Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Transwersalna closure puts charters in doubt

Thursday, 17 September 2015


The sudden decision to close the line from Kasina Wielka to Nowy Sacz to passenger traffic has taken several groups by surprise, not least Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Wolsztyńskiej Parowozowni (TPWP) who have a planned photo charter for 10 October.  The line from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz, part of the Kolej Transwersalna had recently been subject to renewed activity, due to the Małopolskie Szlaki Turystyki Kolejowej (Malopolska Railway Tourism), organised by the Nowy Sacz Railway Enthusiasts Society.  The society had recently received funding of 200,000 zl, (about £35,000) from the Malopolska regional government to run a series of charters along the line.  They too, have had to change plans, for trains later this month, and into October and November.

Ty42-107 on the closed section, 26 May 2013

Ty42-107 heads a special organised by the Nowy Sacz Railway Enthusiasts Society towards Chabowka, 26 May 2013.  Photo: John Savery

The decision, taken on safety grounds, was made by PLK, the business which runs Polish rail tracks.  With limited (if no) maintenance being undertaken on sections of the line, the permanent way is in poor condition.  The remaining part of the line, from Chabowka to Kasina Wielka remains open.

The line has been threatened with closure before however had a last minute reprieve.  With no scheduled freight service over the line, the closure is effectively a total closure over the scenic and heavily graded section between Kasina Wielka and Nowy Sacz.


The Railway Magazine visits Kujawy

Friday, 13 September 2013



The title of a 5-page article in the October 2013 edition of “The Railway Magazine”

The RM’s John Heaton visited the Kujawy-Pomorze province of Poland and interviewed Arriva PL management about the trials and tribulations of operating a private passenger TOC in a country where communist-era customs and practice are still common.

His PKP IC train takes 129 minutes to cover the 160 km journey from Gdansk to Bydgoszcz, quite smart work by Polish standards. But John is not impressed. In Bydgoszcz the train is split into two halves – an archaic practice according to John.

In Torun John meets Arriva’s local management. There is much talk about the Marshall and his office. Has the sheriff ridden into town? No, John is referring to the Chief Executive of the provincial government. On second thoughts, perhaps John Wayne and his deputies are just what Polish railways need to clean up their act.

Arriva suffers from unlicensed mini-bus operators stealing passengers 5 minutes before its trains call at stations. It also faces competition from local passenger service TOC Przewozy Regionalne, which  is owned by the provincial governments.      

John gets to interview Arrival PL chairman, Damian Grabowski, who describes how he would go about the job of improving rail passenger services in Poland.

BTWT verdict? A good article – factual and informative. Go out and buy a copy of the RM October edition  as soon as you can!

Canada – Runaway train derails then explodes

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Film from a Quebec TV station rebroadcast by BBC and posted on YouTube by CrashDiscoveryTV.

Yesterday’s horrific railway disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada has destroyed the centre of the town. Thousands of local residents have been evacuated from a town that has a population of 6,0000. Scores of people missing with local police fearing that many of these may turn out to be fatalities.

The catastrophe has sent shivers down the spine of residents in Bialystok, eastern Poland where a head on crash between two trains in November 2010 also led to a rail tanker fire, but then only railway infrastructure was destroyed and the town miraculously escaped unscathed.



Court decision blow to Museum

Friday, 12 April 2013


The former Warszawa Glowna Station throat on a misty morning, 11.04.2013 – prime development site. Photo BTWT.

On 10 April 2013, the Warsaw District Court decided in favour of PKP SA and ordered the Warsaw Railway Museum to vacate the land occupied by the Museum.

The museum  occupies the former  Warszawa Glowna terminal building fronting ul. Towarowa, part of the former goods station alongside ul. Kolejowa, and a section of the former station’s tracks and platforms.

The Museum has one year to vacate the site from the time that judgement acquires legal standing. The Museum authorities intend to appeal against the decision.



