Archive for the ‘Wolsztyn’ Category

Wolsztyn Loco Shed

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Some grounds for cautious optimism


On a hot summer’s day in August 2012, Ol49-69 has just arrived in Wolsztyn with the service train from Poznan. Photo BTWT.

A number of readers followed up our appeal published on 8 November regarding the demise of weekend steam-hauled services between Poznan and Wolsztyn. Now, considerably later, the replies to readers’ letters and e-mails have started to come in. Here is the translation of a typical letter. It has been signed by Jerzy Kriger, the Director of Transport in the Chief Executive’s office of the Wielkopolska provincial government.

Dear Sir,

In answer to your email, regarding the matter of the withdrawal of weekend steam hauled passenger services from Poznan to Wolsztyn, I would like to inform you as follows:

Because of the limited financial means available to the province of Wielkopolska, and bearing in mind the high costs of steam-hauled railway services, as well as the introduction of a new railway time table from 9 January 2012, we have abandoned weekend working of services  with steam haulage. However, it should be borne in mind that the current operations of the locomotive shed in Wolsztyn is based mainly on the operation of scheduled trains which are commissioned by the local government of Wielkopolska province. A different solution for example by retaining only weekend services could, on one hand attract a greater number of tourists, but on the other hand would cause problems for the current owner in covering the cost of the locomotive shed’s operations. An important matter which has to be borne in mind is that the steam locomotives released by this change will be able to serve a larger number of tourist services.

I would like to inform you that the local government of Wielkopolska Is currently working on a project to set up on the basis of the existing facility the Wolsztyn Locomotive Shed Company whose shareholders would include, among others, other local governments. The main object of the company would be tourist / recreational operations such as organising and running of steam-hauled specials and tourist trains as well as the operation of the locomotive shed. It is planned that the new organisation would operate scheduled timetable services as well as special services, particularly the operation of various kinds of chartered trains. The range of operations is intended also to include the provision of passenger services in the area of Wielkopolska.

Thank you for your interest in the matter. I would like to share with my hope that we will be successful in delivering this project. First of all, it would allow the Locomotive Shed to be preserved as part of our cultural heritage, and at the same time there will be a chance to increase the attractiveness and scale of the railway services hauled by steam.

Respectfully yours

Jerzy Kriger

Director of Department


The end of daily scheduled standard gauge steam in Poland

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ol49-59 undergoing servicing at Wolsztyn. Photo John Savery.

News has reached us that the steam operation at Wolsztyn is set to suffer further cutbacks. The Wielkopolska government is making drastic budget cuts in 2013, believed to be in the region of 25%. One of the casualties will be the daily steam services from Wolsztyn, which are due to end with the December timetable change.

Ten years ago, Wolsztyn would send out three engines a day. For the past few years, this has been reduced to one engine a day. The latest cutbacks will see the 7-days-a-week service reduced to just 5 days per week, with the withdrawal of weekend services.

One would expect the impact on the town to be fairly major. Wolsztyn’s weekend steam tourists come not only from Poland but also from all over Europe and beyond. It is estimated that Wolsztyn Experience clients alone put as much as 500,000 zloty into the local economy each year, with an additional 500,000 zloty coming from other tourists who also visit the region. If the weekend steam services cease it is certain that the number of rail enthusiast tourists visiting Wolsztyn will fall dramatically, and with it, the amount of money that they inject into the local economy.

This threat to the local economy and local tourism flies in the face of the efforts currently being made by the Polish National Tourist Office, who, this very week, are trying to entice visitors, who may have visited during the Euro 2012 championships, back to Poland.

Behind the Water Tower readers are not known to give up without a fight.

Questions need to be asked about the cost/benefit gained by moving to a 5 day-a-week service as opposed to maintaining the 7 day-a-week operation.

Steam locomotives are serviced on a time interval based servicing regime, rather than on a days in steam servicing regime. Boilers become due for overhaul after a fixed time, regardless of whether they are in steam or not. Operating costs are therefore not proportional to usage. Savings on overhauls by a reduction in usage will be limited.

What will PKP Cargo do with the locomotives at weekends? If they are laid up cold, this cycling of the boiler each week is likely to only add to repair bills for the locomotives due to the constant thermal cycling of the boilers causing additional wear. If the locomotives are left in steam over the weekend, then this will still require staff at the depot, limiting the cost savings that are made by not running the locomotives.

Diesel railcars have been prone to failure during cold and snowy weather. Do Koleje Wielkopolskie intend to make improvements to the flimsy design of these railcars to make them more weather proof?

Readers who feel they would like to make their views known to the relevant authorities may care to use the following addresses. A well written hard copy letter carries more weight than an email, however, given the tight timescales involved, it will not hurt to send an email copy as well, with a note that a ‘hard copy’ is in the post.

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 142, budynek C
61-713 Poznań

tel.: 61 626 66 00
fax: 61 626 66 01

The Deputy Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Province

Wojciech Jankowiak
Wicemarszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 340, budynek C
61-713 Poznań

tel.: 61 626 66 10
fax: 61 626 66 11

The Wielkopolska Tourist Organisation

Ewa Przydrożny
Wielkopolska Organizacja Turystyczna
ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, I p
61-737 Poznań

The Polish National Tourist Office

Mr Boguslaw Becla
Acting Director
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

Mr Roman Gozdzikowski
General Manager
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

The Mayor of Wolsztyn

mgr Andrzej Rogozinski
Burmistrz Wolsztyna
Urząd Miejsji
Rynek 1
64-200 Wolsztyn

The Polish Ambassador

Witold Sobków
H.E. The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland
47 Portland Place
London W1B 1JH

Lorry collision stops steam

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Steam services from Wolsztyn have been suspended following a collision between a lorry and Ol49-69. The collision, which took place on 11 September, caused some damage to the locomotive, including bent motion.  The lorry suffered serious damage, with most of the cab destroyed.  The lorry driver was lucky to escape with his life, with parts of the cab attaching themselves firmly to the locomotive.

Damage to Ol49-69 following the collision on 11 September

Ol49-69with the remains of the lorry’s door  firmly attached to the loco’s cab. Photo James Shuttleworth.

Whilst the loco was out of traffic for a couple of days whilst repairs were effected at Wolsztyn, it has since returned to service.

The reason for the disruption to the service this time, was not due to the unavailability of a loco or crew, but down to the the cold snap that seems to have caught everyone unawares. The only suitable steam-heated coaches which Koleje Wielkopolskie  had available were involved in the collision. These still require repair, with their steps being ripped off in the force of the collision. (The Poznan-Wolsztyn services are run by Koleje Wielkopolskie, with the locos and their crews being provided by PKP Cargo, and the coaches leased from Przewozy Regionalne!)

With temperatures dropping as low as 3C at night at present, and with no other steam heated coaches available, PKP has taken the step of substituting a diesel railcar until suitable coaches are in service.  It is understood that steam services will return as from today’s (Thursday 27 September) afternoon working.

Stop press

We understand from a senior railway source, who wishes to remain anonymous, that yesterday PKP Cargo signed an agreement for the purchase of 10 passenger coaches, suitable for steam haulage, from Czech Railways at a very good price. The second class coaches are destined for the Poznan-Wolsztyn service; the first class coaches are expected to see duty on various steam specials.

A Week in Wolsztyn

Friday, 14 September 2012

Prior to 1970 Rakonowice was the Western terminus of the Smigiel Railway. Here Ol49-69 waits at Rakoniewice Station in the late afternoon on 29 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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One of the delights of publishing Behind The Water Tower is receiving photographs for publication from our readers. For several years we have showcased the hauntingly beautiful photographs of the Smigiel Narrow Gauge Railway taken by Marek Ciesielski. Sadly the Smigiel line, as it then was, is no more. It hangs on, as a pale shadow of its former self, cut off from its passenger and freight links to the standard gauge network, little better than a ‘funfair railway’ running a few times each year.


