Archive for the ‘Poznan’ Category

Great Continental Railway Journeys – Poland

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Portillo cab view

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Room with a View

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

PoC Nastawnia-4977-2

New life for old – PoC Nastwania. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

It’s always pleasing to see someone find a new use for redundant railway assets.  Even more so when they are restored from a derelict condition.

Passing through Poznan recently, I had chance to meet friends for a drink, in PoC Nastawnia, a bar, which takes its name from, and is situated in one of the old, now redundant, signalboxes on the side of the railway.

The box has been restored over a few months, and a steel framed building grafted onto the side.  Whilst it not be the most aesthetically pleasing addition, it does enhance the space available on the inside.

PoC is the only surviving relic of the electro-mechanical signalboxes that were around Poznan station, before the power box was commissioned a few years ago.

The view – straight out onto the railway, with a clear view of the arrivals and departures from Poznan.

The beer – cold and refreshing!

Photography permit in Poznan

Friday, 21 September 2012

Parts of the new station at Poznan are quite photogenic. Photo BTWT.

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A resident of Murowana Goslina, a village some 20 kilometres to the North of Poznan, was taking photographs of the new Poznan Glowny railway station only to be stopped by security guard.

He was told that photography was forbidden, and when he challenged the ruling, he was informed that a special permit had to be obtained before taking any photographs. When he asked where these permits could be obtained, he was told that the appropriate gentleman, the Regional Director with responsibility for stations, was away on holiday and that such permits could only be obtained after paying a fee.

Considerably miffed, our hero took the story to the Glos Wielkopolski daily who contacted the PKP SA headquarters in Warsaw. An embarrassed PKP spokesman explained that, it is true that photographic permits have been introduced for photography at Poznan Glowny, but that these are only required for commercial or wedding photography and there is no regulation in place to stop casual photography.

So if you are taking photographs in a public railway location either in the UK or in Poland and are stopped by an over zealous official,  do ask to see a written copy of their instructions or failing that their manager. It may well be that it is your persecutor, rather than you, who is operating outwith their remit.

With a hat tip to Robert Dylewski.

Source:

A Week in Wolsztyn

Friday, 14 September 2012

Prior to 1970 Rakonowice was the Western terminus of the Smigiel Railway. Here Ol49-69 waits at Rakoniewice Station in the late afternoon on 29 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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One of the delights of publishing Behind The Water Tower is receiving photographs for publication from our readers. For several years we have showcased the hauntingly beautiful photographs of the Smigiel Narrow Gauge Railway taken by Marek Ciesielski. Sadly the Smigiel line, as it then was, is no more. It hangs on, as a pale shadow of its former self, cut off from its passenger and freight links to the standard gauge network, little better than a ‘funfair railway’ running a few times each year.

 

An unusual view of the Wolsztyn roundhouse taken through the window of the turntable operator’s cabin on 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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Today we are pleased to feature the photography of Christian Cederberg who lives in Copenhagen and was in Poland for a week at the end of August to photograph the Wolsztyn – Poznan steam services and what other interesting trains he could find.

How long before modernizers and those who ‘do not see the point’ bring about the death of regular steam haulage in Poland? Ol49-59 near Ptaszkowo on 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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In the end, with nothing stirring that week on the Opatowek-Zbiersk section of the Kalisz Narrow Gauge Railway, Christian decided to concentrate his efforts on the Wolsztyn – Poznan line. We think his photographs are magnificent. What do you think?

Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn on the evening 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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Christian is the webmaster of www.damplokomotiv.dk – an archive of colour railway photos from all around the world which is well worth exploring. To see all his photos from this trip in glorious full screen size, just click the link at the very end of this post.

‘Steaming off into the twilight’ – actually an early morning shot, not evening – Ol49-69 between Granowo and Strykowo on 29 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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More:

IKEA Tram Triumph

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Is it a Victorian conservatory? No it’s a tram. Photo IKEA.

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I am off to Poznan to sink into a comfortable arm chair, enjoy the décor of Victorian floral prints, and travel by tram free of charge. That I can do all three at the same time time is the brilliant PR brainwave of IKEA whose Poznan Franowo store wanted to let the rest of the city know that it is now possible to visit the shop by tram.

