Archive for the ‘PKP’ Category

PKP Intercity ticketing system collapses – Heads roll

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Tomorrow’s morning trains from Lodz to Warsaw. Only the Przewozy Regionalne online booking service is working. Image TK Telecom train timetable portal.

(Click image to expand.)

The relaunch of PKP Intercity’s ticketing system, timed to coincide with the sale of tickets for the new Pendolino service starting in December,  has ended in farce.  Launched on Sunday 16 November, the service quickly collapsed, and whilst booking offices at stations have been resolved, the online service, which handles Intercity’s sales is still down.  Ticket machines are also affected.  Together, they handle 10% of sales.  No timetable is given for resolution. As of this evening, the online service remains unusable.

PKPIC null

PKP IC’s own ticket portal displays a dearth of information.

A crisis team has been set up, and the problem blamed on the lack of compatibility with the new system, and the existing archaic systems used throughout the PKP network.

Heads have rolled.  Paweł Hordyński, the board member with responsibility for IT and the new ticketing system has been removed from his post.  A further two directors have also gone.

As a means of apology, Intercity have increased the availability of the cheapest tickets (49zl) for the new Pendolino service threefold.  Assuming there is a means for buying them…

Intercity have stated that the launch date for the Pendolino is unaffected.

Krosniewice death watch

Monday, 11 August 2014

With perhaps, the future of the daily ex Wolsztyn steam services being the one exception, no campaign has mobilised BTWT readers as much as the battle to save the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway. Alas it seems that all our attempts – as well as the stalwart efforts of local enthusiasts – have failed to influence the decision makers.

As the various local authorities prepare to take over sections of the line, rip up the track and convert them into cycle paths, on July 6 our reporter paid a last nostalgic visit to photograph the railway’s remains at Ozorkow and Krosniewice.

The text and photographs in this article may be republished under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.


Volunteers tidy the path leading to the narrow gauge platform at Ozorkow. An Open Day is held each Sunday afternoon at the station. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

(All photos can be expanded by double clicking on the images.)

In its heyday the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways – comprising some 1,000 km of 600mm and 750mm lines – were Poland’s largest narrow gauge network. Starting from various independent agricultural and sugar beet railways the lines were expanded and connected together into a 600mm network for the purposes of supplying the Prussian forces during WW I.

When Poland recovered its independence the ‘main line’ was converted to 750mm. PKP constructed two new buildings at Krosniewice in the latest Art Deco style – the station building and the running shed.


One of the attractions of the Sunday Open Days is the possibility of a ride on a platelayer’s trolley. Local volunteers pose with an itinerant Englishman. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The Kujawy Railways survived WWW II and some of the remaining 600mm feeder lines were converted to 750mm gauge. At the start of 1991, PKP reorganised the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways into three independent railways the Gniezno Narrow Gauge Railway, the Sompolno Narrow Gauge Railway, and the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway.

The Krosniewice Railway and the Gniezno Railway – but not the Sompolno Railway – were two of the some two dozen railways that were rescued from the wholesale destruction of the remaining PKP narrow gauge lines in 2001.

Thanks to co-operation between the then Mayor of Krosniewice, and the former PKP general manager of the line, the Town Council decided to acquire the Krosniewice line from PKP.



At first sight Krosniewice station appears to be open. Closer inspection reveals to two changes wrought by Barbara Herman, the Mayor of  Krosniewice – the removal of the level crossing barriers across the main road, and the grave-like display of flowers in the platelayer’s trolley next to the level crossing. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

While the legal formalities for the transfer of the ownership of the line proceeded, the Council obtained an operating licence from PKP SA granted which it sub-licensed to SKPL, a society set up with the objective of carrying on operations on the recently closed narrow gauge railways.

The line’s future seemed secure. SKPL operated a regular passenger service on weekdays linking Krosniewice to the PKP stations at Ostrowy and Krzewie. On market days the service was extended to Dabrowice and Wielka Wies Kujawska.

But the main work on the line was freight – carrying supplies to and refined sugar from sugar refineries situated on the network. At the peak of SKPL operations the line was carrying 100,000 tonnes of freight a year.


Looking to the North – everything appears neat and tidy. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The legal wheels turned but slowly – Polish law required PKP to recreate the missing deeds for all the parcels of land over which the line ran before a formal handover could be concluded with Krosniewice Council.

Meanwhile, as a gesture of good faith, PKP transferred the ownership of all the line’s rolling stock – including a working Px48 steam locomotive – to the Council.

Unlike PKP, SKPL received no central government subsidy. During the off-season it was sometimes difficult to find the money to purchase replacement parts for the diesel locomotives and pay staff.

Slowly, disused feeder lines began to vanish…  .


But a peek across the wall shows that every piece of glass is smashed in the skylight of the workshop roof. Photo BTWT.

Meanwhile a group of railway enthusiasts started clearing the overgrown trackbed on the disused track bed between Ozorkow and Krosniewice. While senior SKPL management – based in the Zbiersk Cukrownia HQ of the Kalisz narrow gauge railway – backed their efforts, relations with management and staff at Krosniewice were strained.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of local railway enthusiasts was when GDDKiA (Poland’s Directorate of Trunk Roads and Motorways) decided that they needed to take over a section of the narrow gauge railway in the vicinity of Topola Krolewska to build a new wide viaduct across the Lodz-Kutno railway line. Thanks to the energetic lobbying of the enthusiasts, the GDDKiA ended up having to construct a brand new viaduct for the narrow gauge line as well!


