Archive for the ‘Bydgoszcz’ Category

Bydgoszcz station regains a tram link…

Friday, 23 November 2012

…23 years after the earlier line was closed!

The opening ceremonies. Video by .

On Thursday (22 November), almost 23 years after the closure of the old line, Bydgoszcz railway station is again connected to the city’s tram network. Rafal Bruski, the Mayor of Bydgoszcz, hopes that the 80 million zl investment is just the first of a series of major public transport, which the city plans to implement in the coming years.

The new 1.75 km spur to the station. Map courtesy OpenStreetMap.

The 1.75 km spur leads from ul. Focha, and crosses the River Brda by means of a 70 metre suspension bridge to terminate in a loop near Bydgoszcz Glowny railway station. In addition to the construction of the track the project also included the reconstruction of streets and pavements, construction of bike paths and the installation of a modern passenger information system.

A hat tip to podroznik for the story.

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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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A return journey – part 2

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Przewozy Regionalne railbus at Miedzyrzecz station owned by Lubusz province.
Photo © Tomasz Nowak.

(Click on image to see more photographs taken at Miedzyrzecz station by Tomasz Nowak.)

The second part of Robert Hall’s return trip to Poland after a break of 16 years.

My journey would now take me over some of the northern reaches of the Magistrala Weglowa (Coal Trunk Line), opened in the 1930s to link the Upper Silesia mining and industrial area with Poland’s then only port at Gdynia. Some of the route between Gdynia and Koscierzyna was 1930s new build, other sections made use of the pre-World War 1 Prussian State Railways network. An hour and a quarter’s run through pleasant gentle hills brought us to Koscierzyna, and a neat connection there with single-unit SA 106-104, representing the 15:24 departure southward. This vehicle carried the markings of Kujawsko-Pomorskie province, whose local rail passenger services are at present operated by Arriva.

As we set off, my attention was unfortunately distracted from Koscierzyna railway museum’s steam locos outside the MMPD by an altercation with the railmotor’s guard. It appears that the Polrailpass no longer covers all of Poland’s passenger services but only those operated by PKP Intercity and other PKP subsidiaries. At first we headed due south along a Magistala Weglowa section opened in 1930, called at a couple of stations including Olpuch, then at Bak branched off south-westward on a line which was also new post-WW1. A pause of some length at Czersk, where connection is made with the Pila – Tczew cross-country route (once Prussia’s main line between Berlin, and Gdansk and Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg). As we waited for the connecting train I saw a loco-hauled train of single-deck stock, and a modern railmotor. At last, SA 106 moved on, to Szlachta junction where I was to change, and thence further south – though whether to Wierzchucin or right through to Bydgoszcz, I was unable to determine.

The pleasure of leisurely railmotor journeys over a quite intricate system of rural lines was marred for me by one big difference from my 1994 visit – all these country lines now appear to be devoid of freight services. Every station at which we called that afternoon, sported a grass-grown, disused goods yard – big or small according to the magnitude of the place concerned – with not a single goods wagon in revenue-earning service. I had observed the same on the Hel branch the previous day. Sixteen years previously, although very many lines had by then lost their passenger services, plentiful local freight action had been in evidence.

I find rural railways carrying no freight at all, and seeing no use other than by local passenger services, intensely saddening. In the Beeching era in Britain, some railway enthusiasts expressed the sentiment that they would rather see lines closed, than the trains on them running empty. My journeys in Poland this year bred similar feelings. My gut-reaction was that these lines were in a condition of death-in-life, hanging on by a thin and rather ludicrous thread, and that I would prefer to see the railway administration put an end to the farce, sweep the whole thing away, and do an honest job of ripping the tracks up and ‘having done’. I admit that this is an emotional, illogical and unfair reaction. All the services on which I travelled that afternoon, had a reasonable number of passengers. In fact, from Gdynia to Olpuch, the railmotors were positively crowded, thanks to a large contingent of Scouts-and-Guides, who disembarked at the latter point. The lines are seeing some use, but in a context which put me of wanting to undertake much further standard-gauge-branch-exploration in the days ahead.

One of the two saddest sights for me this year – both for the same basic reason – was the station at Szlachta, where I had an hour’s wait between workings. Szlachta was once a four-way junction, today three of the original four lines still meet here. Szlachta is a spacious station with four platforms and five platform roads. It has a large goods yard, now weed-grown and utterly deserted. There was plenty of grass growing over the passenger tracks, too. All this is protected by an elaborate array of semaphore signals, which are still solemnly operated for the passenger workings. The station building is decaying, with no public access except to the neglected waiting room. A notice on the former booking-office window stated, if I interpreted it correctly, that from a date in 2009, tickets would no longer be issued at Szlachta station; all ticket business to be transacted on-train. At the time of my visit, Szlachta still had a stationmistress; there for operational matters – dealings with passengers would appear to be no longer part of her remit.

I found the scene most horridly depressing and as my hour in the grave-like quiet of Szlachta junction wore on, disquieting fantasies began to set in. Was I to be marooned forever in this doleful spot? Perhaps my departed SA 106-104 was the last service ever to call here? The sight of a double-unit SA 134 coming into view from the east – the 16:36 ex Laskowice Pomorskie to Szlachta – to become the 17:39 return working. This working (again, operated by Arriva) waited for a while beyond its scheduled departure time, for a late-running railmotor to pop-in-and-out-again on a northbound counterpart working of my 15:24 ex Koscierzyna.

The other truly heartbreaking sight was Miedzyrzecz station, a few days later – de-staffed and seemingly deserted, all in very dilapidated physical condition. There was a big overgrown and totally empty goods yard. The only activity on rails was one just-arrived railmotor terminating there. A painful contrast to how things were at Miedzyrzecz on my isit there in 1980. The place was then a busy country junction, a focal point of an intricate net of branch lines, with a loco shed whose inhabitants – chiefly class TKt48 2-8-2Ts – worked those routes. Almost everything was steam, with frequent comings and goings. There was plenty of freight action. There were staff everywhere. Everything ran quite smartly, though in the rather dispirited fashion which was the norm in Communist days. The scene thirty years later, was a most wretched come-down.

As regards scenery, Szlachta to Laskowice Pom. was a delectable run of some 40 km through gently idyllic scenery, often traversing thick mainly-conifer woodland, and calling at a succession of sweet little towns. What a superb preserved steam line this could make, if such matters could be arranged in Poland, as they are in Britain. My aversion to dead railways, with nothing left except meagre railmotor services, was so acute that I decided against my original plan of travelling on yet another branch – the line from Laskowice Pom. to Grudziadz. The idea had been to stay overnight at Grudziadz, sample its metre-gauge trams on the morrow, before proceeding southwards on the secondary line which serves the town. I felt, though, that I had had enough of moribund branch lines. so I baled out at Laskowice Pom. on the Gdansk – Bydgoszcz electric old main line. An opportune southbound local emu showed up quite soon, and delivered me to Bydgoszcz at a not too late hour.

Bydgoszcz was another place that I had last visited in 1980. On exiting from the city’s Glowny Station, I was concerned to see tram tracks in the cobbles, but no masts nor wires. Had the city’s metre-gauge tram system been axed. In fact, the trams are still busily functioning, but the branch that ran right to the main station, has been axed. Next day with a morning to kill in Bydgoszcz – a nice enough city, but not prime tourist-bait – a tram ride was duly had, choosing a good long route from the centre, out to start of countryside on city’s eastern edge. Then a post-lunchtime departure on a Gdynia – Katowice through express, to reach Lodz early in the evening. I kept a sharp lookout on the run southward, for traces of the ill-fated Kujawy 750mm gauge system, but saw nothing – the tracks, were too overgrown to pick out in passing.

…to be continued

More photographs of Miedzyrzecz:

Berlin-Bydgoszcz by slow train

Monday, 1 February 2010

Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn train at Seelow-Gusow.
Photo Karsten Knut Knuth.

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

One of our correspondents reports on his trip from Berlin to Bydgoszcz. The different approach to railway transport in Germany and Poland was quite apparent. How long will it be, I wonder before NEB trains run through to major destinations in Poland?

Well I’m back from a long weekend in Berlin. Coming back I travelled on private operator NEB’s services from Berlin-Lichtenberg to Kostrzyn. Very nice, power points for laptops, coffee sales by the conductor. (Just 0.80 euro for a large cup!)

From Kostrzyn, the szynobus craze seems to have taken over. The Kostrzyn to Krzyz service was made up of a ZNTK Poznan-built 2-car unit on single axles, not bogies. It was quite packed, but inside it was cold. Both toilets were locked out of service, but there was a definite whiff of toilet chemicals inside the car. The ride to Krzyz went quite well, though at one point the conductor told someone that the connecting Krzyz – Pila service was odwolany, and this story made the rounds, although no official attempt was made to inform passengers.

Arriving Krzyz, a Wielkopolski Pesa railbus to Pila was waiting, so so much for that rumor. That leg went well. It was warm inside, but I hated the bus-style seating. At Pila a connection to an EN57 for Bydgoszcz was made. I used to hate EN57’s, but after so much DMU riding, it was a welcome sight!)

Podroznik