Posts Tagged ‘Wolsztyn Steam’

Wolsztyn – Poznan steam

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

What’s really going on?

Ol49-59 hauling train No. 77325 consisting of  three 120A coaches from Wolsztyn to Poznan Główny approaching to Luboń kolo Poznania station. Photo Radomil Binek.

(Click to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)

On Monday, the Wielkopolska regional government made an announcement that funding has been approved to ensure that the two steam-hauled turns between Wolsztyn and Poznan will be maintained during 2010. So Wolsztyn is saved and we can all relax in our armchairs? Well, perhaps not. The Wolsztyn crisis reoccurs with tedious regularity and the fact that it does so year after year suggests that someone has an agenda. We sent in our agent 003½ to investigate. This is his report.

003½ to Dyspozytor/ Future of Wolsztyn Steam Services/ 02/12/2009

There are four agendas, being pushed through by four different people. Some of the players have more than one agenda. Some of the agendas have more than one proponent. Some of the proponents would probably not publicly admit to having these agendas.

Agenda item 1.  Strip Wolsztyn out of the PKP Group and let the Wielkopolska provincial government operate it as a tourist attraction.

Juliusz Engelhardt, the Under Secretary State at the Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for Poland’s railways has been heard promoting this view. It is thought that Egelhardt wants to strip unnecessary costs from PKP Cargo to clear the way for Cargo’s privatisation.

Jerzy Kriger, the Director of Transport at the Wielkopolska provincial government has also been heard pushing this development. It seems likely that Kriger wants to run a low-cost railway with modern railbuses and does not want his career prospects spoiled by being associated with anything as sentimental as steam services.

Tomasz Wiktor, the Director of Tourism at the Wielkopolska provincial government is also thought to favour this solution. The fact that the infrastructure committee recommended cutting the 3 million zloty subsidy that goes to maintain the daily steam turns and ‘giving’ the money instead to the Tourism Department makes it probable that Mr Wiktor has been busy lobbying behind the scene.

Agenda item 2. Shorten the Supply Chain. (Currently the provincial government gives a subsidy to Przewozy Regionalne which is responsible for local train services. PR in turn then pays PKP Cargo to provide the steam locomotives which haul the Wolsztyn turns.

Jerzy Kriger is thought to favour stripping out all the Wielkopolska local train services from Przewozy Regionalne and running them himself as Koleje Wielkopolskie.

Agenda item 3. Get the best possible deal from Przewozy Regionalne for operating the Steam Services.

It is known that PR originally requested a much higher subsidy for running the steam services in 2010.

After some brinkmanship Jerzy Kriger managed to push PR back to the same price as was in force in 2009 with an adjustment for inflation.

Agenda item 4. Incorporate Wolsztyn Shed into the new Wielkopolska Railway Tourism Project and run steam specials for tourists trains all over province.

It is thought likely that this is the position held by Tomasz Wiktor and also Ewa Przydrozny the Manager of the Wielkopolska Tourist Organisation. Mr Wyktor is Mrs Przydrozny boss. Her office is currently working on creating the Wielkopolska Railway Tourism strategy.

So if 003½ is even half right, it would seem to be premature to put away your pens just yet.

Some really useful addresses:

The Wielkopolska provincial government Director of Tourism

Tomasz Wiktor
Dyrektor Departament Sportu i Turystyki
Urzad Marszalkowski Wojewodstwa Wielkopolskiego
ul. Piekary 17
61-823 Poznań

tel: (061) 64-75-270, 855- 35- 22
fax: (061) 64-75-275

The Head of the Wielkopolka Tourist Organisation

Ewa Przydrozny
Dyrektor Biura Wielkopolska Organizacja Turystyczna
ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, Vp.
61-737 Poznań

tel: 061 66 45 234 / 233
fax: 061 66 45 221

Scheduled steam returns to Wolsztyn

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Ol49-69 at the 2008 Wolsztyn Parade of Steam. The Ol49’s haul the majority of the ordinary steam-hauled passenger workings out of Wolsztyn. Photo BTWT

The haulage of ordinary passenger trains by steam returns to Poland from the beginning of September in the shape of one Wolsztyn-Poznan working and one Wolsztyn-Leszno working . Wolsztyn’s many admirers all around the world will heave an enormous sigh of relief. Meanwhile, the key players in the Wolsztyn operation have yet to sign up to a deal which will guarantee it’s long-term future.

Wolsztyn’s major stakeholders are:

