At the end of the 19th century, there occurred a quality change in the development of the railway network.
Narrow-Gauge Railways in West Pomerania 1895-1945
The construction of standard-gauge (1435 mm) railway lines required significant financial investments, related to both construction works and the further use of the lines. The Pomeranian basic layout railway lines became nationalized by the Prussian government until the end of the 1880s and were taken over by the Royal Prussian State Railways (Königlich Preußische Staatseisenbahnen, K.P.St.E.). A number of communities located between the built lines, represented by district authorities and supported by local capital, sought to build further connections. Since 1895, 16 district railway lines (Kleinbahnen) were established in West Pomerania, including 8 narrow-gauge and 4 standard-gauge lines.
Large Junker farms, which produced huge amounts of crops, functioned in Pomerania at that time. The emergence of new technologies, mainly mineral fertilizers and agricultural machinery, supported the increase in food production. Modernization of agriculture and large-scale cultivation of potatoes, cereals and sugar beet have completely changed the local agricultural economy. Large surpluses of food were obtained, which had to be moved efficiently and for this purpose an efficient means of transport was needed. The standard-gauge railway network was small, the same situation concerned the roads, so it became increasingly difficult to transport growing quantities of products of agriculture and of developing food industry. In this situation, the construction of a narrow-gauge railway turned out to be the best solution, which was also economically advantageous, as the total financial investment in infrastructure was significantly lower than in the case of standard-gauge railways.
The law on narrow-gauge railways and private sidings, adopted by the Prussian National Parliament on July 27th, 1892, which determined the rules for their co-financing from budgetary funds, also contributed to the creation of narrow-gauge railways. Thanks to it, local governments received significant help from the state, including non-returnable subsidies and low interest rates on loans. It was crucial as the lines were built, and then exploited, by private joint-stock companies, whose shareholders were mainly district authorities and local entrepreneurs as well as the Pomeranian Province Board, who also wanted to own railway company shares.
The narrow-gauge lines were built most of all in places where it was not profitable to build standard-gauge ones. In addition, they had numerous advantages that standard-gauge railways did not provide: they were faster, up to 50% cheaper to build, and had lower operating costs. It was related to lighter rails, smaller dimensions and number of ties, simpler security systems and less complicated bridges and culverts. The lines were mainly monorail, occupied much less space, and it was easier to run them in difficult wooded or even marshy terrain. Lines with a track gauge of 1000 mm, 750 mm and 600 mm were built all over Pomerania. In West Pomerania (Hinterpommern, Mittelpommern), half out of 8 newly-built narrow-gauge lines had a 1000 mm spacing (with a total length of 473.1 km) and half – a 750 mm spacing (318.11 km).
It became a rule that almost every narrow-gauge and regional railway being built was supported by the capital and services of the Lenz & Co GmbH company. The technical standards for the construction of steam locomotives, carriages, railway buildings, tracks, surfaces and other technical devices specific to narrow-gauge and regional railways, which, thanks to uniform quality criteria, guaranteed their efficient functioning, were also signed Friedrich Lentz’s name. Moreover, the Lentz company was in charge of the operation and maintenance of the lines that were being built.
The construction of a narrow-gauge rail network was of great importance for the development of the entire Pomeranian economy, as the lines were mainly run so that they connected small, peripheral towns with local economic or administrative centres. As a result, numerous offshoots were created, which led to various towns and even villages, thanks to which the railway also reached small towns that would have never received standard-gauge connections. Therefore, the development of railways contributed to the development of some centres that previously had not played any significant role. At the same time, it has also become the only possible means of transport for their residents, allowing them to travel comfortably from the countryside to the city or from the city to the city.
In addition, numerous sidings were built, which served both agriculture as well as local industry. In large Junker farms, range of industrial plants were established, i.e. dairies, starch factories, mills, breweries, distilleries, etc. as well as sawmills and brickyards. Thanks to the railways, the transport of goods became considerably easier and faster, for it was possible to transport loads several dozen times larger and at higher speeds than with the use of horse-drawn carts.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Pomerania had the largest narrow-gauge railway network in Europe. Since 1910, successively, after the expiry of existing contracts (concluded mainly with Lenz & Co.), most of them found themselves under the joint management of the Railway Department of the Provincial Union of Pomerania (Betriebsführung der Kleinbahnen Provinzialverbandes Pommern) with headquarters in Szczecin. Further change took place in 1919, when the management was taken over by other railway associations (Vereinigungen Kleinbahnen), West-Pomeranian (hinterpommerscher) and Middle-Pomeranian (mittelpommerscher) ones in Szczecin and Hither-Pomeranian (vorpommerscher)one in Stralsund.
