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LCGB/IRS Tour to Poland/Slovakia/Czech Republic
-29/8 - 8/9/16
by David Rollins and Nigel Mundy

The long-running series of Joint LCGB/IRS tours, planned primarily to hunt down and photograph surviving steam locomotives and, where possible, travel on steam operated lines again took its participants to Eastern Europe. As in the past we apologise for the omission of the many accents which are encountered in the local languages!

Monday 29/8/16
Seven members travelled on Ryanair Flight FR2336 from Stansted to Poznan and made their way in two taxis through the heavy traffic to the Hotel Lech - most of the other participants arrived much later having taken part in the Wolsztyn Experience railtours.

Tues 30/8/16
0-4-0T+T Bor 11458/25 - 2 at Niezychowo on tour special

Our coach had arrived from Praha the previous evening and duly departed at 0800 - with only twenty participants, we had the luxury of two seats each. The day was spent on the 32km 600mm Gauge line from Bialosliwie, first visiting the shed(s) where a steam locomotive frame in the workshop was identified as that of resident 0-4-0WT - LKM 26004/51 - the boiler was seen later in the day at Pila works. A surprise here was Brigadelok Hen 16163/18 formerly a plinth at Sucha Beskidza Depot. Our special train (without continuous brakes - just two chains) was worked by 0-4-0T+T 2 (Bor 11458/25) on loan from Maltanka Park in Poznan, where we had found it in the back of the shed last year. The loco proved very lively on the run to Wysoka, and several run pasts were staged where the wooded area permitted. We encountered a lot of close foliage, a tree across the track near Poborka and what seemed more than our allocation of mozzies!

Pila Interlok Works, situated in part of one of the former PKP roundhouses, proved an interesting site, albeit frustrating from the point of view of locomotive identification. A large boiler (1563/98) belonged to a Prussian 0-10-0T from Ilmenau and other boilers present belonged to Bialosliwie's 0-4-0WT - LKM 26004/51, whilst a new boiler was being constructed for "a Belgian tram loco", with the old one also on site. Two locomotives were present - an anonymous TKh 0-6-0T belonging to "somebody in France" and a 2-6-0 chassis awaiting a new boiler, the locomotive having been converted to Fireless at some time in the past.
The night was spent in Gryfice at the Restauracja 32 Motel.

Wed 31/8/16
Gryfice NG Museum with eleven metre gauge steam locomotives, plus another two found later at the shed, was the first visit today, followed by a diesel hauled service train (Lxd2-479) for the steep climb from Gryfice Wask to Pogorzelica and then back to Trzesacz, where we changed into a specially chartered diesel unit (DMBxd2-310) to return us to Gryfice, including run pasts - in the hot weather prevailing at the time, coupled with the apparently poor mechanical condition of the vehicle, this could best be described as a taste of purgatory and it was a relief to get back to the air-conditioned coach! Then on to the Koszalin NG to view a derelict Px48-3910, formerly at the Fablok works, Chrzanow. Overnight at the Hotel Stare Kino in Slawno.

Thur 1/9/16
TKp100 04 (actually TKp 1149) - Wolf 1149/27 at Koscierzyna

One asks the question why?
TKt48 170 - Chrz 4760/56 plinthed at Tczew Bus Station

Thur 1/9/16
Our first visit this morning was to one of several reasonable size locomotive collections in the country - at Koscierzyna Museum centred on the former PKP depot, where eighteen steam locomotives were on show, plus another four very derelict Kriegsloks outside the perimeter fence - not all positively identified. Next we headed to Tczew for two plinths, one newly painted at the station, the other, a TKt48 at the bus station, sporting what could best be described as a "zebra" paint scheme of black and white stripes! We visited the 750mm system at Nowy Dwor Gdanski which is worked by diesels and railcars - another system with the main operation at the top end of the line. With a bit of time in hand we went on to Stegna, a triangular station with platforms on all three sides, to photograph a service train - a railcar hauling four well-filled coaches.
The night was spent in Olsztyn at the Warminski Hotel.

Fri 2/9/16
Union Pacific! - 1B 13260 - Chrz 2638/53
at "Mrongoville Station", in a Polish Wild West Theme Park

Plinthed in a housing estate in Czarna Bialostocka is Brigadelok Tx 227 as DFB 588 - Essl 3777/16 - 2/9/16

Set in what can best be described as a Wild West Theme Park today's first visit was to "Mrongoville Station" near Mragowo where a metre gauge 0-4-0T, 1B 13260 (Chrz 2638/53), bore the unlikely lettering "UP The Steel Horse". Ol49-29 was still plinthed at Stare Juchy station which displayed its Prussian origin by stating the distance to Konigsberg! The opportunity was taken to photograph a couple of trains here - one a single unit dmu hauling a double-deck coach - before heading to Elk for the dual gauge steam museum. Ol49 80, believed to have been sold to a scrap merchant four years ago, was dumped in the yard near the museum without a tender, but other locomotives which had been reported here as recently as two years ago were not visible, although Ok1 266 was found later at Skierniwice. Two separate locations were visited in Czarna Bialostocka before going on to the plinth outside Bialystok station - each one a Brigadelok and each one of dubious identity. We spent the night at the Ibis Styles Bialystok Hotel.

Sat 3/9/16

Plinthed outside Tluszcz Station is 0-4-0T 1 - Chrz 2597/58

Hajnowka was the first call, a 750mm tourist operation on a former forestry system using a diesel locomotive - the train was very well loaded. Two more Brigadeloks were here though, one plinthed, the other in the modern shed where somebody had conveniently left the key in one of the doors! Although supposedly a working locomotive, it did not appear to have been used for some time. Then on to Bialowieza Towarowa, close to the Belarus border, for three standard gauge steam at what is now an up-market restaurant situated in what was once a station on a defunct line, where trolley rides were also on offer! A small open-air museum has been set up at Czeremcha which features a nicely repainted former Sandbahn 0-8-0 - a pity the rods appear to be missing. Three locations were then visited in Tluszcz - two derelict Kriegsloks and a plinthed Chrzanow 0-4-0T before the final visit of the day to Marki on the outskirts of Warsaw where Px48-1778 was nicely displayed beside the main road. The night was spent in the Ibis Budget Warszawa Reduta Hotel which, conveniently for those interested in the present day scene, was within walking distance of one of the main line stations.

Sun 4/9/16

A selection of 44 narrow gauge steam locomotives in the Sochaczew Museum
0-4-0T T 7841 (Bor 7841/10)
0-8-0T+T Px6 1645 (Pod 528/37)
Px48 1771 (Chrz 3056/52)
0-6-2T Tyb 3417 (KrMu 3417/1896)
0-6-0T CK 22 (KrMu 2831/1893)
Brigadelok 0-8-0T+T Tx 1958 (HFB 1958) (OK 8575/18)

Fortunately the weather forecasters got it wrong again as there was NO rain (as promised for today)! However, after an unaccustomed leisurely start, we found the nearby Museum at Warsaw Glowny closed - with an opening time 1 hour later than we had programmed. After some deliberation we decided, to save time, to head first for Sochaczew for their collection of 44 narrow gauge locomotives - nicely laid out in the museum compound but, as usual the unfriendly staff refused us entry to the compound, shed and depot, carefully locking the gate after a very definite "No" in response to our request - other stock was definitely present - indeed we could see two rusting tank engines amid the derelict railcars and wagons and the supposedly active Px29 was also presumably present in the shed.

2-10-0 Ty23 273 - Wars 130/28 at Skierniewice

A derelict Prussian P8 from Elk - Ok1 266 (Schic 2925/21) - is now at Skierniewice

No problems with the plinth at Sochaczew standard gauge station. Then on to Skierniewice Museum Depot where we were met for a special opening to view their fifteen steam locomotives before retracing our steps to Warsaw for the postponed museum visit - 27 steam locomotives, many recently repainted - a pity they are not "runners"!

A selection from the 27 locomotives to be found in the Warszawa Museum
LITTLE Latvian 2-2-2T Oka1 1 (Krupp 1197/31)
and LARGE 2-10-2T TKz 211 (Bor 14714/38)
4-8-0 Os24 7 restored as Os24 10 (Chrz 147/26)
Streamlined PKP Pm3 5 restored as Pm3 3 was DRG 03 1015 - (Bor 14926/40)

A bonus of the revamped plan was that we were able to fit in an additional plinth - nicely painted, albeit anonymous, 0-4-0T (Chrz 1686/47) in Mazowiecki Park, Karczew. Time was ticking by and it was clear that the plinth at Deblin - another 0-4-0WT - would see the end of daylight so it was that the planned visit in Lublin was deferred until the following morning. Overnight was at the Hotel Victoria in the centre of Lublin.

Mon 5/9/16
0-6-0WT+T Ty 3810 - Chrz/3810/58
In the rain at the Janow Lubelski Forestry Museum

TKt48 27 - Ceg 1553/51 at Rzeszow

The day dawned wet - indeed it was the first real rain we had seen on the trip and it was a great relief that it had not come a day earlier when, as has been related, we visited three large, mainly open-air sites. Lublin depot's plinthed Pt47 was first, then further plinths at Janow Lubelski, Staloa Wola Rozwadow, Rzeszow and Dynow, the last mentioned after a diesel-hauled trip on the 750mm Gauge line from Przeworsk to Dynow where our locomotive was LXd2-334. Our last night in Poland was spent at the Hotel Restaracja Bona in Sanok.

Tues 6/9/16

Small-wheeled 0-8-0 Kp4 3772 - Chrz 3772/57 after arrival at Balnica

TKt48-124, plinthed at the closed Zagorz depot was our first call before carrying on to another 750mm Gauge line at Majdan for our last visit in Poland. First we had a diesel-hauled charter train (LYd2-05) to Przyslop and return (again a steeply graded line) before heading off in the opposite direction on a shorter run to Balnica and return with Kp4 3772. Another Kp4, formerly at Sochaczew Museum - No 1257 - was displayed here, but their 0-6-0T Ty 1884 (Chrz 4967/56) was away at Chabowka for repairs. A very pleasant afternoon - both weather and steam! We then headed on through the mountains into Slovakia for the night, spent at the Hotel Bankov in Kosice.

Wed 7/9/16

BEFORE - CKD 4023/58 plinthed outside Zamberk Workshops
and AFTER CKD 4023/57 now as U29 101 KRUTWIG
on the Cermel Valley Railway, Kosice

Advertised as a 'Childrens Railway', the Cemel Valley Railway is not the sort of line you would normally find in Communist times. It is a Metre Gauge line and was not built until 1955. Our loco was one we had last seen on a plinth at Zamberk two years ago, which has now been overhauled with the number U29.101 and named Krutwig, an 0-4-0WT+T (CKD 4023/57). This was originally a 900mm Gauge locomotive and the staff mentioned that it actually contained parts of two machines! After a run to the terminus at the far end of the line and return, their other locomotive was hauled out of the shed for us. This was the unique Hagans Allan link motion, with trick ports, 0-6-0WT - 174/1884. Next we were able to fit in an extra visit at Presov station to view U47-002 0-4-4-0T plinthed near the depot, before travelling on to the narrow gauge museum at Pribylina.

BEFORE - CKD 2210/48 at Zamberk Workshops
and AFTER at Pribylina - 7/9/16 - how much of the original remains?

There are five locomotives here and 0-8-0 U44 901 (Skoda 2698/50) had apparently been in use the previous weekend, although the available track for it to run on is somewhat limited. U37 002 (CKD 2210/48), previously on a plinth in Vrutky, was here in 2012, but had moved on to Zamberk Workshops by 2014 - however the cobbled together 0-6-0T now on show, albeit nicely painted, is a real mystery - the smokebox and cab have similarities to 2210 and it seems likely that Zamberk have used otherwise redundant locomotive parts to produce something purely for exhibition purposes. The final visit of the tour was to Ruzomberok station for the plinth there - 0-6-2T U37 006 and the last night was spent at the Holiday Inn, Zilina.

Thur 8/9/16
There were no planned visits for this day, only a long bus ride from Zilina to Praha. Some of the party had already left the group in Kosice and the party slowly reduced in size until the rump of eight participants joined the BA Flight back to London Heathrow.

The provision of generally good quality, packed lunches again saved valuable time during the day, but the absence of pre-booked evening meals allowed a choice of time, venue and menu! All in all this was a well-planned, not over strenuous, trip (bearing in mind the increasing age of the participants), which delivered the vast majority of what it set out to achieve. For this our thanks are extended not only to Fred Pugh and Adrian Palmer, but also to Jaroslav, Tomas and our bus drivers, Pietr and George. Like last year, a sign of the times was that out of the 172 steam locomotives noted, only three were in steam - two in Poland and one in Slovakia - all of which we were able to sample for haulage. Apart from the one day, the weather was kind to us, albeit again on the warm side at times, and at no time inhibited our activities.

Click here for a full listing of the steam locomotives seen on this tour