Nałęczów Narrow Gauge Railway
Nałęczów Key Facts
- Gauge: 750mm
- Operating Length: 19km
- Total Length: 53km
- Status: Operating
In 2015, trains will run every Sunday from May to the end of September. On most operating days there will be a return trip from Karczmiska to Opole Lubelskie, then a return trip from Karczmiska to Polanówka for an ognisko (bonfire and picnic). On the last Sunday of each month, the southern destination will be Poniatowa instead of Opole Lubelskie.
Runs every Sunday from
May to September
(Note *: Runs to Poniatowa
on the last Sunday of every month,
to Opole Lubelskie on other dates)
|Opole Lubelskie / Poniatowa*||11:40|
|Opole Lubelskie / Poniatowa*||11:50|
The first narrow gauge railway in the Nałęczów area was built at Zagłoba sugar works by the local landowner and industrialist Jan Kleniewski. After an initial experiment with wooden rails in 1892-1893, the first 750mm gauge railway was built in 1900 from Zagłoba to the Wisła river at Kępa Chotecka. In 1911 three new lines were built, to Wymysłów, Szczekarków, and to the Wisła river via Wilków. The railway was worked by horses until 1912 when two Krauss steam locomotives were purchased.
Seperately, in 1908, the first railway was built at nearby Opole sugar works, also at 750mm gauge. This initially linked Opole sugar works with a peat field at Łaziska and was extended in 1911-1913 to a port on the Wisła river at Piotrawin. Both sugar works brought in coal and limestone by rail from the ports on the Wisła river, as well as using the railways for transport of sugar beet.
Also of interest in this area was a 750mm gauge horse tramway from Sadurki station on the Warszawa to Lublin main line to the town of Nałęczów. It was built in 1907 and operated until 1914. The Garbów sugar beet railway reached Nałęczów station from the north at some time between 1907 and 1914 and was also 750mm gauge, but was apparently never connected to the Nałęczów narrow gauge railway. The Garbów sugar beet railway was closed in the 1970s.
In 1915 during World War I, the retreating Russian army destroyed the Zagłoba and Opole sugar factories and their railways and dumped the rolling stock in the Wisła river. The Austrian army rebuilt the railway and extended it to Opole and to Nałęczów where it connected with the standard gauge main line. The new line opened on 1 October 1916. However, this too was short-lived as the retreating Austrian army destroyed the railway for the second time at the end of the war.
The sugar works owners rebuilt the Opole sugar works after the end of the war, but not the Zagłoba sugar works. The railway was rebuilt and taken over by the Ministry of Railways. Several new steam locomotive types, heavier wagons and passenger coaches, and even 'Lux-torpedy' railcars worked on the railway in the inter-war period. In 1928 the Piotrawin branch was rebuilt, and at some point during the inter-war years a new sugar works line was built from Opole to Świdno, and also a branch off the main line from Niezabitów to Łubki.
In 1938 a branch of the main railway was constructed from Rozalin to a new factory at Poniatowa. During World War II this new factory and the railway had a grim history, as it was chosen by the Nazi regime as the location for Poniatowa Labour Camp. Between 1941 and 1943 about 22,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 18,000 Jews were executed at the camp.
The Nałęczów narrow gauge railway was taken over by PKP after WWII, except the Piotrawin and Świdno branches which remained under the control of Opole sugar works, and the Niezabitów to Łubki branch which was closed and dismantled. An ambitious plan to link the Nałęczów railway to Starachowice via Lipsko and Iłża was never completed, but led to the construction of the 750mm gauge Starachowice to Iłża line in the 1950s.
The Opole sugar works' own railway lines closed by 1970, with the Piotrawin branch closing first in 1968 and the Świdno branch in 1970. However, the sugar works at Opole continued to receive coal over the Nałęczów narrow gauge railway, either in narrow gauge wagons or standard gauge wagons on transporters, until the end of PKP operations, and maintained a Lyd2 diesel locomotive to shunt the sidings.
