Archive for the ‘PKP Cargo’ Category

New Line Opens with Steam

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Reading the title, you may be forgiven for thinking that Behind The Water Tower has decided to cover the re-opening of The Borders Railway (known formerly as The Waverley Route.)

Whilst worthy of coverage in its own right, the similarities between the formal reopening of part of the former route down to Tweedbank, by Her Majesty the Queen, and the opening of the new inland route (the Pomorska Kolej Metropolitalna) between Gdansk and Gdynia are striking.

Both the Borders Railway, and the routes are effectively old routes relayed and reopened with new stations.  Neither is electrified.  The 19.5 kilometre long Gdansk line provides a direct connection to the airport on the alignment of the pre-war line from Kokoszski to Wrzeszcz, with a new chord built at the western end of the line to connect with the non-electrified line to Gdynia.  Train services on the line are provided by ten diesel railcars, built by Bydgoszcz based PESA.

Both routes featured steam haulage as part of the official opening.  Her Majesty was conveyed by the royal train from Edinburgh to Tweedbank hauled by preserved A4 “Union of South Africa”.  John Cameron, who has owned the locomotive longer than its original builder, the LNER, and British Railways combined was present on the footplate for the occasion.

Poland’s new line (Pomorska Kolej Metropolitalna) also had steam present for its official opening.  TKh05353, owned by DB Schenker, and loaned to and operated by KSK Wroclaw was brought in specially for the event.  You may be forgiven for wondering why such a diminutive industrial shunter was brought in to feature in such a prestigous event.  After all, with Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz conducting the opening of the first major new passenger line in the last 25 years, you would have thought that a more suitable locomotive could be provided.  Apparently not.  Despite Poland still having steam locomotives with PKP Cargo, neither Wolsztyn nor Chabowka were able to provide a locomotive to cover the event.  Wolsztyn had already contractually committed to provide steam haulage for a TurKol special with their sole in-ticket Ol49, and therefore understandably had to honour that commitment.  It is unclear why Chabowka were unable to provide one of their four in-ticket locomotives for the event.

15. Oficjalne foto dla prasy

Made in Poland.  TKh05353 sits alongside one of the new PESA-built railcars.  Photo: Marek Ciesielski

Originally restored at the former sand railway works at Dzierzno, near to Pyskowice, TKh05353 was operated and maintained by DB Schenker.  Following the sale of the works, the locomotive was moved to another DB Schenker workshop in Rybnik, where it only saw limited use.  Subsequently it has been loaned to KSK Wroclaw who have successfully overhauled the engine, and had it recertified for further operation.

Behind the Water Tower congratulate KSK Wroclaw on their success at operating the locomotive, and for providing a professional service at the opening of the Pomorska Kolej Metropolitalna.

21. Bliskie spotkania trzeciego stopnia

TKh meets Pendolino.  Photo: Marek Ciesielski

Advertisements

Wolsztyn Shed – Wielkopolska Vote “Yes”

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

wol-7237

OL49-69 ready to depart with Woltur train, Wolsztyn. Photo William Wright.

(Click on images to see larger photos.)

Further to our report (BTWT, 1 July 2015) that representatives of all the parties (Wielkopolska Provincial Government, Wolsztyn District Council, Wolsztyn Town Council and PKP Cargo) had agreed in principle to proceed on the basis of a revised business plan, the council members of the various local authorities have been debating and voting on the proposals to set a new institute to run the shed. Each of the parties will be making a contribution to the setting up and operation of the shed (PKP Cargo – locomotives, rolling stock and facilities; others – start up capital and an ongoing financial contribution towards operating expenses) and participating in its strategic management.

Wolsztyn District Council (Starostwo Wolsztyńskie) have already voted in favour of the proposals and yesterday a critical milestone was passed when the Council of the Wielkopolska Provincial Government (Sejmik Wielkopolski) also passed a vote in favour. The Wielkopolska councillors’ vote was critical because the business plan envisages the provincial government being the principal funding source for the restoration and running of daily steam services.

The last council vote needed to secure the plan is that of the members of Wolsztyn Town Council, but with the town’s hospitality industry badly feeling the drop in tourism since the cessation of daily steam services, it is envisaged that Wolsztyn Mayor, Wojtek Lis, will have little difficulty in securing the support of the town’s councillors. The Town Council will consider the question during their meeting on August 3. If they vote in favour, the last piece of the jigsaw falls into place. There will be a formal signing ceremony sometime later, and December 1, 2016 is already pencilled in as the first day that the shed opens its doors under the auspices of its new owners.

The elephant in the room remains Poland’s railway infrastructure manager, PKP PLK. For reason best known to itself, PKP PLK insists on treating steam trains as if they were carrying out of gauge loads or nuclear waste. Whereas in other countries, steam trains are regarded as bringing useful publicity to the railway and their operators enjoy access to the railway network on the same (or even preferential) terms as those of other trains, in Poland PKP PLK demands a premium rate. As a result it is almost impossible to fill a steam train in Poland unless somebody – usually a local authority – picks up some of the bill.

With so many bodies pulling together to safeguard the future of Poland’s steam heritage at Wolsztyn would it not be appropriate for PKP PLK to also put a shoulder to the wheel?

Dyspozytor

Wither Wolsztyn?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Wolsztyn’s 22nd annual steam locomotive parade had just three working locos!

Wolsztyn 2015-07775

This Chabówka driver in charge of 0-6-0T Tkh49-1 was not the only person trying to figure out what was going on. Photo Marta Goltz.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030490

The non-working ‘awaiting overhaul’ engines were left in the shed, making photography difficult. Photo Jan Borzuchowski.

Wolsztyn 2015-07780

The joy of Wolsztyn. Hands up who remembers when UK shed open days were like this? Photo Marta Goltz.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030438

Shy film star. Curiously, a tent blocked off the possibility of a proper ‘head-on’ photo of Ok1-359. The loco has appeared in many films including Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning “The Pianist”. Photo Jan Borzuchowski.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030451

While members of the public were permitted to explore nearly all the engines, Ok1-359 was awarded star treatment ond its footplate was a strictly ‘no-go’ area. Photo Jan Borzuchowski.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030450

Given a properly dried out boiler and generous doses of oil a steam loco will last forever. Ok1-359 was built by BMAG in 1917, and was last steamed in 2009. Photo Jan Borzuchowski.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030526

Good practice – a pragmatic attitude to health and safety, with the running lines securely protected. Poor practice – Ty1-76 like many other historic steam locomotives is kept out in the open all the year round. Photo Jan Borzuchowski.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030565

Thousands have come to see the engines, but only three locos appear at the parade: Wolsztyn only ‘in-ticket’ loco Ol49-69, and Chabówka’s 2-10-2T Okz32-2 and 0-6-oT Tkh49-1.

Wolsztyn 2015-1030478

What does the future bode for Wolsztyn – a clear road ahead or storm clouds gathering? Photo Jan Borzuchowski.

Many thanks to BTWT’s guest photographers. Jan Borzuchowski and Marta Goltz. Also special thanks to all our friends in PKP Cargo without whose assistance this report would have been impossible.

To be continued/…

More:

 

 

British Ambassador drives Ol49-69!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wol RB-5196

Left to right: British Ambassador, Robin Barnett; Shed Manager, Mariusz Kokornaczyk; and Mayor of Wolsztyn, Wojtek Lis. Photo BTWT.

The mood is sombre in Wolsztyn these days: the regular pair of scheduled steam passenger workings has been suspended for a whole year; only one locomotive, Ol49-69, is in ticket; Leszno depot is due to close and its engineering facilities will be lost; idle drivers sit around grumbling, and contemplate early retirement.

The negotiations between the main decision-makers seem to have ground to a halt. While a breath of optimism was injected into the negotiations when it was announced that the plan to form a commercial company to run the depot was being superseded by a project to set up a cultural institute (BTWT 8 May 2014) instead, the reality is that the various local authorities just do not have the financial resources to pay the annual subsidies that the PKP Cargo business plan envisages.

An ugly game of  one-upmanship seems to be being played out. The original suspension of steam services last March took place when the Chief Executive of Wielkopolska provincial government felt that PKP Cargo were dragging out the negotiations, since then a majority of PKP Cargo shares has been sold and Cargo is effectively a private company. Responsibility for maintaining Poland’s steam heritage sits uncomfortably alongside the company’s commercial aspirations.

Now it is PKP Cargo that is keen to speed up negotiations – a fortnight ago the Mayor’s office was informed that unless the local authorities signed up to the business plan there would be no Parada Parowozow (Wolsztyn’s annual parade of steam locomotives) this year.

At a few minutes past 10:00 on Tuesday 17 March, Robin Barnett, CMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Poland, swept into this forbidding environment like a breath of fresh air. His enthusiasm was infectious and provided a much-needed morale boost to all those who accompanied him around the shed. The British Ambassador came to Wolsztyn at the invitation of Wojtek Lis, the Mayor of Wolsztyn, and a passionate enthusiast of steam locomotives since his student days.

Wol RB-5204

Robin Barnett says a few words for the benefit of the press.
Photo BTWT.

Though the Ambassador spoke in Polish, thanks to the help of the British Embassy, we managed to obtain a copy of his speech in English.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would just like to say a few words to thank those people who worked so hard to make my visit to Wolsztyn and its historic locomotive depot possible. I have always been a fan of steam trains. When I was in Poland under communism one of my hobbies was to travel to the south of Poland to ride on PKP steam trains and taking illegal photos. I even took the train that passed through the USSR without requiring
a visa. So I would like to say a special thank you to the Mayor of Wolsztyn, Mr Wojtek Lis for inviting me to Wolsztyn and letting me revisit the sights and smells of my first time in Poland.

I would also like to thank Mr Mariusz Kokornaczyk, the shed master for putting one of his historic locomotives in steam and answering all my questions. I need to learn more specialised vocabulary po polsku!

I would also like to congratulate the PKP group and more specifically, PKP Cargo, the custodians of Wolsztyn locomotive depot, for recognising the unique heritage value of the depot and its locomotives and for preserving the complex as a going concern for the benefit of future generations.

I have been told that talks are in progress between PKP Cargo, the Marszałek’s office, the Starosta and your Burmistrz regarding setting up a new entity to secure the long-term future of the shed. I very much hope that these negotiations will soon reach a successful conclusion. The Wolsztyn depot, its engines and its trains, are not only a wonderful Polish asset with huge potential to attract tourists – they are also important in the European context.