The narrow gauge freight wagons have received no attention since the line’s closure. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

In 2006, at special meeting in Ozorkow the supporters of the line decided to formally constitute themselves into the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways Society. SKPL Chairman, Tomasz Strapagiel, attended the meeting and gave the venture his support.

The Society acquired a passenger coach from the defunct Piotrkow Trybunalski narrow gauge railway and restored it to running order. The Society’s volunteers cleared the trackbed from Krzewie to Ozorkow and, with the co-operation of SKPL, a number of special trains – which proved very popular – were run through to Ozorkow.


The Art Deco building in the background is the running shed. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Then in 2007 or thereabouts a new Mayor was elected in Krosniewice. Whereas the previous Mayor saw the Krosniewice Railway primarily as a transport undertaking, the new Mayor – Barbara Herman – saw the railway as a lucrative development opportunity.

Soon she visited the line, in the company of the local PKP property surveyor, and expressed an interest in demolishing the historic workshop buildings in order to make was for a major new property development – the General Wladyslaw Anders Centre.


Recently repainted, the point lever and indicator adds a surreal touch. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Mrs Herman requested that SKPL vacate the workshop buildings. The General Manager pointed out that SKPL needed the workshops to maintain the transporter wagons used to carry the standard gauge freight wagons. The Mayor countered that she had no interest in carrying ant freight though she might be prepared to countenance a small ‘fun fair railway’ somewhere on the site.

SKPL refused to vacate the workshop buildings. The Mayor countered by terminating SKPL’s licence to operate the railway.


These coal trucks have a special compartment for a brakeman and were last used on sugar beet trains. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The last train ran on 31 March, 2008. Ironically SKPL were in negotiation with a bulk aggregate supplier to deliver several hundred tonnes of roadstone required for building the A2 and A1 motorways. Ads a result of the Mayor’s decision roads in the Lodz Province were subject to tens of thousands of tonne km of unnecessary road traffic.

The Mayor’s decision provoked a massive storm of protest. Realising which way the wind was blowing, the Mayor trimmed her sails maintaining a public stance that she supported the reopening of the railway. She even allowed local activists to organise a couple of special trains from Krosniewice to Ozorkow to demonstrate her good intentions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Mayor continued her attempts to have the workshop buildings demolished.


Barely visible under the undergrowth – a line of standard gauge transporter wagons. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

But the Mayor’s plans hit an unexpected obstacle in the form of the Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, Mr Wojciech Szygendowski. Mr Szygendowski refused to grant permission to have the historic listed buildings demolished.

With her plans apparently thwarted the Mayor decided to reverse her predecessor’s decision to acquire the whole of the Krsoniewice Narrow Gauge Railway from PKP. Instead she came up with the plan that each local council should acquire just that section of line that lay within the its own administrative boundaries.

Now the demise of the railway could become a collective affair – one council could use the line for a cycle path, another for road improvements… and as the line died section by section and the historic workshop buildings deteriorated she could try yet again to have them demolished.


The low buildings were the machine shops. The smashed windows and doors tell their own story. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Without any maintenance, the workshop buildings deteriorate year by year. Unless a ‘white knight’ appears on the scene it seems increasingly like that Mrs Barbara Herman will succeed in her plan to bring about the final end of the Krosniewice Railway.

Further reading:

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 Zarządu
Polskie Koleje Państwowe S.A.
ul. Szczęśliwicka 62
00-973 Warszawa


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


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


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.


More: Wikipedia – Łódź Fabryczna railway station

Finance Minister cuts 1,000,000,000PLN from rail

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

'Update 2009: Europe': Jacek Rostowski

Jacek Rostocki, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland.

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

Faced with a 23.6 billion PLN ‘hole’ in this year’s budget, yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers approved savings of 7.6 billion PLN proposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland, Jacek Rostocki.

The largest cut, 3.14 billion falls on the Ministry of Defence, while the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs faces a cut of 1.01 billion PLN. The savings will be ‘shared’ by Directorate of Motorways and Trunk roads which loses 2 million PLN and polish railways which lose 1 billion PLN.

Sadly rail, lacking a convincing lobby to defend its interests, is perceived as a ‘soft target’ by the Polish government and is regularly singled out for swingeing cuts which leave road investment effectively unscathed.

While government sources emphasise that the cuts will not effect investment in rail infrastructure upgrades, it seems highly unlikely that Polish railways will be able to take up all the EU infrastructure funds that would have been available had Poland’s rail infrastructure manager, PKP PLK, been more generously funded.

During the period 2007-2013 Polish railways were allocated a pool some 20 billion PLN from EU funds. Unfortunately due to problems in finding “own funds” it appears likely that over 5 billion PLN will be lost.

As for the next funding round, sources close to the European Commission have reported that while Poland has been lobbying hard for funding for light rail and tram projects the same has not been happening for prospective heavy rail investments.


Last train to Nowy Sacz?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

IMG_4889 - departing shot

Departing shot Ty42-107, and its train. Photo John Savery.

The line from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz is on the list of lines to be closed that was published earlier this year.  The scenic line, with its twisting curves and steep gradients, is worth travelling.  With that in mind, coupled with the fact that I hadn’t travelled further east than Dobra, forced the decision to go out for the steam hauled special on 26 May, organised by the Nowosądeckie Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei (Nowy Sacz Railway Society).  Tickets for the special sold out weeks before, however there were tickets left for the Chabowka to Nowy Sacz leg of the trip, which had been added as a working train, rather than an empty stock move.

A bright early morning start greeted Ty42-107, and the mixed train of retro and ryflak coaches.

IMG_4760-1 Heading to Mszana Dolna

The 5.30 departure didn’t deter people from turning out for the train.  The line is rarely used, and this showed on the stiff climb from Mszana Dolna to Skrzydlna, with the loco slipping to a stand on several occasions.  A wet railhead, along with a rarely used line proved a tough match for the Kriegslok, despite not having a heavy train.  Pausing at some stations on the way for 5 minute breaks, the train made slow progress to Nowy Sacz, but kept time.  Despite the weather, there were several groups of photographers out in force at the lineside.

A large crowd greeted the train at Limanowa, many of whom boarded.

At Nowy Sacz, the train was greeted by brass bands, singers, and a display of period soldiers.

I was fortunate enough to be with a friend who has a wide network in the Polish gricing community, which rallies together to help each other out.  Seeing a contact on the side of the line, a quick handwave, a few gestures, and a follow up text message secured 2 spaces in a car for the return trip.

IMG_4910-1 near Skrydlna

Special near Skrydlna. Photo John Savery.

Under worsening weather, the train returned to Chabowka, full, and stopping for approximately half an hour at intermediate stations, where there were festivities laid on.  With decreasing adhesion, the train stalled several times, making for a spectacular display.  At one stage the crew were forced to walk ahead of the loco in pouring rain, placing ballast on the railhead so that the engine could crush it and get a grip.

IMG_4944-1 Mszana to Rabka

Special on the section Mszana to Rabka. Photo John Savery.

Arriving in Chabowka, the passengers boarded waiting coaches to take them back to Nowy Sacz and the intermediate towns.

As we close for press we have heard that the line has been saved from closure as it is of national strategic importance.  There are no further planned workings over the line – the trains scheduled for Parowozjazda are only planned to go as far as Mszana Dolna, missing the steepest sections, and in some cases the most deteriorated parts of the line.  This could well be the last train to Nowy Sacz (via the Transwersalna).  Only time will tell.

IMG_4958 empty tracks, near Rabka Zaryte

Empty tracks near Rabka Zaryte. Photo John Savery.

(All photographs Ⓒ John Savery. Click on the image to view a larger picture.)

More photos of the trip can be seen on Flickr, and video on YouTube.

Ty42-24 – heavy overhaul complete

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Ty42-24 on the day of its steam test 18.6.2013.
Photo Marek Ciesielski

(Click image to enlarge.)

Ty42-24’s overhaul is complete. The locomotive passed its official steam test yesterday and now has a boiler certificate for the next 6 years. The locomotive’s heavy overhaul was carried out by TOZKiOS (the Pyskowice Railway Society) under the engineering leadership of the Jakubina brothers.

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to TOZKiOS on the completion of a very challenging task in very difficult circumstances – the court case brought by PKP against TOZKiOS continues to threaten the future of the collection of railway locomotives and rolling stock gathered together at the old MPD at Pyskowice.


Ty42-24 at Lazy before delivery to Pyskowice. Photo TOZKiOS.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Ty42-24 seems to have led a charmed existence, built in 1945 in Chrzanow to WWII German ‘Kreigslok’ plans, it worked in various locations in the general area of Silesia until 1968 when it was allocated to the MPD at Szopience. Here it was stationed for 16 years until, after a heavy overhaul in Pila, its has its last reallocation in 1984 (some sources give 1988) to Lazy. Here it seems to have some time as a stationary boiler. In 1991 it is officially withdrawn from service, but mysteriously stays on at Lazy, a boiler overhaul is started in 1992, but is suspended when the MPD receives a purpose-built central heating boiler.

Did the loco in those early days in Lazy have a guardian angel sufficiently senior in the local PKP management hierarchy to block any attempts to send it to a scrap yard? Some 6 years later, in 1998, Ty42-24 is ‘removed from the PKP inventory’, but remains in Lazy for the next 10 years, though in a rapidly deteriorating state. In 2005, ownership of the loco is transferred to TOZKiOS though initially the Society lacked the funds to move the loco and the local railwaymen are reluctant to lose a convenient source of scrap which can easily be converted to a few bottles of vodka.

When it was announced that Ty42-24 was to be restored there were many doubters who gave vent to their scepticism and said that the loco would never steam again. Now that they have been proved wrong we hope very much to see the locomotive at various railway events and hope that the attendant publicity may help to persuade the authorities to help the Pyskowice museum secure its future.


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.


One less steam engine in Poland

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

But which one?


Robert Dylewski, who has established his reputation as a doughty defender of the remaining stock of Polish steam locomotives, sent out an alert today that the Labedy steelworks in Gliwice have received a pile of steel scrap which is undoubtedly a recently cut up steam locomotive boiler.

Robert’s informant speculates that the steel comes from Ty45-6 which was stored at Kezdierzyna Kozla. As yet, this has still to be confirmed.

BTWT will report back on this story as further information reaches us. However, one thing is certain – as the new cold winds of the economic crisis blow ever stronger – the future of Poland’s ‘remainder steam stock’ (i.e. not allocated to specific museums) looks decidedly bleak.

Transport of delight, or own goal? (Awaiting departure)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dyspozytor is returning to Poland from a soujurn in the UK. He has reached Poznan Glowny on the eve of the Ireland v. Italy game, and is about to catch the 15:55 to Lodz Kaliska.

The main indicator board. Photo BTWT.

(Click to expand.)

It is 15:15, the 15:55 has not yet been posted. When it appears, some 10 minutes later, it will be shown as terminating at Krakow Plaszow and calling at Konin and Kutno. There will be no indication that it stops at 15 other intermediate stations including Lodz Kaliska and Krakow Glowny!

Time for a break. Photo BTWT.

(Click to expand.)

Some things in Poland never change. The cleaner talks to the security guard for over half an hour. The brand new lift goes to… who knows? Perhaps they are standing there to advise football fans looking for the lift to platform 2?

Stairway to heaven. Photo BTWT.

(Click to expand.)

No doubt at all that these are stairs down to platform 2. The escalator only goes up. The 15:55 has been posted, but I need to use my iPhone to access the TK Telekom on-line timetable to confirm that TLK83106 also calls at Lodz Kaliska.

BTWT reaches parts other media never get to. Photo BTWT.

(Click to expand.)

This is the sight that greets passengers coming out of the lift. It looks as the team who built the new station took little heed of the design of the existing bridge. Note also the ‘hidden’ bay platforms with absolutely no signage.

Alfred Hitchcock would have loved this station. Photo BTWT.

(Click to expand.)

I turn around and see lots of trains, but the space under the concourse is dark and threatening. Those spindly single track steps are not a fire escape, but the only stairs down to platform 3. Similar narrow steps link the concourse area to platforms 1 and 2.


Transport of delight, or own goal? (Prelude and fugue)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dyspozytor lands in Poznan on the eve of the Ireland v. Italy game. He is pleasantly surprised by the welcome awaiting the Irish fans.

Recently returned after a rail journey from Moscow to Beijing, Andrew preferred the plane to the train for his trip out from Poznan to Moscow. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

18 June

Monday begins badly. I am not an early bird and I was not happy when, two days before my departure from the UK, I received an e-mail from Wizzair telling me to turn up at Luton Airport three hours before the my scheduled departure time. I crawl out of bed at 04:00, shower and eat a one sandwich breakfast. At 05:10, I leave St Albans for what should be a 20 minute car journey to the airport.

Millions have been spent on making the airport approach road a dual carriageway. Just after it was completed, the airport (run by TBI plc) abolished the its drop-off point conveniently close to the terminal building and routed all incoming cars through a car park and a single ticket barrier. It is not yet 06:00, and already the queue of cars slowly crawling forward is tailing two miles back. Has anyone calculated the social cost of the decision to impose a minimum £1 charge on all cars entering the airport?

Luton airport has become my own personal bête noire as far as making passengers walk unnecessary miles. The new drop-off point is now at least 100 yards away from the terminal entrance. It is raining. My suitcase handle is a good 4 inches too short to be comfortable, and my back is already sore after a restless night on a soft bed. It is 06:05. Halfway through the terminal there is a security cordon where boarding cards are checked. I am told to proceed to security zone six – another 50 yards walk back in the direction that I have just come from.

Security zone six turns out to be a fast track security check for passengers like myself who turn up at Luton with less than the advised 3 hours before departure. The queue is short and moves quickly. My baggage clears X-ray without a hitch, but I manage to ring the warning buzzer in the magnetic scanning machine and I am treated to a pat down.

Another 100 yard walk and I reach a small lounge fitted with departure monitors and chairs. What should I do? Do I wait here, reasonably close to Gates 1 through to 19, or do I walk some distance to the main departure lounge which is conveniently close for Gates 20 to 26? I check the monitor, it is 06:20, my flight is not yet shown. I see that various Wizzair flights are due to depart from both clusters of gates, so I decide to stay where I am. I eat my other sandwich and settle down to read my book, a biography of Richard Trevithic. The book is destined to help me combat boredom during many long hours this day, but as yet I am oblivious of what lies ahead.

The new above-the-tracks concourse at Poznan Glowny. A further segment of the concourse is under construction beyond the screen on the east side. The concourse currently provides access to the new platforms 1, 2 and 3. Will the extension provide access to a further platform 4? Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Shortly after 07:00 my flight, the 08:05 to Poznan, is posted. Check in is at Gate 25, which turns out to be a 500 yard walk from my lounge. By the time I have limped to the gate, there are already about 100 passengers in the queue ahead of me. I ask a couple of football fans to save my place and gratefully sink in to one of the chairs. The queue moves again, I regain my place. Another corridor, a long flight of steps… someone helps me with my suitcase up the steps to the aircraft, I collapse gratefully into a free seat in the last row.

I reflect wryly on the difference between the way that Victorian railway companies looked after their passengers and the operators at Luton. Whenever possible through coaches were detached from main line trains and attached to branch line services, to reduce the number of changes. This enlightened practice continued on BR till the 1960s. When it was not possible to provide through coaches, the railway companies tried to arrange same platform connections.

Patriotic colours. Plenty of places for a coffee and a quick snack, but not much else. PKP have not yet understood the retail potential of their main stations. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

I am not impressed by the flight attendants who spend most of the flight chatting up a senior colleague and ignoring passengers. The absence of any customer service ethos still seems to linger as a characteristic of many large ‘Eastern block’ companies.

We land in Poznan just before 11:00. I walk cautiously down the steps and am delighted to see a bus waiting at the bottom. This drops me a few yards from passport control. Wonderful! The border authorities have opened more booths to deal with the influx of football fans, but not all have been fitted up with computer terminals. The border official writes down my passport number on a sheet of paper and and waves me through. It only takes a minute. I walk the short distance across the baggage reclaim area and I am in the arrivals hall… another 20 yards and I reach at the bus stop for route ‘L’, the Poznan Glowny shuttle. I award Poznan airport the BTWT award for the most user-friendly airport access that I’ve come across.

More surprises on the bus. There is a ticket machine, but it has run out of small change and can only issue tickets for the exact money. The driver is also selling tickets, but by the time I reach him, all the right tickets have gone. The last time this happened to me here, I was overcharged by three times the going rate! This time, the bus driver smiles, rattles about in his till and changes my 5 zloty coin for the right change to put in the machine. Goodness! What has happened to the legendary rudeness of Polish bus drivers? Am I dreaming? I enter into the spirit of things and answer lots of questions from Ireland supporters. I advise them to travel all the way to the railway station where there will be an information desk and possibly maps showing the way to the football stadium.

