Posts Tagged ‘Smigiel’

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.

Smigiel Railway – first letter to Mayor

Friday, 18 September 2009

by Robert Hall

the_end_of_the_line

The end of the line – Wielechowo Station. When Dyspozytor first travelled on the Smigiel Railway the track was still in place from here to Rakonowice. How long will it be before the rest of the line looks like this? Photo BTWT.

(Click picture to enlarge.)

The first of what we hope will be many letters from BTWT readers to the Mayor of Smigiel regarding the future of his railway. Thanks Robert! D.

Sz.P.
Wiktor Snela
Burmistrz Smigla
Urząd Miejski Smigla
pl. Wojska Polskiego 6
64-030 Śmigiel
POLAND

17 / 9 / 2009

Dear Sir,

Being a British citizen with a great love of Poland and its national heritage – and who has taken many enjoyable holidays in Poland, including visiting Śmigiel and travelling on its narrow-gauge railway – I hope that my writing this letter to you will not cause offence.

I learn that the Śmigie Town Council, having lately become the owners of the land and infrastructure of the 750mm gauge railway serving Śmigiel and surrounding area, are now proposing to charge the railway society SKPL of Kalisz, who in recent years have been operating the railway, a large sum of money in local rates, relating to their occupation of the railway land – charges which were waived under the previous arrangement. I understand that in view of this situation and its ramifications, SKPL will be unable – with these terms applying – to continue to operate the railway.

This prospect is a distressing one for me, and for many people throughout Europe and, I am sure, beyond – who are interested in Poland’s railway heritage. I would beg of you and the Town Council, to reconsider this matter, and to reverse the decision to hit SKPL with this punitive financial demand – so that they may be able to continue operating the local railway.

If the railway could continue the operation of its passenger and freight services – plus, as has happened in the past few years in co-operation with the “Wolsztyn Experience”, ran regular steam-locomotive-hauled services visitors from much of Europe, whose time spent in the area would enrich the local economy.

Here in Britain for example, we now have absolutely nothing like the Śmigiel local narrow-gauge railway (a narrow gauge railway providing a genuine public transport service) – lots of us would love to come to Poland, to enjoy there, what we cannot enjoy back home. Should the line continue to run in years ahead – as well as and providing useful service for people in the area, it would draw many railway-interested tourists, who would spend money in Śmigiel.

Entreating you to give the local railway a chance, doing which would benefit all concerned.

Yours truly

ROBERT HALL

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

Polish scheduled steam continues…

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

… in Wroclaw and Smigiel.

GWR small prairie at Birmingham Snow Hill in the 1920s? No it’s January 2008, and 5521, restored to perfection by Bill Parker, is being shown to the public at Wroclaw Glowny. (photo R. Boduszek. Click on picture to see it in its original context. WARNING, Polish text)

When the last fire is drawn at Wolsztyn on Friday July 4 it won’t quite be the end of scheduled, as opposed to ‘special’ steam workings in Poland. The Wroclaw – Jelcz Laskowice service will be worked by steam, either by Tkt48-18 or GWR small prairie 5521 as follows:

May 28th – June 5th Tkt48-18
June 18th – June 26th GWR 5521
following week Tkt48-18 (dates tbc.)
Aug 3rd – Sept 11th Tkt48-18
Sept 17th – Sept 25th GWR 5521
Oct 8th – Oct 16th Tkt48-18
Oct 22nd – Oct 30th GWR 5521

There will also be some steam haulage of the narrow gauge service trains on the Smigiel Railway between Stare Bojanowo and Smigiel. But it won’t be quite the same without Wolsztyn. A recent post on the kolejelist discussion group (this one is in ENGLISH!) puts an optimistic slant on recent developments. Nonetheless, the facts are that local PKP Cargo director at Poznan, Mr Wasilewski, is being starved of resources to keep the Wolsztyn steam engines running reliably. With Howard Jones’ Wolsztyn Experience only contributing 10% towards PKP Cargo’s costs of running the Wolsztyn Depot, and PKP Prezwozy Regionalne (the passenger train operating company) reliant on a subsidy from the Wielkopolska Council, the long-term future for the continuation of scheduled service train steam operations at Wolsztyn does not look very bright.

