Archive for the ‘Smigiel Railway’ Category

Milestones, BTWT won’t be celebrating

Monday, 10 January 2011

Various motive power, Smigiel Railway. Photo BTWT.

I have just completed a very emotional telephone call with Wit Kreuschner, the general manager of the Smigiel Railway. Tomorrow Wit hands over the inventory of the railway to Smigiel Town Council and will be general manager no more. It is a sad day for a man who ten years go was the initiator of the plan to save the line, and with the help of SKPL, engineered its takeover by Smigiel town Council.

Jerzy Ciesla, the town mayor in those days was an enthusiastic supporter of the railway and the idea that it should continue to play an active part in the economy of the area. The motives of the current administration are more difficult to fathom. Wiktor Snela, the present incumbent in the mayoral post told Robert Hall that he believes the railway has a future as a tourist attraction rather than as a transport undertaking. A year, or so ago, I attended a meeting at which the deputy mayor said that the Town Council has no interest in developing the Town’s tourist attractions. So which statement is correct? Time will tell.

The last post, reporting the Smigiel Railway’s demise under SKPL auspices, generated a huge amount of interest. On January 6, we had 1,310 hits, a BTWT record. This ‘surge’ in readership also took BTWT over a total of 300,000 hits. But we will not be celebrating these milestones.

In response to the article a number of BTWT readers suggested organising a collection to cover the Smigiel railway deficit for one year. It would have been churlish of me not to have passed the idea on to Tomasz Strapagiel, SKPL chairman. Tomasz asked me to express his appreciation and to explain that the railway’s finances are not really amenable to a rescue plan.

In brief the financial arrangements were as follows. The line’s finances were always on a knife edge. The line needed some 150,000 PLN per annum to cover its costs. There was an understanding between SKPL and the Wielkopolska provincial governor’s office to the effect that the railway would receive funding of 100,000 PLN each year in return for operating a public transport service. But before this grant could be paid, it had to be to be approved by provincial government council members, this usually took place in early summer. Afterwards it took a month or so the funds to be processed and then for various legal reasons it was paid to the Smigiel Town Council. Smigiel Town Council’s management team then had to decide how much of this grant should be actually handed over to SKPL and how much cash should be retained for its own expenditure on matters to do with the railway. By September SKPL received the remaining cash in their bank account. The shortfall was made up from freight revenues and a small amount of ancillary income.

These arrangements were not conducive to the railway’s good health. SKPL never knew what the line’s operating budget was, and so would scrimp and save so as to reduce the eventual deficit. The council saw the effects of this and grumbled about SKPL’s parsimony. And so year by year the relationship deteriorated. When freight carryings ceased, and the Council demanded that SKPL pay local taxes, the elastic snapped.

Perhaps now, where there is no third party to shift responsibility to, the railway might undergo a renaissance? I very much hope so. In the meantime we and many friends of the Smigiel Railway will watch developments carefully and raise the alarm should the council go back on its commitments to continue operating the railway.

My condolences to Wit and his daughter Lidia, who together comprised the line’s management team and for whom the railway was like a member of their family. They were always generous with their time and hospitality to all who came to visit this unique line – the last Polish narrow gauge line to run a genuine passenger service. I hope that both will be able to find equally rewarding employment elsewhere.

Dyspozytor

Smigiel Railway – the end of the line

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Wielichowo, looking towards Rakonowice, 3 May 2010. Photo BTWT.

The Smigiel Railway, for many Poland’s last ‘real’ narrow gauge railway, is no more.

In a letter dated 30 December 2010 to Wiktor Snela, the Mayor of Smigiel, SKPL chairman, Tomasz Strapagiel withdrew from the operating agreement between SKPL and the Council, pointing out that, in 2010, SKPL only received 48,000 zloty of the 100,000 zloty subsidy paid by the Wielkopolska provincial government towards the costs of running the line. The remaining 52,000 zloty were retained by Smigiel Town Council – 32,000 zloty in lieu of local taxes, and 20,000 zloty to fund this year’s 110th anniversary celebrations. In the same letter Mr Strapagiel offers to continue to run the railway until such time the Council is ready to take over the responsibility for running the line on the basis that the Council cover the line’s operating deficit.

