Posts Tagged ‘FPKW’

A return journey – part 5

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Lyd1-215 and immaculately restored Romanian trailer at Rogow, 15 May 2005. Photo BTWT.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

The item on the menu for Sunday 18 July was something which I had set my heart on months earlier – the Fundacja Polskich Kolei Waskotorowych (Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation) preserved 750mm gauge line at Rogow. A line lauded as probably the country’s best achievement of recreating the atmosphere of the narrow gauge in PKP days with the exception of steam – the line has a pair of Px48, but not in working order. That would seem fair enough: dieselisation of PKP’s narrow gauge set in quite early, with a fair number of narrow gauge railways going 100% diesel as at the early 1980s, or before. This was a big reason for my never hitherto having been to this line: it went all-diesel quite early, and my overriding reason for visiting Poland up to the early 1990s, was to see active steam. Though a narrow-gauge devotee, I skipped many narrow-gauge lines in those times, because of their steamlessness.

The line’s west-to-east 49 km, Rogow to Biala Rawska, is all still in situ, and the preservation undertaking is entitled to operate on all of it. It does so, on a very few days of the year. Most of the time, the line operates on summer Sundays only, over the 17 km from Rogow east to Gluchow. Two return runs per day: the earlier just 8 km out to Jezow and back, the later a return working all the way to Gluchow. We opted for the 13:15 Gluchow return train.

Rogow was reached, by car, in just nice time for departure of this working: a Bxhpi 1Aw in proper green livery, two semi-open bogie coaches rebuilt for tourists from coal wagons, and a bogie brankard guard’s utility van – this latter seemingly a standard component of all 750mm gauge tourist trains. Motive power was a tiny jackshaft-drive 0-6-0D, Lyd1-215 –of a class which I had met in the past on the 750mm system at Elk, where for many years they handled all traffic. Wanting to feel as authentic as possible, we took our places in the1Aw . The train set out, crossing on the ungated levelcrossing a little way out of Rogow across the trunk road eastwards from Lodz to Rawa Mazowiecka. We ran slowly, but steadily (Dyspozytor commented that the track had been improved) through pleasant tranquil gently undulating countryside. We passed the intermediate stations at Jezow and Bialynin, to arrive at Gluchow some 35 – 40 minutes after leaving Rogow.

There followed something that you don’t get at Devil’s Bridge or Dalegarth. The train’s amiable guard gathered up the passengers, and led them off to visit the village’s church – one was given to understand that this excursion was basically compulsory. Oh, well – pretend (in the spirit of the line’s basic period recreated) that it’s Communist times, when one was always being obliged to do assorted things, supposedly for one’s own good. Group-walk through the village to the church – in fact, a handsome edifice, dedicated (going by the statues on its outside) to Saints Peter and Paul. In the interior, beautifully decorated, the date 1786 was to be seen – presumably, that of the church’s founding. The guard addressed his ‘congregation’ for some ten minutes outside the church, and for another ten minutes within – where we could at least sit down. I could make out, from his orations, only a few place-names – deducing that some of his spiel, at least, was historical. For the rest – was he maybe a zealous Catholic, taking the chance to give a religious pep-talk to his punters? … I’ll never know…

Church-bash concluded, we were left free to explore the village, or make our way back to the station. The organised fun was not over, however. Dyspozytor, who had not taken part in the church trip, had during my absence kitted us out for the next phase of activities – which came about after we had travelled 9 km back westward, as far as Jezow. The train made a prolonged stop there, and on a green tree-ringed patch, with benches, close by the station, a bonfire was lit.

Dyspozytor explained that this was a particularly Polish thing – grilling sausages on sticks over the bonfire. (At the Gluchow grocer’s-and-general shop, he had purchased a couple of sausages for the purpose, and a few bottles of beer.) Very many Poles of all ages are / have been in their youth, involved with the Scout movement or its other-ideology alternatives; the ‘campfire / sausage’ ritual is one with many nostalgic associations from when folk were young, and it’s a something that Poles love doing. On both the other narrow gauge tourist trains on which I travelled during this holiday, sausage-grilling over a campfire featured at some stage of the proceedings. We duly grilled our sausages and ate them as we quaffed our beer. I wonder whether this would this work as a gimmick on certain minor British preserved lines?

Finally the ‘barbie’ was over, and the train returned to Rogow, getting there abouty 16:30. The line has an indoor museum at Rogow, which was unfortunately closed by the time of our return. For whatever reasons – some, probably not within their control – Polish heritage-railway undertakings do not always have their act together as well as they could. As well as the two Px48 mentioned earlier, there is at and around the Rogow narrow-gauge station, an assortment of motive power and rolling stock: including several class Lxd2 B-B locos (the loco type most commonly encountered now, on the Polish narrow gauge), a couple of elderly railcars, assorted freight wagons, and a few diminutive standard-gauge diesel shunters. A fairly quick look round this array; time then to head back to Lodz, for a necessary early start to Zbiersk and the Kalisz narrow gauge railway on the morrow.

…to be concluded

More:

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.

Picture 10

Picture 12
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

More:

Pionki Progress

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Pionki Forest Railway renaissance,
October 2007, photo FPKW

One of the most remarkable railway projects in Poland is the plan to rebuild part of the Pionki Forest Railway. The railway was located in the Kozienice Forest, near Radom in Poland’s Mazowosze province about 100 km from Warsaw.

Originally, in 1916 a 750 mm gauge railway was laid down linking Garbatka – Słowiki – Lesna Rzek. This line was lifted and replace by a 600 mm gauge railway between Garbatka and z Cztery Kopce. Meanwhile a 16 km horse drawn 600 mm gauge railway was built between Pionki and Stoki. In the 1940s, both systems were connected. The network was then 30 km long. The rolling stock consisted of 2 steam locomotives, 19 pairs of timber bogies and 10 coal wagons. In the period 1947-50 an engine shed and workshop building was constructed in Pionki. By the mid-1950s the network had grown to 50km. During this period the line was worked by ex German military railway HF 0-8-0T locomotives, including, Tx 1113 i Tx 1124, and Polish built 0-6-0T LAS locomotives including, Ty 1131 and Ty 1155.

During 1962-3, a 7 km section of the line from Garbatka to the main timber store was lifted. Demolition of the remainder commenced in 1981 and was largely completed by 1983. A fragment continued in use in a sawmill until 1986. Steam locomotive Las Ty 1131 survived and went to Zagansk. Two diesel locomotives, Wls50 and V10C-559, survived for a time, but were eventually cut up for scrap. Two passenger carriages lingered on, the frame of one still exists to this day. After 1986, the only substantive remains of the railway were the engine shed and workshops at Pionki and a large concrete viaduct in the forest.

In 2002, Pawel Szwed, the President of FPKW (The Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation) had the idea of converting the derelict shed and workshops into a forestry railway museum or ‘skansen’. The idea rapidly gained support and grew into the current project to rebuild 10 miles (16 km) of railway. The reinstated line would link attractions within the forest to Pionki and Garbatka. The project has gained the support of the local section of the Polish State Forests and the local authorities.

Progress so far has been concentrated in the workshop area. The track around the workshops has been relaid, the roof of the workshops reinforced and the whole building refurbished. Rolling stock from various forestry railways all around Poland has been brought to Pionki and many items have been restored. The whole area around the workshops has been attractively landscaped. A bar car serves soft drinks, beer and some of the best chips available anywhere in Poland. A handcart is available for children who want to try their hand at running trains. The skansen not only attracts railway enthusiasts, but also local residents looking for somewhere unusual to have a drink, play chess or take the kids.

600mm gauge Lyd2 looking for a good home
photo FPKW

The next stage of the project will involve the construction of 6 km of track from the skansen to a picnic area at Kociolki where the former line had a junction and triangle. As always in Poland the main obstacle is money. The FPKW is also looking for a small 1ft 11 5/8in (600 mm) steam locomotive. The FPKW have a 600mm gauge Lyd2 Romanian diesel in good mechanical condition which with its 350 h.p. Maybach engine and 0-8-0 wheel arrangement is a little too large for their needs. They would like to ‘swap’ it for a 600 mm steam locomotive. The deal could be set up to ensure a “win-win” for both sides.

Is there anyone out there with a “Quarry Hunslet” looking to get involved in rebuilding a narrow gauge railway from scratch?

More pictures:

  • Pionki Forest Railway – website (Polish)

Rogow railway work rewards volunteers

Friday, 20 June 2008

Young volunteers replace a point sleeper in May 2008 (photo FPKW, click to see picture in its original context)

One of the problems faced by Polish heritage railways is a shortage of volunteers. Some railway managers argue that 50 years of communism have destroyed the volunteer ethos Others put forward the view that there is a shortage of youngsters. Yet others declare that they do attract youngsters, only to loose them when they get married. Our own view is that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that there are very few managers who know how to develop and nurture a volunteer work force.

One exception is Andrzej Tajhert who has been successfully developing a young volunteer workforce on the 49 km long Rogow Narrow Gauge Railway in the Lodz province. The Rogow Railway is a museum railway. It does not transport ordinary passengers or freight, but what it does do is to recapture the atmosphere of the Polish narrow gauge railways at their zenith in the 1960s. Many items of historic rolling stock have been carefully restored and painted in their correct colours. In the case of some of the freight rolling stock this has meant replacing the original planking plank by plank, In the case of some of the passenger rolling stock it has meant gutting the inside and starting again. Much of the work has been done by young volunteers.

It’s clear that Rogow’s volunteers enjoy their work. In return, they receive a number of special privileges and their efforts are recognized on the Rogow Railway website. The railway runs every Sunday from 27 April until 27 September. Trains depart from Rogow Osobowy Wask at 13.00 and run 17 km to Gluchow. Here there is an optional visit to the local church with the train guard acting as guide. On the return journey the train stops at Jezow where, provided you’ve remembered to bring your own garlic sausage and beer, you can enjoy a traditional Polish bonfire. Once a year trains run all the way to Biala Rawska in connection with the “Dni Rawy” festival at the end of May. Sadly, Rogow’s two Px48 steam locomotives both need extensive rebuilding before they could run again and the tourist trains are diesel hauled.

Rogow is a friendly railway which is easily accessible by train. It is no too far away from Warsaw and even closer to Lodz. If you are in Poland and you have not been to Rogow, do check it out for yourself as soon as possible.