Wow, we’ve had ten years of FarRail Tours already ... The world of steam has changed rapidly over the last ten years. However, it’s amazing that we can still enjoy authentic steam trains and even real steam operations at the end of 2010. As on the very first public tour of FarRail Tours, in November 2000, we’re still offering the best of the rest of real steam in addition to authentic charter trains. Now scraping the barrel regarding regular steam working, we’ve had to accept that even charter train events are getting more and more difficult to arrange, at least in the league we like to play - really authentic trains at the best time of the day considering the needs of dedicated photographers and video film makers. Over the past ten years we’ve been able to capture a huge variety of splendid moments on film and flash cards, on tapes and in our memories. Sadly, some of them can’t be repeated any more - Burma, JiTong, Zhalai Nuoer, North Korea - Cuban, Philippine or Indian sugar cane lines it’s all gone now, unrepeatable but unforgotten.
This is reason enough for a small party: The afternoon train in Sroda will be open to everyone (maximum 100 people) for free if you’ve been on one of our tours in the past ten years. If not the price is just £1.00 Sterling. When you want to join our Barbecue after the train ride in Zaniemysl you just need to pay £16.00 including drinks!
For our tour we chose three trusted good narrow gauge lines in the north-western Part of Poland: Nowy Dwor, Gniezno and Sroda. Of course, the focus lies on authentic trains, trains which could have been seen some 20 to 35 years ago on Polish narrow gauge lines. So far as possible we’ll replace the names of the new owners by the original PKP (Polish State Railway) letters. As usual we’ll use the beautiful early morning light to be rewarded with steam exhaust from the morning chill and we’re also planning some night shots.
Wolsztyn offers the last remaining steam operation of a European state railway. The service is unique in Europe: regular passenger trains, mainly green coaches, steam hauled according to a tight schedule on a line which looks very much like 1930 rather than 2010. But not for long any more: in December 2010 the Polish state railway, PKP, starts a modernisation for the line Wolsztyn Poznan (Wollstein Posen) which may leave some of the telegraph poles along the line alive, but which will be the end for semaphores, small stations which are staffed and having still several manually operated points as well as manually operated barriers. It’s high noon if you want to see all this, the flair of the 1930ies. We won’t be able to bring it back to life once it’s gone. It’s like so often now or never.
|20.10.||Individual travel to Gdansk (Danzig), meeting at the airport or at the railway station Gdansk Glowny in the evening, charter bus to our hotel in Bystra|
|21.10.||Charter bus to Nowy Dwor Gdanski (Tiegenhof), here we’ll go aboard our charter train to Sztutowo (Stutthof), many photo stops and runpasts, in Sztutowo we’ll turn the train and go back chimney first to Stegna (Stegen), where we’ll turn the loco again. We’ll continue to the Vistula tender first and then return to Nowy Dwor Gdansk chimney first, charter bus to our hotel in Gniezno|
|22.10.||Charter train (mixed) from Gniezno to Anastazewo. In the evening we’ll continue by charter bus to Sroda (Schroda), hotel in Sroda|
|23.10.||In the morning we’ll take a charter freight train from Sroda to Zaniemysl (Santomischel). We’ll return around noon. In the afternoon we’ll take a PKP-style passenger train from Sroda to Zaniemysl. Barbeque to celebrate the tenth anniversary of FarRail Tours, charter bus to Wolsztyn, Hotel in Wolsztyn|
|24.10.||We’ll follow the regular steam hauled passenger trains from Wolsztyn to Poznan (Wollstein Posen). This line will be modernised from December 2010 and will lose almost all or all German style semaphores, telegraph poles along the line and manually served barriers at level crossings. In addition many stations will lose all their points and their local style platforms, gaining ordinary concrete style after renovation. Hotel in Wolsztyn
If you need to leave today you can leave the group at 15.00 in Poznan main station.
|25.10.||We’ll chase the last regular steam hauled passenger trains on standard gauge in Europe between Wolsztyn and Poznan. Visit to the steam depot of Wolsztyn. Hotel in Wolsztyn|
|26.10.||We’ll take pictures along the line Wolsztyn Poznan again. Our tour ends in Poznan at the main station around 15.30 and at the airport of Poznan at about 16 hrs.|
The first 750 mm track was laid for a sugar factory in 1891. In 1898 the system reached a length of 55 km. The year after the “Westpreußische Kleinbahnen AG” (West Prussian Local Railways Inc.) in Berlin took over the lines and extended the system in the Vistula delta continuously. In 1944 the length of the system exceeded 300 km.
