Archive for the ‘Kujawy’ Category

Anastazewo to Jablonka, 1939

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 4)

On 5 July 2013, BTWT published the first part of the imaginary diary of a railway enthusiast exploring the magnificent narrow gauge railways of the Kujawy region of Poland in 1939. Carefully researched by ‘Inzynier’ and brilliantly presented by narrow gauge expert Ed Beale, they are an evocative recreation of a lost world.

At the start of the fifth day, we have a very early start to head East from Anastazewo…

Anastazewo-station-postcard

A very early postcard view of Anastazewo station.

(Click to see the original image on fotopolska.eu)

Around 5am we are woken from our slumber in the loco depot at Anastazewo as work starts on preparing the loco and train for the 06:00 departure.  Half an hour or so later we start to hear a train approaching from the east and at 05:48 the connecting service from Konin (Tuesdays and Fridays only) rolls across the level crossing and into the station.  The locomotive is another 0-8-0T, bearing the number D1-345, while the train consists of two coaches (but no passengers), the usual van and three open wagons(31).  One of the coaches appears to have been converted from a freight van, while the other is purpose-built.  Mail bags are exchanged between trains (and one goes into the station building), while one of the wagons (presumably loaded, as it is sheeted over) is added to the Gniezno train.

At 06:00 No. 6 and its train depart westward.  D1-345 takes water, shunts the other two wagons into the siding and couples up to the coaches, while the fireman prepares his fire for the journey ahead and the injector sings as the water level rises in the boiler.  Unlike the Gniezno men, this crew from Konin do not have the luxury of a few hours’ sleep before starting the return journey; they ‘clocked on’ quite a few hours ago, set out from their home station at 03:35, and will not get back until 08:35.

All too soon for the fireman it is time to depart and we join the other three passengers who have arrived at the station to board the 06:12 departure.  The train shuffles out of the station (the locomotive is fitted with a spark arrestor on the chimney, which muffles any real ‘chuff’) and back across the road as the next stage of our journey begins(32).

anastzewo-departure

A much more recent departure from Anastazewo, at the turn of the 1980s/90s. Photo Milosz Telesinski.

(Click to see the original image on Baza Kolejowa)

So far all of our travels have been on railways owned and operated by the respective local authorities (Jarocin, Wrzesnia and Gniezno).  Now we are on the state railway system but ironically the locomotive and coaches seem inferior to anything we have previously experienced.  We briefly run alongside the road, cross over it again and run along the other side of it.

After about a kilometre a branch trails in on the right, this is Goslawice sugar factory’s 7 km line to beet loading points at Naprusewo(33).  Our train trundles over a road junction and we find the road is on our right instead of left, but that soon changes when we cross to the other side again.  Various other trackways are crossed and then we leave the road for a while.  Curving to the left we cross a small river and another couple of roadways and arrive at Budzislaw Koscielny halt.  Here another Goslawice sugar factory line trails in, this time from the left and with a loop; it runs 4 km to a loading point at Marszewo(34).

anastazewo-budzislaw-map

Anastazewo to Budzislaw-Koscielny and branches. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

A small crowd is awaiting the train at Budzislaw and perhaps a dozen people board the train, most carrying baskets full of produce, while those with more bulky goods load them into the van.  Within a minute or so we are on our way again, alongside a road for a couple of kilometres to the next halt at Nieborzyn, where the three waiting passengers quickly climb aboard.

Shortly after the halt, the road crosses to our other side, but roadside running remains the order of the day until we cross over again and then curve away from the road on the approach to Zlotkow.  This halt has a loop and another handful of passengers join the train.  There now follows a fairly straight section across open country, crossing the odd road or watercourse, to Dankow, another halt with a loading siding, at which another couple of passengers board.

Shortly after Dankow comes a pair of tight bends, then we cross a couple of streams and finally cross the road into Jablonka Slupecka, a quite sizeable station with loops and a number of sidings holding various wagons and vans, as well as the line from Sompolno trailing in from the east.  The 14 km from Anastazewo have taken us 53 minutes to cover (16 kph or 10 mph), but the importance of Jablonka is underlined by the fact that the train pauses here for 17 minutes – the loco takes water and the fireman again tends to his fire, while another half dozen or so passengers join the train.  Meanwhile, another 0-8-0T, number D1-332, is shunting wagons from one siding to another(35).

to be continued…

    Notes

    31) D1-345 was a ‘Brigadelok’ built by Henschel (works number 13312) in 1915 and initially numbered HF 349.  It was amongst the locomotives inherited by PKP when the Kujawy system was taken over after the First World War.  It remained on the system until the Second World War, when it became DR’s 99 1553, but was taken away from the system during that war and nothing further is known about it.

    32) The Anastezewo – Maly Patnow section was built by Goslawice sugar factory in 1912 as a 750mm gauge ‘industrial’ railway.  It was converted to 600mm gauge by the invading Germans in 1914, passenger services later started and the line was taken over by PKP after the First World War.  It was converted back to 750mm gauge in the 1950s, but passenger services west of Jablonka Slupecka ceased in 1954/5.  Jablonka Slupecka – Maly Patnow closed in 1965 as a result of brown coal mining in the area.  Freight traffic on the remaining section gradually declined to zero, but it remained in place as a link between the Gniezno and Sompolno operations.  Following cessation of PKP narrow gauge operations in 2001 it was officially transferred to the Gniezno division, but saw no regular traffic and sections have since been lifted to facilitate further brown coal mining.

    33) Goslawice sugar factory’s branch to Naprusewo was built to 600mm gauge in the 1920s and regauged to 750mm in the 1950s.  It closed in about 1975.

    34) Goslawice sugar factory’s branch to Marszewo was built in the 1920s to 600mm gauge.  It probably closed in the 1950s when the other lines were regauged.

    35) D1-332 was a ‘Brigadelok’ built by Henschel (works number 12557) in 1914 and initially numbered HF 255.  It was amongst the locomotives inherited by PKP when the Kujawy system was taken over after the First World War.  It remained on the system until the Second World War, when it became DR’s 99 1548.  It was taken away from the system during that war but later returned and became PKP’s Tx1-328.  It went to Rogow about 1950, to Mlawa on 1st September 1954 and was withdrawn on 16th November 1955.

