Posts Tagged ‘rail freight’

Railway Misadventures

Monday, 12 May 2008

Does the left hand know what the right is getting up to?

On April 21 2008, Reuters reported that Poland must urgently upgrade its environmental protection laws to European Union standards or risk losing billions of euros in aid. “Poland needs to do more, and to do it more quickly as far as environmental protection laws are concerned,” said EU Regional Aid Commissioner Danuta Huebner. The EU has earmarked 67 billion euros ($106 billion) in aid for Poland, the biggest ex-communist newcomer, in 2007-2013. Some of this money could be lost without quick amendments to laws concerning the environment. “… Their absorption depends on upgrading legislation,” Huebner, who is Polish, warned. “Time is running out …, these are not the changes that can be introduced overnight.”

The Commission first warned Poland about the need to upgrade its laws in 2005, a year after the country joined the EU. The then left-wing government made some changes but, according to recent EU audits, they were not adequate. The Commission blocked some 800 million euros from a 2004-2006 budget because of the problem. Polish officials have said the country has so far submitted many projects for EU approval in line with its environmental requirements although these have not been mandated by Polish legislation. This has allowed Poland to make use of about 75 percent of EU funds for 2004-2006 but the Commission was growing reluctant to give conditional go-aheads for projects, Huebner said. “Unless there is an acceleration on the part of Poland, the threat will grow” she said.

One of the idiocies of the current legislation is the owner of a private railway siding used for freight is liable to local tax, but if the he rips up the siding, covers it in asphalt and uses lorries to transport materials in and out, his new road is not subject to any cuts. Poland has seen a wholesale scrapping of private sidings and the last sugar refinery railway was lifted a few years ago. So while the Polish government spins its environmental credentials, what is really happening in the ground? Read Mike Dembinski’s timely article below, which was originally posted on 3 May on the Wwa-Jeziorki blog.

Farewell to the Rampa line

This evening I had the greatest shock I’ve experienced in our six years of living in Jeziorki. Scrambling to the top of the aggregate line embankment to suddenly realise – the tracks have been ripped up. Compare with photo taken ten weeks ago. Removing the tracks seems to run counter to today’s environmental trends – rail should be replacing road for the transport of bulk freight. This is a sad sight for railway enthusiasts. Once torn up, they’ll never come back.

The speed and scale of the operation has amazed me; it was not long since my last walk here. The tracks have been thrown down the side of the embankment and the sidings below also ripped up. Below: Looking towards the buffers at the Nowa Iwiczna end of the line. Compare with this view taken ten weeks ago.

Looking up at the embankment gives one the impression of scorched earth – vandalism on a monumental scale.

What will happen here? Will the rails be replaced by asphalt, allowing trucks to bring aggregate to the Jeziorki depot? Will this be a new local road, enabling the residents of the new housing estates of Nowa Iwiczna and Mysiadło to by-pass the totally congested ul. Puławska? One thing is certain – a killing will be made on the scrap rails.

I did some checking online. The site is owned by Warszawskie Zakłady Eksploatacji Kruszywa (WZEK Sp. z o.o.). Its registered commercial activity, last amended on 7 November 2005, is ‘real estate’ and ‘trans-shipment of cargo’, in that order. My brother speculates that this sizeable piece of land, right next to a suburban railway station, would be prime property for a developer.

Warsaw City Hall has given planning consent for connecting the WZEK site to the main sewers running down ul. Karczunkowska on 12 November 2007, but I can’t find anything relating to ripping up rails or change of land use.

UPDATE: 11 May – most of the rails seen strewn down the embankment have been removed.

Photo of the rampa na kruszywa in action
More photos and a track plan
Looking towards the rampa from the end buffers
On the sidings, W-wa Jeziorki, last July

(Article and all photography by Mike Dembinski. What Mike calls a ‘rampa na kruszywa’ is really a estakada do wyładowywania wagonów samowyładowczych typu Fals. WARNING – If you don’t have Polish fonts installed some of the Polish text may look garbled.)

(The satellite picture can be scrolled and enlarged.)

PKP Cargo – new livery, new owner?

Friday, 2 May 2008

28.04.2008 – First Poland-Germany (Poznan-Seddin)
freight service hauled by TRAXX EU43 locomotive

PKP Cargo, part of the state-owned PKP Group, and Poland’s largest freight carrier, has a new logo. The logo is a derivative of the old logo, but with a cleaner, more modern appearance. When state-run industries start redesigning their logos and web pages it’s usually a good sign that privatisation is not far away. Sure enough, the Polish Sejm Infrastructure Committee is working flat out on a new Act to govern the privatisation of parts of the PKP railway empire. Our betting is that, sooner or later, the German state-owned railway company, Deutsche Bahn AG, will end up owning a controlling interest in PKP Cargo. PKP Cargo S.A. and Railion Deutschland AG have already signed a long-term cooperation agreement. Railon is owned by Deutsche Bahn AG. DB AG has also bought EWS, the UK’s largest rail freight carrier, so if the current difficulties regarding Channel Tunnel rail freight can be overcome, the prospect of moving some of the 1,000 Poland-UK HGV lorry loads onto rail becomes decidedly better.