Archive for the ‘Gryfice’ 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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Shocking Skansen

Friday, 24 August 2012

These Romanian trailers look as if they were never painted since they were put into service by PKP in the 1970s. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

I hate skansens. This Scandinavian invention may have a place in preserving rural architecture; although personally I have never seen the point of plucking a building from its historic context and and transporting it to an entirely artificial setting, however carefully designed and landscaped.

Applied to the railway locomotives and rolling stock a skansen is a monstrous aberration condemning precision machinery and delicate woodwork to the ravages of its worst enemies: frost and water and a programme of accelerated decay.

A rustic retreat? No, a historic four wheel covered wagon left to rot in the ‘skansen’. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Nowhere is the bankruptcy of the Polish railway skansen meme demonstrated so effectively as the narrow gauge railway skansen in Gryfice. Adjacent to a thriving narrow gauge railway operated by the most prosperous gmina in Poland is a collection of decaying rolling stock the likes of which have not been seen since the last steam locomotive left Barry scrapyard.

Seen from the road the skansen looks neat and tidy with well-kept lawns trimmed bushes and locomotives which appear to be regularly repainted. Penetrate a little further and the condition of many priceless relics is heartbreaking.

Ex Grojecka Kolej Dojazdowa motor coach MBxd1-359 heads a line of rotting metre gauge motor coaches and trailers. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The tragedy is that this need not have been so. The Gryfice workshops of the Pomeranian Narrow Gauge Railways were extensive and could easily have provided covered accommodation for much of this rolling stock. But someone decided that most of the accommodation was ‘surplus to requirements’.

Someone also decided that it would be inappropriate for Gmina Rewal to hold on to all the historic rolling stock left behind after the closure of the Pomeranian metre gauge network and it would be in better hands (= would provide more opportunities for private profit) if the bulk of the collection was retained by the Railway Museum in Warsaw.

Unidentified Romanian trailer, Vulcan Werke 0-6-2T of 1928 Tyn-3632, and a transporter wagon. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

And so it was that the Piaseczno and Gryfice narrow gauge railways were deprived of their own rolling stock and locomotives and had to stand idly by while part of their heritage rotted away.

Eventually, the authorities running the Railway Museum in Warsaw, embarrassed by the state of the items in their custody, and realising that – because of fuss stirred up by several infamous cases of dodgy sales elsewhere – the eagle eyes of Polish railway enthusiasts were upon them, decided to hand over the skansen to the Szczecin branch of the National Museum.

Unfortunately the Museum does not have the funds available to arrest the decay in the skansen, an in fact, has serious problems with its own collection of historic wooden fishing vessels which – displayed outdoors in Szczecin – have decayed so much that they are in danger of falling apart.

(left to right) Px48-3912, Tx7-3501, Tx7-3502, Ty6-3284, Txn8-3811, Px48-3916, Ty-9785.
Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Gmina Reval, the owners of the Gryfice Narrow Gauge railway now renamed the Nadmorska Kolej Waskotorowa (Coastal Narrow Gauge Railway), have made a bid to the National Museum to take over and restore the collection of historic fishing vessels. Is it too much to hope that they might bid to provide a better home for the skansen rolling stock as well?

Vandalised Bxhpi 00-450044328-0 trailer next to an unidentified trailer in Gryfice yard. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Postscript

Sadly the EU-assisted project to upgrade the Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway, while providing for a brand new station buildings and several covered platform awnings (where they had never been awnings before) did not envisage providing secure covered accommodation for the railway’s rolling stock. The effect of this can be seen in the act of wanton vandalism shown on the photograph above.

Dyspozytor

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.)

More:

Brake blocks and tranporter wagons

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Smigiel Railway Freight in 2008. Video by .

Good Friday starts with early morning phone call from France, Can you help us source brake blocks for the L45h (PKP-Lxd2) locomotive? Hmm. So who else runs an intensive train service using Lxd2s and might be wearing out their brake blocks?

Dark thoughts gather. There’s nothing like hauling heavy standard gauge wagons on top of narrow gauge transporter wagons to wear out loco brake blocks. When BTWT started, Lxd2s operated a regular SKPL-operated freight service on the Krosniewice Railway. Now that’s gone. They also hauled frequent freight trains on the Smigiel Railway, now that Smigiel Council has cut up the majority of the transporter wagons, that’s gone for good.

The Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway – now ominously renamed Nadmorska Kolej Dojazdowa (The Costal Narrow Gauge Railway) – runs a passenger service along its coastal stretch with almost tram-like intensity and that is either Lxd2 or Px48 hauled. But Gryfice is a long way away and Zbiersk is nearer.

The Kalisz narrow gauge railway remains the last narrow gauge railway operating regular freight services in Poland. I call my SKPL contact, Your French friend is in luck we are about to place an order with the foundry to get the next batch of brake blocks cast.

I am pleased that I have been able to help the Frenchman, but I cannot fight the growing feeling of dark despondency, The battle to retain narrow gauge freight operations in Poland is virtually lost.

How long until the only active Polish transporter wagons will be scale models? Video by .<

Second steam locomotive arrives at Gryfice

Monday, 26 March 2012

Px48-3913 being unloaded at Gryfice. Video by  .

(Posted on YouTube on 24 March.)

At 7am on Saturday 24 March, Px48-3913 returned to Gryfice after more than 21 years in Germany. The locomotive, owned by entrepreneur Gerhard Kellner, moved to the Brohltalbahn near Koblenz in 1990. It worked on the Brohltalbahn until 2008, and was then moved to the MaLoWa workshop in Benndorf. It is part of a locomotive swap in which one of Gryfice’s Lxd2 diesel locomotives has moved to Germany in return. Px48-3913 will now receive a heavy overhaul and once complete there will be two operational steam locomotives available at Gryfice. The other is Px48-3916 which is owned by Warsaw Railway Museum but on long term loan to Gryfice.

In the meantime major works are continuing on the Gryfice railway, including relaying the 11km coastal stretch, curve easements to allow faster running, building new stations at Trzesacz, Sliwin and Niechorze Latarnia, refurbishing the existing stations, and refurbishing the passenger coaches. It is not clear yet whether the works will be complete in time to run trains this summer; a second summer without narrow gauge trains seems to be a distinct possibility.

More:

Christmas Competition – No. 5

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Another mystery triangle courtesy Google Maps

Sorry for the hiccup in BTWT postings, but I have been busy fighting pro-rail battles on another front and can feel some satisfaction that after many setbacks some measurable progress at last has been achieved.

I must admit that the last location is a place on a line with which I have some emotional attachment. I first came across the Stepnica – Gryfice branch of the Pomeranian narrow gauge railways in the 1960s when I was bawled out by the station master at Stepnica for photographing one of his trains. Alas, though I succeeded in keeping my film and camera the film then  went astray before I could develop it.

While still a schoolboy I visited the manager of the Szczecińskie Koleje Dojazdowe (Szczecin Area Local Railways) and told him the story of the Talyllyn Railway and the other Welsh narrow gauge lines. I remember when his secretary came into his office with a sheaf of letters and a massive rotary holder of rubber stamps and he carefully chose the right stamp and then ‘signed’ each letter by stamping it!

I also visited the head Department of Transport of the Szczecin area local goverment – in those days an English passport could get you to see quite important officials – and told him the same story.

In the 1970s, I revisited the line a number of times. Stepnica port acted as a short of headshunt for the timber yard and I befriended one of the engine crews. One year they ‘kidnapped’ my girl friend while I was photographing their engine and charged off with her in their Px48 to the timber yard at top speed. On the way the driver told her that the fireman had recently been released from jail after serving a sentence for assault and battery.

Another place I explored was Golczewo with its remarkably sharp curve – the remains of a triangle and former branch to Samlino and Sniatowo. I remember the track being well-fettled when I first saw it. Alas all is weeds and devastation today. The Mayor of Stepnica sold the track materials of the section of line in his municipality for peanuts.

After the political changes in 1989, I tried to interest a number of politicians in the idea that the waterways around Szczecin and the port of Stepnica would form an ideal extension to the inland waterway cruising area around Berlin. Wealthy German tourists could moor their luxury motor cruisers and then take the historic narrow gauge railway to the attractions of the coast.

For years the Stepnica branch carried timber. The local road hauliers eyed the business with jealousy. Their interest and the fact that the line crossed the busy Szczecin – Swinoujskie Route 3 trunk road sealed the line’s fate. However, thanks to the initiative of the Mayor of Reval at least the section of railway from the line’s HQ at Gryfice to the coast has been preserved.

Both Waldemar Heise and Michael Friedrich came up with the right answer on Saturday. Waldemar came in first by a couple of hours and so takes the point.

The curve at Golczewo. ‘Slippy’ map courtesy Google Maps.

More:

Gryfice project progress

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The first section of new track being laid at Trzesac on 22.11.2011. Photo ©Peter Wilhelm.

(Click image to see Peter Wilhelm’s photo report on the Eisenbahnen in Pommern website.)

Przewoznik has sent a link to a great piece of photo reportage by Peter Wilhelm showing the progress on the 40 million PLN renovation project on the Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway.

The project is primarily concerned with the station buildings on the section Trzesacz – Pogorzelica:

  1. Rebuilding the station building in Rewal,

  2. Rebuilding the station building in Rewal in Pogorzelica,

  3. Rebuilding the station building in Niechorze and building a tourist information centre,

  4. Building a new station building in Trzesacz,

  5. Building a new station building in Sliwin,

  6. Building a new station building in Niechorze

The project also involves some infrastructure works: rebuilding 11km of track within the boundary of the Rewal municipality and building a bridge across the Liwka canal in Niechorze.

Finally, the project envisages some modernisation and repair work on the line’s passenger rolling stock and a heavy overhaul for the railway’s solitary steam locomotive.

Some 15.5 million PLN of the project cost is an EU grant; the remaining 24.5 million PLN is being funded by the Rewal Municipality (the owner of the line) and the Zachodniopomorskie provincial government.

More:

Polish heritage rail and EU funding

Friday, 18 February 2011

Too little trickles down to where its needed

EU project notice Karczmiska Station. Photo L Grabczak, Radio Lublin.

(Click image to see more photos taken recently at the Naleczow Railway’s Karczmiska headquarters.)

There seems something distinctly odd about the way that Polish heritage and tourist lines use EU funds. Only a handful of lines have actually benefited from EU funding, but those that have seem wary of spending much money on the basic ‘train set’. Rolling stock continues to be left out in the open and subject to the depredation of vandals and the Polish weather. Infrastructure and rolling stock gets hardly a mention. Track receives the absolute minimum attention. Unique steam locomotives are left to decay as ‘technical monuments’.

Meanwhile precious EU funding is focussed elsewhere. Station buildings are restored, or built from scratch, and paved platforms are built where there was once only a few kerb stones and a bank of ballast. Since it is unlikely that all local authority owners suffer from the same tunnel vision, could it be that this obsession with buildings is the result of implementing EU project guidelines set by the Ministry of Regional Development?

The Naleczow Railway is the beneficent of a 3.999 million zloty EU-assisted project. The station buildings at Karczmiska have been immaculately restored, yet the track, rolling and depot buildings continue to present a sorry sight. The railway has not been operational since SKPL ceased operating the line at the end of 2008.

Newly built platforms and station buildings at Hajnowka. From a photo at bialowieza-info.eu

(Click on image to see more photos of the Bialowiza Forest Railway on the bialowieza-info.eu website.)

The Bialowieza Forest Railway has built a new station, platform and prestigious office facilities at Hajnowka. Yet one historic HF ‘Feldbahn’ locomotive languishes in the open, while its sister, which is in near working order, rests in its shed unused for want of a boiler inspection.

Project for rebuilding Rewal Station
Visualisation © Ingeno Consult BPK Sp. z o.o.

(Click image to see more Ingeno design sketches. Click here to go to Ingeno Group website.)

A 47 million PLN (£10 million) EU-assisted project for the Gryfice narrow gauge railway envisages two brand new station buildings, platform awnings, paved platforms, ‘retro’ lamps, art galleries, museums, a library, cafés, cycle hire and bed and breakfast facilities. Yet the railway passes through some of Poland’s most developed seaside tourist infrastructure. Does Rewal Council need to finance all these facilities itself? Are they all necessary? Only 8 km of track of the line’s 40 plus km will receive attention as a result of the program and the railway’s solitary Px48 – borrowed from the Railway Museum in Warsaw – will not be augmented by any additional steam engine.

More on Rewal (in Polish):

Rewal correction

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

reval

Rewal Station after rebuilding
Visualisation © Ingeno Consult BPK Sp. z o.o.

First of all a sincere apology to all our readers. It’s not often that BTWT gets a story seriously wrong. If we get a lead, we always try to get a second source on the story. In many cases we write about developments that we have been tracking for some time. In many cases we have contacts who are on the ‘inside track’ and who can provide further confirmation.

In the case of the story about the Rewal n.g. railway, in our haste to bring you another exclusive scoop, we cut one corner too many and didn’t talk to our local stringer. We had been tipped off about the project in 2007 and had been following developments since then. But, what we did not know was that the chairman of the gmina Rewal (local municipality) had been persuaded that his narrow gauge railway was just a minor tourist attraction and that what he should be creating in the old stations were major attractions like art galleries, café’s or even holiday accommodation. He was also more than a little miffed that none of the neighbouring local authorities had expressed any interest in joining his project.

We now know that the first phase of the project – which is the only part for which funding has been committed – will be strictly confined within the boundaries of gmina Rewal. The project envisages: the relaying of only 6 kilometres of track between Pogorzelica and Trzesac; extensive renovation of the existing station buildings at Podgorzelica, Niechorze and Rewal (in the computer visualisations the old station buildings are are almost unrecognisable); and building new station buildings, in a similar style, at Sliwin, Trzesac and Niechorze Latarnia. The restoration of the link to Trzebiatow would be part of a possible latter phase as would be the building of a skansen, (an open air railway museum) at Podgorzelica. The latter proposal puts a serious question mark on the long-term future of the line to Gryfice! The first stage of the project does not include the restoration of any rolling stock nor does it contemplate the acquisition of a steam locomotive. The railway’s current steam locomotive, Px48-3916, is on loan from the National Railway Museum.

For those interested in seeing what the first part of the project will achieve here are the links to the computer visualisations prepared by the project’s consultants, Ingeno Consult BPK Sp. z o.o.

Existing stations

New stations

My sincere apologies to all readers for the inacuracies in the previous article.

Dyspozytor

34 million PLN

Monday, 9 February 2009

for Rewal n.g. refurbishment!

niechorze

Lxd2-472 at Niechorze, train from Rewal to Pogorzelica.
Photo http://www.rail.pl

(Click photo to see original on Galeria Kolejowa website.)

A 34 million PLN project to rebuild the narrow gauge railway between Gryfice and Trzebiatow as a major tourist atraction has been launched by the Municipality of Rewal. The railway links many of the the holiday resorts of the Municipality such as Trzesacz, Rewal, Sliwin, Niechorze and Pogorzelica with the PKP main line system at Gryfice. As well as completely rebuilding the track; the project envisages restoring the station buildings, fitting Victorian ‘retro’ style station canopies and lighting; and providing enhanced facilities for tourists, such as cafes, museum galleries and cycle hire. A damaged bridge will be rebuilt and trains, which currently terminate 15 km short of Trzebiatow at Pogorzelice – will once again work through to the end of the line.

This will be the first major heritage railway restoration project in Poland. (The only other heritage railway to attempt anything of this sort was the Bieszczady Railway which sought EU funds to rebuild its 7km ‘missing link’ to the PKP main line at Lupkow. It received a small grant – in the order of 50,000 USD – from the private Carpathian Foundation and managed to relay some half of the target section of track.)

Many narrow gauge purists will see the plans – with their  Victorian style ‘retro’ accoutrements as way ‘over the top’, but the new railway is expected to work for a living and attracting more tourist visitors into the area. It is a fact of life that the average tourist is more interested in keeping the kids amused and keeping out of the rain than historical accuracy. Perhaps the project, which has some 13 million PLN coming from the EU, may encourage other other Polish local authorities to invest in their own narrow gauge lines?

The Gryfice Narrow gauge Railway is a fragment of the once extensive Pomeranian Narrow gauge railways – a network of metre gauge railways which once ran in ‘the top left hand corner’ of Poland. The system at its height comprised 555 route miles which survived almost in its entirety until 1989. Closures followed step by step until, like all PKP narrow gauge lines, the remains were ‘dumped’ by PKP in 2001. The 55 km section of line between Gryfice and Trzebiatow was taken over by the municipality of Rewal who set up their own operating division to operate 40 km (25 miles) as a tourist railway.

rewal

The Gryfice narrow gauge railway – the left hand loop
Map courtesy http://www.mapa.targeo.pl/beta/

(Click on map to open a new page with a map which can be zoomed and scrolled.)

Robert Skraburski, the chairman of the of the Rewal Municipality had hoped that neighbouring local authorities would join in the project and that more of the former Pomeranian narrow gauge railway network would be revived. Sadly, apart from the municipality of Trzebiatow, the other local authorities seem more interested in cycle paths than railways.

The Pomeranian narrow gauge railway system will feature in an special article by BTWT guest writer Robert Hall which will be published during BTWT’s first birthday celebrations in March.

Sources (Polish only):