Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

No DB coaches for IC

Thursday, 8 December 2011

EP07-374 pilots another unidentified PKP IC loco at the head of a Warsaw-bound train at Lodz Fabryczna on 22 May 2011, Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Though a meeting to discuss the matter is set up for 9 November, it is our understanding that DB management have already informed PKP IC that they will be unable to provide passenger coaches on lease for the duration of Euro 2012.

PKP InterCity’s problems arose because of the loss-making company waited until October 2010 before going out to tender with the contract to repair 748 passenger coaches. It seems that the railway workshops that bid for the contract were well aware that this was a prestigious deal that PKP IC could not afford to get wrong and so pitched their prices accordingly.

PKP IC bosses were horrified at the high prices tendered and put into motion a second tender in the hope that this may result in more affordable rates. Meanwhile June 2012 looms ever closer…


Inter City blues

Saturday, 3 December 2011

11-coach Lodz Fabryczna – Warszawa Zachodnia train at Warszawa Centralna on 10 October 2011.
Photo BTWT.

With just 6 months to go before the start of the Euro 2012 final tournament on 8 June it has just dawned on PKP IC bosses that, with hundreds of their coaches laid up in sidings awaiting maintenance, there just might not be enough coaches to go round to carry the extra passengers. A meeting has been set up between PKP IC and DB for 9 November at which the question of leasing German railway coaches will be discussed. Apparently such an option might be cheaper than IC repairing its own coaches.

Meanwhile, mindful of the chaos that took place on Poland’s railways last winter Slawomir Nowak, Poland’s new transport minister, has moved decreed that – from 19 to 28 December – seat reservation will be compulsory on four of PKP IC’s long distance trains: TLK trains: Kossak (Przemysl – Szczecin), Gałczynski (Lublin – Szczecin), Pobrzeze (Krakow-Kołobrzeg) and Monciak – Krupowki (Zakopane – Gdynia).

Extra coaches will be made available, should the reservation system indicate that there may be may not be enough capacity on these trains. Since PKP IC has not been allocated any money to actually put more coaches back into service, Nowak has ordered PKP IC to draw up a list of its 10 least popular trains. If extra coaches are needed, one or more trains on Nowak’s list will not run and their coaches will be used to strengthen the formation of the busier services.



PKP IC to build itself a new HQ

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dworzec Wschodni. Satellite photo courtesy

(Click image to access a zoomable, slippy map which may be switched over to ‘satellite view’ on the website.)

PKP IC is in trouble – in 2010 the company posted a 150 million PLN loss, it has insufficient funds to maintain its fleet of coaches, its trains are dirty and overcrowded, the air-conditioned road coaches of Polski Bus pose a serious threat.

What should the company do in such circumstances? Sweat the assets? Cut down on corporate jollies? Ramp up customer service? Make the bosses travel around Poland in their own trains? What does PKP IC actually plan to do? Build itself a prestigious new multi-million PLN HQ next to Warszawa Wschodnia!

Click the first link below and post the URL of the article into Google Translate for an interesting article on Infokolei about the HQs of the PKP subsidiaries.


Bydgoszcz Station tramlink progress

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Progress on the new tram line to Bydgoszcz Station. Official video.

After more than 20 years, work is in progress to enable trams to return to Bydgoszcz Station. The original tram line, running mostly along ul Dworcowa, was closed in 1990. The reason being given at the time was fear that the vibrations of the trams would damage a gas mains. On this basis, most of Poland’s remaining on-street tramlines should be candidates for closure!

The new tram line, will run mostly on reserved track and includes a new bridge over the River Brda. The project, including related road improvements will cost 100 million PLN with some 42.5 million coming from EU funds. The new service is targeted to open in November 2012.

A hat tip to Podroznik for the link.