A short paragraph appears on the SKPL website to the effect that services are suspended as form 1 January 2011. It is understood that the Smigiel Railway staff have been offered alternative employment by SKPL.

The goods shed at Wielichowo, 3 May 2010. Photo BTWT.

Smigiel Railway endgame…

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

…the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Smigiel station during the Smigiel Railway’s 110th anniversary celebrations on 19 September 2010. Will this be the last such event? Photo Marek Ciesielski.

SKPL’s custodianship of the Smigiel Railway is reaching its endgame. Smigiel Town Council has just informed the short-line railway operator as to how it will be assigning this year’s 100,000 PLN grant from the Wielkopolska Provincial government: 20,000 PLN will cover the Council’s expenditure on the 110th anniversary celebrations; 32,000 will be assigned to the Town Council in lieu of local taxes; 48,000 will go towards SKPL’s operating expenses. The result will be an operating deficit of some 40,000 PLN.

An earlier report on BTWT referred to the possibility of SKPL recouping its losses season from a lucrative roadstone contract. It now seems likely that due to the world financial situation the Polish government will be trimming back its road-building plans for 2011 and that the contract will not be finalised. In the circumstances we expect that SKPL will shortly be informing Smigiel Council that they cannot operate the railway at a loss and will be withdrawing from their operating agreement.

A return journey – part 10

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

by Robert Hall

The SKD when trains still ran to Wielichowo. Video by vicinalasvi.

At Poznan Glowny station, I found the same problem as recounted by Dyspozytor in his post, Customer Care Conundrum – the displayed timetables at the station did not seem to have heard of my train, supposedly scheduled to reach Stare Bojanowo at 15:42. Unlike Dyspozytor, I had the good fortune to have plenty of time at my disposal and I asked at a likely-looking Informacja window, where the chap on duty knew a little English, and was able to tell me the time and departure platform of my train. Stare Bojanowo was reached on time. I was met there by Dyspozytor and two of Smigiel line’s general manager’s daughters – one to take us around the railway; the other to drive the car. In fact the whole family looked after us splendidly throughout the whole action-packed 24 hours or so at Smigiel. The visit started with being taken round the overgrown and bordering-on-ruinous transporter wagon loading facility at Stare Bojanowo. I saw some forlorn-looking transporter trucks and learnt that they were last used in March this year. In view of later developments, the future of freight working on this line seems uncertain.

Dyspozytor was keen that I should meet up not only with the line’s management, but also with a representative of the line’s owner, Smigiel Town Council. A meeting with the mayor was duly arranged. Wth Dyspozytor acting as interpreter I tried to explain to the Mayor that a purely tourist operation is in many enthusiasts’ eyes, considerably less attractive than a real railway fulfilling a real passenger and / or freight commercial function. But the mayor was having none of it. His plan for the future of the line has already been covered on BTWT. The general impression that I received was that the best that can be hoped for, is for some of the line to survive as a purely tourist operation.

The dealings of Polish local government authorities nowadays, with narrow-gauge railways in their remit, seem on the whole to be characterised by a strong anti-railway mindset, and in that connection, mind-boggling spite and stupidity. It is to be hoped that such local authorities will eventually realise that a preserved narrow-gauge line is a wonderful tourist magnet and thus provides a big boost to the local economy and that, having done so, they will not actively seeking to thwart its doings and confiscate money from its coffers.

After the railcar trailer painting working party mentioned in the same BTWT post, I caught a mid-afternoon Wolsztyn Experience special run in one of the line’s Romanian-built diesel railcars. At Stary Bojanowo, I changed trains – I was bound for Poznan and an overnight run to the south-east of the country. At least I can say that I have twice done the 5 km Smigiel – Stare Bojanowo secion, that direction only, by MBxd2 : in 1993 and now in 2010. It would seem that Smigiel – Wielichowo will never be mine; but, as an old proverb tells us, You can’t win them all.

