Saturday, 11 August 2012

Train travel - Kraks and back in a (full) day

Some reflections about yesterday's train journey. Friday was long; my TLK train to Kraków which would get me there in suitable time for breakfast left W-wa Centralna at 5:05, before the first Metro train of the day could get me there, yet long after the last suitable night bus had passed Jeziorki. Indeed as it did so (at 3:20) I was just waking up. The Metro Park+Rides don't open until 4:30 (too late), so I drove to Stokłosy, parked on the street near to the Metro station and caught the N37 night bus that came punctually at 4:16, depositing me (and a surprisingly large number of other passengers) at Dw. Centralny 20 minutes later.

The long ticket queue moved quickly; I was on Platform 4 with seven minutes to spare. At five am there are plenty of passengers at the station, but nothing's open, so no chance of a newspaper or snack. I brought my own sandwiches (wholegrain bread and smoked tuna steak) and a couple of mouthfuls of red wine in a small plastic bottle - to help me sleep soundly all the way down to Kraks. (Coffee at this time would have had disastrous repercussions - keeping me awake on the journey, but rendering me sleepy by the afternoon.)

Now - a word about TLK vs. InterCity. My second-class ticket for the 5:05 from W-wa Centralna to Kraków Główny on TLK cost 61 złotys. The train was clean, it arrived five minutes early, there were six seats to the compartment, with electrical socket by each seat. On the way home, my second-class ticket for the 18:51 from Kraków Główny to W-wa Centralna on InterCity cost 119.50 złotys. Nearly double the price for the same journey. On InterCity, seating was bus-style (two rows of two seats with a central aisle), there were no electrical sockets and the toilet wasn't working. I cannot understand PKP's price/quality proposition, other than the departure time - filling the seats on trains running at ungodly hours by selling the tickets cheap.

Another train operator linking the two cities by rail is Interregio (IR). Price for Warsaw-Kraks is 49 PLN; unlike TLK and IC, you cannot reserve seats on IR trains. They are often overcrowded; a downside of travelling on an IR service is that you may have to stand all the way. IR trains also tend to get routed the slow way (Kraks to Warsaw via Kielce and Radom) and use local-service rolling stock, fine for commuting but hell to be stuck in for six hours.

At Kraków Główny (view of the main building above), the station announcer who does the English version is not (as is the case in Warsaw) a native speaker. Pociąg osobowy is translated as 'passenger train' (presumably because samochód osobowy is 'passenger car'). It is not. Pociąg osobowy is 'local train' or 'slow train' - what distinguishes it from express trains is that it stops at all stations, not that it carries passengers.

The InterCity train to Warsaw is hauled by a EP09 loco painted in England livery for the Euro 2012 championships (below).

On the way home, the first hour or so of the journey was blessed with beautiful evening light. Here are some photos of Małopolska landscapes, shot from the train, between Kraków and the town called Tunel.

This time last year:
Fountains by the New Town

This time two years ago:
Old-School Saska Kępa

This time three years ago:
The land, the light

This time four years ago:
Rainbow over Jeziorki

This time five years ago:
Previously in Portmeirion


Anonymous said...

.......and the toilet wasn't working.

Michael - how can they continually allow this to happen? It is not only absurd but makes Poland look a bit like Nigeria or Honduras. A never ending story.


toyah said...

How right you are!
Warszawa - Katowice "Chopin" train - clean, six seats to the compartment, electrical socket by each seat and a three-hour journey is 55 złotych. An EC, as comfortable at the most, is 20 minutes faster but the ticket price of nearly 120 złotych. Is it because on ECs they serve a free coffee and a tiny biscuit?

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Bob

You wouldn't want to go in there. It was disgusting, quite at odds with the rest of the modern carriage (complete with bike racks)

@ Toyah

I forgot about the snacks! Indeed, the most expensive tiny biscuit and tea in the world!

Anonymous said...

All of the Warszawa/Krakow InterRegio trains travel via Idzikowice and the CMK. None take the "long way round".

In fact, earlier this summer, PR tacked a 5PLN "CMK fee" on top of the ticket price!

Agata Borowska said...

Super wpis. Pozdrawiam i czekam na więcej.