Thursday, 17 May 2012

Wrocław station will not be ready

It's been three months since my last trip down to Wrocław. What struck me then - and is even more evident now - is that the construction work on the Wrocław Główny station remont will not be ready by 8 June, when the Czech Republic plays Russia - the first match of the Euro 2012 championship to be played in this city. In fact I'd go further, and say that the station will not even be ready for the last match - Czech Republic vs. Poland, on 16 June.

Below: view of platform 6, the night train from Warsaw has just pulled in. Several tracks are still completely works-in-progress.

Just as was the case three months ago, there's no access to the front of the station; the ticket facility is some 200m up the road round the back of the station, and half of the platforms are still not usable. Behind The Water Tower documents the woeful state of the station less than a month before the football kicks off, and a week later my visit confirms that little is currently happening.

The view from the west end of the platforms. The original water cranes have been preserved, testament to the days of steam... I recall taking a train from here, leaving around 4:00 am, steam hauled by a Kriegslok, all the way down to Kłodzko Miasto, one summer's day in 1976. At four in the morning, the platform at Wrocław Główny was full of soldiers, nuns, old folk, school children, the smell of coal burning... unforgettable atmosphere, the station shabby yet formerly grand.

A more recent memory of Wrocław Główny. 2001, and I'm in Wrocław on business with three colleagues. How do we get to where we're going? "Piotr, have a look at the city map over there, in the corner of the booking hall." He goes over to look, he's very nearly sick from the stench of urine and vomit from the local homeless community. Now at last, the station is being restored to its former glory - but far too slowly.

"Take it easy, guys! No rush..." Round the front of the station, there seems very little evidence that anyone's remotely interested in finishing the job on time. Builders just standing around.

About the remont itself - much of the Secesja (Art Nouveau) style wrought ironwork has been removed and replaced with something that resembles it in a naive and faux manner. A feeble attempt.

We Varsovians might complain that our Central Station still smells and that water drips down onto the underground platforms (below) - but at least our station is ready. W-wa Stadion station opened on Saturday, though I can't see Wschodnia and Zachodnia stations being completed on time.

This time last year:
By tram to Boernerowo

This time three years ago:
Food-Industrial Shop, rural USA or Poland

This time five years ago:
Twilight time, Jeziorki


Anonymous said...

Pan Michael - incisive and interesting post as always.

Unfortunately this is an example of what many visitors to Poland will see and experience during their interactions with public infrastructure. The smell of urine and the disorganization will certainly leave an poor impression. I suggest that the average visitor will say: "we had a great time, the beer was cheap, people were nice but the place is a mess, dirty, confusing; I would not bring the family for a proper vacation".

In addition, as I understand from my feeble understanding of the language, there is virtually nothing of financial significance scheduled at the stadia after the Euro 2012. This will invariably lead to headlines decrying the annual maintenance costs which the governments (i.e. taxpayers) will have to foot. I fear we will see another trip down the road to the 1,000 Lecia Stadium - perhaps the National Stadium could become the largest covered flea market in the world?


Roman Z said...

1976 - summer - I remember it well... actually I don't remember where the group were released from to go visit their families, can you?.
In 1977 it was from Poznan and right at the start of the 5 weeks and I think we were on the same train as far as Wroclaw and I went on to Krakow.
Roman Z

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Romek

1976 we all set off from Warsaw - I flew down to Wrocław before taking the train to Kłodzko and onward to Lądek Zdrój. That was my first ever flight - aged 18! 1977 - I'm afraid I have no recollection of that journey...