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Polish State Railways as a Mode of Transport for Troops of the Warsaw Pact

Technology in Service of a Doctrine

Series:

Zbigniew Tucholski

The subject of the book is the history of the planned use of Polish railway infrastructure during the Cold War as part of the strategic plans of the Warsaw Pact. Analysing both technical and operational issues related to railway military transportation in a historical perspective, the author presents the history of the military transportation service of the Polish Army and provides a detailed characteristics of the organizational structure, equipment and tasks of the military transportation units and railway troops. The book also deals with rail transports of the Soviet Army on the Polish State Railways. The work is not only the result of archival queries and interviews with retired officers of the military transportation service but also field research of railway infrastructure.

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4. PREPARING THE Polish State Railways NETWORK FOR A MILITARY CONFLICT AS PART OF WARSAW PACT STRATEGIC PLANS

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4. PREPARING THE Polish State Railways NETWORK FOR A MILITARY CONFLICT AS PART OF WARSAW PACT STRATEGIC PLANS

The re-gauging of the majority of the main railway lines on the Polish territory back to standard-gauge did not, however, end the time of close supervision of the Polish State Railway operations by the Soviet military authorities.

The transit layout of railway lines along the East-to-West axis on the Polish territory was far too important for the Soviet war plans. In view of the country’s geopolitical circumstances, already the tsarist military doctrine had assumed the operational use of the shortest route to Berlin, which cut across the Kingdom of Poland, impacted by a single water obstacle: the River Odra. Conversely, an assault along the left bank of the River Vistula could cut off the strongly fortified German border of the lower Vistula and East Prussia.224

After 1945 the Polish railway network was charged with two fundamental peacetime responsibilities: performing army troop transports and transports of supplies for the units of the Polish Armed Forces units, delivering supplies and carrying rotation personnel for the Soviet troops stationed in Poland, and handling related transit transfers for the troops stationed in the Soviet occupation zone in Germany. During the initial post-war years, prisoners of war, prisoners, and huge volumes of spoils of war were also shipped east.

Delegations of the Supreme Board of Military Transport of the Red Army were established at the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, Ministry of ←83 | 84→Transport, Polish State Railways General Management, and Regional State Railway Managements, in order to deliver all scheduled transport services for the Soviet Army.225 Similar facilities operated at the vital stations and railway line sections.226 The structure was mirrored by the Polish military transport units of the Polish Armed Forces, which was set up in parallel to the Russian structure.

During wartime, the railway network in Poland was to be charged with relocating second-wave Soviet troops to regroup the deep operational reserves, and shipping ammunition, equipment and supplies onto the Western Operational Direction. Other plans included railway network to be used for the purposes of regrouping troops along the Coastal Operational Direction.

The technical infrastructure developed by the Germans as part of their plan (codename Otto) to build a transport system for the purposes of invading the USSR played a significant part in the Russian plans of using the existing railway network on the Polish territory.

The layout of railway lines on the Polish territory was of great importance to the offensive war doctrine of the Warsaw Pact, as the strategic Małaszewicze – Siedlce – Warsaw – Kutno – Poznań – Zbąszynek – Kunowice – Frankfurt mainline, other major transport lines, as well as numerous parallel lines ran through Poland.

The new Soviet doctrine of rear operations in nuclear war conditions assumed a balanced employment of all types of transport (by road, rail, air, and sea) alongside large-scale air and sea landings.227 Attention was also paid at the time to the need of securing railway network viability and adequate rail transport capacity in the nuclear weapon attack conditions. The 1950s brought about another qualitative change resulting from the technical development of rocket missiles (capable of transferring warheads with conventional and nuclear charges), which became the dominant element of the battlefield. The Soviet art of military operations (founded upon the experience of the Second World War) assumed ←84 | 85→that a success in modern warfare could be secured through large operational compounds: armoured armies, mechanised corps, and the air force. In the mid-1950s, unique thermonuclear war conditions enforced the need to design combat vehicles and tanks adapted for operations under conditions of radioactive contamination (the T-55 was the first tank adapted for operation on the nuclear war battlefield).

The Komunikacja Wojskowa handbook drafted by the Ministry of National Defence reads:

[…] The potential contemporary war the capitalist countries bloc has begun preparations for will be a global, coalitionist, and intercontinental war, involving massive use of nuclear and missile weapons, as well as the use of outer space for military purposes. The early period of a contemporary war will be of particular importance, its trademark feature would be that of deep and decisive operations with a daily rate of 80 to 100 km228and more, active and manoeuvre-based combat operations, and brief operational breaks […]. The mobilisation of armed forces or concentration of all tactical and operational compounds under such conditions, followed by augmented efforts by all types of troops, supplying them, or manoeuvres with force and measure, will all be impossible without extensive use of assorted modes of transport.

In the course of the military operations, transport will be the basic solution for manoeuvring troops, transporting material resources, and evacuating the wounded, the sick, and all unnecessary assets from the frontline area to homeland. The success of the contemporary combat operations and of the sustainability of the operational rear will largely depend on the technical-and-operational condition of the modes of transport, and the efficiency of their use. Therefore, transport will be among the main targets of the enemy’s attack. Attacks with the use of weapons of mass destruction will destroy important transport objects located at any distance from the front line, radioactive agents will contaminate entire regions and sections of the transport network, long-term traffic interruptions will affect the railway, roads, and inland waterways.229

Given the dependence of all types of land transport on the potential nuclear attack-caused destruction which would completely paralyse the manoeuvrability of operational and tactical compounds, peacetime preparations of the transport network for work under war conditions became an unquestioned focus. It was also assumed that an enemy attack on the railway network might cause ←85 | 86→significant damage and contamination, as a result of which only isolated sections and areas of strategic importance would preserve their transport capacity. It was highlighted that the impact of an adverse mass destruction attack might result in the complete annihilation of the capacity of certain modes of transport, road sections, and transport objects (especially rail) to operate for the Armed Forces.

It was assumed that once the following conditions regarding the transport network were met, they would ensure mobility and continuity of transport in wartime conditions:230

Possession of a dense, high-capacity transport network,

Ensuring the possibility to perform quick manoeuvres with transfers and means of transport,

Ensuring the viability and continuity of transport in vital directions under enemy impact.

The organisation of military transports was also adapted (according to the prevalent theory) to nuclear war conditions. In view of the danger of an enemy using nuclear weapons against transport facilities of greater importance, the rule of dispersing transport flows was adopted already at the mobilisation stage. The stations that were to be used for the loading and unloading of mobilisation resources were located outside of the areas of large junctions and junction stations, always at a distance of 20–30 km from venues of forming or developing military units and military plants. Contingency loading and unloading stations were designated, too.231

In the course of the planning works over the new Warsaw Pact military doctrine, the concept of employing wartime rear operations experience combined with the use of state-of-the-art military technological achievements was adopted. It was duly noted that, during the Second World War, rail traffic interruptions due to enemy air force operations would usually last 6 to 8 hours, whereas contemporarily, the air force and missiles were capable of destroying transport objects at any point on enemy territory. Destruction-caused interruptions could last much longer; consequently, the transport capacity of railway lines could decrease by about 50–60 %.232

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In the conclusions laid out in the summary of his work Na głównym kierunku,233 General Antipenko described the basic tendencies associated with adapting the railway network and transport activities to the conditions of a nuclear war:

[…] Therefore, the question is not which mode of transport to recognise as a priority at the Frontline, but how to most effectively use all types of transport – in isolation or jointly. The comprehensive use of all modes of transport is one of the cornerstones of the rear Frontline operations, largely determining the so-called viability of the rear. The timely transition from one mode of transport to another, the use of available alternative routes or their early preparation – all such solutions improve the viability of the rear.

During the recent war we discovered the importance of railway detours of large hubs or administrative and political centres. Even during peacetime, detours can be practically justified in terms of national interest. While road and railway detour construction is currently attracting increased attention, much more should be done in the field than has been done thus far. Deliberations concerning the desirability of military use of the surviving sections of railway lines bring the thought of steam locomotive to mind: steam locomotives, not diesel or electric ones. A primitive locomotive – such as the steam locomotive indubitably is – may indeed prove to be the single available mode of transport once wood and similar readily-accessible fuels become the only option. The scrapping of steam locomotives should not be rushed. Comprehensive use of all modes of transport and communication routes is most definitely a capacity of an integrated rear system. With such an integration, the other side of the problem – comprehensive recovery of transport-related damage – may be resolved properly as well […].234

Due to all of the above, the basic assumption for the rear operations involved the organisation of a single transport network consisting of railways, frontline roads, inland waterways,235 field pipelines, and airfields. Attention was also paid to securing uniform solutions of rapid troops and military cargo transition from one transport mode to another.236 The need for troops and rear support structures to be quickly regrouped, and the increased demand for operational troops supplies gave rise to the need for maximum mobility and flexibility in transport, and for the reduction in its sensitivity to the impact of modern means of destruction.237

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Already in the 1950s, preparations were in progress on the Soviet railway network with intent to secure uninterrupted operations in nuclear war conditions, not least as on the USSR territory the railway network density was rather limited in comparison to other European countries. Strategic bypasses were constructed at the time on most railway junctions (their destruction upon first nuclear impact was assumed) beyond the range of tactical nuclear warheads, as well as new parallel and reserve lines. The simulations of a nuclear attack involved an assumption that power plants, traction substations, and the power grid would all be destroyed. To secure railway operability in thermonuclear warfare conditions, significant investments connected with organising special purpose steam locomotive bases were carried out; hundreds of decommissioned, yet overhauled and properly preserved steam locomotives were collected at such depots. The technical infrastructure required to operate steam traction (water stations, coal refuelling equipment, ash pits, steam locomotive repair workshops) was maintained in operational standby condition; significant volumes of traction coal were stored and preserved at depots for warfare purposes as well.

The Polish State Railways engaged in similar activities, albeit on a significantly less expansive scale; yet in view of the considerable railway network density on territories under former Prussian and Austrian partitioning, numerous local railway lines could be used as bypasses.

On territories under former Russian partitioning, where the tsarist defensive military doctrine inhibited any railway network development, the need arose to supplement the railway network for strategic purposes. The construction of the Skierniewice – Pilawa – Łuków line238 (length: 161 km, built over the years 1952–1953) became the flagship investment targeting the continuity of railway line viability along the Western Operational Direction, the project’s immediate justification involving the need to secure a latitudinal bypass for military transports in transit between the USSR and East Germany and for transfers planned along the Western Direction, should the Warsaw junction be destroyed in a nuclear attack (the minimum distance from the Warsaw Railway Junction, in the vicinity of Czachówek station – 30 km). The great importance of this investment is demonstrated by the fact that it formed part of the main East-to-West strategic transit network: (state border near Terespol) – Małaszewicze – Łuków – Skierniewice – Łowicz – Kutno – Poznań – Zbąszynek – Kunowice – Frankfurt.239 ←88 | 89→The importance of the line increased with its electrification, the project was completed in 1971.240

With warfare in mind, two strategic rail links were to be constructed on the Skierniewice – Łuków line, in order to secure the connection to the Warsaw – Dorohusk line: allowing access from the Góra Kalwaria direction to station Pilawa with the passenger section of Pilawa station bypassed, and allowing direct access from Ruda Talubska station to Parysów.241 The planned rail links would enable direct passage of troop trains from the USSR via transport line No. 7 (Dorohusk – Lublin) and via the front mainline (state border near Terespol) – Małaszewicze – Łuków – Skierniewice – Łowicz – Kutno – Poznań – Zbąszynek – Kunowice – Frankfurt.

As an add-on to the set-up of the old Russian parallel lines242 – Brest – Chełm (1887), Siedlce – Małkinia (1887), Małkinia – Ostrołęka (1893), Ostrołęka – Łapy (1893), Pilawa –Mińsk (1893), Mińsk – Tłuszcz (1897), Tłuszcz – Ostrołęka (1897), Lublin – Łuków (1898), Grodno – Olita (1899)243 – the following new parallel lines and strategic bypasses of railway junctions were developed in the 1950s: Tomaszów Mazowiecki – Radom (Tomaszów Mazowiecki – Drzewica opened for traffic on May 9th 1948, Drzewica – Radom opened for traffic on January 9th 1949).244 The construction of the Warszawa Gdańska – Warszawa Odolany rail link (opened for traffic on October 17th 1951245) was also intended to secure greater railway network efficiency within the Warsaw Railway Junction. In the 1950s and 1960s a series of bypasses and rail links were built to increase the network’s lifespan and strategic frontline and parallel lines capacity. Second tracks were built and railway signalling devices were modernised on numerous rail sections as well.

Attention was drawn at the time to the need of maintaining rail links to enable bypassing of critical railway junctions, should these be destroyed. Working jointly with the military offices of the Regional State Railway Management, ←89 | 90→Headquarters of Military Transport drafted the regularly updated Wojskowo-techniczne opisy łącznic kolejowych [Military-technical description of rail links] for all Regional State Railway Management, the register including operational, disused, and dismantled sidings (with specifications of track infrastructure, as well as of the general condition of trackbeds, civil engineering structures, and railway signalling devices), as well as sidings planned for construction or reconstruction during warfare.

The list of rail links (existing, dismantled and planned in case of warfare) within the area of the Warsaw Regional State Railway Management in 1972246

Name of the rail linkLine sections linked
junction post1 Jagiellonka – junction post TargówekWarszawa Gdańska – Warszawa Wschodnia
junction post Targówek – station Warszawa Wileńska Marki

Warszawa – Działdowo

Warszawa – Białystok

Warszawa Wschodnia Osobowa – Michałów

Warszawa –Działdowo

Warszawa – Terespol

Michałów – Warszawa Wschodnia Towarowa

Warszawa – Działdowo

Warszawa Wschodnia Towarowa – Warszawa Wschodnia Rozrządowa

Michałów – Warszawa Wschodnia Rozrządowa

Warszawa – Działdowo

Warszawa – Terespol

Warszawa Wileńska Marki – Warszawa Wschodnia Rozrządowa

Warszawa – Białystok

Warszawa – Terespol

Warszawa Szczęśliwice – Warszawa CzysteWarszawa Zachodnia – Warszawa Bema
Warszawa WCz 6 – Warszawa CzysteInternal freight rail link
Pruszków – KomorówWarszawa Śródmieście – Grodzisk WKD←90 | 91→
junction post Prostyń Bug – Treblinka2Ostrołęka – Siedlce – Warsaw – Białystok
Warszawa Antoninów – Warszawa Gocławek

Warszawa Wschodnia Rozrządowa – Rembertów

Warszawa Wschodnia Osobowa – Dęblin

junction post Stojadła – junction post Kędzierak

Warszawa Centralna – Terespol

Krusze – Pilawa

junction post Ca 5 – junction post Ca 6

Siedlce – Czeremcha

Czeremcha – Brest

junction post Jasienica Mazowiecka – junction post Krusze

Mińsk Mazowiecki – Tłuszcz

Legionowo – Tłuszcz

Warszawa Odolany – junction post Józefinów

Warszawa Odolany with the Warszawa

Centralna – Katowice line

Warszawa Odolany – Warszawa Gdańska

(old circumferential line)

Warszawa – Kutno

Warszawa – Działdowo

Chotomów – Łajski

Legionowo – Tłuszcz

Warszawa – Działdowo

Warszawa Odolany – Gołąbki

Warszawa – Kutno

Warszawa – Koluszki

Warszawa Odolany – Warszawa CzysteInternal freight rail link
Warszawa Odolany – Warszawa Gdańska

Warszawa – Kutno

Warszawa – Działdowo

Warszawa Odolany – junction post Warszawa Al. Jerozolimskie

Warszawa – Kutno

Warszawa – Koluszki

Warszawa – Radom

Czachówek Wsch. – Czachówek Płn.Skierniewice – Łuków – Warszawa – Radom←91 | 92→
Czachówek Wsch. – Czachówek Płd.Skierniewice – Łuków – Warszawa – Radom
Czachówek Zach. – Czachówek Płd.Skierniewice – Łuków – Warszawa – Radom
Czachówek Płn. – Czachówek Zach.Skierniewice – Łuków – Warszawa – Radom
Rembertów – Zielonka

Warszawa – Białystok

Warszawa – Terespol

junction post Siwki – km. 19.2043Warszawa – Białystok to the Rembertów – Zielonka rail link
junction post Poligon – km. 13.8074Warszawa – Terespol to the Warszawa – Białystok line via the Rembertów – Zielonka rail link
Rembertów – Wawer5

Warszawa – Terespol

Warszawa – Dęblin

Papiernia – Las Suwalski

Suwałki – Olecko

Suwałki – Augustów

Rail link on the former of Śniadowo – Łomża line, near station Śniadowo

Ostrołęka – Łapy

Śniadowo – Łomża

Doły – Ujrzanów

Czeremcha – Siedlce

Siedlce – Łuków

Trzaskoniec – Poważe6

Siedlce – Łuków

Łuków – Dęblin

Rail link near Suwałki station7

Sokółka – Suwałki

Suwałki – Trakiszki

Rail link near Białystok station8

Czeremcha – Białystok

Białystok – Głomno

Jaźwiny – Żołnierka

Krusze – Pilawa

Skierniewice – Łuków←92 | 93→

Planned for wartime conditions – rail link allowing traffic from the direction of Góra Kalwaria to Pilawa station, the passenger section of Pilawa station bypassed

Warszawa – Dorohusk

Skierniewice – Łuków

Planned for wartime conditions – rail link designed to allow train passage from Ruda Talubska station to Parysów station

Skierniewice – Łuków

Warszawa Wschodnia – Dorohusk

1 The term “junction post” as defined in railway vocabulary.

2 Siding built by Soviet troops during the Second World War as a bypass of the destroyed bridge on the River Bug.

3 Rail link disused since the 1960s, maintained only for potential warfare purposes. Not maintained since the 1980s. Dismantled in the mid-1990s.

