Archive for the ‘Elk’ Category

Locos on the move

Monday, 16 February 2015

1255 - Lorry

Ol49-61 after arriving at Dzierzoniow. Photo: John Savery

Ol49-61 now has a new home.  After many years languishing in Elk, the loco has now moved south, albeit on the back of a low loader.

Its new home from 8 February is Dzierzoniow, in Dolny Śląsk, at the former locomotive depot.  The former depot is to become an outpost of Muzeum Techniki i Przemysłu, which is based in Jaworzyna Śląsk.

Sosnowiec

Ol49-61 being readied for unloading. Photo: John Savery

The Ol49 joins TKt48-72, which was formerly at Jarocin.  Both locomotives were purchased at the PKP Nieruchomosci tender in 2014, along with a number of other vehicles, including Ol49-102 and Ol49-9.

The state of the loco’s meant a road move was preferable.  Given that the loading gauge on Poland’s roads is less than the rail loading gauge, the highest parts had to be removed for the trip, and were carried on the bed of the low loader.

1258 - Chimney and smoke deflectors

Items that put the load out of gauge for the Polish road system were taken off prior to the move. Photo: John Savery

Ol49-9 has also made the move in the past few days, with Ol49-102 expected to follow shortly.

Ol49-80 – Conservator to ‘list’ loco.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Ol49-80 at Elk. Photo Roman Miotke.

Robert Dylewski reports that, following the appeals of numerous railway enthusiasts, officials in the Historic Monuments Office in Olsztyn have started the process of listing Ol49-80 as a historic monument. (See: BTWT, 24 July 2012 – Ol49-80 – will be cut up in 7 days…) With the listing process started it would now be illegal for the locomotive to be cut up by its scrapyard owners.)

While the future of Ol49-80 is still far from secure, an important victory has been achieved. Congratulations are due to Robert who initiated a massive campaign to save the loco and also to Piotr Lewandowski of Fundacja Thesaurus in Poznan who provided legal support.

Robert is acquiring quite a reputation in Polish railway enthusiast circles for his campaigns to rescue steam locos on ‘death row’ it was he who initiated the successful campaign to save Ty2-5860 after DB Schenker had sold it to a scrapyard! (See BTWT, 6 September 2011 – All’s well that ends well.)

Ol49-80 – will be cut up in 7 days…

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

…unless ‘White Knight’ appears with 180,000 zloty

Ol49-80 at Elk. Photo Roman Miotke.

The OL49 offered for sale by tender in May (see BTWT, 16 May) has been bought by a scrap merchant. He is giving railway enthusiasts 7 days to raise 180,000 zloty to buy the locomotive, before he cuts up the engine for scrap.

Such a price is well beyond the reach of Polish railway heritage societies, leaving the loco’s fate dependent on the miraculous appearance of a ‘White Knight’.

The loco was built for PKP at the Feliks Dzierzynski locomotive factory in Chrzanow in 1953. Its tragic progress from a prize exhibit at the erstwhile ‘skansen’ at Elk to a ‘Barry wreck’ is illustrated on “Tomi” Czarnecki’s website Wciaz pod Para.

The photographs on OL49-80s page on Czarnecki’s website aptly illustrate the ignorance and stupidity of all those officials responsible for the demise of the Elk Skansen. Sadly, unless official policy changes with respect to PKP’s railway heritage rolling stock inventory many other Polish steam engines are likely to follow suit.

A hat tip to Marek Ciesielski for the story.

More:

“Everything for sale”

Friday, 8 June 2012

Elk Ol49-80 for sale on the Allegro auction site.

(Click on image to go to the auction site.)

Ol49-80, which had been offered for sale by PKP Nieruchomosci (PKP Estate Department), has been snapped up by a ‘businessman’ and immediately offered for sale on Allegro, the Polish rival to the eBay Internet auction site. The seller is looking for around 50,000 euro, the locomotive has a 200,000 PLN ‘Buy it now’ price tag. Also on offer is a wooden bogie covered goods van dating back to 1935. Both are at the erstwhile skansen at Elk which is being liquidated by PKP.

We regard it as obscene that steam locomotives and items of historic rolling stock which have been set aside for preservation by PKP can be simply sold off like any surplus commodity with no thought to their future welfare. Moreover we are even more disgusted that when one PKP company has sought to protect its historic assets by donating them to a society that DOES care about their future another section of PKP does its best to destroy all the good work that has been done.

If, like us, you think that the commercial sale of items in PKP’s collection of preserved rolling stock is wrong and that the attempts by PKP Nieruchomosci to evict TOZKiOS from the the Pyskowice locomotive shed are immoral, why not tell the relevant authorities? A new Minister of Transport  and a new chairman of PKP have been appointed since BTWT’s last campaign. Their contact details are:

The Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs

Sławomir Nowak
Minister Transportu, Budownictwa i Gospodarki Morskiej
ul. Chałubińskiego 4/6,
00-928 Warszawa
POLAND

tel. 00 48 22 630-1000

The Chairman of PKP SA

Jakub Karnowski
Prezes Zarzadu, Dyrektor Generalny
Polskie Koleje Państwowe S.A.
Centrala
ul. Szczesliwicka 62
00-973 Warszawa
POLAND

The vanishing skansen at Elk

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Alerted by a PKP estate department’s tender for the sale of items from the erstwhile ‘skansen’ at Elk, John Savery leaves his car at home and travels by Wizz Air and TLK to photograph the remains.

How do I get to Centralna without getting wet? Photo John Savery.

I have regularly driven to Poland in recent times, my hands-on involvement in the preservation scene here makes carrying tools and equipment easier and more practical. I had not used Wizz Air’s Warsaw flight for about 5 years, however a bit of research showed that this was the best way of getting there. A late evening departure from Luton meant a 23:00 arrival at Okecie and, despite knowing Warsaw well, I opted to pay the extra and use the Wizz Air bus connection to the centre of town.

Okecie is still being modernised, and seems huge compared to what it was like when I first used it back in 2000. Despite the Euro 2012 championships being less than a month away, like many other projects, the airport still needs some finishing touches, and parts of the arrivals hall are still fenced off.

Leaving the terminal building and following the contradictory directions for the connecting bus, I decided discretion was the better part of valour, and took the liberty of phoning the helpline number for the driver. After a reassuring person told me that there would be someone with me in 8 minutes, there followed a 30 minute wait, and several more phone calls before I finally found myself in a Wizz Air taxi on the way to the centre. Next time, if there is a next time before Wizz locate to Modlin airport, I will take the 175 bus!

Zlote Tarasy interior. Photo John Savery.

A central Warsaw hotel provided convenient accommodation, close to Centralny station, however breakfast was not provided in the price, and being unwilling to part with the extortionate fee of EUR 20 for the privilege of eating in the hotel, I decided to do breakfast on the hoof or on the train.

Walking around to the station, the area has changed considerably since I last visited, (although I have kept apace with developments through Michael Dembinski’s excellent Warszawa Jeziorki blog) and the partially completed Zlota 44 tower now rivals the other buildings around it.

Not wanting to risk a long wait at the ticket office, I opted to buy my ticket first, and joined the back of a fairly quick moving queue at the ticket windows. It is pleasing to see that there were common queues for multiple ticket windows, much improved on the previous system of choosing a window and finding yourself behind an awkward or complicated request, although for the life of me, I could not work out why there were two queues each leading to half the windows. With an internet printout of the train I wanted in my hand, the purchase of my ticket was swift. With that completed in less time than anticipated, I wandered back through the bus station to Zlote Tarasy, the Eden Project style shopping mall opposite, to find food for the journey.

Better information and signage. Photo John Savery.

Warszawa Centralna is greatly improved following the facelift. Lighting and ambience are better, and gone are the dark entrances to the platforms. Like the airport, I would be amazed if it is complete by the time the football starts, but at least it has taken a big step in the right direction. I have always been wary around Centralna, and despite living in more dangerous places, it is the only place where I have nearly been pickpocketed getting into a train. The improved lighting helps the atmosphere. Platform information is adequate, with departure listings on the digital screens at platform level, however the individual platform screens are not utilised well, with confirmation of the train only being put on the platform screen at the last minute. This results in a last minute rush of passengers to the platforms.

The TLK itself was comfortable. I opted for first class, more expensive but more roomy, and there was only one other person in my compartment. Striking up a conversation it transpired that he was from Lodz. The conversation turned to what I thought of Poland now as to compared to what it as like when I had lived here previously, and the state of manufacturing in the UK. With the bar car conveniently located in the next coach, I sat back with a coffee and watched the Polish countryside roll by.

SU45-168 takes over the train. Photo John Savery.

On arrival in Elk, I wandered down to the front of the train to see the loco being changed. EP07-456 giving way to SU45-168, which would take the train forward to Olsztyn. The narrow gauge railway is immediately opposite the station on the opposite side to the town, however with no obvious access, (and no signage) I wandered down the road immediately opposite the station to my hotel for the night.

The Rydzewski was reasonable, and importantly had a town map on reception, so after dropping my bag in the room, I retraced my steps under the leaden skies towards the station, followed the road under the under-bridge and into the narrow gauge area. Elk could make more of its narrow gauge railway. The signage was woeful, only a small sign near the entrance was visible. Walking unchallenged through the security gate I set about exploring the yard.