Polish railways

Does the architect of the new Poznan railway station ever travel by train? Seating for passengers does not seem to have a high priority. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Will the bus stop next to the new station building? No, The bus stops where it always has, just short of the old railway station. I am determined to try out the new building. There does not seem to be a grand entrance. Perhaps it has been built yet? But there do seem to be stairs going up into the building from the platform level. Hurrah, there are escalators. It is going to be a good today after all!

The concourse area is quite stunning. It is light and airy and deliciously cool. It was uncomfortably hot outside. A number of Ireland supporters are milling about inside. I decide that the first thing to do is to get my ticket for the journey to Lodz. As always, when buying a ticket in Poland is important to have planned your journey first. I am tired and I do not fancy jumping off and on to trains or dragging my suitcase up-and-down subways. There are only two direct trains the 12:45 Regio osobowy (all stations stopping train) which takes 4 hours 38 minutes and the 15:55 TLK which takes 3 hours 29 minutes. Reluctantly I decided that a journey involving a change of trains – the 14:25 Galczynski, and the 16:52 Doker from Kutno – total journey time 3 hours 59 minutes – is probably my best bet.
Polish railways

‘st. Martin’s Croissants’ – oh dear! Luckily the Ireland fans seem to have eyes for things other than the bad spelling. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

There is no queue at the ticket counters. The old station is still in commission and I suspect is still used by most of the regular rail travellers. I choose a PR counter because the lady ticket clerk looks efficient, and ask for a ticket for a journey on the 14:25 TLK to Kutno and then by the 16:52 TLK from Kutno to Lodz Kaliska. I am told that all seats on this train have to be reserved and that this entails a small extra charge. No worries, at least this guarantees me a seat. Reservation on certain TLK train was introduced a month ago by Transport Minister Novak to ensure that scenes of people squashing on to packed trains via open windows do not occur during Euro 2012.

The lady looks puzzled, Booking for this train is blocked, I can’t seem to be able to sell you a ticket. Odd! Ireland is playing Italy in Poznan this evening, so why should an afternoon train running from Poznan to Warsaw be sold out? Since long before the championships, I have kept hearing rumours that tickets for certain trains were unavailable for direct purchase from PKP, but had been reserved for the handful of agencies operating the Poland Ticket scheme. I begin to wonder if any PKP directors are financially involved in any of the Poland Ticket agencies… I decide to take the later through train and buy a ticket for the 15:55 Sukiennice which will take me direct to Lodz Kaliska.

Two coffee shops and a couple of snack stands – still room for improvement before catching up with the gastronomic standard of the  Gare de Lyon. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

I have some three hours before my train departs to Lodz. I have arranged to meet up with my good friend Andrew, who has just returned from an epic  train journey from Moscow to Beijing. I want to hear all about his travels and beg him to write an account of his adventures for BTWT. Much to my delight he agrees. Andrew minds my luggage while I climb painfully to the third floor press office to collect my Euro 2012 press pack. I am hoping to get lots of hard facts about the various improvements that have been carried out to ready Poland’s railways for the influx of football supporters, but the pack turns not to contain the information I am looking for.

For some reason my iPhone has not automatically reset itself to CET and suddenly I find myself with less than 30 minutes to go before my train departs. We say a quick farewell and I collect my things for my journey to Lodz. Little do I know that my adventures are about to begin!


Karnowski replaces Wasiak in the chair of PKP

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Jakub Karnowski. Photo SGH.

As we go to press, Infrastructure Minister, Slawomir Nowak, has just completed a press conference in Warsaw where he announced the composition of a new slimmed-down PKP SA main board .

Out go: Finance Director, Pawel Piesniewski; Director of Property, Pawel Olczyk; and Director of Real Estate Management, Romuald Bosakowski. In come: Jakub Karnowski, to take the post of chairman; and Piotr Cizkowicz, whose title is yet to be announced. Maria Wasiak, formerly in the chair, retains her position on the board.

According to Radio Zet, the savings made by reducing the PKP main board to three persons will allow the company to pay sufficiently attractive salaries to employ suitable qualified ‘professionals’. The old 4-person board cost 120k PLN/month, the new board will cost 138k PLN/month.The deposed board members will not be sacked, but rather moved to other positions in PKP.

According to Puls Biznesu, Nowak wants Karnowski to set up an investment fund based on PKP’s real estate assets, and to use this fund to ensure that PKP has ‘own funds’ available for the completion of projects for which EU funding has been allocated. Karnowski’s other challenges will include reducing the PKP debt mountain and arranging for the privatisation of PKP Cargo.

Nowak announced the new board’s priorities as:

  • modernizing the PKP IC rolling stock fleet and the purchase of new rolling stock
  • completion of the upgrade of existing lines; Warsaw – Wroclaw journey times to be reduced to 3.5 hours by 2015
  • replacement of life expired points
  • improving safety at level crossings – 2,000 level crossings to be modernised by 2015

Jakub Karnowski

Karnowski obtained a PhD in economics from SGH (the Warsaw School of Economics). He is a member of the USA Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, was awarded an MBA by  University of Minnesota (USA). He was awarded a scholarship by The Margaret Thatcher Foundation to study at the London School of Economics.

Karnowski’s last position – which he left to take up his new job as boss of PKP – was chairman of PKO Banks investment fund, PKO TFI, a position he occupied since October 2008. Between 2003 – 2008 he worked in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency | World Bank Group. In 2002 he was appointed the Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the National Bank of Poland. Karnowski is probably best known in Poland for introducing a student loan scheme in 1997.

