Posts Tagged ‘750 mm’

Rogow to Rawa

Saturday, 23 May 2009

px48_rogow_may

Ready to run? Px48, 1Aw and brake van, May 2009. Photo BTWT

A group of us visited Rogow last weekend. The scene resembles a typical Polish narrow gauge railway during Poland’s post-war minor railway boom.  Coaches and goods wagons are scattered around the yard. A couple of Px48s wait their turn in the distance. It just needs a scenographer to dress the film set, apply some dirt and grime to the rolling stock, insert a couple of smoke cartridges into the smokeboxes and the illusion would be complete.  No wonder special trains for wedding parties have become popular here. It is a journey back in time to the days when the Catholic Church and the Communist Party were locked in a fierce battle for the nation’s souls, and traditional Polish family values prevailed.

There is much to admire at Rogow. The standard of restoration – nearly all carried out by volunteers – is very high and most of the rolling stock actually runs. Sadly the two Px48s are static exhibits only. There is a small museum which helps put the railway into its historical context. (The line started as a German 600 mm gauge military railway. The 48 kilometres from Rogow to Biala Rawska were laid down in one month – March 1915!) Nor are all the attractions just for dedicated railway enthusiasts – a small platelayers’ trolley is available for children most weekends. On a UK heritage railway, the safety officer would have apoplexy. Here, however, the watchful eye of a member of staff aided by the efforts of anxious fathers provides an effective safety system.

platelayers_trolley

Don’t try this at home! Platelayers at work

One thing that does strike a UK visitor as odd – although this is hardly a complaint – is the lack facilities for visitors to spend their money. There was no charge for car parking, no charge for entry, no charge for the trolley rides and no charge for the museum. This was particularly striking as earlier in the day we had visited the ‘Jurassic Park’ at Kolacinek a few miles distant. Here dinosaurs were few and far between, but many and varied were the ways of additional charge attractions. By the time we had added the money spent on refreshments, souvenirs and toys to the car parking, entry and ride charges, we worked out that each family had spent over 100 zloty. This is over £20 and is a lot of money in a country where earnings are about one fifth of what they are in the UK. Perhaps, given the lack of funding from official sources, Polish heritage railways need to become equally adept at parting visitors from their money. At Rogow, we had a quick whip round and each family made a donation of 10 zloty (about £2) to the railway man on duty who seemed quite embarrassed about taking our money.

From 26 April to 4 October, trains run each Sunday from Rogow to Jezow a distance of 8km (5 miles) , departing at 11:15; also from Rogow to Gluchow, 17 km (10 miles) departing at 13:15. Four days each year it is possible to ride the whole line from Rogow to Biala Rawska, 49km (30 miles). The first opportunity will be this coming weekend on 30 and 31 May in connection with the Dni Rawskie (Rawa Days) festival. Here is the 2009 timetable which includes the details of the four scheduled workings along the whole line.

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a) Runs on Sundays from 26 April to 4 October 2009 and on 1, 2 May.
If there are insufficient passengers the train may be cancelled.
b) Runs on 30, 31 May – “Rawa Days”.
c) Runs on 18 July, 15 August – “Heritage Trail Train”.
“o” = odzajd = departure;  “p” = przyjazd = arrival

Please note this is a copy of the timetable (and translation of the footnotes) available as a pdf download from the Rogow Railway website timetable page. Behind The Water Tower cannot take responsibility for and mistakes or changes. Before travelling you are recommended to check the running of your train with the Rogow Railway first.

e-mail – info@kolejrogowska.pl    tel – 0 46 874 8023

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Pultusk-Nasielsk RIP

Thursday, 10 July 2008

7 more years to go, in 1994, ©Piotr Chylinski

(Click on picture to see it in its in original context and access more of Piotr Chylinski’s photos. WARNING text in Polish)

The demise of a narrow gauge railway is always a matter for regret, but when a narrow gauge railway that has survived until the 21st century is killed off, its death is nothing short of a scandal. The 750 mm gauge Pultusk-Nasielsk Railway, which was opened in July 1950, was one of Poland’s newest narrow gauge lines. Its recent construction was to be its Achilles heel. Regular passenger services continued until February 1986, but special excursions trains were run until the end of freight services in August 2001, when PKP closed down all its narrow gauge railway operations.

Attempts were made by railway enthusiasts to interest one of the local authorities in taking over the line. (This was the usual mechanism by which the small handful of surviving ex PKP lines were saved.) But a couple of local landowners mounted a well organised campaign against the preservation of the railway. They were in an area of rising property values relatively close to Warsaw and had calculated that the value of their land as potential building plots for weekend cottages would be much higher if they were not bisected by a narrow gauge railway. (English readers may remember that the plan to establish a railway heritage centre on the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire met with similar opposition.)

The line had been constructed in an atmosphere of post WW II patriotic fervour in an era of strict communist party discipline when the niceties of the law regarding the property rights of landowners were often dealt with in a rather roughshod and ‘informal’ manner. The combination of determined opposition from a group of landowners, and the lack of proper legal title for much of the railway land, was too much for the local authorities and scared them off from taking over the line.

The railway enthusiasts did manage to start the process of getting the line listed as a local monument by the Mazowieckie province’s heritage conservator. The listing did nothing to stop theft of rail and vandalism and in the winter 2005/6 PKP hired contractors to start lifting the line. The railway enthusiasts mounted a legal challenge based on the on-going listing process and the contractors were forced to stop their track lifting. A meeting for all stakeholders was organised in Pultusk ‘Dom Polonii’ and several impassioned please were made to the local authority representatives present for one of them to take over the line, but without any success.

Finally, the author of this article, having obtained assurances from the Ministry of Transport (as it then was) that replacement track material and suitable rolling stock would be made available if a local authority wanted the line, visited the Mayor of Nasielsk and made the case for resurrecting the line. Sadly all our efforts were to no avail. The heritage conservator was sacked, PKP and some of the local authorities appealed against the heritage listing. Now PKP are about to start dismantling the track. The only good news is that some of the line’s concrete sleepers may go to replace rotten wooden sleepers on the Smigiel line. If any BTWT readers need some heavy section FB rail and 750 mm/ 2ft 6in point material do get in touch.

The former general manager of the line remembers a party of British enthusiasts who made a film of the railway. If you know who made the film, we would be very pleased to hear from you.