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The Warsaw Voice » Business » May 31, 2012
Business & Economy
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Puffer Trains on Parade
May 31, 2012   
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Fans of steam locomotives from around the world descended on Wolsztyn near Poznań in western Poland at the end of April to see the 19th Steam Locomotive Parade held by Poland’s largest rail carrier, PKP Cargo.

This year’s event featured 11 steam locomotives from Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. One of the most popular was the Piękna Helena (Beautiful Helen) Pm36-2 engine of Polish design, which won the gold medal at the 1937 International Art and Technology Exhibition in Paris. The locomotive is famous for its massive wheels, two meters in diameter, and its top speed of 140 kilometers an hour—impressive for a steam-powered machine.

Visitors were able to go inside Wolsztyn’s historic roundhouse, which is over a century old, where traditional repair and maintenance equipment is still kept. The roundhouse is the last still fully operational facility of its kind in the world. Remarkably, it is the departure point of a scheduled passenger train connection between Wolsztyn and Poznań.

In 2003, the PKP Cargo railway company acquired the roundhouse, historic rolling stock and other items along with open-air rolling stock museums in Chabówka and Ko¶cierzyna. Since then, the company has repaired a dozen or so steam locomotives, and reconstructed and renovated many historic cars.

PKP Cargo uses the Wolsztyn roundhouse and the open-air museums to hold a variety of events for tourists interested in steam technology. Visitors can also take rides in vintage rolling stock.

The Steam Locomotives Parade regularly draws thousands of visitors from not only Poland but also other European countries and even enthusiasts from Asia and Australia. This year’s event was accompanied by competitions, acrobatics shows and other attractions. The main event of the parade took place in the evening when majestic, steam-belching locomotives paraded in a show entitled Light, Sound, Steam, featuring music and spectacular light effects and fireworks.
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