Posts Tagged ‘Krosniewice Railway’

Smoke and mirrors

Sunday, 21 September 2008


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

There’s nothing better than bad news…

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


Crash investigators at Grayrigg
(photo Owen Humphries on daylife ex AP)

First a bit of good news, our chief engineer’s worries about the tram track section of the WHR through Porthmadog apppear to have been misplaced. A medical gentlemen left the following comment on our Twisty Tale post.

Have no fear about our tram track. The gauge is widened by 10mm in the middle of the 50m radius curve at Britannia Bridge, and a suitable rail with an appropriate flange groove between the running rail and the check rail has been found in Austria.

There is a notice at the approach to the crossing saying CYCLISTS MUST DISMOUNT.

The class NGG16 2-6-2+2-6-2 Garratt locomotives traverse 58m radius curves elsewhere on the railway without difficulty, and of course the radii are even sharper at points (turnouts), check rails and all.

Relax, sleep well; come and see us this time next year. Croeso i Gymru; welcome to Wales.

We have been to Poland and admired some of your narrow gauge lines – we were very taken with the marvellous museum at Sochaczew (pardon me if I spell it wrong). the branch line at Smigiel needs someone to go along it with a fishplate spanner to tighten the joints.


Dyspozytor has been going on long walks, relaxing and is already sleeping better. Our chief engineer is still muttering ‘NG 15s are 2-8-2s, 50 doesn’t equal 58, flangeway clearances, back to back flange distance’ and other such nonsense, but we have locked him up in a cupboard and will leave him there until he promises to behave himself.

Now the bad news, there will be no repeal of the decision to suspend the Wolsztyn – Poznan steam workings this summer. Howard Jones has been to Poznan this morning and met with Wielkopolska province’s Deputy Director of Transport. He was assured that the importance of the Wolsztyn operation was recognized by the Chief Executive and that steam trains will return to the Poznan route in October. Meanwhile Howard will be hiring additional special trains on the Wolsztyn-Poznan route to fulfill his existing agreements with customers. (He already has built up alternative footplating capacity in Wroclaw with recently restored TKt48-18 and Bill Parker’s GWR 45xx 5521, as well as on the narrow gauge Smigiel Railway with the Px48.) Howard says, “We have built up a special fund for capital projects such as restoring our own Ol steam locomotive. Now we will have to dip into this fund and buy extra trains so that we can still meet our customers’ expectations.”

It seems that the reason for the suspension of the steam services is based on more than just economics. If saving money was the object, the timetabling and rostering of the steam trains could have been arranged more economically. Rather, PKP is tied up in its own affairs – the removal of senior directors and the sale of parts of its business. Wolsztyn is no one’s priority. In spite of promises to the contrary, no new crews have been recruited nor trained, and licences to allow the depot to carry out boiler repairs have not been renewed. The basic problem is that there is no one at a sufficiently high level in the PKP hierarchy who really cares about heritage rail operations.

Still, as the proprietors of the popular press know all to well, publishing bad news boosts circulation. BTWT watches the number of daily hits it gets assiduously and we were surprised to see how much interest bad news generates.

Behind the Water Tower’s weekly-cumulative daily hit rate

Our biggest daily hit rate (which we have yet to beat) occurred on 2 April when we broke through the 100 hits a day and 200 hits a day barriers for the first time. At the end of the day we had registered 253 hits. What had generated so much interest – our articles on the closure of the Krosniewice Railway and the stepping up of our letter writing campaign to save the line. The Krosniewice closure gave us a daily-cumulative per week hit rate of 774 views (week 14 on the graph) as opposed to 236 hits the previous week. Readership then fell back to its previous steady growth and then began to level off at around 750 weekly hits – just over 100 hits each day. Over the last two days interest in our story about the curtailment of steam operations at Wolsztyn, and narrow gauge fans returning for the latest news about the Krosniewice Railway closure, boasted our daily hits to 220 on Sunday. This gave us our biggest ever daily-cumulative per week hit rate of 898 views last week (week 23).

Why this obsession with the numbers game? We know that for every 100 long-term readers, about 10 are sufficiently committed to respond to our calls for help. That means that the Ministry of Infrastructure received 10 more letters on its desk than it would of done if there had been no BTWT and no letter writing campaign. Can 10 letters make a difference? Quite frankly we don’t know, although we hope that taken together with the Fedecrail delegation’s visit to Poland and the threat of legal action, they will. But just consider if we had 1,000 regular readers each day. That would mean that the Minisister would have received 100 letters – a figure much more difficult to ignore.

