Archive for the ‘closures’ Category

Transwersalna closure puts charters in doubt

Thursday, 17 September 2015

 

The sudden decision to close the line from Kasina Wielka to Nowy Sacz to passenger traffic has taken several groups by surprise, not least Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Wolsztyńskiej Parowozowni (TPWP) who have a planned photo charter for 10 October.  The line from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz, part of the Kolej Transwersalna had recently been subject to renewed activity, due to the Małopolskie Szlaki Turystyki Kolejowej (Malopolska Railway Tourism), organised by the Nowy Sacz Railway Enthusiasts Society.  The society had recently received funding of 200,000 zl, (about £35,000) from the Malopolska regional government to run a series of charters along the line.  They too, have had to change plans, for trains later this month, and into October and November.

Ty42-107 on the closed section, 26 May 2013

Ty42-107 heads a special organised by the Nowy Sacz Railway Enthusiasts Society towards Chabowka, 26 May 2013.  Photo: John Savery

The decision, taken on safety grounds, was made by PLK, the business which runs Polish rail tracks.  With limited (if no) maintenance being undertaken on sections of the line, the permanent way is in poor condition.  The remaining part of the line, from Chabowka to Kasina Wielka remains open.

The line has been threatened with closure before however had a last minute reprieve.  With no scheduled freight service over the line, the closure is effectively a total closure over the scenic and heavily graded section between Kasina Wielka and Nowy Sacz.

 

Advertisements

Looking back down the line

Sunday, 14 April 2013

5 km South of Krosniewice

A Krosniewice-Ozorkow special in 2006. Photo BTWT.

This post is the 1,000th article that I have posted on BTWT, though thanks to Ed Beale and John Savery it is actually our 1,029th post. It is not actually the 1,000th article that I have written for BTWT, because half a dozen or so of the articles that I have posted were actually written by Robert Hall. Robert is suspicious of computers and prefers not to have anything to do with getting his material on-line.

So maybe it is premature to be marking my personal milestone? Perhaps not? BTWT did have a brief existence on another blogging platform prior to migrating to wordpress.com and, if my memory serves me well, I posted there for a couple of months before making the move to WordPress – a move which in hindsight was very wise. WordPress has turned out to be a very reliable platform and does nearly everything that I want it to do.

There is now no trace of our former home, nor of those very early posts.  I console myself with the thought that those posts were rather self-indulgent and that their digital destruction was for the best. It is usual when passing such milestones to take look at what has gone before, so here for BTWT readers is a nostalgic trip into the past. Rereading the old posts, some seem remarkably prophetic!

Eurostar-1038-2

Eurostar to Brussels about to depart. Photo BTWT.

The very first of my articles that survives, posted on Sunday, March 9 2008, extolled the virtues of the London – Poznan rail jouney via Eurostar and ongoing connections, and suggests that UK railway societies book steam railway trips through our friends Fundacja Era Parowozow. Some five years later, I actually got round to doing the trip – though not without some misadventures. I will be publishing a full account of my trip, though not necessarily some time soon!

Fundacja Era Parowozow  is still in existence and pays an allowance to its trustees for attending its monthly council meetings, but our friends who worked for the foundation have long since left, and the scheme of hiring out steam trains to rich foreign railway enthusiasts has long since gone to the scrapheap of bright ideas, driven out by the exorbitant track access charges levied by PKP PLK.

March 2008, also saw the demise of Poland’s busiest freight-hauling narrow gauge railway – the Krosniewice Railway and I published three articles deploring the decision by the Krosniewice Town Council to end the lease to SKPL and urging readers to put pen to paper.

office_select

Robert Stephenson’s office as restored by the Trust.
Robert Stephenson Trust Photo

Until Englishrail.blog was split out a separate blog – a decision that was probably not one of my brightest ideas – BTWT occasionally dealt with UK stories. On March 11 2009, in a post which was paradoxically prophetic of the problems about to be faced several Polish railway heritage ventures, I wrote about how the Robert Stephenson Trust were being forced out – by a massive rent hike – from their base in the world’s first locomotive factory.

The Society were being priced out of premises which – while much of Newcastle’s industrial heritage was being demolished – the Trust had managed to save and restore. The buildings had been acquired by a developer. After putting up a valiant fight, the Trust failed to obtain a rent that they could afford and had to move out of the premises that they had worked hard to restore to their former glory.

infrastructure

Germany spends ten times as much on its railway infrastructure (expressed as a % of GDP) than Poland.

Returning back to Poland, and another matter that remains perennially topical, on 30 March 2009, I published an article about how 7,000 km of the Polish railway network faced the axe. It seems that Poland spends about 0.15% of its GDP on railway infrastructure, the Czech Republic, 0.38%, Germany 1.28% and France just under 1.4%.

The Wolsztyn Gala on 2 May 2009. Photo BTWT.

By March 2010, BTWT was dealing with exclusively Polish topics. Tunnel Vision became Englishrail blog and fired one of its regular salvos against the harassment of railway enthusiasts by over zealous security staff, and poked fun at Gordon Brown’s instructions that Admirals and Generals should travel by second class.

In March 2010, BTWT broke the story that the Wielkopolska provincial government were planning to set up a separate company to run the Wolsztyn depot. (See BTWT, 1 April 2013 for latest update on this story.)

Other stories that month included an account how Undersecretary of State responsible for Poland’s railways, Juliusz Englehardt had vetoed Przewozy Regionalne’s plan for cheap InterRegio services between Poznan and Berlin.

There was also an account how PKP PLK had set up a ‘Train Operators Council’. Interestingly, at the time, I commented that for such a body to be effective – it should be independent and not the tame creature of PKP PLK.

I now hear that the principle train operators outside the PKP group are setting up their own body, Fundacja Pro Kolej (Pro Rail Foundation) to press the case for Poland’s rail infrastructure to receive a larger slice of the transport infrastructure spend than it receives at present.

A year later, BTWT had got into one of its periodic crisies, but I did find time to cover the story how Poland was being censured by the European Commission for trying to spend €1.2 billion of its EU rail funding on building roads!

The site of the collision on the following morning following the accident. Photo zawiercie.naszemiasto.pl.

By March 1012, BTWT had got back in its stride, we published some 14 posts that month. The biggest story that month – and one that will scar the image of Polish railways for many years to come – was the account of the head on collision between two passenger trains near Szczekociny on 3 March 2013.

So what of the future? The new targets are to get a new post published on BTWT every other day, and to put up a post on Englishrail blog every fortnight. With the help of our editorial team, Ed, John and Rob, as well as the leads and stories sent in by our readers, we might just do it. As British Rail used to say, We’re getting there!

Our mailbox is: railfan[at]go2[dot]pl . If you can solve the puzzle we would love to hear from you!

Thank you for your support over the last five years, here’s hoping you be reading BTWT for many more years to come!

Dyspozytor

Spring Deals in Electronics

Deals of the Week in Electronics and PC

Plans to close 1/4 of Poland’s rail network

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Part of the ‘front page’ of today’s Rynek Kolejowy.

(Click image to read article on Rynek Kolejowy portal.)

In an exclusive scoop, Poland’s leading railway trade journal, Rynek Kolejowy (Railway Market), revealed today that Poland’s Ministry of Transport is targeting 25% of the country’s railway network for closure.

Last year, McKinsey & Co. was commissioned to analyse the options for Poland’s railways and a programme to axe some 4,000 to 5,000 route km has been ‘sold’ to the Ministry as the safe ‘middle course’.

The McKinsey report propounds the view that the size of Poland’s railway network must be adjusted to suit the country’s financial means. Under Secretary of State, Andrzej Massel told Rynek Kolejowy that a 14,000 – 15,000 route km railway network should be ‘sustainable’ and would not eat up funds earmarked for infrastructure improvements.

British readers will have an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. This report mirrors the infamous ‘Beeching Report’ of the 1960s which led to the closure of two thirds of Britain’s rail network. Implementation  of the ‘Beeching Plan’ singularly failed in its public objective, that of ‘making the railways pay’. Post-Beeching BR lost much more passenger and freight traffic than had  been forecast resulting in less revenue and its ‘losses’ continued to grow.

Pre-Beeching BR was EBITA positive, but its annual accounts were weighed down by interest charges – the ‘cost’ of the capital tied up in nationalising the railways. Perversely, in Poland and in the UK, the ‘cost’ of capital is not taken into account when calculating the finances of maintaining the road network.

What Dr Beeching did succeed in doing, was transferring large volumes of heavy freight traffic onto Britain’s overcrowded roads, which in turn was used to justify an accelerated road-building programme. There are cynics who say that this was the real objective all along.

The damage done to a road surface by the passage of a road vehicle is proportional to the fifth power of its axle weight. The fact that the owners of heavy road vehicles do not pay road taxes or excise duties proportional to the fifth power of the axle weights of their lorries means that the ordinary motorist – as well as the non-motoring tax payer – is actually subsidising road freight – something almost certainly not taken into account in the McKinsey report.

Poland, has already lost about one third of its rail network, by stealth. At its peak, around 1960, the country had just under 30,000 route km of rail. This total includes non-PKP industrial lines of various gauges. Today, there are some 19,000 route km left in operation.

In post-Beeching Britain, a second round of deep cuts was planned by the Ministry of Transport in the 1970s. How it was stopped will be the subject of a future post. What does the future hold for Poland’s railways? Only time will tell.

More: