Scheduled steam passenger services from Wolsztyn depot in Poland came to an end for the 2021 season on Saturday, 27 November, when Ol49-69 worked the final two round trips from Wolsztyn to Poznań.
The 2-6-2 loco has been the sole working engine at Wolsztyn since the boiler ticket of Mikado 2-8-2 Pt47-65 expired a couple of months ago, while a third loco (Ol49-59) remains under long term overhaul and is unlikely to return to Wolsztyn for many months.
This motive power shortage means that when scheduled steam working resumes on Monday, 17 January 2022 there could be some week-long breaks in steam operations to ensure that services can be maintained, with the possibility that it will be a case of four weeks on with steam then one week off.
Paying a return visit to Wolsztyn in the final days of the 2021 operating season it was good to see the locomotive in action on both its weekday services to Leszno and the Saturday only workings to and from Poznań.
Pictured at the top and also above is Ol49-69 passing a saw mill south of the Leszno route’s most important station, Wloszakowice, on 25 November 2021 with the 11.41 Wolsztyn-Leszno.
Since my account of Wolsztyn steam action last month (blog: 9 October), one significant change has been the collapse of a PLN1.2m (£200,000) deal with brewer Tyskie that would have seen Ol49-69 painted red and embarking on a pre-Christmas tour of major Polish cities to promote the beer.
Weather conditions for the last few days of 2021 steam operations were mixed, with a brief sunny interlude for the photos at Wloszakowice featured above and another short spell of sun around midday on Saturday, 27 November 2021, when Ol49-69 can be seen above steaming away from Rostarzewo station with the 10.10 Poznan-Wolsztyn.
Returning later to photograph the final Saturday afternoon working (14.06 Wolsztyn-Poznan) lighting conditions had significantly worsened at Rostarzewo (photo above) and the gloom had fully set in by the time Ol49-69 made its 14.58 departure from Ptaskowo (photo below).
Steam action in the coming year will be largely confined to weekday workings on the 46km (29-mile) route between Wolsztyn and Leszno, with the 15km (9.4 mile) western end of the route to Poznan between Wolsztyn and Rakoniewice being closed from late March until the end of the year for track renewal work.
My thanks to all those whose company I enjoyed in Wolsztyn, but particularly to Nigel Fitt for organising the group, Peter Lockley for sharing his hire car and Network Rail signaller Andy King for his company on the footplate of Ol49-69. For regular updates on activity at Wolsztyn depot, take a look at www.parowozy.com.pl and for details of the renowned footplate courses run by the Wolsztyn Experience, go to www.thewolsztynexperience.org