The First World War brought prosperity for narrow-gauge railways, as it led to a huge increase in transport, which was caused by the conveyance of cargoes for the fighting German army. However, the transport boom ended as soon as the war was over.
The huge crisis that occurred in the 1920s and 1930s, affecting not only Germany, but virtually the whole of Europe, led to a complete collapse of the economy and all transports. Hyperinflation forced constant increase in transport prices, which deepened the decline in this business. In this situation, it was difficult to think about the development of the railway, because it was necessary to look for savings and ways to survive the hard times. The economic crisis was one of the main factors that seriously inhibited the development of narrow-gauge railways.
Another one was building more roads by the German state and the gradual development of motorization, which began to gain passengers who had been using railway services so far. Some narrow-gauge railways, seeking savings, began to introduce road buses for passenger transport. The solution was not accepted by several lines, including the Gryfice railway.
Another way of dealing with the considerably bad economic situation was converting narrow-gauge railway tracks to standard-gauge ones or building a dual-gauge tracks, which significantly increased the possibilities of using the line. The Słupsk and Sławno railways were examples of this.
The next increase in transport was caused only by the policy of the Third Reich and, once again, the use of all railways for the upcoming war. In June 1937, the Pomeranian State Railways (Landesbahn-Direktion Pommern) company was established, also having its seat in Szczecin, which resulted in the merger of all narrow-gauge and district railways into a single entity in 1940. As a result, particular railways lost their independence because they were practically nationalized (the Prussian land and the province of Pomerania owned more than 52% of shares in the company in 1940).
In 1930, eight narrow-gauge railway lines operated in West Pomerania. Seven of them, except for Sławno Narrow-Gauge Railway, took the form of joint-stock companies (AG - Aktiengesellschaft):
Szadzko (Stargard) Narrow-Gauge Railway (SKB – Saatziger Kleinbahn AG, Szadzko Narrow-Gauge Railway – named after the district) had the total length of 121.6 km with a track width of 1000 mm. It was built by Lenz & Co. GmbH company. The first line from Stargard to Ińsko was launched on January 14th, 1895. It was later extended by a way to Studnica. In May 1895, a section between Stara Dąbrowa and Kania was opened, and in November – one between Kania and Dobra Nowogardzka, where it merged with the Resko railway. On August 20th, 1896, a line from Kozy Pomorskie through Dobrzany to Poźrzadło Dwór was opened. The last line was launched in October 1897. It led from Ińsko to Jankowo Pomorskie, to the standard-gauged Runowo Pomorskie-Szczecinek line (in 1910 it was extended by a way to Drawsko Pomorskie).
Kołobrzeg Narrow-Gauge Railway (KKB – Kolberger Kleinbahn AG). It had a length of 123.0 km with a track width of 1000 mm. The construction was carried out by Lenz & Co GmbH company. The first Kołobrzeg-Gościno-Rymań section, 36.1 km long, was opened on May 27th, 1895 and was used primarily by the port of Kołobrzeg. A few days later, the Rymań-Resko Północne Wąsk. (Wąsk. stands for Wąskotorowa – a narrow-gauge railway station) section was opened. On September 22nd, 1895, trains started to run on the route from Gościno to Sławoborze, and on December 9th, 1899, Kołobrzeg and Gryfice narrow-gauge railways were connected by a new section between Skrzydłów and Tąpadły. Ten years later, on November 10th, 1909, a section running from Gościno to the village of Pobłocie Wielkie was opened, and after further six years it was extended by a line leading to Karlino Wąsk. There was also opened a branch from Lubiechowo to Włościbórz.
Gryfice Narrow-Gauge Railway (GbKB – Greifenberger Kleinbahn AG). Total length: 175,6 km. The first line from Gryfice Wąsk. through Karnice to Niechorze was launched on July 1st, 1896. On October 5th, 1898, a line from Gryfice through Tąpadły to Dargosław was opened. Both lines initially had a track gauge of 750 mm, and the siding of the Gryfice sugar factory was equipped with a dual gauge track of 750/1435 mm.
Rapid growth in transport caused that the next Popiele-Golczewo line, with the objective of reaching the port in Stepnica, was decided to be built with a track width of 1000 mm. It was put into use as soon as on August 17th, 1901, and the change of the track from 750 mm to 1000 mm on the Popiele-Gryfice Wąsk. section began immediately, which resulted in a slight alteration of its route.
Since then, all new lines were built with a track width of 1000 mm. On December 1st, 1903, the construction of the line from Golczewo to the port of Stepnica was completed. On October 7th, 1905, a branch from Golczewo to Śniatowo was opened and in the same year the track conversion from 750 to 1000 mm was finished on Popiele-Niechorze and Gryfice Wąsk.-Dargosław sections. There also began the construction of the Dargosław-Trzebiatów section, which was put into operation on November 1st, 1907. Furthermore, the sugar factory in Gryfice has completed the conversion of its tracks from 750 to 1000 mm and the construction of a 1000/1435 mm dual gauge track.
On September 6th, 1911, the route from Czarnogłowy to Rokita was put into operation. One of its sections also received a 1000/1435 mm dual gauge track. It served mainly for transporting large quantities of lime from the mine in Czarnogłowy. The development of tourism and holiday traffic resulted in the opening of a section between Trzebiatów and Mrzeżyno on June 30th, 1912, and, less than a year later, on May 1st, 1913, trains from Trzebiatów to Niechorze started to run.
Resko Narrow-Gauge Railway (RKB – Regenwalder Kleinbahn AG). It had a length of 52,9 km and a track gauge of 1000 mm. It was built by Lenz&Co. GmbH company. On July 26th, 1896, two lines were launched: one from Mieszewo to Żelmowo and the other between Łobez and Dobra Nowogardzka through Mieszewo, which merged with Szadzko Narrow-Gauge Railway. On November 18th, 1907, a Resko Północne-Żelmowo line was opened, which merged with Kołobrzeg Narrow-Gauge Railway. In 1912 the railway obtained a connection with district standard-gauge Naugarder Kreisbahn line.
Sławno District Railway (SchKB – Schlawer Kreisbahn). Lengh: 63,39 km. It included lines of track width of 750 mm and, since 1934, 1435 mm. The first section between Sławno and Polanów was launched on December 21st, 1897. Two further, from Polanów to Gołogóra and from Jacinki to the village of Nacław, were opened in the subsequent year and merged with Koszalin Narrow-Gauge Railway. The line was built, as an exception in West-Pomerania, without the participation of private capital. In 1910, there was built a connection with a standard-gauge railway station Polanów (Pollnow Staatsbahnhof), with which the length of the network increased to 65 km.
In 1926, a mountain fragment of the line running from Żydowo Pomorskie to Gołogóra was closed and its tracks were dismatled. In 1934, the Sławno-Jacinki route was rebuilt and the track gauge was changed to normal (1435 mm). Between Jacinki and Polanów (5.3 km) a dual gauge track of 750 mm and 1435 mm was created. After these changes, the Sławno-Jacinki line was shortened by about 3 km, and on the remaining Nacław-Polanów-Żydowo section, 21.2 km long, narrow-gauge trains continued to run for over ten years.
Słupsk District Railway (StKB – Stolper Kreisbahn AG). Total length: 126,9 km. Track gauge: 750 mm and 1435 mm. It was created in 1930 as the result of merging two railway companies. First of them was standard-gauge Słupia Valley Railway (Stolpetalbahn AG - STB) with a line between Słupsk and Dębnica Kaszubska, 18,9 km long, opened on August 15th 1894.
Słupsk District Railway (Stolper Kreisbahn) was primarily a narrow-gauge one. On August 14th 1897, as a private capital company, it opened a 750 mm Słupsk-Żelkowo-Smołdzino line (14,1 km) and a Żelkowo-Dargoleza branch (23,4 km), in 1902 extended by a connection to Cecenowo (6,1 km).
