INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1268 5 NOVEMBER 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
The Tramway du Cap-Ferret, also known as the Petit Train du Cap-Ferret, is a 600 mm gauge railway on Cap Ferret, a
peninsula that which divides the Atlantic Ocean from Arcachon Bay. When first opened in 1879 the service was horse
drawn. Locomotives took over in 1925, but the service ceased in 1935 only to start again in 1952. In 1989, the train was
acquired by the commune of Lège-Cap-Ferret. The line is some 2 kilometres long and connects the beach at Plage de
l'horizon on the Atlantic coast with the jetty at Jetée de Bélisaire on Arcachon Bay. The Siede and Rethel tour of
September 2016 covered the length of the line including the depot branch, and is seen at Plage de l'horizon, which is
reached by an ascent over sand dunes. Locomotive number 2 is about to run round. The rate of travel may be described
as sedate, and two photographers in the group had no difficulty in keeping ahead of the train on the return journey – the
line being largely situated along the road side.
 Czech Republic - Negrelli viaduct in Praha to undergo extensive reconstruction
The Negrelli viaduct in Praha, the first railway bridge to be built across the Vltava River in 1850, is set to
undergo extensive reconstruction in order to create a link from the city centre to Praha Airport. The 1130
metre viaduct is the second oldest bridge in Praha and the oldest railway bridge across the Vltava. Until
1910, it was also the longest viaduct in Europe. The viaduct was named after its designer, Austrian
engineer Alois Negrelli von Moldelbe. Work on it started in 1846, employing about 3,000 workers, and the
bridge was completed four years later. The Czech Railway Infrastructure Administration has just
announced a public tender for the renovation of the unique technological landmark. The reconstruction,
which is required to ensure the future of the bridge, is to be launched in the autumn of 2017. Work on the
bridge is expected to take 39 months. The reconstruction of the Negrelli Viaduct is linked to the
modernisation of the railway route from Praha to Kladno and it will be the first stage of the railway
connection to Praha Airport. The bridge is expected to be completely closed for most of the reconstruction
work, with trains that regularly terminate at Masayrkovo nádraží diverted to Bubny Train Station. The
reconstruction of the Negrelli viaduct has been postponed for several years, having been first proposed in
2012. During the summer months, some of the bridge’s arches in the city’s Karlín district had been
temporarily converted into bars, galleries and even a cinema. However, it is not yet clear how the arches
will be used after the reconstruction is completed.
 France – No trains on Chemin de Fer touristique de la Brévenne in 2016
The Chemin de Fer touristique de la Brévenne (CFTB) have run tourist trains between Sain-Bel and Ste-Foy-
l'Argentière (west of Lyon), but not since September 2012. Since then the need for major repairs to the
infrastructure as well as bureaucratic problems have prevented the tourist operation resuming, and 2016
saw no trains operate.
 France – Unusual opportunity for freight line in France
TransRhinRail are running shuttles from Colmar to Neuf Brisach on 10 and 11 December. Though meant for
Christmas Markets in the two cities, the trains are also to demonstrate local support for re-opening of the
Colmar to Breisach (Germany) railway, currently freight only in France and with the bridge over the Rhein
missing. There will be 4 or 5 round trips daily at two hour intervals. A single is €3 and return €5.
Subject to final confirmation, on Sunday the 11:30 ex Colmar and return working will be extended to
Volgelsheim over privately owned tracks. The cost of the extension is €100, divided between those
Numbers are limited, so advance booking and payment by bank transfer is recommended. Post of tickets
to UK is €1. Any unsold places will be available by payment on the train. Contact Patrick Kerber at
[email protected] http://www.transrhinrail.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FLYER_france-1.jpg
 Germany – News from around the Länder
Baden-Württemberg: Two significant hurdles in the way of reopening Weil der Stadt to Calw have now
been overcome. Consent has been given for the construction of a new tunnel (498m) which will shorten
the route from 22 to 19km, and also for a new 1.8km crossing loop at Ostelsheim. A further hurdle being
tackled at present is that of bats in the two existing tunnels. Originally about 7000 bats lived there but this
has now been reduced to about 1000. The report suggests that re-settlement rather than more gruesome
methods have been used.
Vaihingen (Enz) The 7 km former branch from Vaihingen (Enz) Nord to Enzweihingen is up for formal
closure by owner WEG. In latter days traffic was a limited service almost entirely for school children. The
last train ran 12 September 2002 and the line has been shut ever since. This line goes under the station at
Vaihingen (Enz) where the Mannheim - Stuttgart NBS meets the old Stuttgart - Pforzheim route, and
interchange between them was possible.
On the 30 April 2002 DMU VT04 is seen at Enzweihingen having arrived with a train load of schoolchildren. The DMU had
actually started life as a coach and the inside was covered with posters of natural history and national parks. There were
no passengers other than the photographer for the return journey at 14:05 to Vaihingen Nord.
Changes coming around Breisgau. From December 2019 DB Regio will take over four routes out of Freiburg
and operate the future ‘Breisgau S-bahn network’. The SWEG owned routes from Endingen to Gottenheim,
Endingen to Breisach will be electrified as well as Neustadt to Donaueschingen line with all electrification
work completed by June 2019.
Bayern: Gotteszell to Viechtach. This line has carried summer tourist trains in the past, but now has a trial
regular service which started on 12 September. At one stage it was not clear that the services would start
at all. The operators had advised that falling numbers of schoolchildren would make the project
uneconomical. However subsidies and other terms were agreed at the last moment.
Markt Wald – Gessertshausen. This line also has tourist trains on selected weekends, but a regular service
is expected to be introduced in 2021. Some preliminary engineering work is underway.
Brandenburg: Passenger services between Putlitz and Pritzwalk West were withdrawn after 29 July. On
the last day passenger numbers were boosted by a local pop festival and trains called at a re-opened halt
Putlitz Sud. The owners of the line are thought to favour closure due to its poor condition and the need to
maintain/share expenditure on level crossings in Pritzwalk with DB Netz where the DB and private lines run
parallel. Closure would avoid these costs. Remaining services now operate to and from Pritzwalk West.
There is some mention of trains having to go just to the west of Pritzwalk West before reversing. This has
something to do with level crossing operation.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: The 0.5km 600mm line at the Pommerschen Kleinbahnmuseum in Putbus on
the island of Rügen, 350 metres of which was on the trackbed of the old line to Altefähr, was lifted in
December 2014, and will not be coming back as some of the space will now be used for a car park.
Niedersachsen: Permission for DB to construct a curve linking the Diepholz – Sulingen and Sulingen –
Barenburg lines has been successfully challenged in court. At present freight trains have to run into
Sulingen and run round. The curve was meant to make working easier, but would result in the lines into
Sulingen being lifted. Opponents challenged the permission on the grounds that it would make re-
introduction of passenger services to Sulingen more difficult.