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Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 4)

Friday, 12 September 2014

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 3)

After a good night’s sleep in Gniezno, it is time for us to continue our 1939 journey, right the way across the Gniezno system…

tx2-355-koronowo-1969

Tx2-355 in later years at Koronowo (1969). This locomotive arrived in Gniezno around 1937. Photo Ton Pruissen.

(Click to see the original image on Wciaz pod para)

Today we are to travel to the eastern end of the Gniezno system at Anastazewo. However, the Mondays and Thursdays train to that station runs late in the day, so we spend some time looking round the city: the cathedral, main square and surrounding streets are all delightful. We have a relaxed time and gradually make our way to the main station. We pause here relatively briefly, conscious that prolonged observation of standard gauge operations may arouse suspicions of spying.

Soon, therefore, we find ourselves back at the narrow gauge station which, in contrast to the hive of activity at the standard gauge station, is quietly slumbering in the afternoon sunshine. The loco depot and workshops are conveniently located alongside the station building, so we are able to observe the motive power fleet. Inside the shed we can just see 0-6-0T+Ts Nos. 7 and 8, while 0-8-0T No. 9 is in steam in front of the shed and 0-8-0T+T No. 10 is parked in a nearby siding(25). There are also railcars 2 and 3(26).

Eventually there are signs of life and railcar 3 trundles across to the platform to form the 16.50 service to Witkowo. As departure time nears, a respectable number of passengers arrive, having finished their day’s business in the city, and the last few find it is standing room only. As we head out of the city a number of people leave the train at the various halts. Not until a brief stop at Niechanowo do any passengers join the train – from that point we are on new territory and start to pay more attention to our surroundings.

witkowo

Witkowo. The narrow gauge railway runs mainly in the roadside verge. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The railway runs alongside a lane to the halt at Miroszka, with its loading loop by the farm, at which a couple of people get off(27). We continue alongside the lane, crossing a few trackways, and then re-join the main Witkowo road shortly before the halt (and loading loop) at Malachowo. We then cross the road but continue alongside it and pass another loading loop. Then, approaching Witkowo, we cross the road again and enter the station, where a couple of sidings hold a few wagons. The train terminates here and, as it will be a few hours before another train arrives to take us on to Anastazewo, we head into the town square to find some sustenance at a cafe. The 16km journey has taken 38 minutes, an average speed of 25kph, again showing the advantages of railcars.

After our meal we wander round the town and back to the station and we now take the opportunity to study our surroundings. Witkowo was the original terminus of the railway and the first thing we notice is that the station building is at an angle to the platform and through tracks; until the 1920s the main line ran on the other side of the building and for about half a kilometre was some way to the north of the current alignment. The former station tracks are now sidings, from the furthest north of which a line runs back westward to serve, via a wagon turntable, a warehouse. On the current main line there is a passing loop, and to the south a fan of sidings serves a store and weighbridge, but of the three road loco depot only the turntable remains, the shed itself having been demolished a few years ago.

Eventually, the 21.20 for Anastazewo arrives behind 0-8-0T No. 6(28). The three coaches and van that make up the train are well in excess of requirements for this time of day (there appear to be only two other passengers) but will no doubt be required for the return working tomorrow morning as the train heads into the city. We swiftly board the train and are on our way again, crossing a street and passing through a freight yard, from which a field railway branches north for perhaps a couple of kilometres to serve a farm(29).

Passing round the northern side of town, the line crosses another street, following which a siding runs off to the right to serve a timber yard. After a few more streets there follows a siding to the left serving a sawmill, then we swing right to cross the road to Powidz, alongside which we run to the halt at Strzyzewo. Then we cross the road and run round the north side of the village before coming alongside the road again on our right. After running alongside the road for some time we cross over to the south side, pass the halt and loading loop at Wiekowo and cross back to the north side, run parallel to the road again for a while and then curve away to the north, past the halt and loading loop at Lugi, followed by the siding running back to the right to serve the sand/gravel workings.

powidz

Powidz and Przybrodzin. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

In contrast to the previous section, which was mostly straight or nearly so, the next kilometre or two see us winding through fields and scrub until we reach a trackway, which we follow for a while, passing the halt at Charbin. Then come two tight curves, interspersed with a straight section alongside another track, following which another section alongside a track takes us past a couple of sidings on the left to a sawmill; this was the terminus of a field railway which preceded the district railway. Soon comes Powidz station, where the other passengers leave the train.

The layout of the station was clearly set out as a terminus, for the station building sits squarely across the end of the yard while the main line and passing loop curve sharply left. From the loop, three sidings branch off to the right, two terminating in front of the station building while the third leads to a turntable, with a line branching back from that to the two-road loco shed.

powidz-station

Powidz Station between 1905 and 1915. 

(Click to see the original image on fotopolska.eu)

After a brief pause we start away again, crossing the road(30). Again we pass round the north side of the town, cross a road and then run alongside the lake, passing Przybrodzin halt and then crossing an isthmus and passing the halts at Ostrowo Nowe and Ostrowo Stare, the latter having a loading loop on the left. We have now entered a wilderness of former frontier country and the halt at Rusin passes almost unnoticed in the fading light and the surrounding woodland. Finally, some 22km from Witkowo (38km from Gniezno), we pull into the former border station at Anastazewo.

anastazewo

Anastazewo, the eastern end of the Gniezno district railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

It is after 10pm and the next train eastward will not depart until after 6am tomorrow. When this was a border crossing there were no doubt additional facilities but today it is, quite frankly, a station in the middle of nowhere, representing only the boundary between the Gniezno district railway to the west and the PKP railway to the east.

Our train has arrived on a line that terminates just short of the station building which, like that at Powidz, sits across the end of the station. To the left is the run-round loop and beyond that, on the other side of a roadway, a siding. To the right is the PKP line eastward, along with another run-round/passing loop, and the two-road loco depot. The crew spend some time watering No. 6, filling the boiler and banking the fire before leaving it to simmer for a few hours. Fortunately, as the temperature drops quite markedly, we are able to join the crew in the depot and grab a few hours’ sleep.

