Archive for the ‘Wroclaw’ Category

Expansion of Pendolino services

Monday, 5 October 2015

PKP InterCity have taken delivery of their twentieth and final Pendolino unit.  The EMU’s were built by Alstom at their Savigliano plant in Italy.  Introduced to the timetable in December 2014, and branded as Express InterCity Premium (EIP), they have been working scheduled services on the Warsaw – Czestochowa – Wroclaw, and Gdansk – Warsaw – Krakow routes.  With their top speed in public service of 200 km/h they have cut journey times between the Polish cities.

DSCF1271

A Pendolino waits in Wroclaw Glowny for a departure to Warsaw. 8 February 2015.  Photo: John Savery

InterCity have now announced plans to expand the routes, with Jelenia Gora and Kolobrzeg joining the network.  The Jelenia Gora to Wroclaw route has recently been modernised, with PLK spending a quoted 400 million zloty on works since 2010.  The result is a reduction in the journey time to Wroclaw of approximately one and a half hours, compared with five years ago.

For those not familiar with the route, the line follows a fairly straight run down to Jaworzyna Slask, before winding its way up the climb to Walbrzych, and onwards to Jelenia Gora at the foot of the Karkonosze range.  The twisty windy route would be well suited to the tilting Pendolino’s.  Sadly PKP InterCity cut the tilting element from the Pendolino project at design stage, and so passengers will not be able to take advantage of this or the potential for increased speeds on this stage of the journey.

The introduction of the through services to Warsaw (using Pendolinos) is due to take place at the December timetable change.

Poland – worst international rail connections in Central Europe

Monday, 23 February 2015

plcutofffromworld

International rail connections between the capitals of Central Europe. Graphic courtesy Centre for Sustainable Transport (CZT).

(Click image to access source material – in Polish – on CTZ website.)

Notwithstanding various European Commission initiatives to create a ‘connected Europe’, and to encourage a modal shift to rail, Poland’s international rail connections are pretty dire. Now the ‘Man in Seat 61‘ reports how international connections from Wroclaw Glowny have been slashed.

 

Should Wroclaw be stripped of its 2016 European City of Culture status?

First the Berlin-Wroclaw-Krakow sleeper train got cut.  Then the Berlin-Wroclaw-Krakow daytime EuroCity train Wawel got cut back to Berlin-Wroclaw.  Then it disappeared completely in December 2014, a civilised train replaced by 5 hours strapped to a bus seat, as if Wroclaw was not a major city, but a remote village far distant from the European rail network.  In a month or two, all Dresden-Wroclaw regional trains will be cut, unbelievably (a) leaving a 2km gap across the border between rail services on either side and (b) leaving Wroclaw with no direct trains whatsoever to or from Germany & the West. Can such a remote and inaccessible village possibly be European City of Culture 2016?  Perhaps the title should be reallocated to a city people can actually get to…  Wroclaw needs to wake up and reassert its need for proper links to the rest of Europe.

A hat tip to Chris White and Podrożnik for today’s stories.

More:

Great Continental Railway Journeys – Poland

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Portillo cab view

Michael Portillo rides the cab of Ol49-59.
Still courtesy BBC TV.

The BBC series “Great Continental Railway Journeys” is currently airing on UK television.  The latest series (3) devoted an episode to Poland.

Filmed in the spring of this year, the Michael Portillo and his Bradshaw guide start their journey in the restored heart of Warsaw, before travelling to Lodz, once a cotton capital to rival Manchester.

His Poznan stop includes the obligatory visit to the goats in the Rynek (Market Square), and the Kaiser’s Castle (or Palace) a short walk from the railway station.  The footage of the station is of the new concrete and glass structure (also known as “Poznan City Center” shopping centre), rather than the older building, or even the Dworzec Letni.

Portillo finds time to visit Wolsztyn, referring to it being the place where scheduled from where steam services still run.  His visit, on April 7, fell a few days after the suspension of the service, which as readers will know, has still not recommenced. His footplate ride out to Nowa Wies involved a special train, as there were no scheduled services.  Viewers can draw their own conclusions about his firing (watch the gloves and style).

The onward journey and visit to Wroclaw involved a visit around the Bombardier railway works, formerly known as Linke-Hoffman (before the war) and Pafawag (after the war), before travelling out of Wroclaw via the restored Wroclaw Głowny station.

The shots of Krakow are the familiar Rynek and Mariacki church, and a trip around the Stalinist-era Nowa Huta, grafted onto the side of the old town by the communist regime.

The full programme is available to UK residents for another 3 weeks on the BBC iPlayer here. Sadly viewers in Poland without a proxy server are blocked.

Heard behind the water tower

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn on 6.8.2012. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The Sroda Narrow Gauge railway is fighting for its life. Both the Mayor of Sroda Wielkopolska (where the line starts) and the Chief Executive of Sroda District Council (who own the line) favour turning the bulk of the 14 km railway into a cycle path. and keeping just a stub of the line at Sroda as part of a ‘Wild West’ theme park.

The Smigiel Narrow Gauge Railway has cancelled the trains planned for August. No explanation appears on the railway’s website. Apparently during a recent meeting, the deputy Mayor of Smigiel announced that the Town Council have ‘no interest’ in developing the line as a tourist attraction.

The team of bankers that have been injected into PKP SA and its daughter companies have vetoed the plan to move the heavy maintenance of Wolsztyn-based steam locomotives to Chabowka. Meanwhile Leszno overhauled Ol49-69 (the boilerwork was done at Interlok in Pila) is acquiring a good reputation amongst Wolsztyn drivers for its powerful and reliable performance.

Many thanks to BTWT’s dedicated team of informers who keep their ears to the ground!

Polish diary

Sunday, 27 May 2012

by Chris White

Chris White in an ex Duisberg articulated tram on inter-urban line 46 from Lodz to Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to expand.)

Chris White has been involved in the Talyllyn Railway in North Wales since the 1950s. He started as volunteer guard and rose through the ranks to become the TR’s chairman. In the 1960s, he organised the Traffic and Operating Committee working parties some which were attended by Dyspozytor during his school holidays. Today, he is still actively involved in the operation of the TR and The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn. Between 9 and 16 May he came to Poland to explore some of Poland’s cities and their tramways, main line and tourist railways. This is his diary.

Wed 9 May

A Ryanair flight from East Midlands airport to Wroclaw landed me just after 18:00 by the new airport terminal which is largely finished and very impressive. What a change from my first visit in 2006, when the city was approached from the small terminal by what a seemed to be a country lane lined with allotment gardens. Now the whole area is transformed with new roads and developments of all kinds.

Bus 406 was waiting to take people to the city but there was no ticket machine at the stop, the one on the bus, which only takes plastic, was not working and the driver uninterested. So I just took a seat and relaxed. Soon the bus was packed to the doors and eventually set off and reached the city in good time. I stayed at Sifor Premium Europejski, as it was near to the station and not far from the city centre.

Thurs 10 May

In Wroclaw, I bought a 24 hour tram ticket and obtained train tickets for the next day from one of the various ticket outlets near but not at the Dworzec Tymczasowy (Temporary Station). A useful tram map showed two new lines, built since my last visit a year ago, to serve the newly complete Stadion Wroclaw and nearby Dokerska. I visited the city centre with its many monuments, botanical gardens and Szczytnicki Park with its musical fountain, the Centennial Hall built in 1913 to celebrate the liberation of the city from Napoleon and the 1948 steel needle erected to celebrate the regained territories.
polish rail

The light and airy interior of the restored station contrasts with this EN57 unit complete with the plastic seats ready to form the 10:30 Wroclaw Gl to Poznan Gl. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

Fri 11 May

Allowing myself plenty of time, I approached the station by a circuitous route and found the subway mentioned in the post Wroclaw Worries. When complete, the station will be modern and functional but whether there will be any passengers left to travel on the slow and, all too often, appalling trains, is another matter. Cheap and frequent local and regional bus services and a growing number of internal flights are alluring alternatives to those without a car.

SA132 railcar making up the Koleje Wielkopolskie 12:35 Leszno to Wolstzyn and Zbaszynek. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

Clearly major improvements will be needed to re-gain and grow the passenger traffic and sort out the labyrinthine ticketing systems. I took the 10.30 (Regio 67931) as far as Leszno and changed onto the 12.35 Leszno to Wolstzyn arr 13.34 (KW 79427), a modern diesel railcar. It was staffed by four people, one to drive, one to issue tickets, one to operate the doors and one who appeared to be a trainee.

