Archive for the ‘Andrzej Massel’ Category

291 km/h – Pendolino sets new record

Saturday, 23 November 2013


The 270 km/h run on 17.11.2013. Video by ralfovski.

On 16 November 2013, high-speed testing of Poland’s ETR 610 Pendolino trains began on the CMK trunk rail line. Test runs are being carried out on the weekends of: 16-17 November, 23-24, November 30 Nov – 1 Dec, and 7-8 December.

During the course of the tests, which take place approximately between 10:00 and 15:00hrs, normal train services are suspended over the CMK, and the trains that were due to run are either cancelled or re-routed through Chestochowa.

The speed and breaking trials are part of the certification tests for the Alstom-built Pendolino trains being delivered to Poland. Twenty 7-unit ETR 610 sets, together with a new depot and a 17-year maintenance contract were ordered by PKP IC for 2,640 million PLN (65 million euro).

The trains are being certified for up to 250 km/h (155 mph) running. With a requirement for a 10% safety margin the objective has been to work up to a speed of 275 km/h (171 mph).

On the first day of the trials on 16 November 2013, the test train reached 242 km/h. On 17 November, it reached a speed of 270 km/h, breaking a little publicised record of 250.1 km/h set by an earlier generation Pendolino test train some 19 years earlier.

Today, the test train, with Rail Minister Andrzej Massel and other rail VIPs on board, achieved its objective and exceeded the 275 km/h target reaching a top speed of 291 km/h (181 mph).

To enable the high speed tests to take place, the section of CMK track used for the tests (between Gorą Wlodowska and Psary) had to be re-fettled with new ballast, and its overhead catenary replaced. For today’s record-breaking run the 3k DC voltage supply was tweaked by PKP’s electricity distribution company, PKP Energetyka.

Sadly, there is nowhere on Poland’s railway network actually certified for 250 km/h (155.3 mph) running, although a number of sections of line, including a short section of the CMK trunk line, are certified for 160 km/h (100 mph) running. PKP has plans to upgrade the CMK for 200 km/h (124 mph) running, and then in stages up to 220 km/h (137 mph), and eventually to 230 km/h (143 mph).



Nice train… pity about the seats

Friday, 21 June 2013


PKP’s Pendolino train in Savigliano. Photo Alstom.

The Polish Government has been cuddling up to Alstom, the builders of PKP’s special fleet of non-tilting Pendolinos. Today, 21 June 2013, Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk,, accompanied by the Minister of Regional Development, Mrs Elzbieta Bienkowska, visited Alstom’s turbine factory in Elbląg, Poland. On 17 June, the Undersecretary of State responsible for Poland’s railways, Andrzej Massel met his Italian counterpart Rocco Girlanda on Alstom’s site in Savigliano, Italy. The event was part of the official presentation to the board of PKP and PKP Intercity of the first Pendolino train for Poland.

The event is seen as a significant milestone in the €665m contract signed between Alstom and PKP IC in May 2011 for the delivery of 20 Pendolinos. The contract also covers the construction of the train depot in Grochow district of Warsaw and the maintenance of the trains for 17 years. The 250 km/h (156 mph) Pendolinos are scheduled to go into service from December 2014 and will connect northern and southern Poland, linking the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Tricity, Warsaw, Cracow, and Katowice.

Rather like the wicked fairy in the tale of Sleeping Beauty, Dyspozytor, was not invited to the champagne-popping and feasting. So instead, he got out his wand and…  a puff of smoke and lots of red stars appear and there’s Andrzej Massel sitting inside the Pendolino, but something is not right, Andrzej Massel is too big, or the seat’s too small, or… .

The smoke settles and all is clear, the Pendolino bodies are tapered to stay within the loading gauge when they tilt. The Polish Pendolinos have the same narrow bodies. The 4-in-a-row narrow seats are designed around the Mediterranean-diet derrière, but the average Polish backside is a much more substantial affair. Oh dear!


High Noon

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Pyskowice – Please help!

Abandoned by his townspeople, Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) sets out alone to meet Frank Miller, his deadly enemy. Original publicity photo.

(Click image to learn more about High Noon on the IMDb website.)

BTWT was set up as a campaigning blog, and over the years our readers have responded generously to our various appeals. Now it really is ‘high noon’ for Pyskowice and I would urge everyone who has enjoyed our blog to write to Maria Wasiak, the head of PKP, and most important of all, send a copy of your letter to Andrzej Massel, the Minister responsible for Poland’s railways.