Anastazewo in 1984 retained much of its earlier atmosphere despite the broader gauge. Video © Andrzej Mastalerz.

to be continued…

NOTES

25) Gniezno 7 was Krauss works no 6624 of 1912, originally named ‘Anastazewo’. It was renumbered 1 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Py1-721. It was withdrawn in 1955. Gniezno 8 was Krauss works no 6803 of 1913, became 2 in 1939, PKP’s Py1-722 and was withdrawn in 1957. Gniezno 9 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 6960 of 1915, became 3 in 1939, went to Wrzesnia after 1945, became PKP’s Tx1-354 and went to Mlawa in 1956, became Tx2-354 from 1961 and was withdrawn in 1963. Gniezno 10 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 7865 of 1916, being bought on military instructions to serve Goslawice sugar factory during the First World War. It was renumbered 4 in 1939 and was scrapped or sold in 1949.

26) Gniezno’s railcar 2 was built in the railway’s own workshops in 1931, having a bogie at the front and a single axle at the rear. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Mzy-21. It was regauged to 750mm at Koronowo on the Bydgoszcz system and then went to the Gdansk system in March 1951, working from Lisewo, but was withdrawn in 1954. Railcar 3 was also built in the railway’s own workshops, in 1935, but had two bogies. It became PKP’s Mzx-045, was also regauged at Koronowo and sent to the Gdansk system in March 1951. In 1952 it was allocated to Lisewo but in 1953 was set aside due to the lack of spare parts. It was scrapped in 1956.

27) The Niechanowo – Witkowo section opened in 1896 and was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. It is still open for tourist trains.

28) Gniezno 6 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 5020 of 1911. It was built for the German military and initially numbered HF 302. It became PKP’s D2-401 after the First World War and is believed to have worked on the Mlawa system until being sold to the Gniezno district railway in 1937 (more recent information suggests it did not arrive until after the German invasion). It was taken into PKP stock again in 1949 and became Tx1-355, went to Bialosliwie in 1956, then to Mlawa, and to Koronowo in 1962. It was withdrawn in 1970 and is now in the museum at Wenecja.

29) The Witkowo – Powidz section opened in 1897, was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957 and is still open for tourist trains.

30) Powidz – Anastazewo opened in 1911, was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957 and is still open for tourist trains as far as Ostrowo Stare, although the section beyond there is currently out of use due to the need for repairs to the track.

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 3)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 2)

After two days travel, we have reached Gniezno, operating base for the western part of the Kujawy narrow gauge railway network…

gniezno

Gniezno. The narrow gauge line runs south east. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The third day of our tour presents us with two problems. Firstly, we need to continue our journey across the network via Anastazewo, but that end of the Gniezno system has a rather sparse service. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is an afternoon working, while on Mondays and Thursdays there is an evening train to Anastazewo which overnights there and returns early on Tuesdays and Fridays. Today is Wednesday, so we have no way of reaching Anastazewo by train. Secondly, our mission is to cover the whole of the linked Kujawy system and yesterday we missed out the Mierzewo – Arcugowo section of the Gniezno railway, which links that system to the Wrzesnia line. Consequently, we resolve to spend the day covering the missing link on foot.

Fortunately, the Gniezno – Powidz section of line has a daily passenger service, so we will be able to journey to and from Niechanowo by train and, as we will be staying in the same hotel tonight, we can travel rather more lightly for our railway ramble. The first departure of the day from Gniezno is at 09.15 (there was an arrival from Powidz at 07.40 to bring folk into the city), which turns out to be railcar No.1, built in Hannover in 1928(21). Passenger loadings are relatively light and the car’s 30 seats are more than sufficient as we re-trace yesterday’s route to Niechanowo. The advantages of the railcar are clear in terms of journey time, as we cover the 10km in just 22 minutes at an average speed of 27 km/h (17 mph).

And so we start walking. From Niechanowo station we cross the Witkowo road and pass through the village, turning left (and crossing the field railway we saw yesterday) to eventually reach the crossroads by Arcugowo halt. Here we turn right, for the branch to Mierzewo runs along the right hand side of the road(22). Shortly before Mikolajewice the railway crosses the road and we follow it, skirting round the village, to the unused halt with a loop which clearly is used, as there are two wagons in it, one of them partly loaded with hay. The railway then heads south alongside a road, crossing a couple of streams and then crossing to the other side of the road and throwing off a short siding to the left that crosses back over the road.

At Malczewo comes an oddity, for the railway passes under a road bridge. Why a bridge? From the topography it would seem that the railway could have crossed on the level, while the road is by no means a busy highway; indeed, a few kilometres to the east, the Mielzyn branch crosses the same road on the level. Continuing south of the bridge, the railway runs on the left hand side of another road and shortly a field railway branches back to the left; this splits into three branches, each perhaps a kilometre long. There is also a halt. The main line continues to Czechowo-Grotkowo (various names seem to have been used for this halt) which is a three-way junction beside a crossroads. To the right a field railway runs beside a cart track to the village and farm at Grotkowo, straight ahead runs the district railway’s branch to Czeluscin, with a loading loop alongside the road, while to the left is the main branch to Mierzewo, also alongside a road.

We turn left and follow the road and railway for a couple of kilometres until the railway swings right, away from the road, to run behind the cottages of Mierzewo and then we come to the station at which we witnessed some shunting yesterday; today all is quiet here. It has taken us well over two hours at a stroll (anything more would be uncomfortable in the heat) to get here from Niechanowo, which is 9.6km by rail, and it is clear that although the narrow gauge trains may seem slow, they are an essential means of transport for the local population, for most of whom walking is the only alternative.

czeluscin-branch

Czechowo-Grotkowo and the Czeluscin branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

After a pause to rest our legs, we walk back to Czechowo-Grotkowo and, as we have plenty of time before the last train leaves Niechanowo, we decide to explore some of the Czeluscin branch. As previously indicated, the line runs along the left hand side of a road for almost two kilometres to Czechowo, where it crosses the road and a siding branches off right to the farm(23). The main branch continues alongside the road for a short distance, past a couple of ponds, and then turns right across fields. We pass what looks like a sand pit and then come alongside another road on our left.