Koszalin anniversary special

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Photo report by Ed Beale

The day begins. Koszalin engine shed, 26.11.2011. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

A notice on the Towarzystwo Milosnikow Koszalinskiej Waskotorowki’s (TMKW’s) Facebook site invited people to ride on a special train on the occasion of the 113th anniversary of the opening of the Koszalin Narrow Gauge railway. Departure was advised as 11:00 on Saturday 26 November. Pre-booking and pre-payment into a Polish bank account was advised as mandatory. For people without a Polish bank account, payment into a Polish bank account can be very expensive, but with the help of Dyspozytor a work-around was found.

Champagne and TV at Koszalin station. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The day went well. There were about 40 participants, and the weather was fairly kind with some sunshine and no rain. A TVP Televizja Polska reporter and cameraman were filming at Koszalin, where there was a speech, a 113th birthday cake with a piece for everyone, and a bottle of ‘champagne’ was smashed onto the front of the locomotive!

One of several photstops. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The train, consisting of Lxd2-476, Romanian coach, brake van and an empty transporter wagon departed at about 11:25. We had several photo stops and a longer stop at Bonin, and reached Manowo at 13:15, where there was an bonfire and people cooked sausages for lunch. Then at around 14:10 we continued the journey south to the current end of the line with just the locomotive and coach. This was an additional 2 km beyond Manowo.

New life for old transporters. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The TMKW are rebuilding a stretch of track which was stolen after PKP abandoned the line, with the goal of reaching Rosnowo. After another long stop, and coupling up three transporter wagons being used as p-way wagons to take back to Manowo, the train started back at around 15:10. At Manowo a fair amount of shunting was required to deposit the wagons we had brought from the end of the line and run round the train, which took about 25 minutes, then we continued into the gathering dusk, reaching Koszalin at 16:25.

The end of the line. Photo Ed Beale.

(Click image to enlarge.)

I had a chance to look into the sheds, where all the operational stock is securely stored. The group currently have Lxd2-476, Romanian railbus MBxd2-307, the Romanian coach and an open sided summer coach, the brake van and a p-way trolley. The shed area looks neat and tidy and I was very impressed with the amount of work that the TMKW must have put in to make it that way having taken over a derelict site only a few years ago.

Kalisz Narrow Gauge Railway

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Special train

Lxd2-287 at the head of a Fedecrail study tour special train at Opatowek, 16 April 2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

There will be a rare opportunity to ride on the freight only Kalisz Narrow Gauge Railway on 3 December. The train will depart from Zbiersk around 10:00 hrs. The round trip Zbiersk – Opatowek – Zbiersk will cost 50 zloty.

Kalisz Railway SM04-497 standard gauge shunting locomotive. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

At Opatowek tour participants will be able to see standard gauge wagons being unloaded from narrow gauge transporter cars. SKPL locomotives will be painted in the latest SKPL Cargo blue livery. We will publish further details just as soon as we receive them.

Film competition – the final curtain

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A clip from Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Trans Europe Express.

It had a good run, but all good things must come to an end, and so it is time to draw the curtain on BTWT’s  first ever film competition. Gavin Whitelaw and Mike Winslow steadfastly battled for lead position. But at the end, nobody identified our tie-breaker, Trans Europe Express, and so Dyspozytor takes the point. The final score is now: Dyspozytor 5 points, Gavin Whitelaw 4 points, Mike Winslow 3 points and Alex Fitch 1 point. Gavin, Mike and Alex are invited to share a bottle of Zubrowka with Dyspozytor next time they come to Poland.

Trans Europe Express has some great shots of the Paris Metro just before all the Sprague coaches were withdrawn. It is also a valuable documentary record of the luxury travel that was available on the former TEE network. There a good review of the film on the IMDb. See the link below.

We would like to thank everybody who took part in the competition; there was a record number of entries and we hope that all our readers enjoyed it. If you have any ideas for our next competition, or just want to drop us a line, you can do by e-mailing us at the following address: railfan [at] go2 [dot] pl. Obtain the address by removing all the spaces and converting “at” and “dot” to the usual symbols.


Film competition – Finale (part 12)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Still from the closing sequence of La Strategia del Ragno.

