Archive for the ‘Skierniewice’ Category

May Days – Spoilt for choice

Saturday, 28 April 2012

But not everyone is celebrating!

Chabowka Tkt48-191 at the 2010 Wolsztyn Parade. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

With so much going on during the Majowka (May Days) week for narrow gauge enthusiasts, it is only fair that BTWT should also cover some of the standard gauge attractions as well. When we look at something we look under the carpet as well, so be prepared for some critical comments!

Wolsztyn 28 – 29 April

The May festivities start with today’s annual Wolsztyn Steam Locomotive Parade. This is the biggest event of this kind in Poland and is attended by some 30,000 people. One would think that, with so many visitors coming from outside the area, the burghers of Wolsztyn would be enthusiastic supporters of the event. True, Wolsztyn Council does provide the security guards, but that is all.

How wonderful it would be to have some sponsorship from the town towards the costs of running steam specials from Warsaw and Wroclaw connecting with the event. (There is a special train from Wroclaw, but it is not steam-hauled; and one steam-hauled service from Poznan.)

The Council members appear to regard Parada Parowzow as a side show to their Dni Wolsztyna (Wolsztyn Days). They put on pop concerts, a sailing regatta, fishing competitions and support events put on by local schools. A couple of years ago the Mayor of Wolsztyn was overheard by one of our friends listing the attractions of Wolsztyn at a tourism promotion event in Warsaw. Not once did he mention the Steam Depot, the Steam Locomotive Parade or the steam-hauled trains to Poznan!

If today’s huge crowds, steam engines charging up and down a short piece of track and a light show are not your cup of tea, why not go to Wolsztyn tomorrow? The crowds and overseas steam locomotives will have gone, but there will be steam trains running from Wolsztyn to Stefanowo and Rakonowice and a chance to see Chabowka’s Tkt48-91 doing some useful work.

At the end of each year’s Parada Parowozow the same question is asked, Will there be another parade next year? And each year the answer is the same, With PKP Cargo on the verge of privatisation and with Wolsztyn Town Council being so laid back about their steam shed and steam trains, who knows?

Jaworzyna Slask – 28 April – 6 May

The Industry and Railways Museum at the old Jaworzyna Slask steam depot is running special attractions during the whole week. There will be conducted tours of the museum and its collection. Demonstrations of the turntable, a chance to ride in vintage coaches, and from 1 May a chance for a cab ride in the museum’s Tkt48-18.

The management of Jaworzyna Slask is not loved by the Polish railway enthusiast community. Some difficult decisions had to be made at the start of the museum’s existence, not dissimilar to the Festiniog Railway’s scrapping Moel Tryfan in 1954.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the affair, today the museum’s collection looks superb, Tkt48-18 (thanks to the generosity of Wolsztyn Experience) is in working order, and the museum’s approach to its paying visitors is 100% professional.

Koscierzyna – 2 May

Koscierzyna is one ex PKP Skasen that nearly got away. Its rescue is largely due to the efforts of Miroslaw Szymanski, the former Chief Executive of Fundacja Era Parowozow who lobbied tirelessly for its takeover by the local council.

The museum is open every day, on 2 May the Skansen celebrates its 20th birthday and entry will be free. There will be a railway themed concert and the unveiling of a statue commissioned by the council celebrating the line of 18° latitude. One wonders why the council could not have commissioned the restoration of a particular item or rolling stock instead?

Skierniewice – 5 May

The Polskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Kolejowych (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association) are holding an open day at Skierniewice on 5 May. The amazing collection of railway rolling stock at Skierniewice deserves to be better known outside Poland and this is one event which we would enthusiastically endorse with no reservations.

We do have one question which though we have asked the PSMK authorities several times has not been satisfactorily answered. Why – given the society’s very visible need for money – don’t they charge admission to their open days and raise income from ancillary activities like selling guides and refreshments? Or are they afraid that if they do the local council will turn round and hit them with local taxes levied at commercial rates?

Those not celebrating!

