The first part of this 750mm gauge system was built in 1891 by the sugar factory at Nowy Staw, 4.5km to Koscieleczki. It was not until 1898 that further lines were built by a separate company, from Lisewo to Ostaszewo (22km) with a branch from Lichnowy through Nowy Staw to Lipinka Gdanska (17km), with a connection to the existing line. Another line was built south from Lisewo through Pogorzala Wies to Miloradz (12km). In 1900 further lines were constructed from Malbork: east for 27km to Stalewo; north to Lipinka Gdanska (13km); and south to Miloradz (8km). In the following year a further extension was built from Ostaszewo to Nowy Dwor Gdanski (15km).
In 1905 several lines were built further to the north: from Gdansk 27km through Przejazdowo, Koszwaly and Cedry Male to Lewy Brzeg Wisly (Left Bank of the Wisla); from Przejazdowo a 38km loop through Osice and Giemlice to Koszwaly; from Prawy Brzeg Wisla (Right Bank of the Wisla) eastwards for 17km through Stegna to Sztutowo; and from Stegna 15km south to Nowy Dwor Gdanski. The two stations on each side of the Wisla were linked by a train ferry. In 1909 there were further extensions, from Stalewo 3km to Swietliki, and from Nowy Dwor Gdanski 21km to Lipinka Gdanska. The latter completed the third ‘circular’ loop of the system. In 1920 another branch was built from Jeziernik to Zulawki Polnocne (12km). With various branches the network now reached about 336km.
During the Second World War a further line was built from Sztutowo along the coast to Krynica Morska. However, by the end of the war the area had suffered much damage, and reconstruction of the narrow gauge network continued until 1951. The Sztutowo – Krynica Morska line closed as early as 1953, and the Malbork – Swietliki section was handed over to the sugar works in 1958. By 1959 the network had shrunk to about 223km. The Jeziernik – Zulawki Polnocne line was lifted in 1969, passenger services on the Stegna – Wisla – Koszwaly section ceased in 1971, and the whole network west of the Wisla closed in 1974. Passenger traffic was suspended on various sections in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1989 the system had 146km of track, on which were carried 365,800 passengers and 89,944 tons of freight. At the beginning of 1996 it had 146.3km of track, of which 138.3km was operational. Although summer tourist trains had been run for some years, passenger services ceased completely in September 1996. Sugar beet was carried to Nowy Staw sugar works during that autumn, but the system then closed completely. There were hopes that at least part of the system could be preserved in some way, then came news that the system was being completely dismantled. There is now a restoration attempt on the northern section of the system, from Mikoszewo (on the right bank of the Wisla) through Stegna to Sztutowo. A first train ran in August 2002 from Nowy Dwor Gdansk to Stegna, but regular services do not appear to have started.
Some photographs of the system can be found at Jeffrey Dobek’s site:
Information about the restoration attempt can be found at: http://www.stegna.ug.gov.pl/wiadomoscistegnienskie/waskotor.htm
The history of this network, and several other lines, is covered by Bogdan Pokropinski’s book “Koleje waskotorowe Polski Polnocnej”, published by CIBET in 2000, ISBN 83 – 85749 –26 –8. The publisher can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodwin, Stephen Goodwin & Dave Meller