How the plan to axe another 50% of Britain’s railways was defeated

Friday, 5 April 2013

Our sister blog englishrail blog is uncharacteristically busy. Having reviewed what the UK papers had to say about the Beeching cuts, englishrail blog now breaks the story how Reg Dawson, an unknown civil servant, and his friends on the Talyllyn Railway, defeated a conspiracy of senior civil servants to slash the post-Beeching railway network by another 50%.


Competition with a heart of gold!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Big-hearted Rail Employee award 2013, Allianz pro Schiene.

Allianz pro Schiene (Pro-Rail Alliance) was set up in 2009 for similar reasons as Transport 2000 (now Campaign for Better Transport) in Great Britain – to fight the case for Germany’s railways. It is a rather unconventional alliance, with no other organisation in Germany having such a broad non-profit spectrum. Environmental groups, trade associations, trade unions and consumer organisations, including two automobile clubs, all work closely with the Alliance to promote rail transport. These 18 non-profit organisations, which as ordinary members formally make up the German Pro-Rail Alliance as a registered association, represent more than two million individual members.

The Alliance enjoys an excellent relationship with the railway unions with Eisenhbahn und Verkehrswerkschaft union boss Alexander Kirchner elected in 2010 as the its chairman. Kirchner succeeded Klaus-Dieter Hommel, who was national chairman of the former GDBA and became Pro-Rail Alliance chairman in 2008.

In addition to the non-profit organisations supporters, which seek to promote the railways for non-commercial reasons, the alliance has the financial support of over 100 companies working in the railway sector. This group includes train operating companies and infrastructure operators, manufacturers of railway technology, construction companies, banks and insurance companies.

The Alliance works in many imaginative ways to promote rail transport. In October, it launched a competition asking rail customers from across Germany to send in their best rail travel experiences. Passengers who witnessed helpful railway employees during an eventful train journey or who had a remarkable experience during a visit to a railway station can nominate a candidate for the Big-hearted Rail Employee award 2013. A jury made up of people from the three largest passenger interest groups and the two rail unions will choose the winners from this gallery of candidates by Easter 2013.

The competition is now in third year. In April this year, the title was awarded for the second time, with TV entertainer, Harald Schmid, making the presentation. The gold medal went to InterCity Express conductor Peter Gitzen from Cologne for putting two young teenage girls on the right train after they had become lost the night before, and for helping a pensioner to get back the BahnCard that she had mislaid. The silver medal went to DB Regio train driver Oliver Vitze from Nuremberg who had crawled over the ballast under his train to retrieve a passenger’s wedding ring. The bronze award went to Alexandra Schertler from Tegernsee for her thoughtful attention in caring for a sick passenger.

A special prize for ‘courageous public behaviour’ was awarded to DB Regio conductor Yalcin Özcan from the Südostbayernbahn, who protected his passengers from an armed and violent person who was travelling without a ticket.

How about a ‘big-hearted rail employee competition’ in Poland, anyone?


WCML fiasco!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

English Rail is back to comment about the UK’s West Coast mail Line franchise process fiasco:


BTWT Brain-twister – 1

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The NRM at York are holding Railfest 2012 from 2-10 June. The event billed as Britain’s biggest ever gathering of rail record breakers will give hours of pleasure to children and adults alike during the UK half-term holiday.

(Click on the image to go to the NRM’s RailFest website. Click here to see a YouTube video of the event.)

It is time for another BTWT quiz. Our quizzes provide us with a great deal of valuable feedback from our readers, allow us to reconnect with former contributors and provide a great deal of innocent fun.

So in the spirit and style of the BBC’s Round Britain Quiz here is the first question.  What links: a vessel built for a loyal celebration; a 6th century abbot; and a historic industrial steam locomotive?

There are 6 points for the first correct answer. If clues are needed to solicit a correct answer, the number of points awarded will be reduced according to how much assistance has been given.

(Comment moderation has been turned on to prevent our cleverest readers from giving the game away to soon.)

Yet another collision!