So how can you help? First of all, you can sign up to our twice monthly mailing which contains links to our most popular articles. Secondly, ask yourself – are any of your friends interested in Poland or railways or both – whose names we could add to our mailing list? Secondly – and we apologise for nagging – please, if you have not already done so, do send that letter to the Mayor of Krosniewice and copy us on your letter and any reply that you may receive.

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

and send a copy to:

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

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

Double blow for Krosniewice line

Friday, 9 May 2008

1.09.2006, Sugar refinery owned Wls150 750mm gauge shunter on a private siding at Brzeszcz Kujawski sugar refinery

Following the closure of the Krosniewice Railway on 1 April by the Mayor of Krosniewice, the National Sugar Association, the owners of the sugar refinery at Brzeszcz Kujawski have decided to close the refinery. Although sugar beet was no longer brought into the refinery by narrow guage rail, other raw materials such as coal were brought in, and refined sugar was taken out, loaded in standard gauge wagons carried on 750mm gauge transporter wagons.

The Wloclawek District Council is demanding a reversal of the decision.

Click here to access all our recent posts which refer to the Krosniewice Railway and its recent closure by the Mayor of Krosniewice.

Krosniewice at Fedecrail Conference

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Krosniewice-Ozorkow special 1.3.2008 1 month before closure
(click on picture for video)

News has just reached us that the annual Fedcrail Conference has passed a unanimous resolution calling for the reopening of the Krosniewice Railway. Fedecrail, the European Federation of Museum & Tourist Railways, represents the heritage railway movement at European and intergovernmental level. The resolution notes the importance of the Krosniewice Railway as part of Europe’s heritage, a transport facility and a tourist attraction, and in terms of its potential contribution to tourist and economic development. It express suprise and regret at the closure, and calls on the Mayor of Krosiewice and other public authorities to do everything possible to safeguard the line and work towards its reopening.

The resolution is the initiative of Stephen Wiggs, the Chairman of the New Europe Railway Heritage Trust, and a regular reader of Behind the Water Tower, Stephen Wiggs commissioned Andrew Goltz, a member of the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership (BPRIHP), to write a brief report on the current situation of the railway. He then submitted the report together with a draft resolution to the Fedecrail Council.

A copy of the BPRIHP report (pdf download) is available here.

Our road map

Thursday, 3 April 2008


Ania, one of the school children who
regularly used the KrKD, decorates
the last train. 31.03.2008

(Clicking the picture leads to more.)

Behind the Water Tower started as a ‘niche’ blog some 10 weeks ago. Our intention was to celebrate the variety of Poland’s railway heritage and to encourage railway enthusiasts from Western Europe to visit Poland. If we had a ‘hidden agenda’ – it was a hope that some of these western visitors would befriend their Polish counterparts and help the Polish societies with their work. The bigger societies, such as FPKW, PSMK and SKPL, already have links with the outside world, but there are a score of lesser-known railway societies, struggling against enormous odds to develop their railways and railway museums, who desperately need assistance.

After a month or so of experimental blogging (it’s no easy task to find something new and exciting to say every day) external events suddenly took a hand. A massive and irrecoverable crash on our original host, forced our move to, but how to inform our ten or so readers? We prepared an e-mail to everybody we knew who was interested in Polish rail. Some of these were members of an informal group of anglo-poles who meet to dine in Warsaw once or twice a year. We added all their names for good measure! The e-mail pointed out that it was easy to get crossed off the mailing list. Neo, a friend of ours, also posted a couple of links on the kolejelist discussion group.

Dyspozytor waited for the floodgates to open (Please take me off your mailing list at once!) but no angry e-mails came. The regular readership climbed to about thirty, peaking to twice or three times that figure when we carried an article of interest to a particular group. Then came the closure of Krosniewice, with the main Polish narrow gauge discussion group indulging in an orgy of mutual recriminations as to whose fault it was. (It’s not the fault of any Polish railway enthusiast, but it’s entirely the fault of Madame Mayor!)

Decision time – do we join the MOANERS, sitting on the fence helplessly, wringing their hands and blaming each other – or do we emulate John Wayne? We decided to wade into the battle to save the Krosniewice Railway, guns blazing! One of the administrators of Swiat Kolejek Waskotorowych (Polish narrow gauge discussion group) published a link to our campaign and yesterday’s readership broke through the roof! It will take a few days for things to settle down, but if we end up with a base of, say 30 to 50 readers prepared from time to time to type out the odd letter, we will be very content!

A letter from you and a letter from me, And we could could save the KrKD!

Monday, 31 March 2008

In an earlier post, I noted that writing letters and lobbying can make a difference. In particular, letters from the UK and USA do make an impression in Poland. I was therefore delighted to receive with the initial support for the campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway. In particular, it was heartening to receive a letter of support from Stephen Wiggs, the chairman of the New Europe Railway Heritage Trust. NERHT have been active in promoting the cause of heritage railways in Central and Eastern Europe and members of the Trust have visited Poland on a number of occasions.

Thanks for your email… . I imagine that you may know that I am the Chairman of the New Europe Railway Heritage Trust, a registered charity set up in the 1990s to help railway preservation in the ex-Communist countries. As well as providing Western expertise we have quite a lot of experience in lobbying the authorities in Eastern Europe on behalf of tourist railway projects.

This is now last chance saloon for the Krosniewice Railway. We now really need as many of you as possible to write to the Mayor of Krosniewice with a copy to the Minister of Infrastructure. If everybody who wrote a letter could get two friends to write, and they in turn go two friends… we would be victorious! This really is a case where the pen (or rather your favourite word processing program) is mightier than the sword. A number of BTWT readers have already copied us on their letters. We particularly like the one from Ed Beale, which we are reproducing in full – not to copy slavishly – but to help you get you to get typing!

** ***** Road
****** *** ***
United Kingdom

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

copy to:

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

Dear Madame Mayor,

I am writing to express my concern about the end of passenger services and closure of the Krosniewice narrow gauge railway. Although I live in England I have made three visits to your unique railway in the last few years. I think it has great potential as one of the main tourist attractions to bring visitors in to a beautiful but little-visited part of Poland, and it can also continue to serve a public transport role, in particular to link Krosniewice with the main line railway stations at Ostrowy and Krzewie. As a much preferred alternative to closure it would be possible to develop a museum at the site and run enthusiast and tourist trains as well as continuing to operate a regular service of passenger and freight trains. With good marketing both locally, nationally, and in cooperation with railway enthusiast organisations in other countries, the number of visitors to Krosniewice could be greatly increased.

On my last visit in February this year I was struck again by the unique atmosphere which the railway has preserved, which makes it very unusual in the whole of Europe as a heritage railway attraction. I was also very impressed with the friendliness of the staff.

I would urge you to please reconsider the decision to terminate the operating contract. Without staff the railway would very quickly fall into decline and could be a target for vandalism. The sheds and workshops and the operational locomotives and railcars are a valuable asset which could very quickly fall into disrepair and would be difficult to restore to working order again. What can currently be operated efficiently with a small subsidy would then require a very large amount of money to bring it back into working order.

I hope you will be able to reply to my letter, and I hope very much that the railway can be preserved for future generations to see and enjoy the railway heritage of the Krosniewice region.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Beale

The battle of Krosniewice – links to previous posts

A word of explanation
We need you
Call to arms II
The end?

Krosniewice – The end?

Monday, 31 March 2008

With the flash and thunder of detonators exploding under the wheels of railcar MDxd 1-204, the last train on the Krosniewice Railway ran today from Dabrowice to Krosniewice. The 15.23 from Dabrowice was the last of 4 trains operated today by SKPL, whose licence from the Krosniewice Town Council expired today at midnight. (The passenger timetable which was operated by SKPL until today is currently available here as a xls. file.) A crowd of people gathered to witness the event including a small group of enthusiasts from Dresden in Germany. By 15.48 the railcar was driven back to the engine shed and the manager locked the door for the last time. The closure of the line makes some 30 full and part time staff redundant, puts 100,000 tonnes of freight onto the roads and destroys a community railway which operated a daily service for passengers.

Scenic Model Railway for Free!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Behind The Water Tower was set up to bring the latest railway news and gossip to overseas friends of Poland’s railways. We wanted to ask for your help when a particular railway was under threat. Currently our main campaign to save the narrow gauge railway at Krosniewice.

As well, as Americans, Austrians, Belgians, Brits, French, Germans and Latvians, we are also read by British ex pats in Poland. So perhaps we should leven our daily fare of what Madame Mayor had for breakfast with a weekly round up of UK and World rail news? So here is a beta test version. If you would like us to continue let us know. If you think Dyspozytor should just stick with Polish news let us know as well.

Family give away unwanted loft railway
Wolverhampton Express and Star

wd2676964tracks_3_tt_14.jpgWhen Steven and Marie Wright moved home to speed through the transaction, they told solicitors to leave a spectacular giant model train set, which had belonged to the previous owner, in the loft.

Now the couple, who have three young children are inviting collectors or parents to take the grand creation off their hands. Mr Wright, a 36-year-old self-employed manufacturer, was so keen to move his family from Wrights Bank in School Lane, Coven, to St Paul’s Close in the village, he agreed to keep the track in case the hiring of tradesmen to dismantle it held things up.

He said: “It belonged to the previous owner of the house who died. “He had obviously put so much effort into it that it seemed a real shame to just take a hammer to it. “It is really impressive and takes up the whole loft, which I would estimate is around 18ft by 10ft. Anyone interested in taking the train set should call Mr Wright on 07985 371954.

Russian railway project eyes Atlantic link
Barents Observer


The operators of the Russian Belkomur railway project are stepping up cooperation with regional authorities in northern Finland in an attempt to strengthen the link between Belkomur and the Barents Link railway project.

The vision of the railway enthusiasts is a new railway connection between the Urals and the Atlantic Sea. The projected Belkomur line will run from the Ural city of Perm to Arkhangelsk. The Barents Link project links the Norwegian town of Narvik with regions in Northwest Russia. While the Komi Republic has had a central role in the Belkomur project, the administration of the Finnish Kainuu county is in charge of the Barents Link.

Labour eyes £31bn high-speed rail plan
Nick Mathiason – The Observer

The government and Network Rail are considering a £31bn proposal to build a network of 187mph high-speed railway lines that would boost the British economy and slash journey times.

railway.jpg New studies drawn up by Atkins, the engineering consultancy, show how developing the existing west and east coast main lines could see journey times from London to Manchester reduced to 74 minutes, London-Birmingham to just one hour, and London-Sheffield to 79 minutes.

Economic gains to the UK of £63bn far exceed the £31bn cost of building the network, says Atkins.

The government welcomed the report: ‘We will be looking at the need for new transport capacity as part of our new approach to planning. We will consider all available options to provide the most efficient and beneficial solutions for passengers and taxpayers’.

photo, The Great Central Railway was built in 1890 to provide a high speed rail route from Manchester to the Channel Tunnel. Most of the line was closed in 1966.

The Battle of Krosniewice. We need you!

Friday, 7 March 2008


The Krosniewicka Kolej Dojazdowa, Krosniewice
Local Railway, is a part of the Kujawska Kolej
Dojazdowa and was SKPL’s busiest n.g. railway.

New readers go first to A word of explanation at the bottom of this post

Contrary to the information that I gave earlier, the Ozorkow special last Saturday was not the last train on the Krosniewice system. SKPL have decided to continue to run the Krosniewice passenger services on a day-to-day basis. The notice given by Mayor of Krosniewice withdrawing SKPL’s licence expires at the end of March.

SKPL have written to the Minister of Infrastructure asking whether or not the passenger and freight services which they operated on the line fulfilled the requirements of the Law for the Commercialisation Restructuring and Privatisation of PKP. (It was a requirement of Krosniewice council’s takeover of the line from PKP that it should remain in use for the purposes of transport.) The letter also asks the Minister to advise what will happen to the takeover now that the Council have terminated SKPL’s licence and appointed no other operator.

Mr Wojciech Szygendowski, the Heritage Conservator of Lodz Province, has written to the Mayor of Krosniewice, reminding her that the whole railway has special heritage status and that she is responsible for its well being.

What can we do?

In the first instance send a letter to the Mayor of Krosniewice with a copy to the Minister of Infrastructure. Explain why you are interested in the line. Explain the heritage importance and potential tourist value of the Krosniewice system. Ask why at the end of March there will be no operator on the line. Point out the value of the historic workshops as a ‘living museum’. Express your concern that without an operator the well equipped workshops will be looted and that the historic locomotives and rolling will be vandalised.

Post your letter airmail and, if you can afford it, ‘signed for’ delivery. Send us a copy of your letter, so that we can publish it on the blog. Advise us if any reply is received. Don’t worry about writing in English, the Council offices have scores of people who could translate your letter for Madame Mayor.

write to:

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

send a copy to:

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

A word of explanation

A word of explanation for those joining us for the first time. The Krosniewice Railway, one of the most interesting Polish narrow gauge railways – which operated regular passenger services and carried a substantial freight traffic – is closing because the Mayor of Krosniewice has teamed up with a property developer. Krosniewice Coucil is in the process of acquiring the railway land from PKP, the Polish State Railway Company, for transport purposes. But the Mayor is planning a big property development and the railway workshops are in her way. SKPL, the operator of the line, opposed the demolition of the workshops and, for their pains, have had their operator’s licence terminated by the Mayor.