A local EMU took me to Poznan, from where I was to depart for the south-east, my target being there being the narrow-gauge Przeworsk Railway. I arrived at Poznan Glowny a little before departure of the 17:22 steam working to Wolsztyn – Pt47-65 on two single-decker coaches. Feeling that I have done justice to the Wolsztyn scene on previous trips to Poland, I had made no plans to look in there, on this tour. The 17:22’s departure was to be my only sight during the whole tour, of a steam loco in steam and in motion.

Smigiel 110 anniversary

Monday, 20 September 2010

Photos by Marek Ciesielski and Albert Mikołajczyk

Crowds gather in Smigiel station yard. The smoke coming from the dead Px48 is from a burning rag in the smokebox and is there just for show. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

Lxd2 pulling the Smigiel ‘tourist train’. Note the difference between the height of the original Smigiel Railway rolling stock and the Romanian imports. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

Tourist train followed by railcar. Photo ©Albert Mikolajczyk.

Three trains at Stare Bojanowo. Photo ©Albert Mikolajczyk.

Listening to the politicians. Photo ©Albert Mikolajczyk.

Strongman entertains the crowds. Photo ©Albert Mikolajczyk.

Friday 17 September was the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Krzywin – Stare Bojanowo secction of the Smigiel Railway to freight traffic. The line from Krzywin, through Stare Bojanowo and Smigiel, to Wielichowo was actually opened to passenger traffic on 30 October 1900 and the section from Wielichowo to Ujazd was opened on 1 September 1901. Though the Krzywin – Stare Bojanowo section was cut back to Zgliniec on 1 July 1979, and closed altogether on 27 May 1990, the 17 September 1900 date was sufficient excuse for Sunday 19 September to become the ‘official’ 110 birthday of the railway.

SKPL pressed all its operable passenger rolling stock into service and ran an intensive train service between Smigiel and Stare Bojanowo. At times three trains ran in quick succession one after another operating on a line-of-sight basis similar to that used on tramways. The Smigiel Town Council took care of the entertainment side of the ceremony providing the public with free soup, a band and a strongman. Later it transpired that the costs of the Town Council’s ‘contribution’ are to be paid for from the grant that the Town Council receives from the Wielkopolska Provincial Government towards the costs of running and maintaining the railway.

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?

Smigiel shock for SKPL

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Robert Hall in Smigiel, 22 July 2010.
Photo Marek Ciesielski.

BTWT guest author Robert Hall, is visiting Poland, visiting narrow gauge railways and filling in the gaps in his travels over the Polish railway network.

On Thursday 22 July, he was in Smigiel where he met Wiktor Snela, the Mayor. Robert expressed his concern that the Mayor had blocked recent initiatives such as the proposed restoration of the Smigiel Railway’s own steam locomotive, Px48-1765. The mayor replied that the Council could not afford to make any investments in the railway, and were in any case thinking of not renewing the operating agreement with SKPL on its expiry in 2012, but setting up their own company to run the railway.

After talking to the Mayor, Robert was joined by Howard Jones and Wolsztyn Experience guests, Julian Maddock and Jeff  Nichols, and took part in a working party to paint a Romanian DMU trailer car. We look forward to publishing Robert’s own account of his recent railway travels across Poland in due course.

Smigiel – a succession of setbacks

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Gniezno Railway Px48-1919 being unloaded at Smigiel Station in February 2008. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

The post-PKP  history of the Smigiel Railway is of one disappointment after another. Last year, the Smigiel Town Council were approached by a British railway enthusiast who wanted to restore the dead Px48-1765 in Smigiel Station. In return for his efforts, the prospective benefactor wanted to acquire the legal title to the engine. He was quite happy to sign a covenant requiring the locomotive to spend the majority of its time working on the Smigiel Railway – the Council turned him down flat. Then there was the demand for local tax payments of about 100,000 PLN (£20,000) – curiously the railway receives a 100,000 PLN subsidy from the provincial government. SKPL managed to win that battle by appealing over the heads of the Council Chief Executive to the Council members as a whole.

