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In a sleeper car through Poland! Summer 2014 travelogue (high # of


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#1 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:05 PM

This year again I have travelled back to my home country, Poland, where I travelled extensively by rail. All told, I have clocked 3230 miles on the rails. In this trip report, I want to share with you my longest and most exciting trip.

I had a friend visit me in my hometown Lublin from a small town close to Szczecin. After watching the World Cup Final together, we spent a day in the city and then had a trip booked in a sleeping berth to Kołobrzeg, which is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It is one of the more popular resort cities at the Baltic.

Of course being a rail forum, the most important thing is the sleeper car! Sleepers in Poland are very different from what you experience in the United States. Part of it has to do with the fact that the longest trains take 12-13 hours, as opposed to 50-odd hours in the US! Most of the trains containing the sleeper cars and the couchette cars are seasonal trains which only run during the summer months. The sleeping cars have private rooms, but they do not have to be. You book a bed, rather than a room. Standard berths have 3 beds, then there are some that have 2 beds and there are very few that have just 1 bed. If you just book one bed and the rest are bought by strangers, those people will have to be of the same gender. You can only mix genders if you are buying a compartment together and filling up all of the beds.

Inside the compartment you will find a sink, a toilet set, a croissant and water. The prices for the sleeper cars are set regardless of the distance: 81 PLN ($25) for a bed in a 3-person room, 140 PLN ($44) for a bed in a 2-person bedroom and a single costs 273 PLN ($87) plus you have to buy a business class ticket, whereas for the 2-person and 3-person rooms you just need a standard coach fare. For this distance, the fare is  


So, the trip to Kołobrzeg on this train is 879 km long (546 miles) and it takes 12 hours and 36 minutes to complete for this particular train. The daily version of the train goes a bit quicker, because it takes a slightly different route: 710 km in 10 hours and 11 minutes. The standard fare is 80 PLN ($25). So myself and my friend had a 2-person berth, all to ourselves. Here are the pictures!

Route description with a map
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Here's the first view of our train  parked about an hour before departure:

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We walked to the front of the train, which carries 15 cars. The front four or so cars are going to Hel (Hel peninsula) and they will separate in Gdynia, whereas the rest of the train will go to Kołobrzeg. The locomotive carrying us to Kołobrzeg is an electric EP07, a later modification of an older EU07. Its top speed is 125 km/h (78 mph).

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And the view at the rest of the train from the very front:
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Edited by Barciur, 17 August 2014 - 08:06 PM.


#2 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:06 PM

Having walked through the entire platform, we reached the sleeper cars:

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And our car to be exact:

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Upon being greeted by the steward and handing over our travel documents, we examined the room:

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Notice that you can sleep with your legs sticking out of the window!!!
 



#3 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:06 PM

The toilet set was packed inside the cabinet...:

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...alongside water and cups and the croissaints:

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Hiding underneath the empty space on the left was a sink:

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And here is the view of the corridor:

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#4 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:07 PM

And now the view on the Lublin station. The track on the right is being put in my place for regional trains originating here and going east and northeast. This used to be a post office track, as there is a large postal warehouse here.

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Here is a video of the train departing from Lublin:

Now some views from the windows!

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At Pilawa, we meet a train headed to Lublin.

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And we decided to try and see how well the window shade works... well, it works, but you have to close the window for it, and if you do that, you're going to bake yourself!

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#5 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:07 PM

The trip was going by very quickly. I am very familiar with this route (Lublin-Warsaw) but it was really weird how quickly it went by if you were travelling in very different, much better conditions. We spent the first 2 hours chatting, watching videos and just enjoying the whole experience and then all of a sudden Warsaw...

First glimpse: an old generation EMU EN-57 from Koleje Mazowieckie (Mazovian Railways) is travelling outbound from Warsaw, and it meets a new-generation EMU PESA Flirt from SKM Warszawa (Rapid City Rail Warsaw) travelling to the city:

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Approaching Warsaw East station, and seeing the first glimpse of the city skyline.

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Warsaw East station.

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The change of crews takes place here.
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National Stadium in all its glory!

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Here is a video of the way from a little bit past Warsaw East and the national stadium. Here we cross the Vistula river, officially crossing from Eastern Poland to Western Poland, and travel through a little bit of Warsaw.


 



#6 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:08 PM

Warsaw Central station - the busiest train station in Poland. The station hall is upstairs, the platforms are underground.

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I took a short video inside the car: a short walk from the restroom to our compartment.



As the night dawned on us, we began to slowly wind down and just relax while laying and preparing to sleep. One of the things that I absolutely love about the trains in Poland are the opened windows and the sound that comes with them. Every little touch on the tracks you hear. In the US, trains are often quiet and the familar tick-tock sound of the rails is subdued. Here, everything is heard in all its glory - and what a sound it is, especially at night at higher speeds!

We fell asleep quickly and woke up only about 30 minutes before our destination. I took a short video of what it was like:

Sadly, soon it was time to alight:

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#7 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:14 PM

Upon our arrival, we took a regional train to Goleniów, 100 km away from Kołobrzeg. I will show some pictures of that ride from my return, as I travelled alone a few days later.

We visited the Baltic Sea Narrow Gauge Railroad and took a trip to the coast.

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It was a pretty fun ride!



#8 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:14 PM

After a fun day at the beach, we went to town that was located about 10 miles away from the coast line to get some food and then went to catch the last train departing from the town of Trzebiatów to Goleniów. The map follows:

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This line is an single-track unelectrified rail line, a rarity for Polish passenger trains. Most of the trains that operate on it are regional rail's diesel multiple units, but in the summer time, PKP Intercity operates a daily train which connects Kołobrzeg with Szczecin, and then those cars are put together into the train from Świnoujście to Warsaw. It is pulled by an old diesel locomotive, SM42.

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Here is a short video of a really nice ride at sunset.


 



#9 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:19 PM

After 5 days spent with my friend travelling around and having a good time, it was time to go and visit somebody else on the other side of the coast. First, I was headed to a town called Koszalin. Using just the regional rail with a transfer in Kołobrzeg.

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Inside of a modern diesel unit:

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And preparing to get off with everybody else at Kołobrzeg:

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#10 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:22 PM

Now I finally get to show you how those look like. For the technical nerds, this is SA136 made by PESA from Poland. This is the same unit that took me and my friend from Kołobrzeg to Goleniów after the sleeper trip.

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The trip further part of the trip is along the electrified line. It is still the same rail line, but only that segment has electricity. So the railroad runs EMU's there instead of the diesels. I thought this was going to be my train:

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But as it turnes out, it wasn't. I had to settle for a very old EN57 with plastic seats.

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The trip wasn't too bad, though - after all, it was only about an hour long and spent pleasantly enjoying the old railroad rather than the typical modern stuff.



#11 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:25 PM

After meeting up with a friend in Koszalin for lunch and a beer, I went back to the train station for my final destination - Gdańsk. I was going to spend the weekend with a good friend of mine there and then head over back to Lublin.

Here is a PKP Intercity train from Szczecin to Olsztyn via Gdansk approaching the Koszalin station.

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Inside the typical car which has compartments:

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This train used to run as business class in the old days - the remains are there to be seen, like the reclining seat:

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And off we go:

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Arriving at Słupsk - the first glimpse of Tri-city's Rapid City Line, SKM. it serves Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia and its surrounding areas:

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#12 Barciur

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:29 PM

Yep, I'm very close now. This is Gdynia. Unfortunately, we have a 20 minute stop here. I would probably get to Gdańsk about 10 minutes quicker if I took the SKM, but it would require me to get my bag and change platforms and buy a new ticket. I figured it's not worth the hassle - after all having 10 more minutes on the train is a good thing, right?!

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This is the Pomeranian Regional Rail's train to Hel peninsula - a very popular tourist spot in Poland over the summer. It is a modern SA136 diesel multiple unit...

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With a surprise at the end of it! A "strengthened consist" which has an old car stuck to it. Really amusing.

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And that concludes my pictures part of the trip report. After a weekend in Gdańsk, I took the same train back to Lublin, this time in a 3-person compartment. I got on at Gdańsk before 1am, so there were already people sleeping in the room. I quickly got myself ready to sleep and fell asleep. As usual, the trip went by way too quick but it was a great experience and I can't wait for more! This summer has barely ended, but I'm ready for another one!



#13 Bob Dylan

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 09:07 PM

☺ Great trip and pics, thanks for sharing!

Are the Sleeping Cars Air Conditioned? It seems like they aren't if the windows open and you said the Room was Very Hot with the Shade closed!
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#14 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 09:41 PM

Great pics man! Don't understand the circuitous route though. I notice "Schlafwagen", German for Sleeping Car. How are these "traditional" overnight trains doing in Poland? Most of Europe seems to be getting rid of them.

Seems like the scenery in Poland looks a lot like the scenery in China, highly popular and very urbanized. In China they still have the old Type 22 cars with no AC and open windows. To be retired in a few years, but I'm going to try to catch one before they go!

I also would like to know where the cars had air-conditioning. The Type 22's in China have none but I think the Soft Sleepers were retrofitted with AC some years back.
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#15 oregon pioneer

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:03 PM

Wonderful photos and videos! I especially loved the little boy waving at the end of the platform in the first video. It's wonderful to be able to travel vicariously through your reporting, since I will never go to Poland.


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#16 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 11:31 PM

Why won't you go to Poland? I'm sure it's interesting to visit.
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#17 shelzp

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 12:51 AM

Interesting report and enjoyed the photos and videos very much. I am simply amazed at the open windows but it sounds great.

#18 Barciur

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 06:30 AM

Thanks for the kind comments!

 

No, these are not air conditioned. The only air conditioned sleeping cars that Polish railways have are the ones that travel on EuroNight Jan Kiepura to Amsterdam. Otherwise, no air conditioning in the sleeping cars. This particular one I believe was WL Görl 81. 

It's not as big of a deal there as it would be here, since opening the windows is good enough - you hardly ever get very warm nights there.

 

In fact, most of the cars in PKP Intercity do not have air conditioning. Only the new ones and the ones being modernized. In three years, majority (over 50% anyhow) will, because of the 20 pendolino trainsets being delivered as well as 40 long distance EMU's that will be brand new, on top of the many modernizations of the regular cars. I do not believe, however, that there are any plans for sleeping cars being modernized any time soon.

 

As for your question about how sleeping trains are doing in Poland - sadly, they are following the trend of Europe. Only very few trains have them year-round, maybe 2 or 3. Summer is still a good time for them, as a lot of people travel either to the mountains or to the Baltic Sea for vacation, and they tend to be used extensively, but other than that, there is just no market for them.

 

As for the circutious route - this particular route is I think the only way to get there - to Gdansk and then through the coast. Another option would be through Szczecin, but it would take just as long. The reason for not going through E65 (the line directly up from Warsaw to Gdansk bypassing Szczecin) is due to major trackworks there, aimed at getting Pendolino (ED250) to start going through there beginning this December.

 

On the other hand, often night train in Poland are... purposely slowed down. If this train went as fast as it could, it would get to the destinations at 3-4 instead of 5-7 am, which is pretty poor for holidaygoers. So it is done so that the hours are decent for those travelling. Of course, it's all well and good for the sleeper and couchette passengers, but the ones going in coach would probably like it to go faster. But there is a daily version for them, so I guess that's fair.



#19 oregon pioneer

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:33 AM

Why won't you go to Poland? I'm sure it's interesting to visit.

 

I am sure Poland is very interesting, but my interests and finances keep me mostly at home, and only traveling on this side of the pond for the last 30 years. No plans to change that any time soon, though there are a few people I would like to see again in Europe (Norway, Switzerland and Moldova, though. No one in Poland).


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I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#20 dnsommer2013

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 05:32 PM

Excellent travelogue! Great photos lots of details! I'd like to make that trip myself! Thanks!

Dave




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