Archive for the ‘LAS’ Category

Poland’s brand new narrow gauge line

Sunday, 6 July 2014

First day of public operation as a 785mm gauge line, 19 June 2014. Video courtesy Sarmacja Film.

BTWT has had a longer than usual hiatus. I have had many things on my mind over the last twelve months and at some point all the creative energy drained away. The fact that this Polish railway blog is running at all owes a great deal to our deputy editors, John Savery and Ed Beale.

I would also like to thank all those who have provided articles and stories, especially ‘Inzynier’. My thanks to all BTWT readers and contributors. Please do continue sending us your stories and pictures. Our e-mail address is: railfan[at]go2[dot]pl.

What better to celebrate the return of BTWT than this story about the rebirth of the Park Slaski Railway, a line that many had given up for dead? Our thanks to Andrew Goltz for sending us his photographs.

Dyspozytor 1

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Industrial narrow gauge in the park. Las49-3343 being serviced. Photo Andrew Goltz.

(All photos can be expanded by clicking the image.)

The Park Slaski line has had three gauges! It opened in 1957 as a 1,000mm line. Trains were operated by 3 sets of single-directional railcars and trailers. The railcars had to be turned on special turntables located at each end of the line.

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First the tanks are topped up with water. Photo Andrew Goltz.

By 1966 the railcars and trailers were life expired. The line was re-gauged to 900mm – a gauge for which wheelsets and locomotives were readily available from nearby coalmines. Three 2WLs50 diesel locos were acquired and ten light coaches were specially constructed. The 2WLs50 locos struggled with the steep gradients between Zoo and Wesole Miasteczko stations and were replaced in 1973 by two more powerful WLs75 locos.

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Then the locomotive is coaled. Photo Andrew Goltz.

In 1988, the WLs75 locos were themselves replaced by two WLs150 locos that had been obtained from the KWK Katowice mine. When they became worn out they were replaced in 1994 by a single WLP50 loco which was painted in garish colours in the style of a steam loco as imagined by a drug user during a psychedelic delirium.

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Details for model makers. Photo Andrew Goltz.

In 2003, the operator of the Bytom Narrow Gauge Railway – the Stowarzyszenie Górnośląskich Kolei Wąskotorowych – took over responsibility for running the Park Slaski Railway.The Society ran the railway until the end of the 2011 running season. By this time services the single WLp50 was breaking down at frequent intervals and services suspended. The track was also in a very bad state.

In May 2012 the operating agreement with the SGKW was terminated and in October that same year the track was lifted and the track bed was bulldozed away. In spite of assurances to the contrary by the Park authorities, many people thought that the track-lifting heralded the end of the Park Slaski Railway. However, in 2013, a new bed of ballast was laid down. On this the company that had built the 750mm gauge park railway at Krosnice started constructing a brand new 785 gauge railway.

Initially the track has been laid between Wesole Miasteczko and Zoo stations (about 1 km) with a spur to the engine shed beyond. Eventually the Park authorities intend that the line should rebuilt for the full length of its former route – just over 4 km.

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Builders Plate. Photo Andrew Goltz.

On the 19 June 2014, operations commenced on the new line utilising rolling stock, staff and volunteers from the 785mm gauge railway at Rudy. Motive power was in the form of a Las49 0-6-0WT and a Romanian Lxd2 diesel. The Las 49 was only supposed to work the first three weekends, but has proved so popular (the police had to be called in to control the crowds of would-be passengers on the first day) that its guest appearance in the park was extended.

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The case of the Buckinghamshire LAS

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Bieszczady Railway LAS, November 2006, at Majdan.
Photo BTWT.

(Click image to expand.)

I had seen little of Prezes lately. My own complete happiness, and the home-centred interests which rise up around the man who finds himself master of his own establishment, had drifted us away from each other, while Prezes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our old lodgings, buried among his books, and alternating from week to week between lethargy and ambition.

He was still, as ever, deeply attracted by the study of railway heritage, and occupied his immense faculties and extraordinary powers of observation in following out those projects, and assisting those railways which had been abandoned as hopeless by the official bodies. From time to time I heard some vague account of his doings: of his summons to Gora, of his clearing up of the singular tragedy of the lost Skansen at Karsnice, and finally of the delicate mission in which he was still engaged. Beyond these signs of his activity, which, when he permitted, I merely shared with our readers, I knew little of my former friend and companion.

Bieszczady Railway LAS about to run round its special train at Dolczyca, November 2006.
Photo BTWT.

(Click image to expand.)

One night my way led me past the well-remembered door, which must always be associated in my mind with the dark incidents of the Study in Smigiel, I was seized with a keen desire to see Prezes again, and to know how he was employing his extraordinary powers. His rooms were brilliantly lit, and, even as I looked up, I saw his tall figure pass twice in a dark silhouette against the blind. He was pacing the room swiftly, eagerly, with his head sunk upon his chest and his hands clasped behind him. To me, who knew his every mood and habit, his attitude and manner told their own story. He was at work again. He had risen out of his stupors and was hot upon the scent of some new problem. I rang the bell and was admitted to the chamber which had formerly been in part my own.

His manner was not effusive. It seldom was; but he was glad, I think, to see me. With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair, indicated a bottle of Zubrowka and a dish of zimne noszki in the corner. Then he stood before me and looked me over in his singular introspective fashion.

“Domesticity suits you,” he remarked. “I think, Dyspozytor, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you.”

“Seven!” I answered.

“Indeed, I should have thought a little more. Just a trifle more, I fancy. And you have come to consult me about the LAS that you found in Steeple Claydon.

“Then, how do you know?”

LAS on a PKP 600mm gauge railway somewhere in Poland. The photo was originally published in a calendar published by the erstwhile PKP Dyrekcja Kolei Dojazdowych in Warsaw which was responsible for Poland’s narrow gauge railways. The pictures, by M. Kucharski, J.Wardęcki, J.Zajfert, A.Gibek, C.Gwara, M.Moczulski, were then scanned and displayed on the Internet as an appendix to a brief on-line history of Krosniewice and its railway which was published in 2002 and is still hosted in its original state!

(Click on the image to see all the photographs that appeared on the PKP DKD calendar.)

“I see it, I deduce it. How do I know that it is 750mm gauge and was formerly employed in a sugar refinery in central Poland?”

“My dear Prezes,” said I, “this is too much. You would certainly have been burned, had you lived a few centuries ago. It is true that I am intrigued by the Buckinghamshire LAS but, as the engine is surrounded by foliage, how can you know the gauge? I can’t imagine how you deduce it? As to where the engine spent its former life, there again, I fail to see how you work it out.”

“It is simplicity itself,” said he; “I regularly read your somewhat simplified accounts of my cases on BTWT and the comments that you publish from your admiring audience. Alex Fitch tells us that Steeple Claydon is not a million miles from Leighton Buzzard. Obviously if you live near that line and have a 600mm engine you would take it there. So it is not 600mm gauge. A brief glance at the trees on Google’s Street View – a suggestion from another of your admirers, who prefers to hide his identity under the nom de plume of Warwickian – would indicate that the engine has been at its present location for some time. I would estimate some 15 years, or more. This would coincide with the early to mid 90s, after the collapse of communism in Poland, the period when Polish sugar refineries were getting rid of their remaining steam engines. Now the majority of these employed 600mm gauge with the exception of those attached to the Kujawy Railway network which was largely standardised post WW I to 750mm. Hence, you see, my triple deduction that the engine was 750mm gauge, had come from a sugar refinery, and had been based in central Poland.

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. “When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.”

“Quite so,” he answered, pouring himself a glass of Zubrowka, and throwing himself down into an armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the front door to the lift.”

“Frequently.”

“How often?”

“Well, some hundreds of times.”

“Then how many are there?”

“How many? I don’t know.”

“Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seven steps, because I have both seen and observed. Now kindly look up former 750mm LAS sugar refinery locomotives on the Wciaz Pod Para database of Polish steam engines sold abroad.”

“I have it. There could be five. There are no details about the origins of one.”

“How many in the UK?”

“Two.”

“Locations?”

“One from Cukrownia Wozuczyn, in Preston.”

“That one went to the South Tyndale Railway and has now been rebuilt without its side tanks.”

“The other, from Cukrownia Ostrowy, is thought to be near London. Wasn’t Cukrownia Ostrowy some 6 kilometres distance from Krosniewice?”

“You have your engine, Dyspozytor,” said Prezes, pouring himself a glass of Zubrowka and languidly sinking into his armchair.

With apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Google Maps, Street View – Sleeping LAS