Next came the episode with the coal trains. A local coal merchant was keen to increase the amount of coal he was bringing into Smigiel. There was talk of 25 standard gauge wagons coming into Stary Bojanowo at a time which would have involved 13 shuttle trips along the line to deliver the coal to Smigiel. Weak portions of railway line, including parts of the standard gauge interchange yard in Stary Bojanowo were treated to spot re-sleepering in order to bring the line up to scratch. Enter Cargo Sped, a curious joint venture between certain PKP Directors and PKP Cargo itself. Cargo Sped offered the coal merchant a reduction in tariff of 10 PLN/tonne, if he would only accept delivery in the standard gauge coal yard at Wloszakowice rather than Smigiel. For the time being the agressive Cargo Sped price has meant the demise of freight traffic to Smigiel.

Enter a Smigiel businessman. He was also interested in restoring the engine for use on the Smigiel railway and occasional use elsewhere. He was quite prepared for the legal ownership of the Px48 to remain with Smigiel Council, but wanted a 25 year long licence to use the locomotive – he was also turned down. Now comes the latest pinprick – there was until recently a small restaurant in the former waiting room at Smigiel Station. The rental payments from the restaurant owner provided the Smigiel Railway with a modest income of some 500 PLN (£100). Now the Council have arbitrarily removed the waiting room room area from the land licensed to SKPL in order to lease it to the police!

One veteran Smigiel driver compares the present situation at Smigiel to the one that pertained at Kosniewice when the mayor wanted to drastically reduce the land and buildings used by SKPL – when SKPL protested the mayor closed the railway. The current licence agreement between SKPL and Smigiel Town Council has two more years to run. If things go on as at present it seems unlikely that the council will agree to a new agreement on terms that SKPL can possibly accept. Given that Smigiel Town Council have invested absolutely nothing in the railway since they acquired it, am I being too cynical in thinking that some Council officials may have alternative plans for the railway land?

Śmigiel and the Wolsztyn Gala

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wolsztyn shed, 3 hours before the son et lumière, 1 May 2009.

The Wolsztyn Steam Gala is always a dilemma. To go or not to go…  I like my steam engines served au naturel, with the minimum of fuss, and I loathe crowds. An LSWR M7 or GWR 14XX pulling a couple of ancient carriages through almost deserted countryside while in the distance a ploughman guides his trusty horse across the field, that is how railway heritage should be served. Wolsztyn’s grand parade of steam with its climax where all the engines, coupled together like tethered dinosaurs, make as much noise as possible while 20,000 spectators gape, is not my idea of how these things should be done.

So why I am going this year, as I did last year and the year before that? First of all, it is exciting to see so many locomotives in steam at the same time. I set myself a private challenge of trying to see as many in their natural surroundings working the early morning steam specials or hissing gently in the shed after the son et lumière has finished and before the next day’s excesses begin. Secondly, it is a chance to meet some interesting people and catch up on Polish steam developments. Last but not least, I have found the perfect antidote to my demophobia…

On Friday afternoon, the day before the steam parade, I make my way to Smigiel, the home of one of Poland’s few surviving working narrow gauge railways. With luck I might even be in time to ride with the driver in the last service train of the day. A quick dash to Wolsztyn for the son et lumière and then back to Smigiel for a pleasant evening with friends. Up early the following morning, and a quick dash to Wolsztyn to photograph as much as possible before the crowds descend.

Saturday evening usually has me driving home, but this year I have more ambitious plans. I want to see the last working section of the Pomeranian metre gauge at Reval and Gryfice as well as pay my last respects to the places that I knew so well in the 1960s and 1970s like Stepnica and Golczewo where today the narrow gauge is just a memory.

It should be a very interesting bank holiday weekend!

More:

Smigiel Railway saved as a working railway

Friday, 13 November 2009

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Three trains in operation at Smigiel.
Photo ©Albert Mikolajczyk, SKPL.

At a meeting of Smigiel Town Council yesterday, a resolution was passed confirming that the Council intends to make a donation each year towards the operating costs of the Smigiel Railway commensurate in size with the railway’s local tax liability to the Council. The resolution spells the end of earlier plans prepared by the Counil for the railway to be run as a pure ‘tourist railway’ by the Town Council’s own direct labour force. SKPL will continue to be line’s operator and to offer a mix of passenger and freight services as well as special services customised to passenger’s individual requirements.

I would like to thank everybody who wrote individual letters to the Mayor of Smigiel asking that the railway be allowed to continue its role as a working railway.

