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This article is part of the History of rail transport by country series.

The history of rail transport in Poland dates back to the first half of the 19th century when railways were built under Prussianmarker, Russianmarker, and Austrianmarker rule. After Polish independence was declared on 11 November 1918, the independent Polishmarker state administered its own railways until control was surrendered to Germanmarker and Sovietmarker occupiers during World War II.

During and after World War II major changes were made again, with the Polish borders shifted westward in 1945, putting many German railways under Polish control.



In 1848, the railway line connecting Warsawmarker, Zagłębie Dąbrowskie, and Krakówmarker was completed. The construction of the Wrocławmarker/BreslaumarkerUpper Silesia line was started the same year by the Upper Silesia Railway Society. The railroad company was granted a license for this line in 1839.

Construction of the railway line from Wrocław/Breslau to Mysłowicemarker/Mislowitz was finished in 1846, and Breslau was connected with Berlinmarker by the :de:Niederschlesisch-Märkische Eisenbahn, the Lower Silesian-Marchian Railway. One year later the construction of the Mislowitz–Cracow line was completed and the line was connected with the Warsaw–Vienna line.

A historical insignia of PKP (year unknown)
The Upper Silesia Railway Society connected Silesia with Poznańmarker/Posen and Szczecinmarker/Stettinmarker in 1856 and the Karol Ludvig Galician Railway connected it with Lembergmarker in 1861.

The Silesian Mountain Railway from Görlitzmarker via Lubańmarker/Lauban and Jelenia Góramarker/Hirschberg to Wałbrzychmarker/Waldenburg was opened in 1867 and extended to Kłodzkomarker/Glatz in 1880. In 1906, the Kaliska Railway connection with Prussian railway in Nowe Skalmierzycemarker was opened.

North Railway of Kaiser Ferdinand

In 1836, a license was issued to the North Railway of Emperor Ferdinand, connecting Viennamarker, Ostravamarker, Kraków and Bochniamarker.

Two railway lines were opened in 1842: Wrocław (Breslau during opening) –Ohlaumarker (on 22 May) and Oława–Briegmarker (in August). One year later, the Wrocław–Königszeltmarker railway line was opened by the Wrocław–Świdnica (Schweidnitz in German)–Świebodzice (Freiburg in Schlesien in German) Railway.

Warsaw — Vienna line

First attendants of Railway School
In 1838, a new company was founded, the Iron Railway Stock Society, and the same year it applied for a license to build the Warsaw-Vienna Railway line. Construction started in 1840, but in 1842 the company went bankrupt. The shares and property were taken over by the Government in 1843 and construction continued. The first section (from Warsaw to Grodzisk Mazowieckimarker) was finished on 15 June 1845, and before December had reached Skierniewicemarker. Construction was completed in 1847, and a year later, after the outbreak of the Spring of Nations, the first large international railway-military operation dispatched over 200,000 mounted Russian soldiers from Warsaw to Viennamarker and Budapestmarker to help the Emperor of Austria put down the uprising.

In 1859, the Government of Russia turned over the Warsaw–Vienna Railway to private owners.

The Engineering Railway School in Warsaw was opened under the line's protection in 1873. The next year, the first railway bridge over the Vistula river was opened in Warsaw. As a result, the Warsaw–Vienna line was connected to the broad gauge lines on the east bank of the river.

In 1894, the Warsaw–Vienna Railway ordered 13 fast steam locomotives with the Prus S2 design, and a series of modern 4-axle cars which covered transit routes from Schwartzkopff.

It was decided to nationalize the Warsaw–Vienna and Warsaw–Bydgoszcz Railways and the broad gauge track Kaliska Railway managed by this society. One year later, a decision was made to readjust the Warsaw–Vienna Railway to broad gauge track.