IKEA and Polish trams would not usually be associated together. While enjoying a ‘good design at good value’ market positioning in the West, IKEA stores have a distinctly ‘up-market’ brand image in Poland and other former Soviet satellites in the East. Here the typical IKEA customer drives a large 4×4 with smoked windows and employs a Belarussian cleaner.

In Poland, trams are not seen as an ‘eco-friendly’ solution to urban transport gridlock, but as a grim communist era hand me down. Consequently they get banned from the centres of Polish cities and cars – not trams – are given priority at traffic lights and road junctions.

The Victorian floral print style. Photo courtesy Laura Ashley.

(Click image to browse the Laura Ashley catalogue where the original photo appears. Click here to enlarge image.)

I must admit that Victorian floral prints give me the goose bumps. I am immediately transported to the 1960s. Hands up those BTWT readers who remember the Cambrian Coast Express steaming past the Laura Ashley factory on the site of Carno Station or the pioneering Laura Ashley store in South Kensington’s Pelham St? What, only one hand? Never mind, what Laura Ashley sells to the classes, IKEA sells to the masses, to paraphrase that amazing consumer electronics entrepreneur, Jack Tramiel.

To press home the point that IKEA products are for everybody, not just Poland’s nouveau riche, IKEA struck a deal with MPK, Poznan’s municipal transport company. One articulated tram set has been refitted internally with IKEA furnishings and will operate a free-of-charge service along the new line to Franowo for a fortnight.

The on- tram ad says Przyjedz do nas tramwajem (Come to us by tram). Photo IKEA.

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Deservedly, IKEA’s gamble has paid off and the PR stunt has generated a massive amount of free publicity for the company. At the same time the company’s deal with MPK has improved the image of the city’s tram network and publicised the opening of the Franowo extension. A win for both sides. Brilliant! Many thanks to Podroznik for tipping us off about the story.

More:

Celebrations at Maltanka

Thursday, 16 August 2012

… but mixed fortunes for Poland’s other park railways

Borsig approaching Maltanka station, 4 May 2012.
Photo Ed Beale.

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On 21 July this year the Maltanka park railway in Poznan celebrated its 40th birthday. It was opened on 21 July 1972 as the successor to the first park railway in Poznan, the Scouts Children’s Railway (Harcerska Kolejka Dziecieca). It is 600mm gauge and runs the full length of Lake Malta, from Maltanka station at the western end of the lake near the Rondo Srodka tram stop, to Zwierzyniec station beside Poznan zoo, a total of 4km. Ptys station near the middle of the line serves the new Termy Maltanskie baths. On certain dates of the year the line’s Borsig 0-4-0 steam locomotive is used on one of the two trains. All other trains are hauled by one of the three small diesels, all built by ZNTK Poznan to a standard design used on many industrial narrow gauge railways around Poland. These are WLs40-100 built in 1952, Wls50-1225 built in 1961, and WLs50-1563 built in 1964.

The weekday timetable sees hourly departures from either end of the line, on the hour from Maltanka, and on the half-hour from Zwierzyniec, from 10:00 to 18:30, while at weekends and in the summer holidays there are half-hourly departures in each direction, with the two trains passing at Balbinka station. The line is very popular, especially on sunny days when the plastic coach sides are rolled up.

The Borsig loco, Bn2t-2, was built in 1925 and worked at a chemical plant, Zaklady Azotowe in Chorzow, until 1977 when it was plinthed in a park beside the works. It was brought to Poznan in 1990 by the Railway Modellers Club of Poznan and restored to operating condition in 1999. Steam-hauled trains run every other weekend during the summer. The remaining steam dates this year are 25 and 26 August.

A second steam locomotive, the much larger 0-8-0 tank locomotive Tx26-423, is plinthed at Maltanka station, but has never worked here. It was built in Chrzanow in 1926 and worked on the Jedrzejow system while that was 600mm gauge, and then on the Jarocin District Railway until withdrawal in 1978.

Another item of historic rolling stock which used to run on the Maltanka railway was single-ended railbus MBxc1-41 built in 1934. It originally worked on the Bydgoszcz District Railway, then at Witaszyce from 1953 to 1991, before coming to Maltanka where it worked off-peak trains between 1994 and 2002. Unfortunately it is now out of service and is currently stored at Forteczna tram works in Poznan Staroleka. From photographs it appears that sadly it is being stored in the open and its condition is deteriorating. It was a highlight of my first visit to Maltanka in 2001 and a rare survivor of the railbuses which were once common on Poland’s 600mm narrow gauge lines, so I hope it returns to traffic.