Lüneburg to Bleckede. This line has seen occasional tourist trains (and some traffic to a railway works)
since closure to freight in 2004. A trial train of stone chippings from a gravel pit in Bleckede operated on
11 August from the Bleckede Hafen.
Nordrhein-Westfalen: Herzogenrath to Stolberg (Rheinland) Hbf. The reopened section from Eschweiler St
Joris to Stolberg was sampled as part of a trip from Herzogenrath. The destination indicator on the trains
shows a very specific destination Stolberg Gl 44 which is unusual. On the way the screens inside the train
show it calling at Herzogenrath A – Merk (Not Angela Merkel, apparently but Alt Merkstein). Loadings
appeared to be quite healthy. Electrification is apparently planned for the line as early as 2020.
Rheinland-Pfalz: The Bitburg Erdorf to Bitburg Stadt line was sold to an electricity company, Amprion, to
be used for the occasional movement of transformers. They have spent about €35M refurbishing the line,
which is apparently cheaper than setting up a loading facility at Bitburg Erdorf and altering local roads.
The line is now officially classed as a siding, but can still be used by occasional passenger trains. The first of
these operated on 23 June 2016 and DGEG are visiting the line on 10 December with their trip around
Trier. The platform at Bitburg Stadt has been retained. There is a garden show scheduled for 2022 and it is
hoped regular services may operate for that.
Langmeil (Pfalz) – Monsheim: This line requires expensive repairs which could threaten operation of the
passenger trains which operate during the summer.
Sachsen: Regular passenger trains between Adorf and Zwotental ceased in 2012, but there have been
occasional passenger excursions since then. According to local press reports the line could close
completely next year. Negotiations between DB Netz (the current owners) and Deutsche
Regionaleisenbahn (DRE) for acquisition of the line appear to have broken down.
The Schwarzbachbahn eV society is planning to rebuild some of the closed 750mm Goßdorf-Kohlmühle –
Hohnstein line just north of Bad Schandau. Due to planning problems (National Park authorities etc), they
intend to start at Lohsdorf and rebuild northwards with the 2.42km section to Unterehrenberg being the
first objective. They already have planning and operating permission and support from the town council in
Hohnstein but need to acquire the trackbed - as currently only have 700 metres of it. Tracks have already
been laid by the renovated station building at Lohsdorf and the society has its headquarters in the station
building at Goßdorf-Kohlmühle. The railway was closed and dismantled in 1951 in order to supply material
for the Berlin Outer Ring.
Dippoldiswalde to Kurort Kipsdorf. This line was badly damaged by floods in August 2002. Rebuilding work
is underway, including use of sleepers made from recycled plastic. A draft timetable has been released
(leaked?) which suggests that there will be three trains a day between Freithal and Dippoldiswalde of
which only one will be extended to Kurort Kipsdorf. Arrival in Kurort Kipsdorf is scheduled for 16:02 with
the return at 17:25, so that’s not going to help the tourist trade. There may be a better service at peak
Plans to re-open the Großpostwitz to Löbau (Sachs) line by heritage group OSEF as a museum line (closed
to passenger trains 1 June 1997 and completely 15 August 1998) look doomed. Already all but the last
kilometre into Löbau has been turned into a cycle way. Google maps shows the last remaining section as
being from Löbau to the B178 road. Now the local authorities want to turn this section into a cycleway,
despite OSEF spending years and cash rebuilding the line (including two bridges) which they lease.
Sachsen-Anhalt: Short section of narrow gauge reopens east of Magdeburg. Traditionsverein Kleinbahn
des Kreises Jerichow I e. V operates heritage trains on the 5.3km 600mm gauge line between Altengrabow
and Magdeburgerforth. On 24 September they reopened a short section from Magdeburgerforth to
The Klughardtstraße – Kreuzbergstraße section of the Dessau tram system shut for good on 2 July and has
already been removed.
The railway line from Oranienbaum to Vockerode was a former brown coal mining railway serving
Vockerode power station but now owned by ELS Eisenbahn Logistik und Service GmbH from Neustrelitz.
5.5km had been used as a draisine operation since 2004 with 5000 people using it annually. ELS Eisenbahn
Logistik want to sell the land and lift the track to sell it as scrap. The draisine operator’s lease ended in
Schleswig-Holstein: The Elmshorn-Barmstedt-Oldesloer Eisenbahn once ran from Elmshorn to Bad
Oldesloe, but today only the western half (Elmshorn to Henstedt-Ulzburg, passenger trains operated by
AKN) and a 4.2 km section from Bad Oldesloe to Blumendorf, remain. The latter section is owned by the
town council in Bad Oldesloe and is used by only one freight train a week. Not surprising therefore that
they want to close it.
 Germany – Visit to the Kall – Hellenthal branch
This branch off the Koln – Trier line is 17.8 km long. It runs in a north westerly direction as far as Gemünd
before turning to the south west towards Hellenthal. Opened in 1884, the line was partially destroyed by
the events of 1945, before reopening in 1948. Passenger services were withdrawn in 1981 and freight
(with the exception of military traffic to sidings at Höddelbusch) in 1994.
The section beyond Höddelbusch was officially closed in 1997. The Rhein Sieg Eisenbahn took a lease of
the Kall – Höddelbusch section in 1999, and tourist trains started running from Kall to Gemünd in 2004, to
a temporary halt at Schleiden in 2005, to Oberhausen in 2008, to Blumenthal in 2009 and finally to
Hellenthal in 2010. The Rhein Sieg Eisenbahn has the concession to run trains until 2058. The military
traffic ceased in 2005, although there has since been some freight in the form of sporadic timber traffic.
The line now has listed status. One of the highlights is a section which runs across the village square in
Olef, the trains being reduced to walking pace and preceded by a flagman. The line also runs through some
pleasant scenery. Passenger trains run/have run on Sundays and public holidays this year from 15 May to 1
November. Details can be found under www.oleftalbahn.de
The line was visited by the writer on 25 September. His last visit had been when trains were operating only
to the temporary halt at Schleiden. There was a town festival in Kall where some streets had been closed
to traffic and turned into a linear car boot sale (but without the car boots). The RSE MAN diesel railbus
operated to and from Gleis 10 at Kall, movements on and off the branch being controlled by the DB
signalman. There were a reasonable number of passengers on the services sampled, including
intermediate traffic. There were no signs of any current freight traffic, any sidings being quite rusty. Station
buildings remain at Kall, Gemünd, Blumenthal and Hellenthal. The platform at Hellenthal now adjoins the
bus station. Track continues for about 200m beyond Hellenthal to buffer stops. The train crew, recognising
the writer as an enthusiast, offered a trip beyond the platform as far as a foot crossing. Beyond there the
line was heavily overgrown and it was not considered safe to proceed.
 Lithuania/Poland – Journey on the new standard gauge line
As part of a larger trip in Poland two members decided to start their journey in Kaunas, Lithuania and
travel on the new standard gauge line into Poland.
The new standard gauge line ends at buffer stops at the east end of Kaunas station beyond the standard gauge platforms
in the distance, which are much shorter than the Russian gauge platforms on the right.
