The Wolsztyn Experience History
The Wolsztyn Experience Society runs footplate experience courses in Poland and has been doing so for the last 18 years. Membership to the society entitles you to participate in these footplate courses and discover what its like to drive a steam loco which are held on the last scheduled steam passenger service in the world. The society has accommodation for its members in Wolsztyn. Members are also allowed to drive and fire our narrow gauge locomotive at Gniezno and participate in our unique shunting courses at Jaworzyna Slaska.
From 2015/16 membership is included in your holiday/course booking fees, with discounts normally available to original and regular participants.
Whilst you will receive a safety briefing on arrival in Poland the society and PKP are not responsible for any injuries received whilst on the footplate or around railway property. The railways are unfenced and you cross the tracks at your own risk. After all, the risks are far less than on a skiing holiday. One should bear in mind that it is advisable to book your stay in Poland allowing a little spare time so that in the advent of loco failure or train cancellation you will receive the appropriate footplate time that you have booked. In the event of not achieving all your turns we will refund for the missed ones or supply a voucher to reduce the cost of a future visit. The society is not liable, in the case of a major interruption of steam services, for air fares or travel expenses in the UK. We recommend not downloading your airline check in form until 24 hrs, before travel, so in the case of a major steam problem you can re book for another time in which case we will pay the flight rebooking fee. The society has Public indemnity Cover, so that we are covered for any claim made against us.
The Society History
The Wolsztyn Experience is a mutual trust society and was set up and is run by British steam train enthusiasts to offer financial support for the continued use of scheduled steam services in Poland. The original membership was 31 life members. The founder Howard Jones was awarded the MBE for his negotiations with the Polish authorities which initially led to retaining this last steam commuter service and thus giving the opportunity for club members to sample life on the footplate.
The Society has gone from strength to strength over the last 18 years. We enjoy a unique working relationship with all rail operators, public authorities and museums. Our agreement with PKP gives the society open access to all Polish steam services and specials, subject to the appropriate payment. When we started, these payments equated to the difference between the cost of steam haulage and diesel. Since then, the introduction of more economic railcars for the remaining services and rising costs in Poland mean the monies the society pays to PKP equate to approx 10% of the depot costs.
All this has only been possible by the amazing enthusiasm for steam operation from PKP (Cargo), the Polish Authorities & Wielkapolska Railways. In addition to footplate permit fees to PKP The Wolsztyn Experience also funds other projects when funds are available. Seven of the major projects to have received funding are;
1. The restoration of Ok22-31, a 4-6-0 historic Polish built steam locomotive with the co-operation of the Warsaw Transport Museum.
2. The rebuilding of the Water Tower at the Wolsztyn Depot.
3. Assistance with the refurbishment of the Museum at Wolsztyn depot.
4. The lengthening of the turntable at Wolsztyn to allow the flag ship loco Pacific Pm36-2 to be turned. We also put society funds into the repainting of the Pm.
5. We help fund the narrow gauge steam operations from time to time and have purchased a Px48 0-8-0 for use on the Polish narrow gauge lines, thus keeping steam alive on these Polish rural agricultural railways.
6 With the support of some members we lease purchased a 2-8-2T TKt48- 18 and have been operating this on our courses out of Wroclaw. However the costs for operating on the main line became untenable and the loco was overhauled for a second time and returned to Jaworzyna Slaska, where it may be used for shunting courses, thus terminating the original lease.
7. For the 100th anniversary we promised to do something spectacular for steam enthusiasts and we funded a British GWR 2-6-2T to visit Wolsztyn, run service trains from Wroclaw and haul several specials including a train to Budapest.
8. The society supports Polish steam special operator Turkol.