Finally, while today is all about railway heritage, I would like to say a few words about the future of railways. The future is all about integrated transport systems. Roads will always play a vital role but they are increasingly full in many places and have environmental implications. So rail is an essential ingredient of any successful transport strategy. Freight trains, commuter trains, light rail and PKPs impressive new Pendolino will all be crucial for Poland’s future economic growth.

Today Britain’s railways transport more passengers than at any time since the Second World War. We are well on the way to completing Crossrail – Europe’s biggest urban infrastructure project, a 15 billion pound project to improve commuter services by constructing a new railway under London. We are also about to embark on HS2, a 43 billion pound project to build a new high-speed railway from the London to the north.

Helped by almost 8 billion of EU funding between now and 2020, I am certain that Poland’s railways will also experience a great renaissance, which will give me great pleasure. I have to admit though that, much though I have enjoyed using Pendolino, for me, my heart will always be with steam.

Wol RB-5209

Robin Barnett about to have his driving lesson. Photo BTWT.

The highlight of the Ambassador’s visit to the locomotive depot was when, armed with a PKP Cargo footplate pass, he mounted the footplate of Ol49-69 and, after having had the controls explained to him by Howard Jones of the Wolsztyn Experience, he then – under the eagle eye of one of the Ol49’s regular drivers – gradually opened the regulator and took the loco for a spin down the loco yard.

Wol RB-5212

With Robin Barnett at the controls Ol49-69 accelerates down the depot yard. Photo BTWT.

Polish TV’s TeleExpress crew were there to record every detail of the trip and a splendid piece went out that day on Poland’s main TV channel giving the shed – and everybody’s hopes for the return of daily steam workings – a terrific plug. Even PKP Cargo got into the mood and their Press spokesman, Mirosław Kuk, announced that the twenty-second annual Steam Locomotive Parade in Wolsztyn WILL take place this year on May 2!

Wol RB-5218

 Ambassador triumphant! Photo BTWT.

More:

Hopes for daily steam return at Wolsztyn…

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ride on a wing and a prayer

Wolsztyn 120806-1010530010526

Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn station having just completed its second turn from Poznan on a scorching hot 6 August 2012. Photo BTWT.

The project (see: BTWT 8 May 2014) to create a cultural institute to take over the Wolsztyn engine shed and safeguard its long-term future has run into trouble. Either the agreement between PKP Cargo and the various local authorities will be so watered down so as to fudge the question as to how much actual cash will be invested by the latter in the project, or the scheme in its current form is a dead duck. With local authorities all over Poland finding it difficult to make their budgets balance it does rather seem that the return of daily steam-hauled passenger workings by locomotives stabled at Wolsztyn shed may not be as certain as once thought.

Woltur

Part of Woltur’s home page on the WWW.

So, in the light of this bleak news, the announcement that the town of Wolsztyn, various small local authorities and the Wolsztyn Experience have all agreed to invest in a brand new tourist product – Woltur – comes like a breath of fresh air. Woltur has been set up by Patryk Szkopiec of IRPiK, the same organisation that runs Turkol, the long distance steam specials that run approximately once a month. Now, with Woltur’s local steam services supplementing TurKol’s long-distance specials, there will be steam activities every week in the summer season.

An important partner in the new venture is Przewozy Regionalne, the train operating company that will be actually running the trains and thanks to whose assistance passengers will be able to ride the Woltur services with tickets charged according to PR’s InterREGIO tariff. Congratulations from us at BTWT to everyone involved in setting up Woltur, and here’s hoping the new product is hugely successful and will prove to be one step on the way to restoring daily scheduled steam services to Wolsztyn.

More:

 

 

Wolszstyn steam – proceed with caution

Saturday, 2 August 2014

semafor_2

Junction colour light signal. From a photo by Henryk Żychowski.

Thanks to the efforts of Howard Jones – who created the ‘Wolsztyn Experience’ and negotiated an agreement to market footplate passes to international railway enthusiasts – daily steam passenger services (with occasional interruptions) have survived for some 17 years since the end of regular steam haulage on Poland’s railways. A proportion of Wolsztyn Experience’s revenues helps to subsidize the running costs of the shed and the repair of individual locomotives.

Wolsztyn Shed is the last such installation in Europe and most certainly in the Northern Hemisphere. Visitors come from all around the world and contribute an estimated 1 million Euro to the Wielkopolska economy. Howard Jones, himself, was awarded the MBE for his efforts.

Since March this year, the daily steam workings have been suspended and the Wolsztyn locomotives have only been steamed spasmodically mainly to haul the Turkol specials. Meanwhile the principle stakeholders: the Chief Executive (Marszałek) of Wielkopolska Province, PKP Cargo, Koleje Wielkopolskie (Wielkopolska Railways) and the Mayor of Wolsztyn have been hammering out a deal to create a new organisation to run manage the shed and its locomotives in the future.

Now, at last, an agreement in principle has been reached, the formal documents are being drafted, and – after several postponements – early September has been announced as the time when everything is to be signed and sealed.

The depot will be managed by a new body with the legal status of a cultural foundation. The foundation will be able to accept and seek grants and donations and, if well-managed, should ensure that the future of the shed is secure. This scheme has received the backing of Brian Simpson, MEP, when he was chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee.

But while the future of the Wolsztyn Shed would seem to be secure, the future of the daily steam services may be less so. One of the stakeholders, Koleje Wielkopolskie (controlled by the Marszałek), is less than enthusiastic about the daily steam workings (the feature that made Wolsztyn unique) and would prefer steam operations to be restricted to a limited number of special trains and the attitude of the Mayor of Wolsztyn is said to be ambivalent.

BTWT readers have already sent many letters about the future of the Wolsztyn steam workings. Maybe now is the time the one last letter? It would be opportune to congratulate the key players on the progress achieved so far towards securing the future of the shed, and at the same time pointing out that, without a daily steam service, Wolsztyn is just another – not very special – railway museum.

These we believe are the people whose resolve needs to be strengthened:

The Mayor of Wolsztyn

mgr Andrzej Rogozinski
Burmistrz Wolsztyna
Urząd Miejsji
Rynek 1
64-200 Wolsztyn
POLAND

mob. 606 972 203
tel. 68 347 45 0
fax. 68 3842747
e-mail. burmistrz@wolsztyn.pl

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 142, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel. 61 626 66 00
fax. 61 626 66 01
e-mail. marszalek@umww.pl

The Chief Executive of Koleje Wielkopolskie

Włodzimierz Wilkanowicz
Prezes Zarządu
Koleje Wielkopolskie Sp. z o.o.
ul. Składowa 5
61-897 Poznań
POLAND

tel. 61- 27-92-700
fax. 61-27-92-709
e-mail. wlodzimierz.wilkanowicz@koleje-wielkopolskie.com.pl

Previous articles about Wolsztyn:

Wolsztyn – The Final Parade?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

WOL-7315

Ty42-24 passing through the signals on the erstwhile line to Konotop. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

(Click images to expand.)

Wolsztyn’s annual May parade took place on 3 May.  A much smaller event than usual, which has cast doubts on whether or not the event will continue.

No German based locomotives were present. Poland’s fractured rail industry appears to have put paid to that. From what we understand, faced with swingeing track access charges and other fees, the German railtours could not break even for a sensible fare. Given that the fees levied on last year’s trains led to them making a loss, a decision was made by German railtour organisers not to risk making further losses this year.

Chabowka based Ty42-107 and TKt48-191 during the Parade, 3 May 2014..

Chabowka based Ty42-107 and TKt48-191 during the Parade. Photo John Savery.

Chabowka supplied 3 in ticket locos: Ty42-107, Ol12-7 and TKt48-191, all being moved from their southern Polish base. Wolsztyn could only muster 2 in ticket locos, Ol49-59 (making it’s last appearance before overhaul at Leszno), and Ol49-69. Quite why PKP allows Chabowka to keep 3 locos in working order (with the boiler for the OKz32 also standing by ready to fit) compared with Wolsztyn’s single remaining loco is beyond reason, given that the number of steamings and charters done by Chabowka is minimal, and is probably worth an article on its own.

 

WOL-7076

Chabowka’s Ty42-107 and Pyskowice’s Ty42-24 in the shed at Wolsztyn. The devil is in the detail! Photo Marek Ciesielski.

Pride of the show was Ty42-24, restored in Pyskowice by Zbyszek and Krzysiek Jakubina.  Making its debut at the Chabowka gala last year, the standard of restoration is exemplary, and the quality of the finish is far superior to that on Ty42-107, overhauled by full-time staff at Chabowka.

Also present were a Czech loco (2-8-2 Mikado 475- 179) and Club Albatross’ Slovakian 4-8-2 498-104.

IMG_6891

Slovakian 498-104 during the Parade, 3 May 2014. Photo John Savery.

So what does the future hold?

Despite optimistic reports in this month’s Railway Magazine, there are no firm guarantees that steam will actually return to the daily services.  As yet no deal has been reached, however it is clear that the lobbying by concerned supporters is hitting the mark. From what we have heard, at least one letter prompted by the appeal in BTWT has actually reached Jakub Karnowski, the boss of PKP, and he has charged the team looking at the Warsaw Railway Museum project to also look closely at the situation in Wolsztyn.

IMG_6990 - Ty42-24 at Wolsztyn, 05-05-14

With the sun glinting off the gleaming paintwork, Ty42-24 prepares to return south to Wroclaw. Photo John Savery.

A team in PKP Cargo’s strategy unit is now working on a business plan to set up a cultural institute to take over long-term responsibility for the shed and its locos. In the meantime, it is probably not a bad idea to keep up the pressure! If you were thinking of writing a letter, but have not already done so why not drop a line to one or both of the people below. Physical letters are best, but you could also send a pdf file version of a properly formatted letter as an e-mail enclosure.

We believe that the cultural institute idea deserves support, however it is important to point out that what made Wolsztyn absolutely unique was the daily timetabled regular passenger service, hauled by the steam engines stabled there, and that it was this that attracted visitors to Wolsztyn from all around the world.

1. Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Provincial Government

Pan Wojciech Jankowiak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18
61-713 Poznań
Poland

wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

2. PKP Cargo Chairman

Pan Adam Purwin
Prezes Zarządu
PKP CARGO S.A.
ul. Grójecka 17
02-021 Warszawa
Poland

a.purwin@pkp-cargo.eu

 

Wolsztyn plan gets EU chair support!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PT47-112 at Wolsztyn. Photo Hubert Smietanka. CC2.5 licence.

Brian Simpson, the chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, has entered the battle to save the Wolsztyn engine shed, and its daily timetabled steam workings. Mr Simpson has sent a detailed letter to Adam Purwin, the new boss of PKP Cargo, strongly supporting the idea that a new entity be created to be the long-term custodian of Wolsztyn and that the new entity take the form of a cultural institute.

The idea of a cultural institute is the third iteration in the development of ideas for the long-term future of Wolsztyn in over three years. BTWT has had an opportunity to talk to the people who are working on the plan at PKP HQ in Warsaw, and the plan seems the best solution yet.

Previous plans for the long-term future of Wolsztyn envisaged setting up a company for the specific purpose of operating the shed and maintaining the locomotives used for the daily steam trains. The main drawback of the plan was that the company would have operated with the legal status of a commercial entity – precluding certain kinds of donations and financial support.

A cultural institute, could be the beneficiary of all sorts of grants and donations – including EU support – that would be not be available to a commercial entity.

No deal. No steam.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Friday’s meeting between representatives of PKP Cargo and the Wielkopolska provincial government ended without agreement.

No further talks are scheduled until 18 April, and with no agreement, steam services will cease on 31 March.

Ol49-59 has the dubious honour of hauling the last service, the afternoon Wolsztyn to Leszno turn. After that the loco will return light engine to Wolsztyn with the return passenger working being completed by a diesel railcar.

Behind the Water Tower does not intend to sit idly by until 18 April. We encourage people to write to the main parties concerned and encourage them to work out a deal.  There is time for written representations to be delivered before 18 April.  A well written posted letter may carry more clout than an email and we would urge people to put pen to paper in the next few days so that it reaches the relevant parties before the meeting.

The main protagonists and stakeholders are:

Mr Jakub Karnowski
Prezes
Prezes Zarządu
Polskie Koleje Państwowe S.A.
ul. Szczęśliwicka 62
00-973 Warszawa
POLAND

e-mail: Jakub.Karnowski@pkp.pl

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

e-mail: marszalek@umww.pl

With elections looming our editorial team have already heard from people who have openly said that  the current incumbents will not be receiving their vote given the current standoff. There may be an element of politics at play in all this. Who knows? The Wielkopolski Marszalek may be planning to pull a rabbit out of the hat and save the steam services as part of his election campaign. We hasten to add, that is pure speculation, however, if that is part of the strategy, it is a dangerous game to play.

If no agreement is reached on 18 April matters are likely to escalate up to Ministerial level. We would therefore encourage people to also write to:

Mrs. Elżbieta Bieńkowska
Ministerstwa Infrastruktury i Rozwoju
ul. Wspólna 2/4
00-926 Warszawa

e-mail: kancelaria@mir.gov.pl

A Mexican Standoff

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

IMG_1829 - 870x650

Ol49-69 heads towards Poznan at Steszew on 3 May 2012. Photo John Savery

The daily scheduled steam operation at Wolsztyn looks as though it will end next week. The Wielkopolska provincial government and PKP Cargo have failed to reach agreement on the cost of the service, and with no funding agreed from 31 March, the daily steam service to Leszno will not operate unless a compromise is agreed.

Sources indicate that the cost per kilometre that PKP Cargo wish to charge have increased dramatically since the service was moved over to the Leszno line. In itself, this is hardly surprising. There are the fixed costs of operating the shed at Wolsztyn, and the overhaul of the locomotives, which are done on a time based system, not a miles operated, or days in steam system. Nevertheless, it is believed that the charges have increased disproportionately.

TurKol’s charter traffic is covered by a separate contract and would remain unaffected, nevertheless, the viability of the depot must be questionable with the reduced mileage and income.

Wolsztyn is unique in being the last place in Europe (if not the world) where standard gauge steam still hauls daily scheduled services. It entices tourists from around the world, all of whom come because it is unique. All spend money whilst visiting, and this is estimated to be in excess of one million zloty annually.

If the services ends, scheduled standard gauge steam will have had its last stand in Europe.

For those wishing to put pen to paper, and explaining why the service should be retained, the following addresses may be useful.  We understand that a ‘last chance’ meeting between the parties is scheduled for Friday this week, so this could be the final chance to influence the outcome.

1. Minister of Culture
Mr. Bogdan Zdrojewski
minister@mkidn.gov.pl

2. Minister of Infrastructure and Development (Transport)
Mrs. Elżbieta Bieńkowska
kancelaria@mir.gov.pl

3. Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Provincial Government
Mr. Wojciech Jankowiak
wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

4. PKP Cargo Wielkopolska Division Manager
Mr. Andrzej Jabłoński
a.jablonski@pkp-cargo.eu

PKP boss launches clean up campaign

Friday, 13 December 2013

lukasz_boron

Former PKP Cargo Chairman, Lukasz Boron. Photo PKP Cargo.

Shortly after sacking PKP Cargo boss, Lukasz Boron, PKP SA Chairman, Jakob Karnowski, launched a drive to introduce a code of ethics across the whole of the PKP Group.

Each PKP subsidiary is to have its own code of practice and a person responsible for making sure that it is implemented. A senior project manager, reporting direct to Karnowski, will oversee the whole process.

‘Spanish customs’ were once common in PKP. It was not unknown for regional heads in the infrastructure company, PKP PLK, to run their own track maintenance companies employing PKP PLK staff and bidding for PKP PLK contracts.

Conflicts of interest were rife. Some PKP Cargo bosses had shares in Cargosped, a logistics company that bid for freight haulage contracts in competition with PKP Cargo.

Industry sources claim that the wagon standing time scam is still common. PKP Cargo customers are charged for the amount of time wagons are left in sidings waiting to be unloaded, certain Cargo officials are happy – in return for a small consideration – to book a lower amount of standing time.

More:

Poland’s TWO steam galas

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Behind The Water Tower

The ‘all hands on deck’ highlight of the 2013 Wolsztyn Steam Gala, Video by lukas125p .

There are TWO ‘mainline’ steam galas in Poland: the well publicised Parada Parowozow which takes place each year at Wolsztyn and the less well known Parowozjazda at Chabowka.

The Wolsztyn Gala, whose 20th anniversary was celebrated on the 27 April this year, is  undoubtedly the event which is responsible for keeping working steam locomotives in the public eye in Poland.

The Chabowka event deserves to be better known offering as it does the sight of a parade of vintage trains – freight and passenger – rather than just steam locomotives. A couple of steam specials offering photos stops for enthusiasts are also run on the Chabowka – Nowy Sacz line as far as Dobra k. Limanowej.

This year, the Chabowka gala is due to take place on 24 August and with the Nowy Sacz line on PKP’s closure list it may be the last year that steam specials operate over that line.

Highlights of the 2012 Parowzjazda. Video by rafstak.

Sadly, because of the lack of support from local councils, and lack of imagination from those responsible for marketing the event to potential stakeholders, Parowozjazda is now a pale shadow of days gone by.

Not so long ago, connecting specials ran from Cracow and Zakopane while the parade of vintage trains took place at Rabka Zaryte. Today, the sidings at Rabka Zaryte have been lifted and Parowozjazda takes place within the confines of the Chabowka ‘Skansen’.

With a hat tip to Mike Stollery of the Swanage Railway.

More:

Partnership, the key to Wolsztyn success

Monday, 29 April 2013

2_x_tkh

On the left DB Schenker owned Tkh 5353, built Chrzanow 1953; on the right Tkh 5695 (carrying the number Tkh49-1) from Chabowka, built Chrzanow 1961. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

In spite of the clouds and rain, the 20th annual Parada Parowozow held at Wolsztyn over the weekend 27/28 April was an outstanding success.

A few months ago the prospects for the event looked decidedly gloomy – the town council at Wolsztyn was reported to have withdrawn from financing the security arrangements; the Poznan Department of PKP Cargo had its funding for the event cut to the bare bone…

In the intervening months, the wind seems to have changed. Maybe someone whispered into the ear of Cargo senior managements that this was to be the 20th steam parade, and the last to be held before PKP Cargo is privatised by a share floatation on the Warsaw stock market?

Wolsztyn locos-9607

The two Tkh locos and 4-8-4T 464-008 from the Czech Republic steam towards the station. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

Money was evidently found, and Cargo set itself the target of having 20 engines in steam at the event. In the end they were some half dozen engines short, but neither this nor the bad weather seemed to damp the spirits of the huge crowd who came to watch the parade, or ride on the record number of steam trains organised by TurKol.

The fireworks and lightshow were moved from their traditional slot on Friday evening to Saturday evening guaranteeing that many people stayed on till late.

Significantly as the event drew to a close, the chairman of PKP Cargo was seen to confer with the Chief Executive of the Wielkpolska provincial government and local Cargo managers. Hopefully a sign that a deal to secure not only the steam depot, but also its unique ordinary passenger schedule steam trains, may well be on its way.

More photos:

Boroń – new boss at Cargo

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

lukasz_boron

Łukasz Boron. From a photo by PKP Cargo.

On Monday 25 January, the PKP group announced that Łukasz Boron, the former Finance Director of PKP Cargo, has been appointed the Company’s new chairman, filling the vacancy caused by the resignation of Wojciech Balczun.

Adam Purwin, previously tipped for the top job in Cargo, and currently heading the PKP SA department responsible for privatisation strategy, moves into the Finance Director job vacated by Boron. Acting Chairman, Marek Zaleśy, formerly Sales Director retains his membership of PKP Cargo’s board.

At Monday’s press conference, Boron announced that his intention would be to continue the good work started by his predecessor Wojciech Balczun in getting PKP Cargo ready for its début on Warsaw’s stock exchange. At the end of January, Transport Minister, Sławomir Nowak authorised the partial privatization of PKP Cargo by the sale of up to 50% of the shares of PKP Cargo. PKP SA is to retain a controlling interest in PKP Cargo.

Boron announced that he had identified three priority areas. The first of these was ‘consolidating’ Cargo’s existing markets: carrying steel, coal and aggregates.  This is a sector where Cargo has lost traffic thanks to the heavy engine / long train tactics of new competitors such as DB Schenker and Freightliner PL. The second was expansion into fast growing new markets such as biomass and intermodal, including expansion abroad, not only into the countries that are Poland’s immediate neighbours, but also further afield as far as Hungary and Holland. The third was to continue streamlining the company and cutting costs.

