Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Herman’

Smoke and mirrors

Sunday, 21 September 2008

BTWT EXCLUSIVE!

Today’s 11.40 Ozorkow-Leczyca shuttle at Strykow

The Krosniewice Railawy came briefly to life this weekend during a festival at Leczyca thanks to the lobbying of SKOKW (The Krosniewice-Ozorkow Narrow Gauge Railway Society) . An intensive shuttle service bewteen Leczyca and Ozorkow was operated on both days.

Andrzej Olszewski interviewed for the local TV news

The two day festival would not have been possible without the enthusiasm of the Mayor of Leczyca, Andrzej Olszewski. Mrs Barbara Herman, the Mayor of Krosniewice, agreed to the ‘reopening’ of the railway for the two days of the festival. On Sunday afternoon she graced the proceedings in order to establish her bona fides as a supporter of the railway. Unfortunately none of the media present asked the obvious question – if she supports the railway, why did she close it?

The Mayors of Leczyca and Krosniewice

Mrs Herman’s predecesor as Mayor had obtained a licence from PKP (Polish State Railways) for Krosniewice Council to manage the railway, granted an operating licence to SKPL and was in the process of acquiring the freehold to the railway land. But Mrs Herman had other plans and she closed the railway in March 2008. A month earlier she had given notice to SKPL, the railway’s operator, that their operating agreement was to be terminated. Since then she has made no moves to appoint another operator.

Krosniewice Town Council’s agreement with PKP was subject to a condition that the railway would be used for transport purposes. Mrs Herman regards this condition too restrictive and recently met with representatives of councils through whose land the railway runs to press the case for her own plan whereby each local authority along the line would takes over their local section of railway land from PKP without any transport condition being imposed. The danger of this plan is that it gives each local council a free hand as to what they might eventually do with the railway land. (Mrs Herman has friends who want to redevelop the railway station and workshop site at Krosniewice.) We already know that other local councils at the northern end of the line are more interested in building a cycle path than owning and running a railway.

Is this to be the sad future of the Kujawy Railways? The banner says “The Ozorkow-Leczyca-Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway”.

The Krosniewice Railway is a 110 km fragment of the former Kujawy Railway Network which in its heyday comprised some 2,000 kilometres of narrow gauge lines of both 750 mm and 600 mm gauge. The network comprised a core network of PKP operated common carrier railways and many hundreds of kilometres of private sugar beet railways. When PKP closed the network in 2001, the Kujawy Railway was split up into three sections based on Gniezno, Sompolno and Krosniewice.

Whereas railway enthusiasts were successful in persuading local councils in Gniezno and Krosniewice to take over their sections of line, they were less successful with the central section at Sompolno. The well equipped railway workshops were gutted by scrap thieves and this once important railway junction now resembles a wilderness. The Gniezno section is beong operated purely as a tourist line. Meanwhile SKPL, with its regular service which linked the sugar refinery at Breszcz Kujawski to the PKP network, maintained the Krosniewice Railway as Poland’s last narrow gauge rail servicing the sugar beet industry.

When Mrs Herman was elected Mayor, she immediately started making difficulties for SKPL demanding that the society hand over monies for rents which her predecessor had prevented it from collecting. She then demanded that SKPL vacate the railway workshops and when the society objected she terminated their operating agreement. From our own moles in PKP we know that Mrs Herman has threatened that if she does not gain control of the railway land she wants for redevelopment she will let the whole railway “go to the dogs”.

SKOKW Chairman, Pawel Papierz

During the festival Pawel Papierz, SKOKW chairman, said that this year there had only been one weekend of operation on the Krosniewice – Ozorkow branch, but that next year there would be trains every weekend during the operating season. It was significant that the line’s ‘owner’ Mrs Herman made no such promise, nor has her council entered into any agreement with SKOKW or any other potential operator.

The train at Leczyca about to return to Krosniewice

Mayor lets nature do her dirty work

Friday, 6 June 2008

Krosniewice Station Yard (looking towards MPD) in May

I made myself immensely unpopular in certain quarters when I first announced that the Mayor of Krosniewice’s protestations that she really cared about the future of the Krosniewice Railway were a load of rubbish and that all she wanted to do was to acquire the station site at a knockdown price so that her sponsors could redevelop the site. I am not clairvoyant, but I did have written evidence to the effect that Mrs Barbara Herman wanted to reduce the railway’s footprint in Krosniewice to the bare minimum and that she wanted the railway’s operator, SKPL, to withdraw from the railway’s workshops. SKPL objected, pointing out that the workshops were essential to maintain the freight carrying rolling stock, so Mrs Herman threw them out.

Just to test the water, so to speak, another Polish narrow gauge operator sounded out Mrs Herman as to whether she was looking for a new operator. They were told that she was giving the railway ‘a rest’ for 6 months and that the plan that she was developing with Polish State Railways’ Estates Company, PKP Nieruchomosci, was that the railway land should be parcelled out among the local councils through which the railway runs. If this happens it would spell the end of any hope of ever reviving the railway as a serious transport undertaking.

The optimum solution for the railway would be for another local council to apply to take over the whole line for transport purposes. However, before we can try to bring this about we have to register as many objections as possible to Mrs Herman’s actions with the Ministry of Transport. Hence our campaign of asking our readers to write to Mrs Herman to protest against the closure of the railway, and to send a copy of such a letter to the Minister of Infrastructure. We hope that we will be assisted in our efforts by the visit of a senior delegation from Fedecrail to Poland later this month.

If you have not yet written your letter, wishing to give the Mayor the benefit of the doubt, perhaps these ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs will persuade you to do so. You will find the appropriate addresses at the bottom of this post. Please don’t worry about not writing in Polish. Both Mr Garbarczyk and Mrs Herman have people working in their offices who are fluent in English.

With best wishes

A similar view on 31.3.2008 the day the last train ran
(Click on pic to see more last day photos by Tilo Rosner)

Please write to:

Mrs Julianna Barbara Herman
The Mayor of Krosniewice
Urzad Miejski
Poznanska 5
99-340 Krosniewice
POLAND

and send a copy to:

Mr Cezary Grabarczyk
The Minister of Infrastructure
ul. 4/6 Chalubinskiego
00-928 Warszawa
POLAND

You’ll find many more posts about the Krosniewice Railway, as well as the story of our campaign to save the line here.