Chabowka

Amazingly, with a permanent staff of some 8 people, some 6 locomotives in working order and a full time official responsible for marketing, the Chabowka skansen  is not putting on anything special during the May Days holiday. It is true that the skansen despatched Tkt48-191 to Wolsztyn with a couple of coaches and its also true that Chabowka put on the annual Parowozjada steam gala in August, but given the resources devoted to the skansen we find it incredible that no attractions – however modest – are being put on during this period.

Just to show what the skansen team are capable of – when they put their mind to it – the official web pages boast that on 31 March a private freight train was run at the behest of a – presumably wealthy – German enthusiast from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz along this disused line.

We have long admired the engineering expertise of the technical team at Chabowka and their achievement in keeping so many engines in working order with minimum resources. It is a great pity that the people responsible for marketing the skansen do not have the same ‘can do’ attitude.

Karsnice

Images of Karsnice. Video by .

The Karsnice skansen is a very sad case. It was started by the manager of the railway workshops there in 1989 and a sizeable collection of locomotives and railway rolling stock was built up. His plan was to transfer the collection to a special trust, but he received early retirement (and a reduced pension!) before the trust could be set up.

When he left the Karsnice workshops the collection was left in limbo and then PKP’s real estate department, PKP Nieruchomosci, started selling the exhibits. One Ty2 went to the Lodz holocaust museum a couple of other locos were sold to the PSMK at Skierniewice.

A ‘Save Our Skansen’ campaign was run by the neighbouring town of Zdunska Wola and some leverage at ministerial level was provided by some international friends. Officially the skansen was repreived. The rolling stock and the land it stood on was transferred to the Zdunska Wola Town Council.

The council managed to raise some funds and obtain an EU grant to cosmetically restore some of the rolling stock. But Nieruchomosci transferred only the bare minimum parcel of land. The shed where the Karsnice vintage train of wooden four wheel carriages was not included. This great video by Lukasz Szyczyk shows the tragic result.

Elk

Sadly, the orphaned skansen here never found a local council ready to take it over with devastating results. Now Nieruchomosci are auctioning the surviving Ol49-80 and the remaining workshop equipment.

Wegerzewo – Ketrzyn railway line

This was Poland’s only ‘preserved’ standard gauge railway line. It was saved by the Stowarzyszenie Hobbystow Kolejowych (Society of Railway Enthusiasts) who persuaded the local council to take the line over.

There was a flurry of activity here in 2008 since then nothing!

Pyskowice

The threat of court action continues to hang over the skansen. There was a court hearing last week which was immediately suspended because key PKP witnesses had not attended. The next session will take place on July 10. Till the matter is resolved the Skansen remains closed. More BTWT readers are needed to assist with the lobbying effort that is going on behind the scenes. Please get in touch if you would like to help.

Skierniewice or Naleczow or both?

So where to go next week? It has been a while since I visited the Skiernievice Skansen so the open day there is a big temptation, but Gregorz Sykut writes that the Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Rozwoju Nadwislanskiej Kolei Wąskotorowej (Association for the Development of the Nadwislanska Narrow Gauge Railway) is running a special train followed by a film show at Karczmiska station.

The train, film show and car parking are free. The start is at 5.30 PM and the Society have a plan to finish at 9:30 PM. At the station there will be an  opportunity to purchase a meal from the grill and drinks. More details from: gsykut@gmail.com.

Hmm, narrow or standard gauge? Naleczow is not all that far from Skierniewice… it would be great to visit both!

Dyspozytor

Battle of Skierniewice

Friday, 13 August 2010

Ty2-911 and reenactor at Skierniewice depot, 12 August 2010. From a photograph by Jerzy Dabrowski. Photo © Oko na Swiat Photo agency.

(Click to enlarge. All enquiries regarding the use of Jerzy Dabrowski’s photographs should be directed to Oko na Swiat.)

It’s not every day that one can see a steam engine in steam at Skierniewice so, following a tip off, (there was nothing about this ‘happening’ on the PSMK website) an early evening pilgrimage was duly made. I must admit a certain fondness for travelling across Poland by car on roads ‘off the beaten track’ and some of the route from Janow (on the Rogow n.g. line) and Skierniewice lies along a beautiful tree-lined avenue that runs across gently undulating hills. When I reached Skierniewice, there was already a long line of cars parked on the road besides the depot, but I managed to shunt into a slot just vacated by the straz mieska (municipal police).

Sunday 15 August is the 90 anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw – a defining event in Poland’s post WW I history. But I had come to Skierniewice to witness a different kind of battle; I wanted to see how the PSMK ran a themed open day and whether the association was using the occasion to advance its own long-term objectives. The first surprise was at the gatehouse where in days gone by passes and temporary permits were checked before allowing entry into the MPD. Entry was free! There was a donation tin, but its tiny slot precluded the entry of notes. Every visitor received a beautifully printed Edmondson card ticket.

Inside the depot grounds, there were several hundred people milling around the exhibits. The association had brought out some of its own large exhibits from their customary home inside the roundhouse including the 1913 Wittfeld battery railcar and 2-8-2T Tkt48-39, but the biggest crowds milled around Ty2-911 which had come with a vintage train of 4 wheeled passenger carriages from Chabowka. By this time the ‘Kriegslok’ was only in light steam, but it was still a ‘live’ steam engine and ,with its footplate open to visitors, it was undoubtedly the star attraction of the day. Reenactors from the GRH Radosław and PSRH X DOK societies wearing army uniforms of the 1920s reminded us of the occasion when volunteers from all over Poland travelled to Warsaw to defend the newly independent country against Lenin’s army.

However, I had a different ‘target’ in my sights; the President of Skierniewice hove into view by the newly repaired turntable. One of her assistants was giving out apples individually packed in pretty boxes; although at first glance it was difficult to see whether the purpose of the exercise was to promote the town or encourage voters at the forthcoming local elections. Madame President, I began, I have come all the way from London to witness today’s proceedings. Let me congratulate you on having such a heritage pearl in Skierniewice.

Thank you. she fluttered her eyelids modestly, but the congratulations should go to the railway association.

I hope, I continued pointing at the broken skylights in the roundhouse roof, that some formula may be found – maybe by means of an EU-funded project – to help the Society restore these historic buildings.

Realising that the conversation was moving to dangerous territory one of the President’s minders steered her away from the dangerous anarchist who had dared to voice such heretical views. Meanwhile another official coldly pointed out that the Town Council could not help restore the MPD buildings because they did not belong to the Council, but the Society!

BTWT readers fluent in Polish who are interested in learning more about the Catch-22 situation that Polish railway societies (and Polish railways generally) find themselves in may be interested in the debate that recently took place recently between Miroslaw Szymanski, chairman of Fundacja Era Parowozow (Steam Age Foundation) and Andrew Goltz, the chairman of British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership, on the Catholic radio station radio Maryja. To listen to the two part debate click the links below:

Ty2-911 to visit Skierniewice tomorrow

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Ty2-953 hauling Chabowka’s vintage goods train at Raba Zaryte on 2 August 2006 at the Parowozjada steam gala. Photo BTWT.

There will be a rare occasion to see a working Ty2 at Skierniewice tomorrow. The locomotive and vintage train from Chabowka will be electric hauled from just outside Krakow to Piotrkow Trybunalski. If all goes well the train will then be steam-hauled from Piotrkow to Skierniewice. The train is due to depart Piotrkow about 12:00 (this time is very approximate) and arrive at Skierniewice at 14:45. The depot itself (with its recently refurbished turntable) will be open to the public from 18:15 to 20:00 when there will be a film show. The locomotive, train and actors dressed up as Polish volunteer soldiers will be commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw – a key event in securing – for 20 years at least – Poland’s newly found independence.

