Narrow Gauge Steam in Eastern Poland

Poland: Narrow Gauge Steam 24.04. – 02.05.2010

We don’t have any pictures to show you steam trains on the lines we intend to visit. You’ll definitely get different pictures from those shown here.

Jedrzejow, photo: Martin Wollmann

In the eastern and south-eastern part of Poland a number of narrow gauge lines have survived to the present day. Most of these lines still have a serviceable steam locomotive. Apart from the occasional freight train on one line they only see tourist trains during the summer months, making their rolling stock more or less useless for our intended tour. However in June 2009, on an exploratory tour, we found a number of freight wagons which could be refurbished with a little effort and even a number of serviceable freight cars and green coaches. To give our trains a more authentic touch we’ll replace the current name with “PKP”, the name of the state railway.

On the exploratory tour I frequently heard comments like “we’ve never done this before“ or “impossible“. “Yes, that’s the reason I’m here”, I replied. After talking it over it was amazing how much of the impossible became possible, both technically and financially. You can be certain that this tour will be one that has never been offered before – and may never be offered again. On the other hand two lines are extending the operational sections of their line right now for tourist trains. This gives a little hope for the future.

The lines in the south-eastern part of Poland are set in beautiful landscape with hills and mountains. One of the most beautiful lines doesn’t have a serviceable steam locomotive so we’ve arranged road transport for a Px48. On both mountain lines we’ll spend close to two days each to make the most of the plentiful opportunities.

We chose April for this tour because the grass along the lines will be low and in the mountains the snow should be already off the rails.

Przeworsk, photo: Jan Kaczmarek






Individual travel to Warsaw, meet at the airport at 12 hrs. Charter bus (about five and a half hours) to our hotel in Elk


In the morning we’ll take a charter passenger train with a 750 mm Px48 from Elk to Sypitki; from there we’ll return to Warsaw and continue to Piaseczno, hotel in Piaseczno


In the morning we’ll enjoy a charter train with a Px48 on the metre gauge line from Piaseczno to Tarczyn. From there our charter bus will bring us to our hotel in Przeworsk


Charter train with a Px 48 and an authentic passenger train on the very scenic line from Przeworsk to Dynów and back, hotel in Przeworsk


Charter train with a Px 48 and an authentic freight train from Przeworsk to Dynów. We’ll travel in a caboose. Charter bus from Dynów to Cisna, hotel in Cisna


By charter bus to Smolnik. From here we’ll take an empty logging train chimney first over the recently reopened line to Majdan. In the afternoon we’ll take a short loaded logging train tender first (authentic!) from Majdan to Smolnik. Charter bus back to Cisna, hotel in Cisna


In the morning we’ll take an authentic, empty logging train with the 0-6-0 tank loco “Las“, with bogies and flat wagons, from Majdan to Przyslup. In the afternoon by charter bus to our hotel in Busko-Zdrój


Charter bus to Jedrzejów. Charter train hauled by Px 48 from Jedrzejów to Hajdaszek and Pinczów. We’ll turn the loco over a triangle in Umianowice and return chimney first to Jedrzejów. Hotel on the way to Krakow


Charter bus to Krakow airport and individual return


Line description


Elk, photo: Jan Kaczmarek

In Elk, in the north east of Poland, there’s a 750 mm gauge line which leaves the city eastbound. After 12 km at Laki Male a branch line turns off to the south. The main line can be used for about 15 km to Sypitki but beyond it there’s a weak bridge which a Px48 can’t cross. The line goes through fields and forests and offers some nice rural potential to photographers and video film makers.

Construction of the line started in 1910 when the city was still part of Germany and called Lyck. The “Lycker Kleinbahn AG” was built to metre gauge. After WW II it came under Polish administration and hence to the Polish state railway PKP. They re-gauged the line in 1950 to its current 750 mm gauge. With the new gauge the Polish class Px48 appeared on the line. Our train will have two passenger coaches in the colour of the 1950ies and 1960ies plus a guard’s van.

In 2001 the PKP closed the line and was due to dismantle the track but the city of Elk took over the railway instead. Since then it has been operated as a tourist line and has the status of a preserved railway.

Elk, photo: Jan Kaczmarek



Piaseczno, photo: Piaseczno railway
Piaseczno, photo: Piaseczno railway

Just a few miles south of Warzaw you’ll find the metre gauge lines at Piaseczno. The line passes through an agricultural and forested area and past small villages which you wouldn’t expect so close to the capital. There are pleasant forest shots and villages along the line which offer some good photo spots. The line can only be used for the first ten miles however. They’ve just started to restore an additional ten miles which will hopefully be operational by April 2010.

The construction of the line started in 1898. Several extensions up to the 1920’s formed a network of more than 70 miles. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the traffic was taken over by road which led to the cancellation of all passenger services in 1991 and the loss of all freight traffic five years later. Fortunately they didn’t dismantle the line; instead the local administration claimed the remaining sections as being of cultural interest and formed a heritage project. Since 2006, they’ve run regular tourist trains on the line. The metre gauge Px48 3917 was overhauled and some wagons were restored. However, for the tourist trains they mainly use Romanian built railcar trailers. For our train we’ll use two tank wagons, a box car and a rebuilt coach which came originally from the German Harz mountain railways “Nordhausen-Wernigeröder Eisenbahn” (nowadays part of the HSB).

Piaseczno, photo: Jan Kaczmarek



The Warsaw railway museum owns a narrow gauge division, roughly 40 miles west of Warsaw. They own a serviceable Px29, the forbear of the common class Px48. However after long negotiations we decided not to go to Sochaczew because they offered a price for a charter train four times higher than that advertised in their official price list. In addition the official price in their list is already almost double the price other lines ask for a similar event. The tour would have been much too expensive if we had included this line. As things are the two days in Przeworsk are costing us close to 12,000 pounds (including cranes, low-loader truck, fire brigade to get water to the locomotive, standard gauge wagons for putting onto transporter wagons, overhauling narrow gauge coal wagons and so on. But the line at Przeworsk is worth the effort as it’s so scenic while Sochaczew only has an uninspiring, flat line.



coming out of the tunnel near Dynow, photo: Martin Wollmann

Probably the most scenic of the remaining narrow gauge lines in Poland, this line still sees infrequent freight traffic, at least on its first section. Currently the line is changing from a normally operated line into a tourist line because the few freight trains can neither cover the costs of keeping the infrastructure of the 29 mile long line intact nor generate sufficient income to pay the wages. However, the tourist trains will operate only in the summer season. Hence the worries about the line’s future are still there. That’s why we shouldn’t wait to arrange a steam charter on this beautiful line.

The railway was constructed at a time when Przeworsk was part of the Austrian empire. When the 760 mm line opened in 1904 Austrian locomotives where used. Later, under Polish governance the line was regauged to 750 mm and Polish locomotives arrived including the well known Px48. Because they don’t have a serviceable steam locomotive in Przeworsk we’ll bring such a loco by road trailer. The immense effort is justified by the beauty of the line and the outstanding photographic potential of this line. On our first day we’ll haul a three coach passenger train to give the loco crew the opportunity to “acclimatise” themselves to the challenging line with its many gradients and the longest narrow gauge tunnel in Poland. The landscape is interesting and especially hilly in the southern section. Along the line you can still find parts with an intact row of wooden telegraph poles alongside the railway. Semaphores are in place as well, but out of use. At one station we’ve asked that a semaphore should be reactivated for our train.

Przeworsk - Dynow, photo: Martin Wollmann

Przeworsk - Dynow, photo: Martin Wollmann

The freight wagons are mainly open coal cars. A few are still operable. To form an authentic train we’ve asked them to make some additional wagons serviceable again. The passenger coaches in original green livery will get a PKP logo to make them look as they did years ago.

Przeworsk: station Manasterz, photo: Martin Wollmann



Cisna: Lok Typ Las, photo: Bernd Seiler

Cisna was also part of the Austrian empire. That’s why the forestry railway close to the Slovakian border had a gauge of 760 mm as well. The first section opened in 1890. In the years to come the system was extended and prolonged to connect the logging areas with the sawmills. Under Polish governance the line was converted to 750 mm. Several different types of steam locos were in use, among them 0-6-0 class ‘Las’ (English ‘forest’). This 70 hp engine was refurbished to haul tourist trains over the line. The tender of the locomotive awaits an overhaul and might be finished by 2010. Without its tender the loco can only cover small parts of the line. Just in case we’ve arranged a diesel to support the steam loco on the long runs we’ve planned on the line. Currently the line is under renovation and an additional section should be opened for tourist service by the end of 2009. When the new section to Smolnik is ready for use we’ll need a diesel helper anyway. The gradients are just too steep for our steam loco to manage them with a loaded train. In general the ‘Las’ type is too weak for line service but during the days of the socialist economy they had to use whatever was available. Unfortunately a much stronger and original Cisna locomotive of the 0-8-0 class Kp4 (common in the USSR but rare in Poland) was transferred to Elk after overhaul and later transferred to the museum at Sochaczew. To rescue the locomotive from there is almost impossible. Also the two old passenger coaches from Cisna went to Sochaczew where they are locked away from any useful operation.

Cisna: historical photo of a logging train, © Bieszczady online

The line passes through mountains and is exceptionally beautiful. There are several remarkable gradients. We’ll use the steam locomotive for authentic trains. For instance we’ll haul empty trains chimney first and a loaded train tender first, just as it used to be in the days of real steam. To get authentic trains we need to pay for the overhaul of several logging bogies and flat wagons. We went through the rows of freight car wrecks and out of use bogies and found eight bogies which could be overhauled. Currently it’s not clear how many wagons can be rescued as several parts are missing.



The Jedrzejów narrow gauge railway was first built during WW I as a 600 mm gauge line (which is a bit less than 2 ft). This part of the country again belonged to the Austrian empire at the time. The first line was the start of a large growing network. The narrow gauge system reached an extension of more than 200 miles. After WW II it came under the control of the state railway PKP and was regauged to 750 mm. In 1988 the passenger service was suspended and in 1995 the last freights were transported by rail. But five years later, in 2001, the state railway gave the network and the rolling stock to the city council and other local municipalities. Since then a tourist service was established. Part of the operable stock is Px48 1724 which will be used by us with a narrow gauge freight train. We’ll travel in the caboose. The new inscription on the wagons and the locomotive (SKD) will be changed back to PKP.

Jedrzejow, photo: Martin Wollmann

Although the line runs through typically flat Polish landscape for most of its route there are some very good photo opportunities. Close to Umianowice we’ll cross one of the longest narrow gauge bridges in Poland. The bridge, almost 1 km long, crosses the river Nida and the wetland on both sides of the river. Approaching Pinczów we’ll find a photogenic hill. The narrow gauge line passes under the broad gauge line of the LHS which operates long trains with double headed diesels class M62 and the Polish ST44 (in Germany class V200). From the LHS bridge we’ll have a long view across the countryside. If we’re lucky enough we can see a crossing of narrow gauge and broad gauge trains.

We’ll also cover the three miles long section to Hajdaszek which is not open to tourist trains. At Umianowice they have an operable triangle, so we can turn the locomotive there and return chimney first to Jedrzejów.



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. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to experience occasional shortages. The state of repair of many buildings does not match that of USA, 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 good command of English. Older citizens often speak some German.

Przeworsk, photo: Jan Kaczmarek

Petty crime such as theft or pick pocketing is no worse than in other European countries. Nevertheless, you would be well advised to keep a close eye on your photographic equipment and vehicle. Our hotels can be considered as secure.

Please be considerate to others when taking your pictures since all participants want to bring home high quality shots. To make this tour successful you should bring a tripod. We may take some night shots so please be prepared. High visibility or intensely coloured clothes are not suitable on our tour. You should wear good shoes to reach all our planned photo positions.

We’re not focussed on serving meals at fixed times, we’re going there to take pictures of trains. It may happen that we need to skip a meal, especially lunch. Please take some muesli bars, nuts or chocolate with you for unforeseen moments (a derailment in the middle of the forest may delay our train by a few hours). Breakfast may be a packed breakfast if no other solution can be found.

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 the normal European standard. Please take care as you will have to pay roaming costs for incoming phone calls as well as outgoing.

Entry into Poland requires a valid ID-card for inhabitants of Schengen states, all others need a passport (but for most countries no visa is required).

The narrow gauge lines have only one serviceable steam locomotive each. 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. Hence we can’t guarantee that we’ll see all the lines with steam. Please be prepared that not everything may run as ordered. There is no affordable insurance available to cover the risk of such a tour. This includes that refunds for technical problems are not possible.

Przeworsk, photo: Jan Kaczmarek

At several days we’ll leave our hotel early in the morning to make the best of the morning light.

Because we’ll cover long distances on roads it’s recommended that you take a good book or something similar with you. The journey from Warsaw to Przeworsk requires some five to six hours under normal traffic conditions.



Narrow Gauge Steam in Eastern Poland 21 to 32 participants £1,870
24.04.2010 – 02.05.2010 15 to 20 participants £2,070
  Single room surcharge £160
Registration Deadline: 15.02.2010

The price includes:

Not included are:


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