Holiday in a Historical Railcar - Day 2
We are taking a scenic line 037 from Liberec via Raspenava and Frędlant towards the Polish border. In Frędlant, we observe what remained of a narrow-gauge line to Heűmanice (parts of track and a bridge). Very soon, we are in Zawidow. A short passport check - and Poland is opened for us! Train Travelers Club (KC) has become the first Czech association which managed this. Moreover, we travel along a line with no passenger trains since 2000.
Lines around Zawidow have undergone profound changes after World War II. Originally, it was possible to travel only South to Frydlant or North-west to Hagenwerder on the left bank of the Nysa/Neisse river (line Görlitz - Zittau). Bogatynia was accessible on a narrow-gauge line Zittau - Heűmanice. To avoid transit after World War II, Poland has built two main lines North of Zawidów - one to the East to Sulików (where it connected with an old line to Mikułowa) and another to the West, to Krzewina Zgorzelecka (Ostritz) and Bogatynia. Apart from these, several short connecting lines have been constructed to allow a direct travel from Wroclaw or Zgorzelec. See a scheme and a short history on the sites of Grzegorz Sarnecki (Polish).
Originally, we should have traveled directly Zawidów - Wilka jct - Sulików - Mikułowa - Lubań without changing direction. However, three weeks before our arrival, PLK (track operator) closed the Sulików - Mikułowa segment. We had to turn left towards Zgorzelec and chage direction in the first station Jerzmanki. Thanks to an unwillingness of PLK to maintain tracks, we traveled 9 km longer than planned, to the joy of participants. Both the track and the station buildings are in a poor condition, vegetation grows everywhere. Station Mikulowa has been completely closed.
To see some monuments, we made about an hour-long stop in the city of Gryfów. It was founded in the 13th century - under Polish administration - by German colonists, and their descendants lived here until 1945. We can find several remarkable monuments here - a church with a baroque interior, a city hall with reinforced-concrete tower from the 1920s and merchants houses on the main square. A lack of maintenance is visible everywhere.
From Gryfow, we continue via Jelenia Gora and Wałbrzych to Kłodzko. On the way, we observe the gradual deterioration of railroad infrastructure. E.g., a part of track is missing on a connecting line Marciszów Górny jct - Kamienna Góra (trains to Lubawka used to take this line until 2001), there is a 20 km/h speed limit between Boguszow Gorce and Walbrzych. On the other hand, we were pleasantly surprised to see a modern diesel railcar in Walbrzych, operating on the line to Klodzko.
It is not necessary to introduce the Wałbrzych - Kłodzko line - it is one of the most scenic in Poland. Moreover, it was not in such a bad shape as we had assumed. We traveled fast most of the time. There are however several critical spots, such as high bridges around Nowa Ruda.
Before 6 pm, we arrived at Klodzko, took a commuter train ("kibel") to Kłodzko Miasto stop and checked in a hotel. The evening program was free - as for our room, after dinner and a short walk around the city, we turned on TV and watched an interesting movie about Warsaw uprising 1944.
© Jan Peula, 2004