Archive for the ‘Bieszczady’ 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.

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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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Narrow gauge trains in the snow

Friday, 10 February 2012

by Ed Beale

 

Just pick up the snowplough and run it up and down the mainline. 26 January 2012 – Getting the Bieszczady Forest Railway ready for the next day’s Winter Holiday train service. Video by .

For the first time in many years, several Polish narrow gauge railways are running winter tourist trains for passengers to enjoy the snowy scenery, and they have proved a great success. In PKP days trains most lines ran trains all-year-round whatever the weather, but since PKP shed its remaining n.g. lines in 2001, the only trains during winter have usually been “Santa specials” operated by some lines in December.

Despite the extremely cold and snowy winter this year all the trains have run more or less as planned, and old snowploughs have been brought back into use again doing a fine job of clearing the snow, especially in the Bieszczady mountains where there has been a large fall of snow this winter.

Polish school children have a two week winter holiday, the Ferijie Zimowe. The exact dates vary from region to region but all fall within the period 16 January to 26 February. During this period the Bieszczady Forest Railway in south east Poland is running a tourist train each Friday and Saturday, amazingly using open sided coaches usually known as letniaki (summer coaches!).

Winter Holiday train on the Bieszczady forest railway on 27 January. Video by .

The video above shows one of these trains from Majdan to Dolzyca and looks well used, with the open sided coaches clearly popular with photographers and video-makers! The cameraman is having a problem keeping his camera steady when the train is running – a common problem on most of the Polish n.g. lines!


Zulawy narrow gauge railway special, 28.01.2011. Photo bxi.pxd.pl.

(Click on the image to see the rest of the photos of the 28 January special.)

The Zulawy narrow gauge railway, which runs from Nowy Dwor Gdanski to the Baltic sea coast, ran a winter special on 28 January which reached Stegna and turned on the triangle there before returning to Nowy Dwor, on a superbly clear and icy winter day.

The Rogow narrow gauge railway likes to do things the correct way. Here the guard fine tunes the heating system on a 1aw coach. Photo FPKW.

(Click on the image to see a the rest of the photographs of the winter holiday train that ran on 5th Febuary.)

The Rogow narrow gauge railway east of Lodz offered their first winter train on Sunday 5 February, using a Lyd1 locomotive, Polish 1Aw coach fitted with a traditional coal-fired stove for heating, and brake van. It ran from Rogow to Jezow where sausages were cooked for lunch over a bonfire. Such was the demand for the train that it was totally sold out and an additional train will run this Sunday, 12 February.

More:

  • Video – Snowplough on the Bieszczady Railway –  part 2
  • Video – Snowplough on the Bieszczady Railway –  part 3
  • Video – Snowplough on the Bieszczady Railway –  part 4

Bieszczady buildings recommissioned

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Photo Report – BTWT visit to the Bieszczady Forest Railway, 20 Sept 2011

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

The rebuilt station building at Majdan. Photo BTWT.

The Bieszczady Forest Railway is carrying out an ambitious programme of building restoration, passenger rolling stock refurbishment and track renewal assisted by funding from the EU. At Majdan the original station building and engine shed have been beautifully restored and a brand new toilet block constructed. The station building is almost 100% new. The original collapsed when its timber cladding – a later addition – was stripped away by builders.

The restored engine shed. Photo BTWT.

Asbestos has been replaced by galvanised steel on the roofs, and the engine shed has been insulated for the first time in its history. The railway management hope that this will make it possible to run trains during the January – February winter holiday season.

New and old semi-open coaches rebuilt from freight van chassis acquired from other narrow gauge railways. Photo BTWT.

LYd2-05 and LAS Tx 1884 outside Majdan shed. Photo BTWT.

Majdan loconotive shed had been formally recommissioned the day previous to our visit. LYd2 0-6-0Ds make up the line’s staple motive power. LAS 0-6-0T steam locomotives were employed when the Bieszczady Railway was rebuilt on new alignments during the 1950s. This example was previously plinthed and was restored by Zbyszek Tucholski and one of the railway’s original steam drivers.

