Archive for the ‘Bialowieza’ Category

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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Polish heritage rail and EU funding

Friday, 18 February 2011

Too little trickles down to where its needed

EU project notice Karczmiska Station. Photo L Grabczak, Radio Lublin.

(Click image to see more photos taken recently at the Naleczow Railway’s Karczmiska headquarters.)

There seems something distinctly odd about the way that Polish heritage and tourist lines use EU funds. Only a handful of lines have actually benefited from EU funding, but those that have seem wary of spending much money on the basic ‘train set’. Rolling stock continues to be left out in the open and subject to the depredation of vandals and the Polish weather. Infrastructure and rolling stock gets hardly a mention. Track receives the absolute minimum attention. Unique steam locomotives are left to decay as ‘technical monuments’.

Meanwhile precious EU funding is focussed elsewhere. Station buildings are restored, or built from scratch, and paved platforms are built where there was once only a few kerb stones and a bank of ballast. Since it is unlikely that all local authority owners suffer from the same tunnel vision, could it be that this obsession with buildings is the result of implementing EU project guidelines set by the Ministry of Regional Development?

The Naleczow Railway is the beneficent of a 3.999 million zloty EU-assisted project. The station buildings at Karczmiska have been immaculately restored, yet the track, rolling and depot buildings continue to present a sorry sight. The railway has not been operational since SKPL ceased operating the line at the end of 2008.

Newly built platforms and station buildings at Hajnowka. From a photo at bialowieza-info.eu

(Click on image to see more photos of the Bialowiza Forest Railway on the bialowieza-info.eu website.)

The Bialowieza Forest Railway has built a new station, platform and prestigious office facilities at Hajnowka. Yet one historic HF ‘Feldbahn’ locomotive languishes in the open, while its sister, which is in near working order, rests in its shed unused for want of a boiler inspection.

Project for rebuilding Rewal Station
Visualisation © Ingeno Consult BPK Sp. z o.o.

(Click image to see more Ingeno design sketches. Click here to go to Ingeno Group website.)

A 47 million PLN (£10 million) EU-assisted project for the Gryfice narrow gauge railway envisages two brand new station buildings, platform awnings, paved platforms, ‘retro’ lamps, art galleries, museums, a library, cafés, cycle hire and bed and breakfast facilities. Yet the railway passes through some of Poland’s most developed seaside tourist infrastructure. Does Rewal Council need to finance all these facilities itself? Are they all necessary? Only 8 km of track of the line’s 40 plus km will receive attention as a result of the program and the railway’s solitary Px48 – borrowed from the Railway Museum in Warsaw – will not be augmented by any additional steam engine.

More on Rewal (in Polish):

Lukoil threat to Bialowieza

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Site of planned Lukoil terminal at Lesna

It is rare for BTWT to come out publicly against a proposed railway development, but Russian oil giant Lukoil‘s plans for a massive 62 acre (25 ha) oil terminal on the edge of the Bialowieza Forest fill us with foreboding. The Forest is one of the largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest which once covered Europe. Before WWII the Forest was in Poland, since the post-war shift of Poland’s borders, it lies in south-western Belarus, and north-east of Poland. UNESCO have declared the Forest a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. The EU have given the Polish part of the Forest Natura 2000 designation and, in both Poland and Belarus, portions of the forest are also protected under domestic legislation.

From Lukoil’s point of view the site offers many advantages. The Narewka Council is in favour of the development and have already sold some land to the oil company. The site is already connected by a broad gauge railway to the Belarus railway system. The proposed oil terminal would actually lie outside the Bialowieza National Park. The company intends to prepare an environmental impact assessment and and to install suitable traps and dykes to minimize the effect of any spillage.

On the other hand, ecologists throw up their hands in horror. They point out that Lukoil are hardly known for their care of the environment. Any oil or chemical spillage would eventually leach into the drainage canals that run from the site into National Park. The heavy road tankers that would take fuel from the oil terminal to destinations all over Poland would actually run through the Park. In the event of an accident like the explosion and fire at the oil terminal in Buncefield, the damage to the Forest’s ecosystem would be incalculable.

Zubrowka

Sunday, 23 November 2008

marek_wodka

Robert Matczak, Marek Ciesielski (with Zubrowka), Karol Waszak, Marcin Witasiak. Photo BTWT

Zubrowka is the queen of Polish vodaks. The recipie dates back to the 16th century, and by 18th century Zubrowka was one of the favourite raw drinks of the Polish nobility. In 1926 the Polmos company in Brzesc Litewski, Poland – now Belalco (Brest) Belarus – came up with a way to mass produce Zubrowka. The original distillery in Brest, Belarus, still produces Brestskaya Zubrovka while the grass inside a bottle is the registered trademark of the Polmos Bialystok company in Poland.

Zubrowka is rye distilled wodka 40% (ABV) alcohol. It contains an extract from Hierochloe odorata (Bison Grass) which grows in the Bialowieza Forest, which is partly in Poland and partly in Belarus. The Bialowieza Forest is famous for the 600 mm gauge Bialowieza Forest Railway which is the home of HF class, Tx-1112, until recently the last working ‘Feldbahn‘ steam locomotive in Poland. In the USA, Coumarin, the active ingredient in Bison Grass is prohibited as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration. Polmos produces a bowdlerised version of Zubrowka called ‘Bison Grass Vodka’ containing artificial flavourings and colourings specially for the American market.

In our picture Marek Ciesielski holds a bottle of Zubrowka. BTWT readers will recall that Marek’s prize from our last competition was half a bottle of Zubrowka. (He only got half the questions right.) The team of SKPL managers in the picture gamely volunteered to help Dyspozytor ensure that Marek did not consume more than his 50% share. He reports that he and the the volunteers carried out their responsibilities with great enthusiasm and even exceeded their quota!

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