Posts Tagged ‘Zgierz’

Zgierz – Lowicz – the ghost trains!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Are Przewozy Regionalny services being censored?

The railway line from Zgierz to Lowicz courtesy OpenStreetMap.

A few days ago ago I had to travel to Warsaw from Lodz and, not wanting to risk a ride on IC’s infamous ED74s, I decided to try out IR 33024 – the 09:38 InterRegio from Lodz Kaliska to Warszawa Wschodnia. IR 33024 runs via Zgierz and Lowicz, a line which lost its passenger services in 2007, because of the dilapidated state of its track and which has recently been completely relaid at a cost of some 65 million zloty (approx. £13 million).

It was a pleasant diversion to be able to ‘grice’ a line newly reopened for passengers en route to some more serious business. At times the train was able to run at up to the line maximum of 90 km/h (56 mph) on the relaid tracks. I was amazed to see that all the derelict station buildings were being rebuilt as well, particularly as some of the stations seem to be literally in the middle of nowhere. (Click the thumbnail map above to see the sites of all the reopened stations on a larger map.)

Part of the departure timetable at Warszawa Centralna.

Having concluded my business in Warsaw, I returned to Warszawa Centralna and heard the return working – IR 33024 – being announced (in Polish) over the station intercom. The train arriving on Platform 4, track 8 is the InterRegio to Lodz Kaliska calling at Warszawa Zachodnia, Sochaczew, Zgierz and Lodz Zabieniec. Hold on a minute, according to my iPhone, IR 33024 also calls at Teresin Niepokalanow, Lowicz Przedmiescie, Domaniewice, Glowno, Bratoszewice, Strykow, Swedow, and Glinnik!

I decided to check out the earlier Lodz Kaliska train that runs via the Lowicz – Zguerz line, IR 33043, departing for from Warszawa Centralna at 11:30 The printed timetable (Click the timetable image above to see it in full size.) shows the train just calling at Lowicz Przedmiescie, Zgierz and Lodz Zabieniec. The TK Telecom timetable shows the train also calling at Warszawa Zachodnia, Domaniewice, Glowno, Bratoszewice, Strykow, Swedow and Glinnik!

I wondered if this was just a problem with the newly reopened stations on the Lowicz – Zgierz line, or whether other IR services were effected. IR 11121, the 11:50 InterRegio to Bialystok, is shown as stopping at Malkinia, Szeptiewo and Lapy. TK Telecom shows it as calling at Warszawa Wschodnia, Malkinia, Czyzew, Szeptiewo and Lapy. Similarly, IR 1612o is shown as calling at Kutno, Konin, Wrzesnia, Poznan Glowny, Wroclaw Glowny and Klodzko Glowny on its way to Bystryca Koldzka, the on-line timetable shows the train as calling at 35 other intermediate stations!

In the end I decide not to take the InterRegio, but to catch some time with my friends and take TLK 26100, the 17:30 to Wroclaw Glowny which runs fast over the Lowicz – Zgierz line, only stopping at Lowicz Przedmiescie. This stop was correctly announced over the PA at Warszawa Centralna, but was omitted from the announcement at Warszawa Zachodnia.

TLK 26100 – EP07-391 with 5 carriages – departs from Lodz Kaliska. Photo BTWT.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

From my observations, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that while information about the stations served by Polish trains is generally incomplete and inconsistent, PR’s InterRegio services are being singled out for special treatment.

Those who were around when much of Britain’s railway network was closed in the 1960s will be familiar with stories how train times were altered and how information about connections was omitted in an effort to drive passengers off the trains before railway lines were put up for closure.

In Poland those who run the railways go a step further – they rebuild a railway line to allow trains to run at speed, reopen it to passenger services, and then make sure that the information about train services remains a closely guarded secret. Is this an example of what is called reverse Polish logic?