On December 6th, 1913, the company launched the first standard-gauge line between Dominek and Ustka (22.1 km). After 1918, in order to increase the volume of transport and overcome the bad economic situation, it began the process of converting narrow tracks to standard ones or constructing 3-track lines. In 1920, it liquidated another narrow-gauge 750 mm track on the Słupsk-Kępno Słupskie section, and then in 1922 one more on the Kępno Słupskie-Klęcino line, leaving only the standard track.
In 1922, the company operated on 34 km of standard-gauge lines and only 18 km of narrow-gauge ones. Over the next eleven years, there were still narrow tracks on the Klęcino-Dargoleza-Cecenowo route until in the autumn of 1933, when the section running to Dargoleza was also changed into a standard-gauge one. The last narrow-gauge section between Dargoleza and Cecenowo was destined for dismantling.
United Narrow-Gauge Railways of Koszalin, Bobolice and Białogard Districts (KBB – AG der vereinigten Kleinbahnen der Kreise Köslin, Bublitz und Belgard) had 129.52 km of lines with a gauge of 750 mm. The first line, 32.2 km long, was launched on Koszalin-Manowo-Nacław section on November 1st, 1898. The main private shareholder was the Krauss-Maffei Steam Locomotive Factory from Munich. Good transport results encouraged the company to open further lines. Exactly seven years later, trains started to run on the Manowo-Świelino-Bobolice and Białogard-Świelino routes. On September 17th, 1909, a 20.2 km line from Białogard to Rarwino was launched.
In 1927, in order to improve its profitability, the company launched bus service which transported passengers from distant villages to narrow-gauge railway stations. In 1934, it also rented Jacinki-Polanów Pomorski-Żydowo section (15 km) from Sławno District Railway, what was related to the conversion of the Sławno-Jacinki-Polanów Pomorski section from 750 mm into 1435 mm (standard gauge) and the use of dual gauge tracks on the Jacinki-Polanów Pomorski route.
Casekow-Penkun-Odra CPO Narrow-Gauge Railway, (AG Kleinbahn Casekow-Penkun-Oder). Total length: 69,8 km, track gauge: 750 mm (and, in a fragment, as dual gauge: 750 mm and 1435 mm). Its construction was carried out in two stages. In April 1899, the first section, running from Casekow to Szczecin Gumieńce, was put into service. In October its further, dual gauge fragment between Gumieńce and Pomorzany was launched. Several years later, sidings leading to a sugar mill and Odra river waterfronts were built. In 1945, due to its collision with the newly established state border, the line was mostly dismantled. Only a section from Gumieńce to Pomorzany survived partially, where the central rail was liquidated. It functionned until the 1990s as a siding,
Table. Closures and liquidations of narrow-gauge railways until 1945
Dargoleza-Cecenowo (Słupsk railway)
replaced by standard-gauge railway
replaced by standard-gauge railway
replaced by standard-gauge railway, track ultimately dismantled by the Red Army in 1945
|1926||Żydowo-Gołogóra (Sławno railway)||5||track dismantled until 1934|
|1934||Sławno- Jacinki-Polanów (Sławno railway)||43||replaced by standard-gauge railway, track ultimately dismantled by the Red Army in 1945|
|1945||Szczecin-Gumieńce-Barnisław (border) (CPO railway)||12||track dismantled by the Red Army, line cut across by Polish-German border|
|1945||Manowo-Naccaw (Koszalin railway)
Polanów--Żydowo (Sławno railway)
|track dismantled by the Red Army
track dismantled by the Red Army
there was a dual gauge track on Jacinki-Polanów section
|Lubiechowo-Włościbórz - (Kołobrzeg railway)||8||track dismantled in 1962|
Czarnogłowy-Rokita (Gryfice Railway)
|track dismantled in 1963
track dismantled in 1966
Taylor Z., Rozwój i regres sieci kolejowej w Polsce, PAN, Warsaw 2007, after: Baumer W., Bufe S., Eisenbahn in Pommern, Egglham-Muenchen, 1988
West-Pomeranian Narrow-Gauge Railways 1945-2017
In 1945, all narrow-gauge railways were taken over by Polskie Koleje Państwowe – the Polish State Railways (PKP). Within the structure of Dyrekcja Okręgowa Kolei Państwowych – the Regional Directorate of State Railways (DOKP) in Szczecin, two Narrow-Gauge Railway Authorities were created: one in Gryfice (Gryfice and Kołobrzeg railways were subordinated to it), and the other in Stargard Szczeciński (for the Szadzko and Resko railways) in order to immediately launch trains on the lines that were in relatively good condition after the end of hostilities. Repair of damaged tracks and devices for traffic and communication protection as well as bridges and viaducts began instantly. In total, 50% of tracks, as well as bridges in Gryfice and near Marianowo, were not usable. The latter were quickly rebuilt. By the end of the year, already 241 km of lines were in use. Some sections of the tracks, however, had been so damaged that they were not rebuilt anymore. Some of them were dismantled by the Soviet occupation authorities and exported to the USSR as part of war repair.