The former Zagłoba sugar works branches to Kępa Chotecka and Szczekarków were also closed and lifted around 1970, leaving the railway with a network of 52km which has remained to this day. It consists of the main line from Nałęczów to Opole, and branch lines from Karczmiska to Wilków, and Rozalin to Poniatowa.
With the introduction of diesel locomotives and transporter wagons, freight traffic continued to grow. Even in 1989 the narrow gauge railway employed around 250 people and carried 150,000 tonnes of freight and 78,000 passengers, but during the following decade there was a sharp decline. Regular passenger traffic ended in 1993 and freight traffic in 2001 when PKP abandoned all of its remaining narrow gauge railways.
The Nałęczów railway was taken over in its entirety by the Opole Lubelskie municipality (though the formalities were only completed in 2008), who contracted SKPL to run the trains. SKPL operated tourist passenger trains and occasional freight, but the expected level of freight traffic never materialised and, when in November 2007 damage to the viaduct at Rogalów cut the standard gauge interchange at Nałęczów off from the rest of the network, SKPL terminated their contract shortly afterwards.
After a period of uncertainty, Opole created its own company to operate the railway, and was successfully awarded two EU grants to develop the line as a tourist attraction. The project has resulted in the refurbishment of the station buildings at Karczmiska (the operating base of the line), vegetation clearance, and the repair of two Lxd2 locomotives. A new platform has also been built for the narrow gauge railway at Nałęczów, though this may have pre-dated the EU project.
Finally, in July 2011, tourist trains resumed on the sections south and west of Karczmiska, with round trips every Sunday between July and October from Karczmiska to Opole Lubelskie and return, then to Polanówka (on the Wilków branch) and return. The 'main line' north of Karczmiska to the standard gauge interchange at Nałęczów remains closed pending repair of the viaduct at Rogalów.
The delay in repairing the viaduct in Rogalów has been partly due to a desire by the roads administration to increase the extremely limited clearance over the main road here. They wanted the viaduct raised which would have entailed considerable extra work to restore the railway. However, finally in April 2012 the regional conservator has decreed that the viaduct should not be raised but the road should instead be lowered, and work has now commenced to lower the roadbed and repair the viaduct.
Karczmiska can be reached by fairly frequent private operator buses between Puławy (on the Warszawa to Lublin main line) and Opole Lubelskie. At the time of writing (March 2012) the Sunday timetable shows buses from Puławy at 09:00, 09:25 and 09:45 taking 40 minutes to reach Karczmiska station. These buses leave from ul. Lubelska in Puławy (outside Kaufland supermarket in the centre of town, opposite the town hall), not from the bus station, and are operated by P.W.Natur and Busy Grzywa. Return buses run from Karczmiska at 15:19, 15:47 and 16:37. All of these buses go via Kazimierz Dolny.
- Wikipedia Nałęczowska Kolej Dojazdowa
- Nałęczowska Kolej Dojazdowa history page
- Nadwiślańska Kolejka Wąskotorowa history page
- Narrow gauge railways in the Lublin region
- 750mm.pl Discussion forum
- Polish Narrow Gauge Railways (cleeve.com): Naleczow
- Holocaust Research Project: Poniatowa Labour Camp
- Poniatowa forced labour camp
- Nadwiślańska Kolejka Wąskotorowa - Official website
- Powiat Opolski (lubelskie) - Owners of the line
- The Nałęczów narrow gauge railway on Railmap
- Koleje wąskotorowe w Polsce (www.koleje.wask.pl) by Krzysztof Zientara
- Polish Narrow Gauge Railways (www.cleeve.com) by Andrew Goodwin, Stephen Goodwin and Dave Meller
- Behind the Water Tower blog- Nałęczów Posts:
- Railway to Let, 22 July 2008
- Miracle at Naleczow!, 16 September 2008
- Polish lesson – part 1, 20 September 2008
- Naleczow future rests on volunteers, 13 July 2009
- New hope for Naleczow Railway?, 27 February 2010
- Naleczow Railway slowly awakes, 21 May 2010
- Polish heritage rail and EU funding, 18 February 2011