Łukasz Boron has worked in the railway industry for 8 months. He is a mergers and acquisition specialist having worked for four years in that role with KPMG Corporate Finance, then from 2011 he headed the M&A department of Erste Group Bank AG Investment Banking in Vienna.

PKP Cargo boss in surprise resignation

Monday, 28 January 2013

Wojciecj Balczun thumb

Former PKP Cargo boss Wojciech Balczun. Photo Shalom.

(Click on image to see original and for details of licensing.)

PKP Cargo Chairman, Wojciech Balczun, resigned today from the job of leading Poland’s largest rail freight carrier. The shock resignation is reportedly the result of Balczun receiving an offer of a  lucrative post with a major international company. Balczun will work out his three month notice with PKP Cargo and will help the company choose his successor.

Balczun has been in charge of PKP Cargo since January 2008. Prior to that, in the years 2005 – 2007, he was the Chairman of the main board of PKP SA. In 2008, the Cargo’s loss amounted to 178.8 million PLN. After major restructuring, which involved reducing the headcount from 44 k to 24.5k, he turned the company round and it is expect to declare a profit of 340 million PLN for 2012.

As Cargo prepares for an IPO on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, Balczun has emerged as one of the most able bosses in the PKP family and one that the state-owned group can ill afford to loose.

More (in Polish)

The end of daily scheduled standard gauge steam in Poland

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ol49-59 undergoing servicing at Wolsztyn. Photo John Savery.

News has reached us that the steam operation at Wolsztyn is set to suffer further cutbacks. The Wielkopolska government is making drastic budget cuts in 2013, believed to be in the region of 25%. One of the casualties will be the daily steam services from Wolsztyn, which are due to end with the December timetable change.

Ten years ago, Wolsztyn would send out three engines a day. For the past few years, this has been reduced to one engine a day. The latest cutbacks will see the 7-days-a-week service reduced to just 5 days per week, with the withdrawal of weekend services.

One would expect the impact on the town to be fairly major. Wolsztyn’s weekend steam tourists come not only from Poland but also from all over Europe and beyond. It is estimated that Wolsztyn Experience clients alone put as much as 500,000 zloty into the local economy each year, with an additional 500,000 zloty coming from other tourists who also visit the region. If the weekend steam services cease it is certain that the number of rail enthusiast tourists visiting Wolsztyn will fall dramatically, and with it, the amount of money that they inject into the local economy.

This threat to the local economy and local tourism flies in the face of the efforts currently being made by the Polish National Tourist Office, who, this very week, are trying to entice visitors, who may have visited during the Euro 2012 championships, back to Poland.

Behind the Water Tower readers are not known to give up without a fight.

Questions need to be asked about the cost/benefit gained by moving to a 5 day-a-week service as opposed to maintaining the 7 day-a-week operation.

Steam locomotives are serviced on a time interval based servicing regime, rather than on a days in steam servicing regime. Boilers become due for overhaul after a fixed time, regardless of whether they are in steam or not. Operating costs are therefore not proportional to usage. Savings on overhauls by a reduction in usage will be limited.

What will PKP Cargo do with the locomotives at weekends? If they are laid up cold, this cycling of the boiler each week is likely to only add to repair bills for the locomotives due to the constant thermal cycling of the boilers causing additional wear. If the locomotives are left in steam over the weekend, then this will still require staff at the depot, limiting the cost savings that are made by not running the locomotives.

Diesel railcars have been prone to failure during cold and snowy weather. Do Koleje Wielkopolskie intend to make improvements to the flimsy design of these railcars to make them more weather proof?

Readers who feel they would like to make their views known to the relevant authorities may care to use the following addresses. A well written hard copy letter carries more weight than an email, however, given the tight timescales involved, it will not hurt to send an email copy as well, with a note that a ‘hard copy’ is in the post.

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 142, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel.: 61 626 66 00
fax: 61 626 66 01
e-mail: marszalek@umww.pl

The Deputy Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Province

Wojciech Jankowiak
Wicemarszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 340, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel.: 61 626 66 10
fax: 61 626 66 11
e-mail: wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

The Wielkopolska Tourist Organisation

Ewa Przydrożny
Dyrektor
Wielkopolska Organizacja Turystyczna
ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, I p
61-737 Poznań
POLAND

ewa.przydrozny@wot.org.pl

The Polish National Tourist Office

Mr Boguslaw Becla
Acting Director
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

bogdan.becla@poland.travel

Mr Roman Gozdzikowski
General Manager
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

roman.gozdzikowski@poland.travel

The Mayor of Wolsztyn

mgr Andrzej Rogozinski
Burmistrz Wolsztyna
Urząd Miejsji
Rynek 1
64-200 Wolsztyn
POLAND

burmistrz@wolsztyn.pl

The Polish Ambassador

Witold Sobków
H.E. The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland
47 Portland Place
London W1B 1JH

london@msz.gov.pl

Nowak courts Chinese rail investors

Monday, 30 July 2012

China Railways CRH5 at Qinhuangdao. Photo 颐园新居.

(Click image to see original on Wikipedia and for licensing.)

