Archive for the ‘Slask’ Category

100 trains slashed in Silesia

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

by Ed Beale

The top of page 1 of 7 pages of cuts.

(Click on image to download the whole list as a pdf file.)

Przewozy Regionalne (PR) have announced large-scale service cuts in Silesia, despite a 30 million zloty increase in subsidy from the regional government. The cuts will be carried out in two stages: at the beginning of March and in June. All services from Bytom to Gliwice will go, and most services from Czestochowa to Fosowskie, Rybnik to Pszczyna, Rybnik to Chalupki and Zebrzydowice to Cieszyn.

Alexandra Marzynska, spokesperson for the Chief Executive of Silesia, said negotiations with PR on reducing their operating costs had failed. Przewozy Regionalne is so expensive it’s hard to grasp. It’s a bottomless pit – it can absorb any amount and it will still be too small. It’s scary.

Other regions have already discovered the same thing, hence the growth of smaller more efficient regional operators in recent years. Many local services in Pomorskie, Kujawko-Pomorskie, Wielkopolskie, Dornoslaskie and Mazowieckie regions are already being operated by such companies, including one route in Silesia itself: Czestochowa to Gliwice. It seems likely that at the end of PR’s current five year contract in Silesia, which expires in December 2012, PR will find themselves losing more local services in this region.

Protests have followed the news, especially in Cieszyn, which will lose all of its train services in commuting hours. In this town which already has 15% unemployment, the protesters say that it will now be impossible to get to jobs in Bielsko-Biala, the largest city in the area. Compounding the problem for commuters is the two weeks notice given for such a sweeping change.


The Power and the Glory

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Marek Stanczyk’s film Krystyna Shaft Headgear in photographs

Sląsk is Poland’s Black Country. If Katowice is Poland’s Birmingham, then Bytom is its Wolverhampton. The economy was entirely based on coal. The coal was initially mined near the surface, but as these deposits became exhausted the miners penetrated deeper and deeper. One of Bytom’s industrial railways beat the Festiniog Railway by a few years and became the world’s first steam operated narrow gauge railway.

The first coalmine was opened in the Szombierki area in 1768. It closed in 1820. The Hohenzollern Mine (later Kopalnia Szombierki) was opened in 1870. The Kaiser Wilhelm shaft (later Krystyna) was dug between 1870 and 1873. The coal mine was expanded in stages. By 1880, coal was being cut from three seams at depths of 104 m, 154 m and 171 m. At the end of the 19th Century, over 1,200 people were employed at the mine and 1,400 tonnes of coal were being hauled up daily. In 1917, the shaft was deepened and good seams of coal were found at 272,4 m, 294,4 m and 310 m. By 1920, the shaft was 340 m deep. In 1929. a modern all-enclosed winding house was constructed over the Krystyna shaft. Its winding engine was rated at 3,264 horsepower – the most powerful in Europe. It was designed to be able to raise coal from a depth of up to 510 metres.

After the end of WWII the mine was occupied by Soviet soldiers who attempted to work it with little success. It was handed over to the Polish authorities on 14 April 1945. It was renamed ‘Szombierki’ and its main shaft was rechristened ‘Krystyna’. By 1948, 4,372 were employed in the mine.

In the early 1990s the IMF imposed an austerity programme on Poland, dubbed the Balcerowicz Plan, and a so called ‘liberal’ economic policy. Poland’s heavy industry was decimated, the total demand for coal dropped drastically and cheaper coal was imported from the East. Many of Poland’s coal mines closed; the Szombierki mine was among them. Ironically, these were the very policies opposed by the late President Kaczynski, but to no avail.

In 2008 the Krystyna shaft headgear and surrounding land was bought by a property developer. All the historic colliery buildings were demolished with the exception of the unique shaft head headgear. This stands decaying and forlorn, stripped of all of its historical context. The developer plans to use the headgear as part of a new hotel and spa complex…

More films by Marek Stanczyk:

Krystyna shaft headgear at the height of its glory.