Spring Season along Polish narrow gauge lines

Poland 21.4. – 26/28.4.2008

This tour will provide narrow gauge steam on five different narrow gauge lines of three different gauges in Poland. We’ll use authentic trains which haven’t been seen on some of the lines for more than a decade! To do this we’ll have several freight wagons refurbished which have been out of use for more than 15 years. So far as possible we’ll replace the names of the new owners by the original PKP (Polish State Railway) letters. We’ve planned all the trains to reproduce those which used to be in regular service many years ago: freight trains, passenger trains, mixed trains and trains with standard gauge freight wagons on narrow gauge transporter wagons.

In spring the country comes to life. While in the northern Polish province of Pomorski the first spring flowers are coming out, in the southern province of Wielkopolski, around Gniezno, the meadows already will be green. We’ll use the beautiful early morning light to be rewarded with steam exhaust from the morning chill.

Highlights of your tour are:



Tour 21.04. – 26/28.04.2008

For participants from the UK: There are direct flights from the UK to Poznan with cheap airlines available. We can arrange a transfer from the airport to the main station.






Meeting of the group in Poznan at the main station and transfer to the hotel in Gniezno



Full day travel with an authentic mixed train from Gniezno (Gnesen) to Anastazewo and back, hotel in Gniezno



Morning tour on the 600 mm narrow gauge line of Znin, visit to the museum in Wenecja, afternoon charter bus to Gryfice, castle hotel near Gryfice



Morning steam charter freight train on the ng line of Gryfice (Greifenberg), visit to the museum with many (German) Lenz-locomotives, return to Gniezno, continue to our hotel in Sroda



Morning passenger train from Sroda (Schroda) to Zaniemysl (Santomischel) and back. Late afternoon steam freight train to Zaniemysl, continue to our Motel near Koscian (Kosten)



Steam freight train from Wielichowo to Smigiel (Schmigiel), continue with a short freight train, using standard gauge wagons and narrow gauge transporter wagons from Smigiel to Stare Bojanowo, afternoon return to the main station of Poznan (arrival around 15 hrs) or continue to Wolsztyn



Evening transfer to our hotel in Wolsztyn (Wollstein)



Chasing regular steam hauled passenger trains around Wolsztyn, hotel in Wolsztyn, evening visit to the steam depot Wolsztyn



Morning pictures of steam trains around Wolsztyn, afternoon transfer to the main station in Poznan (arrival around 17 hrs)


Line description

Narrow gauge lines

Gryfice, the former Greifenberger Kleinbahnen AG (1.000 mm)

The only remaining line of a former network of some 500 km long (of which 168 km belonged to the Greifenberger Kleinbahnen) was taken over from the Polish State Railway by the city council of Rewal in 2001. Since that time the railway has offered a tourist schedule for summer guests on the coast. For this purpose they built several open coaches some with a roof. Trains are usually hauled by a diesel. Of course we can’t use these tourist coaches for our train. Therefore we’ve arranged a partial overhaul of seven freight wagons which we’ll use for our authentic train. The white stripe on the van will be painted over as well, so the train will look like a train from the 1970’s. Most of the freight wagons haven’t moved for more than a decade. Therefore we have to cover the costs of their overhaul within the tour price, especially the open wagon needed to complete our train, which needs a heavy overhaul because the wooden planks have rotted away almost completely.

Only the section Gryfice – Pogorzelica Gryf (Greifenberg – Fischerkathen) is still usable. The line heads northbound and later eastwards, so to get the best light, we’ll start in the early morning around sunrise.

The museum in Gryfice has many locomotives on display which are from the first company who operated the railway (and many other minor lines), Lenz & Co. Our charter freight train will be hauled by one of the 16 re-gauged locomotives of the class Px48 (original 750 mm). Currently (mid 2007) the locomotive is in the workshop for an overhaul, so it’s very likely that we’ll have it for our train in excellent condition.

Because of the lack of sufficient rolling stock after WW II (as this former German territory became Poland) most of the 1,000 mm gauge lines were re-gauged to the Polish standard of 750 mm. Some of the lines on the Baltic Sea remained as meter gauge lines. Gryfice is one of them. 

Znin, the former Zniner Kreisbahn (600 mm)

Except for seasonal tourist traffic this once large railway network ceased operation in the mid 1990’s. The first tourist train ran in the late 1970’s, so the railway is used to being frequented by tourists. Unfortunately almost all coaches have been rebuilt as colourful tourist wagons which have nothing in common with regular trains. So again, we cannot use them for our train. From the still available freight wagons we have chosen four for our special train. We’ll have one four axle flat wagon, one two axle flat wagon, one two axle open wagon and one four axle box car, all behind the 0-8-0 Px38. Some of the freight wagons have been dumped for almost 20 years already, so we need to cover the costs of an inspection and partial overhaul. On a pre-visit together with an engineer from the railways I checked the condition of the wagons and we chose the candidates to form our train. The two flat wagons are still in use for track maintenance, so we only need to pay for the other two wagons. We’ll see the first authentic train on this line for more than a decade!

Of the once 76 km line, there remains only 12 km, from Znin (Znin) to Gasawa (Gonsawa). At the moment there is no opportunity to turn the locomotive in Znin. In 2008 they want to repair the facilities so that we are confident of getting the locomotive with the chimney facing south. If they fail to finish the repairs in time, we’ll start early in the morning when the sun comes from the east. On a small part of the line (near the lakes in Biskupin) we’ll have the sun on the smokebox in this case.

Our locomotive will be Px 38 805. We need to modify the loco a bit to make it look like a real PKP locomotive again. We’ll remove the plate “Leon” as well as a white sticker on the cab. In March 2008 the loco needs to pass a boiler test. As the pipes were replaced in 2001 and use is always gentle, the railway don’t expect problems passing this test.

The museum of the railway is in Wenecja On our return trip we’ll make a stop there to visit it.

Gniezno, the former Gnesener Kreisbahn (now 750 mm)

The longest ride on 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.

Sroda, the former Schrodaer Kreisbahn (now 750 mm)

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 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 passenger train with two 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 train (which it was at that time already). We’ll replace the current inscription on the passenger coaches by the old PKP letters to make the train perfect in every detail. In the afternoon we’ll have 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. 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 for getting some interesting shots.

Smigiel, the former Schmiegelner Kreisbahn (now 750 mm)

The “Schmiegelner Kreisbahn“ was also built as a meter gauge line and was re-gauged after the war to the Polish standard gauge of 750 mm. From the former 50 km line length, 23 km are still in use. Since the city council of Sroda took over the line from the state railway they have made a loss (actually the PKP made a loss with the line as well). Therefore the line has a very uncertain future and it is well advised that we cover the costs of the transfer of one steam loco to this line before it’s too late. The installations and rolling stock need urgent repairs, but the railway doesn’t have sufficient money to carry them out. Only the school traffic and a very limited freight traffic remains. They had to give up most freight traffic to Wielichowo because their track condition doesn’t allow standard gauge wagons on transporters any more.

Smigiel has no passenger coaches any more, the school traffic is operated by Romanian railcars and trailers. On the pre-tour to arrange the trip we checked all available rolling stock and finally found some freight wagons which could be made serviceable for little money. We’ll use the narrow gauge freight train from Wielichowo (from 1939 – 45 Wiesenstadt) to Smigiel. We’ll pay for the overhaul of a big open freight car which will give us the chance of a four wagon freight train. More than four wagons are not possible because the track is so uneven that the wheels of the loco will almost never have contact with the rails all together at the same time. Given this, the load and the speed of our train will be very limited. In Smigiel we’ll change the train. From Smigiel to Stare Bojanowo (old Boyen) we’ll have a standard gauge freight wagon on two transporter wagons – or, if we can manage to get two axle standard gauge freight cars – we’ll have two standard gauge wagons on two transporter cars. The problem in getting two axle standard gauge freight cars is that the Poznan division no longer has any. They use only the 80 to 84 tons bogie freight cars for coal transport. So we enquired about getting them from the Opole (Oppeln) division. Both types of coal wagons have been used on transporter cars from Stare Boyanowo to Wielichowo.

As mentioned above, one Px48 will be transferred using cranes and a high-capacity road transporter from another line to Smigiel. The line is definitely worth the effort and we want to make sure that we don’t miss it before it’s closed forever.


Optional: Regular steam trains around Wolsztyn

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. Just how long this can last is unclear and you should plan to visit here sooner rather than later.

The little depot at Wolstyn hosts an amazing range of locomotives. Three types can be used for passenger trains:

During our short visit you should not expect to see more than two classes in service. According to the staff situation, available locomotives and political decisions you should expect to see from none to three standard gauge engines in use on normal passenger trains. This is regular service and we can’t guarantee anything.

Two lines still see steam: from Wolstyn to Poznan and from Wolsztyn to Leszno.

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 semaphores signals.

Passenger trains normally consist of two or three green carriages with a white stripe. It might be that they’ll use double deck passenger coaches as well. These are usually not green anymore, but in a blue and yellow livery.

More information about Wolsztyn and Gniezno ng you can find here:

June 2003 Trip report
December 2003 Trip report
May 2005 Trip report
October 2005 Trip report


Small Print

The tour is designed for the demanding photographer and video film maker as well as for the lover of authentic narrow gauge steam trains.

Poland is a basically agricultural country of the European Union. Following a recession, the economy is now growing strongly. 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 and vehicle. Our hotels can be considered as 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 passport. No visa is required (see below).

Electricity (220V, 50 Hz) is available in all our hotels, power cuts are very uncommon. You may need an adapter for the sockets. 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 or even need to borrow one from another line. 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. 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. As we have six narrow steam charters you can be sure that we’ll get a decent amount of very good shots even if one railway fails to deliver.

The Wolsztyn extra might be on the same date as the annual steam locomotive festival. The date was not fixed as the itinerary was written. If they hold the festival on the same date we’re there, you should expect a huge crowd of railway enthusiasts and families which can only be avoided by taking pictures further away from Wolstzyn. The plus side would be the additional number of locomotives under steam.



Narrow Gauge Steam in Poland

12 - 20 participants


21. – 26.04.2008

10 - 11 participants



Single room supplement


Regular standard gauge steam in Wolsztyn

9 - 15 participants


26. – 28.04.2008

5 - 8 participants



Single room supplement


Minimum number of participants: 10
Maximum number of participants 20

The price includes:

Not included are


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