Monday, 28 May 2012

The accident scene. Still from a video by OSTROW24.TV.

(Click image to read a report on the accident and see the complete video on the website.)

Hardly had the virtual ink dried on our post correcting our comment on the safety record of Polish railways when news came in of yet another collision!

This time the collision occurred on Sunday morning around 04:32 at Ostrow Wielkopolski. A freight train en route from Ilowo to Imbramowice hauled by an EU07 owned by PHU Lokomotiv ran into a PR Regio stopping passenger train waiting on track 10 by platform 3 for its scheduled departure to Wroclaw Glowny at 04:49. Four people were slightly injured.

A commission has been set up to investigate question, Why did a freight train with two people in the cab run onto a track already occupied by a passenger train?



The Englishman’s Swan Song

Sunday, 15 April 2012

by John Savery

EU06-12 locomotive. Photo

(Click on image to see original on and for licensing info.)

The EU06 electric locos are reaching the end of their working lives, 50 years after being delivered from the Vulcan Foundry, in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire. Of the 20 locomotives built, as at 14 December 2011, only 7 locomotives remained in service: EU06… 01, 07, 10, 12, 17, 18 and 20.

A farewell trip is planned for 19 May, and is a circular railtour starting at Krakow. It is being organised by a new society, the Fundacja Kolejowa “Stacja Lubsko / Sommerfeld” (Lubsko / Sommerfeld Railway Foundation) and Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei z Jaworzyny Śląskiej (Jaworzyna Slaska Railway Fans Association). The latter are not the same as the organisation operating the railway museum at Jaworzyna Slask.

Further details of the railtour can be found on the organiser’s website


Travel back in time with Google

Friday, 30 March 2012

Google Street View image of Lodz Fabryczna Sept 2011.

(The image above can be panned and zoomed. It was obtained by ‘standing’ at the end of ul. Targowa next to the former power station, ‘EC1’.)

On 21 March, Google activated “Street View for Poland” – or more precisely for certain Polish cities and the main roads linking them.

The images were taken over period of time; many of them in 2011. In Lodz, it is possible to see Lodz Fabryczna station as it was when the trains were still running and before the platforms were bulldozed to the ground.

A hat-tip to the W-wa Jeziorki blog for the story. For those unfamiliar with ‘Street View’ follow the link below for Michael Dembinski’s excellent tutorial as to how to use it.


10 years ago today…

Saturday, 4 February 2012

the first train ran on an ex PKP railway line.

SKPL train hauled by 401Da diesel returning empty wagons from Srem to Chempin on 4 February 2012. Photo SKPL.

(Click to expand.)

10 years ago today, a PKP Cargo freight train hauled by a SM31 diesel locomotive brought 2 Hbbis wagons loaded with salt that had come from Hamburg-Süd to the freight transfer siding at Stare Bojanowo. Here the standard gauge wagons were loaded aboard 750mm gauge transporters and hauled by a Lxd2 diesel to Smigiel. So took place the first freight movement on a former PKP operated railway. A little train SKPL ran their first passenger train from Smigiel to Sniat.

Alas neither freight trains nor community passenger trains run any longer on the Smigiel Railway, though the line survives as a ‘tourist railway‘. Meanwhile SKPL has become a major standard gauge ‘shortlines’ operator as these photos of 2 rakes of 14 bogie wagons being returned today from Srem to the PKP interchange at Czempin testify.

Given the fate of the Smigiel Railway – a very apposite picture. Photo SKPL.

(Click to expand.)

Just look at the state of that road! How much worse it would be if the heavy freight to the foundry at Srem was going by lorry?

The tale of No 40

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Restoration of No 40 – a short film by Bob Krist about the restoration of the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad’s 2-8-0, built by Baldwin in 1925

(This is the first time ever that BTWT has embedded a video from vimeo. Click the ‘vimeo’ logo, then the expand out arrows to see the video full screen on another page.)

BTWT is at its best when reporting stories and some of our best stories are suggested by our readers. If we have managed to make the blog more interesting in recent months it is because a small band of readers regularly send in ideas for stories. Please keep up the good work!

Sometimes we get something out of the ordinary. Kent Kobersteen writes,

It’s not Poland, but here’s a great video that I’m sure the Behind The Water Tower readers would find interesting:

You bet Kent. It is a great video, which as well as showcasing the restoration of NH&IR No. 40, shows the amazing abilities of the new generation of DSLR cameras to shoot really high quality video. And the story of the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad is no less amazing! Follow the links below to learn more.


Xmas/New Year Competition – No. 11

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The 11th mystery location. Satellite photo Google Maps.

Today’s mystery location should be familiar to those who used to follow steam-hauled trains on this railway in their cars.

Location no 10 showed the track of the German (probably 600mm gauge) narrow gauge railway that brought construction materials to the underground complex at Osowka in the Owl Mountains during WWII. The three articles linked to below provide probably the best English-language discussion of this real world mystery.

The Osowka complex – and several similar underground complexes nearby –  have been the subject of regular speculation in the Polish press. But just as in the case of the Loch Ness Monster, the fundamental questions have never been satisfactorily answered.

The no 10 location was meant to defeat all BTWT batsmen, but amazingly Waldemar Heise unravelled the location in a matter of hours. Asked how he succeeded when so many BTWT veterans were stumped, he explained that his secret was flowers and plants!

Detective work is a quite usual thing for me. I work at Jagiellonian University Institute of Botany, and as a part of my job is to try to find historic stands of rare plants in Poland. Also, most of my actual time is taken by editing and processing geographical and botanical data from whole country. In both cases I need to work with Polish WIG maps, Russian and Austrian KuK maps, Prussian Grossblatts and Messtischblats and… modern WIG, GIK and other topographic maps and ortophotomaps.

In this particular case I saw some hills (quite steep), deciduous forest, terraced fields and pastures. It couldn’t be anything in Carpathians – also I know most of the Swietokrzyskie mountains (made a topographic survey there this year) – so it should be somewhere in Sudety. There was one big problem – most of the railways there in some part of their history were narrow gauge, and many of them are now defunct.

So I opened my qGIS and searched for a particular area where I could find such hilly terrain with lots of complicated, defunct, former railways. After checking the western Sudety I remembered that there were some military lines in the area of Bardzkie and Sowie mountains. So I opened some 1965 maps which should still show some cuttings and embankments and “tadaaah!” – the German Riese complex of Rzeczka, Osówka and Walim. It was worth 3 sleepless hours!

A Google Maps ‘slippy’ satellite view (can be scrolled and zoomed) of the No. 10 location at Osowka.


Chmielna 73

Friday, 20 January 2012

The last remains of the Warsaw – Vienna Railway, Warszawa Centralna in the background.
Photo Tomasz D.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The building would appear to have once extended further to the North. Photo Tomasz D.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The richness of detail betrays the building’s illustrious origins. Photo Tomasz D.

(Click image to enlarge.)

This rather modest building in a Warsaw back street is the only architectural remains in the capital of the Warsaw – Vienna Railway. The railway was built between 1840 and 1848 and its construction was at that time the most ambitious railway project in Europe.

A magnificent terminus was built in Warsaw at the location presently occupied by the Centrum station on the Warsaw metro. Sadly nothing remains of the main station building, but this little hut close to the station throat provides a direct link to the past.

Recently the site on which the building stands was acquired from PKP by a Czech development company. The Warsaw City Conservator of Monuments has declared that the building has no architectural merit. And another priceless piece of Poland’s railway history will shortly be bulldozed into rubble.

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wikipedia front page on 18.01.2012.

BTWT supports the protection of intellectual property rights and is against piracy. We understand the need for action and would happily support measures which would cut off pirates from financial services such as credit and debit card processing through which they make their ill-gotten gains. But we are against legislation which would harm the fundamental engineering which supports the WWW. That is why we are adding our small voice to industry giants such as Wikipedia and Google in asking the USA Congress and Senate to completely rethink their approach to the problem.

Learn more:

Make your voice heard:

No steam today

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Awaiting repair or a source of spare parts? Unidentified Ol49 at Leszno, 17.09.2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to expand.)

As from Monday (16 February) the Poznan – Wolsztyn steam turns are all diesel-hauled. On Sunday, Ol49-59 hauled the 05:22 from Wolsztyn to Poznan and then departed for its periodic overhaul. Already under repair at Leszno is Pm36-2 which is having a tender axle replaced. No further steam workings are envisaged this week.

Given the substantial funds that the Wielkopolska provincial government is providing to maintain Europe’s only scheduled main-line steam service is a matter of some surprise that the availability of steam traction hangs on such a slender thread. PKP Cargo seems not to realise the positive publicity value of a reliable regular steam service.

It is also a pity that each PKP Cargo region seems to operate as an autonomous empire and that at critical times the Poznan region cannot borrow locomotives from the Chabowka Skansen. Chabowka completed two heavy overhauls in 2011. Yet its in-ticket engines seem to spend most of their time hanging around waiting for something to do.

One foot in the grave? Ol49-111 at Leszno on 17.09.2011. Photo BTWT.

A prosperous 2012?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Lodz Fabryczna, the last day – 15.10.2011. Photo BTWT

(Click image to expand.)

May you have an interesting year, so goes the old Chinese curse. It certainly looks as if Poland’s railways are set to have such a year. The world’s financial crisis will get worse, probably much worse, before things start getting better, and Poland’s economy will be no exception. So there will be no more cash for Poland’s railways, all that Transport Minister, Slawomir Nowak, will be able to do is spend the cash that he has got more wisely.

Though Poland’s railways are the Cinderella of the European rail scene there is still some slack in the system – money and resources that could be used more effectively. But will Nowak, who has a reputation as an effective political fixer, have the courage to sort out Poland’s ‘rail mafia’, who are all milking the system for all that its worth, with little regard for the customer or the future?

Euro 2012 will be an interesting test. Will Poland’s railways rise to the challenge, or will Poland end up with egg on her face while PKP’s subsidiaries play the blame game?

A protracted period of illness caused quite a bit of pain and a 10-day pause on the blog. Though not everything is quite 100% – Dyspozytor is getting on a bit – hopefully we are now over the hump. The pause did give some useful time for reflection and perhaps BTWT will be better as a result. To all our readers and contributors, especially Robert Hall, John Savery, Ed Beale, Podroznik and Inzynier, we would like to wish you that 2012 brings more good things than bad!


P.S. If any of our readers are looking for some of experience in blog journalism, we are still looking for a Deputy Editor. News items, articles and photographs are always welcome!

Christmas Competition – No. 4

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Today’s mystery town and railway. Photo courtesy Google Maps.

(Click on image to expand.)

Today’s mystery location is a tough nut to crack. But the skill of BTWT readers is legendary, so there probably will be an expert on this particular railway who will have no problem in solving the puzzle..

Waldemar Heise and Michael Friedrich correctly identified our last location as the Hajnówka HQ of the 600mm tourist lines there, but Inzynier beat them to it and so takes the point. The Hajnówka base was once considerable larger – and the centre of a 200km network of 600mm forestry lines. Today just two branches, with a total length of 17 km, are operated as tourist lines.

The current score is: Waldemar Heise, Ed Beale and Inzynier, all with one point each. Who will be first to correctly identify today’s location?

Google Maps ‘slippy’ satellite view of the Hajnowka area.

(The image can be scrolled, scaled up or down, or changed for a ‘map view’.)


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

(13 December 2011)

30 years ago today General Jaruzelski declared a state of Martial Law in Poland. Or as a friend of mine once eloquently put it:

The army and police of the Polish People’s Republic started shooting Polish workers in defence of the leading role of the Polish United Workers’ Party.