Dyspozytor

Smigiel, the end or a new beginning?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

smigiel_train

A Romanian-built diesel railcar awaits its passengers at Smigiel.

(Click to see a high resolution version.)

A meeting took place this morning between the senior management of SKPL and Wiktor Snela, the Mayor of Smigiel, and his senior councillors. Both teams had their legal advisers present. The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere and both sides emphasised that they were committed to finding a formula which would guarantee the long-term future of the railway. SKPL pointed out that the economics of the line were marginal and that removing additional funds from the railway would lead rapidly to its technical death. The Smigiel Council team pointed out that charging local taxes was a requirement of the law and that any attempt to circumvent this could lead to individual councillors being charged and fined.

Tomasz Strapagiel, the chairman of SKPL, stated that SKPL would immediately issue a letter terminating its operating agreement with the Council, giving the Council three months notice. SKPL would also pay the Council the local taxes as calculated by the Council in respect of its licence agreement in respect of the period during which the Council actually owned the railway land. Both sides confirmed that each would continue to search for a formula which would enable the line to continue its operations in the future.

Smigiel Railway – first letter to Mayor

Friday, 18 September 2009

by Robert Hall

the_end_of_the_line

The end of the line – Wielechowo Station. When Dyspozytor first travelled on the Smigiel Railway the track was still in place from here to Rakonowice. How long will it be before the rest of the line looks like this? Photo BTWT.

(Click picture to enlarge.)

The first of what we hope will be many letters from BTWT readers to the Mayor of Smigiel regarding the future of his railway. Thanks Robert! D.

Sz.P.
Wiktor Snela
Burmistrz Smigla
Urząd Miejski Smigla
pl. Wojska Polskiego 6
64-030 Śmigiel
POLAND

17 / 9 / 2009

Dear Sir,

Being a British citizen with a great love of Poland and its national heritage – and who has taken many enjoyable holidays in Poland, including visiting Śmigiel and travelling on its narrow-gauge railway – I hope that my writing this letter to you will not cause offence.

I learn that the Śmigie Town Council, having lately become the owners of the land and infrastructure of the 750mm gauge railway serving Śmigiel and surrounding area, are now proposing to charge the railway society SKPL of Kalisz, who in recent years have been operating the railway, a large sum of money in local rates, relating to their occupation of the railway land – charges which were waived under the previous arrangement. I understand that in view of this situation and its ramifications, SKPL will be unable – with these terms applying – to continue to operate the railway.

This prospect is a distressing one for me, and for many people throughout Europe and, I am sure, beyond – who are interested in Poland’s railway heritage. I would beg of you and the Town Council, to reconsider this matter, and to reverse the decision to hit SKPL with this punitive financial demand – so that they may be able to continue operating the local railway.

If the railway could continue the operation of its passenger and freight services – plus, as has happened in the past few years in co-operation with the “Wolsztyn Experience”, ran regular steam-locomotive-hauled services visitors from much of Europe, whose time spent in the area would enrich the local economy.

Here in Britain for example, we now have absolutely nothing like the Śmigiel local narrow-gauge railway (a narrow gauge railway providing a genuine public transport service) – lots of us would love to come to Poland, to enjoy there, what we cannot enjoy back home. Should the line continue to run in years ahead – as well as and providing useful service for people in the area, it would draw many railway-interested tourists, who would spend money in Śmigiel.

Entreating you to give the local railway a chance, doing which would benefit all concerned.

Yours truly

ROBERT HALL

Rainy morning in Smigiel

Friday, 29 May 2009

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Busy scene in Smigiel yard on a rainy morning on 29.06.2009 in preparation for running three trains in simultaneously! The newly refurbished Romanian railcar will form the service train to Stare Bojanowo while the Lxd2 will haul the second of the day’s two special trains to Wielichowo. All photos BTWT.