To complicate matters, a three way power struggle has broken out between PKP Cargo, PKP Przewozy Regionalne and the Wielkopolska Chief Executive’s office about who will eventually control Wolsztyn.

Let’s all hope that, while the parties fight it out amongst themselves, the baby is not thrown out with the bath water!

More:

Wolsztyn Experience – News and Events
You Tube – nice video clip of 5521 arriving at Wroclaw Glowny

Smigiel Railway services cut back

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Rumanian railcar waiting to depart for Sniaty and Wielechowo from Smigiel

Brief history

The Smigiel Railway started life as a metre gauge line. It opened from Krzywin to Wielichowo in 1900 and from Wielichowo to Ujazd in 1901. The section from Lubnica to Ujazd was closed in 1905 because there was insufficient traffic and a branch from Wielichowo to Rakonowice was opened in 1910 utilising much of the material from the dismantled Lubnica – Ujazd section. The Wielichowo – Lunica section continued in operation until 1924. For most of its history it was owned by the local authorities, however, in 1949 it was taken over by PKP. It was re-gauged to the PKP standard (Russian) narrow gauge of 750mm betweem 1952 and 1953.

Death by many little cuts

By 1973, the secretary of the Communist Party in Rakonowiec decided that narrow gauge railways were unfashionable and ordered the Smigiel Railway cut back to Wielichowo. At a stroke, he deprived the railway of the principal destination for much of its passenger traffic. The railway struggled on from year to year passenger services being cut further back. In 1979 the Zgliniec – Krzywin section was closed to make way for a new reservoir and in 1990 the section from Stare Bojanowo to Zgliniec was closed.

The end of the PKP Era

Passenger services were withdrawn completely on 22 June 2001, this being the last day of normal passenger trains running (as opposed to special trains) on PKP’s narrow gauge railways. Freight traffic continued until PKP closed all its narrow gauge operations in December 2001.

A new beginning

The line was taken over by the local authority who entered into an operating agreement with Stowarzyszenia Kolejowych Przewozow Lokalnych, (SKPL). Passenger trains using Romanian-built railcars started running again in February 2002, and freight services followed some time later.

In September 2002, with the start of the new school term the timetable was increased, and the passenger services returned to Wielichowo for the first time in a decade. By October freight traffic had also increased, with coal being carried on a daily basis from Stare Bojanowo to Smigiel, Witowo Polski or Wielichowo. In 2007 and 2008, a Px48 steam locomotive, leased by Howard Jones from the Gniezno Railway appeared at Smigiel and hauled certain trains as part of Howard’s “Wolsztyn Experience” product.

And another cut

From 1 April this year, SKPL has been forced to withdraw all services beyond Smigiel because of the state of the track. Two promised grants, one from the Smigiel Town Council and the other from the Council of Wilkopolska Province have not been forthcoming. If you know the Smigiel Railway and consider it is worthy of financial assistance then it would be very helpful if you made your views known to the relevant authorities.

The Mayor of Smigiel:

Sz Pan Wiktor Snela
Burmistrz Smigla
Urząd Miasta i Gminy Smigiel
Smigiel 64-030
pl. Wojska Polskiego 6
POLAND

e-mail: burmistrz@smigiel.pl

tel: +48 65 518 98 23 or 518 01 39 or 518 00 03

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Province:

Sz Pan Marek Wozniak
Marszalek Wojewodztwa Wielkopolskiego
Al. Niepodleglosci 18
Pokoj 142 Budynek C
61-713 Poznan

e-mail: marszalek@umww.pl

tel: +44 61 854-19-88 or 61 854-18-47
fax: +44 61 854-17-17

The Smigiel Railway currently extends from Stare Bojanowo to Wielichowo. (The map can be moved, expanded or changed to satellite view.)