So if you live near Warsaw, take the day of work. Tell SWMBO that you are taking the children mushroom picking and secure a good vantage point along the line between Piotrkow and the junction at Koluszki. After the train passes you will have ample time to explore the woods and hunt for mushrooms, before taking the kids for a Pizza and moving on to Skierniewice shed. After photographing Ty2-911 on the Skierniewice, you may have to take the little horrors home, but if they are older they may well be interested in staying for the film show Polonia Restituta which will be shown at 20:00hrs in the depot. It you just cannot get to Skierniewice,you’ll have a chance to see the loco at the warsaw Railway Museum on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

And yes I know that Ty2s were built from 1942 onwards and that the Battle of Warsaw was faught in 1920. It appears that the locomotive that was originally booked for the leading role in the commemoration events – Chabowka based Ol12-7 had failed at the last minute.

A return journey – part 4

Monday, 9 August 2010

Banks of linefinders – part of the Siemens built historic telephone exchange in the railway museum at Skierniewice. Photo Pawel Mieroslawski.

Sat. 17th was slated for a visit to the Polskie Stowarszyszenie Milosnikow Kolei (Polish Railway Enthusiasts’ Society) museum based on the former locomotive depot at Skierniewice, 50 km north-east of Lodz on the Warsaw – Czestochowa – Upper Silesia main line. I met up again with Dyspozytor and we caught a brand-new EMU built by PESA at Bydgoszcz, comprising the 10:54 Tanie Linie Kolejowe semi-fast to Warsaw (TLK is the PKP InterCity brand for trains that are not categorised as being in one of their ‘fast’ categories such as IC or EIC.) Dyspozytor was scathing that, after a line upgrade costing billions of zloty, the brand new rolling stock was being throttled down to a maximum speed of 130 km/h because Polish railway regulations demanded two people in the cab for trains travelling at higher speeds. Dyspozytor directed me to some uncomfortable looking seats near the toilets. When I queried this, he explained that the normal seats, while stylishly designed, had never been ergonomically tested and were uniformly loathed by train crews and regular passengers alike.

Soon we were bowling along the newly relaid track. Though our maximum speed was only 80 mph, it seemed much faster. Polish continuously welded rail is much ‘bumpier’ than its British equivalent. There was a long line of cars waiting for us to pass at the level crossing across the Lodz – Rawa Mazowiecka road and soon Dyspozytor was pointing out the headquarters of the Fundacja Polskich Kolei Waskotorowych (Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation) at Rogow, which was to be our destination the following day. While the new rolling stock may be uncomfortable to sit in, it does have powerful air conditioning, and I had not realised how hot it was outside until a blast of heat hit us as we exited the train and started our trek across the footbridge and then towards the shed. The Skierniewice museum is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month in summer, but Dyspozytor had worked his magic and soon we were being welcomed by Pawel Mieroslawski, the chairman of the PSMK.

Skierniewice museum is an incredible treasure-house of preserved motive power and rolling stock, which deserves to be much better known among British enthusiasts. I have included a link to the rolling stock catalogue on the Society’s webpages, so here is a short list of what were to me, its highlights. On display in the open, on the periphery of the indoors collection – 2-6-2T OKl27-10, 2-10-0 Ty51-1, 2-6-2 Ol49-4 – and of course the astounding sectioned Prussian S6 4-4-0.

Indoors in the former locoshed, were more marvels. Ty2-1407 is the arguably last steam loco built in Poland. Basically a Ty2 2-10-0 Kriegslok, it was assembled in 1964, from the parts of cannibalised locos, by ZNKT Poznan for experiments in the mid-1960s in heavy oil-burning. A totally new concept for me, I had had no notion that oil-burning was ever part of the PKP scene, with Poland having such enormous coal reserves. Mr Mieroslwaski told us that in the 1960s thick oil waste from the refineries at Plock, was tested as a possible loco fuel, and some 350 Kriegsloks were adapted to burn it. Also there was a time when only oil burning steam locos were permitted on the branch along the Hel spit, in order to minimise the risk of fire in the woods which held the sand dunes together.

Among the society’s collection of vintage carriages I found what were for me two absolute pearls: standing on a wagon was a 600mm gauge ex-German WW I 0-8-0 Brigadelok, obtained from Lesmierz sugar factory; there was also an utterly marvellous Wittfeld battery-electric railcar, built in 1913 and operated by PKP till 1957 from their Malbork sub-depot. Mr Mieroslawski has in Skierniewice, not only the ultimate ‘train set’ but also an impressive collection of smaller exhibits. His pride and enjoy is a Siemens telephone exchange of a type that was installed by the Germans during WWII on all the railway lines under their control and which post-1945 became the de facto standard on Polish railways. The exchange has been restored to working order by two members of the Society and is – we were given to understand – the only such installation still in working order.

After our tour of the shed and its exhibits Mr Mieroslawski took us around to the Society’s mess room and pulled out a couple of cold beers from the fridge. We discussed some of the problems that Polish railways societies laboured under such as the poor support from local authorities and no clear mechanism to give volunteer-run societies access to EU funds. The PSMK were lucky, in the heady days during the transition from Communism they were promised the freehold of the Skierniewice shed, and after 10 years of meetings and pen pushing, the Society finally acquired the freehold of the site. This gives the PSMK a considerable advantage over other societies who operate under licence from their local authority and whose use of a particular shed or railway line can be arbitrarily terminated at the drop of a hat.

Skierniewice Railway Station. Photo Tomasso.

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

We returned to the railway station. There was time to admire the beautifully restored station buildings, a refreshing contrast to what I had seen elsewhere, we grabbed a couple of ices at the smart café inside and caught the 16:15 to Koluszki. I was supposed catch a 17:08 to Tomaszow Mazowiecki at Koluszki. I was impressed that although our train was late the Tomaszow train was held at the junction to make the connection. In fact, the train was also held for a connecting TLK train run by Intercity – an impressive example of cooperation between the two operators. At the end of the erstwhile Piotrkow narrow gauge railway there is an attractive artificial lake that was created in the 1970s by damming the River Pilica. Although I am no sailor, I was to spend an enjoyable couple of hours cooling off in the early evening sailing on the lake.

More:

…to be continued

Prussian S6 safe in Skierniewice

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sectioned S6 on the Skierniewice turntable.
Photo PSMK.

If you travel through Skierniewice by train, cast a glance at the old roundhouse which houses the amazing collection of rolling stock gathered together by the Polskie Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association). Though most of the collection is inside the roundhouse, a few steam engines can be seen outside, including the last surviving Prussian S6 4-4-0.

The story of the S6’s survival is worth telling, particularly as this particular engine never, as far as it is known, worked in Poland! The S6 class locomotive was development of the Prussian Class S 4 4-4-0s intended for fast express trains. It was designed in 1904 by Linke-Hofmann of Breslau. The design was championed by Robert Garbe, the Prussian Railways Head of Locomotive Design and Procurement. Between 1906 and 1913 ,a total of 584 S6s were manufactured by Linke-Hofmann, Henschel-Werke and Maschinenbauanstalt Humboldt. They were the last four-coupled, express locomotives to be built in Germany. It is interesting to compare the design features of the S6s with those of their British contemporaries, the North British Railway’s J Class (LNER D29) ‘Scott’ 4-4-0s. It was not until 1927 that the LNER (of which the NBR had become a part) would build a modern 4-4-0 with outside cylinders and valve gear – Nigel Gresley’s D49 ‘Hunt ‘ / ‘Shire’ class.

The PKP classification for the S6s was Pd5. 81 Pd5s ran on Polish State Railways before the outbreak of WWII and 37 continued to work after the war, the last one being withdrawn in 1958. None of the engines that ran on PKP metals were preserved. The S6 at Skierniewice owes its continued existence to a strange quirk of fate. Formerly DRB 13 1247, it was built by the Linke-Hofmann-Werke in Breslau (Wroclaw) and in withdrawn from active service in December 1928. The locomotive was used as an instructional exhibit to train future generations of enginemen. At some stage it was partially sectioned and by 1945 it had found it way to Lodz. In 1954 it was set up outside the Railway Technical College in Warsaw carrying the fictional designation Pd5-17. On 23 April it was delivered to the PSMK’s base in Skierniewice on three low loaders.

