Archive for the ‘Lodz Kaliska’ Category

Great Continental Railway Journeys – Poland

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Portillo cab view

Michael Portillo rides the cab of Ol49-59.
Still courtesy BBC TV.

The BBC series “Great Continental Railway Journeys” is currently airing on UK television.  The latest series (3) devoted an episode to Poland.

Filmed in the spring of this year, the Michael Portillo and his Bradshaw guide start their journey in the restored heart of Warsaw, before travelling to Lodz, once a cotton capital to rival Manchester.

His Poznan stop includes the obligatory visit to the goats in the Rynek (Market Square), and the Kaiser’s Castle (or Palace) a short walk from the railway station.  The footage of the station is of the new concrete and glass structure (also known as “Poznan City Center” shopping centre), rather than the older building, or even the Dworzec Letni.

Portillo finds time to visit Wolsztyn, referring to it being the place where scheduled from where steam services still run.  His visit, on April 7, fell a few days after the suspension of the service, which as readers will know, has still not recommenced. His footplate ride out to Nowa Wies involved a special train, as there were no scheduled services.  Viewers can draw their own conclusions about his firing (watch the gloves and style).

The onward journey and visit to Wroclaw involved a visit around the Bombardier railway works, formerly known as Linke-Hoffman (before the war) and Pafawag (after the war), before travelling out of Wroclaw via the restored Wroclaw Głowny station.

The shots of Krakow are the familiar Rynek and Mariacki church, and a trip around the Stalinist-era Nowa Huta, grafted onto the side of the old town by the communist regime.

The full programme is available to UK residents for another 3 weeks on the BBC iPlayer here. Sadly viewers in Poland without a proxy server are blocked.

Flirting in Lodz

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The first Stadler FLIRT EMUs have arrived in Lodz. They are part of an 110 million euro project grandly called “The Building of the Lodz Urban Area Railway system” (Budowa  systemu Lodzkiej Kolei Aglomeracyjnej). The project is actually nothing of the sort – no new railway lines, urban or otherwise, are being built – but does include the purchase of 20 two-car FLIRT EMUs, the construction of a maintenance depot on the site of the erstwhile Lodz Widzew marshalling yard and a 15 year maintenance contract for the EMUs.

The EMUs will operate services from Lodz to Sieradz, Kutno, Lowicz and Koluszki. The first of these, Lodz-Sieradz is due to start on June 15.

A number of old stations have been refurbished and a a few entirely new stations have been built. On 30 April, 6 units were displayed to the inspection of the public and press at Lodz Kaliska Station.

Inspired by the name FLIRT (Fast Light Innovative Regional Train) Questia, the PR company which managed the event, decided to give the ceremony a wedding theme. And so, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, here is our slightly tongue-in-cheek report of the proceedings.

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The celebrant anxiously awaits the arrival of the bride and groom – Witold Stepien, the Chief Executive of Lodz Province gets ready for his speech. Photo BTWT.

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The best man frets – Andrzej Wasilewski, Chairman of the Lodzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna, delivered the second speech. Photo BTWT.

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Here comes the bride! Security guards and a railway man spoil the view as the first train consisting of 3 two-car EMUs arrives at platform 2 of Lodz Kaliska station. Photo BTWT.

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Followed by the groom! The second train arrives on the other track. Photo BTWT.

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The groom is relaxed – Christian Spichiger, Chairman of Stadler Polska and Vice Chairman Stadler Central Europe, talks to the media. Photo BTWT.

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The happy couple – Christian Spichiger and an unknown admirer. Photo BTWT.

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Everybody wishes the couple a long and happy future – another bright idea from the PR company. Photo BTWT.

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The 1970 – 90s re-building of Lodz Kaliska left the station with low platforms. Photo BTWT.

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Getting on board is much easier when the step is extended. Photo BTWT.

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Stadler are to be congratulated in meeting the provincial government’s requirement of squeezing in the maximum number of seats and, at the same time making them very comfortable. Photo BTWT.

Łódź Fabryczna – white elephant?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

lodz platform-06

Lodz Fabryczna construction site, summer 2013. Photo by Zorro2212.

(Click picture to see original photo on Wikipedia Commons.)

Behind The Water Tower has been ‘down’ for much longer than usual. I have not been well – nothing terribly alarming, rather a combination of ‘wear and tear’ and an old back problem has taken its toll, and much of my ‘get up and go’ seems to have got up and gone. I have decided on a few simple steps which should at least improve the frequency of postings, if not their quality.

BTWT readers may remember my dislike of the new Lodz Fabryczna project. Currently, the centre of Lodz is cut off for visitors by train and there is no firm date in sight for when the rail link will be restored. Lodzians commuting to Warsaw or further afield are better off – they simply park at one of the many stations on Lodz’s periphery: Zabienec, Kaliska, Chojny or Widzew and enjoy reasonably comfortable(1) – if not very fast train journeys.

There is currently no money nor end date for the completion of the 2,000 million PLN project, 1,500 million of which is being put up by PKP and 500 million by the City of Lodz. The project will not add a single new train path between Lodz and Warsaw.  Just think what 2,000 million PLN could have done in removing speed restriction and bottlenecks in key places around the Polish railway network.

For those readers admiring the progress on the new station in the photo above, perhaps I should explain that the concrete deck in the picture is not intended to be the track bed level of the new station, merely its ceiling. The actual station level remains to be excavated, under the newly cast concrete deck in the picture.

(1) Apart from certain Lodz-Krakow services worked by the PESA ED74 EMUs with their back-breaking seats.

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More: Wikipedia – Łódź Fabryczna railway station

Łódź bridge heave

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The site of the new bridge on April 18 2013. Video BTWT.

Lodz is investing heavily in new roads in anticipation of many more motor vehicles coming into town when the new A1 motorway is completed.

If the same pattern is repeated in Lodz as has happened elsewhere the new roads will persuade even more people to abandon public transport and take to their cars adding yet another twist to the spiral: new roads –> more cars –> more road congestion and air pollution.

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The Gorna area of Lodz. Map OpenStreetMap.

(Click on map to see a larger area of Lodz to a larger scale.)

One of the roads being built is the missing piece of the southern end of Lodz’s inner by-pass, between al. Jana Pawła II and ul. Szeroka, straightening out a kink at the point where the (1) trunk road reaches the city’s road grid.

This communist-era project was postponed for many years because of the cost of constructing a long railway viaduct so that the new road could dive under the railway line at an acute angle.

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Approaching the new bridge on 26 April. Photo BTWT.

While several new roads at the southern end of the city will tempt motorists and HGV drivers to take the al. Wlokniarzy inner by-pass, the road building budget did not stretch to putting in corresponding improvements at the northern end of the city where the inner by-pass stops near Helenowek, a heavily built up area. Residents here already suffer from appalling congestion all along the (1) road to Zgierz.

Sadly the ‘Lodz Regional Tramway’, which was supposed to run all the way to Zgierz and could have helpd to cut motor traffic, stops at Helenowek as well.

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Next to the bridge, the temporary bases are being demolished.

The biggest civil engineering work on the new road was the construction of a 141 m long steel viaduct to take the existing railway line across the new road. During the last eight months trains crept past the construction site while the abutments for the new bridge were constructed under the operational railway track. In addition temporary concrete supports were built to the north of the railway track and the new bridge – which had arrived as a kit of parts – was welded together on these supports.

When the bridge was ready, the track bed was ballasted and railway track laid. Then during a 68 hour possession from Friday 19 April to Sunday 21 April the old railway track was dismantled and sufficient earthworks removed to enable the new bridge to be slid into place. Technical inspections were held on the Sunday evening and trains began running again on Monday 22 April.

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Heavy concrete breaking tractors. All photos BTWT.