(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Smigiel Town Council and PKP have completed the lengthy legal process of transferring the ownership of the line to the Town Council. Whilst this should be a cause for celebration – in theory the way is now clear for the Council to apply for EU funds – the Polish reality is more prosaic – long discussions will now commence between the Council and SKPL regarding the latter’s operating agreement. High on the Council’s agenda, is a demand that SKPL pay council tax in respect of the railway land.

two_railcars

Most unprototypical! The special to Wielichowo (nearest camera) and the service train to Stare Bojanowo wait in the same road. In PKP days trains to Stare Bojanowo would have used the right hand road.

check_up

The driver of the service train gives his railcar a last minute check.

sharp_curve

That curve really needs some attention.

off_to_wielichowo

The first special crosses the main road.

Freight traffic on the Stare-Bojanowo – Smigiel line seems to be bearing up with two rakes of standard gauge freight wagons expected shortly. If arrangements proceed as planned the Px48 from Gniezno hired by the Wolsztyn Experience will visit the line in September and October.

More information:

  • Timetable – pdf download
  • Contact – tel/fax: +48 65 518 00 10  mobile: +48 694 023 432

Creative Commons License

Click for details of licensing.

Smgiel – railcar recommissioned…

Friday, 8 May 2009

SKPL threaten to withdraw.

mbxd2

On 29.04.2009 the Smigiel Railway’s refurbished Romanian railcar had its inaugural run after a major refurbishment. Photo SKPL.

The Smigiel Railway’s refurbished railcar looks superb after its major refurbishment and repaint in SKPL’s ‘corporate livery’. The upholstered seats are arguably the most comfortable seats of any on the Polish narrow gauge. A small oil-fired central heating boiler has replaced the coal stove which heated the coach in the winter.

The Smigiel Railway looks set to have a fair season this season. The whole line to has been sprayed with weed killer and the management are prepared to accept bookings for special trains all the way to Wielichowo, although the weekday passenger service trains only run between Stare Bojanowo and Smigiel Town.

The only dark cloud on the horizon is the relationship between Smigiel’s Deputy Mayor and the railway. At a recent meeting with SKPL management, Mrs Wieslawa Poleszak-Kraczewska turned down an offer from an Englishman who wanted to restore to working order the derelict Px48 at Smigiel Railway Station.

The Deputy Mayor also demanded that SKPL make rental payments to Smigiel Town Council. SKPL countered that if the rental demand was not withdrawn they would have no option but to terminate their operating agreement with the Council.

Smigiel railcar makeover

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

dsc04965

dsc04963

dsc04943

The Smigiel Railway’s Romanian diesel railcar is having a makeover.

single_seat

All the seats have been renewed and upholstered

driver_s_seat

Well nearly all the seats!
All photos courtesy of SKPL

Smigiel Water Crane

Sunday, 4 January 2009

smigiel_water_crane

Px48-1919 takes water at Smigiel, Photo Rik Degruyter

In response to a debate in our comment columns, Fedecrail Treasurer, Rik Degruyter sent BTWT this picture of Px48-1919 taking water at Smigiel. Most of the semaphore signals are long gone (although the control wires and lever frame are still in place), but the water crane is still in place and functioning.

More from Smigiel

Thursday, 13 November 2008

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Evening shadows at Stare Bojanowo, 8.11.2008.
Photo Marek Ciesielski

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Earlier in the day at Smigiel 8.11.2008.
Photo Marek Ciesielski

We just been sent a couple of photos from the Smigiel open day and thought we should publish these. Unfortunately thee-mailer didn’t identify the photographer, but we should be able to add the details in the next 24 hours.

Smigiel Resleepering at Robaczyn

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Between 12-14 July, SKPL platelayers relaid 80 sleepers and restored the track geometry of a length of line at Robaczyn, near Stare Bojanowo, on the Smigiel Railway.

Photos, © Andrzej Cichowicz, SKPL

Come to Poland to make a difference!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Photoreportage by Marek Cieselski

Foxfield volunteers working on the Smigiel Railway 30.04.2008

We are really impressed by this story which shows how, with a bit of ‘can do spirit’ on all sides, it is possible for British volunteers to make a real difference when they visit Poland. Howard Jones offers an add-on narrow gauge option on the Smigiel Railway as part of his ‘Wolsztyn Experience’ product. Some of his customers from the Foxfield Railway noticed that some of the trackwork was a bit rough and asked whether they could come down to the Smigiel Railway again and do something about it. Staying in the former goods shed at Smigiel, which has been adapted as hostel accommodation, the Foxfield gang worked on the railway from the 28 April to 2 May and then went to Wolsztyn to enjoy the Steam Show.

Repairs were carried out at the Stare Bojanowo loading ramp, at Stare Bojanowo Wask station and on the sharp curve on the approach to Smigiel Station. 70 sleepers were replaced, track joints were levelled and rail alignment was corrected. On Wednesday 30 April, the permanent way train was hauled by the Px48 steam locomotive on loaned from the Gniezno Railway.

Everybody is delighted with the way that things went and already plans are being made for an even larger group of volunteers to visit Smigiel. Our congratulations to everybody involved in making it happen!

The Foxfield Gang with SKPL Infrastructure boss, Andrzej Cichowicz

Smigiel Railway services cut back

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Rumanian railcar waiting to depart for Sniaty and Wielechowo from Smigiel

Brief history

The Smigiel Railway started life as a metre gauge line. It opened from Krzywin to Wielichowo in 1900 and from Wielichowo to Ujazd in 1901. The section from Lubnica to Ujazd was closed in 1905 because there was insufficient traffic and a branch from Wielichowo to Rakonowice was opened in 1910 utilising much of the material from the dismantled Lubnica – Ujazd section. The Wielichowo – Lunica section continued in operation until 1924. For most of its history it was owned by the local authorities, however, in 1949 it was taken over by PKP. It was re-gauged to the PKP standard (Russian) narrow gauge of 750mm betweem 1952 and 1953.

Death by many little cuts

By 1973, the secretary of the Communist Party in Rakonowiec decided that narrow gauge railways were unfashionable and ordered the Smigiel Railway cut back to Wielichowo. At a stroke, he deprived the railway of the principal destination for much of its passenger traffic. The railway struggled on from year to year passenger services being cut further back. In 1979 the Zgliniec – Krzywin section was closed to make way for a new reservoir and in 1990 the section from Stare Bojanowo to Zgliniec was closed.

The end of the PKP Era

Passenger services were withdrawn completely on 22 June 2001, this being the last day of normal passenger trains running (as opposed to special trains) on PKP’s narrow gauge railways. Freight traffic continued until PKP closed all its narrow gauge operations in December 2001.

A new beginning

The line was taken over by the local authority who entered into an operating agreement with Stowarzyszenia Kolejowych Przewozow Lokalnych, (SKPL). Passenger trains using Romanian-built railcars started running again in February 2002, and freight services followed some time later.

In September 2002, with the start of the new school term the timetable was increased, and the passenger services returned to Wielichowo for the first time in a decade. By October freight traffic had also increased, with coal being carried on a daily basis from Stare Bojanowo to Smigiel, Witowo Polski or Wielichowo. In 2007 and 2008, a Px48 steam locomotive, leased by Howard Jones from the Gniezno Railway appeared at Smigiel and hauled certain trains as part of Howard’s “Wolsztyn Experience” product.

And another cut

From 1 April this year, SKPL has been forced to withdraw all services beyond Smigiel because of the state of the track. Two promised grants, one from the Smigiel Town Council and the other from the Council of Wilkopolska Province have not been forthcoming. If you know the Smigiel Railway and consider it is worthy of financial assistance then it would be very helpful if you made your views known to the relevant authorities.

The Mayor of Smigiel:

Sz Pan Wiktor Snela
Burmistrz Smigla
Urząd Miasta i Gminy Smigiel
Smigiel 64-030
pl. Wojska Polskiego 6
POLAND

e-mail: burmistrz@smigiel.pl

tel: +48 65 518 98 23 or 518 01 39 or 518 00 03

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Province:

Sz Pan Marek Wozniak
Marszalek Wojewodztwa Wielkopolskiego
Al. Niepodleglosci 18
Pokoj 142 Budynek C
61-713 Poznan

e-mail: marszalek@umww.pl

tel: +44 61 854-19-88 or 61 854-18-47
fax: +44 61 854-17-17

The Smigiel Railway currently extends from Stare Bojanowo to Wielichowo. (The map can be moved, expanded or changed to satellite view.)