A a guide, a copy of John Savery’s own letter is reproduced below, but please write your own letters in your own words. Many thanks to everybody who responds to this appeal.


Maria Wasiak
Polskie Koleje Panstwowe S.A.
ul. Szczesliwicka 62
00-973 Warszawa

Copy to:

Andrzej Massel
Podsekretarz Stanu
Ministerstwo Transportu, Budownictwa i Gospodarki Morskiej
ul. Chalubinskiego 4/6
00-928 Warszawa

1 March 2012

Dear Madam Wasiak,

I am writing you to express my concern with the actions of PKP SA against Towarzystwo Ochrony Zabytków Kolejnictwa i Organizacji Skansenów in Pyskowice (TOZKiOS). My understanding is that PKP are currently engaged in a legal dispute with TOZKiOS, and are attempting to evict them from their base at the former locomotive depot at Pyskowice.

I visit Poland regularly to use, and view its railways and railway preservation societies. The current legal dispute, and the actions of PKP disturb me. TOZKiOS had an agreement in place with the local PKP management team to use the shed area for a nominal rent. By demanding a commercial rent, and back payments of rent dating back a number of years, the actions of PKP threaten the very existence of TOZKiOS, undoing the fantastic work that they have achieved over the last 14 years, in establishing a railway museum in the old depot at Pyskowice.

Not only do the actions of PKP threaten the existence of the society, they also threaten the existence of the remaining buildings at Pyskowice, which are on the register of historic buildings and monuments.

The museum at Pyskowice is well known to fans of Polish railways, both in Poland and abroad. It has the potential to be an excellent tourist attraction in the area, preserving historical artifacts. The actions of PKP threaten this.

I understand that PKP has a liability to pay taxes to the local authority for occupying the land, and that the payment of rent is designed to cover these taxes. I also understand that PKP is legally obliged to act in a commercial manner. The land at Pyskowice has an extremely limited commercial value, due to its location in a desolate industrial area. The lack of road access limits alternative uses.

The simplest solution would be to grant the title of the land to TOZKiOS, removing the obligation from PKP to pay the taxes to the local authority. This would reduce the tax liability on PKP, and provide the security of tenure that the society deserves and requires in order to be successful. I realise that in some localities that the transfer of redundant PKP assets has been done to the local authority, however my understanding of the Polish law is that there is nothing to stop the transfer taking place to a society or museum.

To me, this would result in a win-win situation. PKP wins and can be seen to be acting commercially by reducing its tax liability and disposing of land that has little commercial value. The society wins by having the security of tenure and a permenant base.

The next round of the court case is set for 21 April, in Gliwice. I would urge you to intervene before this date, drop the demand for a commercial rental on the buildings and land area, and grant TOZKiOS the tenure of the land and buildings free of charge.

Yours sincerely,

John Savery

IC loses 73% W-wa – Gdansk passengers

Monday, 23 January 2012

March timetable – 85% ‘Express’ trains to run even slower.

Worsening connection times. Source Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

(Click table to see the original on the website.)

Today’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (Daily Law Journal) carries a damning article about worsening state of Polish rail services. Quoting PKP IC chairman, Janusz Malinowski, DGP reveals that as a result of worsening connection times 73% less passengers were carried on the Warsaw – Gdansk route in September 2011 than in the same period the previous year. On the Warsaw – Krakow and Warsaw – Katowice routes the fall in passenger numbers was 20%.

The results are a disaster for PKP IC. Its prestigious Express (Ex), Express InterCity (EIC) and EuroCity (EC) services, which in 2010 accounted for more 30% of its revenues, are haemorrhaging passengers. In an attempt to stem the flow PKP has dropped the price of certain tickets. For example, the cost of travelling on the Malopolske and Norwida services between Cracow – Warsaw and Gdynia has been reduced by 30%. But not all the passengers have come back.

Connection times and ticket prices are important factors in determining whether passengers choose to travel by train, but so are ‘soft’ factors such as the ease of purchasing tickets, the accuracy of timetable information and customer service. PKP IC  manages to achieve ‘third world’ levels on all 5 of the key factors important to passengers. Of course, not all factors are completely under the control of PKP IC. Ticket prices are driven by track access charges which are controlled by another PKP subsidiary, PKP PLK, which has actually raised its charges for trains travelling on the Warsaw – Gdynia route by 30%!