On Saturday afternoon,  the Mayor of Lodz, Hanna Zdanowska called a press conference at the building site to enable the media to photograph the new bridge being slid into place. Given the importance of the event Wojciech Pater, the chairman of Mosty Lodz was leaving nothing to chance and arranged for his men to start the move at 07:00 hrs on Saturday morning.

When all was ready the hydraulic rams were pressurised, one failed, but the others were more than sufficient to keep the bridge moving. When you have 7,000 tons of bridge, ballast and railway track moving in the right direction you do not stop for anyone, not even the Mayor of Lodz. Four hours later the move was finished.

So it happened that when the mayor, her followers and the press gathered to photograph the historic event, the new bridge was already sitting proudly in place. It had been positioned to an accuracy of ± 0.2mm, whereas the design tolerance allowed for ± 10.0mm. One hopes that after the appropriate hydraulic fluids were dispensed the media displayed the same degree of tolerance as well.

More:

Photography:

  • The photos and video were filmed on an iPhone 4; the video was edited and rendered using Final Cut Pro 7 running on an ancient quad core G5 Power Mac. The two minutes of film took 4 hours to render!

Music:

  • The music used for the video is from the track How Long has the Train Been Gone on the Album To Forget An Actor by the London-based band Tranquilizers. If you liked what you hear, why not buy the track or even the whole album from here!

Zgierz – Lowicz – the ghost trains!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Are Przewozy Regionalny services being censored?

The railway line from Zgierz to Lowicz courtesy OpenStreetMap.

A few days ago ago I had to travel to Warsaw from Lodz and, not wanting to risk a ride on IC’s infamous ED74s, I decided to try out IR 33024 – the 09:38 InterRegio from Lodz Kaliska to Warszawa Wschodnia. IR 33024 runs via Zgierz and Lowicz, a line which lost its passenger services in 2007, because of the dilapidated state of its track and which has recently been completely relaid at a cost of some 65 million zloty (approx. £13 million).

It was a pleasant diversion to be able to ‘grice’ a line newly reopened for passengers en route to some more serious business. At times the train was able to run at up to the line maximum of 90 km/h (56 mph) on the relaid tracks. I was amazed to see that all the derelict station buildings were being rebuilt as well, particularly as some of the stations seem to be literally in the middle of nowhere. (Click the thumbnail map above to see the sites of all the reopened stations on a larger map.)

Part of the departure timetable at Warszawa Centralna.

Having concluded my business in Warsaw, I returned to Warszawa Centralna and heard the return working – IR 33024 – being announced (in Polish) over the station intercom. The train arriving on Platform 4, track 8 is the InterRegio to Lodz Kaliska calling at Warszawa Zachodnia, Sochaczew, Zgierz and Lodz Zabieniec. Hold on a minute, according to my iPhone, IR 33024 also calls at Teresin Niepokalanow, Lowicz Przedmiescie, Domaniewice, Glowno, Bratoszewice, Strykow, Swedow, and Glinnik!

I decided to check out the earlier Lodz Kaliska train that runs via the Lowicz – Zguerz line, IR 33043, departing for from Warszawa Centralna at 11:30 The printed timetable (Click the timetable image above to see it in full size.) shows the train just calling at Lowicz Przedmiescie, Zgierz and Lodz Zabieniec. The TK Telecom timetable shows the train also calling at Warszawa Zachodnia, Domaniewice, Glowno, Bratoszewice, Strykow, Swedow and Glinnik!

I wondered if this was just a problem with the newly reopened stations on the Lowicz – Zgierz line, or whether other IR services were effected. IR 11121, the 11:50 InterRegio to Bialystok, is shown as stopping at Malkinia, Szeptiewo and Lapy. TK Telecom shows it as calling at Warszawa Wschodnia, Malkinia, Czyzew, Szeptiewo and Lapy. Similarly, IR 1612o is shown as calling at Kutno, Konin, Wrzesnia, Poznan Glowny, Wroclaw Glowny and Klodzko Glowny on its way to Bystryca Koldzka, the on-line timetable shows the train as calling at 35 other intermediate stations!

In the end I decide not to take the InterRegio, but to catch some time with my friends and take TLK 26100, the 17:30 to Wroclaw Glowny which runs fast over the Lowicz – Zgierz line, only stopping at Lowicz Przedmiescie. This stop was correctly announced over the PA at Warszawa Centralna, but was omitted from the announcement at Warszawa Zachodnia.

TLK 26100 – EP07-391 with 5 carriages – departs from Lodz Kaliska. Photo BTWT.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

From my observations, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that while information about the stations served by Polish trains is generally incomplete and inconsistent, PR’s InterRegio services are being singled out for special treatment.

Those who were around when much of Britain’s railway network was closed in the 1960s will be familiar with stories how train times were altered and how information about connections was omitted in an effort to drive passengers off the trains before railway lines were put up for closure.

In Poland those who run the railways go a step further – they rebuild a railway line to allow trains to run at speed, reopen it to passenger services, and then make sure that the information about train services remains a closely guarded secret. Is this an example of what is called reverse Polish logic?

Car vs. Tram dilemma

Monday, 4 June 2012

Dyspozytor suffers from a pang of conscience

Poor public transport integration at Lodz Kaliska. Walking distances to the station booking office from the nearest tram stops are: bkp. Bandurskiego – 250m; Lodz Kaliska Estakada – 500m. Before the station was rebuilt a tram service ran right up to the front steps of the booking office. Map courtesy OpenStreetMap.

(Click map to enlarge.)

I’m sitting in my car in a traffic jam on the inner ring road in Lodz, thinking to myself, Why am I here? It’s not far to the tram stop from the flat where I’ve been staying. It’s the morning rush hour, so the journey to Lodz Kaliska would probably take no longer by tram and might actually take a few minutes less. I actually like travelling by tram! So, what on earth am I doing here?

I think about this for a while and draw up a list of reasons.

  1. It’s a 500 yard walk from the tram stop to the station booking office. The tunnel that would have provided a much shorter route walking route to the station is blocked off and the tram service that used to run right up to the steps of the station is just a nostalgic memory.
  2. Because of my bad back, travelling with a heavy suitcase is always difficult; lugging it on and off the high-floored 7N trams is an extra challenge I can do without.
  3. I’m dressed in my jacket and smart trousers, it’s rush hour and quite hot. If I go by tram I’m likely to end up smelling like cabbage soup.
  4. Given the problems encountered when I explored the Lodz tram network with Chris White, I’m not sure that the tram would have got me to the station on time.

I feel better. I find a fortuitous parking slot and after two attempts at reverse parking (my back is making it difficult to look behind me) I dock the car. I deduce that the Warsaw train leaves from platform 3, and climb up the appropriate steps (there are no train indicators).

There’s no train either. It’s sitting across the tracks next to platform 2. I cross the tracks by the barrow crossing, the guard whistles. I call out, Prosze czekac! (Please wait!). He waits.

Fast forward to the evening of the same day. I’m outside the Sobieski Hotel. The Minister emerges from a VIP reception, recognizes me, and we make small talk. He’s waiting for his official car. It approaches after a couple of minutes. He makes a dash for it, interrupting our conversation in mid-sentence.

My conscience feels better. Now if only official cars were banned and the Minister and all those responsible for Poland’s railways had to travel by rail, how long would it take for Poland to have the best trains and trams integration in Europe?

A Christmas Tale

Sunday, 25 December 2011

19:00 hrs Lodz Kaliksa to Warszawa Wschodnia making its first start from Platform 1 at Lodz Kaliska. Photo (taken on an iPhone 4) BTWT.

I have mixed feelings about Christmas. A week to go and I am feeling harried. Polish shop assistants are never particularly helpful at the best of times and it is not going to be my lucky day. I want a coffee machine, but I don’t want to spend a fortune. The girl looking after this section of the shop shows me a machine costing 499 zloty.

As it’s a demonstration model you might be able to get a discount, she says helpfully.

OK, I’ll buy it if you knock off 10%.

She vanishes and comes back, You can have it for 449 zloty.

I’ll take it!

She comes back with a box and an official looking piece of paper. Tell the girl at the counter to ignore the bar code on the box and to scan this instead. I join the long queue at the till which slowly shuffles forward.

At last I’m at the counter. The girl scans my paper and then scans the box. Something is wrong. She makes a phone call and indicates that I should wait and starts to serve the next person in the queue.

Time drags, I ask her why I have been made to wait. Because the goods don’t agree with the description.

But you haven’t looked at the goods, you only looked at the box.

Why are you shouting at me?

I’m not shouting at you. I’m trying to make myself heard against the din in the shop. Please call the manager.

Which manager would you like – my manager or the manager in charge of the coffee machines?

Whatever manager can resolve the problem.

I win my battle and go to look for my next present…

It’s evening and my last task is to get a packet of Christmas cards to Warsaw – the first leg of their journey to England. This would seem to be a job tailor-made for przesylki konduktorskie, the Polish equivalent of the erstwhile Red Star package service.

Forewarned is forearmed. I Google przesylki konduktorskie and read the appropriate page on the PKP IC website. There is a pdf file download with long list of trains which carry packages.

According to the list, train 91115/4 the 18:15 TLK ex Lodz Kaliska arr. 20:30 Warszawa Centralna runs daily. It is ideal. I arrive at Kaliska at 18:00 and look for the train.

There is no 18:15 TLK instead there is an 18:14 IR departure from platform 2! I approach the IR, there are about half a dozen railway officials in the Guard’s van. I ask for the guard and explain my problem. We don’t do przesylki konduktorskie, you need a PKP IC TLK train.

But you are running instead of the TLK train advertised on the przesylki konduktorskie, I’ve already arranged for the train to be met in Warsaw. Look it’s Christams and these are Christmas cards. Couldn’t we come to some private arrangement?

I’m not losing my job for some Christmas cards.

I have a similar conversations with the driver with similar results. Look, I say, if you all loose your jobs next year, when your customers all switch to Polski Bus because of the way you treat them, don’t blame me. I hope that all your points end up frozen set the wrong way!

As the 18:14 draws out the guard yells at me, Try the 19:00, it’s not long to wait.

I have meals to cook and things to do, but it seems I have no choice. I go down to the ticket hall and read the next chapter of Steig Larsonn’s masterpiece The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo on my iPhone. The tale of one girl’s battle against injustice – suitably garnished with violence of the most horrific kind – is strangely calming. I recommend the book, but it is not for the queasy.

It is 18:50, I make my way to platform 1 and ask the conductor whether he can accept a package. You need the guard in the compartment next to the engine. I find the guard, he is polite and efficient, I have the exact 26 zloty change and we soon conclude our transaction. I phone my contact in Warsaw and explain the new pick up time.

The guard blows his whistle and the train slowly draws out of the platform. I take the photo which appears at the top. Suddenly there is a shout, the driver applies the breaks and the train skids to a halt. Someone is running across the car park far below us. He vanishes into the stair well. After what seems an eternity he appears at the top and darts across the platform to board the train.

The guard blows his whistle a second time and the train draws out. I have mixed feelings about Christmas.

Stranger than fiction – No. 1

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ghost train to Lodz

A passenger expresses her frustration at a unadvertised train running outside the published timetable. Still from The Ghost Train.

A friend was coming up to see me from Warsaw to Lodz on Saturday (19 November) evening, and had an interesting journey. Here is his account.

I had a busy day including a pupil whose lesson was due to end at 19:30. According to the official PKP timetable (rozklad-pkp.pl) run by TK Telekom and Dworzec Polski I had a choice of two trains to Lodz: the 19:50 Inter Regio due into Lodz Widzew at 21:21 and continuing on to Lodz Kaliska for 21:39; or the 21:33 Tanie Linie Kolejowe for Lodz Widzew only, arriving at 23:13. Lodz Kaliska being much more convenient for my final destination than Lodz Widzew, I phoned my pupil, brought her lesson forward and set out in good time for Warszawa Centralna.

The reply to the timetable query. TK Telekom/Dworzec Polski.

I got to the front of the queue at the ticket office at 19:40, bought my ticket for the 19:50 and then strolled off to find platform 4. Consternation, it is 19:50, but no 19:50 train to Lodz on the departure board! I rush upstairs to the monitors in the subway linking the platforms; no 19:50 train to Lodz; in fact, no 19:50 to anywhere! I charge upstairs to the departure hall and check out the new touch-screen information terminals. ‘Arrival times’, no I don’t want arrivals, ‘Departures’ that’s better, and there at last, is my train to Lodz Kaliska only it leaves at 20:10, not 19:50. Hey ho, if only I had known, I need not have rescheduled the lesson after all.

We arrive at Lodz Widzew around 21:45, so far so good. Most people get off here. I ask the guard what time we are due in to Lodz Kaliska, he replied that we should be there about 22:35. I text this information to Dyspozytor our train pulls out and heads out North-east across the access tracks to the freight yard. Unfamiliar scenery follows is this really the route to Lodz Kaliska?

We stop at another station; my remaining fellow passengers look worried. I look out the window; the phone rings. It’s Dyspozytor. According to my calculations, you are being routed via Zgierz. Please get out at Lodz Zabieniec.

I’m not sure we stop at Lodz Zabieniec, I reply cautiously.

All trains from Zgierz stop at Zabieniec, he says confidently. With half my body out the window. I can just make out the station sign which is situated conveniently at right angles to the platform.

Where are you, he asks? I’m at Zgierz, but according to the route diagram that’s impossible.

You’ve been routed via the freight cut-off line, he explains. Please get out at the next stop.

After what seems an eternity, but is probably only 5 minutes, the train starts running back in the direction we have come from. We arrive at what appears to be a disused halt. It is 22:37. Should I really get off here? My phone rings. Please get out here. You’ve reached your destination.

And that would be the end of the story, had it not been for the fact that I was not the only person waiting at Lodz Zabieniec to pick someone up. Obviously the fact that the 20:10 IR ex Centralna runs – and runs via Zgierz – is out in the public domain, if not in the TK Telekom timetable. I remember the little leaflets handed out to passengers on the last day of Lodz Fabryczna’s operation and the Notice to Passengers on the PKP IC website. I wonder?

I check out the relevant BTWT post, follow the link to the PKP IC Notice to Passengers, and download the new timetable. Yes there it is – the 20:10 ex Centralna, calling at Widzew, Zgierz and Zabieniec!

All change at Lodz

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rail route diagram of the Lodz area.

(Click to enlarge.)

Following the closure of Lodz Fabryczna station, some rail services in the Lodz area have been re-routed.

Trains from Warsaw to Ostrow Wielkopolski and Wroclaw run via Lowicz Przedmiescie, Zgierz and Lodz Zabieniec to Lodz Kaliska.

Trains from Czestochowa and Tomaszow Mazowiecki run from Lodz Widzew to Zgierz on the freight avoiding line (avoiding Lodz Kaliska).

Trains will from Lodz Kaliska to Warsaw run via Lodz Chojny and Lodz Widzew on weekday mornings; trains from Warsaw to Lodz Kaliska run via Lodz Widzew and Lodz Chojny on weekday evenings. In addition there there are some other connections available from Lodz Kaliska to Warsaw (some direct services and others by changing trains at Kutno, Lowicz Glowny or Lodz Widzew).

While somewhat confusing for local residents, the new arrangements are a route gricers paradise. We found at least one train that leaves Lodz Kaliska, calls at Lodz Zabieniec and Zgierz, and the changes direction at Zgierz to run down the freight avoiding line to Lodz Widzew and then follows the usual route to Warsaw.

The new timetable:

More details on PKP Intercity pages: