Posts Tagged ‘Smigiel Town Council’

Smigiel – a succession of setbacks

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Gniezno Railway Px48-1919 being unloaded at Smigiel Station in February 2008. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

The post-PKP  history of the Smigiel Railway is of one disappointment after another. Last year, the Smigiel Town Council were approached by a British railway enthusiast who wanted to restore the dead Px48-1765 in Smigiel Station. In return for his efforts, the prospective benefactor wanted to acquire the legal title to the engine. He was quite happy to sign a covenant requiring the locomotive to spend the majority of its time working on the Smigiel Railway – the Council turned him down flat. Then there was the demand for local tax payments of about 100,000 PLN (£20,000) – curiously the railway receives a 100,000 PLN subsidy from the provincial government. SKPL managed to win that battle by appealing over the heads of the Council Chief Executive to the Council members as a whole.

Next came the episode with the coal trains. A local coal merchant was keen to increase the amount of coal he was bringing into Smigiel. There was talk of 25 standard gauge wagons coming into Stary Bojanowo at a time which would have involved 13 shuttle trips along the line to deliver the coal to Smigiel. Weak portions of railway line, including parts of the standard gauge interchange yard in Stary Bojanowo were treated to spot re-sleepering in order to bring the line up to scratch. Enter Cargo Sped, a curious joint venture between certain PKP Directors and PKP Cargo itself. Cargo Sped offered the coal merchant a reduction in tariff of 10 PLN/tonne, if he would only accept delivery in the standard gauge coal yard at Wloszakowice rather than Smigiel. For the time being the agressive Cargo Sped price has meant the demise of freight traffic to Smigiel.

Enter a Smigiel businessman. He was also interested in restoring the engine for use on the Smigiel railway and occasional use elsewhere. He was quite prepared for the legal ownership of the Px48 to remain with Smigiel Council, but wanted a 25 year long licence to use the locomotive – he was also turned down. Now comes the latest pinprick – there was until recently a small restaurant in the former waiting room at Smigiel Station. The rental payments from the restaurant owner provided the Smigiel Railway with a modest income of some 500 PLN (£100). Now the Council have arbitrarily removed the waiting room room area from the land licensed to SKPL in order to lease it to the police!

One veteran Smigiel driver compares the present situation at Smigiel to the one that pertained at Kosniewice when the mayor wanted to drastically reduce the land and buildings used by SKPL – when SKPL protested the mayor closed the railway. The current licence agreement between SKPL and Smigiel Town Council has two more years to run. If things go on as at present it seems unlikely that the council will agree to a new agreement on terms that SKPL can possibly accept. Given that Smigiel Town Council have invested absolutely nothing in the railway since they acquired it, am I being too cynical in thinking that some Council officials may have alternative plans for the railway land?

Smigiel Railway saved as a working railway

Friday, 13 November 2009

smigiel_3trains

Three trains in operation at Smigiel.
Photo ©Albert Mikolajczyk, SKPL.

At a meeting of Smigiel Town Council yesterday, a resolution was passed confirming that the Council intends to make a donation each year towards the operating costs of the Smigiel Railway commensurate in size with the railway’s local tax liability to the Council. The resolution spells the end of earlier plans prepared by the Counil for the railway to be run as a pure ‘tourist railway’ by the Town Council’s own direct labour force. SKPL will continue to be line’s operator and to offer a mix of passenger and freight services as well as special services customised to passenger’s individual requirements.

I would like to thank everybody who wrote individual letters to the Mayor of Smigiel asking that the railway be allowed to continue its role as a working railway.

Dyspozytor

Smigiel, the end or a new beginning?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

smigiel_train

A Romanian-built diesel railcar awaits its passengers at Smigiel.

(Click to see a high resolution version.)

A meeting took place this morning between the senior management of SKPL and Wiktor Snela, the Mayor of Smigiel, and his senior councillors. Both teams had their legal advisers present. The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere and both sides emphasised that they were committed to finding a formula which would guarantee the long-term future of the railway. SKPL pointed out that the economics of the line were marginal and that removing additional funds from the railway would lead rapidly to its technical death. The Smigiel Council team pointed out that charging local taxes was a requirement of the law and that any attempt to circumvent this could lead to individual councillors being charged and fined.

Tomasz Strapagiel, the chairman of SKPL, stated that SKPL would immediately issue a letter terminating its operating agreement with the Council, giving the Council three months notice. SKPL would also pay the Council the local taxes as calculated by the Council in respect of its licence agreement in respect of the period during which the Council actually owned the railway land. Both sides confirmed that each would continue to search for a formula which would enable the line to continue its operations in the future.

Rainy morning in Smigiel

Friday, 29 May 2009

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Busy scene in Smigiel yard on a rainy morning on 29.06.2009 in preparation for running three trains in simultaneously! The newly refurbished Romanian railcar will form the service train to Stare Bojanowo while the Lxd2 will haul the second of the day’s two special trains to Wielichowo. All photos BTWT.

(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Smigiel Town Council and PKP have completed the lengthy legal process of transferring the ownership of the line to the Town Council. Whilst this should be a cause for celebration – in theory the way is now clear for the Council to apply for EU funds – the Polish reality is more prosaic – long discussions will now commence between the Council and SKPL regarding the latter’s operating agreement. High on the Council’s agenda, is a demand that SKPL pay council tax in respect of the railway land.

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Most unprototypical! The special to Wielichowo (nearest camera) and the service train to Stare Bojanowo wait in the same road. In PKP days trains to Stare Bojanowo would have used the right hand road.

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The driver of the service train gives his railcar a last minute check.

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That curve really needs some attention.

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The first special crosses the main road.

Freight traffic on the Stare-Bojanowo – Smigiel line seems to be bearing up with two rakes of standard gauge freight wagons expected shortly. If arrangements proceed as planned the Px48 from Gniezno hired by the Wolsztyn Experience will visit the line in September and October.

More information:

  • Timetable – pdf download
  • Contact – tel/fax: +48 65 518 00 10  mobile: +48 694 023 432

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