Poland’s Transport Minister, Slawomir Nowak, has concluded a 5 day official visit to China. The visit took place at the invitation of China’s Transport Minister, Li Shenglin. The Polish delegation included Poland’s rail minister, Andrzej Massel, and the head of Poland’s Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ), Sławomir Majman. Other members of his delegation included representatives of PKP PLK, PKP Cargo, LHS, DCT, and the ports of Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin-Swinoujscie.

In China key meetings took place with the Deputy Minister for Trade, Zhong Shanan, and the Deputy Minister of Transport, Weng Mengyong, Other important meeting took place with representatives of some of China’s largest transport companies : China Shipping Container Lines, Cosco Shipping Line & Cosco Freight Forwarding Company, Shanghai Electric and the GeoHarbour Group.

Is it significant that meetings appear to have only taken place at deputy minister level? The official website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Transport Ministry – always keen to promote China to the rest of the world – are strangely silent on Nowak’s visit.

The purpose of the visit was to promote Poland as an attractive country for investment and a good place to do business in. Given the rapid transformation of China’s railways over the last two decade it is remarkable that no meetings appear to have been held with Chinese locomotive and rolling stock manufacturers, or with Chinese railway construction companies.

It is too early yet to judge whether the visit will succeed in its aims and improve relations between the two countries; a relationship which is still soured by mutual recriminations over the collapse of the Covec contract for building part of the A2 motorway.

Sources:

PKP Cargo plans for Wolsztyn locos

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pociag do Wielkopolski 23.7.2012 – rail enthusiast produced Wielkoplska province TV programme.

According to Andrzej Jablonski, a Director of the Wielkopolska Division of PKP Cargo, the company wants to maintain 4 working steam locomotives to maintain a reliable Wolsztyn-Poznan service and cope with  steam specials.

Major overhauls will be moved from Leszno to Chabowka where there is already a team of steam fitters based at the ‘skansen’. Jablonski wants to keep two of the Wolsztyn Ol49s in service and also Pt47-67. He also has his eye on Ol49-100 in Chabowka, which – although out of service since 2006 – is reported to have a good firebox.

Jablonski also has a ‘wish list’ of locos that he would like to see in service which includes Warsaw Railway Museum-owned Pm36-2 Piekna Helena and 4-6-0 Ok1-359, but with the Pm36’s ticket due to expire (the loco will need a new firebox) and the Ok1 being not powerful enough for the Poznan turns, it is likely that, for the time being at least, his ‘wish list’ will remain just that.

With a hat tip to Podroznik for the story.

PKP Cargo to test 3 chinese wagons

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Jinan Railway Vehicles Equipment Co. C70 coal wagon. Photo JRVEC.

PKP Cargo is planning to take delivery of three Chinese coal wagons and conduct tests as part of the process of obtaining Polish homologation. The wagons will be built by the Jinan Railway Vehicles Equipment Company Ltd in China.

JRVEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of China CNR Corporation Limited which was formerly the Jinan Locomotive and Rolling Stock Plant. JLRSP was established in 1910 to repair steam locomotives and, consequent upon the withdrawal of steam haulage, the company branched out into the design and manufacture diesel locomotives.

In 1993, the company further expanded its activities to encompass the design and manufacture freight wagons with the help of investment funds from the Chinese Ministry of Railways. JLRSP became JRVEC on July 9th, 2007.

In June 2010 PKP Cargo and JVREC set up a joint venture CNR Cargo Wagon Sp. z o.o. with a view of testing the feasibility of importing railway freight vehicles wagons in CKD kit form from China and assembling them in a new facility to be set up in Szczecin.

The venture was politically controversial at a time when many ex Cargo workers were being laid of at former PKP Cargo wagon works up and down the country. Also the feasibility study indicated that any competitive advantage was marginal when the costs of assembly in Poland were taken into account.

The project was mothballed for a couple of years. Now the first three wagons have been ordered and will be tested to see if they meet Polish and European certification standards.

If the test are successful a further 17 will be ordered in kit form to test the logistics and economics of assembly in Poland.

What is the betting that the cheapest option will be to assemble the freight wagons in China?

(With a hat tip to the Railway Gazette.)

Sources:

PKP Cargo celebrate St Catherine’s feastday

Monday, 5 December 2011

Photo report by John Savery

Ol49-59 and Sw. Katarzyna statue, PKP Cargo offices, Poznan. Photo ©John Savery

(Click image to enlarge.)

Swieta Katarzyna (Saint Catherine) is the patron saint of railway workers in Poland.  25 November, the saint’s feast day, saw PKP Cargo celebrate the rededication of their statue to Sw Katarzyna, in front of their offices at the rear of the Cargo shed in Poznan.

A moment during the rededication ceremony, PKP Cargo offices, Poznan. Photo ©John Savery

(Click image to enlarge.)

Ol49-59, which had worked the morning train from Wolsztyn down to Leszno the previous day, had been buffed up to a shine, and worked light engine to Poznan that morning, in time for the celebrations.  With brass band playing, and standards paraded, the statue was blessed, before the engine worked light back to Leszno in time for the scheduled afternoon train to Wolsztyn.

Days work done, Ol49-59 basks in the evening sun, outside Leszno MPD. Photo ©John Savery

(Click image to enlarge.)