Steam traction in Poland


10 working regular-gauge steam locomotives, hauling more than 1.5 thousand trains, travelled over 72 thousand kilometres in the last year – such data may be found in the report on steam traction, published by the Office of Rail Transport (Pol. Urząd Transportu Kolejowego, UTK). In 2018 six carriers offered trains operated by steam locomotives. The record was held by Koleje Wielkopolskie (Greater Poland), which operated more than 1 thousand passenger trains with such locomotives.

Showing data from 2016-2018 the report indicates that summer months were the busiest. From June until August there were monthly almost 500 trains in operation. At the end of 2018 there were 20 train drivers employed, who were certified to operate steam locomotives. Two of them are also instructors, and one of them – an examiner.

When engine and electrical traction was introduced, steam locomotives became more and more obsolete – says Mr. Ignacy Góra, Sc. D., the President of UTK. – Nowadays we view them in a different way. Operating steam locomotives are an exceptional example of our rich railway history. A working steam locomotive is a great attraction, especially for those, who do not remember travelling by steam railways – explains Mr. Góra.

The goal of the publication is to show the current state of railway operations using steam traction vehicles, as well as to broaden the information on their functioning, needs and barriers. The analysis also presents current carriers offering such services and steam traction railway routes. It also underlines the meaning of cultural heritage of buildings, infrastructure and vehicles operated by the carriers and infrastructure managers, steam traction museums and organisations saving the heritage of steam traction rolling stock and infrastructure.

The report prepared by UTK shows other problems with steam traction operations than only those relating to the maintenance of rolling stock. Also of importance are employees, traction teams, which are able to operate steam locomotives. So far the number of such train drivers is sufficient. However it is alarming that in Poland there’s only one examiner, holding a valid certificate with regard to steam traction.

The report on steam traction in Poland may be found on this website (Polish version only).

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