To add insult to injury, connection times will actually get worse for 85% of Ex, EIC and EC trains, following the March timetable adjustment. Of the 80 trains whose connection times will be affected by the new timetable only 12 will reach their destinations in less time than before. Undersecretary of State responsible for rail, Andrzej Massel, assures intending passengers that the longer journey times are only a temporary measure to allow key infrastructure work to be complete in time for Euro 2012 and that after 1 June connection times will improve dramatically.

DGP comments that the improved train times will be the result of certain infrastructure works being suspended for the duration of the championships. When the fans go home, the works will resume and the slower connection times will return.


Pendolino – Massel hits back at critics

Saturday, 4 June 2011

New Pendolino in Polish colours – Alstom visualisation.

There has been widespread criticism in the Polish media regarding of PKP IC’s signing of a 2.5 billion PLN purchase and maintenance package with Alstom for 20 New Pendolino train sets. One of many voices that questioned the wisdom of the decision was independent railway consultant, Jakub Majewski. In an article for trade journal Rynek Kolejowy, Majewski wrote (BTWT translation):

It’s worth remembering that we’ve been here before. Polish railways already once bought Pendolino. In July 1998 – after a tender had been evaluated – 16 trainsets were ordered. An agreement was signed and a great success was trumpeted. But the rejoicing was short-lived, after a National Audit Office (NIK) investigation, the tender was annulled in December 1999 and no trainsets were ever delivered.

What links both these situations is the financial standing of the purchaser. Just as 13 years ago, the railway has not managed to complete the  financing package for the the modern rolling stock. To avoid history repeating itself, the Government has offered PKP InterCity a 10 year contract for the operation of long distance trains. So far approval for this deal has not been obtained from the European Commission. And it is by no means certain that approval will be granted, because when Spain was in a similar situation the subsidy was rejected. The crowning argument was that such services could be run commercially and that there was no reason to disturb the operation of free competition in the transport market. So just before the expiry of Alstom’s offer the Government has stepped in to guarantee the required credit. An agreement has been signed with the proviso that PKP IC has another three months to complete the finance package and make its final decision.

The financial barrier has led to another strange situation. In an effort to make savings PKP has bought a tilting body train that won’t tilt. This has allowed the price to be reduced at the cost of reducing the trains speed on lines with many curves. And this gives rise to another question – if we are basically buying a classical technology train which can only travel a tad faster, maybe it would have been better to have specified the operating speed at 160 km/h (100 mph) and to have bought three times as much rolling stock. Such rolling stock would have been appropriate for our generally level country and the track upgrading being carried out by PKP. It would also have been cheaper to maintain.

An investment in tilting body technology means shorter journey times and greater comfort. Purchasing classical technology trainsets means a larger pool of rolling stock, more capacity, more frequent trains and a larger network of connections. Unfortunately the chosen option manages to miss both objectives.

In an interview with Rynek Kolejowy Andrzej Massel, the Undersecretary of State at Poland’s Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for Poland’s railways, hit back at the critics.

I’m really surprised at all the critical comments that were published in the Polish media. I’m sad because what is being criticised is a clear success, an important step in the modernisation of the Polish railway.

This really is rolling stock from the top shelf rolling stock that conforms to the technical interoperability standards for high speed trains. It is capable of operating at 250 km/h. Here in Poland it will run at 220-230 km/h on the CMK.That is why we are spending money on this line to permit higher speed running. Thanks to this between Warsaw and Krakow or Katowice we will be able to offer a very high standard of service.

Comparing the Pendolino with conventional rolling stock is a grave mistake – there’s a huge difference, that’s why it guarantees a different standard of travel and different speeds. Of course acquiring such rolling stock makes greater demands, however we must take this first . If our dreams about high speed rail travel are to be realised, we have to take the first step, we have to learn about high speed railways. The CMK – where over the last few years we have invested a fair amount money and installed ECTS Level 1 will be our learning laboratory. This new rolling stock will allow us to fully exploit our investment. We also need it it for the Warsaw – Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot line where it will be able to travel faster than present day services.

I’m pleased with this transaction. I’m aware that there are those who think that we should have purchased rolling stock of a lower standard, for different routes. However, I believe that that we should look at the transaction this way – there is a complementary between infrastructure and rolling stock. The infrastructure improvements between Krakow to Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot by way of Warsaw are proceeding very sucessfully. This rolling stock will allow us to exploit these investments from 2014. At the same time it will be an important signal for the public that we really have a high speed railway. The next step will be the construction of the “Y” line linking Poznan and Wroclaw through Lodz to Warsaw.