Archive for the ‘Znin’ Category

Narrow Gauge revival

Friday, 29 May 2015

Pleszew railcar in December 2011. Photo Ed Beale.

The beginning of May in Poland is memorable not just for the annual Wolsztyn Parade of Steam locomotives, but for the start of tourist services on Poland’s preserved narrow gauge railways. Most lines run trains just over the weekend, sometimes only a couple of return trips on Sundays.

To the best of our knowledge (please tell us if you know of others!) only three lines operate daily services during the operating season: the Nadmorska Kolej Wąskotorowa, aka the Gryfice Narrow Gauge Railway; the Znin Narrow Gauge Railway; and the Bieszczady Forest Railway. The Bieszczady weekday service runs only in July and August, while the Gryfice and Znin lines run daily from May through to September.

Pleszew_timetable

Pleszew Railway timetable 4 May until 13 June 2015.

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Notes

(B) runs Mondays to Fridays & Sundays (except 4.6.2015)
(D) runs Mondays to Fridays except bank holidays
(E) runs Mondays to Saturdays except bank holidays
(6) runs on Saturdays
(7) runs on Sundays (except 4.6.2015)

All of us a BTWT were surprised and delighted to be told by SKPL that they have brought back daily ordinary passenger services (not tourist services!) on the Pleszew narrow gauge railway, and that funding is in place for the services to run to the end of 2015.

The Pleszew n.g. line is a mixed gauge line – standard gauge and narrow gauge trains share one rail. It is a 3 km fragment of the erstwhile Krotoszyn Narrow Gauge Railway which at its height was nearly 50 km long. The last train ran from Krotoszyn to Pleszew Miasto on 12 January 1986. The line was taken over by the Pleszew Town Council who licensed it to SKPL in 2006. SKPL operate freight trains over the standard gauge tracks from the interchange with the main line to an oil depot in Pleszew.

In February 2013, BTWT reported that passenger services using a diesel railcar operating over the n.g. tracks had been suspended. We are delighted to report that as from 4 May 2015 Poland’s last surviving n.g. regular passenger service is again operational.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

May Holiday – A Narrow Gauge Feast

Friday, 20 April 2012

Updated

Crossing one of the long viaducts on the Jedrzejow line. The operating season at Jedrzejow starts on 1 May. Photo Ed Beale.

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The first week in May is traditionally a holiday week in Poland with its two public holidays on 1 and 3 May. Many narrow gauge railways start their operating seasons during this week with trains at the weekends or on 1, 2 or 3 May. This year, 17 narrow gauge railways will be operating during the May holiday week. The special train at Przeworsk on Saturday 5 May must be booked in advance by email to smpkw [at] wp.pl before 22 April. The other trains do not need to be booked in advance.

  1. Bieszczady Forest Railway: 28 and 29 April, 1, 3, 5 and 6 May at 10:00 (to Przyslup) and 13:00 (to Balnica).
  2. Elk: Tuesday 1 May at 10:00.
  3. Hajnowka Forest Railway: 1-5 May at 10:00, 14:00 and 17:00.
  4. Hel Military Railway: 1, 3, 5 and 6 May.
  5. Jedrzejow: Tuesday 1 and Sunday 6 May at 10:00.
  6. Karczmiska: Thursday 3 and Sunday 6 May at 11:00.
  7. Koszalin: Tuesday 1 May at 11:00.
  8. Nowy Dwor Gdanski: 28 April to 6 May at 09:00, steam on 1 and 2 May.
  9. Piaseczno: 29 April, 1, 3 and 6 May at 11:00.
  10. Plociczno Forest Railway: Daily from 1 May at 13:00.
  11. Przeworsk: Special train with historic stock on Saturday 5 May (bookings by email to smpkw [at] wp.pl before 22 April).
  12. Rogow: 29 April, 1, 2, 3 and 6 May, four trains daily.
  13. Rudy: 28 and 29 April, eight trains to Paproc. 1, 3, 5 and 6 May, six trains to Paproc and 2 trains to Stanica.
  14. Smigiel: Thursday 3 May.
  15. Sroda: Tuesday 1 May, festival at Sroda Miasto station with short train trips to Kipa between 15:00 and 19:00.
  16. Starachowice: 1 and 6 May at 14:00 from Starachowice, 1-3 and 6 May at 14:00 from Ilza.
  17. Znin: Daily from Saturday 28 April, six trains each day.

More:

Return to Znin

Friday, 15 July 2011

2ft gauge, neatly trimmed hedges, a well-kempt platform, recently painted coaches… the scene could be North Wales. It is in fact the Znin District Railway just before the departure of the 14:40 to Gasawa on 13 July, 2011. Photo BTWT.

The head of the same train. The visit of a friend from my schoolboy volunteering days on the Talyllyn Railway provided a ready made excuse to revisit the Znin railway. Photo BTWT.

Echoes of Portmadoc, the sharp curve at the throat of Znin station. Photo BTWT.

We pass the 14:30 from Gasawa at Wenecja Museum. The Znin Railway runs two trains during the summer season. Photo BTWT.

The Polish curse – heritage steam locomotives stored in the open – at Wenecja Museum. My first visit here was in the 1970s! Photo BTWT.

The reconstructed Iron Age settlement at Biskupin is a powerful tourist magnet for the region. Photo BTWT.

An invitation to see the line’s solitary working steam engine, Px38 805, proved irresistible. Photo BTWT.

The railway links many local tourist attractions. A map put up by the Znin District Council and displayed outside the open air railway museum at Wenecja. Photo BTWT.

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More:

  • Żnińska Kolej Powiatow – website

A happy resurrection

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Recently overhauled Px38-805, built by Chrzanow in 1938 (works number 727) – former Wrzesinska Kolej Powiatowa (Wrzesnia District Railway) No. 5 running on the Zninska Kolej Powiatowa (Znin District Railway) on 20 March, 2011. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

I apologise for the long delay in posting. I’ve been travelling a long way, both in the metaphorical and physical sense. During my journeys I have met with a great deal of warmth and kindness from train crews. I have also faced passenger care at rock bottom at one of the UK’s ‘budget airline’ airports. After my travels I am even more convinced that though many members of staff may be willing, the ‘fragmented railway’ as created in Britain and Poland is unable to deliver a satisfactory passenger experience.

More about my travels anon, but I must confess that with Poland’s main line railway system literally disintegrating I have decided that I will be spending more time in the future trying to help Poland’s railways secure a better deal from the government and less on Poland’s delightful preserved lines. Meanwhile – as befits Easter – here is an optimistic piece of photo reporting by Marek Ciesielski about the rebirth of the Zninska Kolej Powiatowa (Znin District Railway) under the auspices of its new owners, the Magna Polonia investment fund.

Klup Parowozownia, Poland’s first heritage railway run pub – a very welcome development. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

Sunday 20th March saw the 2nd special train organised by the newly formed Stowarzyszenie Milosnikpw Kolei w Zninie (Znin Railway Society). The trains are believed to be the first photo charters for general Polish public organised on the Znin Railway in years.

Klup Parowozownia, outside view. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

The 600mm Znin Railway is Poland’s first museum railway. The narrow gauge railway museum in Wenecja opened in 1972, and after – abandoning regular passenger trains in 1962 – the railway reintroduced seasonal tourist trains in 1976. Unusually for a narrow gauge tourist line, the majority stake of the Żnin line has now been taken over by a private investment fund specialising in telecommunications.

Behind a simple screen the rest of the building is still used as a railway shed. Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

Fears that this move would be the first step for closure did not materialise – under new management the railway booked a heavy general overhaul for one of its diesels (Lyd2-67) as well as to its sole operational steam locomotive, Px38-805. It is expected that the 0-8-0T will be used more frequently this season.
Another encouraging development is the creation of a pub, Klub w Parowozowni, in a lightly used wagon works, at the same time respecting the fabric of the building and retaining some of the tooling and a permanent-way trolley inside. It seems an unparalleled development both in terms of other Polish narrow gauge lines and the town of Znin, which suffers from high unemployment and lack of investment.

A portent of good times to come? Photo ©Marek Ciesielski.

A return journey – part 9

Monday, 25 October 2010

by Robert Hall

Znin 0-8-0T with ‘home-made’ tender.
Photo Zninska Kolej Powiatowa archive.

(Click the image to see more vintage photos of locomotives on the Znin narrow gauge railway.)

The Znin line, operates what is by Polish narrow-gauge standards an intensive seven days a week summer service, though nowadays it runs in isolation from the rest of the country’s rail passenger network. Znin has to be reached by bus. Services, some of quite reasonable frequency, operate to and from various railheads. So, using the next available local EMUs from Krzyz to Poznan, and then Poznan to Gniezno, I was able to catch the 15:30 Gniezno – Znin bus.

Whimsical thoughts passed through my mind. What if this about this situation had arisen twenty years earlier, when Znin was still on the standard-gauge passenger map? In fact, it lay on the 170 km-long west – east cross-country line from Krzyz via numerous rural junctions to Inowroclaw. The last section of this route to lose its passenger service, did so some half-dozen years ago. My 1990 PKP timetable reveals that owing to the sparsity and slowness of Polish branch passenger trains even in their heyday, I would have fared no better case then, than I did this summer. A Krzyz arrival at 11:38 would have meant that the next departure on the cross-country route would have afforded the joy of the eastbound run of the one pair of workings each way per day, which traversed the whole 170 kilometre line end-to-end calling at every station en route, departing from Krzyz at 14:08, and arriving Znin at 19:08 – far too late for anything to be happening on the narrow gauge, though the probable Ol49 haulage on my standard gauge stopping train would have been a fair compensation…

As the Znin line had not been on my agenda I did not have a copy of its timetable. Instead I trusted to luck and my awareness that in Polish n.g. terms, the line operated a ‘London-Underground’ style service frequency. Luck did not oblige: alighting at the 600mm line’s outer terminus, Gasawa, right on the bus route, I discovered that the day’s final train had departed some half an hour previously. From Monday to Friday, the line operates a busy schedule, requiring two train sets, but it starts late and finishes early. On a Saturday or Sunday, I would have been in time for the last inbound train, but this was a Tuesday.

I decided, that ‘when rail fails, feet must serve’, and set out to walk the 12 km length of the preserved line to Znin. This line has been on the preservation scene for a very long time – some 35 years – and I had travelled on it before, in 1983. Many memories were prompted by the walk, which in the event took me an unanticipated three hours. I am clearly not as fit as I might be. In 1983, the line – nowadays exclusively diesel-worked – was using an 0-8-0 tender-tank, Tx4-564, a delightful machine, to haul its tourist trains. This preservation undertaking is on an excellent wicket, serving as it does in its short compass, various tourists attractions. These include: the 600mm gauge railway museum at Wenecja; the meticulously-restored Iron Age settlement at Biskupin with, at a discreet distance, hard by the railway’s Biskupin halt, various tourist-bait – an ‘iron Age hut’ kebab joint, a ditto gift shop… (none of this was around in 1983); and Gasawa village is a beauty spot, with a nice church.

The Znin railway used to be a compact, but-complex, 600mm system, with numerous branches. Genuine passenger services were withdrawn as long ago as 1963, but freight traffic kept the line busy long after. For some reason best known to itself, PKP decided in the 1970s to make Znin, its 600mm preserved railway (at that time it still had 600mm gauge lines elsewhere with genuine passenger services), and initiated the Znin – Gasawa ‘museum trains’. In 1983, most of the system was still in use for freight – chiefly diesel-worked, though the PKP guide on the organised tour with which I visited the line, claimed that steam was still used for freight on a couple of its branches. The guide was a delightful fellow – an impassioned gricer and steam-freak to the extent that one sometimes suspected that he lived on another planet… All that is now gone. There remains only the tourist line Znin – Gasawa, and a short disused length of what was once a branch running west from Znin (Gasawa line runs due south).

Mercifully, I found a nice hotel found in Znin, with rooms available. Here I collapsed into bed with the minimum of formalities. I was up early the next morning, and I took a pre-breakfast wander around town, which allowed me to investigate the bus options for getting out of the place. I discovered that Znin’s standard-gauge station, adjacent to the narrow-gauge one, still has track down, coming in from the east, and in relatively good condition. There wereno goods wagons to be seen in or around the station, but you never know…

First 600mm train of the day out of Znin, was at 09:00. In theory, I could probably have had a token ride to the first halt, 2 km out, and walked back from there; but was still footsore from the previous evening, and had mundane things to see to before leaving town. Standard motive power on this line now seems to be class Lyd2 0-6-0 diesel locos – two seen at the station, ready for action – the timetable requires two train sets. Lyd2-57 took out the 0900, a few minutes late: one authentic 1950s bogie coach, plus half a dozen semi-opens created for tourists. Necessary tasks done, a refreshing beer, and then off on the 10:25 express bus to Poznan via Gniezno ex Elblag. I reached Poznan just after midday.