After flying into Kaunas and taking the number 29 bus into town (€0.80 payable to the driver) they walked
to the Žaliakalnis funicular but found that it had closed at 16:00, rather than the 18:00 mentioned on
several web-sites. For one member this was the third failure to travel on it, but he took it philosophically
and photographed the other funicular in Kaunas at Aleksotas as the other member griced its 142 metres
both ways. Authentic traction equipment, including the genuine pre-war cars, wooden seats, and stop
platforms of the funicular are still used, with the price being €0.50 each way. A visit to the railway station
allowed them to buy tickets for the Białystok train the following morning. These turned out to be Polska-
Litwa Regio specials costing a mere €11.00 each, which is the opening promotional fare and still current in
the services flyer. A visit to the bridge east of the station revealed that the standard gauge line ended at
buffer stops east of the standard gauge platforms. These are the southernmost platforms in the station
layout, numbers 4 and 5.
The new service runs at 07:43 from Kaunas to Białystok (Saturday and Sunday) and 15:19 Białystok to
Kaunas (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with a journey time of about five hours.
Saturday 1 October dawned bright and sunny and a brisk walk to the station found PKP DMU SA133-019
waiting in the standard gauge platforms, with 40 passengers setting off on the journey.
The Russian gauge and standard gauge lines cross the Nemunas River as separate single track lines, but
after the bridge, the Russian Gauge (RG) becomes double track and the Standard Gauge (SG) stays single
on the southern side. At the junction with the Kaunas avoiding line there was no evidence of any work to
convert this to dual gauge for the trans-shipment facility constructed at Palemonas. Subsequently it was
found that on 7 October LG awarded a consortium an 18-month contract worth €15.6m to build a standard
gauge link between Kaunas intermodal terminal (at Palemonas) and the junction with Rail Baltica I (the
standard gauge route between Poland and Kaunas inaugurated in 2015). This will require 5 km of 1435 mm
gauge track and the modernisation of 3 km of 1520 mm Russian gauge track, and on completion will
enable Rail Baltica I to be used by freight trains.
The SG line crossed the RG line on the flat, this being taken rather slowly – in fact any crossing of the two
gauges was invariably taken slowly. It was noticeable from the start that only a very few crossings (always
of large roads) had barriers and lights allowing them to be taken at speed. Almost all road crossings were
unmanned, or controlled by a man in hi-vis jacket holding aloft a furled flag. These were always taken at
reduced speed. The line speed was 80km per hour until Mockava, when it increased to 100hm/h. Also
notable was the amount of soundproofing panels installed in station areas in Lithuania. In some cases,
such as Kazlų Rūda, this was for about 2km and completely hid most of the town (but not the station
building) from view.
After Kazlų Rūda the line to Poland diverges from the line to Kaliningrad, and is two track – one SG and one
RG. All stations are on the RG line. Approaching Marijampole a RG branch, obviously used, trails in right
and after a short distance enters a works. There is a flat crossing of the RG which enters sidings to the left
of the SG line, but red stop markers on each side of this suggest it is not in regular use. The new SG
platforms at Marijampole are off-set and to the north of the RG platforms. The station building is very
attractive and shows signs of cosmetic work to the brickwork. However the real interest is south of the
station where the SG moves to the right hand (westernmost) side, having previously been on the left. This
is probably because the freight facilities in Marijampole, a site a few kilometes further along and the next
significant station, Šeštokai, are on the left hand side. The train does not stop in Šeštokai and, to our
members surprise, the only platform here (which is by the station building) is now on the SG line with the
old canopied interchange platform demolished. A check of the timetable revealed that no LG (Lietuvos
Geležinkeliai = Lithuanian Railways) trains go to Šeštokai and the standard gauge trains do not stop there,
so the station lost its service on 29 September 2013 when the line closed for rebuilding. Freight to/from
Lithuania still transfers at Šeštokai which has four overhead cranes and a transhipment platform. LG have
at least one standard gauge locomotive (M62 1482) based at Šeštokai which according to photos on the
web works freight to/from Mockava. South of Šeštokai the two lines interlace to form a single four rail dual
gauge track railway as far as Mockava. A quick head count on this cross border section found 28
passengers on the train. The two lines separate before Mockava where there are two SG and 4 RG lines.
After gingerly going over a final flat crossing with the RG (which ends in two headshunts), the SG continues
into Poland, still without any border or customs inspection. Trakiszki is the first stop, and in the 20 minutes
at the station the northbound service is crossed, and the Lithuanian guard and driver return with it. It was
rather sad to see only one passenger on the northbound service. The train continued to Suwałki where it
became reasonably well filled and reversed. With an upgrade of the line from the border near Mockava to
Białystok planned, our members speculated on a possible re-instatement of the Suwałki avoiding line, but
concluded it was unlikely in the short term as Suwałki is a sizeable town of 69,000 people. The train ran
perfectly to time throughout and at Białystok connected into trains to Olsztyn and Warszawa.
A fine array of semaphores are present at the east end of Białystok station. Passengers walk over the tracks to the
platforms – the overbridge being used by those wishing to leave the station area for the city centre.
 Serbia and Montenegro - Trip report 19-26 July (Part 3)
Saturday 23 July
When originally planned this trip our members had thought about making a return trip into Kosovo on
Saturday morning, on the "illegal" service to Mitrovicë. However the more they thought about it the more
concerned they became about how conspicuous and suspicious they would look, carrying big bags into and
out of the country again on the same train, so they chickened out. Plan 'B' then was to do a return trip to
Lapovo instead, but having done most of the trip from Požega in the dark the previous evening they opted
for plan 'C' which was to do a return trip to Požega in daylight before proceeding to Stalać and Niš. One big
advantage of plan 'C' over the other two plans was that it would mean a gentle start in the morning on the
10:50 service compared to a crack-of-dawn departure and missed breakfast. It also gave time to walk
around the town where they were able to stock up on drinks and snacks and to visit the local tourist
Their train to Požega was formed of one of the latest Russian built class 711 DMUs. Apparently they are in
the middle of taking delivery of 27 of these units to supplement the 12 they received in 2012. The latest
ones carry the logos for the newly created SB passenger sector and like the new FLIRT EMUs they have
managed to keep them graffiti-free. Being air conditioned they also provide a nice travelling environment
and are a huge improvement on the units that they've replaced. The train was just a few minutes late
arriving at Požega, before returning with the same unit to Kraljevo on the 12:50 service. Kraljevo was a
hive of activity when they arrived back there with class 711 DMUs bound for Stalać, Lapovo, Mitrovicë and
Požega all in the station plus another unit spare on the stabling point. Their train was the 14:25 to Stalać
(and onwards to Paraćin). This line actually lost its service in December 2009 but regained it again in
December 2014. The driver left his cab door open and they had seats right at the front so were able to
view the line ahead, and the state of the track at times was appalling! Approaching Kruševac in particular it
was possible to see that the gauge was spreading in some places, but as one of our members reassuringly
remarked, they were going so slowly that we wouldn't come to any harm even if we did come off!