Is it too much to hope that as a result of some future Polish – German project this historic locomotive could one day be restored to run again?

More:

(The former engine shed at Skierniewice is open on the first Saturday of the month, May through to October.)

Skierniewice Saturday open day

Friday, 6 June 2008

See the hidden treasures in the Skierniewice roundhouse
(more Skierniewice photos by Kacper Moscicki here)

Poland’s oldest railway society, Polskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Kolejowych, is holding an open day at its Skierniewice Roundhouse tommorrow (7 June). PSMK have gathered an amazing collection of historic rolling stock at the Roundhouse. As well as some 70 units of rolling stock, PSMK have a large collection of smaller items and documents. The latter are not on display to the public at the moment. Some of the most valuable exhibits include:

  • Restored 1913 Wittfeld accumulator railcar – only survivor;
  • The only example in Poland (one of only five European survivors) of a 1910 Wagon Lits restaurant coach built from teak, identical to the vehicle in which the WW I truce was signed in 1918;
  • One of two survivors in Poland of a 1907 wooden Prussian 4-axle express passenger coach;
  • One of the two Polish survivors of a 1906 Prussian 4-axle compartment coach with side doors (typical of passenger trains on Warsaw – Lodz line until the end of 60s);
  • Sole surviving coach from the pre WW II government train;
  • First government train coach built in Poland after WW II;
  • The only surviving passenger coach from the first electric railway on present-day Polish territory (Wabrzezno – Wabrzezno Miasto railway) built in1898;
  • The oldest Polish diesel railbus built in 1938.

So if you live near Warsaw, get the kids up early on Saturday morning and head off down to Skierniewice. Get the wife to drop you to at one of Warsaw’s main railway stations, Wschodnia, Centralna or Zachodnia. She gets to keep the car all day and the kids will love the journey by train!

More information:

What to do this weekend?

Thursday, 8 May 2008

A guided tour of PSMK’s collection of vintage rolling stock (photo PSMK)

If you missed the Wolsztyn celebrations because of family commitments, we offer our sincere commiserations and suggest that now is the time to start planning that surprise cruise for the wife next May bank holiday. Meanwhile, why not visit the former steam locomotive depot at Skierniewice this Saturday when PSMK (the Polish Association of Railway Enthusiasts) is holding the first of its 2008 open days? Warning, the depot will only be open from 11.00 to 14.00 hrs. From the outside the Skierniewice depot looks derelict, but inside in an absolutely priceless collection of vintage rolling stock.

Leave the car at home. Skierniewice is only 50 minutes by train from Warsaw West station and Przewozy Regionalne, the semi-fast train operator offers various discounts for travel in family-sized or larger groups.

A list of all the PSMK open days in 2008 can be found on the Association’s website here.

Skierniewice Success!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

skierniewice.jpg

Ok1 guest at Skierniewice Open Day 22 September 2007

In contrast to the unrelieved gloom of my usual fare, I thought I would brighten up your weekend by writing about the Polskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Kolei, The Polish Association of Railway Enthusiasts and their wonderful railway museum at Skierniewice. The PSMK were set up in 1987 (two years before the collapse of communism) and since then have been assiduously collecting historic rolling stock, railway artefacts and documents. In 1991 the locomotive depot at Skierniewice was closed and the site started degrading. The takeover of the depot by the Association was first mooted in 1992. Thanks to the Association’s efforts the depot was listed as a historic monument in 1994 and the removal of artefacts and machinery from the site ceased. In 2002 the formalities were complete and the Association became the proud owners of the depot.

Much remains to be done and the depot roof will need rebuilding. But the great achievement of the Association is that they have secured the ownership of the site and cannot, as has happened elsewhere, be thrown out at the whim of the local council. The Association have a very informative website and have made a good start at getting the material translated into English. The list of exhibits has not yet been translated, but the details can readily be deduced.  Skierniewice is only 65 kilometres from Warsaw and enjoys an excellent rail service. A list of open days in 2008 is available here.