Reconstruction

A live bomb found in Szczecin during railway repair and maintenance works – 1950

In March 1945, within the structures of PKP, the Directorate for the Reconstruction of the Warsaw Railway Junction was established under the management of engineer Stanisław Pietkiewicz. It operated until 31 August 1949. To facilitate military railway traffic through the destroyed Warsaw junction Red Army sappers erected a temporary bridge on the ring rail line passing next to the Citadel. The bridge was opened on 8 February 1945. In July 1945 a temporary main railway station, Warszawa Główna, was put into operation at Towarowa Street. The station was meant for trains arriving in the city from the west. By the end of 1945, 52 pairs of trains departed in different directions.

 

At that time approximately 2,175 miles (3,500 km) of lines were reconstructed in the whole PKP network, and a corresponding length was converted from broad into normal gauge. Repairs started on bridges and tunnels. There was a considerable shortage of rolling stock. PKP was not able to meet the demand for passenger and goods carriages, which made the reconstruction and operation of industry difficult (nearly 70% of wagons were engaged in military transport to the USSR). Coal was exported to Sweden and Norway by coal wagons leased from those countries. Poles searched for Polish rolling stock used by railway lines in other countries in order to recover the vehicles. Only in Germany nearly 60 thousand freight wagons were found, which had been renumbered as Deutsche Reichsbahn wagons. Formalities connected with recovery were time-consuming. Meanwhile, German rolling stock was used to provide carriages but it could not be included in the inventory of Polish State Railways. Finally, the Russians waived their rights to German wagons in the territory of Poland, demanding that in return Poles would give up the search for Polish wagons among Russian “trophy assets”.

 

A group of young workers – 1951
The construction of the Sokółka – Kamienna Nowa line – 1958

Electric rolling stock was assembled (e.g. in Lubań) from vehicles used before the war. At the same time, 44 traction sets were bought from ASEA.

 

Train sets supplied from factories that were put into operation were supplemented in 1946 by 105 steam locomotives from UNRRA and 87 locomotives and 3,019 wagons recovered from other countries.

 

At the same time Poland bought 500 “Consolidation” (Tr203) steam locomotives from American demobilisation. In 1947 one hundred heavyweight freight locomotives were brought from the USA to provide rail service on the coal trunk line.

 

Electric Commuter Railways in Warsaw resumed operation as early as 1945, and two years later they were nationalised and incorporated into Polish State Railways. In 1946 – 1951 the shunting station Warszawa Odolany was built and connected with a new line from Warszawa Gdańska. In December 1948 reconstruction of the (four-track) cross-city line and bridge was completed. Passenger trains started arriving in the temporary station, Warszawa Śródmieście, in June 1949. The destroyed electric traction and rolling stock were repaired thanks to supplies of equipment ordered from a Swedish manufacturer – ASEA. As a result, electric train traffic on the Warszawa Wschodnia – Otwock route was restored on 12 July 1946, on the Warszawa Wschodnia – Miłosna line on 3 February 1949, and to Mińsk Mazowiecki – on 14 March 1949. The pre-war electrification of the junction was restored on 17 January 1950 when electric trains reached Żyrardów. The lines to Tłuszcz and Błonie were put into operation 2 years later.

 

The commissioning of electric traction on the route Warsaw – Śląsk – 1957

At the beginning of 1951 electric trains ran from Gdańsk to Nowy Port, and gradually their route was extended to Sopot, Gdynia and Wejherowo. The rolling stock supplied with 800 V current came from the Berlin city railways. In 1951 – 1954 the Electric Stock Repair Workshop was built in Mińsk Mazowiecki. One year later electric rolling stock was repaired in the Rolling Stock Repair Workshop in Gdańsk. In 1954 the electric train reached Łódź where the first electric locomotive depot outside Warsaw was opened.

 

Thus, electrification went beyond the Warsaw junction. Passenger carriages handled by electric trains became popular in Poland and in 1960 increased up to approx. 14%. Transport needs forced the decision-makers to electrify the connection between Warsaw and Silesia in 1955 – 1957. Twenty five E200 (Bo-Bo) electric locomotives and thirty four E400 (Co-Co) locomotives ordered in the German Democratic Republic were put into service on that line. In addition, 36 three-carriage E56 sets and two four-carriage higher class E58 units, often used as the first sets on newly electrified sections, were imported from the factory in Görlitz. Later, they also ran as an express line called “Górnik” from Warsaw to Gliwice.

 

In 1959 electric traction reached Kraków. The speed of electrification was increasing: from 62 miles (100 km) a year in the 1950s, 149 miles (240 km) in the 1960s, to approximately 218 miles (350 km) in the mid-1970s. Polish industry provided subsequent models of locomotives and traction sets but their number was still insufficient. In 1961 thirty universal Škoda EU05 (Bo-Bo) electric locomotives were ordered in Czechoslovakia. For the first time traction motors were completely unsprung. After 15 years of operation, thanks to an alteration in the gear transmission, their maximum speed was increased up to 100 mph (160 km/h). This modification enabled their use on the fastest Polish express trains. The locomotives were parked in Warsaw – Olszynka Grochowska.

 

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© Całość praw autorskich - Antoni Bochen, Filip Wiśniewski