Archive for the ‘Call to arms!’ Category

Call to arms! – II

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway needs you!

5 km South of Krosniewice

A Krosniewice-Ozorkow special in 2006

The campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway is gathering momentum. A number of letters have already been sent to the Mayor of Ozorkow, with a copy to the Minister of Infrastructure and pledges that more letters will be written are coming in as well.

Can my letter make any difference?

Well yes, on the basis of previous experience, we know that letters sent from abroad do carry a great deal of weight with the authorities. Sometimes even a single letter can make all the difference.

The Extraordinary Story of Chabowka

The story of the PKP steam museums is a long and complicated one. Originally in the 1990’s PKP HQ in Warsaw planned three steam centres:

Wolsztyn Steam Centre

Wolsztyn (see above) – the principal centre
Klocko – for servicing

Jaworzyna Slask

Jaworzyna Slask (see above) – for storing steam engines.

Elk, a fourth, was added later.

Two more steam museums were initiatives of the regional PKP management:

Koscierzyna
Chabowka.

Another steam museum was established at Karsnice at the private initiative of the manager of the workshops there. By 2000 the senior management of PKP had changed and the cold winds of commercialisation were blowing through the corridors of PKP. It was decided to get rid of all the steam museums with the exception of Wolsztyn and to concentrate the best locomotives there.

An action committee was formed to save Chabowka. A group of experts from Krakow wrote a plan to develop tourism along the Chabowka – Nowy Sacz line, The National Foundation for Promoting Heritage Railway Trails was set up by Ryszarda Leszczynska. (see Papal Train) But all to no avail, by 2003 the Chabowka employees were given notice that the museum was going to close.

Enter the Englishman

It was at this stage that an Englishman called Mike Pease entered the scene. Pease, a director of the Spa Valley Railway and the Secretary of the New Europe Railway Heritage Trust (NERHT), was a descendant of Edward Pease, the banker of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. He had been following the Polish railway scene for some time and was the owner a Slask 0-8-0 shunting locomotive which he keeps at Pyskowice Steam Centre. He decided to write a letter of protest to the chairman of PKP, with a copy to the Minister of Transport. He also copied it for good measure to the chairman of the British-Polish Chamber of Commerce with the suggestion that the BPCC might like to organise a seminar on the tourism potential of Poland’s railway heritage.

At this point Pease struck lucky because the Chamber duly obliged! A seminar, Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage as a Tourist Attraction, held under the auspices of the NERHT and sponsored by the Chamber took place in October 2003. The morning session was held in the British Consulate, the afternoon session in the Warsaw Railway Museum. Nearly every Polish heritage railway sent a delegation. PKP sent a team of three people. NERHT sent three experts from Britain. Not long afterwards, the decision to close Chabowka was rescinded. Today 8 Chabowka engines are in working order and very good mechanical condition. Occasional steam trains are run on the Nowy Sacz line and around Cracow.

And the rest?

And what of the other railway museums? Wolsztyn is flourishing, although it’s reported that the mechanical condition of its locomotives is very poor. Nothing remains of Klocko. Jaworzyna was taken over by the local authority and then privatised. None of its engines are in working order. Elk is closed, but a great deal of rolling stock is still there and deteriorating fast. Recently two of its steam locomotives were transferred to the PSMK railway museum at Skierniewice. Koscierzna is run by PKP Cargo although none of its engines are in working order. The ‘forgotten’ museum at Karsnice lingers on in no man’s land, trapped by the reluctance of the PKP Estate Department to pass the custody of the engines over to the council of Zdunska Wola.

If the story of Chabowka does inspires you to put pen to paper, please write to:

Mrs Julianna Barbara Herman
The Mayor of Krosniewic
Urzad Miejski
Poznanska 5
99-340 Krosniewice
POLAND

and send a copy to:

Mr Cezary Grabarczyk
The Minister of Infrastructure
ul. 4/6 Chalubinskiego
00-928 Warszawa
POLAND

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The Battle of Krosniewice. We need you!

Friday, 7 March 2008

ostr.jpg

The Krosniewicka Kolej Dojazdowa, Krosniewice
Local Railway, is a part of the Kujawska Kolej
Dojazdowa and was SKPL’s busiest n.g. railway.

New readers go first to A word of explanation at the bottom of this post

Contrary to the information that I gave earlier, the Ozorkow special last Saturday was not the last train on the Krosniewice system. SKPL have decided to continue to run the Krosniewice passenger services on a day-to-day basis. The notice given by Mayor of Krosniewice withdrawing SKPL’s licence expires at the end of March.

SKPL have written to the Minister of Infrastructure asking whether or not the passenger and freight services which they operated on the line fulfilled the requirements of the Law for the Commercialisation Restructuring and Privatisation of PKP. (It was a requirement of Krosniewice council’s takeover of the line from PKP that it should remain in use for the purposes of transport.) The letter also asks the Minister to advise what will happen to the takeover now that the Council have terminated SKPL’s licence and appointed no other operator.

Mr Wojciech Szygendowski, the Heritage Conservator of Lodz Province, has written to the Mayor of Krosniewice, reminding her that the whole railway has special heritage status and that she is responsible for its well being.

What can we do?

In the first instance send a letter to the Mayor of Krosniewice with a copy to the Minister of Infrastructure. Explain why you are interested in the line. Explain the heritage importance and potential tourist value of the Krosniewice system. Ask why at the end of March there will be no operator on the line. Point out the value of the historic workshops as a ‘living museum’. Express your concern that without an operator the well equipped workshops will be looted and that the historic locomotives and rolling will be vandalised.

Post your letter airmail and, if you can afford it, ‘signed for’ delivery. Send us a copy of your letter, so that we can publish it on the blog. Advise us if any reply is received. Don’t worry about writing in English, the Council offices have scores of people who could translate your letter for Madame Mayor.

write to:

Mrs Julianna Barbara Herman
The Mayor of Krosniewic
Urzad Miejski
Poznanska 5
99-340 Krosniewice
POLAND

send a copy to:

Mr Cezary Grabarczyk
The Minister of Infrastructure
ul. 4/6 Chalubinskiego
00-928 Warszawa
POLAND



A word of explanation

A word of explanation for those joining us for the first time. The Krosniewice Railway, one of the most interesting Polish narrow gauge railways – which operated regular passenger services and carried a substantial freight traffic – is closing because the Mayor of Krosniewice has teamed up with a property developer. Krosniewice Coucil is in the process of acquiring the railway land from PKP, the Polish State Railway Company, for transport purposes. But the Mayor is planning a big property development and the railway workshops are in her way. SKPL, the operator of the line, opposed the demolition of the workshops and, for their pains, have had their operator’s licence terminated by the Mayor.