Arrival at Stalać was just a couple of minutes late and here they experienced what was a recurring problem
in Serbia- the paucity of information on train arrivals and departures. Their connection to Niš did not
appear at the scheduled time and all they could do was wait on what they thought would be the departure
platform. The train finally arrived 37 minutes late from Palanka, formed of another FLIRT EMU so they had
a pleasant air-conditioned 1½ hour journey to Niš. Soon after leaving Stalać they passed the 15:45 local
train from Niš to Beograd which was formed of one of their old class 412 RVZ-Riga built units, plastered in
graffiti and frankly looking disgusting. This seems to be the typical condition for this type of unit in Serbia.
Along the way they also passed the "Balkan" which is the Sofia to Beograd train, running a mere 105
minutes late! Their plans included catching this train on Monday to get them back to Beograd so seeing the
train running this late was not a good omen, but the fall-back prospect of the 15:45 local service to
Beograd with an old EMU was definitely not palatable! The station at Niš is well away from the town
centre so they needed the services of a taxi to get them to the Hotel Eter.
Sunday 24 July
Another hot day with 30+ degree temperatures in prospect, and another fairly simple plan with the 10:53
service from Niš to Zaječar followed by a return trip from there to Majdanpek. After getting a taxi to the
station they found the 10:53 from Niš being worked by another Russian built class 711, so again they had a
pleasant air-conditioned journey. The line climbs quite steeply and at times the route is cut through a
twisting gorge so it is quite spectacular. At Knjaževac they passed a southbound service which was worked
by one of the older ex-Swedish Fiat built class 710 single car units. This working, the 11:50 from Zaječar,
would be their train the following day so assuming that the stock would be the same it looked like they
might have a less comfortable return journey.
At Zaječar there is a small depot where they keep several class 661 locos for local freight as well as a fleet
of four or five class 710 units. Their train, the 14:30 to Majdanpek, was already in the platform when they
arrived formed of unit 710-001. Worryingly though, the driver and a fitter were working in the control
cabinet when they boarded so it looked as though all was not well with the unit. They were 10 minutes
late away because the train had to wait for an incoming service to clear the single line, but as they climbed
very steeply towards Bor the train got slower and slower and finally stalled completely a few km short of
the end of the initial climb at Borska Slatina. It was clear that only one of the two engines was working and
the driver went to the control cabinet again where he was able to top up the coolant from a plentiful
supply of bottles of water in the luggage rack and after a while was able to restart the second engine and
get the train moving again. Approaching Bor there is a large copper mine and smelting facility with a large
and obviously busy yard. The train reached Bor station 33 minutes late and because the unit was clearly
sick our members were concerned that they weren't going to get to the terminus at Majdanpek, however
they set off again from Bor, climbing again, and got as far as the tunnel just beyond Cerovo before the
second engine overheated and the train stopped again. With only one engine running there appeared to
be a secondary problem that it was not possible to maintain air pressure with the result that the
pneumatic control systems were not responding. The train was stopped for about 17 minutes, inside the
tunnel, before the driver was able to restart the engine and get the train moving again. Shortly after
exiting the tunnel the summit of the line was reached and the train started to drop down steeply, so
concern then shifted to whether they would be able to climb back up the line on the return journey. They
finally arrived at Majdanpek 52 minutes late and after just a few minutes set off again on the return
journey. By contrast the return journey was relatively uneventful, with the driver revving up the engines at
each stop to presumably help raise the air pressure but otherwise managing to keep the train moving and
actually making up some time, getting them back to Zaječar 25 minutes late at 19:44. Their hotel in
Zaječar, the Garni Hotel Hamburg, was about 10 minutes walk from the station.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Algeria – Algiers to Zeralda line opens
This project, started in June 2011 was to be delivered in December 2015 but has been delayed by land
acquisition problems and difficulty rerouting water mains. It opened on 1 November, the date being
selected to celebrate the outbreak of the war of national liberation. The new railway runs from Algiers
west to Birtouta and on to Zeralda. The 23 km of electrified double track railway will serve three stations;
Tessala el Merdja, Sidi Abdallah and the new university centre of Sidi Abdallah. The line includes 4
overpasses, 5 railway bridges, 7 road bridges, 2 tunnels and 2 substantial retaining structures. Zeralda will
be less than 60 minutes from Algiers.
 Turkey (Asiatic) - Developments around Manisa
A recent visitor noted that the new Manisa avoiding line appears to be complete and appears to run from
approximately km 69.3 on the Manisa to Balikesir line to approximately km 70 on the Manisa to Ușak line,
in parallel with - and immediately to the north of - the D250 road embankment. The line is double track,
reducing to single track at either end. It is - as yet - unelectrified. The main use for this avoiding line would
be for coal traffic from Soma to gain access to the Ușak /Afyon line without reversal at Manisa, and vice
versa for the empty wagons heading for Soma. He considers it unlikely that there will be any booked
passenger services on the route. Contrary to other reports, the line from Menemen to Manisa is not yet
electrified. The Manisa station area and north thereof is electrified. No work was observed to be taking
place between Menemen and Manisa. Possibly this is awaiting a decision on potential double tracking, so
that Manisa could then be incorporated into the Izban network.
 USA - Mesa Metro extension started
Construction of the 1.9 mile Gilbert Road Extension of the Valley Metro network in the city of Mesa,
Arizona started on October 15. This follows the opening of a 3.2 mile extension from Phoenix to central
Mesa opened in August 2015. The event was marked by a balloon release. The extension is due to open by
early 2019 and will extend eastward from the current terminus at Mesa Drive, along Main Street to Gilbert
Road. Valley Metro Rail first started operating in 2008. It has 26.3 miles route miles of standard gauge
track and is 750V overhead electrified. It serves the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. Several
further extensions are also planned.
 USA - New Orleans Tram Extension
The extension to the New Orleans Tram Network known as the ‘French Quarter Rail Expansion’ has opened
on schedule. Work on the extension began in January 2015. Passenger services began on 2 October 2016.
The line is 1.5 miles long, with on street trams and links North Rampart Street with Elysian Fields Avenue,
with six stops. Streetcars first started running in New Orleans in 1835, initially using horse drawn trams and
steam locomotives. Electric trams took over in 1893. The system was badly damaged by flooding caused by
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and it took several years before all services were resumed. There are now 23.8
route miles of 5ft 2 ½ in (1588mm) gauge (Pennsylvania Trolley Gauge) track.
NOVEMBER 2016 BLNI Extra No. 19 - Poland
[B73] Poland/Germany - Cross border accord signed
DB Netz AG and Polish national infrastructure business PKP PLK have signed an agreement to improve nine
cross-border routes that include Frankfurt (Oder) to Rzepin, the lines from Löcknitz and Tantow to
Szczecin, Guben – Gubin and Görlitz – Zgorzelec. The accord covers arrangements for operations and path
allocation as well as upgrading and modernisation of the various routes. Renewal of bridges and
installation of new signalling and train control equipment are priority areas, and the two parties have also
agreed details for infrastructure maintenance and planning. It is believed Guben – Gubin will include the
long awaited upgrade to passenger services.
[B74] Poland – Second attempt for Wielbark
Reported in BLNI 1170.411 and 1189.292, the 21kms at the northern end of the Szczytno to Ostrołęka line
re-opened in January 2013 to serve a large Swedwood factory (part of the IKEA group) at Wielbark but the
service was suspended from 9 June 2013, apparently for financial reasons as the local authority grant had
ended. The line, which used to run through to Ostrołęka, had originally closed in 2001. The two train pair
service designed for workers at the factory failed to receive sufficient patronage and also the freight
service to the factory never started. The first 8 km are used by trains from Olsztyn to Szmany Lotnisko
(Olsztyn airport) which is on a short branch off the line. The remaining 13km south of Szmany podg will
reopen from 29 October with trains at weekends only, departing Olsztyn at 05:13 and 13:32, and Wielbark
at 06:40 and 15:26.
[B75] Poland – Getting to Zakopane faster
Travelling from Kraków to Zakopane requires no less than three reversals at present. The first, at Kraków-
Płaszów, is being eliminated by construction of a new curve from Kraków directly on to the Zakopane line,
and in early October construction was observed to be well advanced with two sides of an elevated flying
junction largely complete at the Kraków end. See BLNI 1196.443. The blue and white colour scheme is
actually quite attractive. Further south the Sucha Beskidzka avoiding line is reported to be under
construction. This is a much shorter and simpler affair, being only 500 metres long. The course is shown on
Some reports suggest a second station is being constructed on the curve, which would make sense as
Sucha Beskidzka is a sizeable town. Late 2017 is being quoted for opening of the curve. The final reversal is
at Chabówka and a recent web posting suggests PKP are thinking about a Chabówka avoider, but not until
at least 2021.
[B76] Poland – Gorlice branch continues in use
In the south east corner of Poland between Jasło and Grybów is the 4.16 km branch from Gorlice
Zagórzany to the town of Gorlice. This reopened in 2016 for summer only weekend trains, and it seems
these were sufficiently well patronised for a service to continue from 3 October. This will be for the benefit
of students who want to reach the universities in the capital of Podkarpacie and the service will run from
Gorlice to Rzeszów on Monday mornings, and to Gorlice on Friday afternoons, when an out and back trip
as far as Jasło is possible for gricers.
[B77] Poland – Visit to the Żnin-Gąsawa narrow gauge railway
This is the remnant of a 600mm gauge system throughout the Żnin District centered on Żnin itself and Żnin
NG station is just across the road from the PKP station, now a weed strewn landscape but still with
semaphores and an intact station building visible from the undergrowth. Today's line runs 12 km to
Gąsawa from the immaculately kept Żnińska Kolej Powiatowa station opposite and just a few minutes from
the bus station. In high summer it has 5 return services a day. The reason for the daily operation is because
the line has a major tourist attraction on its route at Biskulpin. Biskulpin is a recreation of an Iron Age
settlement on a real site that was first discovered in the 1930s when the adjacent lake was lowered due to
drainage, revealing the old wooden plan preserved in the mud; today it draws crowds from all over Poland
and beyond. This, and the open air railway museum at Wenecja http://muzeumŻnin.pl/ a little further
along combined with some old castle ruins opposite provide a full day of exploration. On these high season
days with a 5 train service, 4 cross at Wenecja and operate right hand running. Getting in the loop and
visiting the railway museum are not compatible as the museum has its own platform only 200 metres
distant on the single track. In August two quite disparate locomotives were in use. Diesel LyD2 64 was built
in Romania and is the size of a UK standard gauge shunter. The other locomotive was a small (certainly by
comparison) 0-6-0 built in Karl Marx works Babelsberg in 1956.
Lyd 2-64 stands at Gąsawa 12 km from Żnin Wąsk. Gąsawa is
the terminus station today, but was once part of a system of
600mm gauge lines serving the whole region. This is train 5312,
the 10:10 Gąsawa to Żnin Wąsk., with the 1981 built
locomotive having run around its long rake of coaches which
will soon be filled. Built by 23 August, București, Romania it has
been resident here since 1997.
The line rambles through pleasant rolling countryside and around lakes including that at Biskulpin where it
is also possible to take a small boat trip around the lake. Żnin sadly no longer has any main line connection
but there are buses from Bydgoszcz at fairly regular intervals taking about 70-80 minutes, and these can be
found on the PKS http://www.rozklady.com.pl/ website.
Wenecja Muzeum station, with diminutive diesel locomotive built at Karl Marx Works Locomotivebau on train 5320 to
Żnin Wask. These little locomotives were meant for industrial premises, hence the top speed of only 14km/h.
[B78] Poland – Visit to the Waliły branch
The two members who travelled on the new standard gauge line from Kaunas to Mockava and thence to
Białystok had in fact based their trip around the first opportunity for 16 years to travel on the 36km branch
from Białystok to Waliły. This used to continue to Zubki Białystockie, where there was a trans-shipment
facility with a Russian gauge line onwards across the Belarussian border. PKP PR had introduced a summer
weekend pair of trains running between 2 July and 9 October, with the service mentioned on the Podlaskie
Regional pages and timings in the on-line Journey planner. But as the only mutually agreeable date for our
two members was its penultimate weekend of the year, the precaution of an e-mail exchange with PKP PR
Białystok confirmed the service was running for the duration. Even so, on arriving in Białystok on the
Saturday lunchtime it was reassuring to see the arrival from Waliły on the stations electronic screens.
The following day a two car class SA106 DMU worked the 09:00 departure, and a standard PKP style ticket
costing 5.50 PLN (around £1.10) was purchased from the booking office and seats taken on a 2/3rds full
train with hikers and many people travelling with bikes.
The class SA106 railcar for Waliły stands at Białystok main station awaiting departure. Behind it is the TLK service to
Wrocław via Olsztyn with on-hire Czech diesel 754-026 visible at the far end. The scene is dominated by the vast white
station building and two of the array of semaphores which span the station. On the left goods lines bypass the platforms.
More joined at Białystok Fabryczny at km 3.7, a station near to a coal powered power station with
extensive shiny sidings and a working signalbox before the DMU settled into its steady 40kmh maximum
for the rest of the journey. It soon became clear that some travellers were making use of the service to
visit friends and family and were not walkers or cyclists, as small groups alighted at each of the four
intermediate stops, so by Waliły less than 10 remained on board. Waliły, or to be precise Waliły-Stacja is a
small village on the main road from Belarus to Białystok with a hotel and large lorry park adjacent to the
station and not much else. So as the train arrived here at 10:14 and did not leave until 16:02 an escape
plan looked like a good idea. Another member had visited Waliły earlier and used a bus from a nearby,
larger village called Gródek to get back to Białystok. Even so, on a Sunday, this did not leave until 13:50.
Fortunately it was a warm day, and a shop selling food and alcoholic beverages was soon located, so the
time was passed putting the world to rights at some picnic table by an entrance to a forest cycle track.
The station at Waliły comprises a single low platform where the DMU from Białystok has terminated. The image of rural
idyll is deceptive – there is development on both sides of the railway line, including a large lorry park on the right of the
picture. A stop sign, seen in the foreground, prevents further progress towards Zubki Białystockie.
The Polish Kolej Atlas shows the line open to Waliły and there was a red stop sign between the rails just
beyond the station, but unexpectedly the sidings here were obviously long term out of use as some had
small trees growing in them. So it is a puzzle how a service was able to resume in 2016 after what would
seem to be years of disuse. However three members (at least) are not complaining!
The train used by the member who visited in August had fewer passengers than the October service, so
this service may turn out to be a one season wonder, as with no freight use beyond Białystok Fabryczny
the service would surely cease if the track required any significant expenditure.
[B79] Poland - Gdynia Główna to Rumia, EGTRE entry PL16/68
This EGTRE entry highlighted the use of an alternative route for some (mostly seasonal) trains from the Hel
branch passing to the east of Chylonia EMU MPD (i.e. not via the "main line" to the west) after leaving
Rumia and then via a dive under to reach high numbered platforms (Peron) IV and V at Gdynia Główna. On
Saturday 20 August the 15:21 Gdynia-Hel was boarded in Peron II Tor 1 (the lowest numbered platform in
the main PKP station as Peron I is on the exclusive SKM route) and this promptly veered left at the
platform end, travelled across the station throat and proceeded through a diveunder with a total of four
parallel tracks on the extreme left hand side of the formation. It then proceeded along the main lines away
from the SKM station platforms and veered right just after passing Gdynia Cisowa to proceed also to the
east of Chylonia EMU MPD to eventually deposit your correspondent at Puck with moments to spare
before boarding the twin deck set hauled by SM42 349 at 16:04 and due into Gdynia Główna at 16:46. This
was in fact the intended "move" as it was nominated under this entry to take the rarer route which it did
replicating the outward trip in almost every respect. This appears to establish that this route throughout is
not direction specific, nor is it confined to the higher numbered platforms at Gdynia Główna. (Editor’s
note: EGTRE has subsequently been amended and the revised text, complete with two diagrams, may be
found at: http://egtre.info/wiki/Poland_-
It should also be mentioned that the EGTRE compilers welcome observations and corrections for existing
entries and suggestions for new entries. These should be sent to [email protected]).
[B80] Poland - Poland’s 2900mm gauge funicular railways on the Elbląg Canal
There are no less than five funicular railways in a short section of the Elbląg Canal that are used to carry
boats (with all their passengers on!) between the Cruzno and Buczyniec lake systems through a vertical lift
of about 100 metres. Initially in the 1850s it was planned to manage this using 32 conventional pound
locks but the water management issues and time required to operate these became the mother of
hydrological invention resulting in the building of the five funicular railways where boats can be carried
both ways simultaneously in docking cradles controlled by winch houses situated below the higher water
level and in each case out of sight of the boat. The official in charge simply bangs a gong three times with a
lump of metal which initiates the start of the process. The five funiculars vary slightly in length and height,
they are (in ascending order, with length then height gain); Caluny 352m 14m, Jelenie 433m 22m, Oleśnica
479m 24m, Katy 404m 19m and Buczyniec 490m 21m, making a traversal of well over 2 km.
Kanał Elbląski: Pochylnia Oleśnica is the third incline encountered travelling southwards. At km 41.8
(mid-point), it is 479 metres long with a vertical rise of 24.2 metres. The cables go to a winding house
beyond the top of the incline behind the photographer and pass over a large blue wheel. On the
descending car can be seen two small boats loaded into the cradle. The boat from which the
photograph is taken, Marabut (Stork), fills the cradle so is Elbląskimaks….
The cradles which convey the boats have a mechanism that ensures the hull is moved in and out of the
water evenly to avoid stressing the keel through applying buoyancy unevenly. This includes the wheels
being both internally and externally flanged, and each side used alternately, an extremely unusual
technical feature. The way to traverse these funiculars is to take the boat from Elbląg to Buczyniec which is
a 4-5 hour one way trip allowing a perusal of the museum (there is nothing else) before returning to Elbląg
by coach in about 40 minutes. See www.zegula.com.pl for details and booking which is essential almost
entirely throughout the season. Note the side of each funicular used is not standard or dependent on
direction travelled so trying to cover both tracks at each ramp after an initial trip would be a bit of a
lottery! Irrespective of the railway content the trip from Elbląg under the railway bridge up the canal and
across the lakes and associated wetlands is a wonderful day out. There is even a bar and pizzeria on-board.
What more could be asked for!? The landing stage in Elbląg can be reached from the station by tram and a
10 minute walk.
[B81] Poland - Minor track around Gdynia
The line from Czersk - Bąk - Kościerzyna had a pair of seasonal overnight trains over the summer and these
performed as advertised, but two features they did not do surprised, namely the new through lines past
Gdynia Wieli Kack where the train took the platform loop line quite unnecessarily. The two through lines
here were laid as part of the Greater Pomeranian Railway project to link the airport amongst other
objectives, but remain quite rusty and your correspondent speculates that they have not been
commissioned, so the points are set for the stopping services. These account for almost all trains – the
overnight train being the only exception. A few minutes later the train did not take the flyover over the
main line to the east of Gdynia Główna, but the non-flying connection and then weaved at least twice to
arrive into Perron II. This was precisely the opposite of a previous visit where the flyover route was taken
and the train weaved the opposite way to Perron V. It was noted later that the flyover route is rather rusty,
so is possibly also out of use, and definitely not being used as originally intended.
[B82] Poland – Visit to the Kętrzyn- Węgorzewo branch
Over July and August this line had three return services daily commencing at Węgorzewo at 08:37 and
Kętrzyn 10:20 (held if necessary to connect out of services ex Olsztyn), midday departures at 12:12, 14:40
and lastly 16:22 and 18:20. The journey takes 1h 23m each way for about 30km with 6 intermediate stops.
The station at Węgorzewo has a museum run by Stowarzyszenie Hobbystów Kolejowych (SHK, which is the
Association of Railway Hobbyists) who were instrumental in getting services running a few years ago after
a period of total closure. These initially ran Węgorzewo- Gierłoż as the few kms to Kętrzyn were still in PKP
hands but it is now believed all the line belongs to the local council, and makes it a preserved standard
gauge line which is unusual in Poland. At Węgorzewo the museum is fairly small but packed with all sorts
of railway artefacts and the nominal 29 minutes here is insufficient to do it credit. The line has in addition
to being an interesting trundle through the Mazurian Lakes region a singular claim to fame and tourist
magnet right on its route. Kętrzyn was formerly Rastenburg (the name is still visible on the refurbished
station) and was located in Ost Prussia which might give a clue, as well as the suffix to Gierłoż, which is
Wilczy Szaniec... meaning Wolf's Lair! This was the site of the massive (in every sense) bunker complex
from which the war in the east was directed from the commencement of Operation Barbarossa until
abandonment in 1944 upon the approach of Russian forces, although they did not actually occupy it as it
was blown up by the Nazis and still protected by 50,000 mines which took Polish sappers years to clear
after the war and cost many lives. The station at Gierłoż which had its platform face on a loop off the main
single track line is still extant but semi-derelict. The loop has gone. It was about 200m towards Kętrzyn
from the level crossing right at the entrance to the complex which today's trains stop on to transfer
Gierłoż - Wilczy Szaniec (Gorlitz- Wolfsschanze); 1967 built Fablok SM30-892 stands at the modern day dropping off point
for visitors to the Wolf's Lair, Führerhauptquartiere Eastern Front 1941-44. The original station of Gierłoż still stands
semi-derelict off a now removed loop 200 metres behind the photographer. This service is run by SKPL (Polish Shortlines)
and the line is owned by the local municipality making it a rare standard gauge preserved line in Poland. The line only
opened in 1898 after some local narrow gauge lines, and closed in 1987. The service, train 51702, left Węgorzewo at
12:12 and will arrive at Kętrzyn, now only 7 km distant, at 13:35; the middle train of the days three train service.
It is easy to walk down the tracks and take it in although it is not on the main tourist hike which take in two
main zones, Zone I being that containing bunkers allocated too, amongst others Martin Bormann,
Hermann Göring and Hitler himself. Despite the coach loads of tourists its quite easy to become alone in
the extensive forests between the bunkers, and the firing range even provides some background small
arms fire to set the mood! The train formed of the diminutive SA133-018 on a single coach just like that at
Bytów operated the service which in high tourist season on a glorious day was busy. All the operatives
appeared to be beyond retirement age and perhaps are doing summer jobs? The service allows a round
trip from the junction where the train operates across the entire layout, before running around, then to
the terminus before offering 4 hours back at the Wolf's Lair before a return to Kętrzyn .. an unusual day
[B83] Poland - Olsztyn Trams
Olsztyn had a first generation metre gauge tram network from 1909 when the city was Allenstein in Ost
Prussia. This finally succumbed to the spread of buses and its largely single track configuration in 1965.
Today's very modern standard gauge system opened its current network fully on 01 January 2016 and
stretches about 10km in total along a north-south route from the main station to a terminus in the
southern satellite dormitory of Kanta. Along the way there are short branches to the old town centre at
Wysoka Brama, and a longer largely single track branch to Uniwersytet (University). Most of the network
feels more like an interurban railway than a tramway and the ambience in the widest trams in Poland at
2.5m adds to this feeling, though they have few seats. There are 3 routes:
1 Wysoka Brama – Kanta, 2 Dworzec PKP - Kanta (running time 22 minutes, the longest route) and 3
Dworzec PKP - Uniwersytet-Prawocheńskiego. 1 and 2 run every 15 minutes and 3 every 30 minutes. It
should be possible to do the network in 90 minutes if no microgricing is required. The trams are double
ended, so there are no balloon loops. There are triangles at Skwer Wakara and Galeria Warminska but
nothing seems to be booked via the rare curves - indeed the one at Galeria Warminska looks rusty on the
short section not polished by tyres.
Uniwersytet has two platform faces both with shiny rails. One member speculates that some level of
artificial alternation must happen here, but another points out that the intermediate loop (with spring
points) and both platforms at Uniwersytet are needed because the Sunday service between 11:00 and
20:00 is boosted to every 20 minutes. Otherwise the only real "complication" comes at Kanta itself where
no less than four platform roads are in apparently constant use. At first their pattern is confusing but once
realising that on the approach the left hand pair of platforms accommodate route 2 services and the right
hand pair take route 1 services it becomes relatively simple to traverse the whole layout. All this made
easier by the proximity of the penultimate stop at Witosa which is in sight of Kanta and even allows a walk
back if expedient in about 2-3 minutes.
Kanta, southern terminus of Olsztyn tramways second generation system. The two trams to the left are on route 2 and
that on the right is on route 1. The platforms here are divided between the services probably to maintain passenger
familiarity as mixing them would make no difference operationally. The system has in total 15 Solaris Tramino trams, the
widest in Poland, and curiously the number sequence starts at 3000 rather than 3001, so there is no 3015
A 24 hour ticket can be bought from the ticket machines on the trams (English option available) for 10
złoty. The depot is at the end of a branch over a kilometre from the Dworzec Główny terminus outside the
train and bus stations. There is a direct curve before the platforms which goes onto the branch, but normal
practice appears to be for terminating trams to pull forward into the reversing siding and reverse to access
the branch using the other side of the triangle. It is not possible to run from the platforms direct to the
The only reward from a late night excursion to investigate a possible rare curve (which proved to be a false alarm) was a
night shot of Olsztyn tram service 1 at Centrum tram stop, one short of Wysoka Brama terminus.
[B84] Poland - Bytów to Lipusz
Over July and August passenger services returned to this 24 km branch courtesy of SKPL, the private Polish
operator that largely handles local freight traffic. The service in high summer was 3 train pairs on Saturdays
and 2 on Sundays which on the former did offer connections out of and into the sparse PKP service at
Lipusz. However having some local transport available your correspondent was deposited on a gloomy rain
soaked Sunday at Bytów to find the train stabled in the yard formed of 810007 and a single coach in
immaculate condition throughout.
Apart from stocking up for lunch at the shop near the station whose interior looked like it was last
freshened in 1972 there was little to do for an hour other than await events but when a car was driven
over to the train clearly things were stirring, and an amble over to engage the staff in "conversation" failed
to persuade them to allow a ride to the station which involved a shunt of a kilometre! In fact one in pretty
impeccable English advised it could be boarded at the station (pointing) at platform 2...well no risk of
confusing it for any of the other train then!! The train duly departed at 13:05, well laden and almost
immediately reached maximum speed... about 20km/h.
Bytów: TGM40-716 was built in 1990 by Koleje Przemysłowe Polska (Industrial Railways Poland) and spent its time at a
cereal works in Lublin until 2012 when it was rescued from a local scrapyard by SKPL (Polish Shortlines). Here it is
beginning to propel its single coach many hundreds of metres beyond Bytów station to just beyond the overbridge on the
right and past an eclectic rake of stock coupled to motordrasines on the right. The line once ran beyond here to a junction
with another cross country line at Korzybie, 45 km distant which opened in 1884. Today the loco will form the 13:05
S/SuO on the 25 km line to Lipusz on the still open line linking Kościerzyna to Chojnice which opened in 1901. All
passenger operations ceased in 1991. Bytów was for a long period Butow in Germany after the second partition and
during this time many of the local inhabitants emigrated to work in the lumber industry around Winona Minnesota which
is still known as the Kashubian capital of the USA.
The average was about 18km/h. It was noted about half way along the branch that there is a cement
works/terminal which presumably gives SKPL its regular year around revenue here. Overall in the gloomy
wet conditions with a dilatory pace the journey did not exactly inspire. There was however a frisson of
excitement at Lipusz when after most passengers had de-trained there was a complex shunting manoeuvre
including another locomotive to position the stock for the return service. It was noticeable at Lipusz that
the W-N curve avoiding the station was OOU as a through route but appeared reasonably fettled for a
short distance almost certainly to facilitate shunting activities.
TGM40-716 is a descendant of a class of locomotives nearly 1000 strong and is seen in a rain soaked and fairly cheerless
Lipusz station awaiting the solitary "main line" connection before tottering back to Bytów.
[B85] Poland – More on the Przemyśl to Medyka service
Further to the visit report in BLNI1265.375, another member has now travelled on this service in the
extreme south east of Poland. The 06:25 Przemyśl to Medyka was a class EN57 EMU, setting off with seven
people on board, and one actually got off at one of the intermediate stations near Medyka. The line taken
is shown on the map and can be seen to be the most southerly line of the complex, separated from the
yard by several hundred metres of wasteland. The train stops at Medyka in a low two faced platform
opposite the rather smart looking station building. This seems to be used only for railway purposes other
than ticket sales, for which there would seem little requirement as numbers are so low and tickets are sold
by the guard on the train anyway. It is therefore something of a surprise to learn that a 51m złoty contract
has been awarded to upgrade Medyka station. Four people joined the 07:00 departure from Medyka.
[B86] Poland – Exploring loops and termini on Bydgoszcz Tramways
After a freezing set of traversals around Christmas, this set to largely complete the system was in balmy
summer temperatures. UrbanRail.Net > Europe > Poland > Bydgoszcz Tram gives a general orientation. Our
member began at Łoskoń which is the end of the Forden extension from the original terminus Wyscigowa,
9.3 km distant. The extension opened on 16 January 2015 bringing the system up to 39.5km. Łoskoń is a
simple twin track terminus with a distant depot turning loop. Our member took a route 3 tram to Wilczak.
Two stops down the line a triangle of lines leads to a turning circle at Niepodległości. There two stops, one
on the main line and another called Niepodległości Pętla on the loop. Incidentally Pętla (pronounced
Pentla) means loop in Polish.
Routes 7 and 10 serve the loop but most services simply use it to turn and return to Bydgoszcz. However at
peak times services 7 and 10 from Bydgoszcz continue from Niepodległości Pętla around the loop and take
the north facing curve to continue to Łoskoń. These leave Niepodległości Pętla at 18:25, 18:40, 18:49,
19:00 and 19:09 on weekdays and 18:20, 18:29, 18:40, 18:49, 10:00 and 19:09 at weekends. In the
morning a number of route 7 and 10 services start from Łoskoń and use the north curve to get to
Niepodległości Pętla. These leave Łoskoń 04:37, 14:59, 05:07, 05:11 and 05:58 on weekdays and 08:49,
08:59, 09:09, 09:19 and 09:39 at weekends. Routes 3 and 5 do not use the loop but travel directly to/from
Łoskoń over the third side of the triangle.
The tram line crosses the PKP lines at Bydgoszcz Wschód and passes the triangle giving access to the
extensive loop at Wyścigowa. The tracks were rusty and unused - quite a contrast to the bustling activity
when this was the end of the line before the extension opened. Route 3 passes through the city centre
before finally approaching the terminus loop at Wilczak by a long single track section with an intermediate
sprung loop. The tram simply traverses the whole loop and stops at a common platform, so there is no
problem traversing the whole loop. A novelty travelling this way is that when passing the opera house all
the trams play the opening few bars of the William Tell overture (or more familiarly the title music at the
start of the Lone Ranger for those of a certain vintage!) which is quite amusing, but the novelty probably
wears off if experienced on a daily basis.
Las Gdański is the northern terminus for services 0, 1, 2 and 10. Trams all terminate on a single arrivals
platform and passengers must alight before the loop is taken through woodland to arrive at one of two
departure platforms. Route 0 is in fact a tourist tram service which was not sampled as it only runs
weekends and public holidays between the last weekend of June and the last weekend of August. Unaware
of this our member was there on a weekday, after a public holiday! The trams advertised are a 5N of 1960
vintage but also some much older Herbrand trams dating from the late 19th century. The main track
interest in this operation lies in the destination at the other end i.e. the turning loop at Bałtycka pętla
which seems to see no other use. Tram 0 runs from Las Gdański from 11:01 until 18:21 at 40 minute
intervals and take 24 minutes to travel one way.
Bydgoszcz Tramways: Las Gdanski loop. Not so much a leafy suburb as a forest! This secluded spot gets a frequent tram
service for 20 hours a day. Visible in the distance are a collection of Konstal 805N M4 type built around 1977 in Chorzów
works, Poland. They are the most numerous type in the whole country but are slowly succumbing to modern fleet
replacement. The 805 is the narrow (metre) gauge version of the 105, of which there were at least 120 examples on this
On the occasion of this visit the branch to Bielawy was closed for works, so terminal arrangements cannot
be commented upon. Turning to the southern area of the system it was noted en route towards Łęgnowo
on route 6 that the double track lines split to form two widely separated single tracks with eastbound and
westbound platforms. Curves connect these to form a circle, but our member was unable to find any
services that used these, though one was shiny.
On the first attempt to get to Legnowo things did not run smoothly, but in a good way if you want track......
not for the average tram traveller. Due to a road closure and associated tram works, and/or because of a
failed tram (we shall never know), our member’s tram upon approaching Toruńska diverged right off the
usual line, went behind a long building, and ended up at the entrance barriers of the depot, at what
appeared to be a passenger halt. This was clearly unscheduled and upset the locals who went forward on a
bus, still complaining... simply no pleasing some people. Your correspondent initially elected to go for a
wander of the depot perimeter to see what could be seen. Thinking on this it came to mind that some
services were annotated on the timetables and a previously cryptic note Zajezdnia (=mpd) Toruńska
appeared below, so it appears there are trams coming out of service post peaks which are terminated at
the depot and use the long depot approach tracks.
Walking to the nearest tram stop on the normal route, the next tram was in fact a route 9 service
(weekdays only) as the afternoon peak was kicking in around 13:30 when about route 9 trams run until
about 16:00. There is also, curiously, a solitary service to Stomil, the turning loop for route 9 on the route
towards Legnowo, around 21:30. In the mornings 8 trams run to Stomil from about 05:00-07:30. Route 9
in fact has only been largely cut back to Stomil since Christmas 2015 and this means there is an
opportunity to use the departure platform at Stomil as this is on the loop. In summer the loop at Stomil is
practically jungle! Trams almost disappear into the trees enveloped in foliage, pause to observe the wildlife
and then continue to the derelict platform where two normal passengers actually boarded on the occasion
of this fleeting visit.
Konstal 336 nestles in the forest engulfed loop at Stomil, an intermediate loop with only a few weekday peak hours
services. The loop returned to use earlier in 2016, but still seems rather neglected. The photograph, taken from the
derelict "platform" behind the photographer captures a picture of this classic piece of Polish wilderness tramway
before 336 drew forward and picked up for the return.
This tram went to the opposite end of route 9 (via the E-S curve at Perlowa/Toruńska unique to this route)
at Rondo Kujawskie where none of the loop is available. Set down is before the loop and pick up after.
The next terminus station was at Glinki where trams set down, then proceed perhaps 30-40 metres (still
along the platform) before picking up. So about 90% of the loop is traversed. There is also a shiny inner
track here with platform faces so it is strongly suspected that some services use this. From Glinki the
terminus of this route is at Legnowo where the loop is fully traversable as trams simply tour the whole
loop to drop off and then pick up. This terminus is in fields in the countryside and passengers appeared to
walk off down a long country road or across the fields adjacent to their ultimate destinations.