Archive for the ‘Pleszew’ Category

Narrow Gauge revival

Friday, 29 May 2015

Pleszew railcar in December 2011. Photo Ed Beale.

The beginning of May in Poland is memorable not just for the annual Wolsztyn Parade of Steam locomotives, but for the start of tourist services on Poland’s preserved narrow gauge railways. Most lines run trains just over the weekend, sometimes only a couple of return trips on Sundays.

To the best of our knowledge (please tell us if you know of others!) only three lines operate daily services during the operating season: the Nadmorska Kolej Wąskotorowa, aka the Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway; the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway; and the Bieszczady Forest Railway. The Bieszczady weekday service runs only in July and August, while the Gryfice and Znin lines run daily from May through to September.

Pleszew_timetable

Pleszew Railway timetable 4 May until 13 June 2015.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Notes

(B) runs Mondays to Fridays & Sundays (except 4.6.2015)
(D) runs Mondays to Fridays except bank holidays
(E) runs Mondays to Saturdays except bank holidays
(6) runs on Saturdays
(7) runs on Sundays (except 4.6.2015)

All of us a BTWT were surprised and delighted to be told by SKPL that they have brought back daily ordinary passenger services (not tourist services!) on the Pleszew narrow gauge railway, and that funding is in place for the services to run to the end of 2015.

The Pleszew n.g. line is a mixed gauge line – standard gauge and narrow gauge trains share one rail. It is a 3 km fragment of the erstwhile Krotoszyn Narrow Gauge Railway which at its height was nearly 50 km long. The last train ran from Krotoszyn to Pleszew Miasto on 12 January 1986. The line was taken over by the Pleszew Town Council who licensed it to SKPL in 2006. SKPL operate freight trains over the standard gauge tracks from the interchange with the main line to an oil depot in Pleszew.

In February 2013, BTWT reported that passenger services using a diesel railcar operating over the n.g. tracks had been suspended. We are delighted to report that as from 4 May 2015 Poland’s last surviving n.g. regular passenger service is again operational.

Pleszew – the end of an era

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Last regular n.g. passenger service in Poland ends

pleszew-shed

One year to go – railbus MBxd2-216 on shed at Pleszew Miasto on 1 December 2011. Photo Ed Beale.

On 7 December 2012, unnoticed and unreported, regular passenger trains on the Pleszew narrow gauge railway ceased, bringing to a close the long era of regular passenger services on the Polish narrow gauge.

The end of services was not announced on the SKPL Facebook page (now their only news outlet, since their old website closed down a couple of years ago), and only came to light as the result of a question posted on the 750mm.pl forum. The railway has not closed completely, and it is likely that occasional tourist specials will continue to run on the narrow gauge tracks, as well as regular freight on the standard gauge tracks.

The Pleszew railway, being just 4km long and dual-gauge throughout, seemed an unlikely candidate for Poland’s last regular narrow gauge passenger service, but it outlasted Smigiel by 2 years, and Krosniewice by almost 5 years.

The service survived with local authority funding, and using the staff employed by SKPL’s profitable freight business but, as we reported in September, when the local authority funding was cut last autumn and a through ticketing arrangement with Przewozy Regionalne fell through, the end of the passenger services was inevitable, and in the event it survived for only two months.

The 4km Pleszew Wask to Pleszew Miasto line is the surviving part of the Krotoszyn District Railway, which opened in 1900 and at its maximum extent ran 50km from Krotoszyn, through Dobrzyca and Pleszew, to Broniszewice.

The railway was operated by PKP until 9 June 2001, then closed for 5 years until it was reopened under the management of SKPL on 17 September 2006. As well as the station buildings at Pleszew Wask and Pleszew Miasto, and the locomotive sheds and plinthed Px48 steam locomotive at Pleszew Miasto, some remains of the rest of the railway exist, including another plinthed Px48 and train at Krotoszyn, and the station building at Dobrzyca.

Problems at Pleszew

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Pleszew Miasto station, December 2011. Photo Ed Beale.

Passenger services on the Pleszew Railway, Poland’s last regular narrow gauge passenger service, are facing serious problems. The service has been in steep decline since 2010 when there were 6 return trains a day. In December 2010 the service was reduced to 5 trains a day, then to 3 return trains in March 2011, then to 2 return trains in September 2011. By that time it had been reduced to a basic schools service, nominally still providing a link between the town and the standard gauge station but really only used by teenagers going to school in Pleszew. Trains do not run during school holidays but usually resume in early September.