Looks nice, but…

Friday, 18 July 2008

Lodz Regional Tramway – two weeks to opening, BTWT

BTWT is an enthusiastic supporter of Light Rail and Semi-Metro solutions to the traffic problems of large cities. We thought that, once the inevitable teething troubles were over, we should try out the new Lodz Regional Tramway for ourselves. We took three rides, on a section of line between the centre of town and the northerly terminus of the service at Helenowek, in order to prepare this report.

These are the 10 criteria that we used to assess the new service. Each is scored on a range of 0-10. So the maximum possible score is 100.

  1. Description on the box
  2. Comfort and ergonomics
  3. Noise
  4. Staff
  5. Ride quality
  6. Stops
  7. Ticketing
  8. Aesthetics
  9. Disabled access
  10. Information

The LRT vision (Click for a bigger picture.)

2/10 Description on the box

It is branded as the ‘Lodz Regional Tramway’, but at present it runs only within the borders of Lodz between Helenowek and Chocianowice. There is no clear indication when stage 2, linking the outlying towns of Pabianice and Zgierz, will be implemented. Stage 3, upgrading the tramline to Ozorkow, has not reached the stage of a memorandum of understanding, while Alexandrow Lodzki, which generates a huge amount of commuter car traffic into Lodz and lost its tram service in 1995, is not even the subject of a feasibility study. The much heralded tram priority control of traffic lights has yet to be commissioned.

6/10 Comfort and ergonomics

The cars are air conditioned and more bearable in hot weather. The carpet covered plastic seats are less comfortable than those in the 805Na rebuilds, carried out in the municipal tramway ompany’s own workshops. When badly driven, the jerkiness of the ride makes the trams feel dangerous. The low floors do make it much easier to board and alight, particularly for the elderly and small children. (The very high communist-era floor is the main draw back of the modernised 805Na.)

7/10 Noise

External and internal noise is much reduced compared to standard Polish trams, but is still not at European best practice levels. In fact, the degree to which wheel on track noise can be heard inside the cars surprised us.

5/10 Staff

One of the drivers drove his tram like an extreme fairground ride – breathless acceleration and rapid stops. It was all we could do to stop falling off. The same driver, refused to let a passenger get on (even though the tram was stuck in a traffic jam) once he had closed the doors. Other drivers had no difficulty in using more gentle acceleration and deceleration techniques to a create a much more ‘family friendly’ experience.

7/10 Ride Quality

Much better than anything we have ever seen before in Lodz, but the track geometry in general, as well as the rail alignment at welded joints, leaves a lot to be desired.

6/10 Stops

The stops are too close together in the city centre for the trams to be able to operate at their design speed. But, given the added convenience, no marks were deducted for this. The raised platform levels assist boarding and alighting. New fencing prevents waiting passengers being pushed into busy traffic lanes. The stops only accommodate one tram at a time. With portions of the line also used by other Lodz services this results in the trams having to queue at tram stops! The miniature bus shelters are more a decoration than a serious attempt to protect passengers in bad weather. Alas, no thought has been given to bringing the trams closer to major traffic generators such as Manufactura or Custorama, leaving passengers to walk several hundred yards.

6/10 Ticketing

Ticketing is still stuck in the ‘buy a bit of paper in the kiosk’ era. You pay for time on board the tram, not for distance travelled. This is not good news when your tram is stuck in one of Lodz’s increasingly frequent traffic jams. Given the electronics employed elsewhere, this would have been a golden opportunity to automate and improve revenue collection.

10/10 Aesthetics

The PESA 122Ns look smashing, pity about the seats, but we have already dealt with the latter!

1/10 Disabled access

The height of the platforms at stops and the floor height of the trams have not been equalised. The service has not been designed for unaccompanied wheelchair users. Polish transport bosses really need to get their act together on this.

8/10 Information

The automatic voice recordings and LCD displays announcing the next stop are useful. But London Underground style individual route schematics in the cars and maps of the whole system at the stops would be very helpful.

58/100 Overall score

Not trying hard enough. Could do much better!