Friday, 2 December 2011

Picture of the week- 2nd December 2011

Photographing trains can require an awful lot of patience at times. This was one of those times. On my first trip to Poland during February 2011 we found ourselves at a small crossing beyond the station at Koslow (we had originally been on an overbridge- but the wind and rain had forced us to the relative shelter of ground level).
The reason we were standing in this location some two hours from our base at Krakow in the cold, wet and rain of February- The LHS broad gauge line. This is to my knowledge the most westerly penetration of Russian broad gauge into Europe running some 400km from the Ukranian border to a location close to Katowice in Poland. Traffic levels are low- on average no more than 10 trains a day, but when they do come they are a sight to behold. Having waited almost 3 hours we had all but given up on the LHS line (and the standard gauge mainline which had also produced little traffic) when our ears began to home into a distant rumbling. In a state of disbelieve that the train was *actually* coming, the mamouth train emerged in the distance some minutes later with three distinctive yellow and green ST-44 locomotives.
Known better by their Hungarian class designation- M62, these locomotives are common throughout the former Soviet states- more than seven thousand single locomotive units having been constructed since the mid-60's.
More than a thousand locomotives found use in Poland, designated as class ST-44. 68 of these were gauged to 1,524mm for use on the LHS line. Today the numbers in operation are vastly reduced, though the broad gauge line retains a good number of the locomotives alongside a batch of VERY heavily rebuilt machines now designated ST-40.

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