Archive for the ‘Krosniewice’ Category

Krosniewice death watch

Monday, 11 August 2014

With perhaps, the future of the daily ex Wolsztyn steam services being the one exception, no campaign has mobilised BTWT readers as much as the battle to save the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway. Alas it seems that all our attempts – as well as the stalwart efforts of local enthusiasts – have failed to influence the decision makers.

As the various local authorities prepare to take over sections of the line, rip up the track and convert them into cycle paths, on July 6 our reporter paid a last nostalgic visit to photograph the railway’s remains at Ozorkow and Krosniewice.

The text and photographs in this article may be republished under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Volunteers tidy the path leading to the narrow gauge platform at Ozorkow. An Open Day is held each Sunday afternoon at the station. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

(All photos can be expanded by double clicking on the images.)

In its heyday the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways – comprising some 1,000 km of 600mm and 750mm lines – were Poland’s largest narrow gauge network. Starting from various independent agricultural and sugar beet railways the lines were expanded and connected together into a 600mm network for the purposes of supplying the Prussian forces during WW I.

When Poland recovered its independence the ‘main line’ was converted to 750mm. PKP constructed two new buildings at Krosniewice in the latest Art Deco style – the station building and the running shed.

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One of the attractions of the Sunday Open Days is the possibility of a ride on a platelayer’s trolley. Local volunteers pose with an itinerant Englishman. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The Kujawy Railways survived WWW II and some of the remaining 600mm feeder lines were converted to 750mm gauge. At the start of 1991, PKP reorganised the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways into three independent railways the Gniezno Narrow Gauge Railway, the Sompolno Narrow Gauge Railway, and the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway.

The Krosniewice Railway and the Gniezno Railway – but not the Sompolno Railway – were two of the some two dozen railways that were rescued from the wholesale destruction of the remaining PKP narrow gauge lines in 2001.

Thanks to co-operation between the then Mayor of Krosniewice, and the former PKP general manager of the line, the Town Council decided to acquire the Krosniewice line from PKP.

 

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At first sight Krosniewice station appears to be open. Closer inspection reveals to two changes wrought by Barbara Herman, the Mayor of  Krosniewice – the removal of the level crossing barriers across the main road, and the grave-like display of flowers in the platelayer’s trolley next to the level crossing. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

While the legal formalities for the transfer of the ownership of the line proceeded, the Council obtained an operating licence from PKP SA granted which it sub-licensed to SKPL, a society set up with the objective of carrying on operations on the recently closed narrow gauge railways.

The line’s future seemed secure. SKPL operated a regular passenger service on weekdays linking Krosniewice to the PKP stations at Ostrowy and Krzewie. On market days the service was extended to Dabrowice and Wielka Wies Kujawska.

But the main work on the line was freight – carrying supplies to and refined sugar from sugar refineries situated on the network. At the peak of SKPL operations the line was carrying 100,000 tonnes of freight a year.

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Looking to the North – everything appears neat and tidy. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The legal wheels turned but slowly – Polish law required PKP to recreate the missing deeds for all the parcels of land over which the line ran before a formal handover could be concluded with Krosniewice Council.

Meanwhile, as a gesture of good faith, PKP transferred the ownership of all the line’s rolling stock – including a working Px48 steam locomotive – to the Council.

Unlike PKP, SKPL received no central government subsidy. During the off-season it was sometimes difficult to find the money to purchase replacement parts for the diesel locomotives and pay staff.

Slowly, disused feeder lines began to vanish…  .

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But a peek across the wall shows that every piece of glass is smashed in the skylight of the workshop roof. Photo BTWT.

Meanwhile a group of railway enthusiasts started clearing the overgrown trackbed on the disused track bed between Ozorkow and Krosniewice. While senior SKPL management – based in the Zbiersk Cukrownia HQ of the Kalisz narrow gauge railway – backed their efforts, relations with management and staff at Krosniewice were strained.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of local railway enthusiasts was when GDDKiA (Poland’s Directorate of Trunk Roads and Motorways) decided that they needed to take over a section of the narrow gauge railway in the vicinity of Topola Krolewska to build a new wide viaduct across the Lodz-Kutno railway line. Thanks to the energetic lobbying of the enthusiasts, the GDDKiA ended up having to construct a brand new viaduct for the narrow gauge line as well!

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The narrow gauge freight wagons have received no attention since the line’s closure. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

In 2006, at special meeting in Ozorkow the supporters of the line decided to formally constitute themselves into the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways Society. SKPL Chairman, Tomasz Strapagiel, attended the meeting and gave the venture his support.

The Society acquired a passenger coach from the defunct Piotrkow Trybunalski narrow gauge railway and restored it to running order. The Society’s volunteers cleared the trackbed from Krzewie to Ozorkow and, with the co-operation of SKPL, a number of special trains – which proved very popular – were run through to Ozorkow.

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The Art Deco building in the background is the running shed. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Then in 2007 or thereabouts a new Mayor was elected in Krosniewice. Whereas the previous Mayor saw the Krosniewice Railway primarily as a transport undertaking, the new Mayor – Barbara Herman – saw the railway as a lucrative development opportunity.

Soon she visited the line, in the company of the local PKP property surveyor, and expressed an interest in demolishing the historic workshop buildings in order to make was for a major new property development – the General Wladyslaw Anders Centre.

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Recently repainted, the point lever and indicator adds a surreal touch. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Mrs Herman requested that SKPL vacate the workshop buildings. The General Manager pointed out that SKPL needed the workshops to maintain the transporter wagons used to carry the standard gauge freight wagons. The Mayor countered that she had no interest in carrying ant freight though she might be prepared to countenance a small ‘fun fair railway’ somewhere on the site.

SKPL refused to vacate the workshop buildings. The Mayor countered by terminating SKPL’s licence to operate the railway.

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These coal trucks have a special compartment for a brakeman and were last used on sugar beet trains. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The last train ran on 31 March, 2008. Ironically SKPL were in negotiation with a bulk aggregate supplier to deliver several hundred tonnes of roadstone required for building the A2 and A1 motorways. Ads a result of the Mayor’s decision roads in the Lodz Province were subject to tens of thousands of tonne km of unnecessary road traffic.

The Mayor’s decision provoked a massive storm of protest. Realising which way the wind was blowing, the Mayor trimmed her sails maintaining a public stance that she supported the reopening of the railway. She even allowed local activists to organise a couple of special trains from Krosniewice to Ozorkow to demonstrate her good intentions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Mayor continued her attempts to have the workshop buildings demolished.

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Barely visible under the undergrowth – a line of standard gauge transporter wagons. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

But the Mayor’s plans hit an unexpected obstacle in the form of the Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, Mr Wojciech Szygendowski. Mr Szygendowski refused to grant permission to have the historic listed buildings demolished.

With her plans apparently thwarted the Mayor decided to reverse her predecessor’s decision to acquire the whole of the Krsoniewice Narrow Gauge Railway from PKP. Instead she came up with the plan that each local council should acquire just that section of line that lay within the its own administrative boundaries.

Now the demise of the railway could become a collective affair – one council could use the line for a cycle path, another for road improvements… and as the line died section by section and the historic workshop buildings deteriorated she could try yet again to have them demolished.

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The low buildings were the machine shops. The smashed windows and doors tell their own story. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Without any maintenance, the workshop buildings deteriorate year by year. Unless a ‘white knight’ appears on the scene it seems increasingly like that Mrs Barbara Herman will succeed in her plan to bring about the final end of the Krosniewice Railway.

Further reading:

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Railway film festival at Krosniewice

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

STOP PRESS – TRAINS CANCELLED

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Krosniewice’s restored MBxd1-204 railcar, built in 1967. Photo Krosniewicka Kolej Waskotorowa.

(Click to see the original photo on Facebook)

The railway film festival to be held in Krosniewice from 24 to 26 May promises trains to Krzewie using restored Polish railcar MBxd1-204, pictured above. These will be the first public trains on the railway for several years. This is the first event following the setting up of the new Krosniewicka Kolej Waskotorowa (Krosniewice narrow gauge railway) Facebook page on 25 April 2013.

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Krosniewice – Krzewie timetable for 25 and 26 May 2013

(Click to see the original on Facebook)

The timetable shows five return trains between Krosniewice and Krzewie, four of them connecting with Koleje Wielkopolskie’s local trains between Poznan and Kutno. The fifth train is an out and back ‘special’ including photo stops. Krzewie Wask is the narrow gauge platform on the south side of Krzewie station, reached by the same subway used to access the standard gauge platforms. Although the film festival is advertised as starting on Friday 24 May, the trains will only run on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 May.

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Film Festival poster

(Click to see the original poster on Facebook)

The poster lists the other attractions of the film festival weekend, including the screening of Polish Film Chronicle material made by PKP between 1950 and 1960, the opportunity for visitors to bring and screen their own films, manual draisine rides, and snack and drinks stalls.

It is wonderful to see the return of railway activity at Krosniewice, and especially encouraging to see the list of organisations supporting or sponsoring the event, namely Krosniewice town council, the Lodz marshal’s office, PKP SA, the Lodz Society for the Protection of Monuments, the arts and cultural group NEO, and the Krosniewice narrow gauge railway volunteer group SKKW.

It is now just over 5 years since the regular scheduled railbuses to Wielka Wies, Dabrowice and Ostrowy, and the profitable freight traffic, ceased on 31 March 2008 when the mayor of Krosniewice terminated SKPL’s operating licence.  Since then, there has been little real activity on what was once one of the biggest and most active of PKP’s narrow gauge networks. Instead there has been much political wrangling behind the scenes. Elsewhere, the demand from tourists to travel on Poland’s remaining narrow gauge railways is growing strongly, so fingers crossed that this event will be the start of a new dawn for Krosniewice, and that the railway will continue to receive the support it needs from local politicians.

UPDATE

An update on the Krosniewice Kolej Waskotorowa Facebook page says that the planned Krosniewice-Krzewie trains using MBxd1-204 have had to be cancelled for technical reasons.

The film festival is going ahead, and there will be the possibility of platelayers trolley rides using either a Wmc diesel trolley or a manual trolley within the station area. Film festival attendees wishing to arrive at Krzewie should telephone 696 197 757 or 784 121 830 for replacement road transport. The event organisers sincerely apologise.

More:

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Early sugar beet railways in Kujawy

Monday, 12 November 2012

by ‘Inzynier’

With thanks to Ed Beale for sourcing the photographs.

Brigadelok at Irena sugar factory in Lyszkowice.

(Click to see original image in Ziemia Lodzka, page 18)

As followers of BTWT will be aware, the First World War saw construction of many narrow gauge ‘field railways’ in what is now Poland, a number of which subsequently found use as common carrier railways under PKP.  While Austria and Russia built such lines, the vast majority were the German Heeresfeldbahnen (miltary field railways).

Of the lines (or networks) taken over by PKP, the Kujawy network is probably the most widely known today and, following eventual conversion to 750mm gauge, was the last of the classic former Feldbahnen to survive in operation; although the Zbiersk line was a First World War creation, it was always 750mm gauge and was built for economic rather than purely military purposes.

Apart from the Kujawy system, a significant number of other railways were taken over by PKP:

  • most of the Torun – Sierpc – Nasielsk line, with a branch to Rypin, was a 600mm gauge PKP railway with public services until the last sections were replaced by standard gauge lines in the mid 1930s;
  • the Mlawa railway was built as a 600mm gauge military field railway, taken over by PKP for civilian services, converted to 750mm gauge in the early 1960s and lasting for freight purposes until 2001;
  • the extensive Jedrzejow system has its origins in Austrian military railways of 700mm gauge, rebuilt as a 600mm gauge line still during the war, expanded by various local authority and private initiatives between the wars, regauged to 750mm in the 1950s and lasting with ‘regular’ traffic into the 1990s;
  • the Rogow line was another that survived, converted to 750mm gauge, until the end of PKP narrow gauge operations in 2001;
  • the system based around Myszyniec remained 600mm gauge until closed in the 1970s;
  • the Zwierzyniec – Bilgoraj line probably takes the prize for the number of different gauges, being originally built by the Russians on 750mm gauge, later a 600mm gauge line built during the war, converted to 750mm gauge by PKP in the 1960s and closed in the 1970s to be replaced by a standard gauge line that was later joined by a Russian gauge railway!

There were various other lines in present-day Poland which saw short-lived civilian service and also, largely forgotten today, PKP operated significant former Heeresfeldbahnen in those regions lost to the Soviet Union in the Second World War: the 90+km Dukszty-Druja line, the 66km Nowojelnia – Nowogrodek – Lubcz line, the Baranowicze network and the Iwacewicze – Janow – Kamien system (on which PKP still operated passenger services over 214 route kilometres in 1939) to name only a few.

Besides these significant lengths of railway for which a post-war use was found, there were as many, probably many more, which were redundant.  As these lines were dismantled; the track materials were sold off.  Furthermore, the German authorities had ordered around 2,500 of their standard 0-8-0T Brigadelokomotiven (commonly known in Britain as ‘Feldbahn’ locomotives), many of which were stored or still under construction when the war ended – locomotives were still being delivered to military stores depots well into 1919.  These locomotives were also soon on the market.

Transhipment from a Wisla barge on the Borowiczki sugar beet railway, 1941.

(Click to see the original image on plock24.pl)

Many forestry and industrial concerns in Poland took advantage of this ready availability of 600mm gauge railway equipment to build their own railways in place of horse and cart transport of raw materials and/or finished products.  The advantages of narrow gauge railways had been recognised by sugar factories in the German-controlled part of Kujawy from the 1880s, and those in the Russian-controlled areas had begun to follow suit before the war.

The 1920s saw an explosion in the construction of sugar factory railways.  Some, such as Ostrowite, chose 750mm gauge but for most the availability of Brigadeloks and other equipment led to 600mm gauge being selected.  Amongst the factories that developed 600mm gauge railways at this time were Klemensow, Mala Wies, Izabelin, Borowiczki, Cielce, Guzow, Dobrzelin, Chelmica, Mlynow, Irena and Lesmierz.

German 1944 1:2500 map based upon pre-war Polish WIG cartography showing the end of the Lesmierz line near Unjejow, in the yard of a private estate in Dominikowice. Did the Lesmierz line link up with an existing estate railway?

(Click to expand,)

Lesmierz sugar factory’s railway was built between 1920 and 1928.  The first section built was a link to Sierpow station on PKP’s 600mm gauge Krosniewice – Ozorkow – Strykow line, itself built as a Heeresfeldbahn.  Note that the standard gauge Kutno – Zgierz line through Sierpow did not open until 1924.  From Sierpow the railway was continued westward.

WIG maps show the railway’s most westerly terminus was Dominikowice, south of Uniejow, while there was a lengthy branch running north from near Pelczyska to Swinice and Kozanki.  In 1926, before completion of the network, the Lesmierz sugar factory railway was recorded as having 70km of track, 8 steam locomotives, 160 freight wagons and 2 passenger coaches.  Presumably the link to the PKP line served to deliver coal and limestone to the factory and take away finished sugar, while the lines further west served to bring in sugar beet and take out beet pulp.

Further to the east, Irena sugar factory in Lyszkowice, south of Lowicz, built a 600mm gauge railway in 1920-1 to Domaniewice station on the Lowicz – Lodz standard gauge line, presumably serving only to bring in coal and limestone and take away the finished sugar.  The railway of Mlynow sugar factory at Piatek, south east of Kutno, probably also dates from the 1920s.  The main line of this system ran to Jackowice station on the Lowicz – Kutno standard gauge line, but the fact that there were branches through Janowice to Balkow and through Przezwiska to Borow as well as other short branches (all shown on WIG maps) suggests that the railway transported beet and pulp as well as coal etc.  To the north of these lines Dobrzelin sugar factory also developed a quite extensive 600mm gauge railway between the wars.

German 1940 1:2500 map (reprinted 1944) based upon pre-war Polish WIG cartography showing the line to the sugar beet factory at Lesmierz, but not its WWII extension eastwards to Pokrzywnica.

(Click to expand,)

And then came German occupation.  In the First World War the Germans had created links between various sugar factory railways and they did so again in the Second World War.  In the north of Kujawy they converted the 900mm gauge Pakosc/Tuczno/Wierzchoslawice railway to 750mm gauge and linked it to the Matwy, Kruszica and Dobre systems of that gauge, and created various other links between those railways.

In the south east of this sprawling, still partly 600mm gauge network, they created a number of links.  From Lesmierz a line was built east to join the Mlynow system at Pokrzywnica.  From Domaniewice the Irena sugar factory’s railway was extended north west to join the Mlynow system at Walewice.  From Jackowice the Mlynow system was extended to Czerniew, where a connection was probably created with the Dobrzelin factory’s system.

Soon after the war these lines started to be divided up and partially dismantled.  Irena sugar factory closed in 1947 and although its railway may have been taken over by Dobrzelin, it was probably soon dismantled.  Most of the rest of the Mlynow system was taken over by Lesmierz.

In 1948 work started on converting PKP’s Krosniewice – Ozorkow line to 750mm, being completed in 1951.  Consequently, in 1952 the 3km section of the Lesmierz system linking the factory to PKP’s Sierpow station became mixed 600/750mm gauge; henceforth the beet and pulp were carried in 600mm gauge wagons and coal etc. in 750mm gauge wagons.  Two 750mm gauge locomotives were acquired by the factory to serve this short but vital link.

Lesmierz sugar factory in 1927.

(Click to see original image on fotopolska.eu)

The Lesmierz 600mm gauge network gradually shrunk. By 1950 it had already reduced from around 120km to 90km and by 1970 had declined to 60km.  In the latter year, however, there were 14 steam locomotives, 240 wagons, 2 coaches and 3 diesel locomotives.  The end of narrow gauge operations appears to have come in the 1980s or early 1990s.  The last year in which PKP supplied beet to the factory in narrow gauge wagons was 1986, when some 15,000 tonnes were brought in and almost 13,000 tonnes of pulp taken away.  By way of comparison, ten years later the Tuczno system carried 140,000t of beet and 36,000 tonnes of pulp.

The 600mm gauge steam locomotives of the Lesmierz system were as follows:

  • Lesmierz 1, LHW 1760/191, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2416, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 2, BMAG 6798/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2483, to playground in Kutno 1992
  • Lesmierz 3, LHW 1721/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2239, to Elk, then Skierniewice
  • Lesmierz 4, Fablok 1541/1947, 0-4-0T Rys, at Warszawa Railway Museum since 1994
  • Lesmierz 6, Borsig 10329/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2098, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 7, O&K 8745/1919, 0-10-0T HF 2858, Mlynow, then Lesmierz, still there 9/72
  • Lesmierz 8, O&K 8721/1918, 0-10-0T, ordered as HF 2646 but delivered to Mlynow then to Lesmierz, still there 9/72
  • Lesmierz 9, Henschel 14921/1916, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 991, still existed 9/72
  • Lesmierz 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2294, withdrawn 1982, remains still existed 1987
  • Lesmierz 11, O&K 8692/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok HF 2456
  • Lesmierz 11, Schwartzkopff 6808/1919, 0-10-0T HF 2655, to PKP 1919 as Es 451 or E1-451, Mlawa, DR 99 1611, to Myszyniec by 1940, at Mlawa 1942, Rogow in early 50s as PKP Tx1-591, to Lesmierz 16/4/56, later heating boiler at Mlynow, to Sucha Beskidzka and then Chabowka

The 750mm gauge steam locomotives of the Lesmierz system were:

  • Fablok 1982/1949, 0-6-0T Las, to Bad Muskauer Waldeisenbahn, then Oberoderwitz
  • Fablok 1984/1949, 0-6-0T Las, Lesmierz 610, to PSMK Skierniewice about 1992

The 600mm gauge steam locomotives of the Dobrzelin system were as follows:

  • Dobrzelin 1, LHW 1719/1918,  0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed, out of use, 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 2, Henschel 14471/1916, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, acquired 1920
  • Dobrzelin 3, Jung 2865/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed, out of use, 10/72
  • Dobrzelin 4, O&K 8691/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still at Dobrzelin 8/72
  • Dobrzelin 6, Schwartzkopff 6813/1919, 0-10-0T, M. Stern AG, Essen, for sale 11/22, to PKP as Es-1344, Zwierzyniec, DR 99 1621, then to Dobrzelin
  • Dobrzelin 7, Schwartzkopff 6806/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok. Probably sold to Dobrzelin by M. Stern AG, Essen, where it was for sale 11/22
  • Dobrzelin 8, Henschel 15523/1917, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, still existed 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 10, Jung 2864/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok
  • Dobrzelin 13, Henschel 15549/1917, 0-8-0T Brigadelok,  still existed 9/72
  • Dobrzelin 15,  O&K 8688/1918, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, Krasiniec or Ciechanow sugar factory 4, to PKP Mlawa 1949 as Tx1-350, to Dobrzelin 4/3/58
  • Dobrzelin 15, Schwartzkopff? 6803/1919, 0-8-0T Brigadelok, Krasiniec or Ciechanow sugar factory 4, to PKP Mlawa 1949 as Tx1-353, to Dobrzelin 4/3/50 or 4/3/58
  • Dobrzelin 17, Chrzanow 1625/1953, 0-6-0T Las, to Meldegen, Belgium
  • Dobrzelin 21, Fablok 3297/1954, 0-6-0T Las, to Meldegen, Belgium
  • Dobrzelin 24, Chrzanow 3444/1957, 0-6-0 Las, to De Bakkersmolen, Essen-Wildert, Germany

Stop press

Ex Lesmierz Fablok 1982/1949 0-6-0T Las, together with a sister engine, ex Plocicznow 3816/1958 Chrzanow have been repatriated to Poland and will be exhibited at the Krosnice Park Railway.

Footnote

Some splendid historic n.g. engine photographs by the late Tomasz Wach – including 8 photos of engines on the Lesmierz sugar beet line – used to be hosted by Tomislaw Czarnecki on his Wciaz pod Para website. Sadly the link to Tomasz Wach’s gallery no longer (as on 12.11.12) appears to work.

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Local activists resume the battle for Krosniewice line

Saturday, 9 July 2011

SKKW committee members meeting outside Ozorkow Station on 9 July 2011. Photo BTWT.

When Barbara Herman, the Mayor of Krosniewice, kicked the Krosniewice Railway into the long grass, local supporters of the line suffered a crisis of confidence. The local activists had constituted themselves into society, Stowarzyszenie Krosniewickiej – Ozorkowej Kolei Waskotorowej (The Krosniewice – Ozorkow Narrow gauge Railway Society) and, in the days when the northern part of the line had been operated by SKPL, had single-handedly restored the southern part between Krzewie and Ozorkow.

Relations between the Society and SKPL’s local management had never been good and when Barbara Herman terminated SKPL’s operating licence SKOKW looked forward to a better relationship with the local council. But matters progressed from bad to worse. The Mayor repeatedly turned down the Society’s requests for permission to cut down the undergrowth or to conduct restoration work on rolling stock stored in the open. Over the last couple of years vegetation has taken over the track bed to the extent that in most places the railway line is not only impassable it is also unrecognisable as a railway.

The SKKW platelayers trolley being prepared for service. Photo BTWT.

Frustrated that Wojciech Szegendowski, the historic monument conservator for Lodz province, was blocking her bid to demolish the railway’s workshops to make way for a property development project, Mrs Herman began to plot for a way whereby she could take over the extensive railway lands in Krosniewice without the tiresome obligation of having to operate the line. The first part of her plan was to hand back the Krosniewice Railway to PKP and to support a plan whereby the local District Councils would take over the line from PKP and then hand it over unencumbered with any railway operating obligations to all the smaller councils over whose territory the line ran.

To counter Mrs Herman’s plans, the SKKW reconstituted themselves as the Stowarzyszenia Kujawskich Kolei Wąskotorowych and approached the offices of the Chief Executives of Lodz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie and Wielkopolska provinces with a bold plan to eventually restore the whole of the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways of which the Krosniewice Railway was only the eastern section. The proposal was greeted with enthusiasm and for a time it looked as if all three provinces would back the plan and write it into their tourism development strategy plans. This was not at all what Mrs Herman wanted and she started to lobby extensively behind the scenes to demolish the SKKW’s credibility. The Chief Executive of Lodz province asked PKP to estimate the costs of restoring the Krosniewice Railway to running order and on receiving an estimate of several million zloty rapidly back-tracked and asked his officials to come up with several convincing reasons why Lodz province could not take over the railway.

The end of the cleared section 3 miles from Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

Now SKKW members are hoping to interest another local council in taking over the whole line and to that end have started to clear the track bed starting from Ozorkow Station. Now after 3 working parties over 3 km of track have already been cleared.


Mbxd1-168’s last journey

Monday, 24 January 2011

Motor unit Mbxd1-168 draws up at Krosniewice station in December 2006. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Motor unit Mbxd1-168 (formerly Bxhpi 1719) rebuilt from a passenger coach at the Krosniewice Railway workshops in 1966, has been delivered to Milicz where a small outdoor railway museum has been established. The railway museum commemorates the former Milicz District Railway which in 1945 was extended to link up to the Wroclaw Narrow Gauge Railway.

For the last few years there were rumours that a section of this 750 mm gauge railway was going to be restored as an EU-assisted project, but the local authorities who own the line have now decided that most of the railway is going to be converted into a cycle path. It seems that those who supported the rebuilding of the railway are to be fobbed off with a ‘skansen’ with perhaps a short demonstration line.

Mbxd1-168 was bought by SKPL from the PKP property department in 2002 and for many years ran the lion’s share of the regular passenger workings which SKPL operated on the Krosniewice Railway. It also took part in many ‘specials’ and is seen in the picture above entering Krosniewice Station from Krosniewice yard, ready to operate a special train to Ozorkow on 2 December 2006

The motor unit was cosmetically restored by SKPL staff on the Pleszew Railway and delivered to Milicz on 22 January 2011.

Mbxd1-168 leaves Pleszew, 22.01.2011. Photo SKKW.

Krosniewice, the beginning of a new beginning?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A busy day at Krosniewice in PKP days, October 1996. Romanian Railcar (left) for Ostrowy and DIY Polish railcar (middle) for Cetty.
Photo © Andrew Goodwin.

(Click on image to go to the Krosniewice section of the Polish Narrow Gauge Railways website by Andrew Goodwin, Stephen Goodwin and Dave Meller. This shows many Polish narrow gauge lines in the period before PKP abandoned its narrow gauge operations.)

There was much celebration at BTWT headquarters yesterday and our emergency ration of Zubrowka was raided when the news was confirmed by two reliable sources that the Lodz provincial government is taking over the Krosniewice Railway from PKP. This remarkable turn of events will scupper the plans of Krosniewice Mayor, Barbara Herman, who wanted to divide the railway salami fashion among all the local authorities through which the railway ran.

So far, the Lodz provincial government hsa shown remarkably little interest in its railway heritage and the railway enthusiaststo whom I broke the news could not at first believe it!. There are several unsung heroes in the battles for the future of the Krosniewice Railway and it is appropriate to mention some of those to whom credit is due. First of all, Wojciech Szegendowski, the Conservator of Heritage for Lodz province, who stood up to pressure from Mrs Herman to remove heritage listing status from much of the track and buildings at Krosniewice. Secondly, Pawel Papierz and the members of the SKOKW railway society who lobbied hard for the future of the railway. Thirdly, David Morgan, the President of Fedecrail who met with Polish ministers in 2008 to emphasise the importance of the Krosniewice Railway to the international heritage railway community, and last all those BTWT readers who supported our letter writing campaign to the Mrs Herman with copies to the Ministries of Infrastructure and Culture!

However, it is much to early to relax. One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy, as Aristotle used to point out. The provincial government could take over the railway, secure the future of the historic buildings, restore a short museum line, and convert the rest of the railway into a long-distance railway or cycle track! I won’t be happy until the provincial government has agreed a business plan for the revival of the railway. So now dear reader, it is time to write the most important letter of all. Here is one way you could approach the task. (Please do not use this exact text, but express these points, plus any others you feel it may be appropriate to add, in your own words. If you have already written to Mrs Herman and received no reply, it would probably be a good idea to also make this point and also to enclose a copy of that letter.)

Dear Mr Fisiak,

I am a British national who regularly comes to Poland to learn about your country’s history and to travel on your unique heritage railways. I would like to congratulate you on your decision to end the uncertainty regarding the future of the Krosniewice Railway by taking over the track from PKP. The Kujawy Railways – of which the Krosniewice Railway is a part – are an absolutely unique part of Poland’s railway history and have an enormous future potential as a tourist attraction.

I hope very much that it will be possible for the Krosniewice Railway to become a working railway – there are many preserved tourists lines in Europe – what makes Poland special, and draws railway enthusiasts from all over the world, is the opportunity to see vintage railway machinery performing real work.

Yours sincerely

Please send the letter to the Chief Executive of the Lodz provincial government:

Wlodzimierz Fisiak
Marszalek wojewodztwa lodzkiego
Urzad Marszalkowski w Lodzi
al. Pilsudskiego 8
90-051 Lodz
P O L A N D

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High noon at Krosniewice

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Krosniewice station and yard at dawn on the last day of operation 31.03.2008.
From a photograph by  Tilo Rösner.

(Tilo Rösner’s evocative photographs of the last day of the Krosniewice Railway are well known. Click on the image to see the complete set of pictures taken by Tilo as hosted by Drehscheibe Online.)

Will the Krosniewice Railway ever see a new dawn? Or is the railway about to loose its last battle? This is the first and arguably biggest ’cause’ for which BTWT readers have campaigned and many will be familiar with the story. In order to refresh memories, here is a brief timeline showing the line’s preservation history and subsequent demise:

2000 Waldemar Kacprzak, the line’s general manager, on hearing about PKP’s plans to withdraw from all of its narrow gauge railway operations, starts lobbying the then Mayor of Krosniewice that the Town Council should take over the Eastern section of the Kujawy Railways, the Krosniewicka Kolej Dojazdowa (KrKD).
2001 PKP withdraws freight services and closes the railway.
2003 Krosniewice Town Council acquires a licence from PKP to use the railway formation and agrees to take over the freehold when land title matters are complete. It appoints SKPL to be the line’s operating company.
2003 In December, SKPL run their first freight train on the KrKD. The train consists of wagons from the Czech Republic which are carried on transporter wagons as far as Cetty station.
2004 SKPL reintroduces daily passenger services for schoolchildren and commuters travelling to Krosniewice
2006 The first special train runs through to Ozorkow.
2007 Barbara Herman, the new Mayor of Krosniewice, visits the railway in the company of PKP officials and announces her interest in developing the Krosniewice station and workshop site. SKPL are asked to vacate the workshops and confine their activities to the engine shed area. SKPL refuse, pointing out that the workshops are essential for the maintenance of the transporter wagons on which the freight service depends. The Mayor says that she is ‘not interested’ in the freight services, but would support a short ‘museum railway’.
2007 SKPL are offered a major contract to carry heavy aggregate on the KrKD.
2007 SKPL ask the Mayor for an extension of their license so that they can make the necessary investment in new facilities and equipment to carry the aggregate.
2007 The Mayor issues a notice to quit to SKPL.
2008 The line closes at the end of March.
2008 The Mayor withdraws from the 2003 agreement whereby Krosniewice Town Council take over the whole line and promotes her own plan whereby each of the dozen or so municipal authorities through whose territory the line runs take over their section of line independently. The Mayor maintains that the line would have needed a major subsidy to remain open. In fact SKPL were actual paying part of their income from the line to the Council!
2009 Apart from a couple of special workings from Krosniewice to Ozorkow initiated by local railway enthusiasts, the KrKD remains closed.
2009 The Mayor threatens to withdraw entirely from taking over ‘her’ fragment of the KrKD unless sizeable portions of the Krosniewice railway site are excluded from the designation of ‘operational railway land’.
2010 High noon for the KrKD

We understand that PKP are only weeks away from chopping up the line’s real estate salami fashion and transferring the freehold of each section to the municipal authority through whose territory each segment runs. We also understand that there is concern in some quarters of the office of the Chief Executive of Lodz province that such a development would run counter to any long-term to revive a significant section of the Kujawy railway as a major tourist attraction.

Please take a few minutes to write to the Chief Executive of the Lodz province urging that the provincial government take over the whole line in order to safeguard its integrity. Only the provincial government has the credibility and ‘clout’ to bring the various local authorities – each of which has their own ideas for their section of railway – into line.

Please write to:

Wlodzimierz Fisiak
Marszalek Wojewodztwa Lodzkiego
Al. Piłsudskiego 8
90-051 Lodz
P O L A N D

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Death by a thousand cuts

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Roadstone being unloaded at Krosniewice on 9 July, 2007

(Click on picture to see it in its original context on the SKPL’s website.)

PKP Cargo have a national freight forwarding agreement with SKPL. SKPL’s goods stations (both narrow gauge and standard gauge) appear on PKP Cargo’s List Tariffs. A prospective customer can look up his intended departure and arrival points in the List, multiply the resulting tariff by the tonnage to be carried, and will then know how much it will cost to transport the goods by rail. The next step is to ring the nearest PKP Cargo freight office and arrange the details. For long-term carriage of large consignments PKP Cargo is prepared to offer attractive discounts.

If the goods depot lies on a railway line served by SKPL, it makes no difference. The customer deals with PKP Cargo who then pay SKPL a fixed percentage of the total tariff in return for SKPL originating or terminating the journey on its tracks. In the case of SKPL’s narrow gauge railways, such as the Kalisz or Smigiel Railway, SKPL, carry the standard gauge wagons, a la Calthorpe, on narrow gauge transporter wagons.

As the Mayor of Krosniewice has not appointed another operator since terminating the operating agreement with SKPL, there is now nobody to terminate the traffic at the goods stations on the Krosniewice Railway. Accordingly, PKP Cargo have announced their intention to remove the Krosniewice Railway freight handling points from the list of tariffs. A pity – a major aggregate company was planning to carry 100,000 tonnes of roadstone by the Krosniewice Railway – a traffic which would have done a great deal to revive the railway’s fortunes. Now it will all have to go by road. In 2,000 lorry loads!

If you think this is crazy, please write to

Mrs Julianna Barbara Herman
The Mayor of Krosniewice
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

The copy to the Minister is vital. The Minister is only the person who can ensure that the conditions under which the control of railway was transferred to Krosniewice Town Council are enforced. For those who are have become readers of BTWT recently, you will find some background reading about our campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway as a working railway (not just as a short tourist line) by clicking on the links below:

Smoke and mirrors

Sunday, 21 September 2008

BTWT EXCLUSIVE!

Today’s 11.40 Ozorkow-Leczyca shuttle at Strykow

The Krosniewice Railawy came briefly to life this weekend during a festival at Leczyca thanks to the lobbying of SKOKW (The Krosniewice-Ozorkow Narrow Gauge Railway Society) . An intensive shuttle service bewteen Leczyca and Ozorkow was operated on both days.

Andrzej Olszewski interviewed for the local TV news

The two day festival would not have been possible without the enthusiasm of the Mayor of Leczyca, Andrzej Olszewski. Mrs Barbara Herman, the Mayor of Krosniewice, agreed to the ‘reopening’ of the railway for the two days of the festival. On Sunday afternoon she graced the proceedings in order to establish her bona fides as a supporter of the railway. Unfortunately none of the media present asked the obvious question – if she supports the railway, why did she close it?

The Mayors of Leczyca and Krosniewice

Mrs Herman’s predecesor as Mayor had obtained a licence from PKP (Polish State Railways) for Krosniewice Council to manage the railway, granted an operating licence to SKPL and was in the process of acquiring the freehold to the railway land. But Mrs Herman had other plans and she closed the railway in March 2008. A month earlier she had given notice to SKPL, the railway’s operator, that their operating agreement was to be terminated. Since then she has made no moves to appoint another operator.

Krosniewice Town Council’s agreement with PKP was subject to a condition that the railway would be used for transport purposes. Mrs Herman regards this condition too restrictive and recently met with representatives of councils through whose land the railway runs to press the case for her own plan whereby each local authority along the line would takes over their local section of railway land from PKP without any transport condition being imposed. The danger of this plan is that it gives each local council a free hand as to what they might eventually do with the railway land. (Mrs Herman has friends who want to redevelop the railway station and workshop site at Krosniewice.) We already know that other local councils at the northern end of the line are more interested in building a cycle path than owning and running a railway.

Is this to be the sad future of the Kujawy Railways? The banner says “The Ozorkow-Leczyca-Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway”.

The Krosniewice Railway is a 110 km fragment of the former Kujawy Railway Network which in its heyday comprised some 2,000 kilometres of narrow gauge lines of both 750 mm and 600 mm gauge. The network comprised a core network of PKP operated common carrier railways and many hundreds of kilometres of private sugar beet railways. When PKP closed the network in 2001, the Kujawy Railway was split up into three sections based on Gniezno, Sompolno and Krosniewice.

Whereas railway enthusiasts were successful in persuading local councils in Gniezno and Krosniewice to take over their sections of line, they were less successful with the central section at Sompolno. The well equipped railway workshops were gutted by scrap thieves and this once important railway junction now resembles a wilderness. The Gniezno section is beong operated purely as a tourist line. Meanwhile SKPL, with its regular service which linked the sugar refinery at Breszcz Kujawski to the PKP network, maintained the Krosniewice Railway as Poland’s last narrow gauge rail servicing the sugar beet industry.

When Mrs Herman was elected Mayor, she immediately started making difficulties for SKPL demanding that the society hand over monies for rents which her predecessor had prevented it from collecting. She then demanded that SKPL vacate the railway workshops and when the society objected she terminated their operating agreement. From our own moles in PKP we know that Mrs Herman has threatened that if she does not gain control of the railway land she wants for redevelopment she will let the whole railway “go to the dogs”.

SKOKW Chairman, Pawel Papierz

During the festival Pawel Papierz, SKOKW chairman, said that this year there had only been one weekend of operation on the Krosniewice – Ozorkow branch, but that next year there would be trains every weekend during the operating season. It was significant that the line’s ‘owner’ Mrs Herman made no such promise, nor has her council entered into any agreement with SKOKW or any other potential operator.

The train at Leczyca about to return to Krosniewice

First the good news…

Friday, 27 June 2008


David Morgan addresses Polish Heritage Railway managers in Poznan in 2007

(click to see photo on Fundacja Era Parowozow website)

One of BTWT’s reliable sources reports on a meeting that took place on 25 June between David Morgan, President of Fedecrail, and Juliusz Engelhardt, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry Of Infrastructure, responsible for Poland’s railways. Fedecrail is the European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways and has been working with a number of Polish heritage railway organisations, as well as the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership, to assist in the creation of a national umbrella body for the Polish heritage railway movement. In Great Britain, such an umbrella body, the Heritage Railway Association, has existed since the 1960s and Mr Morgan is also its chairman.

Mr Morgan came to Poland to tell the Minister of Fedecrail’s concern about the closure of the Krosniewice Railway. At Fedecrail’s Annual General Meeting, which took place in Salzburg in April this year, a resolution (pdf file) was passed urging the Mayor of Krosniewice to reopen the railway. Mr Morgan also raised the matter of the imminent end of the steam haulage of ordinary scheduled trains at Wolsztyn and the prospect of the sale by tender and scrapping of much of Poland’s railway heritage.

Mr Engelhardt, explained that it was his understanding that the Krosniewice Railway had been closed because of lack of cash. Although he could not offer financial support he could offer moral support to efforts to reopen the railway and help set up meetings with the local authorities.

All BTWT activists who wrote a letter to Barbara Herman (the Mayor of Krosniewice who was responsible for closing the railway) and then copied their letter to Cezary Garbarczyk (Mr Engelhardt’s boss, the Minister of Infrastructure) can now give themselves a pat on the back.

…then the bad.

With respect to Wolsztyn, Mr Engelhardt said he recognised that Wolsztyn was now probably unique, not only in Europe, but also in the whole world. It would certainly continue as a steam shed servicing steam locomotives for special events like the Wolsztyn Steam Gala and for special trains. The only aspect over which there was a question mark was the continuation of steam-hauled ordinary service trains, because the operation of railbuses was much cheaper.

This confirms our worst fears about the future of scheduled steam at Wolsztyn. We will be consulting all the key stakeholders, and then recommending what the best course of action is for BTWT activists.

Mr Engelhardt concluded by saying that he had no knowledge of the sale by tender of railway heritage items to which Mr Morgan had referred and that his view was that items of Polish railway heritage should stay in Poland.

Mr Morgan will be asking Polish railway societies to follow up in detail with the minister a number of the specific points that had been raised at the meeting.

There’s nothing better than bad news…

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

  

Crash investigators at Grayrigg
(photo Owen Humphries on daylife ex AP)

First a bit of good news, our chief engineer’s worries about the tram track section of the WHR through Porthmadog apppear to have been misplaced. A medical gentlemen left the following comment on our Twisty Tale post.

Have no fear about our tram track. The gauge is widened by 10mm in the middle of the 50m radius curve at Britannia Bridge, and a suitable rail with an appropriate flange groove between the running rail and the check rail has been found in Austria.

There is a notice at the approach to the crossing saying CYCLISTS MUST DISMOUNT.

The class NGG16 2-6-2+2-6-2 Garratt locomotives traverse 58m radius curves elsewhere on the railway without difficulty, and of course the radii are even sharper at points (turnouts), check rails and all.

Relax, sleep well; come and see us this time next year. Croeso i Gymru; welcome to Wales.

We have been to Poland and admired some of your narrow gauge lines – we were very taken with the marvellous museum at Sochaczew (pardon me if I spell it wrong). the branch line at Smigiel needs someone to go along it with a fishplate spanner to tighten the joints.

Pedr

Dyspozytor has been going on long walks, relaxing and is already sleeping better. Our chief engineer is still muttering ‘NG 15s are 2-8-2s, 50 doesn’t equal 58, flangeway clearances, back to back flange distance’ and other such nonsense, but we have locked him up in a cupboard and will leave him there until he promises to behave himself.

Now the bad news, there will be no repeal of the decision to suspend the Wolsztyn – Poznan steam workings this summer. Howard Jones has been to Poznan this morning and met with Wielkopolska province’s Deputy Director of Transport. He was assured that the importance of the Wolsztyn operation was recognized by the Chief Executive and that steam trains will return to the Poznan route in October. Meanwhile Howard will be hiring additional special trains on the Wolsztyn-Poznan route to fulfill his existing agreements with customers. (He already has built up alternative footplating capacity in Wroclaw with recently restored TKt48-18 and Bill Parker’s GWR 45xx 5521, as well as on the narrow gauge Smigiel Railway with the Px48.) Howard says, “We have built up a special fund for capital projects such as restoring our own Ol steam locomotive. Now we will have to dip into this fund and buy extra trains so that we can still meet our customers’ expectations.”

It seems that the reason for the suspension of the steam services is based on more than just economics. If saving money was the object, the timetabling and rostering of the steam trains could have been arranged more economically. Rather, PKP is tied up in its own affairs – the removal of senior directors and the sale of parts of its business. Wolsztyn is no one’s priority. In spite of promises to the contrary, no new crews have been recruited nor trained, and licences to allow the depot to carry out boiler repairs have not been renewed. The basic problem is that there is no one at a sufficiently high level in the PKP hierarchy who really cares about heritage rail operations.

Still, as the proprietors of the popular press know all to well, publishing bad news boosts circulation. BTWT watches the number of daily hits it gets assiduously and we were surprised to see how much interest bad news generates.

Behind the Water Tower’s weekly-cumulative daily hit rate

Our biggest daily hit rate (which we have yet to beat) occurred on 2 April when we broke through the 100 hits a day and 200 hits a day barriers for the first time. At the end of the day we had registered 253 hits. What had generated so much interest – our articles on the closure of the Krosniewice Railway and the stepping up of our letter writing campaign to save the line. The Krosniewice closure gave us a daily-cumulative per week hit rate of 774 views (week 14 on the graph) as opposed to 236 hits the previous week. Readership then fell back to its previous steady growth and then began to level off at around 750 weekly hits – just over 100 hits each day. Over the last two days interest in our story about the curtailment of steam operations at Wolsztyn, and narrow gauge fans returning for the latest news about the Krosniewice Railway closure, boasted our daily hits to 220 on Sunday. This gave us our biggest ever daily-cumulative per week hit rate of 898 views last week (week 23).

Why this obsession with the numbers game? We know that for every 100 long-term readers, about 10 are sufficiently committed to respond to our calls for help. That means that the Ministry of Infrastructure received 10 more letters on its desk than it would of done if there had been no BTWT and no letter writing campaign. Can 10 letters make a difference? Quite frankly we don’t know, although we hope that taken together with the Fedecrail delegation’s visit to Poland and the threat of legal action, they will. But just consider if we had 1,000 regular readers each day. That would mean that the Minisister would have received 100 letters – a figure much more difficult to ignore.

So how can you help? First of all, you can sign up to our twice monthly mailing which contains links to our most popular articles. Secondly, ask yourself – are any of your friends interested in Poland or railways or both – whose names we could add to our mailing list? Secondly – and we apologise for nagging – please, if you have not already done so, do send that letter to the Mayor of Krosniewice and copy us on your letter and any reply that you may receive.

Double blow for Krosniewice line

Friday, 9 May 2008

1.09.2006, Sugar refinery owned Wls150 750mm gauge shunter on a private siding at Brzeszcz Kujawski sugar refinery

Following the closure of the Krosniewice Railway on 1 April by the Mayor of Krosniewice, the National Sugar Association, the owners of the sugar refinery at Brzeszcz Kujawski have decided to close the refinery. Although sugar beet was no longer brought into the refinery by narrow guage rail, other raw materials such as coal were brought in, and refined sugar was taken out, loaded in standard gauge wagons carried on 750mm gauge transporter wagons.

The Wloclawek District Council is demanding a reversal of the decision.

Click here to access all our recent posts which refer to the Krosniewice Railway and its recent closure by the Mayor of Krosniewice.

A modest success!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Liverpool Street Station: Sunday, 21st May 1922. Photo courtesy GER Society archive.

Similar view today: Improvement?

Euston: Down the rabbit hole

Victorian railway engineers scuIpted enormous iron and glass cathedrals enclosing huge volumes of space. The great railway terminii celebrated the new world being created by the web of steel that was to cover the globe. In the 1960s and 1970s, in the UK – the birthplace of the world’s railways – the officers of the British Railways Property Board regarded railway terminii as so much real estate, useful for car parking in the short-term, and even more useful for lucrative property development contracts in the future. Liverpool Street and Broad Street stations, neighbours on the edge of the City of London, were prime targets. Broad Street was lost altogether, the railway ripped up, its passengers forced to make alternative, and less convenient travel arrangements. Liverpool Street couldn’t be abolished entirely, so it was decided to give it the ‘rabbbit hole’ makeover first tried out at Euston Station in the 60s.

The Liverpool Street Station Campaign was formed in 1974 to oppose BR’s plans and to campaign for a sensitive redevelopment at Liverpool Street Station. Along with public meetings, petitions and publications, the Campaign also prepared alternative redevelopment schemes which would generate revenue for BR while maintaining the complex of historic Victorian railway buildings. The Campaign’s president was Sir John Betjeman, with Vice-Presidents including Spike Milligan, Patrick Cormack and Andrew Faulds.

Liverpool Street Station was saved, and later on, similar campaigns saved St Pancras Station and span 4 of Brunel’s magnificent Paddington Station.

So if a multi-million pound development can be stopped because enough people care about conserving railway heritage – stopping the Mayor of Krosniewice’s squalid little plan to destroy the Krosniewice Railway and demolish its workshops should be easy! Have you written your letter of protest yet? If you haven’t, please stop reading this and do so now.

(Photos from top: Great Eastern Railway Society, Aim for the Ace blog, Jeff & Josh Lubchansky Train Site. Click on the pictures to link to sources.)

Krosniewice campaign latest news is here. Earlier report (with links to previous posts about the Krosniewice Railway) is here.

Krosniewice at Fedecrail Conference

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Krosniewice-Ozorkow special 1.3.2008 1 month before closure
(click on picture for video)

News has just reached us that the annual Fedcrail Conference has passed a unanimous resolution calling for the reopening of the Krosniewice Railway. Fedecrail, the European Federation of Museum & Tourist Railways, represents the heritage railway movement at European and intergovernmental level. The resolution notes the importance of the Krosniewice Railway as part of Europe’s heritage, a transport facility and a tourist attraction, and in terms of its potential contribution to tourist and economic development. It express suprise and regret at the closure, and calls on the Mayor of Krosiewice and other public authorities to do everything possible to safeguard the line and work towards its reopening.

The resolution is the initiative of Stephen Wiggs, the Chairman of the New Europe Railway Heritage Trust, and a regular reader of Behind the Water Tower, Stephen Wiggs commissioned Andrew Goltz, a member of the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership (BPRIHP), to write a brief report on the current situation of the railway. He then submitted the report together with a draft resolution to the Fedecrail Council.

A copy of the BPRIHP report (pdf download) is available here.

Krosniewice Campaign gets serious

Friday, 18 April 2008

31.3.2008, end the line for the KR? (photo Tilo Rosner)

Our campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway is getting some serious support, with the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership putting their weight behind the campaign and a major article in today’s New Warsaw Express.

Battle to Save Historic Railway

NWE, April 17, 2008

A small group of Brits and their Polish friends are campaigning to save an historic narrow-gauge railway line about 50 kilometres north of Łódź threatened by local government indifference and new development plans. The group, known as British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership, believes the railway is an asset worth preserving, not ballast to be dumped.

“We want to help Polish officials connect the dots,” says Andrew Goltz, the group’s spokesman. “For many Polish officials a narrow gauge railway is just a pile of junk. They have no idea that just over the border in former East Germany or Slovakia local authorities are investing their own money and EU grants to develop such lines into major tourist attractions.”

In Poland a handful of narrow gauge railways struggle to maintain their existence despite the lack of interest, and sometimes active opposition, of Polish officials. Until the end of March, one such survivor was the Krosniewice Railway – a 100 km fragment of a once 1,000-kilometre network of narrow-gauge lines. The Polish State Railways (PKP) had closed their remaining narrow gauge lines in 2001, and they were then handed over to local authorities to decide whether to run them as transport facilities, tourist attractions, or just get rid of them.

Local government elections brought in a new mayor of Krośniewice, Barbara Herman. She did not want a narrow gauge railway with extensive workshops in the centre of her town, being more interested in a new shopping centre and housing estate. SKPL, the line’s operator, pointed out that the workshops had been listed as heritage buildings by the province’s monuments conservator. Faced with this obstacle to her plans, Herman gave notice to SKPL that their operating agreement was terminated.

SKPL ran their last service train on March 31. The end of the line? Not if the BPIRHP have their way.

(Complete NWE article here.)

See also our other posts which will give you the gen on how YOU can join our campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway:

Krosniewice Railway at Fedcrail Conference

Krosniewice the end?

A letter from you, and…

Last train photos

We hit a ton!

Our road map

On the road again

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Cheshire County Council road signThis will be my last post for three days. I hope to meet up with you again on Sunday evening. I will be travelling from Poland to England in an articulated lorry loaded with furniture. During the 1,500 miles of my journey I’ll be asking why a 1,000 lorries like this make the journey from Poland to England every day and why more of this stuff doesn’t get despatched by rail. If all goes well I should gather some good material for a couple of posts.

So let’s take some time out. Those of you who have become interested in our campaign to save the Krosniewice narrow gauge railway, consider devoting the time that you would have spent reading BTWT to writing a letter instead, to the Mayor of Krosniewice. Please don’t forget the all important copy to the Minister of Infrastructure. You’ll find all the information that you need (names and addresses and a sample letter) in earlier posts.

Our road map

Thursday, 3 April 2008

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Ania, one of the school children who
regularly used the KrKD, decorates
the last train. 31.03.2008

(Clicking the picture leads to more.)

Behind the Water Tower started as a ‘niche’ blog some 10 weeks ago. Our intention was to celebrate the variety of Poland’s railway heritage and to encourage railway enthusiasts from Western Europe to visit Poland. If we had a ‘hidden agenda’ – it was a hope that some of these western visitors would befriend their Polish counterparts and help the Polish societies with their work. The bigger societies, such as FPKW, PSMK and SKPL, already have links with the outside world, but there are a score of lesser-known railway societies, struggling against enormous odds to develop their railways and railway museums, who desperately need assistance.

After a month or so of experimental blogging (it’s no easy task to find something new and exciting to say every day) external events suddenly took a hand. A massive and irrecoverable crash on our original host, forced our move to WordPress.com, but how to inform our ten or so readers? We prepared an e-mail to everybody we knew who was interested in Polish rail. Some of these were members of an informal group of anglo-poles who meet to dine in Warsaw once or twice a year. We added all their names for good measure! The e-mail pointed out that it was easy to get crossed off the mailing list. Neo, a friend of ours, also posted a couple of links on the kolejelist discussion group.

Dyspozytor waited for the floodgates to open (Please take me off your mailing list at once!) but no angry e-mails came. The regular readership climbed to about thirty, peaking to twice or three times that figure when we carried an article of interest to a particular group. Then came the closure of Krosniewice, with the main Polish narrow gauge discussion group indulging in an orgy of mutual recriminations as to whose fault it was. (It’s not the fault of any Polish railway enthusiast, but it’s entirely the fault of Madame Mayor!)

Decision time – do we join the MOANERS, sitting on the fence helplessly, wringing their hands and blaming each other – or do we emulate John Wayne? We decided to wade into the battle to save the Krosniewice Railway, guns blazing! One of the administrators of Swiat Kolejek Waskotorowych (Polish narrow gauge discussion group) published a link to our campaign and yesterday’s readership broke through the roof! It will take a few days for things to settle down, but if we end up with a base of, say 30 to 50 readers prepared from time to time to type out the odd letter, we will be very content!

We hit a ton!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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One hundred hits – 16.15 today!

At 16:15 local time BTWT registered 100 hits for the first time. Of course, some of these hits will be web spiders, bots and other creepy crawlies, but even so reaching a ton is a nice achievement, bearing in mind that just over a month ago we moved the blog from Tooum.net where BTWT was originally hosted. Our previous best ever was 83 hits where we peaked on 8 March this year when we ran the story Skierniewice Success. I guess quite a few members of the Polish Association of Railway Enthusiasts popped in that day to see what we had written about them! On 11 March we had a mini publishing boom carrying three articles, Tribute to Howard Jones, Last Krzeszowice Engines Saved and The Papal train. Our efforts gained us 58 views.

On 18 March when our feature Oxenholme then and now brought us 55 views. Many of our visitors were Arthur Ransome fans for whom Oxenholme is the model for Strickland Junction in the Swallows and Amazons novel Pigeon Post.

So when we hit 100 visitors earlier today we were very pleased. It showed that our campaign to save the Krosniewice line was bringing in interest from outside our usual readership. But then the viewing statistics kept on rising! By 18.50 we had hit 150 visitors with no sign of a slowdown!

At this point we did a little investigation and discovered that someone had posted a link to our letter writing campaign on the Swiat Kolejek Waskotorowych (The World of Narrow Gauge Railways) discussion group. (WARNING – Polish only site) We read through the thread and were disappointed to see a succession of mostly negative posts from MISERABLE MOANERS! (Yes, that’s you if you haven’t yet written to the Mayor of Krosniewice yet!) So we contacted Andrew Goltz, Anglo-Pole and Swanage Railway founder and asked him to give SKW a good kick up the backside. His efforts brought in even more visitors. By 21.30hrs we had passed the 200 mark.

But the graph was still rising! A further check indicated that we were now getting traffic from a German railway discussion forum. Following the links back we found some beautiful photographs taken on the last day by the German visitors that we had written about on Monday. Just click on the picture below to see the rest of these sad and evocative pictures.

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For some hauntingly beautiful pictures of the last
rites on the Krosniewice Railway click on the picture

Meanwhile the graph kept rising. By the time it reached 253 views it was time for bed. Now if everybody who visited BTWT just gave up 15 minutes and wrote a letter to Mrs Herman, the Mayor of Krosniewice – and then spend a quick 5 minutes forwarding details of this blog to their friends – Dyspozytor and Co. would be very happy bunnies indeed!

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253 hits 01.59 (23.59 GMT) Time for bed, vertical
scale has been adjusted to match the top graph.

Krosniewice, last train photos

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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Just received, I thought you should see them ASAP ‘as is’. I’ll might add captions and a proper commentary later today. Pictures by Tilo Rosner, who travelled all the way from Dresden to catch the last train.