Prussian lines

Poznań was connected with Berlin and Stettinmarker in 1848 after erecting Stargard–Poznań Railway but, one year after, a connection from Berlin to Königsbergmarker (present day Kaliningradmarker)was planned, passing through station like Kostrzyn nad Odrąmarker/Küstrin, Krzyż/Kreuz, Schneidemühlmarker, Bydgoszczmarker/Brombergmarker, Dirschaumarker, and Gdańskmarker/Danzigmarker. Main branches of this line, called East Prus Railway, were opened in 1852, but construction of the connection between Dirschaumarker and Malborkmarker/Marienburg was not completed until 1852 because of construction of bridges across Vistula and Nogatmarker rivers. The line opened in 1858.

An economic crisis caused by speculation in railway shares hit stocks in Germany and Austria in 1875. The Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, supported the suppression of speculation on railway joint-stock companies. He also supported the obligatory purchase of railways from private owners, as well as the introduction of an exclusive goods rate for the transport of agricultural products from Pomerania and Masuria to Berlin.

In 1893, the Prussian railway introduced the first modern fast trains using the new steam locomotive (S2/PKP class Pd1) which could reach a speed of . The trains also included 4-axle closed cars with a covered transit route between cars (D-Zug). One such fast train route was that from Berlin to Bromberg and Danzig. In 1898, the first steam locomotive running on hot steam in the world, designed by Prof. W. Schmidt, was produced by the Vulkan company in Stettin for Prussian railway (KPEV Hannover 74 S4). This opened a new age of steam locomotive development. Construction of the prototypes of a steam locomotive series for hot steam by Dr. Robert Garbe started in 1902. These were: fast train S4 (PKP class Pd2), passenger train P6 (PKP class Oi1) and cargo train G8 (PKP class Tp3).

In the same year the Marborsko–Mławska Railway (the last big private railway under Prussian occupation) was nationalized.

1906 saw the continued production of the long series of famous standardized hot steam locomotive prototypes by Garbe in the Linke-Hofmann locomotive factory in Breslau for the Prussian railway. 584 of S6/PKP class Pd5 were produced, of which 82 items were operated by Polish State Railways (PKP). Approximately 4000 of P8/PKP class Ok1 were produced, of which 257 were operated by PKP before World War II, and 429 after the war. One of these, Ok1-359, still runs in a museum in Wolsztynmarker today.

In 1910, the ÖlsmarkerAdelnaumarkerOstrów Wielkopolskimarker line that shortened the connection between Wrocław–Łódź and Warsaw was opened. Construction of the prototype of the long series 5-axle Prussian cargo locomotive G10 (PKP class Tw1) with exchange chamber with steam locomotive P8 (PKP class Ok1) by Garbe took place the same year. Three years later, production of cargo locomotive G8.1 of the Prus railway (PKP class Tp4) in the F. Schichau factory in Elbingmarker commenced. Final production figures were 5267 items (459 items by PKP). That was the longest locomotive series in Europe.

Russian lines

Warszawa Praga railway station built around 1877 (no longer exists)
The first broad gauge railway track in today's Poland was opened in 1866 on the Warsaw–Brestmarker route, which thus connected Warsaw with Moscowmarker and Kievmarker. Later, another broad gauge railway track was added: the Iwanogrodzko–Dąbrowska Rail from Dęblinmarker via Radommarker–Bzin (now Skarżysko-Kamiennamarker)–Kielcemarker–Tunnel to Dąbrowa (now Dąbrowa Górnicza Strzemieszyce) and from Bzin to Łódźmarker via Ostrowiec ŚwiętokrzyskimarkerTomaszów–Koluszki. This caused a temporary decrease of cargo transport (mainly coal) on the Warszawa–Vienna Railway. The Russian General Staff confirmed the exclusive production of broad gauge equipment in the territory of Russia. The Russian authorities refused extension of the Wrocław–Warsaw Railway (Oleśnica–Podzamcze) to Łódź and Warsaw on their territory.

Opened in 1867, the Łódż–Fabryczna Railway double track from Koluszki to Łódź was the most profitable railway in Congress Polandmarker. The same year, two other lines were opened: (StettinmarkerDanzigmarker via StargardmarkerBelgardKöslinmarkerLauenburg in Pommernmarker; Poznań via Zbaszynek–Rzepin with Frankfurtmarker by Odra River and Gubinmarker). In 1888, all railroads in Russia were nationalised.

The revolution of 1905 in Russia and Congress Poland led to the disorder of the rail traffic on many important routes and many important junctions.

However, after the revolutionary events, the traffic was restored and many new technical impovements were implemented, especially for military sake.

World War I

Russian infantry marching along railway lines
Soon after annexing Polish areas, the German railway army readjusted the railway from Russian (broad gauge) to standard width (1435 mm). On the Russian side, most of the rolling stock of the Warsaw–Vienna Rail, Warsaw–Bydgoszczmarker and Kaliska Rail (as well as the headquarters of these lines) was relocated to Russia. In response to a counter-attack by the Russian army, German General Ludendorff ordered the destruction of strategic parts of the Warsaw–Vienna line and the Kalisz Railway between Warsaw, Łódź, Kutnomarker and Kaliszmarker.

In 1915, the German and Austrian armies completed adapting a significant portion of all broad gauge track to standard gauge. As the railway bridge over the Vistula River had been damaged, the Germans used ferries to move locomotives across the river in Warsaw. The same year saw construction of military railways on the WielborkOstrołękamarker and RozwadówSandomierzmarker routes, as well as additional lines on the Kalisz Railway. Modern German railway rolling stock replaced the broad gauge stock which had been removed to Russia.


For the state of Polish railways in 1939 see Polish National Railroads Summer 1939
On 3 January 1918, the Regency Council transferred the management of the state railway in the former Congress Polandmarker to the Ministry of Business and Industry. In fact, the management belonged to Militäreisenbahn-Generaldirektion Warschau (MGD). In October of the same year, the Regency Council brought into being the Ministry of Communication.

On 31 October 1918, Polish railwaymen took over the Railway Directorate in Kraków and railways in Galicia and Śląsk Cieszyński, beginning the takeover of railways in the former Russian and Austrian sectors. Polish railwaymen took over the management of railways in the Warsaw district on the same day.

Independent Poland railways

Polish station on postcard
One share of Polish First Locomotive Factory in Chrzanów
Gaining independence on 11 November 1918 allowed Poland to reclaim the former Russian and Austrianmarker sectors from military railways. The Railway Department in the Ministry of Communication was created and the Polish railways were officially named Polskie Koleje Państwowe.

In December 1918, the Great Poland Uprising started. The rebels took over the former Prussian sector of railways. One year later, the fights for Lwów were over and the former Austrian railway directorate was taken over by Poland. Taking over the railways from Prussians lasted until 1921.

After the victory over the Red Army in the Polish-Bolshevik War (1920), a great deal of damage in railway structure was discovered on the route along which the communists were retreating. At the same time, the tense relations with Lithuaniamarker led the railways around Wilnomarker and Minskmarker to a partial desintegration and stagnation. The Libau-Romny railroad was not recovered.

Polish railways administration finally took over the railways in Upper Silesia in 1922. That same year, a decision was made to divide railways in Poland into nine administrative districts.

An economic crisis in 1930s forced the state to cut back its budget for railway investment. Profit decreased by 50% compared to 1929. The next year, over 23,000 PKP employees had been dismissed and protests and strikes causes authorities to try to find a solution. The end of the crisis and an increase of cargo transport and income came in 1937.

Rolling stock

The government of Paderewski purchased 150 steam locomotives type Consolidation from the USAmarker in 1919. The same year Frenchmarker authorities offered one hundred captured German steam locomotives and two thousand cargo vehicles. Twenty-five items of PKP class Tr20 locomotives were ordered from the USA in 1920.

