw Prus’s photos on the Gazeta Pomorska website.)

Fire swept through the workshops of the Myslecinska Kolej Parkowa (Myslinek Park Railway) on the night of 7/8 September destroying locomotives, carriages and workshop equipment. The destroyed rolling stock included items from the Bydgoszcz Narrow Gauge Railway (part of the erstwhile Bydgoszcz and Wyrzysk Narrow Gauge Railways) and the Znin Railway.

MPK train in May 2010. Photo Pit1233.

(Click image for details of licensing and to see original on Wikimedia Commons.)

The Myslinek Park Railway ran for 3.5 km through a recreational area on the northern outskirts of Bydgoszcz. A hat tip to Podroznik for the story.

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