Piotr Cizkowicz

Cizkowicz studied at SGH under Professor Leszek Balcerowicz and has now returned to his alma mater as a research fellow specialising in economic growth, monetary policy, public financing and econometrics.

Since 2008 he has also worked for Ernst and Young where he managed a number of reseaarch projects for private and public clients and also manged the Sprawne Panstwo (Efficient State) programme for the company. Between 2007-2009 he was an adviser to the Ombudsman for Civil Rights regarding the reform of the Polish Health Service. In 2002, he started working for the National Bank of Poland.  From 2004 – 2008 he headed the bank’s department responsible for international benchmarking.

(A hat tip to Marek Ciesielski for alerting us to the changes at PKP’s main board.)


Monday, 6 February 2012

Building a snow wall to prevent drifting circa 1930 near Tarnopol. Officials from the Ministry of Communications and PKP pose for the camera. Photo NAC collection.

(Click image to see the original – which may be enlarged – on the National Digital Archive.)

A flurry of snow hits the UK the UK on Saturday evening and suddenly Poland is seen in an entirely different light! After last winter’s Heathrow chaos FGP TopCo Limited (operating in the Britain as BAA Ltd.) promised more snowploughs, more gritters, more everything. Yet after Saturday’s snowstorm, which lasted only a few hours, the worst delayed plane (due to depart shortly after 21:00hrs) actually got into the air around 05:30hrs on Sunday morning. On Sunday, Heathrow enjoyed temperatures well above freezing, there was no frost, yet BAA cancelled 50% of the flights due in and out of the airport.

Inaugural run on the Kasprowy Wierch cable car railway in 1936. Photo NAC collection.

(Click image to see the original on the National Digital Archive.)

Snow ploughing on the Bieszczady Railway circa 1941. Photo NAC collection.

(Click image to see the original on the National Digital Archive.)

Coping with snow is one thing that Poles have become rather good at as these photographs from Poland’s Narodowy Archiwum Cyfrowy (National Digital Archive testify.) Last year’s chaos on Polish railways was one dreadful exception, but this year PKP has coped admirably. The Archive was set up by the Minister of Culture in 2008, and has digitised some 150,000 photographs and 20,000 sound recordings.

Lodz Fabryczna, RIP

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lodz Fabryczna station on its last day of operation, 15.10.2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click on image to expand.)

Lodz Fabryczna is no more. The station closed to passenger traffic on Sunday 16 October. The closure is the first stage of a 2 billion PLN project to relocate the station underground and to build a new skyscraper city centre on the railway land. The original 1868 station building designed by Adolf Schimmelpfennig for Karol Scheibler – the greatest of all the Lodz industrialists – is to be demolished. The advantages of the station relocation are claimed to be:

  • the new railway station will also serve a new high-speed railway;
  • facilities for railway passengers will be greatly improved;
  • the relocation of the station will release much needed development land;
  • the existing station building is an eyesore which should be demolished.

The local and national press have loudly trumpeted the claims of Infrastructure Minister, Cezary Grabarczyk, and Lodz Mayor, Hanna Zdanowska, that the development project will bring benefits to rail passengers and the city of Lodz. BTWT is not so sure.

  • routing the proposed Warsaw – Lodz – Wroclaw + Poznan “Y”-shaped high-speed line through the centre of Lodz is the most expensive way of bring Poland’s “HS2” to the city; we calculate that this route will add some 10 billion PLN to the costs of the line which will make it very difficult to build and finance;
  • the new Lodz Fabryczna is pencilled in for opening for 2015 – given PKP’s poor record of delivering projects on time – rail passengers will suffer inconvenience for many years to come; PKP’s can ill afford its investment in the project (76%) at a time when it cannot manage to maintain its infrastructure and is already burdened by very high interest costs;
  • there is no shortage of development land in and around Lodz; the developer who was interested in acquiring the former railway land has withdrawn and given the reluctance of banks to lend money for new development projects, Lodz is unlikely to recoup its share (24%) of the costs;
  • the existing station is an architectural gem, which was carefully restored and extended by PKP after Poland regained its independence; future generations will not understand why today’s city authorities demolished so much of Lodz’s industrial heritage.

If our doubts prove to be right, then the Lodz Fabryczna relocation will prove to be yet another expensive ‘vanity’ project. Such exercises in megalomania were commonplace during Poland’s communist past. We all supposed, when the country wholeheartedly embraced free market economics, that their day had passed.

Lodz Fabryczna last day. YouTube video by yamarotto.

On the last day, the station was busy and its car park full until the last train had run. It seemed that everyone in the city who had a camera came to pay their respects to the old station. The last train out of Lodz Fabryczna was the 22:40 PR Regio train to Koluszki. There was a carnival atmosphere with champagne corks popping and TV cameras rolling. The train was packed, many railway enthusiasts travelled out as far as Lodz Widzew and then returned on the last train in – the 23:10 TLK arrival (21:22 ex W-wa Centralna).

Three rakes of TLK carriages remained in the station after midnight, presumably these ran as ’empty stock’ working to Lodz Widzew on Sunday morning at which stop they magically became passenger trains?


Railway Museum – here we go again!

Thursday, 21 July 2011


The Railway Museum at the former Warszawa Glowna station sits on some prime real estate. Photo BTWT.

A few hours ago one of our friends received the following e-mail from Ewelina Matuszewska at the Warsaw Railway Museum. (BTWT translation of Polish original.)