The technical highlight of the line through a flat countryside with many small rivers is a 51 metres long pivot bridge near Rybina (Fischerbabke). This swing bridge was delivered by the Steelworks Dortmund AG in 1905 and is still serviceable in 2010! On both sides of the bridge are gradients.
Up to 1984 there were steam locomotives (last class: Px48) in use. For light passenger services they always used some unique railcars which were replaced by ordinary Romanian railcars in 1986. Since 1970 the Polish state railway PKP cut parts of the line and abandoned passenger services on other sections. In 1996 the last passenger train ran, followed by the very last freight in 1999.
Because this area sees many tourists it was possible to reactivate a part of the line by involving the city councils and a railway enthusiasts club. Under the trading name Kulawskiej Kolei Dojazdowej the line has offered seasonal tourist trains since 2003.
The lines in use are Nowy Dwór Gdanski (Tiegenhof) north-west bound to Mikoszewo/Prawy Brzeg Wisly (Nickelswalde/Rechtes Weichselufer) and north-east bound to Sztutowo (Stutthof).
In 2010 a businessman organised and paid for an overhaul of a Px48 in the workshop at Pila (Schneidemühl). In May 2010 the freshly overhauled locomotive reached Nowy Dwór. Together with some of the remaining freight cars in PKP livery we’ll use this locomotive for our charter train. Authentic passenger coaches are not available any more. We’ll have a freight train and will travel in the guards van.
The line is in a generally flat area often following some minor roads. There are several nice photo positions like the swing bridge and the station where the line splits off in two branches in Stegna Gdanska (Steegen).
The longest ride on the narrow gauge part of our tour will be the 38 km trip on the Gniezno narrow gauge line from Gniezno Wask. to Anastazewo. The countryside is especially beautiful between Powidz and Anastazewo, where there is a lake next to the railway line. Of course we’ll make several photo stops and runpasts here.
Our train will be hauled by an 0-8-0 Px48. Our train will be a typical mixed train with (original green) passenger coach, a green guards and luggage van and two freight cars. Because we’ve planned many runpasts along the line the trip will last almost the full day, so we’ll not have a chance for lunch on this day. We’ll arrange some snacks on the train instead.
The originally meter gauge “Schrodaer Kreisbahn“ had an extension of almost 100 km (without their standard gauge line system, which was operated by the company as well and sold some 80 years ago to the city of Poznan). The only surviving narrow gauge part is Sroda Zaniemysl (Santomischel, during WW II the nazis named it “Schneeschütz“). On this 14 km long section we’ll run two trains, one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon. The morning train will be a narrow gauge freight train, comprising five different wagons: two low-sided open wagons with brake man’s cab, one normal open car, one box car and the obligatory brake van, where we’ll put some emergency seats. If there is a chance we’ll add another freight car to the train. In the afternoon we’ll have a passenger train with two or three coaches plus guards and luggage van. This was the arrangement in the last days under PKP operation up to 2000. As a point of interest, this was the last genuine steam operation of the Polish State Railway PKP, if you consider Wolsztyn as a museum project with regular trains (which it was at that time already). We’ll replace the current inscription on the passenger coaches with the old PKP letters to make the train perfect in every detail. Unlike the other lines, Sroda still has some freight cars which only need a brief inspection before they can be used again.
The line is almost unchanged since the last PKP trains ran on it. Countryside highlights are not available here, so we’ll use the early morning light and the late afternoon light to get some interesting shots. If there is a sunset, we’ll be at the right position to capture it with our train to be in silhouette.
Wolsztyn (in German: Wollstein) is a small Polish town in the former Prussian province of Ostbrandenburg. It is located near Poznan (Posen) and is about 220 km east of Berlin. Many railway enthusiasts have heard of Wolsztyn and visit there regularly due to the daily use of steam locomotives on normal trains. Without doubt, the steam experience there is something very special because this is the only area on any European state railway where you can find steam locomotives in everyday use!
The use of steam on selected normal services is seen as a service to enthusiasts and it helps the local economy.
The economic position of the railway is dire and it’s amazing that anyone in such an organisation could contemplate operating regular trains with steam. Normally the railway would not provide such a service for enthusiasts. However, there are some steam lovers in railway headquarters who support the survival of Wolsztyn, with English enthusiasts as well as the city councils of both, Wolsztyn and Poznan supporting and funding the project.
The little depot at Wolsztyn hosts a range of locomotives, some of them are serviceable. Two types can be used for passenger trains:
Ol 49 a 2-6-2 passenger train locomotive
Pt 47 a mighty 2-8-2 express train locomotive
During our short visit you should not expect to see more than one class in service. According to the staff situation, available locomotives and political decisions you should expect some difficulties which, sometimes, lead to no steam running at all. This is regular service and we can’t guarantee anything.
The countryside around Wolsztyn is varied; there are lakes, plains, low lying hills, small rivers and so on. The special charm of the area is the small towns and villages that are almost unchanged from the last century. It’s still possible to find farmers with horse drawn vehicles coming from their own small fields.
The lines around Wolsztyn feature many interesting station buildings constructed in typical Prussian architectural styles. We’ll find traditional level crossings with small crossing keeper’s houses in half-timbered style. Some of them are still in use after more than 130 years! In addition, there are several other opportunities for the photographer: embankments, cuttings, curves, bridges (both, brick stone and iron ones) and several bridges over the railway track, mainly built in the 1930s and last, but not least, German-style semaphore signals.
Passenger trains normally consist of two or three original green carriages. It might be that they’ll use double deck passenger coaches as well. These are also green.
Steam hauled trains Wolsztyn Poznan
The tour is designed for the demanding photographer and video film maker, for the lover of authentic narrow gauge steam trains as well as for those who like to see a regular steam hauled passenger service where locomotives often exceed the speed limit of the line (mostly) 80 km/h.
Poland is a basically agricultural country of the European Union. Following a deep recession, the economy is now growing strongly, even during the recent world-wide recession. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to experience occasional shortages. The state of repair of many buildings does not match that in Canada, UK or Germany, for example, and the condition of the roads leaves something to be desired. Traffic may follow different rules from those you are used to. The official language is Polish, and the younger population often has a decent command of English. Older citizens often speak some German.
Petty crime such as theft or pickpocketing is no worse than in other European countries. Nevertheless, you would be well advised to keep a close eye on your photo equipment, as always. Our hotels can be considered as very secure.
Please be considerate to others when taking pictures since all participants want to bring home high-quality shots. To make this tour successful for you, you should bring a tripod. We will take some night shots, so please be prepared.
Please note that this trip is not arranged on a full-board basis. On a few occasions, depending on train movements, we may not have time for regular meal breaks.
Entry into Poland requires a valid ID-card for inhabitants of Schengen states, all others need a passport (but for most countries no visa is required).
Electricity (220V, 50 Hz) is available in all our hotels, power cuts are very uncommon. You may need an adapter for the sockets (they have a special safety pin in the centre of the socket). Mobile phone coverage is very good, Poland uses normal European standard. Please take care as you will have to pay roaming costs for incoming phone calls as well as outgoing.
All narrow gauge lines have only one serviceable steam locomotive. As there is no spare, technical problems may put us in a situation where we can’t offer the proposed steam train. In addition you need to consider that the condition of the railway track is, sometimes, very poor. Derailments may occur. In the worst case the local authorities may close the line for technical reasons such as weak bridges or dangerous track conditions. Hence we can’t guarantee that we’ll see all lines with steam. We’ll use wagons which haven’t been moved for 20 years in some cases except on our previous charter train events. We might have to sort out problems which prevent an early start as planned or the use of a certain type of wagon. Please be prepared that not everything will run as ordered. However, be sure that we’ll get a decent amount of very good shots even if one railway fails to deliver.
We’ll chase the passenger trains between Wolsztyn and Poznan using speedy minibuses. However, we need to take care of the traffic rules and consider the sometimes very dense traffic on the roads. You should not expect more than two line shots per train although we might be able to get four. We rate a decent photo/video position higher than getting another shot at a rather boring level crossing. Train chasing doesn’t mean we’ll throw safety overboard or only count the number of shots of the train, we want to make some quality pictures!
|Autumn Colours on Narrow Gauge Lines||12 to 40 participants||£640|
|20.10.2010 24.10.2010||Single room surcharge||£70|
|Registration Deadline: 30.07.2010|
If you’re only interested in the FarRail Tours tenth Anniversary Party, these prices apply:
|FarRail Tours tenth Anniversary Train||from 12 participants||
|23.10.2010, Afternoon (14 18 hrs)||f you took part on a FarRail Tours Journey before||
|FarRail Tours tenth Anniversary Party||from 12 participants||
|23.10.2010, Evening (18 21 hrs)||If you take part on the narrow gauge tour or the Wolsztyn extension||
The price includes:
Not included are:
As a service to our UK-based clients FarRail Tours accepts and will continue to accept payments made out in Pounds Sterling until further notice. However, please note that all prices quoted in Pounds Sterling are indicative only and are subject to change without prior notice. This measure was taken by FarRail Tours due to the unprecedented volatility in the international foreign exchange markets and its impact on the valuation of the Pound Sterling versus other major currencies, namely the Euro as FarRail Tours' accounting currency.