In August 1945, engine sheds were opened in Gryfice, Dobra Nowogardzka, Gościno and Ińsko. Completing the rolling stock – steam locomotives and carriages – began. Repair workshops were created in Gryfice, Resko, Stargard and Łobez.
In the area of the Koszalin-Białogard railway, most of the lines had been completely destroyed during military operations or dismantled by the Soviet Army. After 1945, it was decided to rebuild them, increasing their width from 750 mm to 1000 mm, to adjust them to all other West-Pomeranian narrow gauges. Therefore, on March 1st, 1946, a third management board was appointed in Białogard, which was entrusted with the task of rebuilding existing lines. The first train was launched on the Koszalin-Świetlino-Bobolice route in July 1948.
In 1949, the Ministry of Transport dissolved the Narrow-Gauge Railway Authorities in Gryfice, Stargard Szczeciński and Białogard, and all their duties were taken over by the Narrow-Gauge Railway Department of the DOKP in Szczecin.
The reconstruction of the Koszalin-Białogard railway continued until 1952. All sections existing before the war were opened except for the Manowo-Polanów Pomorski-Żydowo route (42 km). A new Rawino-Lepino Trójkąt section, not existing before 1945, was also built. It was as short as 6.4 km, but it was crucial for the smooth operation of narrow-gauge railways throughout West Pomerania. As a result, it was possible to travel by narrow-gauge trains from Koszalin to Kołobrzeg and further to Stargard Szczeciński, and even to Stepnica by the Szczecin Lagoon.
All this not only facilitated the transport of goods and people, but also connected all narrow-gauge railways into a unified system, thanks to which it was possible to manage the entire network more efficiently. In 1954, the name of the Narrow-Gauge Railway Department (Wydział Kolei Wąskotorowych) was also changed into the Pomeranian Narrow-Gauge Railways Management (Zarząd Pomorskich Kolei Dojazdowych), which was justified as narrow-gauge railways served as a typical local carrier. Their passengers were mainly inhabitants of villages, who travelled most often on short distances, from home to the city, to the market, to the seat of the commune or school.
In the 1950s, intense traffic of passenger and goods trains was carried out on all active lines. The number of transported passengers and quantities of freight increased. Narrow-gauge railways were the most popular means of transport in this area, as road transport was still poorly developed at that time. They served both local passenger traffic as well as numerous state-owned farms, communal cooperatives and small agri-food industry plants, as well as forestry.
At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, the lack of new rolling stock became more and more troublesome. It was the main reason for the suspension of passenger transport from Kołobrzeg to Gościno and from Skrzydłowo and Mieszewo to Resko Północne. Nevertheless, until 1964 Pomeranian railways were a popular means of transport and transported a large number of passengers. It was only in 1964 that, for the first time after 1945, a significant decrease in the number of people transported took place. It was caused by the dynamic development of bus communication offered by State Motor Transport (Państwowa Komunikacja Samochodowa), which was constantly launching new courses and connections. In addition, buses were travelling considerably faster than railways. This resulted in gradual decrease in number of railway passengers. In 1964, passenger services were suspended on Gościno-Karlino and Gryfice-Rymań lines.
The location of part of the Pomeranian narrow-gauge railways in the coastal areas meant that in June, July, August and September the intensity of transport increased significantly. This resulted in the phenomenon of strong irregularity of transports caused by large flow of travellers to such towns as Pogorzelica, Niechorze or Rewal in summer.
Cargo transport usually required bringing and collecting goods to and from the points of contact of the narrow-gauge railways with standard ones, which had to be properly synchronized. Pomeranian narrow-gauge railways had ten such contact points. They were located in: Stargard Szczeciński, Trąbki, Łobez, Resko, Gryfice, Golczewo, Łożnica, Trzebiatów, Białogard and Koszalin. It was a time-consuming and expensive way, compared to which, the car transport offered faster and cheaper transport of goods and required no unnecessary reloading.
As far as transport of goods was concerned, the arrangements of tariff system made the volume of transport in the 1960s remain at a constant level except for small fluctuations. Thanks to this, goods traffic remained successful for numerous years even on lines suspended for passenger traffic.
In 1968 and 1970, the last steam locomotives from the Px-48 series, with the engine power of 147 kW, were purchased from the Locomotive Factory in Chrzanów. Since 1977 the liquidation of steam traction has begun and Romanian Lxd2 internal combustion locomotives were introduced, strong enough to run heavy freight trains.
In the second half of the 1970s, the number of people travelling by Pomeranian narrow-gauge railways continued to decrease constantly and it was a permanent and irreversible trend, for PKS proved to be too strong competition for them. Even the fact that during the summer there was a significant increase in the number of travellers could not have averted the bad situation. It became certain that the narrow-gauge railway would not win the competition with road transport and would not regain its passengers. This adverse phenomenon, which had been present since the second half of the 1960s, inevitably led in the liquidation of further unprofitable lines. As a result, passenger transport from Łęźnica Wąsk. to Stepnica and from Świelin to Bobolice was suspended.
Cargo transport in the second half of the 1970s also experienced a downward trend, exceeding 20% in 1980 compared to 1975. During this time, new type transporters were introduced, on which standard-gauge carriages with load were transported along a narrow track to eliminate unnecessary reloading and shortening the transport time.
Most of the conveyance was carried out by means of combination of narrow- and standard-gauge railways. This method constituted 78.1% of total transport. The average distance of transported cargo was approximately 38.1 km. It should be noticed that although Pomeranian narrow-gauge railways served agricultural areas, in the second half of the 1970s they did not transport a lot of crops. They constituted only 3.4% of the total transport weight and this was a huge decrease especially in comparison to the 1960s, where they occupied a very significant position, amounting to as much as 25.5%.
The total length of Pomeranian narrow-gauge railways in 1980 amounted to 460 km. The most goods were transported on Gryfice Wąsk.-Stepnica and Koszalin Wąsk.-Bobolice lines.
Pomeranian railways in 1980 owned a total of 33 traction vehicles, including:
- 17 steam engine locomotives
- 8 internal combustion locomotives
- 8 internal combustion railbuses
It was not until 1986 that MBxd2 railbuses and new passenger carriages were purchased in Romania.
In the 1980s, rail transport has already become 50% more expensive than the road one. In addition, the loads transported by narrow-gauge railways had to be reloaded before they reached the final recipient and even the introduction of transporters did not solve this problem in full. All this was accompanied by the fact that many lines were completely depleted and in bad technical condition. In result, they required huge financial outlays to extend their lifetime. Therefore, their continued maintenance has become unprofitable. The same dealt with numerous station buildings, sidings and standard-gauge railways transshipment points, some of which were considerably worn-out and had not been functionning for a long time.
Major economic changes that took place in the 1990s led to the collapse and liquidation of state farms and the majority of communal cooperatives, completely changing the Polish countryside. A number of industrial plants were privatized, and some simply collapsed as they did not manage to comply with the rules of the free market. Thus, closing subsequent deficit lines was only a matter of time, because in no way was it possible to cope with their growing unprofitability.
The difficult situation of narrow-gauge railways was tried to be solved by introducing a tourist offer with the use of attractive historic rolling stock. In 1992, a special train consisting of a Px48 steam locomotive from 1952 and several carriages, including the so-called “Letniaki” (“summer” open carriages, uncovered or with no glassed windows) and a bar carriage was modernized and adapted to passenger transport. During the summer, this train, called "Ciuchcia Retro-Ekspres" (“Retro Express Choo-Choo”), operated on Gryfice-Trzęsacz-Rewal-Trzebiatów and then Gryfice-Rewal-Pogorzelica routes. Since 1994, on the coastal section of the Gryfice line, a fixed schedule for "retro" trains has been introduced during the holiday period. During the next several years, various types of occasional and tourist-office-commissionned events were organized there. In 1993, the second such composition with the Px48 locomotive from 1953 was launched on the Stargard Szczeciński-Ińsko route.
On July 1, 1998, the Pomeranian Narrow-Gauge Railways Management in Szczecin was liquidated and the Directorate of Narrow-Gauge Railways with headquarters in Warsaw was established, subordinate directly to the PKP Management. On the basis of the existing managements, local departments were established, while individual railways were renamed sections. In 1999, transportation on Pogorzelica Gryficka-Trzebiatów section was suspended. The network of West Pomeranian narrow-gauge lines was limited to the following sections: Stargard Szczeciński-Stara Dąbrowa-Dobra Nowogardzka, Gryfice-Rewal-Trzebiatów, Koszalin-Świelino.
In 2001, PKP decided to close all narrow-gauge railways throughout the country. For this purpose, the Directorate of Narrow-Gauge Railways in Liquidation with headquarters in Warsaw was established. Closed narrow-gauge railways could be taken over by associations, cultural institutions, local governments or completely liquidated.
Table. Closures and liquidations of narrow-gauge railways after 1945
|1948 - 1968||Dobrzany-Poźrzadło Dwór (Stargard railway)||17||tracks were partially dismantled by the Red Army and Poles arriving to settle here who were in search of building materials; ultimately dismantled in 1968|
|13||track dismantled in 1963|
|1955||Ińsko-Studnica-Jankowo Pom.-Drawsko Pom.
|21||track dismantled in 1966|
|1964||Gościno-Karlino Wąsk. (Kołobrzeg railway)||19||track dismantled in 1975|
|1965||Gościno-Kołobrzeg Wąsk. (Kołobrzeg railway)||19||passenger traffic terminated in 1961 track dismantled in 1967|
|22||passenger traffic terminated in 1966|
|1992||Skrzydłowo-Resko Płn. Wąsk.
|19||passenger traffic terminated in 1961|
|17||passenger traffic terminated in 1963|
|16||passenger traffic terminated in 1959|
|1993||Świelino-Bobolice Wąsk. (kolej koszalińska)||17||passenger traffic terminated in 1984|
|21||passenger traffic terminated in 1992|
|1996||Lepino Trójkąt-Białogard Wąsk. (kolej koszalińska)||26||passenger traffic terminated in 1992|
|32||passenger traffic terminated in 1996|
|Mieszewo-Resko Płn. Wąsk.
|25||passenger traffic terminated in 1959|
|7||passenger traffic terminated in 1992|
|26||passenger traffic terminated in 1992|
|passenger traffic terminated in 1975
passenger traffic terminated in 1975
|10||passenger traffic terminated in 1997|
|Stara Dąbrowa-Kozy Pom.-Ińsko Kozy Pom.-Dobrzany
|passenger traffic terminated in 1996
passenger traffic terminated in 1996
|2002||Pogorzelica Gryf.-Trzebiatów Wąsk.
|14||passenger traffic terminated in 1999|
|Stargard Szcz. Wąsk.-Dobra Nowog.
|42||passenger traffic terminated in 2001|
Taylor Z., Rozwój i regres sieci kolejowej w Polsce, PAN, Warszawa 2007, za: Baumer W., Bufe S., Eisenbahn in Pommern, Egglham-Muenchen, 1988
New role of West-Pomeranian narrow gauge railways
In the 21st century, narrow-gauge railway has become a tourist attraction only. This is its new chance to survive, thanks to which trains have reappeared on many lines. It can also play an educational role in combination with, for example, the Exhibition of West-Pomeranian Narrow-Gauge Railways in Gryfice, presenting interesting technical relics, or during a narrow-gauge railway course showing the unique natural values of the region. Another way to use the infrastructure of liquidated railways is to build bicycle paths. For example, they were created on the former tracks from Stepnica to Babigoszcz, from Drawsko Pomorskie to Jankowo Pomorskie, from Słupsk to Ustka. The largest project in this area is the "Narrow-gauge railway track" cycling route carried out in 2013 by the Union of Towns and Communes of the Parsęta River Basin along the narrow-gauge railway in Kołobrzeg with a total length of 57 km. It connects Karlino, Dargocice and Rymań with Grzybowo and Kołobrzeg, running through Gościno.
Koszalin Narrow-Gauge Railway
At the beginning of the 1990s, in Koszalin, the Society of Friends of Narrow-Gauge Railway was founded, which organized several special journeys every year. Thanks to the efforts of the society, Koszalin narrow-gauge railway was entered in the register of objects of cultural heritage 2000. The Koszalin-Manowo-Świelino line and the railway buildings (railway station, engine shed) were covered with legal protection. Thanks to this, they have survived to this day.
In 2005, the Society of Friends of Koszalin Narrow-Gauge Railway was founded, whose main goal was to reactivate the railway on Koszalin-Świelino section. It was a difficult task, as during the time the railway was closed, a large part of its property was stolen by metal collectors and devastated. It was necessary to renovate the engine shed and to obtain and launch the rolling stock, and, above all, to take care of supplementing over 5 km of the stolen track.
In 2008, the first test courses on 12 km Koszalin-Manowo section took place, and since 2009 regular tourist courses have been introduced on this route. In the summer of 2010, the reconstruction of an 8 km track from Manowo to Rosnowo began. It was also possible to obtain a new rolling stock, including Lxd2 locomotive, MBxd2 railbus and over a dozen of carriages.
In 2011, the Society, as the railway operator of the Koszalin-Świelino line, received a railway transport and railway infrastructure management safety certificate of the Office of Rail Transport. In 2012, over 7,000 passengers were transported. In June 2016, courses to Rosnowo began. According to the holiday timetable, two trains ran to this town every Sunday. An increase in transport amounting to 12,000 passengers was also noted.
The route to Rosnowo runs through attractive forest areas of Middle Pomerania and is considered one of the most beautiful and interesting routes in Poland. It is a great asset, thanks to which narrow-gauge railway can be used for educational purposes. The Society successfully conducts a series of educational activities for school children entitled "Narrow-track closer to nature".
Seaside Narrow-Gauge Railway
In 2002, the Rewal commune took over a 40 km long line running from Gryfice Wąsk. through Trzęsacz, Rewal, Śliwin, and Niechorze to Pogorzelica from PKP. In summer, it has become an interesting tourist attraction for holidaymakers at the seaside. Each railway trip has always enjoyed great interest and large attendance, which is why the commune authorities decided to carry out the line’s thorough renovation.
The revitalization carried out in 2011-2013 covered only the section between Trzęsacz and Pogorzelica of a length of 10,173 km, that is, only the seaside fragment of the line. A thorough renovation of the station buildings in Rewal and Pogorzelica was carried out. New platform sheds were built in Niechorze and Rewal, as well as new station buildings in Rewal and Śliwino, and a new Niechorze-Lighthouse station with a station building. Next to the railway track, between Pogorzelica and Niechorze, a new cycling path was created.
The rolling stock was also partially modernized. It was planned to launch two trains: a historical one with a Px48 steam locomotive and revitalized carriages, and a classic one composed of the Lxd2 internal combustion locomotive and passenger carriages of Romanian production. In 2018, only the steam rolling stock – Lxd2 locomotive and MBxd1 railbus – operated at the line. Px48 steam engine was still waiting for the main repair.
Trzęsacz-Gryfice Wąsk. section (nearly 30 km) remained the necessary technical track. In Gryfice, there is a technical facility for the rolling stock maintenance.
In the years 2014-2016, the railway transported over 150,000 passengers per year, and in 2018, the 600-thousandth after-revitalisation passenger was transported.
Another way to use the infrastructure of liquidated railways is to build bicycle paths. For example, they were created on the former tracks from Stepnica to Babigoszcz, from Drawsko Pomorskie to Jankowo Pomorskie, from Słupsk to Ustka. The largest project in this area is the "Narrow-gauge railway track" cycling route implemented in 2013 by the Union of Towns and Communes of the Parsęta River Basin, along the Kołobrzeg line, with a total length of 57 km. It connects Karlino, Dargocice and Rymań with Grzybowo and Kołobrzeg, running through Gościno.