  • The town of Wolsztyn – benefits massively from the tourists visiting Wolsztyn, not currently providing any financial support.
  • The province of Wielkopolska – also benefits from tourists visiting the region, currently subsidising the operation of the scheduled steam services.
  • PKP Cargo – is responsible for running the Wolsztyn MPD. It enjoys PR benefits from Wolsztyn’s international reputation, but while subsidizing the day-to-day running of the depot, is unwilling to make major investments (such as new boilers and fireboxes), or train new employees, without prior long-term financial guarantees
  • PKP Przewozy Regionalne – runs the scheduled passenger trains that are hauled by the Wolsztyn locos. The operations are dependent on subsidies from Wielkopolska province, part of the subsidy is passed on to PKP Cargo to cover the costs of steam haulage. PKP PR would rather be running modern lightweight rail buses. They see Wolsztyn as a distraction from their core business.
  • The Wolsztyn Experience – run the footplate courses which subsidize part of the cost of running the steam hauled services. In addition Wolsztyn Experience finance the running of special steam trains. They need stable long-term agreements in order to run their courses.
  • Wolsztyn Experience customers – claim that the footplate courses are ‘better than sex’. They also need stable long-term agreements in place in order to plan and book their holidays.
  • The Wolsztyn crews – see at first hand the lack of investment by PKP Cargo in the steam locomotives or in the drivers and fitters who are to look after them. They regard their own jobs, and the Wolsztyn operation as a whole, as something which has a strictly short-term future.
  • Jerzy Kriger, the Director of Transport, Wielkopolska – would like to see the province take over the responsibility for operating passenger trains. He would also like to take over Wolsztyn Depot and develop it as a railway museum, taking the UK’s National Railway Museum in York as a model.

Howard Jones did a very professional job in booking additional steam trains in order to keep his customers happy during the unexpected break in scheduled steam operations during July. He had to dig heavily into the WE “warchest” to do so. Monies which had been earmarked for the restoration of further steam locomotives such as the recently restored Tkt in Wroclaw were spent instead on further payments to PKP Cargo.

Sadly, with so many stakeholders all pursuing a separate agenda, unless a sufficiently powerful political personality is prepared to knock some Polish heads together, this year’s Wolsztyn debacle is likely to be a story that will run and run.

We couldn’t believe our eyes…

Friday, 25 April 2008

Wolsztyn Parade of Steam Locomotives 2007

Wondering whether it would be worthwhile to visit next weekend’s Wolsztyn Steam Gala? Here’s a flavour of last year’s event courtesy of Steam Railway magazine.

… we couldn’t believe our eyes at Wolsztyn. When it comes to organised chaos Wolsztyn makes Llangollen look like a village fete. Trevor Jones of the Wolsztyn Experience arranged the trip to the Polish steam shed’s 100th birthday and I was glad to see so many STEAM RAILWAY readers on it. Like me, they didn’t know what was about to hit them.

From the moment we landed at a former Russian airbase we knew this would be an unusual day. When Bill Parker’s Prairie No. 5521, waiting to take us from the airbases’ nearest railhead at Babymost to Wolstyn, was passed by the fastest preserved, main line legal, steam locomotive in the world, German ‘Pacific’ 18.201 – ‘unusual’ became stupendously surreal.

Again, the day’s celebrations were unique and spectacular. Every time Bill’s Prairie made its spirited runpasts in front of the (estimated) 10,000 strong crowds, I felt an overwhelming surge of pride. Not just patriotic (although the Prairie was by far the most delightful engine on show), but pride because, as an enthusiast, I am a tiny part of all this. If Bill and Trevor didn’t think anyone would be bothered, they wouldn’t have gone to such extraordinary lengths to make it happen…

(read complete article)

Loco (and crew) shortage at Wolsztyn

Friday, 21 March 2008


A fitter checks out an Ol-49 at Wolsztyn

Kolejelist is a very informative Yahoo discussion group with news and views about Polish railways. A recent post confirms, what we have heard from various sources, that the Wolsztyn locmotives are not in good mechanical condition. Someone who is ‘in the loop’ recently told us that boiler water treatment is haphazard and that boiler washouts are not being performed as regularly as they should. The comment regarding Wolsztyn only having 5 steam crews deserves comment. Chabowka, who operate a limited series of steam specials, have recently passed out 15 new steam drivers! Here is part of the post.

“Steam is alive and well on the Poznan and Leszno
lines until 2010 at least; however, they are short of
crews, three having [failed] their medicals recently.
There are now only five crews at Wolsztyn (i.e. ten
drivers/firemen). They have advertised for five
trainee firemen within PKP but the job is perceived as
being not well paid and they have only three so far.

“At the moment there are two return workings to Poznan
and one to Leszno, all peak-hour commuter trains. They
have reinstated a 2-car double-deck set plus one
‘ordinary’ coach on the Poznan trains, due to
overcrowding. (Last November it was ludicrous with
just a two-coach train.) Both lines are now operated
exclusively by steam and the horrendous railcars
off-peak, which the passengers hate as they have such
hard seats.

“There is a chronic shortage of locos at the moment as
well, although only because of late-running
maintenance. Ol49-7 has just stopped for maintenance
after nearly six weeks continuous running; Ol49-59 is
still at Pila where it is being overhauled; Ol49-111
is in bits at Leszno; Ol49-23 should be running next
week if it is fixed, leaving No.69 as the only working
Ol49. Pt47-65 is at Gniezno for firebox work, Pt47-112
is being used as a Heizlok and Pt47-106 is being
painted for display; Pt47s still cannot go to Poznan
because of the weak bridge over the main line at

“The Pm Pacific is at Gniezno works but should be back
in time for the Parade in May. They are trying to
preserve the hours on the Ok22 so that it survives the
summer; there is no other loco so Ok1-359 is being
used on the Leszno line: it goes very well but it is
[very] cold at this time of year!

The full post is here.