Well, well, our new fast bowler is certainly proving rather tiresome to our film competitors. Our last film was Bernardo Bertolucci’s La Strategia del Rango (The Spider’s Strategy) which was released in 1970. It is a brilliant essay about truth and spin. A young academic returns to the town where his father (a local hero) was shot by the fascists during WWII. But like the escaped prisoner from Plato’s cave he discovers that nothing is quite as it seems.

Nobody managed to score, so Dyspozytor moves forward by one point and the score now stands: Gavin Whitelaw is in first place with 4 points; Mike Winslow and Dyspozytor are joint second with 3 points each; Alex Fitch is third with 1 point. Oh and before anybody complains, La Strategia del Rango is listed in Steven Jay’s 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and there are a couple of short clips on YouTube.

Cropped still from the final mystery film.

(Click to expand.)

Today’s mystery film should be easy. As it is our last question, here is a small clue. The screenplay of one of our earlier films was written by the same person as the screenplay of today’s film. Good luck!

Scramble at Koluszki

Monday, 3 October 2011

Night scene at Koluszki at 19:57 on 3 October 2011. Photo BTWT.

What happens when the 19:45 to Warsaw (running some 11 minutes late) arrives just before the 20:00 to Warsaw (running some 4 minutes early)? The 19:45 ex Wroclaw Glowny has 5 coaches and is so full that no more passengers can get in. The 20:00 – running from Infrastructure Minister, Cezary Grabarczyk’s, home town of Lodz – has 12 coaches which are mostly empty.

If you want a seat, run!

Sadly our intrepid reporter was just a tad too slow with his iPhone to record the peak of the mad scamble that ensued at Koluszki when the standing passengers in the 19:45 realised that there were empty seats in the 20:00! This shot of a few last-minute stragglers is all he recorded.

Mystery train time

To add confusion to the chaos, PKP’s Internet timetable, does not show a 19:45 departure from Koluszki that runs from Wroclaw Glowny to Warszawa Wschodnia, though it does show a 19:41 running between the same stations. We thought Andrzej Massel, Poland’s rail minister, now 9 months in post, had promised to put an end to this sort of thing.


Smigiel obituary censored!

Friday, 23 September 2011

The censored obituary

Some Polish friends thought that the death of the Smigiel Railway as a working railway (and maybe its complete death) deserved a little more publicity than the ‘birthday party’ being organised by Smigiel Town Council. Accordingly they drafted an obituary notice to appear in the pages of the local press. Here is the text translated into English.

The Smigiel Railway


We announce with great sorrow the passing away of our narrow gauge railway in 2011. The line suffered a long illness caused by the lack of interest shown by local government. It was betrayed by politicians that had pledged their love and fidelity.  Its monument was set up in Stare Bojanowo by Smigiel Council. Here the oldest surviving section of track was dismantled and buried deep in the ground.

We will always remember you.

The friends of the Smigiel Railway in Poland and abroad.

Sadly both Glos Wielkopolski and the Wielkopolska edition of Gazeta Wyborcza refused to publish the obituaries. So perhaps the death of communism in Poland has been celebrated too soon?

Rogow chairman resigns

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Andrzej Tajchert presents the current state of the Rogow – Rawa – Biala narrow gauge railway at a meeting for local and national government officials held on 4 April 2011 in the museum building in Rogow. Photo © K. Boberek.

(Click on the image to link to an account of the meeting, with links to this and other photos, on the Ziemia Lodzka tourist portal.)

Andrzej Tajchert, who has been leading the project to restore the Rogow – Rawa – Biala narrow gauge railway for ten years has resigned from his position as chairman of the Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation (FPKW).

He had been associated with the line since 2001 when he and Pawel Mieroslawski, the chairman of the Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association (PSMK) first learned about PKP’s plans to close its remaining narrow gauge railways and started discussions with PKP and the local authorities.

Earlier this month he hosted a delegation from Fedecrail in Rogow and gave an excellent presentation about the FPKW’s achievements in Rogow and the challenges facing the line.

