Friday, 23 August 2019

Best and worst railway journeys in one day

Kraków - there and back in a day on business not too difficult... I left home at 05:15, by taxi (using the FreeNow ride-hailing app), arriving at W-wa Centralna with 15 minutes in hand for my 05:50 Pendolino train.

Below: sunrise over Warsaw from W-wa Centralna station.

The journey to Kraków was comfortable and, just 2hrs 18mins, the shortest and fastest I'd ever undertaken between these two cities. Indeed, counting check-in time, it's faster than flying for a city-centre to city-centre journey. Below: outside the shopping mall that flanks Kraków Główny station's to the west. New buildings in the distance; our new office is to the right.

Below: view of the Camaldolese Hermit Monastery, Bielany, Kraków, a closed monastery (women admitted 12 times a year). Built in 1630. Sadly, this view from the Kraków Technology Park will soon disappear as new offices and flats will appear in the intervening fields.

Another building that's visible from the Kraków Technology Park is Kraków's legendary Szkieletor (below), a building that's stood in skeletal form since the early 1980s, and is finally being completed. Standing 30 floors high, its opening will take some pressure off the city's requirements for office space. Kraków gives the impression - as does Warsaw - of a boom town with a dynamic economy reaching the limits of available manpower.

Heading out to the south-east of the city, and here's a tram (below) with an advert in English - a recruitment company is looking for recruiters to recruit people for other companies!

Below: returning to Kraków Główny station. Outside stands a bus with an advert in Ukrainian, giving me a similar culture shock to that of seeing a London bus with an advert in Polish on the back.

Below: one more Kraków tram shot - this is the underground tram station directly beneath Kraków Główny railway station. The railway tracks run at 90 degrees to the tramlines.

Finally, I turn up to Kraków Główny to find that my train back to Warsaw will be delayed by 20 minutes. Then 40 minutes. Then an hour. Then a hundred minutes. Then 120 minutes. The inbound Pendolino services from Gdynia is advertised as arriving 185 minutes late. Total chaos. The explanation is simple - 300m of overhead electric cable has been stolen from the main trunk line between Sztrałki and Idzikowice. All express trains between Warsaw, Kraków, Katowice and Wrocław that use the CMK trunk line are diverted via Skierniewice and Piotrków Trybulanski.

Below: the delayed arrival of the Pendolino service from Gdynia to Kraków. It was due at 13:15; it arrives at 18:20. The train is turned around in 18 minutes, and we depart at 18:38, nearly two hours after the scheduled time of 16:40.

Below: sunset from the train.

Below: arrival back at Warsaw Central, 22:50. Three and half hours late. For a journey scheduled to take two hours and 40 minutes.

My travel woes were not over. I elected to return home using the FreeNow app to hail a taxi. I tried five times, each time giving up as no driver was picking up my hail. But I was walking south - I made it all the way to Pole Mokotowskie Metro station, before reasoning that at around 23:30 most taxis had left central Warsaw taking late-night revellers home to the suburbs. The taxis are all out there! So I jumped on a Metro train, got opf at Wilanowska, hailed a FreeNow taxi from there - and had one within minutes. Home at 23:45, 18 and half hours after setting ofp.

The big question remains - how on earth did thieves manage to steal 300m of overhead powerlines from on of Poland's busiest and fastest railway lines? I reckon it's an inside job - someone who knew when the trains were running, who knew about the remont of the line around Idzikowice, someone who could pass unnoticed along the track. Where were the SOKiści - the railway watchkeepers?

I am an opponent of capital punishment, but in favour of corporal punishment for such crimes, 99 lashes, each administered by someone who'd been put out by the thieves' actions. Like the lady sitting opposite me in the Wars restaurant carriage, who'd gone to Kraków to visit a medical specialist; arriving three hours late, she merely stayed on the same train to head back home without having seen the professor with whom she'd missed a long-awaited appointment.

Flogging is too good for overhead powerline thieves. Broken bones all round. Robust retribution.

UPDATE 10.10.2019: Pendolino service from Wrocław to Warsaw has to do a detour between Opole and Częstochowa Stradom because of a derailed freight train. Delay: one and half hours. Shit happens all too often.

This time last year:
What's new around Jeziorki

This time four years ago:
Hydrology - droughts, floods and sandbanks

This time six years ago:
Radom air show - Part 1

This time seven years ago:
Restricting passenger movement and safety

This time eight years ago:
Seasonal fruit - eat it in bulk, while you can!

This time ten years ago:
Russia-Polish 'unification', 1939-style

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