Myslecinek remains, 7 June 2012. Photo Ed Beale.

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Elsewhere in Poland, park railways are suffering very mixed fortunes. The fire that destroyed virtually all the rolling stock on the Myslecinek park railway in Bydgoszcz was reported in Behind the Water Tower on 25 September 2011. After the fire the majority shareholder in the line, PKP Cargo, was not sufficiently interested in the railway to invest several hundred thousand zloty to restore it, and Bydgoszcz city council did not have the money to restore it either, so the railway was placed into administration seeking a buyer. When I visited in June I found the stock abandoned in the open next to the charred footprint of the old shed. The four coaches which were not affected by the fire had been vandalised, and the rails lay abandoned and rusting.

Chorzow WPKiW park railway, 8 July 2011.
Photo Ed Beale.

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The future of the Chorzow WPKiW park railway is also now uncertain after the park authorities terminated the operating contract of SGKW, the society based at the Bytom narrow gauge railway, earlier this year. This is the oldest surviving park railway in Poland, originally built as a metre gauge line in 1957 and converted to the unusual gauge of 900mm in 1966. When I visited in July 2011 I found the railway to be in a fairly run-down state. Wesole Miasteczko station at the southern end of the line close to the tram stop was covered in graffiti and had no timetable on display, the track was overgrown with weeds, and trains were running with just a single coach and far from full.

Px48-1907 on test at Krosnice. Video by Jan Krosnicki.

On a brighter note though, the new park railway at Krosnice, reported in Behind the Water Tower on 11 October 2011, is nearing completion. A total of 4.7 million zloty have been spent on the construction of the railway, which is expected to be complete by October. In a surprise move, the Krosnice railway recently purchased steam locomotive Px48-1907, which previously ran at Nowy Dwor Gdanski but was privately owned. While a boon to the new park railway, this sadly leaves the Nowy Dwor Gdanski railway without a steam locomotive, a further blow to that railway following the recent track theft that closed the Tuja extension.

More:

Poznan tram extension ready for comissioning

Monday, 9 July 2012

The route of the extension from the Osiedle Lecha housing estate to the site of the new depot at Franowo. Map ZTM, Poznan.

(Click the map to see a larger, more detailed, map courtesy of Open Street Map.)

A 2 km tram extension costing 2.75 hundred million zloty is about to be commissioned in Poznan. The extension from Os. Lecha (currently serviced by routes 1, 5, 16 & 17) will link the existing tram network to a new tram depot being built adjacent to Poznan’s largest marshalling yard at Franowo.

A new stop at Swedzka will provide tram passengers access to the M1 and IKEA superstores. A close examination of the Open Street Map map shows that this new stop involves quite a long walk to IKEA and is not as convenient for M1 as a stop half way between the two superstores would have been!

The other disturbing factor about the extension is the cost. Was it really necessary to route nearly 1 km of the line in ‘cut and cover’ tunnel? However, the new tram depot will allow ZTM to dispose of its old tram depot at ul. Gajowa which will hopefully offset some of the costs.

Artist visualisation of the new loop at Franowo courtesy Infrastruktura Euro Poznan, PxM Projekt Poludnie, autostrada II Sp. z o.o.

(Click image to see the remainder of the artist visualisations produced for the extension.)

Sources:

Transport of Delight, or own goal? (Finale)

Monday, 2 July 2012

On its way out? The old station building. Photo BTWT.

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One of my favourite parables is the one about the frog sitting in a cooking pot. It applies to many of the challenges that face the human race. A slow fire is lit under the pot and the frog never realises what is happening until it is too late and it can no longer jump out. Poor frog! The waitress starts fiddling with the temperature control on the cold drinks fridge and I realise it has become uncomfortably hot. Is the air conditioning not powerful enough to cope with a really hot day, I query. No, the building was opened in a rush by the politicians before all the systems were finished, she replies. Like a dark cloud on the distant horizon being a harbinger of a storm to come, this is the first warning.

The 15:55 leaves from platform 2. The stairs going down to the platform are clearly marked. Unfortunately, there is only an upward escalator and I do not want to take my suitcase down the steep and narrow steps. I look for a lift. There is a lift which looks as if it might connect to platform 2, but there are no signs to advise where it might go to. However, I notice that there is a lift on the opposite side of the concourse to each set of platform stairs, so I deduce that the one opposite the platform 2 stairs is probably the one I want.

Outside it is really hot and humid. Second class TLK stock is not fitted with air conditioning so I begin to worry about the journey to Lodz. The Sukiennice from Szczecin arrives punctually at 15:45 crammed full of Ireland supporters. I choose an open carriage to give me a better view. It is the last coach of the train and is destined to become the first as the train reverses here. I wait patiently as the fans pour out onto the platform till the flood becomes a trickle. Meanwhile passengers are already boarding the coach at the other end and desirable seats are going fast.

The coach resembles an open compartment coaches from BR days with a table and a window between each pair of seats. I rather fancy a window seat on the left of the carriage which will become the shady side once we reach the suburbs of Poznan and swing round towards the East.

As it happens some Ireland supporters have left one of the tables covered in beer cans and fast food containers. Other passengers have avoided its seats as if they were contaminated with polonium. I thank St Patrick and make a beeline for the mess, yank open the window and sink gratefully into my chosen seat.

Regio 71136, the 17:22 from Wrzesnia to Kutno.

Photo BTWT.

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The train accelerates out of Poznan Glowny like a bat out of hell. I am impressed, I have never left Poznan in such style. For years trains have dawdled along the approach tracks out of the city, only picking up speed once they were running in open country. I become mildly alarmed. The carriage is bumping and shaking with a motion not dissimilar to HSTs along sections of the Great Western mainline, but with a greater amplitude and noise. (The ride on the GWR has deteriorated somewhat since the days of BR.)

I calculate, that we are travelling at a little over 100 miles an hour. As I am to learn a little later, we are not, it is just that PKP have not mastered the art of accurately welding track and the bumps over the welded joins create the illusion of travelling faster than we really are. The high speed run does not last. After some 15 minutes, the brakes are applied, and we veer off the mainline tracks and stop by the platform at a new station. What station? What are we doing at some small wayside station?

After a ten-minute wait, we set off at high speed only to have the brakes applied just before the next station and another five-minute wait. Finally we reach Wrzesnia which is about 40 km to the east of Poznan. Here we stop and it seems we are destined to stay here for some time.

‘Should I have changed trains?’ Photo BTWT.

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The grumbling of my fellow passengers reaches a crescendo. It seems there is a Regio all stations osobowy to Kutno following us which might provide some of them with a faster way home. I debate with myself should I catch the Regio and then organise a lift from Kutno or should I sit tight and brave it out to see what happens? I decide to sit tight. I bury myself in the biography of Trevithick. This remarkable man pioneered the use of ‘strong’ (high pressure) steam, invented the railway locomotive, the steam dredger and several other world changing inventions and yet died a pauper.

Half an hour passes. It must be the hottest time of the day. Trevithick is now working on a project to build a tunnel under the Thames. The Regio arrives on the opposite platform and the majority of passengers decant themselves to catch it. I start to romance a survival film scenario: the majority set out to trek across the jungle to seek assistance, but we know in our hearts that will never make it. The chosen few stay put, improvise a shelter and go foraging for provisions.

A lady with blonde hair takes charge of the handful of passengers that are left. It appears that our locomotive has broken down and that a replacement logo has been summoned. She walks up and down the carriage opening windows and tries jamming a piece of paper under the doors at each end to encourage a draught. The gap under the doors is too big and no matter how many times she folds a piece of paper the doors snap open.

It is a matter of considerable satisfaction me that I once came top in the mechanical engineering exam at one of Britain’s leading industrial universities. We had a drop forge just across from the sports stadium. I crush the Irish beer cans to make neat little wedges. Proudly, I hand her my metal work. She fits my wedges under each of the doors and they stay open. A cool draught starts to blow along the open carriage.

Brief encounters, Dawid, Sonia and the team leader.

Photo BTWT.

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Our leader reports that she has interrogated the guard, the driver and a relief driver. All had given her different time estimates as to when help will arrive. The guard says that we could spend the rest of the day here and seems relieved most of the passengers have deserted his train. The relief driver thinks we may be delayed by about two hours, while the driver expects to have more information in about half an hour.

The prognosis is encouraging, but my water supply – I bought a small bottle at Poznan – is getting dangerously low. Apparently there is a spozywczy store close to the station. Sonia, a student at the Lodz Film School, offers to go and get some beer. This is getting better and better! We place our orders and assure her that we will not let the train go without her.

Soon she returns with our drinks. I put Richard Trevithick aside and we discuss our plight. We are all agreed that it is absolutely unacceptable that at no stage we been provided with any official information. What we do know, we have had to find out for ourselves.

Our team leader reports that she has complained strongly to the guard about the way he has kept us in the dark. I reflect that he will probably be the last to be kept informed and that in any case there is no effective feedback mechanism in PKP. The company treats its staff strictly according to the ‘mushroom management methodology’. (*See below.)

We are briefly joined by the driver and another driver travelling ‘on the cushions’. The driver reports that a relief engine has been sent out. Our own engine, EP09-02 has overheated. It is 70°C in the resistor compartment, he tells us. I ask him whether he went over 160 k/h (100 mph) coming out of Poznan, I only touched 155, he answers defensively. He does not think much of the EP09s. Not as reliable as the EU07s, he tells us.

The EP09s were designed in the 1980s to be thyristor controlled, but as Poland was in the middle of a hard currency crisis at the time, the thyristors were replaced by resistors. This radical redesign made the locomotives much less energy efficient. The wasted energy becomes converted into heat. All it needs is a hot humid day and a faulty fan and the EP09 is crippled.

Failed EP09-002, piloted by unknown EU-07 hauling TLK 83106 at Lodz Zabieniec on 18 June 2012.

Photo BTWT.

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Footnote

*Mushroom management methodology: keep them in the dark and from time to time throw in a load of sh*t.

TO BE CONTINUED

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Continued:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Continued:

Polish diary

Sunday, 27 May 2012

by Chris White

Chris White in an ex Duisberg articulated tram on inter-urban line 46 from Lodz to Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

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Chris White has been involved in the Talyllyn Railway in North Wales since the 1950s. He started as volunteer guard and rose through the ranks to become the TR’s chairman. In the 1960s, he organised the Traffic and Operating Committee working parties some which were attended by Dyspozytor during his school holidays. Today, he is still actively involved in the operation of the TR and The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn. Between 9 and 16 May he came to Poland to explore some of Poland’s cities and their tramways, main line and tourist railways. This is his diary.

Wed 9 May

A Ryanair flight from East Midlands airport to Wroclaw landed me just after 18:00 by the new airport terminal which is largely finished and very impressive. What a change from my first visit in 2006, when the city was approached from the small terminal by what a seemed to be a country lane lined with allotment gardens. Now the whole area is transformed with new roads and developments of all kinds.

Bus 406 was waiting to take people to the city but there was no ticket machine at the stop, the one on the bus, which only takes plastic, was not working and the driver uninterested. So I just took a seat and relaxed. Soon the bus was packed to the doors and eventually set off and reached the city in good time. I stayed at Sifor Premium Europejski, as it was near to the station and not far from the city centre.

Thurs 10 May

In Wroclaw, I bought a 24 hour tram ticket and obtained train tickets for the next day from one of the various ticket outlets near but not at the Dworzec Tymczasowy (Temporary Station). A useful tram map showed two new lines, built since my last visit a year ago, to serve the newly complete Stadion Wroclaw and nearby Dokerska. I visited the city centre with its many monuments, botanical gardens and Szczytnicki Park with its musical fountain, the Centennial Hall built in 1913 to celebrate the liberation of the city from Napoleon and the 1948 steel needle erected to celebrate the regained territories.
polish rail

The light and airy interior of the restored station contrasts with this EN57 unit complete with the plastic seats ready to form the 10:30 Wroclaw Gl to Poznan Gl. Photo Chris White.

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Fri 11 May

Allowing myself plenty of time, I approached the station by a circuitous route and found the subway mentioned in the post Wroclaw Worries. When complete, the station will be modern and functional but whether there will be any passengers left to travel on the slow and, all too often, appalling trains, is another matter. Cheap and frequent local and regional bus services and a growing number of internal flights are alluring alternatives to those without a car.

SA132 railcar making up the Koleje Wielkopolskie 12:35 Leszno to Wolstzyn and Zbaszynek. Photo Chris White.

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Clearly major improvements will be needed to re-gain and grow the passenger traffic and sort out the labyrinthine ticketing systems. I took the 10.30 (Regio 67931) as far as Leszno and changed onto the 12.35 Leszno to Wolstzyn arr 13.34 (KW 79427), a modern diesel railcar. It was staffed by four people, one to drive, one to issue tickets, one to operate the doors and one who appeared to be a trainee.