In an e-mail to friends and co-workers he wrote –

After 10 years I regret that I no longer have the ability or energy to look after the Rogow line in a manner which would accord with my understanding of the concept of responsibility.

50 kilometres of railway, rolling stock, staff, the Office of the Railway Transport, local authorities – all these demand someone working full-time. Something that I just cannot manage to do. That is why I have resigned from my position of chairman and board member.

I apologise for my many mistakes and pass on my best wishes the new board and its new chairman for success in further developing the railway.

BTWT salutes Andrzej Tajchert for his achievement in Rogow. The line is Poland’s premier volunteer-assisted preserved railway. We hope very much that  he will not only continue to be involved in developing  the line, but also that he will find a way of sharing his experience and knowledge with Poland’s wider railway heritage movement.

By steam from Zbaszynek

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Warsaw Railway Museum Tp3-36 plinthed at Zbaszynek,  built by Hanomag in 1913 as Prussian State Railways 4832 (4804 after 1920) renumbered by DR as 55 2199 in 1925, taken into PKP stock in 1945 and withdrawn from service in 1970. Photo BTWT.

The Wolsztyn Steam Parade has just taken place (29 – 30 April), but I gave the show a miss this year. There is an element of artificially about the event which I do not like, and – with the Smigiel Railway closed – a large part of the reason for making the annual pilgrimage to this corner of Wielkopolska has evaporated.

I heard through the grapevine that this year for the first time PKP Cargo had arranged to bring its VIP guests from Warsaw by motor coach rather than train – a decision which speaks volumes about the sad state of Polish railways.

PKP Cargo operated, Warsaw Railway Museum owned, Pm 36-2 pacific Piekna Helena (Fablok 1937) just coming off the 11:13 arrival (10:41 ex Wolsztyn) at Zbaszynek on 16 March 2011. Photo BTWT.

Instead of visiting the Steam Parade at the end of April I travelled to Zbaszynek a fortnight earlier to ride on the regular Zbaszynek – Wolsztyn – Leszno steam turn. (The steam service has been relocated to this line while the Wolsztyn – Poznan track is upgraded.) While waiting for the arrival of the morning steam turn from Wolsztyn there was time to admire the ex Prussian Railways, Tp3-36 plinthed opposite the old railway works at Zbaszynek.

PKP Cargo EU43-005 (Bombardier TRAXX 2007). Photo BTWT.

Within a minute of seeing PKP Cargo’s oldest operational locomotive arrive at Zbaszynek I was treated to the sight of its newest loco travelling ‘light engine’ in the opposite direction.

The Pm36-2 is kept in spotless condition. Photo BTWT.

While Pm36-2 is kept in immaculate condition, sadly the same cannot be said of its pair of ‘double decker’ coaches which were very dirty and in poor condition. Justifiably they are not very popular with local residents and are due to be replaced by overhauled ‘single decker’ coaches from the New Year.

With no operational turntable at Zbaszynek the the Fablok pacific suffers the indignity of working its train tender-first as far as Wolsztyn.

Pm 36-2 is coaled… Photo BTWT.

The Przewozy Regionalne Osobowy 11:50 ex Zbaszynek  arrived in Wolsztyn at 12:35. Here I cadged a lift on the footplate as far as the shed where the engine was coaled, watered and turned.

55 minutes later, Pm36-2 and its two ‘double deckers’ continued their journey as the 13:30 ex Wolsztyn Osobowy arriving in Leszno at 14:35.

…and having been turned on the Wolsztyn turntable is watered. Photo BTWT.

With 75 kilometre trip from costing only 15.60 zloty (about £3.40) the Zbaszynek to Leszno journey must be the best value steam-hauled trip in Europe.

Checking Pm36-2’s motion. Photo BTWT.

After the loco is coaled at Wolsztyn shed a new crew take over the engine for the rest of the journey to Leszno. Their first duty is to check the bearings and oil the engine.

Ozorkow siding

Monday, 28 March 2011

Part of web page advertising the Ozorkow siding

(Click on the image above to see the whole advertisement on the Prometeon website.)

Hardly had ‘the ink dried’ on my last posting describing the view from the window of a train arriving at Ozorkow, when I was sent a link to an advertisement looking for an enterprise willing to take over the disused siding to the industrial complex at Ozorkow.

How refreshing that the landowner is thinking of restoring the siding to working order, rather than ripping up the rails and covering up the holes with concrete!

Some recommended reading

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Part of the home page of the Railway Gazette website

The posting schedule on Behind The Water Tower has been abysmal lately. A combination of too much travel, too many projects to juggle, a broken tooth and the progressive general decay of your Editor played havoc with the best intentions in the world.

The good news is that I have upgraded my IT which should mean less time looking at ‘washing machines’ spinning while my ancient Mac tries to render photos to our house style format and also give me, for the first time, access to the Internet while travelling. The bad news is that (a) all this new technology will have to be paid for; and (b) there will be a learning curve to climb, and that will eat up more time.

I hope to mitigate the effect of (a) by launching an on-line appeal, although that will have to wait until I can find out why PayPal blacklisted me last time I tried something similar. I’m not so sure that (b) can be solved so easily. I seem to be permanently short of time nowadays, which makes me the principal bottleneck in the BTWT production process.

Perhaps one of our regular correspondents would like to take on the job of Deputy Editor?


For the days when BTWT does not appear, here is some recommended reading. I have not included many excellent publications written in Polish. Reader’s additions to this list (particularly those written in English and dealing with Polish or Central European railways) would be very welcome. Please use the comments facility at the end of this list.

Reading list

Railway Gazette

– a good world view written by railway professionals

Modern Railways

– some excellent analysis of why things are the way they are

Railway Eye

– best UK rail blog

Heritage Railway

– pure nostalgia from the days you could travel to anywhere in Britain by rail and her railways were the best in the world.

It’s not only the trains…

Thursday, 3 March 2011

that don’t work on PKP IC!

The result of trying to access on 3 March 2011

By Podroznik

On the first day of the new timetable change, one might wish to see how late trains are running.

One could go to the main IC page:

and click on the left side the link to “Biezace informacje o ruchu pociagow” which takes one to the blog of train updates initiated during a previous crisis.

One would then be directed to the hosting service, as that domain has apparently expired.

[It seems that the page is down as well! D.]

Level crossing safety videos

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Estonian Christmas campaign video

In Europe, level crossing accidents account for only 2% of road deaths, but the 600 people killed each year at level crossings account for a third of all rail fatalities. Almost all accidents at level crossings are due to road users failing to observe mandatory stop lights, signals and basic traffic safety rules. Most accidents involve regulars, those living near and/or making regular use of a level-crossing, as familiarity makes people less careful. In 2009, the European Commission launched the European Level Crossing Awareness Campaign to promote safe behaviour at level crossings.

In 2010, as part of campaign, the International Level Crossing Awareness Day was held on 22 June 2010. The Commission also made video material available which could be modified in each country for the national audience.

One of several Latvian videos with a rail crossing theme

The Latvians went their own way and made a whole series of commercials to encourage safe behaviour on railways. The videos, in a style which is part Trumpton, part Magic Roundabout and part Thomas the Tank Engine would seem to be targeted at a younger audience. Though young children do not drive cars the Estonians clearly intend their railways to be around for a long time to come and are taking a long-term approach to safe practice. As St. Francis Xavier once said, Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man.

The Polish campaign video pulls no punches.

Poland has 200 level crossing accidents each year causing 50 fatalities each year and is in third place in Europe after the Germans (2nd place with 66 fatalities) and Hungarians (1st place with 71 fatalities).

(With thanks to Poroznik for the link to the Latvian videos.)

Post Fedecrail conference add-on tour.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The route of the post Fedecrail Conference add-on tour.

(Though, because of the limitations of Google Maps this map  shows the road route, nearly all the study tour travelling will in fact be by rail – first class where available.)

Our friends in the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership have put together a study tour for members of Fedecrail, the body that represents the interests of Museum and Tourist railways at a European level. The tour will take place from 13 to 18 April. There are three places left over for BTWT readers who would like to join the trip.

Railway and industrial heritage locations to be visited include: the Krolowa Luiza coalmine in Zabrze, the Bytom Section of the Upper Silesian narrow gauge railway, the PSMK roundhouse and rolling stock collection at Skierniewice, the Rogow narrow gauge railway and rolling stock collection, Lodz-Lutomersk inter-urban tramway, the Kalisz narrow gauge railway and the Poznan-Wolsztyn steam service. Overnight accommodation has been arranged in 3 star hotels in Wroclaw, Warsaw, Lodz and Poznan.

The cost of the 4 full day package is 3,300 PLN. For those who are already familiar with the Poznan – Wolsztyn steam service it is possible to finish the tour a day earlier. The cost of 4 full day package is 3050 PLN. Because the tour takes place immediately after the Fedecrail AGM and Conference in Dresden, the tour starts at Dresden. For those who do not want to start the tour at Dresden, but wish to make their own way to Wroclaw Station for Wednesday evening, their will be a small rebate.

The full itinerary and a booking form can be downloaded from the links below:

SKPL take over power station siding

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Industrial sidings in Kalisz. Map by Google Maps.

Kalisz boasted two major industrial sidings. The first, to the north of the Lodz – Ostrow Wielkopolski main line once served a brickworks and the aeronautical factory now owned by Pratt and Whitney. This is now disused with the connection to the main line taken out. (It is worth noting  that private sidings and industrial railways in Poland attract local taxes while private roads do not.) The other siding – to the East of the main line – is operational and serves Kalisz power station and district heating plant.

From today, SKPL has taken over responsibility for the operation of the power station siding. At 01:00 hrs. this morning a CTL coal train arrived at the interchange siding. Within an hour 8 coal trucks had been shunted to the power station unloading point, By 02:20 the interchange siding had been cleared and the CTL loco released to continue its journey to Ostrow Wielkopolski.

This development is another step on the gradual transformation of SKPL from enthusiast-based heritage line operator to ‘short-line’ operator on the north American model.


No international trains from Lodz

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Last train left in 2005!

EU07-134 about to depart from Lodz Kaliska with the last Bohemia express to Prague, 9 December 2005. Photo Tadeusz Nowaczyk.

(Click image to see the original picture as posted on the Phototrans Transport Database and Photo gallery.)

Our ‘By Rail to Rome’  competition is bringing in a number of interesting entries, including a suggestion from David Hughes that our putative pilgrim takes the Minister of Infrastructure along for the trip and that the itinerary includes Lodz.

Well David, 10 out of 10 for out-of-the-box thinking, but 0 out of 10 for coming up with a viable route. Lodz (pop. within city boundary 750,00; pop ‘greater Lodz’ 1,500,000) lost its international services in 2005!

A great pity, the city once enjoyed direct connections, not only to friendly neighbouring cities such as Moscow, Prague and Dresden, but also such exotic destinations such as Munich, Geneva and Madrid.

Destination board on the last Bohemia express to Prague, 9 December 2005. Photo Lodzka Inicjatywa na rzecz przyjazngo transportu.

(Click image to see it in its original location on the Lodzka Inicjatywa na rzecz przyjazngo transportu website.)

Greek Railways – a postscript

Monday, 14 February 2011

A map showing part of the Greek railway network as it was in 1983

(Click to enlarge.)

Shortly after we posted our article on the end of international services by Greek railways we came across a post by Paul Tramheer on the forum about a tour of Greek railways before they suffered their first round of cuts. The map above shows part of the railway network that existed in 1983 and the lines that were visited. The black line running vertically is the standard gauge line to Thessaloniki with onward connections to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The yellow lines show the metre gauge lines that were visited.

To see Paul van Baarle’s photographs of the trip, click one of the links below: