Archive for the ‘900mm’ Category

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.

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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