Sunday, 17 July 2016

Four stations between Jeziorki and Czachówek

Last week I visited Czachówek to see how work is progressing along the Warsaw-Radom railway line. Today and Friday I filled the gaps, to bring news from the four stations between Jeziorki and Czachówek, namely (from north to south) Nowa Iwiczna, Piaseczno, Zalesie Górne and Ustanówek.

Let's start with an update from W-wa Jeziorki, today, Sunday. A day of rest, but all along the line deadlines are chasing, and work is proceeding at full gallop. Below: I've seen this piece of kit at rest but here it is in action - the device for laying long lengths of rail onto the trackbed. Good to see full safety kit including hardhats and hi-vi vests being universally deployed.

Below: looking north towards town, the foreshortening effect of the 300mm lens makes the rails look like lengths of al dente spaghetti. Before long, the new line will be joined up all the way from beyond W-wa Dawidy to here.

On to Nowa Iwiczna. Interesting things have happened here. Before the Radom line tracks are relaid, the non-electrified coal train line to Siekierki had to be realigned to allow the Radom line to pass without having to swing around an island platform. The engineering problem was the radius of the curve on which Nowa Iwiczna station currently sits. For ten days last month, no trains carried coal to Siekierki power station as the track was lifted and relaid a few metres east of the old alignment. Below: looking south from the level crossing on ul. Krasickiego. The coal line's on the left. It used to pass down the middle of the frame, where the new 'up' platform will go.

An interesting thing about Nowa Iwiczna station now is that it is the only station between W-wa Okęcie and Czachówek Południowy (inclusive) where the old platform has survived intact. The rest have been demolished or half-demolished. Below: probably the last photo I'll take of Nowa Iwiczna station's island platform in its original state. Note that both sets of tracks and overhead power lines are still in place. Your last days to photograph it as it was.

Looking south from the platform's end towards Piaseczno, I can see more work progressing. Between Nowa Iwiczna and ul. Słoneczna, the trackbed is being prepared for the new rails (below). This stretch is several months behind the progress achieved elsewhere on the W-wa Okęcie - Czachówek section of the Warsaw-Radom line.

I walk down ul. Krótka to get to Słoneczna and then to carry on south to 'Setchno. From the level crossing, turning back to look north, I can see the new trackbed being laid  (below).

Southwards, on to Piaseczno station, passing the points where the two tracks become four. The 'down' line is being replaced all the way from W-wa Okęcie to here; from beyond here on the 'down' line remains intact while the 'up' line is being replaced. The new trackbed here is in good shape, it's been tamped down flat for some of the way. In the far distance, the new footbridge for Piaseczno station.

A few words about PKP Piaseczno, an important and busy commuter station. Piaseczno is the first major town south of Warsaw, a town of 43,000 people (of comparable size and position to Croydon). The main reason my bus journey to work takes longer than it should is because so many people from Piaseczno drive into Warsaw along ul. Puławska, eschewing public transport alternatives. The train should be the best way in from Piaseczno, but with two an hour during peak times, the Koleje Mazowieckie service is woefully inadequate. Once the Warsaw-Radom line has been modernised, with sidings for reversing trains at Piaseczno, there will be capacity to run the SKM trains (operated by Warsaw's public transport authority, ZTM). This will mean Piaseczno should be served by four trains an hour to town at peak times. BUT (and it's a big one) - merely having the rails in place does not guarantee rolling stock. SKM's bosses say there will be no new trains to Piaseczno until they get the money for new trains. Because otherwise, they'll have to divert them from elsewhere. Logical.

But for the time being? Shambles, panie. Services are scarcer - and more prone to delays - than usual. And the main entrance to the station, where the 709 bus terminates - is closed (below). Passengers are being asked to walk a detour that's well over half a kilometre (540m), accessing the platform via ul. Sienkiewicza. This is frankly insulting. Even on a Sunday, between trains, I could see several people coming down this way. It's not been sealed off - there are merely signs. Typical. They know passengers will not comply - but rather than provide convenient and safe access while work continues, they merely ban the use of this entrance. Meanwhile, at W-wa Okęcie, the footbridge awaits opening, while passengers are being asked to cross the tracks.

Below: looking south with the recently refurbished station building to the left (a fine piece of 1930s modernism) and the demolished half of the platform overlooking the naked trackbed that awaits new subgrade, ballast and rails.

Below: looking north, perhaps what will be my final glimpse of the old shelter, similar to the ones at more important stations on this line. To the right the old track, overgrown with weeds, rotting wooden sleepers.

Below: Piaseczno station from ul. Sienkiewicza, looking north-east. In the far distance, the station building. You are meant to traipse all this way to get from the far end of the platform, up ul. Dworkowa and round to the station forecourt where your bus is waiting.

Onwards, south to Zalesie Górne. Below: looking down from the viaduct that carries ul. Sienkiewicza over the line, the line curves to the right as it passes Żabieniec.

That's my Sunday ramblings over - I walked round to the front of the station to catch a 709 bus back to Jeziorki. However, on Friday I covered the next two stations en route to Czachówek on my motorbike. Around the corner from the photo above lie the old fish ponds, then there's Żabieniec, where the train doesn't stop. Below: photo taken from the level crossing at Żabieniece, looking south towards Zalesie Górne. The 'up' line has been ripped up and awaits a new trackbed.

Further south, to Zalesie Górne, the last dormitory station on the line. Many houses among the trees, large, shabby, no doubt many still belong to the old elite from the communist days and their families, when this was a posh place to live. Today, it's an awful hack to get into town from here, either by train or by car. Once the track works are completed, things will improve, but the SKM services will only go as far as Piaseczno... unless some bright spark has them extended to Czachówek.

Below: the station at Zalesie Górne has the same style shelter as at Piaseczno, like the old one at W-wa Okęcie demolished late last summer. A new platform is emerging to the left of the photo.

Below: looking north from Zalesie Górne towards Żabieniec and Piaseczno beyond. Work going on preparing the 'up' line for a new trackbed. Months behind Jeziorki, which was at this stage in January.

And onward once more, down to Ustanówek (below), the first real 'country' station on this line. Wioska. In summer months, people take the train down to their działki to repose among the trees and meadows, returning to their city flats by train with baskets full of home-grown produce. Idyllic... once the railway line is working properly.

Below: looking north, a new 'up' platform is being built. The old overhead powerline is still in place.

Below: last shot. Looking south towards Czachówek, down the hill. This is the reverse shot of the one I uploaded in my post from Czachówek last weekend.

All in all, a lot of work just to complete one line (the 'down' line from W-wa Okęcie to Piaseczno,and the whole of the 'up' line from Piaseczno to Czachówek) still to go.

Bonus photo (below): I was lucky enough to catch this coal train as it rounded the bend coming off the main line at Nowa Iwiczna. Newag-refurbished ST48-013, a single loco,, hauls what it used to take two old ST48 Tamaras to do.

This time two years ago:
A tragedy foretold

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