The Polish fought to get compensation for railway rolling stock from the defeated Central Powers, mainly Germany, in accordance with Article 371 of the Versailles Treaty, and the Treaties of Saint Germain (from Austria) and the Trianon (from Hungary) took almost three years (1921–1923). They received around 2,900 steam locomotives from the former German railways and over 1,300 from the Austrian railways.

In 1921, the first orders for steam locomotives for PKP from German factories (PKP class Ok1, PKP class Tp4 and PKP class Tw1) and Austrian (PKP class Tr12, PKP class Okm11). A reconstruction of Austrian steam locomotives PKP class Tr12 from spare parts in Warsawmarker Steam Locomotive Company Ltd. started as well.

In 1923, construction of the First Locomotive Factory in Chrzanowice, Poland started. The same year, local production began in the Warszawa Steam Locomotive Joint Stock Company. The first Polish steam locomotives in Germany and Belgiummarker (PKP class Tr21, PKP class Ok22, PKP class Ty23) were ordered. A year after, steam locomotive production in H. Cegielski factory in Poznańmarker began. The State's financial problems stopped orders for rolling stock abroad. After 1933, PKP had to deal with competition by "wild" carters and raftsmen, offering horse and river transport for distances over at lower prices than the railway.

From 1936, the Factory in Chrzanów worked at its own cost (without PKP orders) on fast steam locomotive PKP class Pm36 in two versions. Engineer K. Zembrzuski was the contractor of this locomotive. In 1937, the prototype Pm36-1 with aerodynamic lagging won the gold medal on the world exhibition in Parismarker. The speed test of Pm36 on the back way from Paris reached over on Germanmarker rails.

New railway lines

In 1920, a decision was made to construct of new railway line urgently: ŁódźmarkerKutnomarkerPłockmarker–Sierpc–Nasielsk, Kutnomarker–Strzałkowo, and gaps in lines, bypassing the connections broken by the new border with Germany and Gdańskmarker.

A year later, construction began on the Kutno–Koninmarker–Strzałkowo railway, to shorten connections between Warsaw and Poznań. In 1922, construction of the Kutno–Płock and Swarzewo–Helmarker lines started.

In 1924, the Nasielsk–Sierpcmarker line and construction of a new port station and railway junction in Gdyniamarker opened. A Customs War with Germany started in 1925, causing a rush to build a port in Gdynia and a detour line from Silesia to the coast by-passing German territory.

In 1927, the first Polish electric railway was built: the private EKD Warszawa–Podkowa Leśna–Grodzisk/Milanówek with branches to Włochy near Warszawa. The French-Polish Railway Society finished construction of the coal trunk line between Bydgoszczmarker and Gdynia in 1933. In 1934, the beginning of the use of a new railway line, Warszawa–Radom, opening the new connection from Warszawa to Kraków, and preparation to electrification works on Warszawa railway junction and suburbs took place.

In 1936 the first electric line based on 3,000V DC from Warszawa to Otwock and Pruszków opened.

World War II

German panzer train
On 1 September 1939, railwaymen of Szymankowo stopped a German armoured train before its arrival on the bridge over the Vistula River and blew up the bridge. After the Sovietmarker invasion of eastern Poland on 17 September 1939, most Polish rolling stock fell into Soviet hands.

The Polish railways in Silesia, Wielkopolska and Pomorze were adopted by German railways Deutsche Reichsbahn on 25 September.

Until the last moment before the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, cargo trains transported goods from the Soviet Union to Germany. The beginning of German attacks on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 resulted in the possession of railway and rolling stock by Ostbahn and the possession of PKP rolling stock with broad gauge track and reconstruction to standard gauge. The beginning of organized sabotage by the Polishmarker resistance movement on railways took place about the same time.

In 1942, global production of simple military steam locomotives, DR Kriegslok BR52 (PKP class Ty2), in Poznań and Chrzanówmarker, and of steam boilers for these locomotives started in Sosnowiecmarker.

The Warsaw Uprising caused widespread damage of Warsaw rolling stock, network and electric traction; both bridges over the Vistula River and the underground tunnel on the Warsaw Cross-City Line were destroyed.

In 1944, production of the first steam locomotive BR52 in Chrzanów started.

Communist period

At the beginning of 1945, the Ministry of Transport was created, as well as the Regional Directorate of National Railways. Many pre-war locomotives were sent to the Soviet Unionmarker. Polandmarker received many German locomotives as a compensation for war losses. In June, the rail connection with Warsaw was opened, using a temporary railway station made of warehouses. On 15 September 1945, PKP took over management of all railway lines on new Polishmarker territory from the Soviet Union. Most of these lines were either destroyed or inaccessible. The railways in the country were divided into 10 districts.

In 1946, the Fablok and Cegielski factories started the production of PKP class Pt47 (pre-war PKP class Pt31) and PKP class Ty45 (pre-war PKP class Ty37) locomotives. Meanwhile, the production of PKP class Ty42 (German BR52) was in process and Poznań prepared to start the production of PKP class Ty43 (German BR42) which had been produced in Szczecinmarker previously. The situation in the Polish railways was disastrous, so the government decided to buy 75 USATC S160 (Polish PKP class Tr201) Americanmarker locomotives (on UNRRA basis), 30 Britishmarker 9F (Polish PKP class Tr202) locomotives, and 500 S160 Polish PKP class Tr203) locomotives, what was left from American army in Europe. Another 100 locomotives ordered from USA (Decapol - Polish PKP class Ty246) were sent to service Śląsk–Gdynia line. In the same year, electric trains started an operating line from Warszawamarker to Otwockmarker.

Polish railways regained pre-war locomotives from Hungarymarker, Czechoslovakiamarker and Yugoslavia (in 1947), yet units from the eastern parts of Poland were taken over by USSRmarker and rebuilt to operate on a wide gauge. Two years after the war's end, the first passenger cars are built in Cegielski (Poznań) and PaFaWag (Wrocławmarker), while freight cars were being built in Chrzanów and Zielona Góramarker. At the same time, Warsaw railway lines were rebuilt together with the tunnel under the country's capital. As a part of the Ministry of Communication, the Bureau for Railway Electrification was founded. The first projects were to rebuild all lines that had been electrified before the war, and then the Warsaw–ŻyrardówmarkerSkierniewicemarkerKoluszkimarker and the Warszawa–Sochaczewmarker lines would have been electrified. The electrification was planned to bring 3000V AC into Polish railways.

The modernised version of PKP class Pt31 locomotive started in 1948, the locomotive gaining a new name, Pt47. Reconstruction of German S-Bahn EMUs started the same year, which required building overhead lines in the Tricity area. Those EMUs were renamed EW90, 91 and 92 and soon after (in 1951) started operating on SKM lines. In 1949 the construction of Tomaszów Mazowieckimarker - Radommarker line was completed.

The 50s in Polish railways were a time of serious development and improvements. In 1950, construction of TKt48 locomotives started and two years later a prototype of the Ol49 steam locomotive was built. 1953 brought several new types of electric rolling stock into PKP. Ten units of EP03 electric locomotives and 40 units of EW54 EMUs were ordered from Swedenmarker. EW54 EMUs were sent to operate on lines connecting Warsawmarker with Mińsk Mazowieckimarker, Żyrardówmarker and Sochaczewmarker. Meanwhile EP04 and EU20 locomotives were ordered from the DDR, alongside with EN56 and ED70 EMUs.

Polish production in that period included PKP class EW53 EMU and PKP class EP02 locomotive. In 1954 the prototype of the last heavy freight steam engine – PKP class Ty51 – was built. New lines opened that year are SkierniewicemarkerŁukówmarker line and SitkówkamarkerBusko Zdrój line.

See also


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