Posts Tagged ‘Krosniewice’

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

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First the good news…

Friday, 27 June 2008


David Morgan addresses Polish Heritage Railway managers in Poznan in 2007

(click to see photo on Fundacja Era Parowozow website)

One of BTWT’s reliable sources reports on a meeting that took place on 25 June between David Morgan, President of Fedecrail, and Juliusz Engelhardt, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry Of Infrastructure, responsible for Poland’s railways. Fedecrail is the European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways and has been working with a number of Polish heritage railway organisations, as well as the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership, to assist in the creation of a national umbrella body for the Polish heritage railway movement. In Great Britain, such an umbrella body, the Heritage Railway Association, has existed since the 1960s and Mr Morgan is also its chairman.

Mr Morgan came to Poland to tell the Minister of Fedecrail’s concern about the closure of the Krosniewice Railway. At Fedecrail’s Annual General Meeting, which took place in Salzburg in April this year, a resolution (pdf file) was passed urging the Mayor of Krosniewice to reopen the railway. Mr Morgan also raised the matter of the imminent end of the steam haulage of ordinary scheduled trains at Wolsztyn and the prospect of the sale by tender and scrapping of much of Poland’s railway heritage.

Mr Engelhardt, explained that it was his understanding that the Krosniewice Railway had been closed because of lack of cash. Although he could not offer financial support he could offer moral support to efforts to reopen the railway and help set up meetings with the local authorities.

All BTWT activists who wrote a letter to Barbara Herman (the Mayor of Krosniewice who was responsible for closing the railway) and then copied their letter to Cezary Garbarczyk (Mr Engelhardt’s boss, the Minister of Infrastructure) can now give themselves a pat on the back.

…then the bad.

With respect to Wolsztyn, Mr Engelhardt said he recognised that Wolsztyn was now probably unique, not only in Europe, but also in the whole world. It would certainly continue as a steam shed servicing steam locomotives for special events like the Wolsztyn Steam Gala and for special trains. The only aspect over which there was a question mark was the continuation of steam-hauled ordinary service trains, because the operation of railbuses was much cheaper.

This confirms our worst fears about the future of scheduled steam at Wolsztyn. We will be consulting all the key stakeholders, and then recommending what the best course of action is for BTWT activists.

Mr Engelhardt concluded by saying that he had no knowledge of the sale by tender of railway heritage items to which Mr Morgan had referred and that his view was that items of Polish railway heritage should stay in Poland.

Mr Morgan will be asking Polish railway societies to follow up in detail with the minister a number of the specific points that had been raised at the meeting.

A modest success!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Liverpool Street Station: Sunday, 21st May 1922. Photo courtesy GER Society archive.

Similar view today: Improvement?

Euston: Down the rabbit hole

Victorian railway engineers scuIpted enormous iron and glass cathedrals enclosing huge volumes of space. The great railway terminii celebrated the new world being created by the web of steel that was to cover the globe. In the 1960s and 1970s, in the UK – the birthplace of the world’s railways – the officers of the British Railways Property Board regarded railway terminii as so much real estate, useful for car parking in the short-term, and even more useful for lucrative property development contracts in the future. Liverpool Street and Broad Street stations, neighbours on the edge of the City of London, were prime targets. Broad Street was lost altogether, the railway ripped up, its passengers forced to make alternative, and less convenient travel arrangements. Liverpool Street couldn’t be abolished entirely, so it was decided to give it the ‘rabbbit hole’ makeover first tried out at Euston Station in the 60s.

The Liverpool Street Station Campaign was formed in 1974 to oppose BR’s plans and to campaign for a sensitive redevelopment at Liverpool Street Station. Along with public meetings, petitions and publications, the Campaign also prepared alternative redevelopment schemes which would generate revenue for BR while maintaining the complex of historic Victorian railway buildings. The Campaign’s president was Sir John Betjeman, with Vice-Presidents including Spike Milligan, Patrick Cormack and Andrew Faulds.

Liverpool Street Station was saved, and later on, similar campaigns saved St Pancras Station and span 4 of Brunel’s magnificent Paddington Station.

So if a multi-million pound development can be stopped because enough people care about conserving railway heritage – stopping the Mayor of Krosniewice’s squalid little plan to destroy the Krosniewice Railway and demolish its workshops should be easy! Have you written your letter of protest yet? If you haven’t, please stop reading this and do so now.

(Photos from top: Great Eastern Railway Society, Aim for the Ace blog, Jeff & Josh Lubchansky Train Site. Click on the pictures to link to sources.)

Krosniewice campaign latest news is here. Earlier report (with links to previous posts about the Krosniewice Railway) is here.

Krosniewice Campaign gets serious

Friday, 18 April 2008

31.3.2008, end the line for the KR? (photo Tilo Rosner)

Our campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway is getting some serious support, with the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership putting their weight behind the campaign and a major article in today’s New Warsaw Express.

Battle to Save Historic Railway

NWE, April 17, 2008

A small group of Brits and their Polish friends are campaigning to save an historic narrow-gauge railway line about 50 kilometres north of Łódź threatened by local government indifference and new development plans. The group, known as British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership, believes the railway is an asset worth preserving, not ballast to be dumped.

“We want to help Polish officials connect the dots,” says Andrew Goltz, the group’s spokesman. “For many Polish officials a narrow gauge railway is just a pile of junk. They have no idea that just over the border in former East Germany or Slovakia local authorities are investing their own money and EU grants to develop such lines into major tourist attractions.”

In Poland a handful of narrow gauge railways struggle to maintain their existence despite the lack of interest, and sometimes active opposition, of Polish officials. Until the end of March, one such survivor was the Krosniewice Railway – a 100 km fragment of a once 1,000-kilometre network of narrow-gauge lines. The Polish State Railways (PKP) had closed their remaining narrow gauge lines in 2001, and they were then handed over to local authorities to decide whether to run them as transport facilities, tourist attractions, or just get rid of them.

Local government elections brought in a new mayor of Krośniewice, Barbara Herman. She did not want a narrow gauge railway with extensive workshops in the centre of her town, being more interested in a new shopping centre and housing estate. SKPL, the line’s operator, pointed out that the workshops had been listed as heritage buildings by the province’s monuments conservator. Faced with this obstacle to her plans, Herman gave notice to SKPL that their operating agreement was terminated.

SKPL ran their last service train on March 31. The end of the line? Not if the BPIRHP have their way.

(Complete NWE article here.)

See also our other posts which will give you the gen on how YOU can join our campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway:

Krosniewice Railway at Fedcrail Conference

Krosniewice the end?

A letter from you, and…

Last train photos

We hit a ton!

Our road map

On the road again

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Cheshire County Council road signThis will be my last post for three days. I hope to meet up with you again on Sunday evening. I will be travelling from Poland to England in an articulated lorry loaded with furniture. During the 1,500 miles of my journey I’ll be asking why a 1,000 lorries like this make the journey from Poland to England every day and why more of this stuff doesn’t get despatched by rail. If all goes well I should gather some good material for a couple of posts.

So let’s take some time out. Those of you who have become interested in our campaign to save the Krosniewice narrow gauge railway, consider devoting the time that you would have spent reading BTWT to writing a letter instead, to the Mayor of Krosniewice. Please don’t forget the all important copy to the Minister of Infrastructure. You’ll find all the information that you need (names and addresses and a sample letter) in earlier posts.

Krosniewice, last train photos

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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Just received, I thought you should see them ASAP ‘as is’. I’ll might add captions and a proper commentary later today. Pictures by Tilo Rosner, who travelled all the way from Dresden to catch the last train.

Call to arms! – II

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway needs you!

5 km South of Krosniewice

A Krosniewice-Ozorkow special in 2006

The campaign to save the Krosniewice Railway is gathering momentum. A number of letters have already been sent to the Mayor of Ozorkow, with a copy to the Minister of Infrastructure and pledges that more letters will be written are coming in as well.

Can my letter make any difference?

Well yes, on the basis of previous experience, we know that letters sent from abroad do carry a great deal of weight with the authorities. Sometimes even a single letter can make all the difference.

The Extraordinary Story of Chabowka

The story of the PKP steam museums is a long and complicated one. Originally in the 1990’s PKP HQ in Warsaw planned three steam centres:

Wolsztyn Steam Centre

Wolsztyn (see above) – the principal centre
Klocko – for servicing

Jaworzyna Slask

Jaworzyna Slask (see above) – for storing steam engines.

Elk, a fourth, was added later.

Two more steam museums were initiatives of the regional PKP management:

Koscierzyna
Chabowka.

Another steam museum was established at Karsnice at the private initiative of the manager of the workshops there. By 2000 the senior management of PKP had changed and the cold winds of commercialisation were blowing through the corridors of PKP. It was decided to get rid of all the steam museums with the exception of Wolsztyn and to concentrate the best locomotives there.

An action committee was formed to save Chabowka. A group of experts from Krakow wrote a plan to develop tourism along the Chabowka – Nowy Sacz line, The National Foundation for Promoting Heritage Railway Trails was set up by Ryszarda Leszczynska. (see Papal Train) But all to no avail, by 2003 the Chabowka employees were given notice that the museum was going to close.

Enter the Englishman

It was at this stage that an Englishman called Mike Pease entered the scene. Pease, a director of the Spa Valley Railway and the Secretary of the New Europe Railway Heritage Trust (NERHT), was a descendant of Edward Pease, the banker of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. He had been following the Polish railway scene for some time and was the owner a Slask 0-8-0 shunting locomotive which he keeps at Pyskowice Steam Centre. He decided to write a letter of protest to the chairman of PKP, with a copy to the Minister of Transport. He also copied it for good measure to the chairman of the British-Polish Chamber of Commerce with the suggestion that the BPCC might like to organise a seminar on the tourism potential of Poland’s railway heritage.

At this point Pease struck lucky because the Chamber duly obliged! A seminar, Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage as a Tourist Attraction, held under the auspices of the NERHT and sponsored by the Chamber took place in October 2003. The morning session was held in the British Consulate, the afternoon session in the Warsaw Railway Museum. Nearly every Polish heritage railway sent a delegation. PKP sent a team of three people. NERHT sent three experts from Britain. Not long afterwards, the decision to close Chabowka was rescinded. Today 8 Chabowka engines are in working order and very good mechanical condition. Occasional steam trains are run on the Nowy Sacz line and around Cracow.

And the rest?

And what of the other railway museums? Wolsztyn is flourishing, although it’s reported that the mechanical condition of its locomotives is very poor. Nothing remains of Klocko. Jaworzyna was taken over by the local authority and then privatised. None of its engines are in working order. Elk is closed, but a great deal of rolling stock is still there and deteriorating fast. Recently two of its steam locomotives were transferred to the PSMK railway museum at Skierniewice. Koscierzna is run by PKP Cargo although none of its engines are in working order. The ‘forgotten’ museum at Karsnice lingers on in no man’s land, trapped by the reluctance of the PKP Estate Department to pass the custody of the engines over to the council of Zdunska Wola.

If the story of Chabowka does inspires you to put pen to paper, please write to:

Mrs Julianna Barbara Herman
The Mayor of Krosniewic
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