In connection with the fact that PKP SA has issued a summons against the Railway Museum to terminate its occupation of the real estate and railway station buildings at Warsawa Glowna and ordered the Railway Museum to leave these within 7 days from legal validation of the documentation, please do not hesitate to support our institution by leaving your signature on the portal:


Ewelina Matuszewska
Promotion Department
Railway Museum

We were under the impression that PKP SA and the museum had agreed to give the museum three more years at its Warsaw location. Perhaps the museum has not been keeping up with its rent payments?


Quest for new PKP SA chairman over

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Maria Wasiak stays in post.

Maria Wasiak. Photo PKP SA.

At an extraordinary general meeting of PKP SA shareholders held earlier today Maria Wasiak was appointed chairman of PKP SA. Ms Wasiak has been working as ‘acting chairman’ of PKP SA since 30 December 2010, following the dismissal of the previous incumbent, Andrzej Wach by the new Deputy Minister responsible for Poland’s railways, Andrzej Massel. Ms Wasiak will share the duties for which she has been responsible up to now with Romuald Bosakowski, who was appointed a board member today.

Ms Wasiak hails from Radom and studied law at Warsaw University and management at the School of Economics in Poznan. She was involved in local politics and became the Deputy Chief Executive of the Radom District Council in 1998 from where she moved to the political office of Tadeusz Syryjczyk, the Minister of Transport. She is seen as politically connected to Civic Platform, Poland’s governing party.

She joined PKP in 2000 in the role of ‘Project Director’. In 2001, she was promoted to the position of chairman of the PKP subsidiary responsible for regional services, PKP Przewozy Regionalne. In 2002, she became Head of PKP’s privatisation office. She was promoted to main board member with responsibility for ‘Promotion and Social Affairs’.

While some commentators regard the non-appointment of a suitably qualified ‘Rail Czar’ as a failure, it is unlikely that the Government, working through the Ministry of Infrastructure, looked very hard for an alternative. Maria Wasiak is seen as a safe pair of hands who will regard the privatisation of PKP SA’s assets as her top priority.

Her appointment and the ‘steady as she goes’ message that it conveys will have pleased the Ministry of Finance and received its tacit backing – the State Treasury controls the voting rights at PKP SA’s general meetings. A powerful external candidate may have upset the tacit understanding between the government, rail union bosses and top rail managers whereby everyone milks Poland’s railways for what they can and the network gradually decays until only a small core is left.

Less pleased will be PKP’s customers. Without fundamental changes to the way the railways are managed passengers will be left with even fewer overcrowded trains and with increasingly inaccurate and inadequate information. Freight operators will face rising rail access charges and deteriorating tracks. While wishing Ms Wasiak well with her appointment, we suspect that we will be continuing to be chronicling the decline of Poland’s railways for many more years to come.

EU censures rail cash grab, rail minister…

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

argues that money would be better spent on roads!

EU flag outside the Commission building in Brussels. From a photo by Xavier Häpe on Wikipedia Commons.

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

The European Commission has censured the Polish government’s decision to transfer €1.2 billion from the railway refurbishment program to its road building budget. The decision was the consequence of an investigation carried out by PKP PLK last year at the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure as to how many of its railway investment projects would be finished by 2014. Those projects which could not be completed by the deadline were shelved. This year, the prime minister announced  that the unused monies would ber transferred to the road building budget. Now the Commission has reprimanded the government for its decision and said that this money should be spent on railway projects.

At a meeting with Commission officials last week Andrzej Massel, the deputy Minister of Infrastructure, responsible for rail and Patrycja Wolinska-Bartkiewicz, the deputy minister responsible for EU projects argued the case for allowing the Polish government to transfer the cash to its road building budget. A final decision is expected to be made shortly.

Source (with a hat tip to Marek Ciesielski):

PKP boss sacked

Thursday, 30 December 2010

More heads should roll…

Andrzej Wach, former Chairman and CEO of PKP SA. Photo PKP.

Andrzej Wach has been sacked from the position of Chairman and Chief Executive of Polskie Koleje Panstwowe SA. While the sacking is being spun as the first decisive move by Andrzej Massel, the new Undersecretary of State responsible for railways at the Ministry of Infrastructure, our sources indicate that his sacking (and that of former Undersecretary of State, Juliusz Engelhardt) was decided at a meeting on 20 December between Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, and his good friend Cezary Grabarczyk, Minister of Infrastructure. For legal reasons PKP SA must have a chairman and so existing board member Maria Wasiak will be acting chairman while a search for a permanent appointment is made.

Many industry observers believe that Massel must cut deep into the PKP hierarchy is he is to make any impact upon the complacent and self-serving management of the PKP hierarchy, nicknamed beton (concrete) by Poles. The senior management of PKP form a series of interconnected networks which blur accountability and encourage corruption. The former Rail Minister, Juliusz Engelhardt, was a previous member of the PKP SA supervisory board with which he retained friendly relations. Maria Wasiak manages eke out her wretched salary as Director of Promotions and Social Affairs on the PKP SA main board by taking a second job as chairperson of the PKP Intercity supervisory board. Pawel Olczyk is so badly paid as the director responsible for real estate and property matters on the PKP main board, that he has had to take on a second job – chairing the supervisory board of PKP Informatyka, the PKP subsidiary responsible for information technology.

This miserly approach of rewarding its top management extends down to PKP regional directors and managers many of whom have had to take on second jobs running private companies which tender for PKP contracts. There are even tales of PKP staff being paid twice to do the same job – once by their PKP company and a second salary from the private company owned by their PKP boss.

Will Massel be able to cut out the dead wood and change the culture of the PKP Group? A lot depends on the extent he receives the backing of Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, for any reforms he may propose – his direct boss Infrastructure Minister, Cezary Grabarczyk, seems singularly uninterested in the state of Poland’s railways.

PKP Customer Care – the replacement ‘waiting room’ during the refurbishment of Warszawa Wschodnia. Photo Zbigniew Bartus, Dziennik Polski.

(Click on image to read the original article [in Polish] on Dziennik Polski where it originally appears.)

Englehardt and Wach to go?

Monday, 20 December 2010

A happier winter – Febuary 2009. YouTube Video by Dominikq2.

There are very strong indications this evening that Undersecretary of State, Juliusz Engelhardt, will be paying the price for the disastrous implementation of the 2011 timetable. Engelhardt, who is responsible for Poland’s railways at the Ministry of Infrastructure, had already lost the support of his colleagues in the Sejm as a result of PKP’s failure to complete certain rail infrastructure improvement projects for which EU funding had already been secured. The final nail in the coffin is this year’s timetable fiasco. News from a number of sources would suggest that his dismal will be accompanied by the resignation of PKP Group Chairman, Andrzej Wach.

So far, Engelhardt’s boss, the Minister of Infrastructure Cezary Grabarczyk – a firm ally of Prime Minister, Donald Tusk – appears to be safe. But, for how much longer? It is Grabarczyk who is pushing through investment plans fora new underground station and for a multi-billion zloty tunnel under his home city of Lodz . He has also asked his team at the Ministry of Infrastructure to urgently prepare plans for a new branch line to link up with Lodz’s airport at Okecie. Meanwhile the rest of the PKP network is crumbling. Grabarczyk’s grandiose plans, have attracted little criticism, however the minister’s latest investment might just prove his undoing. While passengers shiver on station platforms for trains that never come, Grabarczyk has just bought himself his department three luxury limousines for 300,000PLN. It is just such petty acts of vanity that can break a seemingly charmed career.


Tardy timetable

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Poland passenger rail services according to Przewozy Regionalne. Some of the lines shown have not seen a passenger train in years.

(Click on the map to download a pdf file with the full-size map.)

Podroznik has been keeping me up to date with this year’s progress on publishing the 2011 Polish railway timetable. The delays – due partly to poor customer care and also partly the fault of local authorities and central government who have not committed sufficiently early to fund rail services – do not bode well for the future of Poland’s passenger services. Here are his reports.

4 November

The Warsaw daily, Zycie Warszawy, publishes an article on the contrasting Polish and German approaches to publishing the new timetable. We’re doing everything we can to get the new timetable up two weeks before its implementation, says Tomasz Stachowicz of TK Telekom, the company responsible for publishing the Polish railway timetable on the WWW. In facts this is a great improvement, in previous years the timetable could only be accessed two or three days before its introduction.

The German approach could not be more different. According to Hans Werner Franz, Director of the Berlin and Brandenburg Passenger Transport Authority (VBB), The full timetable must be published at least 6 weeks before it is implemented. It’s an unbendable rule. Not only does the DB timetable show the new German services nearly two months before the timetable changeover on 12 December, but it also shows it many of the new Polish services at least a month earlier before they are due to be introduced. The Zycie Warszawy article ends with a quote by railway consultant Jakub Majewski.

The earliest possible publication of train timetables is essential if rail is to remain competitive with other carriers such as airlines. Since a passenger can buy a ticket 60 days before the start of his journey, he needs to know at the same time to where, and at what time, he can travel. The preparation of the new timetable should be organised in such a way that the new train times are available at the due time. The deadlines for preparing a timetable, considering submissions and makingimprovements are the same all over Europe. Deutsche Bahn has its timetable available on 15 October. Small wonder that people in Germany are much more disposed to travel by rail than in Poland.

18 November

Railway Operators are discussing the new timetable amongst themselves, screams a headline on the Railway Publishing House portal, KOW. Discussions with Przewozy Regionalne were still taking place at the beginning of the week. We have to take into account many views. That’s why we are still working on the new timetable, says Beata Czemerajda from the PKP Intercity press office. The latest date for the publication of the new timetable is 7 days before it is due to be implemented, that means 5 December. Probably we’ll get a chance to see it before the end of November.

24 November

PKP Intercity advised its clients today today that the ticket pre-travel booking period is being reduced from 60 days to 30 days. Whereas in western Europe the period is being extended, even to as long as 90 days! This is the only announcement that was made:

Tomorrow is 1 December. The new timetable remains complete chaos. Last year, I was already loading data to our system on 20 November! This year, there is no reliable information at all.

The PKP’s ‘Nowy Rozklad’ site, DB’s site, and the PKP IC ‘Zarys’ (dated September) are completely out of synch. For example, the Zarys and DB show several morning EIC trains from Krakow to Warsaw (06:05, 07:05…),whereas the PKP  internet timetable the first EIC at 12:05! And IC’s online booking system shows just two EIC trains that you can book from Krakow to Warszawa!

I am trying to book some international trains, but there is no timetable to refer to. I can get Krakow – Prague reservations, but Prague-Krakow reservations remain unavailable. And I ran into a weird problem with Warsaw-Moscow sleeper reservations… reservations opened on Monday, and many trains for the Russian Christmas period were already sold out on the first day!!!

3 December

8 days to the new timetable and counting. Still no final info, and complete chaos in the little information that has been published.

The ticket office here is now selling many international tickets, but they have been provided with no reference timetable at all. I have to tell them what I want (based on the DB system), and in many cases they can print an appropriate ticket.

3 December – 16:30

Finally, at 16:30 today, they let loose with something:,s,0,574.html