N.g. coaches recently touched up. Photo John Savery.

The narrow gauge coaches were parked neatly in the station, and the area itself was kept tidy. Grass was kept in check, and the line’s Px48-1752, which although cold, looked as though it had been recently steamed, with fresh ash in the pit.

Elsewhere in the yard, SM42-002, one of the items on PKP’s tender list stands forlorn; next to it lie the remains of what appear to be a set of wheels which have been crudely cut from the axles – it wasn’t possible to tell what they were from, however they looked suspiciously like pony truck wheels from an Ol49.

Nice grass, pity about the locos. Photo John Savery.

There are two standard gauge locos on the adjoining tracks, Ol49-11 and Ty2-1285. Both have been heavily stripped, with hardly a single item inside the cab. The connecting rods of the Ol49, along with some of the axle box covers on the tender were also missing. Both are in dire need of a coat of paint to protect them from the elements, however, this is the very least of the concerns from them. Theft of further components appears to be a real risk despite the narrow gauge area being fenced off and having steel shutters at the entrance.

I took a wander over to the ticket office, as up to now, I had not seen hide nor hair of anyone else, and found it locked. How many other potential customers have wandered in and out without paying?  However, this also meant that I could not view the small museum inside either. Wanting to see more of the standard gauge locos that were stationed around the former roundhouse, I set off towards the standard gauge tracks.

What a railway museum this could have made if only PKP and the local council could have reached agreement. Photo John Savery.

The first two locos that I came across were Ol49-80 and 102. Both were plinthed on a separate section of track next to what appeared to be living accommodation in coaches. Ol49-80 holds the dubious distinction of probably being the only Ol49 to be fitted with a satellite dish! That, and its appearance on PKP’s auction list may not bode well for the loco’s future. Whilst most of the motion on the side closest to the station appeared intact, metal magpies had again been at the bearings, and the crank and con-rod bearings had been stripped from the fireman’s side of the loco. The cab had been stripped bare, with even the firebox doors missing.

Ol49-102 was in a similar state. Being on a separate section of isolated track, coupled with the removal of key components may make it extremely difficult to move either of these locos. The fact that the tender and loco are listed separately on the auction page would seem to suggest that they are trying to generate as much money as possible from the sale, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the scrap man may be interested.

Blacksmith forge awaiting scrapping. Photo John Savery.

Elsewhere on the site, demolition is in full swing. Spying through a chink in the modern section of the roundhouse, industrial sized skips are present, as stripping continues. This is clearly a place in its death throes, with contractors moving in with the axe. In the older part of the roundhouse, which again, is secured to deter intruders, a tiny chink in a door reveals Ty2-1279. Alas, this too has been the victim of theft, and despite not being able to get close to it, it is possible to see that the crank and con-rod bearing have been taken from the side that is visible.

With the shed all but abandoned, it is probably as easy for a thief to work under the cover of the shed, as it is for them to work outside. The roof of the shed looks anything but secure. Daylight spews in through blatant cracks in the planking and felt roof, its sieve like properties must do little to protect the interior.

How much longer before these locos are quietly scrapped? Photo John Savery.

Despite probing, I am unable to access the shed, and turn my attention to the remaining engines in the yard. Aside from a small diesel shunter, the yard contains two Ok1’s and three Ol49’s. All are in abysmal condition, stripped to ex-Barry hulk status. All have motion missing to some degree or other, and one, Ol49-61, has trees growing in its tender. Exploring some of the others is risky business, and I tentatively worked my way around the cabs, probing gently at the wafer thin metal of the cab floors, ensuring it was load bearing before taking each step.

Ok1 waiting for rescue. Photo John Savery.

Walking back to the hotel, I pondered on the question raised by Gary Boyd-Hope in this month’s Steam Railway magazine. Is the breaking up of steam locomotives acceptable in the 21st Century? The question appears to be rhetorical. To some people it is. Locomotives that were once complete are being taken apart piece by piece, by thieves and others until they no longer have a future or purpose. At that point, it is easy to call the scrap man in to take away an eyesore, or to cash in on the value of the scrap metal asset that exists.

Take a piece of precision machinery and leave it out in the open for Polish weather and metal thieves to do their worst. Photo John Savery.

One thing is for certain. The remaining locos at Elk face a very difficult future, and I would be amazed if the majority are not lost in the coming years.

May Days – Spoilt for choice

Saturday, 28 April 2012

But not everyone is celebrating!

Chabowka Tkt48-191 at the 2010 Wolsztyn Parade. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

With so much going on during the Majowka (May Days) week for narrow gauge enthusiasts, it is only fair that BTWT should also cover some of the standard gauge attractions as well. When we look at something we look under the carpet as well, so be prepared for some critical comments!

Wolsztyn 28 – 29 April

The May festivities start with today’s annual Wolsztyn Steam Locomotive Parade. This is the biggest event of this kind in Poland and is attended by some 30,000 people. One would think that, with so many visitors coming from outside the area, the burghers of Wolsztyn would be enthusiastic supporters of the event. True, Wolsztyn Council does provide the security guards, but that is all.

How wonderful it would be to have some sponsorship from the town towards the costs of running steam specials from Warsaw and Wroclaw connecting with the event. (There is a special train from Wroclaw, but it is not steam-hauled; and one steam-hauled service from Poznan.)

The Council members appear to regard Parada Parowzow as a side show to their Dni Wolsztyna (Wolsztyn Days). They put on pop concerts, a sailing regatta, fishing competitions and support events put on by local schools. A couple of years ago the Mayor of Wolsztyn was overheard by one of our friends listing the attractions of Wolsztyn at a tourism promotion event in Warsaw. Not once did he mention the Steam Depot, the Steam Locomotive Parade or the steam-hauled trains to Poznan!

If today’s huge crowds, steam engines charging up and down a short piece of track and a light show are not your cup of tea, why not go to Wolsztyn tomorrow? The crowds and overseas steam locomotives will have gone, but there will be steam trains running from Wolsztyn to Stefanowo and Rakonowice and a chance to see Chabowka’s Tkt48-91 doing some useful work.

At the end of each year’s Parada Parowozow the same question is asked, Will there be another parade next year? And each year the answer is the same, With PKP Cargo on the verge of privatisation and with Wolsztyn Town Council being so laid back about their steam shed and steam trains, who knows?

Jaworzyna Slask – 28 April – 6 May

The Industry and Railways Museum at the old Jaworzyna Slask steam depot is running special attractions during the whole week. There will be conducted tours of the museum and its collection. Demonstrations of the turntable, a chance to ride in vintage coaches, and from 1 May a chance for a cab ride in the museum’s Tkt48-18.

The management of Jaworzyna Slask is not loved by the Polish railway enthusiast community. Some difficult decisions had to be made at the start of the museum’s existence, not dissimilar to the Festiniog Railway’s scrapping Moel Tryfan in 1954.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the affair, today the museum’s collection looks superb, Tkt48-18 (thanks to the generosity of Wolsztyn Experience) is in working order, and the museum’s approach to its paying visitors is 100% professional.

Koscierzyna – 2 May

Koscierzyna is one ex PKP Skasen that nearly got away. Its rescue is largely due to the efforts of Miroslaw Szymanski, the former Chief Executive of Fundacja Era Parowozow who lobbied tirelessly for its takeover by the local council.

The museum is open every day, on 2 May the Skansen celebrates its 20th birthday and entry will be free. There will be a railway themed concert and the unveiling of a statue commissioned by the council celebrating the line of 18° latitude. One wonders why the council could not have commissioned the restoration of a particular item or rolling stock instead?

Skierniewice – 5 May

The Polskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Kolejowych (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association) are holding an open day at Skierniewice on 5 May. The amazing collection of railway rolling stock at Skierniewice deserves to be better known outside Poland and this is one event which we would enthusiastically endorse with no reservations.

We do have one question which though we have asked the PSMK authorities several times has not been satisfactorily answered. Why – given the society’s very visible need for money – don’t they charge admission to their open days and raise income from ancillary activities like selling guides and refreshments? Or are they afraid that if they do the local council will turn round and hit them with local taxes levied at commercial rates?

Those not celebrating!

Chabowka

Amazingly, with a permanent staff of some 8 people, some 6 locomotives in working order and a full time official responsible for marketing, the Chabowka skansen  is not putting on anything special during the May Days holiday. It is true that the skansen despatched Tkt48-191 to Wolsztyn with a couple of coaches and its also true that Chabowka put on the annual Parowozjada steam gala in August, but given the resources devoted to the skansen we find it incredible that no attractions – however modest – are being put on during this period.

Just to show what the skansen team are capable of – when they put their mind to it – the official web pages boast that on 31 March a private freight train was run at the behest of a – presumably wealthy – German enthusiast from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz along this disused line.

We have long admired the engineering expertise of the technical team at Chabowka and their achievement in keeping so many engines in working order with minimum resources. It is a great pity that the people responsible for marketing the skansen do not have the same ‘can do’ attitude.

Karsnice

Images of Karsnice. Video by .

The Karsnice skansen is a very sad case. It was started by the manager of the railway workshops there in 1989 and a sizeable collection of locomotives and railway rolling stock was built up. His plan was to transfer the collection to a special trust, but he received early retirement (and a reduced pension!) before the trust could be set up.

When he left the Karsnice workshops the collection was left in limbo and then PKP’s real estate department, PKP Nieruchomosci, started selling the exhibits. One Ty2 went to the Lodz holocaust museum a couple of other locos were sold to the PSMK at Skierniewice.

A ‘Save Our Skansen’ campaign was run by the neighbouring town of Zdunska Wola and some leverage at ministerial level was provided by some international friends. Officially the skansen was repreived. The rolling stock and the land it stood on was transferred to the Zdunska Wola Town Council.

The council managed to raise some funds and obtain an EU grant to cosmetically restore some of the rolling stock. But Nieruchomosci transferred only the bare minimum parcel of land. The shed where the Karsnice vintage train of wooden four wheel carriages was not included. This great video by Lukasz Szyczyk shows the tragic result.

Elk

Sadly, the orphaned skansen here never found a local council ready to take it over with devastating results. Now Nieruchomosci are auctioning the surviving Ol49-80 and the remaining workshop equipment.

Wegerzewo – Ketrzyn railway line

This was Poland’s only ‘preserved’ standard gauge railway line. It was saved by the Stowarzyszenie Hobbystow Kolejowych (Society of Railway Enthusiasts) who persuaded the local council to take the line over.

There was a flurry of activity here in 2008 since then nothing!

Pyskowice

The threat of court action continues to hang over the skansen. There was a court hearing last week which was immediately suspended because key PKP witnesses had not attended. The next session will take place on July 10. Till the matter is resolved the Skansen remains closed. More BTWT readers are needed to assist with the lobbying effort that is going on behind the scenes. Please get in touch if you would like to help.

Skierniewice or Naleczow or both?

So where to go next week? It has been a while since I visited the Skiernievice Skansen so the open day there is a big temptation, but Gregorz Sykut writes that the Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Rozwoju Nadwislanskiej Kolei Wąskotorowej (Association for the Development of the Nadwislanska Narrow Gauge Railway) is running a special train followed by a film show at Karczmiska station.

The train, film show and car parking are free. The start is at 5.30 PM and the Society have a plan to finish at 9:30 PM. At the station there will be an  opportunity to purchase a meal from the grill and drinks. More details from: gsykut@gmail.com.

Hmm, narrow or standard gauge? Naleczow is not all that far from Skierniewice… it would be great to visit both!

Dyspozytor

1 million PLN investment for Elk Railway

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Px48-1752. Photo Elk District Council archive.

The Elk narrow gauge railway has been unfairly neglected by BTWT, particularly as the line can boast 47.6 km of route and a recently overhauled Px48 in running order! The line was originally built as a metre gauge railway between 1910 and 1918,  and the first 24.8 km section, from Elk to Borzymy, together with a 9.7 km branch to Zawady-Tworki, was opened in October 1913; the final 13.2 km from Borzymy to Turowo was opened in 1915. WW I was going on at the time and the repair of war damage and restoration of regular passenger services took place in October 1918. By 1939, the line could boast 5 steam locomotives, 9 passenger coaches two post office coaches and 37 goods wagons.

During WW II the line suffered greatly during the attack by Soviet forces against Poland’s eastern borders. In 1951, the line was rebuilt to the 750 mm gauge. The line was steam worked until 1968 when its motive power was augmented by two Lyd-1 0-6-0 diesel locomotives. Steam continued in use, however, and the line continued in operation until PKP liquidated all its surviving narrow gauge railways in 2001. A major campaign to save the line was launched by two brothers, Miroslaw and Adam Sawczynski. In 2002, the first train ran on the line under the auspices of the Elk Town Council who concluded an agreement with PKP to take over the line and also obtained a licence from PKP to operate the line pending the completion of the legal formalities.

The line is operated by MOSiR, the Town’s Sport and Recreation Department. Now the Town Council has secured a 695 632 PLN grant from EU Regional Development Funds towards the cost of essential repairs. The value of the whole project is 1 070 204 PLN with Town Council making a 35% own funds contribution worth 374,572 PLN. The project scope includes repairs to a workshop building and the locomotive shed and main workshop, demolition of buildings surplus to requirements, completion of a security fence and landscaping in the station area.

Elk Town Council deserves congratulations for investing in the future of its railway. Smigiel Railway fans will grind their teeth in frustration at the lack of a similar engagement from Smigiel Town Council!