The International Steam Pages
The Gryfice Railway
James Waite writes of his visit to Gryfice in 2008.
See also his reports of other Polish narrow gauge visits:
What is now the Polish province of Western Pomerania was very much German territory from the late Middle Ages until the end of the Second World War. As part of the post-war settlement in eastern Europe Poland lost much of its territory to the east to the USSR and gained territory in the west from Germany. Western Pomerania formed a part of this newly-acquired territory. Its German population was expelled and replaced by refugees from the land taken over by the USSR.
What is now the Gryfice metre gauge railway started out life in 1896 as a part of the Greifenberger Kleinbahnen. This opened as a 750mm gauge line from Gryfice (then called Greifenberg) to Niechorze (then called Horst Seebad), part of the same stretch which still exists today. Extensions and branches rapidly followed and in 1899 a neighbouring metre gauge system expanded to join it. The obvious problems of the break of gauge were resolved the following year by converting the Gryfice lines to metre gauge. The combined system continued to expand and by the early 1950ís had reached a total length of no less than 555km. Closures started in earnest a few years later though as late as 1996 335.7km was in use. Much of this closed that year leaving only three relatively short isolated sections. The section based at Gryfice then ran as far as Trzebiatow.
The line heads generally north westwards from Gryfice and runs through gently rolling countryside as far as Rewal on the Baltic coast. It then turns abruptly eastwards to run parallel with the coast, though not actually within sight of the sea. Finally it heads inland to the south east as far as the terminus at Trzebiatow.
Closure to regular traffic took place in 2001, by which time the railway had been worked for several years by the usual FAUR-built railcars common throughout Poland and by Lxd2 diesels. The local council at Rewal restarted a tourist service in 2003 though in recent years at least this has only run as far as the coastal stretch. The council has become a strong backer of the railway. For some years the line has had the use of Px48-3916 which belongs to Warsaw Railway Museum and is on long-term loan. It saw use on some of the tourist trains until 2010. Services have been suspended since then to facilitate a major reconstruction of the track and stations along the coastal stretch which serves a popular holiday area. This is being funded by the Rewal council with support from the EU.
Most of the tourist trains have always run along this relatively short section along with an outward working through from Gryfice at the start of the day and back at the end. Itís possible, but apparently not definite, that the reconstruction work will be finished in time for services to restart later in Summer 2012. The railway has also now acquired its own steam loco, Px48-3913, which had moved to the Brohltalbahn in Germany in 1990. It has been exchanged for one of its Lxd2 diesels and itís always good to see a loco which has been sold abroad returning home. The funding for the reconstruction scheme includes an allowance to pay for it to be restored to working order so steam should be secure here for several years to come.
Gryfice is also home to the countryís main metre gauge museum. When I visited in 2008 thirteen steam locos were on view including three of the metre gauge versions of the Px48ís. There are also three locos which started out their lives on the Greifenberger Kleinbahnen as well as others which come from further afield. They include one each which served the Smiegel and Sroda lines during their metre gauge years. The Smiegel loco is Ty6-3284, ex-Schmiegeler Kreisbahn 4 (KM 16243/1944). The three Greifenberg Kleinbahn locos there are 2-6-2T Tyn6-3632 (ex-GK 22c) (Vulcan Stettin 4018/1928), 2-6-2T Tyn6-3636 (ex-GK42) (Vulcan Stettin 3867/1927) and 2-8-2T Txn8-3811(ex-GK 25d) (Vulcan Stettin 3849/1925). The working loco is Px48-3916 (Chrz 2022/1950). Like all the metre gauge Px48's it was rebuilt from a 750mm gauge one, in this case Px48-1722. Itís also worth checking out the running shed nearby if you have an interest in the lineís narrow gauge diesels. The management there were friendly and welcoming when I visited.
The ex-Smiegel loco in the museum.
This butchy 2-6-2T in the museum and the even more butchy 2-8-2T behind it are both old Gryfice locos from the pre-WW2 days. They must have made quite a sight when they were in action!
Dawn at Gryfice and there's still a hard frost on the ground as the loco prepares for its day out.
Here the train is leaving Gryfice and crossing this low-lying and flat land not long after sunrise. The flooding resulted from much heavy rain for a long period just before the trip.
Running through the rolling countryside between Gryfice and the coast.
The unusual and no doubt historic lighthouse shows this is near the sea shore but nowhere along this run does the sea come into view.
Journey's end. The train approaching Niechorze station, the recent end point for operations.