LYd2-01 in Husqvarna livery. Photo BTWT.

Husqvarna sponsor the railway by providing equipment for cutting grass and line-side vegetation.

Platelayers’ trolley fitted out to carry passengers Photo BTWT.

When no trains are running, parties of 5 or more can hire this vehicle and run their own ‘special’.

Plaque stating that the station building had been restored with the help of EU funding. Photo BTWT.

The overall cost of the project is 1.76m PLN of which 0.69m PLN is coming from EU regional development funds, 0.12m from the government budget, and 0.63m PLN from the railway’s own funds. The high proportion of project costs that the Bieszczady Forest Railway Foundation has had to fund itself has put a big strain on the railway’s cash flow.

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Blowing hot and cold in the Carpathians

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bieszczady Railway, Majdan yard, November 2006. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Poland is experiencing a thaw and nearly all the snow has melted. Poland’s two narrow gauge lines in the Carparthian Mountains – the Bieszczady Forest Railway and the Przeworsk Railway are getting ready for the spring.

The Bieszczadzy Railway’s EU project has started. Some 1,442,000 PLN (approx £315,000) is being spent on restoring and improving buildings in the Majdan area, essential work on the track and building new passenger carriages. The engine shed and workshops are being insulated, which will enable fitters to work all year round. At the moment such staff are employed on a seasonal basis. This work will also make it possible for the railway to run special trains during the winter season. During the line’s heyday the principal engine shed was at Rzepedz, and the locomotive workshops, located inside the grounds of the timber mill at Nowy Lupkow, were heated by the mill’s district central heating system.

Some of the project money is being spent on restoring the historic station building at Majdan. When its outer cladding was stripped away, it became apparent that the main structural timbers were completely decayed. Without the support of the cladding, part of the station building collapsed. Meanwhile work on the Kp4 0-8-0 locomotive which the railway acquired in near ‘Barry Dock’ condition is continuing off-site. If everything turns out as planned, the Kp4 will join the railway in May.

Three new steam drivers recently passed out by taking their theory exam at the Railway Museum in Warsaw. [Why on earth is the Railway Museum responsible for passing out heritage railway drivers? D.] The Las locomotive which  featured in some of our earlier articles remains in service. So the Bieszczadzy railway will be  the only Polish narrow gauge line able to roster two operational steam locomotives.

The Bieszczadzy railways EU project is a Polish first – it is the first non-local-authority-owned line to benefit from an EU grant. But it is paying heavily for the privilege. Initially the railway will have to find 1 756 414 PLN (£384,000) being the value of the project plus VAT and, unlike local authority projects where only 25% has to be contributed as ‘own funds’, the railway will responsible for raising some 45% of the project budget itself.

Przeworsk Railway, Przeworsk yard, April 2009. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Meanwhile a meeting took place on 7 Febuary at the offices of the Chief Executive of Przeworsk district Council to discuss the future of the Przeworsk Railway. Among those present were: Mrs Anna Kowalska, the deputy chief executive of the Podkarpackie Provincial Government; Tomasz Strapagiel, the chairman of SKPL; Wladyslaw Zelazny, the general manager of the Przeworsk railway; Zbigniew Kiszka, the chief executives of the Przeworsk district Council; and Grzegorz Krupa of the Przeworsk railway’s supporters association.

The principal subjects discussed were the shortfall between income and expenditure on the railway’s operational account as well as the urgent need for substantial funding to carry out essential work on the railway’s infrastructure. While there have been several meetings before to discuss the future of the line, this was the first time that a meeting to discuss the future of the railway was attended by such a senior representative of the provincial government as Mrs Kowalska.

No final agreement was reached regarding the resolution of financial challenges that the railway faces. However, it was agreed that a meeting of all the local authorities concerned with the future of the line should take place at the offices of the provincial government in Rzeszow under the chairmanship of  Mirosław Karapyta, the new chief executive. All sides felt that significant progress had been made in securing the long-term future of the railway.

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