Archive for the ‘Pionki’ Category

Pionki, the end of a dream.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Work starts, 2004. From a photo in the Pawel Szwed archive.

(Click image to see the original photo, as well as other pictures showing the skansen’s development on the FPKW (Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation) website.

The Pionki Forest Railway, set up by Polish actor and former chairman of the Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation, Pawel Szwed, is no more. Started in 2004,and opened in June 2005, the Pionki skansen was intended to be the base of an ambitious plan to relay part of the forest railway running through the Kozienice Forest. Pawel Szwed collected 600 mm gauge rolling stock from all around Poland and brought it Pionki where, with the help of volunteers, the exhibits restored to working order.

The skansen was more than a museum, under the energetic direction of Pawel Szwed it became an attractive venue for a family day out. There were platelayers’ trolley rides for children, a pizza bar with bottles of beer for thirsty fathers, as well as the display of historic rolling stock rolling stock, and an exhibition of photographs showing the history of forest railways in the area.

The skansen during a BPRIHP study tour August 2006. BTWT.

The Pionki forest railway project seemed set fair to succeed. Numerous consultative meetings took place with many of the local stakeholders. The forest authorities declared themselves delighted with the idea that rebuilt railway would bring visitors – in an environmentally sensitive way – to a number of attractions that they had developed deep in the forest. The Polish Environmental Partnership Foundation provided funding and know-how to help set up a partnership to make sure that the project retained and developed its roots in the local community. (The skansen was named after Jan Szwed, by Pawel Szwed’s father who had been a forestry worker at Pionki.)

(left to right) Pawel Szwed and BPRIHP founder Mike Pease.

The Pionki forest railway project seemed set fair to succeed. Numerous consultative meetings took place with many of the local stakeholders. The forest authorities declared themselves delighted with the idea railway would bring visitors in an environmentally sensitive way to a number of attractions that they had developed deep in the forest. The Polish Environmental Partnership Foundation provided funding and know-how to help set up a partnership to make sure that the project retained and developed its roots in the local community.

Then the project hit the buffers stops of Polish bureaucracy. Pawel discovered that it is one thing for a local body to declare their support, it is another for them to provide practical support or even sign agreements. Volunteers became dissatisfied at the lack of progress and drifted away to other projects. Finally, when it became clear, that the forest authorities would not sign the appropriate wayleaves to enable the railway reconstruction to go-ahead Pawel decided to shut down the Pionki operation.

It is to Pawel’s credit that safe homes have been found for nearly all historic rolling stock that had been gathered Pionki. Some of the 600 mm gauge forestry railway items have gone to another forest railway skansen at Janow Lubelski. Two 750 mm gauge open coaches that had worked on the Starachowice railway have been acquired by a local authority that is restoring a small part of the narrow gauge railway network that once ran to Wroclaw. Finally certain items of rolling stock and Pawel’s own efforts have been transferred to Rudy where part of the 785 mm gauge Gliwice Railway is being restored as a tourist attraction.

Pionki Progress

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Pionki Forest Railway renaissance,
October 2007, photo FPKW

One of the most remarkable railway projects in Poland is the plan to rebuild part of the Pionki Forest Railway. The railway was located in the Kozienice Forest, near Radom in Poland’s Mazowosze province about 100 km from Warsaw.

Originally, in 1916 a 750 mm gauge railway was laid down linking Garbatka – Słowiki – Lesna Rzek. This line was lifted and replace by a 600 mm gauge railway between Garbatka and z Cztery Kopce. Meanwhile a 16 km horse drawn 600 mm gauge railway was built between Pionki and Stoki. In the 1940s, both systems were connected. The network was then 30 km long. The rolling stock consisted of 2 steam locomotives, 19 pairs of timber bogies and 10 coal wagons. In the period 1947-50 an engine shed and workshop building was constructed in Pionki. By the mid-1950s the network had grown to 50km. During this period the line was worked by ex German military railway HF 0-8-0T locomotives, including, Tx 1113 i Tx 1124, and Polish built 0-6-0T LAS locomotives including, Ty 1131 and Ty 1155.

During 1962-3, a 7 km section of the line from Garbatka to the main timber store was lifted. Demolition of the remainder commenced in 1981 and was largely completed by 1983. A fragment continued in use in a sawmill until 1986. Steam locomotive Las Ty 1131 survived and went to Zagansk. Two diesel locomotives, Wls50 and V10C-559, survived for a time, but were eventually cut up for scrap. Two passenger carriages lingered on, the frame of one still exists to this day. After 1986, the only substantive remains of the railway were the engine shed and workshops at Pionki and a large concrete viaduct in the forest.

In 2002, Pawel Szwed, the President of FPKW (The Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation) had the idea of converting the derelict shed and workshops into a forestry railway museum or ‘skansen’. The idea rapidly gained support and grew into the current project to rebuild 10 miles (16 km) of railway. The reinstated line would link attractions within the forest to Pionki and Garbatka. The project has gained the support of the local section of the Polish State Forests and the local authorities.

Progress so far has been concentrated in the workshop area. The track around the workshops has been relaid, the roof of the workshops reinforced and the whole building refurbished. Rolling stock from various forestry railways all around Poland has been brought to Pionki and many items have been restored. The whole area around the workshops has been attractively landscaped. A bar car serves soft drinks, beer and some of the best chips available anywhere in Poland. A handcart is available for children who want to try their hand at running trains. The skansen not only attracts railway enthusiasts, but also local residents looking for somewhere unusual to have a drink, play chess or take the kids.

600mm gauge Lyd2 looking for a good home
photo FPKW

The next stage of the project will involve the construction of 6 km of track from the skansen to a picnic area at Kociolki where the former line had a junction and triangle. As always in Poland the main obstacle is money. The FPKW is also looking for a small 1ft 11 5/8in (600 mm) steam locomotive. The FPKW have a 600mm gauge Lyd2 Romanian diesel in good mechanical condition which with its 350 h.p. Maybach engine and 0-8-0 wheel arrangement is a little too large for their needs. They would like to ‘swap’ it for a 600 mm steam locomotive. The deal could be set up to ensure a “win-win” for both sides.

Is there anyone out there with a “Quarry Hunslet” looking to get involved in rebuilding a narrow gauge railway from scratch?

More pictures:

  • Pionki Forest Railway – website (Polish)