The railway crosses the road and heads across fields again to Zolcz, with a long siding branching off to the left for a few hundred metres. Crossing a couple of lanes in Zolcz the line continues west with a roadway on the right to a T junction, where the railway turns sharply south with another road still on the right. Somewhere along here another line branched off for a few years to a standard gauge interchange at Czerniejewo station, but the route has disappeared under the plough.

Following the road and railway south from the junction we are amazed to see, as we approach Czeluscin, the smoke from a locomotive. As we get nearer we can see that it is Krauss 0-6-0T+T No. 4, one of about eight such locomotives built for this line and the Znin system between 1894 and 1913(24). What seems bizarre is that we can hear standard gauge trains on the Gniezno – Wrzesnia line and Czerniejewo station is less than 2km from Czeluscin, yet this locomotive has travelled about 24km from Gniezno to reach here; presumably it passed Czechowo-Grotkowo while we took our diversion to Mierzewo.

As on the Wrzesnia line, when the crew see our interest in their locomotive we are invited to take a closer look and, when they finish their shunting and are ready to set off back towards Gniezno, we are invited to join the guard in his van, an offer we gratefully accept. The train by now consists of just the loco and van, but at Zolcz we stop to pick up a couple of empty wagons, and at Czechowo a wagon load of manure is added. At Czechowo-Grotkowo the loco uncouples from the train and runs up the siding to Grotkowo, reappearing with a couple of vans, while at Mikolajewice one of the wagons we saw earlier is now completely loaded with hay and is added to the train; at each stop there is a long break in the journey as, not only do the wagons have to be added to the train, but the guard has to do the necessary paperwork.

On arrival at Arcugowo the loco again uncouples, as there are apparently some wagons to collect at Mielzyn. Not knowing how long the business at Mielzyn might take, we bid farewell to the crew and set off on foot again to Niechanowo. We arrive there in plenty of time to rest our feet before railcar 1 arrives from Powidz. After our day’s walking through the countryside it is a relief to know that we only now have the walk from the station to our hotel. There are only two other passengers by this time of day and all the halts are passed without stopping. As we near Gniezno the speed noticeably reduces, to avoid getting too far ahead of schedule, and soon we pull into the platform as a nearby church clock strikes 19.00. Tonight will be early to bed, for not only has our walk and fresh air taken its toll, but tomorrow we travel east towards the main Kujawy network and it will be a few days before we get another night in bed.

to be continued…

NOTES

21) Gniezno’s railcar 1 was tested on the Mecklenburg-Pommersche Schmalspurbahn and possibly on the Bydgoszcz district railway before arriving at Gniezno in 1929. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and designated Mzx-044 but is believed to have been scrapped in 1950.

22) The Arcugowo – Mierzewo line opened in 1896 and was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. Grotkowo – Mierzewo closed in 1979 and Arcugowo – Grotkowo in 1986.

23) Grotkowo – Czeluscin opened in 1916, as did Zolcz – Czerniejewo, but the latter closed in 1923. The Grotkowo to Czechowo section was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957, but Czechowo – Czeluscin was closed rather than regauged. Grotkowo to Czechowo closed in 1973.

24) Gniezno 4 was Krauss works no. 3179 of 1895. It was renumbered 8 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Py1-723. It was sold to industry in 1954 and its fate thereafter is unknown.

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Kujawy 1939 – The journey so far)

On the second day of our imaginary journey over the Kujawy network in 1939, we have just walked between two branch termini to continue our journey to Gniezno from Mielzyn…

mielzyn-karsewo

The Mielzyn branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The Jaworowo – Mielzyn section of the railway runs largely along the side of the road and Mielzyn station is the basic rural terminus consisting only of a run-round loop and a short siding to a turntable, the latter a relatively recent addition and only a lightweight affair suitable for turning railcars.

We wander further into the village square, find a shop to buy some beer and head back to the station in time to see the afternoon train arrive at 15.01. Quite a number of passengers leave the train, presumably having returned from market in town. We are fortunate it is a Tuesday, as trains only serve Mielzyn on Tuesdays and Fridays, with a morning train which arrives at 06.35 and departs at 06.45, and this afternoon service which lingers at the station until 16.18.

The locomotive is No. 12, a 0-8-0 tender locomotive built by the Warszawa factory in 1927(18). The train is the usual two coaches and a van, plus a few wagons which have been brought in; fortunately there are none waiting to leave, as this would make shunting rather complex. The coaching stock all dates from the early days of the district railway, with plates showing manufacturers to have been Weyer and Hofmann. The locomotive runs round the train, shunts the wagons into the loop and takes water, during which time the fireman also cleans the fire and moves coal forward in the tender; it will be tender-first back to Gniezno.

As departure time nears, the fireman livens up the fire and a handful of passengers arrive. Then we are on our way again, initially running westward alongside the road we earlier walked and then turning north at Jaworowo, passing the halt without stopping(19). We soon join another road, which we follow through a couple of slight left hand curves to Odrowaz, a halt with a loading loop at which one passenger alights and a couple board the train.

We cross a road and shortly curve left, at which point a branch comes in from the right; this runs a few hundred metres to a large farm. After a couple of kilometres through fields we cross a road and pass another halt with loop at Gorzykowo, following which we run roadside again to Karsewo, again a halt with loading loop(20). Crossing over a road junction in the centre of the village, we set out across fields, bridging over the occasional stream, then a road comes alongside again on our left for the run into Arcugowo. The ‘station’ itself has the usual loading loop and at the northern end a field railway branches off right to serve the estate farm.

arcugowo-niechanowo

Arcugowo and Niechanowo. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

Leaving Arcugowo we cross the road and the line from Mierzewo comes in on the left, then we run through fields again to pass the village of Niechanowo, where another field railway heads back to the left, serving a distillery as well as the estate farm. We continue north to cross the Gniezno – Witkowo road and curve left across a couple of lanes as the Witkowo line comes in from the right at a triangular junction.

Soon we are entering  Niechanowo, one of the more significant stations on the Gniezno system with a station building and two-road loco shed which is also used as a wagon repair shop; the track layout is quite extensive, with three through lines, a siding and another line looping round the back of the yard. We pause for a minute or so as a few people leave or board the train and then the stationmaster gives a wave, the driver gives an acknowledging toot on the whistle and opens the regulator.

Now that we are on the main line of the system, we seem to gather a little more pace and the halts are less frequent. At first the main road is some way off to our left and we pass through fields, crossing a couple of roads and watercourses, but at Zelazkowo (the usual halt and loop) we join the main road, which we follow to the edge of the city. The fields give way to woodland on both sides and then we pass Jelonek, a popular destination at weekends for excursions from the city. There is a loop from which a short siding leads to a turntable, and trains can be turned round here, but on this weekday afternoon we pass through without stopping.

Soon we are passing sporadic ribbon development and we pause briefly at the simple halt of Ogrod Wiktorji, where one passenger alights. Here we cross the road and soon run through the outskirts of the city – the cemetery on our right, then the barracks off to our left; with a sports ground on our right we cross the Wrzesnia road. A triangle of tracks on the left then marks the junction with the line to the sugar factory, with sidings full of empty wagons at this time of year. Passing the factory buildings we enter the station yard and come to a halt in front of the workshops and station building.

KDR_crop

Some of the principal lines of the western part of the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways. Map gkw-gniezno.pl.

(Click map to view a larger version.)

The 23 kilometres from Mielzyn have taken us 1 hour and ten minutes – an average speed of almost 20km/h. Once again, we pick up our bags and walk across the long bridge over the standard gauge lines to find our hotel in the city.

to be continued…

Notes:

18) Gniezno no. 12 was Warszawa works no. 094. It was renumbered 5 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Px1-771. It later went to Witaszyce and Zwierzyniec, became Px27-771 in 1961 and was withdrawn in 1964.

19) Mielzyn – Odrowaz officially opened in 1896 and was regauged to 750mm in 1957. It was officially closed in 1984, but had not seen any traffic since 1970.

20) Odrowaz – Niechanowo – Gniezno opened in 1883 as a 900mm gauge line to serve Gniezno sugar factory. In 1895 it was regauged to 600mm and became part of the Witkowo district railway, officially opening in 1896. It was regauged to 750mm in 1957. Mielzyn – Arcugowo closed in 1984 (as noted above, it had seen no trains for 14 years) and Arcugowo – Niechanowo officially closed in 1989 but was probably last used in 1986. Niechanowo – Gniezno is still open for tourist trains.

Kujawy 1939 – The journey so far

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

by ‘Inzynier’

witaszyce-sm

Tx3-194 near Sucha in 1976. Photo Werner and Hansjorg Brutzer.

(Click to see the full size image on Werner and Hansjorg Brutzer’s flickr photostream)

It has been three months since the last instalment of our imaginary journey on the 600mm gauge Kujawy narrow gauge railways in 1939. We left our intrepid narrow gauge traveller at the northern extent of the Wrzesnia District Railway.

In Part 1 we travelled north on the Jarocin District Railway from Witaszyce to Sucha. In Part 2 we took the branch line to Robakow, then continued to the northern end of the main line at Komorze. Then we walked to Pyzdry, the southern terminus of the Wrzesnia District Railway. In Part 3 we caught the evening passenger train to Sokolniki, and in Part 4 we continued north to Wrzesnia where we stayed the first night. Part 5 began the second day with a cab ride on a freight train north to Kleparz, where we rejoin the story, now on the Gniezno District Railway…

jarocin-wrzesnia-gniezno-1939-route-small

The journey so far. Extract from the WIG map of 1935 showing our 1939 narrow gauge route marked in green.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

Onward from Kleparz we run alongside the road for a while, but then veer away to the left and pass Grzybowo Wlkp., a loading loop with a siding heading back to the left to serve the estate farm. Only a few hundred metres beyond that, beside the crossing of a side road, is the halt and loading loop of Grzybowo Rabiezyce, then we head back towards the road, cross it and turn again to run alongside it, passing Grzybowo Chrzanowice halt and loading loop.

These loading loops may be busy in the sugar beet season, when farmers bring sugar beet to be taken away by railway or collect the pulp to take back to their farms, but at this time of year they are deserted, while it is difficult to imagine the halts ever having seen much traffic during the brief periods when passenger services ran.

We follow the various turns in the road past the halt at Wodki, with its loading loop and siding on the right to the estate farm, only a kilometre beyond the last of the Grzybowo halts. After a further series of curves alongside the road we cross it again (the road is now on our right) and then comes a long straight beside the road to Mierzewo, 15km from Wrzesnia.

Mierzewo is by no means a large station but, after the succession of almost abandoned loading loops, it does give the impression of having arrived somewhere. As we enter the station, the junction with the Stanislawowo branch is formed by a triangle of tracks to the right, at which the main line curves slightly to the left, away from the road, to enter the run-round loop, beyond which is a level crossing and a siding on the right to a farm.

This siding turns out to be the destination for two of the empty wagons we have brought from Wrzesnia; some shunting is required before the loco can propel the two wagons into the siding and then it takes water before coupling up to the remaining wagons ready to propel them down the 4km branch to Stanislawowo. The brake van is detached and left at Mierzewo, while the guard climbs onto the end platform of one of the wagons to provide any braking assistance that may be needed.

mierzewo

Mierzewo, Stanislawowo and field railways towards Mielzyn. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

North of Mierzewo, the Gniezno district railway’s line to Arcugowo once had a passenger service, but this seems to have ceased during or shortly after the Great War, and the line now sees only freight traffic. We could walk the 7km to Arcugowo, but prefer to head for Mielzyn, terminus of another branch of the Gniezno system and, as Stanislawowo is closer to Mielzyn than Mierzewo, we continue with our friendly crew(17).

Initially, the branch seems to be dead straight and, after passing a junction with a short field railway to the left and throwing off a branch to the right, ends at a buffer stop beside a cart track at a location apparently called Krolewiec. It turns out that the branch we passed is in fact the ‘main line’ to Stanislawowo and the end of the straight is a siding, destination for another two of the empty wagons. With these uncoupled, we retrace our steps to the turnout and set off across the fields, passing another short field railway branching off to our left.

The true terminus of the branch is a large farm, at which an estate railway also terminates (we crossed one line of this field railway as we entered Stanislawowo), and for which the remaining empty wagons and the loaded coal wagons are destined. Here we bid farewell to the Wrzesnia crew and their railway and set off on foot for Mielzyn. The journey of some 19km has taken almost three hours, including the shunting at Mierzewo and Krolewiec.

We walk along the road, heading north east past Krolewiec; we could have saved ourselves a bit of a walk by disembarking at that location, but we have plenty of time to get to Mielzyn. Turning right through the village of Jaworowo we soon encounter a field railway on our right, and then another crosses the road along which we are walking.

On the far side of the village we see that this second field railway actually joins the Mielzyn branch at Jaworowo halt, where there is also a loading loop and a siding. We could catch the train from here but, as we still have a couple of hours before the train leaves Mielzyn, we continue our walk to the terminus.

Along the road we pass the occasional horse and cart, and one or two people on foot. In the surrounding fields we see the typical scenes of the Polish countryside – gently undulating fields that stretch away into the distance, a few watercourses, in places a group of people loading a horse-drawn cart, in other fields people are working the land by hand. There is little sign of mechanisation other than the railway.

to be continued…

Notes:

17) Mierzewo – Stanislawowo appears to have been a branch of the sugar factory’s 900mm gauge railway, but opened to public traffic on 600mm gauge in 1895; it was regauged to 750mm in 1957. Krolewiec – Stanislawowo closed in 1968 and Mierzewo – Krolewiec in 1973.

The photography of the late Tomasz Wach

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A postscript to Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy.

Lesmierz No 10, Borsig 10357/1918, 0-8-0T on a sugar beet train in January 1980. Photo ©Tomasz Wach estate.

(Click to see original on Wciaz pod Para.)

It seems like another age, yet it was not quite 50 years ago (1964 or 5), that a cousin took me to see  the yard (1) of the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa at Gdansk Wask and I had my first taste of Polish narrow gauge steam. Sadly, ten years later in 1974 the whole of the GKD on the left bank of the Vistula was closed and much, but not all, of the GDK followed suit in subsequent years.

During that same trip to Poland I found myself on a family organised visit to the palace to Wilanow to the south of Warsaw. In those days one went by tram to Wilanow, so I was happy enough, but when I discovered that the Wilanowska Kolej Dojazdowska ran from the gates of the park, I decided to pursue my own itinerary and, while the rest of my family went sight seeing at the palace, I and an attractive Warsaw cousin minder explored the WKD and the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa for the rest of the day.

We took a strange looking petrol(?) railcar to Piaseczno. I remember being disappointed that the line from the then terminus at Wilanow (the line had run once run as far as pl. Lubelski) ran as a roadside tramway through Powsin and Klarysew, but then the ride became more interesting as we passed the junction to Konstancin and I spotted some dumped 0-6-2Ts (2) before we reached Piaseczno Miasto. Miraculously three of these locos have survived and are now mouldering in the open at the skansen in Gryfice.

Piaseczno Miasto yard was bigger in those days (a few sidings have since been removed to make room for a road) and resembled a busy main line junction. Here we changed trains to ride in what I regarded to be a ‘proper train’ hauled by a Px48 as far as Warszawa Poludniowa. From here we took the tram back to the city centre. A few days later I had another Px48-hauled trip on the Marecka Kolej Dojazdowa from Warszawa Wilenska to Radzymin.

When Ed Beale brought my attention to the wonderful narrow gauge pictures of the late Tomasz Wach, as part of his photographic research for the Early Sugar Beet Railways in Kujawy article, all these memories came flooding back. We wanted to reproduce Wach’s photographs of engines working on the Dobrzelin and Lesmierz sugar beet railways to illustrate the article and corresponded with Tomislaw Czarnecki on whose website Wciaz pod Para Wach’s photos are hosted as well a contact that we had been given for a representative of Wach’s estate. Sadly, though at first our correspondence seemed to be leading to a positive conclusion, it then petered out without us receiving a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Wach’s collection goes back to 1962 and continues through to 1995. It includes pictures of narrow gauge engines working on the Gdańska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Grojecka Kole Dojadowa, the Mlawska Kolej Dojazdowa, the Nasielska Kolej Dojazdowa as well as on the narrow gauge railways belonging to the sugar refineries at Dobrzelin, Guzow, Lesmierz and Mala Wies. There are also preservation era photos of unusual steam working on the narrow gauge lines in Elk and Sochaczew. In addition there are some splendid pictures of – mostly older – standard gauge locos working in various locations.

Wach’s pictures are from a past era when railway photography was strictly forbidden and only a handful of photographers managed to record what was an an amazingly diverse steam scene. We publish this review to celebrate Wach’s achievement and courage. It would be wonderful if someone (maybe FPKW?) manages to secure the right to reproduce these pictures in print and so preserves this wonderful collection for future generations.

Dyspozytor

Notes

(1) Ty1-1096 caught in Gdansk Wask in 1963
(2) Tyb5-3386 at Iwiczna on the Grójecka KD in May 1962

More Tomasz Wach photos (links to Wciaz pod Para):

Acknowledgements

All photographs linked to in this article are from the collection of the late Tomasz Wach hosted on Tomislaw Czarnecki’s web site Wciaz pod Para. All the maps linked to from this article are courtesy Jaroslaw Wozny and Railmap – Kolejowa Mapa Polski. Thanks also to Ed Beale for doing the original photographic research.

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.

More:

Gniezno charter

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

by John Savery

Gniezno idyll. Some BTWT readers will remembers scenes like this on the Smigiel railway! Photo John Savery.

(Click to expand.)

For the last few weeks I seem to have been spending all my spare time in Poland. A Wolsztyn Experience organised charter was a great excuse for a trip out to Gniezno and a chance to view the narrow gauge line in operation, once as a passenger, and once to chase the train and photograph the line.

For those who are not familiar with the railway, the Gniezno Narrow Gauge Railway forms the most western part of the one enormous Kujawy narrow gauge system, and is currently the only operational section. The political situation at the Krosniewice Railway have been well covered elsewhere on this blog, and the centre section around Sompolno did not survive the purge of narrow gauge lines following abandonment by PKP in 2001. The line survives down to Anastarzewo, however the charter trips were only down to Witkowo, an intermediate town.

Blessed with glorious sunshine all weekend, the weather has been ideal for being outdoors. That coupled with a working narrow gauge steam locomotive, Px48-1919, made for a fun day out. Pottering along at 15 to 20 mph, through the Polish country side, with the sight and sound of steam has to be good for the soul. A very different pace of life to that in the UK, and a far more relaxed (but sensible) attitude to health and safety. No central locking doors here, and with both windows and doors flung wide to add to the ventilation, there probably isn’t a better way to see the Polish countryside.

With the line hugging the main road down to Witkowo for part of its length, before diving into the countryside and around the back of villages, it’s easy to see the contrast between the paces of life. The modern bustle of traffic, then open fields. Wildlife abounds. Deer and hare are still common along the line, both bounding out of the way when approached by the iron horse pulling our train. So close is the line to the country roads that shadow it between villages, it is possible to transfer goods between rail and road vehicles without either of them stopping!

Photostops were arranged for the outward journey to Witkowo, with multiple runpasts for the participants. At Niechanowo, the remains of the sidings and former junction can be seen, the rails into the siding covered with a thin layer of asphalt at the level crossing.

At Witkowo, the train was watered, before running back tender first. No crane or column here, but a blockwork hut by the side of the line contains the water standpipe. The hose is stored within the tender coal space, pushed onto the pipe poking out of the hut each time it is filled.

A steady run back to Gniezno was broken by a stop for refreshments. There can’t be many places where a train will stop by the roadside to allow the passengers to go for refreshments at a local bar!

The railway has a regular service planned from mid-June until the end of August, at weekends and holidays, plus additional services on several other dates throughout the year. Further details are available on the railway’s official website: www.gkw-gniezno.pl .

Protests by local residents killed the Gniezno Railway’s freight operations though in many cases the railway pre-dated the adjoining houses! Photo John Savery.

(Click to expand.)

Xmas Competition – The Final Curtain

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Digitally enchanced location 12 courtesy Google Satellite View.

(Click image to see this area on a Google Maps satellite view which can be zoomed and scrolled.)

When we announced the results of the Xmas/New Year Competition – the area near Sierpow, a junction on the Ozorkow branch of the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways – we posed some questions. (See the inset text below.)

Look at the layout here as shown on the Railmap – Kolejowa Mapa Polski website. Click on the link and when the map showing Sierpow and Sierpow Waskotorowyopens click the “RM Map” button – the last but one of the six buttons on the top right of the picture.

Google Map and Railmap hybrid map.

(Click map to enlarge.)

The new map – a hybrid of the Google Maps and the Railmap mapping – shows the narrow gauge Lesmierz branch peeling off in a northbound direction and running over the route taken by the standard gauge branch, rather than peeling off in a southbound direction and running alongside the road. Is this just a mapping error, or does Railmap indicate an earlier route.

Now thanks to Inzynier and Ross we know some of the answers. It is a mapping error, the narrow gauge line to Lesmierz and beyond did peel of southwards and ran alongside the road to Lesmierz. The Railmap cartographer assumed incorrectly that the post-WWII standard gauge line to the Lesmierz sugar refinery followed the line of the older narrow gauge connection.

Sierpow, 1944 1:2500 map Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny Map Archive

What is more, the Railmap mapping (the map can be scrolled and zoomed just like Google Maps) shows the branch running much further than Lesmierz, and then splitting into three branches terminating at Janowice, Przewiska and Jackowice Waskotorowe. I had no idea that this system ever existed. Can any reader, more studied in the intricacies of the narrow gauge lines hereabouts cast any more light on the subject.

Inzynier confirms that several other sugar refineries to the East had their lines connected to the Lesmierz system quite soon after WW II. He has written an article about the Lesmierz sugar beet lines which, when we have sorted out appropriate photographs, we hope to publish shortly.

But that is not the only mystery! Looking at the Google Maps mapping (Click the image at the head of the article and then choose “Map”.) shows a standard gauge branch line apparently terminating in the hamlet of Lubien, the rubrik kopalnia rudy zelaza (iron ore mine) helpfully identifies the purpose of the branch – or does it?

Click the “Satellite” view button. The standard gauge line terminates in a circular wooded area which could have been an opencast mine, now filled in with the rubbish of Lodz and planted over. There are some buildings to the East of the wood which look industrial. We will come back to this standard gauge line in a minute, but for the moment click “+” once to enlarge the picture and look at the centre of the bottom half. A narrow gauge formation peels of northwards, does a 90 degree turn and heads of to the South West.

Scroll the map by clicking and dragging, and follow the line. It crosses the standard gauge Lodz Kaliska – Kutno line at right angles and shortly afterwards makes a sharp 45 degree turn clockwise and heads due West. Given the proximity of the Lesmierz refinery, there can be little doubt that this was once one of the many feeder lines that mostly saw traffic during the sugar beet season. Follow the formation as far as it goes. It appears to stop in the village of Skromnica, the last 300m now taken over by a farm track.

Leczyca area, 1934 1:300,000 map courtesy WIG archive.

Inzynier sent us a copy of the WIG mapping for the area. It confirmed what we had expected: the Lesmierz sugar beet extended to the West of the standard gauge Kutno – Lodz line. But we had no idea how far the system had once extended!

Now a branch of the standard gauge branch comes into view. This line, substantially engineered with sweeping curves terminates in an airport. Google Maps shows no name or details. Using Wikipedia on the names of the nearest villages elicits no information. Though Poland left the Warsaw Pact some 22 years ago – this place, whatever it is, might as well not exist.

Thanks to Ross, who demonstrated more patience and skill with Google than we did, we now know that the standard gauge line leads to the Leznica Wielka airbase, the home of the 37 Dywizjon Lotnicze (37th Air Squadron).

 

A return journey – part 2

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Przewozy Regionalne railbus at Miedzyrzecz station owned by Lubusz province.
Photo © Tomasz Nowak.

(Click on image to see more photographs taken at Miedzyrzecz station by Tomasz Nowak.)

The second part of Robert Hall’s return trip to Poland after a break of 16 years.

My journey would now take me over some of the northern reaches of the Magistrala Weglowa (Coal Trunk Line), opened in the 1930s to link the Upper Silesia mining and industrial area with Poland’s then only port at Gdynia. Some of the route between Gdynia and Koscierzyna was 1930s new build, other sections made use of the pre-World War 1 Prussian State Railways network. An hour and a quarter’s run through pleasant gentle hills brought us to Koscierzyna, and a neat connection there with single-unit SA 106-104, representing the 15:24 departure southward. This vehicle carried the markings of Kujawsko-Pomorskie province, whose local rail passenger services are at present operated by Arriva.

As we set off, my attention was unfortunately distracted from Koscierzyna railway museum’s steam locos outside the MMPD by an altercation with the railmotor’s guard. It appears that the Polrailpass no longer covers all of Poland’s passenger services but only those operated by PKP Intercity and other PKP subsidiaries. At first we headed due south along a Magistala Weglowa section opened in 1930, called at a couple of stations including Olpuch, then at Bak branched off south-westward on a line which was also new post-WW1. A pause of some length at Czersk, where connection is made with the Pila – Tczew cross-country route (once Prussia’s main line between Berlin, and Gdansk and Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg). As we waited for the connecting train I saw a loco-hauled train of single-deck stock, and a modern railmotor. At last, SA 106 moved on, to Szlachta junction where I was to change, and thence further south – though whether to Wierzchucin or right through to Bydgoszcz, I was unable to determine.

The pleasure of leisurely railmotor journeys over a quite intricate system of rural lines was marred for me by one big difference from my 1994 visit – all these country lines now appear to be devoid of freight services. Every station at which we called that afternoon, sported a grass-grown, disused goods yard – big or small according to the magnitude of the place concerned – with not a single goods wagon in revenue-earning service. I had observed the same on the Hel branch the previous day. Sixteen years previously, although very many lines had by then lost their passenger services, plentiful local freight action had been in evidence.

I find rural railways carrying no freight at all, and seeing no use other than by local passenger services, intensely saddening. In the Beeching era in Britain, some railway enthusiasts expressed the sentiment that they would rather see lines closed, than the trains on them running empty. My journeys in Poland this year bred similar feelings. My gut-reaction was that these lines were in a condition of death-in-life, hanging on by a thin and rather ludicrous thread, and that I would prefer to see the railway administration put an end to the farce, sweep the whole thing away, and do an honest job of ripping the tracks up and ‘having done’. I admit that this is an emotional, illogical and unfair reaction. All the services on which I travelled that afternoon, had a reasonable number of passengers. In fact, from Gdynia to Olpuch, the railmotors were positively crowded, thanks to a large contingent of Scouts-and-Guides, who disembarked at the latter point. The lines are seeing some use, but in a context which put me of wanting to undertake much further standard-gauge-branch-exploration in the days ahead.

One of the two saddest sights for me this year – both for the same basic reason – was the station at Szlachta, where I had an hour’s wait between workings. Szlachta was once a four-way junction, today three of the original four lines still meet here. Szlachta is a spacious station with four platforms and five platform roads. It has a large goods yard, now weed-grown and utterly deserted. There was plenty of grass growing over the passenger tracks, too. All this is protected by an elaborate array of semaphore signals, which are still solemnly operated for the passenger workings. The station building is decaying, with no public access except to the neglected waiting room. A notice on the former booking-office window stated, if I interpreted it correctly, that from a date in 2009, tickets would no longer be issued at Szlachta station; all ticket business to be transacted on-train. At the time of my visit, Szlachta still had a stationmistress; there for operational matters – dealings with passengers would appear to be no longer part of her remit.

I found the scene most horridly depressing and as my hour in the grave-like quiet of Szlachta junction wore on, disquieting fantasies began to set in. Was I to be marooned forever in this doleful spot? Perhaps my departed SA 106-104 was the last service ever to call here? The sight of a double-unit SA 134 coming into view from the east – the 16:36 ex Laskowice Pomorskie to Szlachta – to become the 17:39 return working. This working (again, operated by Arriva) waited for a while beyond its scheduled departure time, for a late-running railmotor to pop-in-and-out-again on a northbound counterpart working of my 15:24 ex Koscierzyna.

The other truly heartbreaking sight was Miedzyrzecz station, a few days later – de-staffed and seemingly deserted, all in very dilapidated physical condition. There was a big overgrown and totally empty goods yard. The only activity on rails was one just-arrived railmotor terminating there. A painful contrast to how things were at Miedzyrzecz on my isit there in 1980. The place was then a busy country junction, a focal point of an intricate net of branch lines, with a loco shed whose inhabitants – chiefly class TKt48 2-8-2Ts – worked those routes. Almost everything was steam, with frequent comings and goings. There was plenty of freight action. There were staff everywhere. Everything ran quite smartly, though in the rather dispirited fashion which was the norm in Communist days. The scene thirty years later, was a most wretched come-down.

As regards scenery, Szlachta to Laskowice Pom. was a delectable run of some 40 km through gently idyllic scenery, often traversing thick mainly-conifer woodland, and calling at a succession of sweet little towns. What a superb preserved steam line this could make, if such matters could be arranged in Poland, as they are in Britain. My aversion to dead railways, with nothing left except meagre railmotor services, was so acute that I decided against my original plan of travelling on yet another branch – the line from Laskowice Pom. to Grudziadz. The idea had been to stay overnight at Grudziadz, sample its metre-gauge trams on the morrow, before proceeding southwards on the secondary line which serves the town. I felt, though, that I had had enough of moribund branch lines. so I baled out at Laskowice Pom. on the Gdansk – Bydgoszcz electric old main line. An opportune southbound local emu showed up quite soon, and delivered me to Bydgoszcz at a not too late hour.

Bydgoszcz was another place that I had last visited in 1980. On exiting from the city’s Glowny Station, I was concerned to see tram tracks in the cobbles, but no masts nor wires. Had the city’s metre-gauge tram system been axed. In fact, the trams are still busily functioning, but the branch that ran right to the main station, has been axed. Next day with a morning to kill in Bydgoszcz – a nice enough city, but not prime tourist-bait – a tram ride was duly had, choosing a good long route from the centre, out to start of countryside on city’s eastern edge. Then a post-lunchtime departure on a Gdynia – Katowice through express, to reach Lodz early in the evening. I kept a sharp lookout on the run southward, for traces of the ill-fated Kujawy 750mm gauge system, but saw nothing – the tracks, were too overgrown to pick out in passing.

…to be continued

More photographs of Miedzyrzecz: