Posts Tagged ‘narrow gauge’

Tomasz Wach

Monday, 27 September 2010

From left to right – The founders of the Association of Polish Railway Enthusiasts (PSMK) – Tomasz Wach, Andrzej Paszke, Andrzej Brzozowski, Tadeusz Dabrowski are told by Elzbieta Dziewulska (City of Warsaw) that the registration of the association has been accepted by the city authorities, October 1987. Photo Teresa Brzozowska, PSMK archives.

(Click image above to see the original photograph on the PSMK website.)

On 22 September, Poland lost one of its pioneering railway photographers and activists. Tomasz Wach was a railway photographer at a time when it was very difficult to take photographs of Polish railway locomotives. Indeed the official photographer of the Warsaw Railway Museum had once spent a night in police cells just for doing his job! Wach had a great interest in Polish narrow gauge railways and his earliest pictures document them in at work well before the rot set in.

Many of Wach’s best photographs can be seen on-line on the Wciaz pod Para website maintained by Tomislaw Czarnecki. He had a particular affection for Poland’s narrow gauge railways, both the public lines run by PKP and the lines run by the sugar beet factories. His death has attracted tributes from Poland’s narrow gauge, standard gauge and railway modelling, enthusiast fraternities.

Tomasz Wach’s funeral takes place tomorrow (Tuesday 28 September) at 13.30 in the Dominikan Abbey church in Sluzew, ul. Dominikanska 2, 02-741 Warszawa.

Tomasz Wach’s legacy, one of the photographs taken by him in the 1960s. 750mm gauge 0-6-0T, Ty1-1096, shunts at Gdansk Waskotorowy in 1963.

(Click on the image to see this and other Tomasz Wach photographs hosted on the Wciaz pod Para website.)

Competition 3 – mystery picture 6

Thursday, 14 May 2009


BR Standard Class 4MT 4-6-0 in 1966 or 67, Photo BTWT archive.

It has been a very long day – all of it devoted to the cause of Polish heritage rail – and it will almost certainly inspire a post in due course. In the meantime, while I catch up with my beauty sleep, here is a meaty problem to be getting on with – the final mystery picture in our competition.

Please forgive the dark picture of the 4MT, however today’s questions are not about the engine. For one point can you tell us – Where was this picture taken?; for the second point – What is the narrow gauge connection? There is a bonus point if you can identify the train that has brought me from London and the 4MT is is about to haul!

Although our competitions are famous for being difficult – they are not impossible. Congratulations to John Hyde who is in the lead with THREE points. He has identified the locomotive and location in mystery picture 5 AND told us where the locomotive is now. Rik Degruyter and Michael Dembinski correctly identified ONE PART of the answer to mystery pictures 1 and 3 respectively and are the joint runners up with one point each.

For newcomers to BTWT quizzes – there is usually a post a few days before or a couple of days after a mystery picture is published which gives a Sherlock Holmesian clue which might be helpful in resolving the current problem.

All the previous questions are still open. For the winner the prize is a bottle of the king of Polish vodkas – (Zubrowka, Bison Grass Vodka) – so let’s have a few more entries!

Oh, and I nearly forgot late this evening – one year and two months since we launched Behind The Water Tower – we passed the total of 100,000 cumulative daily hits. Well done everybody. Please tell your friends about BTWT and lets see how quickly we can reach 200,000.



Smigiel Resleepering at Robaczyn

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Between 12-14 July, SKPL platelayers relaid 80 sleepers and restored the track geometry of a length of line at Robaczyn, near Stare Bojanowo, on the Smigiel Railway.

Photos, © Andrzej Cichowicz, SKPL

Meanwhile in Austria

Monday, 7 July 2008

Unloading standard gauge wagons from 760 mm gauge transporters at Jenbach on the Zillertalbahn in Austria, August 2007. Video Pete Murfet

So what did you think of the technology for carrying standard gauge wagons on narrow gauge tracks employed by SKPL? A quaint Calthropian anachronism? Well actually the same technique is employed on the ultra-modern Zillertalbahn in Austria. What’s more the Stiermärkische Landesbahn has just ordered some brand new transporter wagons. Our thanks to fellow WordPress bloger korschtal who publishes the Railway Misadventures blog. It was he who found Pete Murfet’s video on You Tube and wrote about it on his latest post.

The video is a detailed study of ZTB transporter wagon operations. It seems to show a whole train being unloaded so it’s 8 minutes long, but it’s interesting that even on the relatively high-tech ZTB the method is still to take the brakes off on the standard gauge wagon and give it a shove. By the way, keep an eye open for the new red transporter wagons on loan from the Stiermärkische Landesbahn (STLB). The ZTB were using them for a bit, but the STLB will soon be starting new transporter services with them – it can be done.

Incidentally do have a look at some of Pete Murfet’s other narrow gauge railway films on You Tube. They are superb!

Pleszew passenger service returns

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

28.08.2007 – TGM 40 acceptance trials on the Gaspol
private siding in Pleszew

You may be wondering why we are illustrating this story with pictures of a standard gauge freight train. We could have claimed that this was because, since taking over responsibility for the standard gauge freight traffic (the Pleszew Railway main line is mixed gauge), SKPL has concentrated its efforts on developing this side of the business – but that would not have been completely true. Actually it’s because we can’t find any pictures of the repaired Rumanian railcar that has been running the passenger service since Monday 5 May. The new timetable (three trains a day, on weekdays only) has not (as of posting this) yet appeared on the SKPL webpages. (warning, Polish only) Once again, BTWT is first with the news.

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

The Sad Tale of the PKD

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

P.K.D. former H.Q.

The P.K.D. former headquarters at Piotrkow

The sad tale of the Piotrkow narrow gauge railway, the Piotrkowska Kolej Dojazdowa, should be carefully studied by the management of all of Poland’s heritage railways. This narrow gauge line was built in 1904 to connect the small town of Sulejow to the city of Piotrkow Trybunalski. For most of its life it carried commuters from Sulejow and lineside villages to work in the factories of Piotrkow. Passenger trains called at 7 intermediate stations and took 59 minutes to cover the 17 km from Sulejow Pilica to Piotrkow Wask. After WW II the line had a major renaissance carrying lime from Sulejow in standard gauge wagons mounted on 750 mm transporter wagons. The lime was used in the sulphur dioxide filters at the gigantic Belchatow Power Station.

Luciazy Viaduct

The viaduct across the River Luciazy

Time passed, someone decided that cleaning the suphur emissions from Belchatow was an unnecessary complication, then in 2001, someone else decided that PKP should rid itself of all of its narrow gauge railways. A preservation society, Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Kolejki Waskotorowej Piotrkow-Sulejow, took over the line and ran occasional tourist trains within the Piotrkow city limits. The line was featured in a catalogue of Poland’s industrial heritage attractions published by the Polish Tourist Organisation.

tourist train in Piotrkow

One of TKPW’s occasional trains

Just over 10 miles long, and running from Piotrkow, with its mainline connection, to Sulejow, with its many tourist attractions, (including a 20 km long artificial lake popular with sailors and fishermen) the line seemed an ideal candidate for preservation. But the Society failed to gain the support of the local authorities along the route, who had other plans. Whether this was the fault of the Society, the local authorities, or both, is a moot point! The Society lost much of its credibility when it acquired an Ol49 steam engine from PLP Cargo for a nominal price which is then promptly sold for scrap.

rails in the tarmac

The longest bit of track left outside Piotrkow

This episode lead to a huge row within the Society itself. Threats of a police investigation and court action lead to the Society’s implosion. The track between the Piotrkow city limits and Sulejow was lifted in 2005. The remainder of the track within the city limits was lifted in 2006, leaving just the Piotrkow Wask yard and a few bits of rail imbeded in the tarmac at former level crossings. The rump of the Society still meet at weekends at its Piotrkow base to drink vodka and talk about how things might have been. They talk about a possible skansen and dream of EU grants.

Engine shed and standard gauge wagon transporter

The engine shed still houses two Lxd2 diesel locomotives and a Px48 steam locomotive. Various items of rolling stock can be seen in the yard, but for how much longer?

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.