An unusual view of the Wolsztyn roundhouse taken through the window of the turntable operator’s cabin on 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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Today we are pleased to feature the photography of Christian Cederberg who lives in Copenhagen and was in Poland for a week at the end of August to photograph the Wolsztyn – Poznan steam services and what other interesting trains he could find.

How long before modernizers and those who ‘do not see the point’ bring about the death of regular steam haulage in Poland? Ol49-59 near Ptaszkowo on 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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In the end, with nothing stirring that week on the Opatowek-Zbiersk section of the Kalisz Narrow Gauge Railway, Christian decided to concentrate his efforts on the Wolsztyn – Poznan line. We think his photographs are magnificent. What do you think?

Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn on the evening 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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Christian is the webmaster of – an archive of colour railway photos from all around the world which is well worth exploring. To see all his photos from this trip in glorious full screen size, just click the link at the very end of this post.

‘Steaming off into the twilight’ – actually an early morning shot, not evening – Ol49-69 between Granowo and Strykowo on 29 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

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Wolsztyn recruitment

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Engine crew give Pm36-2 a quick check at Wolsztyn. Photo BTWT.

Wojciech Lis’s website carries the story that PKP Cargo has recruited 4 new enginemen to retrain to work with steam locomotives at the Wolsztyn shed. Three are former enginemen, the fourth is a young trainee whose higher education is being sponsored by Cargo.

We are delighted to be able to report good news in the same post as announcing that BTWT has passed the milestone of 500,000 hits. To all – readers and contributors – who have made BTWT a success our heartfelt thanks. Thanks also to Podroznik for today’s lead story.

PKP Cargo plans for Wolsztyn locos

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pociag do Wielkopolski 23.7.2012 – rail enthusiast produced Wielkoplska province TV programme.

According to Andrzej Jablonski, a Director of the Wielkopolska Division of PKP Cargo, the company wants to maintain 4 working steam locomotives to maintain a reliable Wolsztyn-Poznan service and cope with  steam specials.

Major overhauls will be moved from Leszno to Chabowka where there is already a team of steam fitters based at the ‘skansen’. Jablonski wants to keep two of the Wolsztyn Ol49s in service and also Pt47-67. He also has his eye on Ol49-100 in Chabowka, which – although out of service since 2006 – is reported to have a good firebox.

Jablonski also has a ‘wish list’ of locos that he would like to see in service which includes Warsaw Railway Museum-owned Pm36-2 Piekna Helena and 4-6-0 Ok1-359, but with the Pm36’s ticket due to expire (the loco will need a new firebox) and the Ok1 being not powerful enough for the Poznan turns, it is likely that, for the time being at least, his ‘wish list’ will remain just that.

With a hat tip to Podroznik for the story.

LKR – Stranger than fiction

Friday, 1 June 2012

by Rob Hall

Former Danish MA 461-470 diesel unit on a Lubuska Kolej Regionalna working in the early 1990s. Photo Mohylek.

(Click on image to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)

The Wolsztyn scene underwent a big change on 23 May 1993, PKP ceased to be responsible for passenger services on two of the five lines radiating from Wolsztyn itself: those to Sulechow, and to Nowa Sol. For a few years up to that date, those two less important lines, had been the ones over which most of Wolsztyn’s steam passenger workings had operated.

Passenger diagrams were re-jigged for the benefit of enthusiasts and tourists, so that a decent number of workings on the remaining passenger lines (Wolsztyn – Poznan, and Zbaszynek – Wolsztyn – Leszno) were regularly steam-worked.

From the above-mentioned date, a new and strange thing came to be, concerning passenger services in the area. A new undertaking was formed, titled Lubuska Kolej Regionalna – to operate in PKP’s stead, local passenger services on a number of secondary lines in Lubuskie province (encroaching a little way into the province to the east, Wielkopolskie, in which Wolsztyn is located).

Six such lines came into operation by the new LKR:  some – such as Wolsztyn to Sulechow, and to Nowa Sol – ‘seamlessly’ taken over upon PKP’s ceasing to work them; others with passenger services being restored months-or-years after PKP had closed the lines to passengers.

LKR took over six lines in all: the two from Wolsztyn itself, already referred to; the Toporow – Sieniawa Lubuska section of former PKP Table 334;  the Kolsko – Slawa Slaska section of former PKP Table 347; the parts of PKP Table 352 involving workings Nowa Sol – Kozuchow – Niegoslawice and return; and former PKP Table 357 Tuplice – Leknica.

What LKR found, to work its services, was – of all unlikely things – several express-diesel-multiple-unit sets (four-car, I think), recently redundant from the Danish State Railways, and bought by LKR second-hand from that source. In their homeland, these units had been designated Lyntog (Lightning Train).

They were based at LKR’s headquarters at Czerwiensk, whence – seven days a week — they worked remarkably complex and lengthy diagrams which managed to give an average of two or three workings each way daily, over each of the six taken-over sections. To get from HQ, to one, and then to the next, and the next, taken-over branch in order to serve them, the Lyntogs traversed still-PKP-passenger-served routes, carrying on public-passenger business on same.

This way of doing things meant that in a fair few cases, LKR could not even pretend to run services at times which fitted in with people’s required travelling hours – everything had to be geared to the diesel units’ diagrams. Thus, the two daily return workings between Kolsko and Slawa Slaska all happened in the time-window approximately between 1500 and 1830 hrs. – they involved the 14:17 Wolsztyn – Nowa Sol, and the 1645 Nowa Sol – Wolsztyn, interrupting their journeys to run the 14 km from Kolsko to Slawa Slaska and back again.

Ingenious all this may have been, but there was another adjective which asks to be applied to it: ‘nonsensical’. It came as no surprise to learn that as at early February 1994, the undertaking had gone bankrupt, and all its services had been withdrawn. An approximate eight-month career – mayfly-like, indeed.

The LKR handled passenger services only; after 23 May 1993 PKP continued to work freight over some portions of LKR’s six lines. They did so south-west of Wolsztyn, for instance; including 11km of former Table 347 south of Slawa Slaska (thus not traversed by LKR passenger workings), to Krzepielow.

In the light of the basic absurdity of the whole LKR undertaking, one has to wonder just what it was all about.  It would seem – either a valiant but naïve and poorly-set-up attempt to offer a genuine public service; or something else?

I don’t think it unjust to say that post-the fall of Communism, Eastern Europe has been heavily beset by a great variety of scams – some of them very strange – carried out by resourceful folk. An associate of mine (a self-confessed cynic) came up with the theory that the business with the LKR, was a racket whose perpetrators found an easy way to have handed over to them by PKP, free of charge, the stations and other associated buildings on the lines concerned.

A brief spell of ‘Lewis Carroll’ passenger operation, planned so as to be totally non-viable, and speedily to fail; and after its collapse, plenty of ex-railway real estate for the perpetrators to sell off for development.

I have some doubts about the veracity of this scenario: there is the consideration that it would maybe only work for sections totally relinquished by PKP: as mentioned above, PKP continued to work freight on parts of the lines concerned, and would presumably have continued to need the infrastructure for that purpose.  At all events, the time which LKR and its Lyntogs spent on the public stage, was exceedingly brief.

May Days – Spoilt for choice

Saturday, 28 April 2012

But not everyone is celebrating!

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

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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!


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.


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.


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!


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:

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


Whither Wolsztyn?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Ol49-59 having just come off its train at Wolsztyn, 6 February 2012. Photo ©Christian Cederberg.

(Click on image to expand.)

I am very fond of the Wolsztyn ‘kettles’ so it is a real treat to be able to reproduce these atmospheric photographs taken by Christian Cederberg, the webmaster of the Dampdreven blog. The Wolsztyn – Poznan  steam workings are, to the best of my knowledge, (does any BTWT reader know of any other example?) the world’s last regular scheduled steam-hauled passenger (as opposed to tourist) mainline railway service. Christian visited Wolsztyn between 4 and 7 February and was kind enough to share these images with us on BTWT. If you would like to see the rest of his wonderful photographs please follow the links at the end of today’s post.

Ol49-59 and train pass through Strykowo, 6 February 2012. Photo ©Christian Cederberg.

(Click on image to expand.)

Following our posting of John Savery’s recent photographs of Ol49-69 under repair in Leszno, a considerable discussion has taken place in the comments column of that post. The bottom line is that Leszno-overhauled locos are not as serviceable as those that had been shopped out of Gniezno, and that not enough money is trickling its way down from the sizeable grant paid by the provincial government to work performed on the locomotives themselves. Readers of the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian will not need reminding that a similar fate befell the sizeable grants voted by Parliament each year to fund the maintenance of His Majesty’s Navy in the days of Nelson.

Ol49-59 and train at Grodzisk Wielkopolski, 6 February 2012. Photo ©Christian Cederberg.

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No Steam Today – Postscript

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ol49-69 at Leszno on 27.11.2011. Photo John Savery.

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John Savery writes –

I’ve been following the blog on “No steam today”.  There are actually overhauls going on at Leszno at the moment, and some money is being put in to get more locos in steam.  I’ve attached some photos of Ol49-69 (previously 99) in Leszno taken 27 November when I was last out there.  The boiler is currently in Pila being overhauled, with the bottom end being done in Leszno.  Ol49-23 is next in line.  The tender is also being overhauled, with a new tank being fabricated.

A tender receiving attention. Photo John Savery.

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We are always pleased to hear from readers, especially when they can add some more information to a story published on BTWT. John Savery’s photo report from Leszno works casts a more optimistic light on the future of the regular steam services running between Wolsztyn and Poznan.

But hold on a moment, there seemed something dreadfully deja vue about John’s 27 November picture of the bottom half of Ol49-69 at the head of the article. A quick sort through the BTWT photo archive dug up the photo below taken on 17 September! Can anyone report on any more progress on this loco?

A rather less dusty Ol49-69 on 17.09.2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Wolsztyn – Poznan steam workings resume

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pacific Pm36-2 Piekna Helena comes off the afternoon Leszno – Wolsztyn – Zbaszynek working ready to run round her train on 17 April 2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

After the completion by PKP PLK of a major upgrading programme for the track and infrastructure between Poznan and Wolsztyn, steam services returned to the line on 11 December.

The last regular steam service on the Zbaszynek – Wolsztyn – Leszno line ran on Friday 9 December. On Saturday the service was diesel hailed while Ol49-59 ran ‘light engine’ from Wolsztyn to Poznan to enable drivers to familiarize themselves with the upgraded line. On Sunday 11 December – the first day of the new timetable on Poland’s railways – the restored Wolsztyn – Poznan passenger workings were also hauled by Ol49-59.

The new service consists of a twice daily run from Wolsztyn to Poznan and return: Wolsztyn dep. 5:16 – Poznan arr. 7:13, Poznan dep. 9:20 – Wolsztyn arr. 11:17; Wolsztyn dep. 13:39 – Poznan arr. 15:47, Poznan dep. 17:20 – Wolsztyn arr. 19:16.

After Pm36-2’s run from Zbaszynek there is a short break at Wolsztyn. The loco is is watered and coaled. Photo BTWT.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

From June 1st 2012, when the track is bedded in, the morning outward and the return afternoon working which carry most of the commuter traffic will become a limited stop service. This will reduce the current 1 hr 57 min journey time to to 1 hr 23 min. Note the current timetable can be downloaded from the Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW) website, the links on the Przewozy Regionalne website still point to the withdrawn timetable.

From 1 June 2010, the steam services, together with many other local services, have been the responsibility of Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW), the local rail services operator owned by the Wielkopolska provincial government. KW receive a special subsidy for the steam service, from the Wielkopolskie provincial government.

Actual service delivery is by means of steam engines and crews hired from PKP Cargo and coaches leased from Przewozy Regionalne. Or at least that is our understanding of the current arrangement. Please write if you know anything different! The operating locos this winter will be Ol49-59 and, Warsaw Railway Museum-owned, Pm 36-2. Ol49-69 is due to return from overhaul at Leszno during the winter.

Bearings and motion receive attention and then the loco returns to the station to haul her train to Leszno. Photo BTWT.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

As well as the regular Wolstyn – Poznan services, steam fans can expect a number of steam specials in 2012. The Instytut Rozwoju i Promocji Kolei (The Railway Development and Promotion Institute) are running a number of steam specials under their tourist train brand Turkol. The following steam specials currently appear on the Turkol website:

14 April 2012 – Piernik,

Route – Poznan Glowny – Gniezno – Inowrocław – Torun Glowny – Poznan Glowny.

2 June 2012 – Pirat

Route: Poznan Glowny – Oborniki – Pila – Okonek – Kolobrzeg – Kolobrzeg Port.
Kolobrzeg – Okonek – Pila – Oborniki – Poznan Glowny.

A number of other dates for Turkol steam specials (presumably tentative) are given on the Wolsztyn Experience website.

Green paint petition

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Steam engine and green coaches. Photo TPWP.

(Click image to go to the TPWP website.)

Podroznik draws our attention to a petition on the website of Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Wolsztynskiej Parowozowni (The Friends of Wolsztyn Steam Shed) appealing for signatures on a petition requesting that the passenger coaches, on trains hauled by steam locomotives based at Wolsztyn, be repainted in the old PKP livery of dark olive green.

BTWT supports the idea of the petition on three counts: first of all, the olive green livery is attractive and historically correct for steam’s swansong in Poland; secondly, it is important to remind the powers-that-be that the regular passenger turns serviced by Wolsztyn engines are of enormous interest all round the world; and thirdly, we applaud the idea of Polish railway enthusiasts actively ‘lobbying’ to promote the railways and trains that they cherish. Lobbying and engagement with local communities are two fundamental tools that a small group of us have been trying to teach Polish railway societies – with mixed success – over the last 8 years!

The green paint petition is interesting for the stark picture it paints of the current responsibilities for the steam workings:

Wielkopolska province Chief Executive’s Office (sponsor), Przewozy Regionalne (owner of the passenger carriages), Koleje Wielkopolskie (operating company) and PKP Cargo (owner of the steam engines)

No wonder the steam turns regularly run into difficulty. It is a matter of profound regret that, following numerous ‘reorganisations’, the whole of the Polish railway system appears to be run on similar lines.

The petition can be downloaded as a pdf file by clicking on the link below. Curiously the organisers do not actually indicate who they intend to send the petition to. Will they send it to: The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province? The Chief Executive of Przewozy Regionalne? The Chief Executive of Koleje Wielkopolskie? The Chief Executive of PKP Cargo? The Minister for Rail? Local and national press and TV? All of these? It would be nice to know.


  • Petition form (pdf file to print out)
  • Postal address: Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Wolsztynskiej Parowozowni,
    ul. Doktora Kocha 12A, 64-200 Wolsztyn, POLAND
  • e-mail:

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.

Steaming into the dark

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Unknown train, unknown destination. Photo ©Marek Cieselski.

On 27 September, Council members of Wielkopolska provincial government are due to debate the setting up of a new company to run the Wolsztyn MPD. The new company – a joint venture between PKP Cargo and the local authorities – is to take over the management of Wolsztyn from PKP Cargo. The Wielkopolska provincial government is to hold a majority stake in the new venture. Minor shareholders are to include the local authorities along the line. If the takeover goes ahead as planned will things improve for Wolsztyn’s worn out steam locos or will the new company be a gravy train for senior PKP Cargo and Wielkopolska officials? Time will tell, but in the meantime keep reading BTWT.

Reverse Polish Logic

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Guest post

Illustration by Jan Marcin Szancer for Julian Tuwim’s poem Lokomotywa

(Click on image to order a copy of the book.)

As a railfan, I find the actions of PKP Cargo rather strange with respect to the custody of their steam locomotives. Whilst having a positive approach to the Wolsztyn depot to the degree that they are creating a new company with the Wielkopolska provincial government, at the same time they have said indicated that they want to dispose of the Chabowka museum at the earliest opportunity. Yet they have just found resources to fund two more major boiler overhauls on Chabowka locomotives.

Bear in mind that, while Wolsztyn continues to struggle with loco maintenance having had only one loco with a major boiler rebuilt in the last four years for its daily passenger services, Chabowka has had four locos in the last four years with major boiler repairs for its 20 or so trains a year.

Can anyone explain the logic in this to me?


Disgruntled of Poznan

(Name and address withheld at the author’s request.)

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.

Glimpsed at the Wosztyn Gala II

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Wolsztyn Shed, 11.00 hrs. 1.5.2005. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Two hours or so before the parade. Not a fluorescent jacket or plastic barrier tape to be seen. (They were there, but only where needed to prevent the public from straying over the main line tracks.) Do you remember when shed open days in Britain were like this?

Chabowka Tkt48-91 undergoes some last minute repairs to its air compressor on the Wolsztyn turntable. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

A couple admire PKP 2-8-0 TR5-65, formerly German Railways Br 56.2–8, originally built as a 0-8-0 by Orenstein & Koppel. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Tr5-65 had its boiler certificate specially extended so that it could attend this year’s Wolsztyn Steam Gala. The photograph also shows how the Wolsztyn turntable was extended to accommodate longer locomotives.

Pm36-2 departs the shed to take up its position before the parade.
Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

242.001, a streamlined 4-4-4T light express locomotive visiting Wolsztyn courtesy MAV Noztalgia. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Only four of these 4-4-4Ts were built between 1936-40, by MÁVAG in Budapest. One of them reached 161 km/h on a test run, the speed record for Hungarian steam engines. They used to haul the Baltic-Orient express trains double-headed between Budapest and the Romanian border.

Wolsztyn based, Pt47-65. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

The Wolsztyn Steam Gala is the biggest such event in Poland. Although this year the morning rain damped down attendance, some 15,000 people are estimated to have attended the event. The Wolsztyn Gala plays a major role in spreading the word about steam locomotives and railway heritage in a country where many people regard such matters as embarrassing hand-me-downs from the communist era.

Glimpsed at the Wolsztyn Gala

Monday, 3 May 2010

17th Steam Parade banner. Photo BTWT.

The text says ‘Seven steam locomotives travelled a total of 2,315 kilometres to reach this year’s parade and will have to travel the same distance to return home’. Fine, but what is the GWR Dean single doing on the bottom right?

Fireman checks the lubrication on the newly shopped Pm36-2 pacific.
Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Pm36-2 in its new dark olive green livery.
Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

TKt48-143 after its cosmetic restoration.
Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

More Wolsztyn pictures tomorrow!

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!


Steam returns to Poznan

Friday, 16 April 2010

OL49-59 and passenger train, Poznan 15 April, 2010.
Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

After a 10 day hiatus team hauled services returned to the Wolsztyn – Poznan route yesterday. The interruption of steam services since Easter Monday disappointed thousands of tourists, hit the revenue streams of both Przewozy Regionalne and PKP Cargo and damaged the image of Poland’s railways both at home and abroad. The steam hauled services between Wolsztyn and Poznan are subsidised by the Wielkopolska provincial government and a penalty clause comes into operation when the steam trains do not run.

After the steam famine, a feast! Yesterday three engines were in steam at Wolsztyn! Ol49-7 which hauled the morning turns, Ol49-59 which hauled the afternoon train and Tr5-65 which is due to have an inspection regarding the extension of its ticket today.