However, this year things have taken an even more serious turn. The railway has not resumed for the start of the school year, apparently due to road repairs being carried out on ulica Lipowa, which crosses the narrow gauge line in Pleszew, and when trains do resume on Monday 8 October the afternoon train pair will be suspended due to lack of financial support from the local government, leaving only one train a day in the morning, from Pleszew Miasto at 06:20, returning from Kowalew (Pleszew Wask) at 07:22.

When BTWT asked SKPL for comment, they sent us a copy of a letter from Przewozy Regionalne turning down a suggestion for a joint ticketing arrangement from Pleszew Miasto to destinations on the main line network. Apparently the scheme, which would have boosted passenger carryings and was enthusiastically received by PR HQ in Warsaw, was just too much trouble for local PR management to implement.

So, for the moment, teenagers may still go to school on the train, but must go home by bus. Following the much documented end to the regular passenger services at Krosniewice and Smigiel, it seems that the end may well be nigh for the last regular narrow gauge passenger service in Poland.

More:

Pleszew Railway Winter

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pleszew Railway – narrow gauge passenger and standard gauge freight – Winter 2010. Video by .

Further to our article Narrow gauge trains in the snow one of our readers wrote in to remind us that the mixed-gauge Pleszew Railway (750 mm and 1,435 mm) runs an all-the-year-round passenger service.

The 4km long Pleszew Railway is the only operating section of the 750 mm gauge, Krotoszynska Kolej Dojazdowa. This 50 km line was built in 1900 and ran from Krotoszyn Waskotorowy to Broniszewice. It was radically cut back by PKP in 1986. The section between Pleszew Waskotorowy and Pleszew Miasto survived until 2001, when PKP closed all of its operating narrow gauge lines.

The line was taken over by the Pleszew Urban District Council, which appointed SKPL as the line’s operator. Passenger and freight services were restarted in 2006 and with some interruptions have continued ever since.

The very professional video, made by drezyna24, shows the line working during the winter of 2010.

Smigiel – a one year swansong?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Narrow gauge – standard gauge transporter wagon siding at Stare Bojanowo. Photo U.M. Smigiel.

(Click photo to see more pictures of the Smigiel Railway on the Smigiel Town Council website.)

The Smigiel Railway is the last of its kind. Within one lifetime Poland has changed from a country which was covered by a dense network of narrow gauge railways, to a barren wasteland where most of the handful of narrow gauge survivors cling on to a precarious existence only kept alive by tourist trains in the summer. A handful of n.g. lines, all operated by SKPL, still carry freight. Following the closure of the Krosniewice Railway, the busiest of the freight lines is now the Kalisz Railway, now only operational between Opatowek and Zbiersk. The Przeworsk Railway carries the occasional truck of coal to Dynow. The Smigiel line still appears on the PKP Cargo list of freight depots, but its transporter wagons have stood unused since the spring. The Pleszew Railway is busy carrying freight, but on standard gauge rails (the railway is mixed gauge) so it doesn’t count. When it comes to regular public transport passenger workings over the list is even shorter – just Pleszew and Smigiel.

So Smigiel, which operates a regular passenger service during school term time and is theoretically still open for freight, really is the last of its kind. However, relations between SKPL and the Mayor of Smigiel are not good, and with the demise of the coal traffic earlier this year it looked as if SKPL would be withdrawing from its operating agreement at the end of the year. Now it looks as if Smigiel will have a final swansong – a contract to carry road stone is being negotiated which should see freight carrying resume in October. So Smigiel will have its swansong, maintaining for one more year its position as the last narrow gauge railway in Poland to run a regular passenger service and operate freight services. Perhaps BTWT should organise a study tour to witness the last days of the Smigiel Railway as a real working railway and also explore some of Poland’s surviving narrow gauge lines? Perhaps the itinerary should be something along the lines of Robert Hall’s recent journey?

Pleszew – new timetable

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Standard gauge, narrow gauge and mixed-gauge at Pleszew

The new timetable (click for pdf download)

Pleszew passenger service returns

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

28.08.2007 – TGM 40 acceptance trials on the Gaspol
private siding in Pleszew

You may be wondering why we are illustrating this story with pictures of a standard gauge freight train. We could have claimed that this was because, since taking over responsibility for the standard gauge freight traffic (the Pleszew Railway main line is mixed gauge), SKPL has concentrated its efforts on developing this side of the business – but that would not have been completely true. Actually it’s because we can’t find any pictures of the repaired Rumanian railcar that has been running the passenger service since Monday 5 May. The new timetable (three trains a day, on weekdays only) has not (as of posting this) yet appeared on the SKPL webpages. (warning, Polish only) Once again, BTWT is first with the news.