Ol49-59 about to depart with the regular steam-hauled passenger working from Wolsztyn to Poznan. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

At Wolstzyn there was time to take a few photos before boarding (KW 77331) a steam train headed by OL49-59 departing at 13.40 for Poznan Głowny: a two hour run arriving at 15.47 . The filthy and dilapidated double deck carriages experienced on my previous trip last year had been replaced by two regular carriages but their interior and outside cleanliness left a lot to be desired. Both of these Koleje Wielkopolskie trains seemed to be enjoying a reasonable level of business. I was very interested to note the re-building of the traditional Prussian style signalling system in the Wolstzyn area.

The new station building under construction at Poznan. Fortunately the old station was still in business. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

The station facilities at Poznan, although also being re-built were much more inviting than those Wroclaw and, it being Friday afternoon, were very busy.

The tram system in the area is also undergoing major investment but no tram map was available even on the Internet, which made exploring the city a bit hit and miss. (The map was uploaded on 15 May!) There was a massive thunderstorm just after my return to the Hotel Topaz and the temperature dropped from over 30°C to around 15°C where it remained for most of my stay.

Ol49-69 and TurKol special at Poznan Franowo. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

Sat 12 May

Armed with a written list I went to the International Booking Office and bought tickets for the remainder of my stay. I had booked on the steam train trip from Poznan Glowny to Gniezno and received a warm welcome on introducing myself. TL49-69 headed four vintage carriages with frequent photo stops to Gniezno where the train was greeted by a fanfare of trumpets and a large crowd, many of whom opted to take a short trip on the steam train to Wrzesnia and back. Details and pictures on the TurKol website.

It was a big disappointment that there was no train provided on the Gniezno narrow gauge line; although Px48-1919 was posed with TL49-69, it was not in steam. I spent the time looking round this historic little town and even made it to the top of the Cathedral tower, before returning to Poznan on the steam special, which was looped twice for overtaking trains.

Sun 13 May

Back to Gneizno by TLK 65101, then on an ancient bus to Znin.

Work has taken place to renew drainage culverts on the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

A sudden rain storm meant that the shelter of the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway’s refreshment room was very welcome before it was time for the train to leave. There were a lot of people around in the Biskupin area but very few on the two trains operating and I visited the iron age fort as well as enjoying the train ride.

A strategic retreat to one of the closed carriages was just as well as more heavy showers of cold rain developed during the afternoon. The station area at Gasawa has been improved recently by the construction of a new footpath to the centre of the village.

I took the 16.10 bus from Znin bus station and, although it was going through to Poznan, I changed at Gneizno and took a Regio train back to base. The Znin Narrow Gauge Railway is to be congratulated on operating a daily train service and deserves every success in this area which is obviously popular with visitors. The town centre is quite attractive but the area around the now closed standard gauge line and station is looking very sorry for itself. Hopefully it will not be too long before this part of town can be re-developed.

Wls40 built in Poznan in 1956 at work on the Maltanka Park Railway. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

Mon 14 May

Emil, one of my Polish friends, had recommended a visit to the 60cm gauge Kolej Parkowa Maltanka and I arrived there in time for the second round trip of the day. Being a Monday. a diesel loco was in operation. and I took a return trip before returning to explore some more of the long distance tram lines, or more properly, light rail lines. Then it was time to take TLK 83106 from Poznan to Lodz Kaliska (250km in 3½ hours).

Poznan light rail – route 12 tram heading towards the city at Aleja Solidarnosci. Photo Chris White.

(Click image to expand.)

Tues 15 May

The day was spent exploring two of the three surviving Lodz inter-urban lines with Dyspozytor. Our first run was on line 46 out to Ozokow. This trip was delayed in both directions by a total of 30 minutes by cars crashing into the trams almost as if the local competing bus companies promote this kind of activity.

A very friendly driver on the outward trip spoke with us for a long time at the terminus about hopes and fears for the remaining long inter-urban routes out of Lodz and told us that the tram company staff had been encouraged by the international support for the campaign to save the line. The track beyond the city boundaries is in a very variable state, mostly single with passing loops and in need of heavy repairs in places.

Chris White and friendly tram driver at Ozorkow. Photo BTWT.

We found (the only?) restaurant in Ozorkow and, after a schabowy (pork chop) for lunch, rode the line back into Lodz for afternoon tea with vintage tram owner and operator Tomasz Adamkiewicz. We changed trams at Plac Niepodleglosci and took service No 41 to Pabianice in the rain and gathering gloom. The track had been renewed as far as the city boundary but beyond the mixture of double and single track with sections of street and roadside running could do with some investment.

Our service was operated by a single car which was pretty well patronised in the early evening. We changed trams and after a longish wait caught one of the city trams at Port Lodz. We reached our starting point near Manufactura. By now cold and damp was beginning to overcome us and Dyspozytor organised a rescue party to take us to his home for a very welcome hot meal.

Plac Niepodleglosci, the start of line 41, the inter-urban service to Pabianice. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to expand.)

Wed 16 May

Lodz Chojny dep 07:48 (TLK 16101) to Wroclaw Glowny arr 1:.20 – ten minutes late (250km in 4½ hours). A walk round the east side of the city revealed work going on to replace a lot of tram track on routes 0 and 5 and then I had a very late lunch in the Rynek. Buying a ticket for Bus 406 to the Airport again proved a problem. My cash stuck in the machine and another would be purchaser came and inserted their cash, banged the machine and shrugged and got on the bus so I did the same. At the airport I noticed the large number of internal flights and the new service to Lviv which has recently started. By Ryanair from Wroclaw dep 19:05 arr East Midland Airport 20:25.

Lodz Chojny, the 07:48 departure (TLK 16101) to Wroclaw Glowny – one of the through services that does not call at Lodz Kaliska. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to expand.)

On my return I was asked “How was Poland?” to which I replied “Very Polish!” I met lots of friendly people, except for bus drivers who were equally grumpy to every-one. I observed: a lot of re-construction going on at breakneck speed; many monuments to various episodes of the land’s troubled history; much good renewal of the infrastructure of trams and trains. However, a lot more remains to be done, especially to provide user friendly services and much faster connections on the main lines and to develop the full potential of local and tourist lines.

Wroclaw worries

Thursday, 10 May 2012

by ‘Zgredek’

Train shed, will all be ready one month from now? Photo BTWT.

At Wroclaw Glowny workmen are racing to finish the major renovation of the station before the Euro 2012 football championships, a race they seem certain to fail. The first match in Wroclaw kicks off on 8 June, Russia vs Czech Republic, but work is still ongoing on the platforms, lifts, subways, station buildings and approach tracks. In the meantime the passenger experience at the main station in Poland’s 4th largest city is absolutely terrible.

Only one subway is in use, at the extreme western end of the station. The subway is half its proper width, with the other half boarded off with work going on behind. Work is also going on above passengers’ heads in the stairwells, with suspended metal roofs which might protect them against any falling objects, though I wasn’t personally 100% confident of that and hurried past those points. On the floor there are steep boarded ramps at intervals along the subway. The subway is full of dust. The platforms can only be reached by steps as none of the lifts have been commissioned yet.

There are two information screens. One is in a small and extremely dusty and dirty half-finished ticket booking hall at the end of the subway. A huge crowd gathers here both inside and outside the building, because platforms are announced at such last minute that anyone not here risks missing their train. Meanwhile workmen with wheelbarrows are coming in and out of the same entrance. Some people even feel the need to wait in the subway itself, relying on the loudspeaker announcements to hear the platform for their train. The second, older, information screen is outside the same booking hall, but unfortunately a stall selling sunglasses obscures part of the screen.

The Subway. Photo BTWT.

The temporary station building, Dworzec Tymczasowy, is some distance away along the road. A further information screen is located here. It would be the most pleasant place to wait as it is the only place free of the dust that fills the unfinished ticket hall, the subway and often the overall roof, but anyone waiting for their platform number to be announced here is at severe risk of missing their train, unless they run. Indeed while I was walking from the Dworzec Tymczasowy to the subway the platform for a delayed train was announced and three or four people ran past me at full tilt carrying their luggage.

Facilities inside the subway and the Dworzec Tymczasowy are limited to coffee machines, while snack stalls and a portacabin toilet can be found on the far side of the Dworzec Tymczasowy, a long way from the platforms. Half the shop units here are empty which seems to attest to how few people make it this far.

For arriving passengers, signs in the subway point to Wyjscie do Miasta (Exit to Town), but unfortunately the temporary subway entrance and station building are on the opposite side of the station from the city centre, and there is no sign, or at least nothing remotely obvious, to point out this fact to arriving passengers. Anyone who does not have a very clear sense of the geography of the area is likely, as I did, to walk in exactly the opposite direction to the one they intend!

More:

Rails for Krosnice

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A new park railway takes shape…

Well drained base and firm foundation

A brand new narrow  gauge railway in Poland! This is Alice in Wonderland story seems almost too good to be true. But as these photos – sent to us by a BTWT reader – show, the new railway is actually taking shape. Although, like the adventures of Alice, the actual story has a bitter twist.

The new junction takes shape.

The municipality of Krosnice (not to be confused with the town of Krosniewice!) is building a 3.2 km park railway around a sports and recreational complex which it is developing with the help of EU Regional Development funds.

The total project is to cost about 6.6 m PLN and involves the digging of several lakes as well as building the railway. The budget is as follows:  building several lakes – 1.26M PLN, building the narrow gauge railway – 3M PLN, track materials – 0.8M PLN, fitting out 6 halts – 0.2M PLN, purchase of rolling stock – 1M PLN, purchase of steam locomotive 0.6M PLN.

Trackwork complete.

But the project is but a faint echo of a much grander project which fell by the wayside. When the potential of EU-funded tourist development projects was first realised several ambitious Welsh Highland style railway restoration projects were pencilled in for Dolny Slask province.

One of these was the rebuilding of the rack railway in the owl mountains. Another – which made a great deal of progress in the early stages – was a partnership by three local authorities to restore a section of the Wroclaw narrow gauge railway between Pracze – Milicz Wask. – Bracław.

The section of the Wroclaw Narrow Gauge Railway which was to have been restored. Map courtesy Google maps (maps.google.com). Railway mapping courtesy Railmap (mapa.kolej.one.pl).

(Click map to enlarge.)

Sadly a series of legal obstacles prevented the rebuilding of the Wroclaw line. The section is now being developed as a ‘railway themed‘ cycle path. But the local authority whose base was furthest from the line – Krosnice – was so taken with the idea that they decided to go-ahead and build a railway of their own! (Oh yes, I nearly forgot. I did have a long talk with one of their officials some 3 or so years ago.)

Dyspozytor

More:

Loco to heaven or plain loco?

Friday, 25 June 2010

Engine to heaven? The remains of Ty2-1035 being set up in Wroclaw. From a photo by Marcin TB.

(Click image to see this and other photos on the Wroclaw Amici website.)

When at the end of the 1980s PKP set up its regional ‘skansens’ – based around a number of working motive power depots – it seemed that the future of ‘Kriegslok’ 2-10-0 Ty2-1035 was secure. One of the ‘skansens’ was to be at Jaworzyna Slask and the locomotive had been shedded there since 1968. PKP gathered together several large collections of historic locomotives and rolling stock. The items intended for Jaworzyna included rolling stock that had reached Poland from places as far afield as France and Belgium and one of the two surviving ‘Liberation‘ 2-8-0s built by the Vulcan Foundary at Newton le Willows.

In 1991 Jaworzyna MPD closed. The collection found itself – on paper at least – under the protection of the Railway Museum in Warsaw. But such ‘protection’ was no guarantee of preservation. For twelve years the priceless exhibits were subject to vandalism, regular visits by scrap thieves and the action of the Polish weather. Finally, in 2003 PKP handed over the shed and its collection to the Jaworzyna Slask Town Council. In turn the local authority entered into an agreement with the Muzeum Przemyslu i Kolejnictwa na Slasku (The Slask Region Museum of Industry and Railways) which was to manage the museum and its exhibits.

However, PKP did not hand over all the exhibits. Some of the rolling stock – perhaps judged to be so far gone as to constitute an embarrassment – was pushed into a distant siding and forgotten. Some locomotives were also left behind. Was some PKP or Warsaw Museum official hoping for a lucrative private arrangement with a wealthy overseas buyer? One of the locomotives excluded from the deal was Ty2-1035. Its step-by-step devastation is well documented on Tomislaw Czarnecki’s excellent website Wciaz pod para.

Truly, PKP works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. Ty2-1035 seemed destined for the oxy-acetylene torch to share the fate of locomotives recently scrapped in Scinawka Srednia, Kudowa Zdroj, Wolsztyn and elsewhere. But the Kriegslok’s fate was to be far worse. In the end the engine was not even accorded a decent burial. The locomotive was bought by developer Archicom, stripped of interior fittings such as boiler tubes and superheaters, and mounted on its hind quarters in Wroclaw’s plac Strzegomski as an ‘art installation’ entitled ‘engine to heaven’.

Just imagine the the explosion that would take place if a property developer tried the same trick with a 9F in the UK!

More: