Saturday, 6 September 2014

Around the Czachówek Diamond, again

The sun and wind... I love that combination - a crystal-blue sky, utterly cloudless, and hot; together with a strong, cooling wind in the face, magically together the two elements evoke the Sublime Mood. Time, then, to get on my mountain-bike and head off for the country, to make the most of the late summer. A 12.24 złoty (£ 2.30) day return ticket from Jeziorki to Czachówek Górny gets me out of suburbia and into the Mazowsze countryside for a five-hour, 33km cycling excursion.

Czachówek Górny station lies 17km south of W-wa Jeziorki, in the centre of the 'Czachówek Diamond', where the Warsaw to Radom railway line crosses the Skierniewice to Łuków line. Four rail spurs connect the two lines, allowing trains to go off to all points of the compass (see map from Google Earth, below, with railways marked). It is from here that I start and to here I return.

Below: I head east, into the wind, in the direction of Góra Kalwaria. The road follows the line, then turns into a sandy track with the railway on an embankment, and forest to the south. Though there are few passenger trains using this line at the weekend, there are many freight trains, with varied loads. Below: empty coal wagons heading back east to the Bogdanka mine.

Below: a long westbound train of oil tankers. It is encouraging to see freight returning to the rails. Whether it's EU funded projects or simple economics, I don't know; but just think how many trucks would have to carry this cargo along public roads.

Below: my Cannondale takes a break at an unguarded level crossing. Time for lunch - I buy a quality, high-class length of kiełbasa, a long bread roll to accommodate it, one-and-half litres of Cisowianka mineral water, two lovely large Polish apples and a tin of Warka Pstrąg beer (sadly only mainstream brands out in the country - no craft IPAs or ciders). Total cost of lunch is 13.50 złotys (£ 2.55).

Below: the building of the sołtys (elected village head) in Krzaki Czaplinkowskie. It is part Wild West fort, part radio transmission station, part drop-in constituency surgery, part village store and part metal anodising workshop.

Below: another eastbound coal train, this one coming from Skierniewice, approaching the level crossing at low speed. Lack of gated crossings means trains have to slow down; this hurts their operating efficiency. If we want to see more goods taken off the roads and put onto rail, the Polish state must invest in the safety infrastructure. Today I passed three crosses indicating where people had died under the wheels of passing trains.

Below: a gaggle of geese outside a farmhouse in Uwieliny, to the north-west of Czachówek. As I cycled slowly past, the geese waddled away, honking noisily, evidently irritated.

Left: the worst bit of the journey - soft sand. Time to get off and push. After several dry and sunny days, the paths that are in the open can quickly become impassable to cyclists. Still, I have my pedometer with me, so even if I'm not cranking out the kilometres on my bike, I am contributing towards my daily walking target of 10,000 paces.

Cycling through the middle of the diamond - Pan Heniek (below), equipped with scythe and a bucket for mushrooms. Though my layman's instinct suggests it may yet be too early for mushrooms, his bucket is nearly brim-full.

Nearing Czachówek Górny at the end of my journey, passing through Bronisławów, I see another oil train at the (unguarded) level crossing. This train is using the spur that connects the northbound and westbound lines.

My train back to Jeziorki is on time - it's been a splendid day out - my ticket and victuals coming to less than a fiver in British money, the weather fabulous. I feel a healthy suntan coming on.

This time two years ago:
Second line of the Metro runs into delays

This time four years ago
Army helicopters in action at Kielce defence show

This time five years ago:
World's largest helicopter over Jeziorki


mat said...

I like the photo of ET22-1182. It's a penultimate loco of this type ever made, this particular one is 25 years old now . Very nice perspective there, you can clearly see that PESA Gama (new locomotive made in Bydgoszcz) designers took some inspiration from Poland's 1960's design (ET22-001 was made in 1969).

Michael Dembinski said...

Since the break-up of PKP and the introduction of private cargo operators there's a plethora of rolling stock and colour schemes to keep Poland's spotters interested!