Ol49-59 about to depart with the regular steam-hauled passenger working from Wolsztyn to Poznan. Photo Chris White.

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At Wolstzyn there was time to take a few photos before boarding (KW 77331) a steam train headed by OL49-59 departing at 13.40 for Poznan Głowny: a two hour run arriving at 15.47 . The filthy and dilapidated double deck carriages experienced on my previous trip last year had been replaced by two regular carriages but their interior and outside cleanliness left a lot to be desired. Both of these Koleje Wielkopolskie trains seemed to be enjoying a reasonable level of business. I was very interested to note the re-building of the traditional Prussian style signalling system in the Wolstzyn area.

The new station building under construction at Poznan. Fortunately the old station was still in business. Photo Chris White.

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The station facilities at Poznan, although also being re-built were much more inviting than those Wroclaw and, it being Friday afternoon, were very busy.

The tram system in the area is also undergoing major investment but no tram map was available even on the Internet, which made exploring the city a bit hit and miss. (The map was uploaded on 15 May!) There was a massive thunderstorm just after my return to the Hotel Topaz and the temperature dropped from over 30°C to around 15°C where it remained for most of my stay.

Ol49-69 and TurKol special at Poznan Franowo. Photo Chris White.

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Sat 12 May

Armed with a written list I went to the International Booking Office and bought tickets for the remainder of my stay. I had booked on the steam train trip from Poznan Glowny to Gniezno and received a warm welcome on introducing myself. TL49-69 headed four vintage carriages with frequent photo stops to Gniezno where the train was greeted by a fanfare of trumpets and a large crowd, many of whom opted to take a short trip on the steam train to Wrzesnia and back. Details and pictures on the TurKol website.

It was a big disappointment that there was no train provided on the Gniezno narrow gauge line; although Px48-1919 was posed with TL49-69, it was not in steam. I spent the time looking round this historic little town and even made it to the top of the Cathedral tower, before returning to Poznan on the steam special, which was looped twice for overtaking trains.

Sun 13 May

Back to Gneizno by TLK 65101, then on an ancient bus to Znin.

Work has taken place to renew drainage culverts on the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway. Photo Chris White.

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A sudden rain storm meant that the shelter of the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway’s refreshment room was very welcome before it was time for the train to leave. There were a lot of people around in the Biskupin area but very few on the two trains operating and I visited the iron age fort as well as enjoying the train ride.

A strategic retreat to one of the closed carriages was just as well as more heavy showers of cold rain developed during the afternoon. The station area at Gasawa has been improved recently by the construction of a new footpath to the centre of the village.

I took the 16.10 bus from Znin bus station and, although it was going through to Poznan, I changed at Gneizno and took a Regio train back to base. The Znin Narrow Gauge Railway is to be congratulated on operating a daily train service and deserves every success in this area which is obviously popular with visitors. The town centre is quite attractive but the area around the now closed standard gauge line and station is looking very sorry for itself. Hopefully it will not be too long before this part of town can be re-developed.

Wls40 built in Poznan in 1956 at work on the Maltanka Park Railway. Photo Chris White.

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Mon 14 May

Emil, one of my Polish friends, had recommended a visit to the 60cm gauge Kolej Parkowa Maltanka and I arrived there in time for the second round trip of the day. Being a Monday. a diesel loco was in operation. and I took a return trip before returning to explore some more of the long distance tram lines, or more properly, light rail lines. Then it was time to take TLK 83106 from Poznan to Lodz Kaliska (250km in 3½ hours).

Poznan light rail – route 12 tram heading towards the city at Aleja Solidarnosci. Photo Chris White.

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Tues 15 May

The day was spent exploring two of the three surviving Lodz inter-urban lines with Dyspozytor. Our first run was on line 46 out to Ozokow. This trip was delayed in both directions by a total of 30 minutes by cars crashing into the trams almost as if the local competing bus companies promote this kind of activity.

A very friendly driver on the outward trip spoke with us for a long time at the terminus about hopes and fears for the remaining long inter-urban routes out of Lodz and told us that the tram company staff had been encouraged by the international support for the campaign to save the line. The track beyond the city boundaries is in a very variable state, mostly single with passing loops and in need of heavy repairs in places.

Chris White and friendly tram driver at Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

We found (the only?) restaurant in Ozorkow and, after a schabowy (pork chop) for lunch, rode the line back into Lodz for afternoon tea with vintage tram owner and operator Tomasz Adamkiewicz. We changed trams at Plac Niepodleglosci and took service No 41 to Pabianice in the rain and gathering gloom. The track had been renewed as far as the city boundary but beyond the mixture of double and single track with sections of street and roadside running could do with some investment.

Our service was operated by a single car which was pretty well patronised in the early evening. We changed trams and after a longish wait caught one of the city trams at Port Lodz. We reached our starting point near Manufactura. By now cold and damp was beginning to overcome us and Dyspozytor organised a rescue party to take us to his home for a very welcome hot meal.

Plac Niepodleglosci, the start of line 41, the inter-urban service to Pabianice. Photo BTWT.

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Wed 16 May

Lodz Chojny dep 07:48 (TLK 16101) to Wroclaw Glowny arr 1:.20 – ten minutes late (250km in 4½ hours). A walk round the east side of the city revealed work going on to replace a lot of tram track on routes 0 and 5 and then I had a very late lunch in the Rynek. Buying a ticket for Bus 406 to the Airport again proved a problem. My cash stuck in the machine and another would be purchaser came and inserted their cash, banged the machine and shrugged and got on the bus so I did the same. At the airport I noticed the large number of internal flights and the new service to Lviv which has recently started. By Ryanair from Wroclaw dep 19:05 arr East Midland Airport 20:25.

Lodz Chojny, the 07:48 departure (TLK 16101) to Wroclaw Glowny – one of the through services that does not call at Lodz Kaliska. Photo BTWT.

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On my return I was asked “How was Poland?” to which I replied “Very Polish!” I met lots of friendly people, except for bus drivers who were equally grumpy to every-one. I observed: a lot of re-construction going on at breakneck speed; many monuments to various episodes of the land’s troubled history; much good renewal of the infrastructure of trams and trains. However, a lot more remains to be done, especially to provide user friendly services and much faster connections on the main lines and to develop the full potential of local and tourist lines.

Wolsztyn – Poznan steam workings resume

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pacific Pm36-2 Piekna Helena comes off the afternoon Leszno – Wolsztyn – Zbaszynek working ready to run round her train on 17 April 2011. Photo BTWT.

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After the completion by PKP PLK of a major upgrading programme for the track and infrastructure between Poznan and Wolsztyn, steam services returned to the line on 11 December.

The last regular steam service on the Zbaszynek – Wolsztyn – Leszno line ran on Friday 9 December. On Saturday the service was diesel hailed while Ol49-59 ran ‘light engine’ from Wolsztyn to Poznan to enable drivers to familiarize themselves with the upgraded line. On Sunday 11 December – the first day of the new timetable on Poland’s railways – the restored Wolsztyn – Poznan passenger workings were also hauled by Ol49-59.

The new service consists of a twice daily run from Wolsztyn to Poznan and return: Wolsztyn dep. 5:16 – Poznan arr. 7:13, Poznan dep. 9:20 – Wolsztyn arr. 11:17; Wolsztyn dep. 13:39 – Poznan arr. 15:47, Poznan dep. 17:20 – Wolsztyn arr. 19:16.

After Pm36-2’s run from Zbaszynek there is a short break at Wolsztyn. The loco is is watered and coaled. Photo BTWT.

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From June 1st 2012, when the track is bedded in, the morning outward and the return afternoon working which carry most of the commuter traffic will become a limited stop service. This will reduce the current 1 hr 57 min journey time to to 1 hr 23 min. Note the current timetable can be downloaded from the Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW) website, the links on the Przewozy Regionalne website still point to the withdrawn timetable.

From 1 June 2010, the steam services, together with many other local services, have been the responsibility of Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW), the local rail services operator owned by the Wielkopolska provincial government. KW receive a special subsidy for the steam service, from the Wielkopolskie provincial government.

Actual service delivery is by means of steam engines and crews hired from PKP Cargo and coaches leased from Przewozy Regionalne. Or at least that is our understanding of the current arrangement. Please write if you know anything different! The operating locos this winter will be Ol49-59 and, Warsaw Railway Museum-owned, Pm 36-2. Ol49-69 is due to return from overhaul at Leszno during the winter.

Bearings and motion receive attention and then the loco returns to the station to haul her train to Leszno. Photo BTWT.

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As well as the regular Wolstyn – Poznan services, steam fans can expect a number of steam specials in 2012. The Instytut Rozwoju i Promocji Kolei (The Railway Development and Promotion Institute) are running a number of steam specials under their tourist train brand Turkol. The following steam specials currently appear on the Turkol website:

14 April 2012 – Piernik,

Route – Poznan Glowny – Gniezno – Inowrocław – Torun Glowny – Poznan Glowny.

2 June 2012 – Pirat

Route: Poznan Glowny – Oborniki – Pila – Okonek – Kolobrzeg – Kolobrzeg Port.
Kolobrzeg – Okonek – Pila – Oborniki – Poznan Glowny.

A number of other dates for Turkol steam specials (presumably tentative) are given on the Wolsztyn Experience website.

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

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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

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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

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Poznan – 115 m PLN PST extension signed

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tram station at Dworzec Zachodni adjacent to the main line station – Poznan Glowny. Artist’s impression courtesy Urzad Miasta Poznania.

On Tuesday, 9 August a 115 m PLN contract for the extension of Poznan’s Szybki Tramwaj (PST) was signed between infrastructure company, EURO Poznan 2012, and the Krakow-based civil engineering contractor Grupa ZUE. The Mayor of Poznan, Miroslaw Kruszyński, attended the signing ceremony.

The 2 km extension will extend the grade separated ‘fast tram’ route from Most Teatralny to Dworzec Zachodni, allowing trams to by-pass the frequently congested crossroads along ul. Rosevelta at: ul Dabrowskiego, ul. Swiety Marcin and most Dworcowy.

The project was placed on the list of individual key projects of special importance for the development of the region by the Wielkopolska Provincial Government and will benefit from European Regional Development Fund assistance to the tune of 42 775 PLN.

Tram station behind the historic Dworzec Zachodni station buildings. Artist impression courtesy Urzad Miasta Poznania.

The route of the PST extension to Dworzec Zachodni. Map courtesy Urzad Miasta Poznania.

A ride in Poznan’s ‘fast tram’ from its northern terminus at the Jana III Sobieskiego housing estate to the link with the city’s street running tramways at Most Teatralny. YouTube video by motorniczy1989.

UFO near Koluszki

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Railway spaghetti at Koluszki

I had a pleasant trip recently on a wonderful train that runs from Przemsyl Glowny to Poznan Glowny. My own journey took me only from Przeworsk to Lodz Kaliska, running through Krakow Glowny, Kozlow, Deba Opoczynska, Tomaszow Mazowiecki, and reaching Lodz Kaliska without the usual stop at Lodz Widzew.

Flying saucer to the Southeast

As I checked out Google Maps to trace my journey through the complex junctions at Koluszki and the freight relieving line at Lodz Olechow I noticed a plane heading for Lodz and a silver blur moving in the same direction, but slightly to the north. Stealth bomber? UFO? I have no idea.

As for my train the TLK 37104, that sadly is being abolished in Andrzej Massel’s timetable ‘reform’ being introduced from 1 March.

No cheap trains Poznan – Berlin

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Poznan Glowny Station, July 2007. Photo Radomil, Wikimedia Commons.

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You would have thought that no one could possibly object to a new low-cost rail service between Poznan and Berlin. Similar services already operate between Szczecin and Berlin and have proved very popular. Residents of Wielkopolska province could choose rail over car or bus for their forays into Berlin and lots more Berliners would come to spend their euros in Poznan.

The idea won favour with the Wielkopolska provincial government and the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (Berlin and Brandenburg Public Transport Association). Both parties were willing to subsidize the cost of the service and the fare was likely to work out at some 15 – 20 euro as opposed to the 39 euro currently charged by PKP InterCity. So when, Wojciech Jankowiak, the Deputy Governor, wrote to Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to get the Minister’s view he expected no more than a short note, “Good idea, will strengthen German – Polish relations. I support this.”

In hindsight, it was not such a good idea to get Warsaw involved. Radek Sikorski sent the Governor’s letter round to the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Office of Railway Transport to obtain their views. Janusz Englehardt, the Undersecreary of State responsible for rail was quick to respond. It would be illegal for a local authority to subsidize an international train, he opined. So it seems that the residents of Wielkopolska are not going to get their cheap trains to Berlin just yet.