The International Steam Pages
Steam in Poland 2001
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David Longman reports (10th June 2001) on a May visit:
All service trains are currently being operated by Ol49-23, Ol49-59 and Pm36-2 with Ty3-2 continuing to work freight trains. Meanwhile Ol49-7 and Ol49-69 are in Gneisno works and are likely to be combined together to make one operational locomotive numbered as Ol49-7and work continues on the overhaul of Ol49-99 which will return to service as Ol49-69!
Superheater tubes on Pt47-65 are being repaired and this locomotive is currently out of service. Ok1-359 has recently been used for filming work and was restored to wartime appearance. It is now now in Wolsztyn shed yard with German cabside number and bearing a German eagle and swastika! How long this is likely to remain is open to conjecture!
The hostel at Wolsztyn engine shed remains excellent value - the first two nights cost £6 per night and subsequent nights cost just £5 per night. The hostel is basic but clean and has a shower room, washroom, kitchen and toilets. The bar opposite the shed has a menu in English as does the Hotel Europa restaurant in town - a meal at the Europa costs about £ 5 - 6.00 and far less at the bar.
On 30 May an attempt was made to break the Polish steam speed record on the line between Posnan and Warsaw using Pm36-2. The record stood at about 90mph but unfortunately No.2 failed to get much above 75mph with its special train. The event was covered by Polish television and was reported on the evening news.
The new timetable starts on June 9 and despite gloomy predictions there is actually little change to the steam diagrams and train timings although at present it seems there will be a single steam diagram from Zbasynek to Leszno with light engine movements to and from Wolsztyn. This seems to be a waste of resources and may be reviewed. Freight on the Konotop branch and beyond Powodowo on the Kargowa branch are also due to finish on June 9 although whether this really is the end for these two lines is still uncertain. Distribution freights from Wolsztyn are to continue although on May 30 and 31 and again on June 1 no freight at all entered Wolsztyn from Zabasynek.
Steam operated on the Sroda line on May 30 and 31 with a PX48 running a special for local school children. The locomotive appears in good order which is more than can be said for the track. Reports of the death of this line appear to have been premature!
David Longman reports (22nd April 2001):
"Operations at Wolsztyn have settled back into their usual pattern following the changes brought about earlier in the year when steam services to Poznan were suspended and all workings between Leszno and Zbaszynek were made steam. There are two daily returns trips to Poznan, leaving Wolsztyn at 05.24 (04.26 on Sundays) and 11.09 and returning from Poznan at 09.05 and 16.45 (19.50 on Saturdays). Steam works from Wolsztyn (dep.14.40) to Zbaszynek and then returns from Zbaszynek (dep.15.52) to Leszno via Wolsztyn. The final diagram of the day brings the train back from Leszno (dep.20.31) to Wolsztyn.
Distribution freights work each day according to demand with a daily freight train from Wolsztyn to Zbaszynek departing about mid-day and returning from Zbaszynek about 14.00.
During the week 9 - 15 April all passenger turns were worked by Ol49-7 and Ol49-23 with Ol49-7 failing at Zbaszynek on 11 April with a broken regulator linkage. This locomotive failed again at Poznan on Saturday 14 April with a serious frame fracture in the box structure underneath the smokebox and between the cylinders. It returned light engine to Wolsztyn and now faces an uncertain future. Ol49-59 was rostered to work the Easter Sunday service. Although distribution freights were very short Ty3-2 brought a 700 ton cement train from Zbaszynek to Wolsztyn on Thursday before working it to Powodowo on Friday morning. This same working brought back empties which were later taken to Zbaszynek and more cement wagons were brought to Wolsztyn by the afternoon freight working on Saturday. Clearly the concrete block factory at Powodowo is doing good business!
A visit to Gneisno works on 14 April found Ol49-99, PM36-2 and a narrow gauge PX48 all undergoing repairs.
Accommodation in Wolsztyn is still available at the depot hostel which has been refurbished. Rooms are basic but at c. £4.00 per night represent excellent value for money and the view over the shed from the bathroom window is unsurpassed! "
Peter Illert reports (21st February 2001):
Sroda - Zaniemysl: This narrow-gauge railway will close at the end of February. In January trains were hauled by steam, but at my visit on February 15 and 16 the railcar had been repaired and entered service again. The mood of the staff is bad. Transfer of the railway to local ownership is still a possibility, but not settled yet and less likely than at other lines.
Gniezno: PKP will abandon this narrow-gauge railway, too, but the line is to be transferred to local ownership and will operate as before. Freight trains are diesel. Each Saturday in 2001 a steam hauled tourist train is proposed, leaving Gniezno at 12:30 for Witkowo, back at Gniezno at 15:00. These tourist trains are in fact ordered by the "Wolsztyn Experience" Group. Further to providing driver experience the specials are open to the general public for promotion of the railway. It seems that no steam-hauled wheel would turn any longer in Poland without the financial support of Howard Jones and his friends. On Saturday February 17 a pre-tour ran for a private party with Px48 1785.
Wolsztyn: Active locos from February 15 to 17 were Ty3-2, Ol49-7, Ol49-59 and Pt47-65. Due to over-hours of Lezno diesel drivers, Wolsztyn had taken over most duties on the Leszno-Zbaszynek line but abandoned the Poznan services in the process. By March the original schedule with the Poznan duties should be restored. During my visit engines failed on several occasions. The diagrams could be maintained only because of the extra (fourth) loco.