4 Rail link disused since the 1960s, maintained only for potential warfare purposes. Not maintained since the 1980s. Dismantled in the mid-1990s.

5 Rail link disused since the 1960s, maintained only for potential warfare purposes. Not maintained since the 1980s. Dismantled in the mid-1990s.

6 Rail link dismantled, trackbeds reconstructed and prepared for operation over the years 1970–1971, culverts included. In case of warfare, the plan involved the restoration of track surface and rail signalling devices.

7 Rail link dismantled, track existed in sections; rebuilding works planned over the years 1974–1975 pursuant to an order by the Ministry of Transport.

8 Rail link dismantled, trackbed damage up to 20 % on some sections; restoration works planned for the foreseeable future.

The potential enemy impact on the deep rear made all transport lines and facilities more sensitive than during the Second World War. It was predicted that strategic railway crossings on large water obstacles, railway junctions and main stations and permanent transhipment areas would be destroyed under the initial NATO strike.247

As proven by previous conflicts, rebuilding complex track layouts, complicated switches and railway signalling devices would pose significant difficulties whenever it was attempted to restore railway traffic at main junction stations. In ←93 | 94→view of the above, and in order to maintain railway operational efficiency and longevity, peacetime preparation of emergency-use rail links and strategic railway junction detours for warfare was identified as an operation less demanding in terms of effort and resources alike. When designing such reserve rail links and military purpose bypasses a rule was applied for these to diverge directly from mainline tracks (rather than extensive station track systems).

The need to secure an east-side bypass of the Warsaw Railway Junction was highlighted as well. Should the Warszawa Wschodnia Rozrządowa station be destroyed, plans were made to use the Rembertów – Zielonka rail link (length: 9 km, opened on September 2nd 1933248) alongside two short rail links kept on standby in case of war: junction post Siwki – km 19.204 connecting the Warsaw – Białystok line to the Rembertów – Zielonka rail link, and junction post249 Poligon – km 13.000 connecting the Warsaw – Terespol line to the Warsaw – Białystok line via the Rembertów – Zielonka rail link. Neither of the two rail links were connected to the railway system. In case of war, it was planned to connect the junction post Siwki – km 19.204 with the railway network by a switch-free slide on to the Rembertów –Zielonka rail link and to track No. 1 of the Warszawa Wileńska – Tłuszcz line. The junction post Poligon – km 13.807 was to be connected with the network by a switch-free slide on to the Rembertów – Zielonka rail link, and to track No. 2 of the Mińsk Mazowiecki – Warszawa Wschodnia line. Rail traffic control would involve the setup of a link for traffic control officers at stations Miłosna and Warszawa Wileńska Marki, on existing cable or overhead lines. The rail link was to be incorporated into traffic in less than 24 hours.250

The Rembertów – Wawer rail link built by the Soviet military in 1944 was a further section of the Warsaw Railway Junction bypass to be used in the event of the destruction of the Warszawa Wschodnia Rozrządowa station; not used for commercial purposes and kept on standby in case of war, it connected the Warsaw – Terespol line to the Warsaw – Dęblin section.

The Pilawa – Mińsk Mazowiecki – Tłuszcz section was rebuilt in the early 1970s251 (Pilawa – Mińsk Mazowiecki in 1970, Mińsk Mazowiecki – Tłuszcz ←94 | 95→opened on December 29th 1971252). The line allowed direct transfer (bypassing the Warsaw Railway Junction) of military troop transports – reloaded at Permanent Transhipment Areas Kuźnica Białostocka, Zubki Białostockie and Siemianówka – to the main front mainline (state border near Terespol) –Małaszewicze – Łuków – Skierniewice – Łowicz – Kutno – Poznań – Zbąszynek – Kunowice – Frankfurt. Together with the Tłuszcz – Legionowo line, the Pilawa – Mińsk Mazowiecki – Tłuszcz section also became the eastern bypass of the Warsaw Railway Junction.253

In order to secure wartime transport continuity, substitute sections were prepared on high-sensitivity junctions on the Western Operational Direction’s main frontline railway lines. Folding railway bridge components were stored at major emergency water obstacle crossings, railway connections appropriately secured to reach storage locations. On the Polish territory railway bridges along the Rivers Vistula (width: 400–1,900 m, depth: 1.8–8 m) and Odra (width: 200–400 m, depth: 2.5–10 m) were most sensitive to destruction. Essentially, all railway bridge crossings were prepared to secure transport viability in the operational rear, for the purposes of delivering supplies and second-line units to deployment areas. The railway network in Poland was divided along the lines of areas most exposed to destruction: Permanent Transhipment Areas, Substitute Transhipment Areas, and Temporary Transhipment Areas, the latter developed during wartime on destroyed obstacles of Rivers Vistula and Odra.

List of permanent railway bridges on the River Vistula line254

Railway route or section, other locationDesignLength / Width
Wisła Uzdrowisko – Wisła Obłaziec??
Skoczów – Pierściec/ Pogórze??
Drogomyśl – Pruchna??
Zabłocie Czuchów – Strumień??←95 | 96→
Junction post Wisła Bridge – Goczałkowice Zdrójsteel structure175 m
Oświęcim – Nowy Bieruń?178 m
Gorzów Chrzanowski – Oświęcim5 spans178 m
Miejsce – Okleśna5 spans215 m
Kraków Główny – Kraków Zabłociesteel structure, 8 spans189.5 m

junction post Kraków Nadwiśle –

Kraków Prokocim Towarowy

steel structure, 8 spans342.5 m
junction post Wisła – junction post Kościelniksteel structure, 10 spans246 m
LHS Wola Baranowska – Staszówsteel through truss bridge, 6 spans?
Stary Łążek – Chmielów near Tarnobrzegroad-rail bridge, steel structure, 9 spans

425 m

width: 8 m

height: 6.2 m

load bearing capacity: 30 tonnes

junction post Zalesie Gorzyckie –

Sandomierz

steel structure, 8 spans455 m

Zajezierze near Dęblin –

Wisła junction post

steel structure, 9 spans445 m
Góra Kalwaria – Warszówkasteel structure, 9 spans445 m
Warszawa Powiśle – Warszawa Stadionsteel structure, 11 spans495 m
Warszawa Gdańska – Warszawa ZOOsteel structure, 10 spans514 m←96 | 97→
Płock Radziwie – Płockroad-rail bridge, 15 spans

716 m

width: 6.1 m

load bearing capacity: 30 tonnes

Toruń Główny – Toruń Miasto19 spans973 m
Bydgoszcz Fordon – Ostromeckoroad-rail bridge, steel structure 13 spans

1,010 m

load bearing capacity: 80 tonnes

Grudziądz – Dragaczroad-rail bridge, 11 spans

1,098 m

width: 7.1 m

height: 5 m

load bearing capacity: 30 tonnes

Malbork2 spans249.5 m
Tczew – Lisewosteel structure, 12 spans1,039 m
Bridge on Martwa Wisła in Gdańsk5 spans120 m

The advancing primary units were to regroup in a circular way. Large water obstacle crossings were to be handled with the use of combat bridges (Lenta), light floating tanks and tracked personnel carrier fleets, tanks were to cross the rivers on river beds, the speed of crossing rivers was to be identical to the speed of the strike on the ground.

Held during the period of October 5th until October 10th 1962, the BALTIC-ODRA bilateral army exercise served to prove the effectiveness of crossing the obstacle posed by the River Odra:

In observing the 211th Motorised Regiment of the Soviet Army crossing the River Odra, we have identified a real opportunity to significantly reduce the time required to cross a large water obstacle. Owing to the use of floating tracked carriers and the LENTA park, as well as tanks crossing the river directly on the river bed, the regiment crossed the river ←97 | 98→in 15 minutes. A LENTA bridge was constructed in 9 minutes; the tank battalion crossed the river in 4 minutes, that is at a rate of 35 km per hour. The ferrying equipment employed during the exercise has proven that rivers can be crossed by the military at a rate typical for army action beyond water obstacles.255

Due to the low number of permanent railway crossings along the River Vistula and considerable distances separating the existing bridges (approximately 60 km, on average; a particularly long distance of 120 km without any railway crossings separated Warsaw and Płock), two substitute railway crossings were developed on the Vistula: at Nowy Dwór Kwidzyński and Wysokie Koło. The wartime construction of temporary crossings with the use of folding railway bridge components and the setting up of Temporary Transhipment Areas were also planned on the River Vistula in the vicinity of the destroyed permanent crossings.

A permanent railway bridge over the River Vistula was built on the Prabuty – Szlachta railway line, on the 23km-long Smętowo – Opalenie Tczewskie – Nowy Dwór Kwidzynski-Kwidzyn section (line opened on September 1st 1909256).

This line was severed by the Polish-German state border which ran along the Vistula, a border river at the time.257 In 1944, following the destruction of the railway bridge near Tczew, the Russian railway troops built a provisional bridge to replace it (type L-23 spans arranged on wooden supports). In 1947, the bridge collapsed under the weight of a passing train. Shortly after the accident, the remains of the temporary bridge were pulled down. In the 1960s, however, a decision was made to use the Smętowo – Opalenie Tczewskie – Nowy Dwór Kwidzyński – Kwidzyn line as a substitute bypass of the existing permanent railway crossings: on the Nogat in Malbork (Warsaw – Gdańsk line), on the Vistula at Tczew (Malbork – Tczew line), and on the Vistula near Grudziądz (Jabłonowo Pomorskie – Laskowice Pomorskie line). The wartime contingency plans provided for the construction of a REM-500 overpass and a NZM-56 folding floating road-rail bridge. Both overpass and bridge components were stored at Opalenie Tczewskie station; NZM-56 bridge pontoons were collected at the Nowy Dwór Kwidzyński river port.

←98 | 99→

On September 7th and 8th 1965, as part of a rear-operations transport exercise (codename OPAL-65), the 2nd railway regiment, 3rd bridge brigade, and 1st railway troops battalion constructed piers and ferry crossings on the River Vistula at Nowy Dwór near Kwidzyn, with the use of NZM-56 bridge park components.258 The 3rd Warsaw Bridge Regiment and 12th Folding Bridge Battalion built a road bridge over the Vistula with the use of an MS-2280 folding structure set upon wooden supports; length: 391.7 m; load-bearing capacity: 40 tonnes.259

In May 1969 the railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment from Inowrocław used the REM-500 structure to construct a railway bridge approach (length: 280 m) in Nowy Dwór near Kwidzyn, as part of tactical and transport bridge regiment exercises260 the approach was connected (with the use of adjustable supports) to a single span of a NZM-56 pontoon bridge used as a ferry. While an overpass was later re-constructed as part of subsequent military exercises, a complete NZM-56 floating bridge had never been assembled on the Opalenie Tczewskie – Nowy Dwór Kwidzyński section.261

The reserve railway section (with appropriately prepared bridge and overpass components) were retained until the late 1990s. As late as in 1995 the D-29, List of Railway Lines, Rail Links, and Connecting Lines issued by the Polish State Railways General Management continued to feature the Prabuty – Szlachta line (length: 121.628 km) (along with the Smętowo – Opalenie Tczewskie — Nowy Dwór Kwidzynski – Kwidzyn section).262

Another reserve crossing was to be built in the south of Poland, in the Dęblin area. Two railway lines running from the border with the USSR met there: Małaszewicze – Łuków – Dęblin, and Dorohusk – Lublin – Dęblin. The significance of the railway junction in Dęblin was demonstrated by the war activities during the Red Army’s Vistula – Odra Operation, the main front railway line having passed through Dęblin. The Dęblin – Radom – Koluszki – Łódź – Ostrów Wielkopolski – Leszno – Głogów – Gubin – Berlin line crossed the River Vistula to its other side.

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The Nowy Dwór near Kwidzyn crossing, 1969. A platoon of ensign cadets of the Officers’ Military Engineering Academy in Wrocław, adjustable NZM-56 bridge support connected to the ferry via NZM-56 park structure components in the background (photo courtesy of Colonel Józef Szwajka)

In the 1970s, a decision was made to construct the Wysokie Koło – Puławy Azoty bypass, with intent to bypass the well-developed Dęblin junction with a permanent railway bridge across the River Vistula.

In 1975, the 12th railway regiment from Tarnowskie Góry constructed approaches to both River Vistula river banks. A station siding was built from the Wysokie Koło station to the western bank of the Vistula on the Bąkowiec – Wysokie Koło Polish State Railways line. The eastern bank of the river, in turn, was connected via a siding developed from the Polish State Railways station Puławy Azoty. On September 15th and 16th 1975, during the VISTULA 75 military coalition exercise, a REM-500 overpass crossing was developed on both sides of the river, connected to the NZM-56 floating road-rail bridge.263 A REM-500 overpass (length: 214.37 m, 17 spans 12.61 m each and 16 supports) was assembled on the right bank. The 8th road and railway bridge regiment from Grudziądz constructed the overpass and the floating road-rail bridge, assisted ←100 | 101→by the 12th road and operations regiment and 12th railway regiment.264 A 360 m access track was constructed on the left bank, comprising 24 rail lengths made with the use of S-49 rails (length: 15 m) set upon INBK-3 sleepers. The road-rail bridge assembled with the use of NZM-56 park components was 379.47 m long; the SEK-500-based overpass was 214.37 m long.265 A military train of tank-loaded flat wagons hauled by Ty2-1089 locomotive from MD Dęblin depot used the structure to cross the River Vistula.

The temporary road-rail crossing in Wysokie Koło was re-assembled in the course of the VISTULA 85 exercise. Approaches made using the SEK-500 overpass structure connected to the road-rail bridge were developed on both sides of the river, the bridge was assembled with the use of appropriately adapted BP-150 barges. Large-diameter piling with caps was used to construct the bridgeheads at overpass-barge joints, an ice floe offset structure set up below the minimum water level. The access track from Puławy Azoty station was approximately 1,600 m long; an overpass leading directly to the river bank was assembled (approximate length: 500 m, approximate incline: 16 ‰). An excavation was made in the River Vistula embankment along the access path from station Wysokie Koło for the duration of the crossing, to ease the profile of the access track. The embankment was dug to a depth of about 3 m, upon which the SEK-500 overpass was assembled (approximate length: 300 m, approximate incline: 7 ‰). Passing loops were constructed on access tracks on both sides of the river, with intent to increase the number of trains waiting to cross (the capacity of the crossing allowed a quick passage of three trains). In view of the threat of the crossing being rapidly located by enemy satellites, it was assumed that the crossing would remain active for a period of 1.5 hrs, upon which it would be dismantled, crossing components towed away by tugboats. Access roads were developed on both sides of the crossing, a viaduct of corrosion-resistant steel (manufactured by Railway Steel Structures Plant in Starosielce) built on the railway approach of the Dęblin-Puławy road.266

The BP-150 barges were adapted for the purposes of the crossing by the Wrocław River Shipyard, to a design by the Navicentrum Inland Navigation Design Office in Wrocław. S-49 rails were screwed directly onto the barges using ←101 | 102→steel chairs, the rails were flexibly joined using fishplates (fishplates screwed together using two bolts only). The barges provided three traffic routes – a single railway track and one road section on each side of the track. The overall approximate length of the barge crossing reached 500 m.267

Before a complete military train was allowed onto the bridge test rides of a single locomotive (ST44) and a locomotive with a train of empty flat wagons were performed. During the VISTULA 85 exercise, a heavy military train loaded with tanks hauled by an ST44 locomotive crossed the river via the ferry structure from the direction of Puławy-Azoty station, the train was top-and-tailed by an identical locomotive in case of any difficulties with ascending the incline. While a speed of 15 km/h was set as allowable for the crossing, a considerably higher speed of 28 km/h was reached during the official demonstration ride. Artillery subdivisions and a sapper unit (motor vehicles loaded with pontoon boats) regrouped in opposite directions on the road sections of the bridge, while the train was crossing it as well. Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces General Florian Siwicki witnessed the demo passage from a stand. Jerzy Brych, M.Sc., Deputy Manager of the East Regional State Railway Management at the time, was the acting co-ordinator for the crossing construction project for the Polish State Railways.268 The crossing was constructed by the 4th, 8th, 10th, and 11th railway regiments and the 5th railway bridge regiment.269 During the VISTULA 85 exercise, field point of rolling stock deactivation was organised at Wysokie Koło as well.

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An SRK 20 railway crane used during the VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (courtesy of Colonel J. Jarzyna)

The assembly of a REM-500 overpass during the preparations for the VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna). The required exercise uniform included a mandatory helmet, weapon, and a gas mask.

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The assembly of a REM-500 overpass during the VISTULA 75 exercise. An SM03 locomotive from the Ammunition Depot in Stawy near Dęblin in the foreground, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (courtesy of Colonel J. Jarzyna)

A KrAZ 218 lorry adapted for railway operation, with an SRK 20 crane, during the VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (courtesy of Colonel J. Jarzyna)

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An assembly base during the VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (courtesy of Colonel J. Jarzyna)

A troop train passing over the River Vistula during the VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (courtesy of Colonel J. Jarzyna)

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A troop train passing over the River Vistula during the VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna)

A Ty2-1089 steam locomotive from MD Dęblin depot hauling a heavy troop train entering a REM-500 overpass, VISTULA 75 exercise, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna)

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A modern road-rail crossing constructed in Wysokie Koło with the use of BP-150 barges during the VISTULA 75 exercise (courtesy of Colonel J. Jarzyna)

With the changes to the defence doctrine, the Wysokie Koło crossing lost operational significance and has been out of service for several years.

Given their hydrographic properties, the Rivers Lausitzer Neiße, Odra, Dźwina and Świna, Lake Dąbie and the Szczecin Lagoon were the second most-important obstacles for troops on Polish territory. In order to secure the efficiency of the main front railway lines along the Western Operational Direction, a decision was made to construct reserve railway sections with intent to bypass strategic railway crossings and junctions on the Polish – German border should the permanent crossings be destructed.

The Węgliniec railway junction was of great strategic importance, as proven by the 1945 military operations. Two reserve sections were constructed in the 1970s in order to bypass the junction, one planned on the Horka – Rothenburg – Steinbach – bridge on the River Nysa – Sanice – Przewóz line, the bridge over the Nysa on this line was blown up during the war. The bridge was not rebuilt after the war, as the railway line was cut by the Polish – German border that was set along the Neiße/ Nysa – yet in the early 1970s, a decision was made to use the line during wartime as a reserve section to bypass the Węgliniec junction. The bridgeheads of the permanent bridge that was blown up during the war were to be reused for the construction of a REM-500 overpass folding bridge. ←107 | 108→A temporary bridge was assembled during a military exercise in the early 1970s. In the autumn of 1988 units of the Soviet Army and the East German National People’s Army re-assembled a 200 m REM-500 overpass bridge as part of a joint military exercise. A KrAZ 219B lorry (adapted for operation on railway tracks) and SRK 20 railway crane were used during the construction project.

Due to the changes of the military doctrine and reunification of Germany, the railway section on the German side was taken out of service on April 22nd 1993.270

List of permanent railway bridges on the Lausitzer Neiße – Odra – Dźwina line271

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Another reserve section was prepared as a bypass of the Görlitz – Zgorzelec junction. On the German side, sidings were developed from the station Charlottenhof (O/L) to the bank of the River Neiße; while a siding diverging from a mainline track was developed down to the River Neiße on the Polish side, branching in the junction post Lasów area. To overcome the obstacle of the Neiße plans were made to construct a bridge with REM-500 or ESB-16 spans (manufactured in East Germany). Due to the changes of the military doctrine and reunification of Germany, the section on the German side was taken out of service on April 22nd 1993.272

In order to maintain wartime efficiency of the (state border near Terespol) – Małaszewicze – Łuków – Skierniewice – Łowicz – Kutno – Poznań – Zbąszynek – Kunowice – Frankfurt – Berlin railway line, a decision was made to provide a reserve section for the Frankfurt (Oder)273 railway junction, alongside the ←110 | 111→permanent bridge over the River Odra. In the 1970s, a siding was constructed to the River Odra on the German side, branching off at km. 92.750 between stations Finkenheerd and Wiesenau. On the Polish side a siding branching off at Maczków (Urad) station to the River Odra bank (Kunowice – Cyblinka line).

The wartime construction of a folding railway bridge with the use of REM-500 overpass components was planned on the River Odra. Folding bridge components were deposited at the Soviet army depot in Ziltendorf. During the military exercises in 1979 units of the National People’s Army of East Germany assembled a bridge across the River Odra in Kunice. A military train loaded with tanks rode across the bridge, hauled by a BR120 diesel locomotive of the Deutsche Reichsbahn/German National Railways; the train returned to East Germany the following day. In 1988 a Frankfurt (Oder) junction bypass was added for military purposes.274

The Kostrzyn – Küstrin Kietz section (on the strategic Kostrzyn – Berlin railway line) was particularly vulnerable to destruction, as it included three railway bridges across the Rivers Warta, Odra and the Odra flood plains, which significantly limited its potential wartime lifespan. Already in the 1890s in recognition of the operational significance of the Berlin – Kostrzyn – Krzyż railway, the Prussian General Staff took on an action to build a military reserve line. In 1899 railway brigades of the Prussian army constructed railway connections to the River Odra from stations Reitwein and Göritz (Górzyca), and constructed a fortified 650 long railway bridge (set upon a wooden structure).275

In the 1960s, short sections reaching both banks of the River Odra were provided with intent to bypass the Kostrzyn – Küstrin Kietz section. On the Polish side, a siding (approximate length: 3 km) was built, branching off near the station at Ługi Górzyckie. In order to allow the passage of military trains directly off the mainline from both directions (Kostrzyn and Rzepin), the siding approach was built in a form of a triangle. On the German side, an approx. 1 km long siding was constructed, branching off at kilometre 3.502 of the Küstrin Kietz – Frankfurt (Oder) line before Neu Manschnow station (located on km 3.8). Plans involved wartime construction of a folding railway bridge with the use of REM-500 overpass components on the River Odra. The Neu Manschnow – Ługi Górzyckie reserve section allowed direct transit of military trains from Rzepin and Kostrzyn to Berlin with the Kostrzyn – Küstrin Kietz section bypassed, as it was vulnerable to destruction due to its’ three bridges.276

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The joint 1969 exercises of the Polish Armed Forces, Soviet Army and East German Army comprised the construction of a folding road-rail bridge with the use of REM-500 overpass components (on the Polish side) and folding ESB-16 spans (on the German side). Due to the changes to the military doctrine and reunification of Germany, the Neu Manschnow – Oder West section was taken out of service on April 22nd 1993.277

In the 1970s, a decision was made to build a strategic bypass of the railway bridge over the River Odra on the Godków – Siekierki278 – state border – Wriezen railway line (the section allowing direct passage of military trains from Szczecin and Kostrzyn to Berlin). It was assumed that any permanent railway bridge on the section would be destroyed by a NATO strike, hence the plans to develop a reserve bypass of the existing bridge. Wartime plans assumed that the River Odra would be crossed via the REM-500 overpass and the NZM-56 floating road-rail bridge.

As early as 1976, a siding branching off at kilometre 10.895 (Abzweigung Nra) between station Neurüdnitz and the bridge over the River Odra (approximate length: 1.5 km) was developed down to the riverbank. Construction works on the siding codenamed “Object-83” proceeded in extremely difficult wet terrain. The embankment of the siding was connected to the floodbank below its head, which is why the floodbank had to be traversed with special-purpose flood gates accommodating the final section of the siding on the floodplain (temporary crossing construction was possible only at low water levels).279

During a Warsaw Pact exercise codenamed “BARIERA 79” held on October 18th 24th 1979, the railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment from Inowrocław (JW 1523) joined forces with the units of the Soviet and East German ←112 | 113→armies to construct a bridge with the use of REM-500 and SEK-500 overpass components, and a NZM-56 road-rail bridge across the River Odra (practical part of the exercise).280

A troop train passing over the River Odra during the “BARIERA 79” exercise, hauled by a DR diesel locomotive – BR 118 374–8, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna)

Due to the changes of the military doctrine and reunification of Germany, all sidings connecting the River Odra on the German side were taken out of service on April 22nd 1993; on December 31st 1993, traffic on the Wriezen – Neurüdnitz line was discontinued. The entire line, including the siding connecting the River Odra, was dismantled in 2001.281

During the planning works to secure the technical support for the railway network, the Headquarters of Military Transport at individual Regional State Railway Managements drafted lists of the local bridge and railway junction bypasses in case of destruction of a given bridge or junction. As it was assumed that the modern weapons’ striking force will have the capacity to cause total destruction to railway crossings, bypass crossings were to be provided in new locations upstream, at distances allowing obstacle-free construction of temporary bridges.

Within the area managed by the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, the plan involved the replacement of the railway bridges listed below with folding structures: River Vistula, Góra Kalwaria, km. 75.915 (Skierniewice – Łuków line, ←113 | 114→single track steel bridge); River Narew, Łapy, km. 155.989 (Warsaw – Białystok line, double track steel bridge); River Narew, Grabowo, km. 5.229 (Ostrołęka – Wielbark line, single track steel bridge); River Narew, Strabla, km. 48.500 (Czeremcha – Białystok line, single track steel bridge); River Bug, Małkinia, km. 84.502 (Warsaw – Białystok line, single track steel bridge); River Narew, Modlin, km. 43.264 (Warsaw – Działdowo line, single track steel bridge); River Bug, Fronołów, km. 54.871 (Siedlce – Hajnówka line, double track steel bridge); River Pilica, Tomaszów Mazowiecki, km. 57.688 (Koluszki – Skarżysko line, double track steel bridge); River Warta, Teklinów, km. 195.082 (Warsaw – Katowice line, double track steel bridge); River Narew, Siemianówka, km. 148.851 (Siedlce – Narewka line, single track steel bridge). According to the wartime plan, all bridges were to be rebuilt by the militarised Bridge Reconstruction Trains of the Ministry of Transport: (Bridge Reconstruction Train-4, Bridge Reconstruction Train-5, Bridge Reconstruction Train-11, Bridge Reconstruction Train-12).

The wartime plans of the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw further included the provision of a close bypass for Białystok station (junction station for the Ełk – Czeremcha – state border direction).282 The planned 1 km link was to connect the Czeremcha – Białystok line to the Białystok – Ełk section (bypassing station Białystok, classified as exposed to destruction). The wartime construction of the bypass was to be performed by Track Reconstruction Train-13 with the use of military reserve surface materials deposited at the station in Strabla.283

Given the insufficient number of permanent road crossings on large and medium-sized water obstacles, railway bridges had to be adapted to allow tracked vehicles to use them, by providing access roads and reinforcing their construction.

Within the area managed by the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, the following railway bridges were adapted in this way: River Vistula, km. 75.915, Góra Kalwaria (Skierniewice – Łuków line), River Bug, km. 18.658, Wyszków (Tłuszcz – Ostrołęka line), River Bzura, km. 81.338, Łowicz (Warsaw – Poznań line), River Narew, km. 5.229, Grabowo (Ostrołęka – Wielbark line), River Bug, km. 54.871, Fronołów (Siedlce – Hajnówka line).284

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Additionally, Temporary Transhipment Areas were to be established to secure the reloading of materials and technical supplies from rail to other modes of transport (road and waterway), should crossings on large water obstacles be destroyed (until the bridges affected were to be provisionally reconstructed).285

The international military exercises of the Warsaw Pact (BARIERA and Vistula) were charged with the responsibility of constructing temporary crossings across water obstacles: the Rivers Vistula and Odra. According to the operational plans, both rivers would remain the greatest water obstacles to any attack of mechanised military formations, once permanent bridges were destroyed by tactical nuclear weapons in the first phase of the war (it should be remembered that a significant attack rate of 80–100 km was assumed).

Since the 1940s, the development of the infrastructure of the Polish State Railways had to accommodate for military transport along the Western Operational Direction. In the 1950s, the nuclear war doctrine changed the concept of using the railway network on the USSR and Polish territory (as an intersection of two gauges: 1,524/1,435 mm). The need for significant acceleration of an offensive and a change in the general nature of military operations gave rise to the construction of a transhipment system and the necessity to secure a large number of standard-gauge rolling stock to transfer troops along the Western Operational Direction. In light of the above, the concept of re-gauging the front mainlines in the first stage of the war was abandoned in the 1950s.

In 1951, Commander-in-Chief of Polish Armed Forces Marshal Konstanty Rokossovsky received specific instructions during a meeting of the General Staff of the USSR in Moscow: he was instructed to develop six transfer areas in Poland as departure termini for five frontline-bound railway lines running across Poland from the USSR to East Germany.286

Aimed at ensuring an uninterrupted wartime transfer of the Soviet troops, works to develop a system of transhipment bases (broad-gauge to standard-gauge transfer) began in the 1950s, all bases located directly on the border between the Polish People’s Republic and the USSR. All facilities were constructed a mere few kilometres from the state border, usually in dense forest stands to ensure proper camouflage. Broad-gauge sidings were provided from the Soviet side into the transhipment bases, all facilities equipped with reloading equipment, cranes and gantries, ramp systems and complex track systems (arrival/departure, transfer, ←115 | 116→stabling and traction tracks). All equipment at the individual bases was properly serviced and kept in sound technical condition. Mechanical railway signalling devices (interlocking control signal boxes, mechanical semaphores, track closing signals and shunting signals) were provided in selected areas. Some were also fitted with technical infrastructure allowing for the handling of steam traction – servicing points equipped with ash pits, water cranes and coal loading facilities. Furthermore, a system of roads (tank roads) and access roads to loading ramps for heavy tracked vehicles loading were developed at transhipment areas. The Red Army road vehicles were also taken into account in terms of their direct transfer from the Permanent Transhipment Areas onto regular roads leading to ferry crossings over water. In all transhipment areas, individual facilities were appropriately adapted to reload light and heavy technological devices, fuel and lubricant storage included; heavy- and lightweight ramps and fuel transfer stations were employed as required. Some transhipment areas were also used for the purpose of transferring civilian commodities between the Polish and Soviet railways, respectively. During peacetime, all fuel and lubricant storage facilities in transhipment areas were operated by the state-owned CPN company.

The transhipment areas were located at the intersection of all broad-gauge railway lines from the USSR to Poland, in Braniewo, Bartoszyce, Skandawa, Kuźnica Białostocka, Zubki Białostockie, Siemianówka, Małaszewicze, Dorohusk, Werchrata, Żurawica and Przemyśl.287

The track layouts of the transhipment areas were designed in such a way as to ensure the doubling of the particular loading facilities and particularly vulnerable tracks at stations and sidings, with intent to secure the viability of respective areas should its components be destroyed. In order to make the destruction of an area more difficult, individual loading facilities were located in dense forest complexes.

The transfer and arrival/departure tracks were developed into groups at the transhipment areas in order to increase the capacity of each area. Such a track layout allowed military trains to await reloading on approach in an arrival/departure holding area while two other trains were being reloaded simultaneously.

To increase the transhipment capacity of individual areas and enhance the organisation of all reloading works, a technologically interesting solution was applied: standard- and broad-gauge track combinations in the ramp area ←116 | 117→(quadruple dual-gauge track system). Standard-gauge tracks adjacent to ramps incorporated a broad-gauge track, offset by 192 mm against the standard-gauge axis. The inner rail of the broad-gauge track would be coupled with the outer rail of the standard-gauge track section with the use of a typical junction crosshead.

In general, two types of track layouts were built at all transhipment areas: tracks branching off from pass-through peripheral routes, and sidings leading directly into the area.

A number of independent branches connecting the transhipment areas to the railway network and substitute loading stations were also provided with intent to extend the service life of transhipment areas. In case of wartime destruction of the Permanent Transhipment Areas, Substitute Transhipment Areas were to be developed at stations on frontline railway routes, directly behind the Permanent Transhipment Areas. Substitute Transhipment Areas were to secure 50 % of the Permanent Transhipment Area reloading capacity, access to Substitute Areas was to be possible by road transport and enable loading of road vehicles onto railway wagons. The transfer areas were also mirrored on the Russian side by additional transhipment areas. The Russian transhipment bases were rather primitive in structure: earth reloading ramps reinforced with wooden logs on the loading side were common.288 The use of a dual reloading area system (in the USSR and Poland alike) and possible transition to Substitute Transhipment Areas in case of the permanent bases being destroyed served the purpose of securing transports to the Western Operational Direction in conditions of a massive air attack.289

After the end of the war, some standard-gauge railway lines were retained in the Kaliningrad area for strategic reasons. In the 1950s, extensive standard- and broad-gauge siding systems and Military Transhipment Bases of the USSR Ministry of Defence were established in the border region on the Russian side: Mamonovo II (Świętosław), Bagratyonovsk (Iława Pruska), Krasnovka (Birkenfeld), and Zheleznodorozhniy (Gierdawy). The transhipment bases were set up on the three main railway lines leading towards Poland, on the following sections: Mamonovo II – (state border) – Bogaczewo – Braniewo – Elbląg (after the war, the second track of the line was retained as broad-gauge); Bagratyonovsk – Bartoszyce (a 16km long dual gauge 1,524 mm and 1,435 mm section, allowing the passage of standard- and broad-gauge trains); Zheleznodorozhniy – Skandawa (also broad-gauge 1,524 mm track). Several hundred standard-gauge ←117 | 118→TЄ steam locomotives (German wartime class 52) allocated to long-term storage were kept at the military transhipment base Zheleznodorozhniy – Mamonovo II. All locomotives were regularly inspected and repaired until the mid-1990s. They were retained with intent to haul Russian military trains on the standard-gauge Polish State Railways network in a future war.290

Throughout the 1950s, a system of Permanent Transhipment Areas under development on the Polish territory (in the area managed by the Regional State Railway Management in Gdańsk), along the section bordering with the Kaliningrad area.

The first Permanent Transhipment Area in Skandawa was constructed over the years 1952–1956, comprising a system of local standard- and broad-gauge tracks in and around Skandawa. The investment was performed by the Railway Works Company No. 12 from Gdańsk, with about 3,000 troops employed at the construction site, alongside the Służba Polsce [Service to Poland] paramilitary cadets and members of local population.291 The constructed track layout with a length of approx. 20 kilometres comprised the following railway sidings: (state border) – Wielewo – Anielin – Gradowo (broad-gauge track), length: 11.282; Skandawa – Kotki ramp, approximate length: 3.2 km; Anieliny Gradowo – Gradowo ramp, approximate length: 2.2 km; Kotki – km. 52.5 (broad-gauge track), approximate length: 1.2 km; Drogosze – Krymławki ramp, approximate length: 2.2 km.292 The individual transhipment facilities of the Skandawa Permanent Transhipment Area were located along the peripheral 1,524 mm track (reloading facilities and ramps: Kotki, Gradowo, Krymławki). At the point where tracks of two different gauges met a station in Wielewo was built (six broad-gauge tracks, four 1,435 mm tracks), together with a broad-gauge traction servicing point (fitted with a fuel depot, coal crane, gantry, and water cranes293), all with intent to re-assemble and dispatch broad-gauge military troop trains arriving from the USSR for reloading. The linear arrangement of the reloading points at the Skandawa Permanent Transhipment Area allowed four trains to be reloaded simultaneously at Kotki, Gradowo and Krymławki, and to be later dispatched from standard-gauge stations: Skandawa, Anielin and Drogosze. ←118 | 119→Signal boxes and mechanical signalling devices with mechanical semaphores were installed at individual points of the area. Due to changes to the military doctrine the Skandawa Permanent Transhipment Area lost its strategic importance; in the early 1990s, part of the broad-gauge tracks was dismantled, followed by all the facilities later in the 1990s. The facility in Kotki was the only one converted for civilian purposes, a gas terminal was developed on that site.

After the end of the war broad-gauge tracks were retained on the Elbląg – Braniewo – Mamonovo section for strategic purposes, the section was used to build the Permanent Transhipment Area in the 1950s.

The next Permanent Transhipment Area was constructed in Braniewo over the years 1953–1957, comprising stations and a system of standard- and broad-gauge sidings located along the standard- and broad-gauge lines (second track) on the Mamonovo – (state border) – Bogaczewo – Braniewo – Elbląg sections.

The development of the area was supervised by the Head of Military Transport at the Regional State Railway Management in Olsztyn. The construction works of the area were performed by Railway Works Company No. 12 from Gdańsk; sidings north of Kurów Braniewski were built by Kablobeton, a company based in Warsaw. Members of the local population were also employed – in a corvée labour system – for the purposes of handling construction material deliveries.294

The following traffic posts, transfer facilities and modernisation works were provided and/or completed as part of the project described:295

A broad-gauge track layout at the Braniewo station was built, including a steam locomotive turning triangle and a small locomotive depot, with technical facilities;

A passing loop at Bemowizna (broad-gauge);

Junction post “Bos” – Wielewo (broad-gauge);

A passing loop at Wielewo (standard-gauge); in all probability, the local pre-war block post Pettelkau was used to construct the loop;

Transhipment facility “Bo” – “Autostrada” – a broad-gauge siding was built to the facility from junction post “Bos” – Wielewo, a standard-gauge siding continued onwards from the passing loop in Wielewo. The standard- and broad-gauge sidings were located at both sides of the ramp (approx. 700m long and 1m high),including passing loops. The facility allowed concurrent reloading of two trains (one standard- and one broad-gauge) only. A paved access road was built, leading from road 508 to the facility;

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Chruściel station – Area construction works involved the provision of a broad-gauge track layout and a broad-gauge passing loop; a broad-gauge siding was built as well, leading from the station to the “Be” Rucianka transhipment facility;

Transhipment facility “Be” Rucianka – a broad-gauge railway siding was constructed to the facility from the station in Chruściel; a standard-gauge siding was built in the direction of Wielkie Wierzno. The following solutions were employed at facility the “Be” Rucianka: a dual-gauge (1,435 mm / 1,524 mm) transfer track system; two paved reloading ramps allowing the simultaneous reloading of two military trains, and loading/unloading of a single train at the side ramp on the standard-gauge track. The facility offered transfer capacity of 6 train pairs per day, and the transition of 6 trains per day from/to road transport;

Station in Wielkie Wierzno – built from the foundations up as part of the effort to build the Braniewo Permanent Transhipment Area, it was the largest station in the area, featuring an extra broad-gauge loading facility. Broad-gauge sidings were built from the station to “By” Piórkowo transhipment facility; the “Be” CPN-operated fuel transfer station and standard-gauge siding to transhipment facility “Be” Rucianka;

Fuel transfer station “Ba” CPN – two separate (standard- and broad-gauge) track layouts were developed at the CPN fuel depot premises; both track systems were intended to deliver tank wagons to fuel transfer points, and to store the empty trains. The facility was connected with a broad-gauge siding to the station in Wielkie Wierzno, and a standard gauge siding to Kurowo Braniewskie. The base could reload two trains per 24 hours. The base was constructed by Kablobeton, a company based in Warsaw;

The “By” Piórkowo transhipment facility – located on the eastern side of the Braniewo – Elbląg line, connected to station Wielkie Wierzno with a broad-gauge siding and to station Kurowo Braniewskie with a standard-gauge siding. At the “By” Piórkowo facility two separate track layouts (1,435 mm/1,524 mm) and two paved loading ramps were provided. An access road was constructed, connecting the facility to road 506;

Station Kurowo Braniewskie – during the construction of the Area improvements to the station included a loading ramp and standard-gauge siding connecting the station to the “By” Piórkowo facility, as well as the “Ba” CPN fuel transfer station;

Station Młynary – the Area incorporated the standard-gauge track layout of the station;

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Station Elbląg – a broad-gauge track was built to connect the station to the Railway Rolling Stock Plant in Elbląg (part of Zamech, before the war: German Schichau Elbing factory); a broad-gauge track layout was developed at the Elbląg station; a broad-gauge siding was constructed to connect the station to the plant. A broad-gauge TKt48 locomotive was stationed at the plant’s in-house locomotive shed.

The track system developed at the Braniewo Permanent Transhipment Area of an approximate length h of 12 km comprised the following railway sidings: Wielewo/Pierzchały – “Autostrada”, length: 2.5 km; Chruściel/Wlk. Wieżno – “Rucianka”, length: 3.1 km; Kurowo/Wlk. Wieżno – “CPN”, length: 2.3 km; Kurowo/Wlk. Wieżno – “Piórkowo”, length: 3.6 km.296 The Braniewo Permanent Transhipment Area offered a transfer capacity of 20 military trains per day, additionally it was possible to load/unload 12 trains with transition to/from road vehicles.297

As a general rule, the Military Transhipment Base Mamonovo II of the USSR Ministry of Defence was designated for troop transfer purposes in case of war, with an extensive system of standard- and broad-gauge tracks developed on site. The Braniewo Permanent Transhipment Area was to be charged with mirroring the Soviet base in case of its destruction.

The significance of the Mamonovo II base may be proven by the fact of the Soviet troops having been transferred at the location during the intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops in Czechoslovakia.298 Today, the transhipment facilities of the Braniewo Permanent Transhipment Area are used for commodity reloading purposes by the privately held Chem-Trans Logistic Północ, whereas fuel transfer station “Ba” CPN Fuel Base No. 12 Chruściel/Braniewo is managed by Naftobaza Sp. z o.o. (Co. Ltd.).299

Another Permanent Transhipment Area was developed in Bartoszyce over the years 1956–1957, comprising the Głomno – Molwity – Lejdy siding (approximate length: 2 km), and a dual-gauge (1,524 mm/1,435 mm) track on the Bartoszyce – Bagratyonovsk section (Bartoszyce, km. 225.650 – Głomno, km. 235.111 – (State Border), km. 241.289300), overall section length: 16 km.301

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Four Permanent Transhipment Areas of the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw were developed in the 1950s: Kuźnica Białostocka, Zubki Białostockie, Narewka and Terespol. With the viability of the Area in mind, the standard- and broad-gauge layouts were designed in such a way as to enable the mirroring of the Permanent Transhipment Area: duplicate track systems (1,524 mm/1,435 mm) and loading facilities were provided as Substitute Transhipment Areas, should the Permanent Transhipment Areas be destroyed. Both Permanent and Substitute Transhipment Areas were located across an area of 1,500 km2; the standard-gauge network (length: 537 km, 750 points) and the broad-gauge track network (length: 239 km, 307 points), 9 heavy ramps, 10 light ramps, 6 proximity tracks (length: 3,652 km) were constructed.302

The Permanent Transhipment Area in Kuźnica Białostocka was set up on the standard-gauge line Białystok – Sokółka – Kuźnica Białostocka – State Border – (Łosośna).

A broad-gauge siding was built along the Białystok – Kuźnica line: (State Border) – Kuźnica Białostocka – Sokółka – Geniusze Wsch. – Geniusze – Machnacz passing loop – transfer facility Machnacz, length: 9.360 km (36,124 m).303 The individual transfer facilities on the broad-gauge siding were constructed in tangent to standard-gauge track layouts of the Polish State Railways stations at Machnacz, Geniusze, Sokółka, and Kuźnica Białostocka.

At the border station of Kuźnica Białostocka two separate track layouts were constructed for standard- and broad-gauge. A broad-gauge siding branched off from the broad-gauge layout leading to all the transfer facilities across the Area. The station in Kuźnica was designed in a way that it could receive military troop trains from the USSR, re-assemble them and dispatch them on broad-gauge tracks to the correct transhipment points. A system of eight broad-gauge arrival/departure tracks and a layout of four standard-gauge tracks were provided at the station to handle the Area-related railway traffic (the station itself was fitted with four signal boxes). In addition, the platform at Kuźnica station could be used as a transfer ramp, the main track of the broad-gauge siding and an additional track were constructed to the right side of the platform.

A locomotive servicing point was also set up at Kuźnica station, comprising of two standard- and two broad-gauge tracks (including ash pits) and a turntable (with a dual-gauge 1,435mm/1,524 mm track). The station was also fitted with ←122 | 123→a water station and coal storage. The broad-gauge locomotives assigned to the Kuźnica traction facility were intended to serve the entire transhipment Area. Broad-gauge Ty23 locomotives (pre-war Polish freight steam locomotives converted to broad-gauge) were stationed in Kuźnica until the late 1970s, when they were replaced with broad-gauge SM48 (TEM2) diesel locomotives produced in the USSR.

A siding (length: 1.120 km) branched off the broad-gauge main line between stations the Kuźnica and Sokółka, leading to a fuel transfer station.304 Two facilities were set upon it: station Bufałowo Wsch. (two broad-gauge tracks) and handling facility Bufałowo – two broad-gauge tracks, a short siding, and a hoisting track as an extension of the main track (connecting to a standard-gauge siding branching off the station in Sokółka).

A reloading track layout (1,435 mm/1,524 mm) and a reloading ramp (length: 600 m) were also provided at Sokółka. A standard-gauge siding (length: 2.790 km) connecting the CPN-operated fuel transfer station at Bufałowo and the Polish State Railways Sokółka – Kamienna Nowa line both branched off the standard-gauge layout at Sokółka.305

A system of reloading tracks (1,435 mm/1,524 mm) and two reloading ramps (length: 612 m each) were provided at Geniusze station. A layout of five broad-gauge arrival tracks and five standard-gauge departure tracks were built in front of and behind the Geniusze handling facility, respectively. The transfer facility in Geniusze enabled five military trains on two ramps to be quickly reloaded. Furthermore, a passing loop Machnacz Wschód was located at the end of the main broad-gauge siding (one loading track built close to the main Białystok-Kuźnica line), and the last handling facility of the Machnacz Area (connecting with the standard-gauge siding branching off the Polish State Railways station at Machnacz, length: 3.548 km), the broad-gauge main track and one tack adjacent to a loading ramp.306 The main siding track, one additional track and a short dead-end track were located on the other side of the ramp.

The Permanent Transhipment Area at Zubki Białostockie was constructed around 1955, close to the standard-gauge Białystok – Zubki Białostockie – State Border – (Berestowica) line. A broad-gauge track (length: 944.6 m)307 was built from the state border to Zubki Białostockie station. A dual-gauge ←123 | 124→(1,524 mm/1,435 mm) track layout was provided, partly dual-gauge in the station area. The station in Kuźnica Białostocka was designed to receive military trains from the USSR, re-assemble and dispatch them on broad-gauge tracks to the appropriate transhipment facilities. A group of three broad-gauge tracks was built at the station: a broad-gauge siding (length: 2.903 km) connected the broad-gauge track No. 12 to transfer facility Grzybowiec;308 whilst from broad-gauge track No. 8 a siding diverged with a crossover intersecting the standard-gauge Białystok – Zubki line and on to the transfer facility in Straszewo (length: 3.362 km).309 Furthermore, a track branched off from the arrival/departure broad-gauge track group leading to the stabling point for broad-gauge locomotives. It was built in a form of a triangle in order to allow steam locomotives to be turned. A stabling track and a short siding for refuelling and disposing of ash from locomotives branched off from the outer arm of the triangle. One standard-gauge track was also leading to the locomotive stabling point. Standard-gauge locomotives could access the stabling point via two crossovers, which diagonally traversed three broad-gauge tracks.

A group of four standard-gauge tracks was set up across the broad-gauge track layout. It was possible to reload goods in the area between broad-gauge track No. 8 and standard-gauge track No. 6 (no permanent ramp was provided between the tracks). Furthermore, also the broad-gauge track No. 10 was constructed along the Białystok – Zubki Białostockie line, as far as the junction post Waliły Las (reloading operations could be handled at the standard-broad gauge intersection).

Transfer facilities Straszewo and Grzybowiec were connected with standard-gauge sidings (length: 3.325 km310 – Straszewo, and 2.224 km311 – Grzybowiec), which branched off the Białystok – Zubki Białostockie line near the junction post Waliły Las. A junction post was located at the point where the two lines diverged, the exit from both sidings secured with dead-end tracks (further secured by key locks).

The Grzybowiec transhipment point had two broad-gauge tracks: the main siding track and a loop track, one permanent reloading ramp and three tracks which lead to the place in which standard-gauge tracks ended: main siding track, a loop track, and a dead-end track.

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The following facilities were provided at the Straszewo transhipment point: two broad-gauge transfer points, one (main siding track and a loop track) allowing the reloading (without a permanent ramp) directly onto the standard-gauge siding, and another on the site proper, as a broad-gauge track system: the main siding track, a loop track, a hoisting dead-end track (an extension to the main siding track); a permanent reloading ramp, and a group of standard-gauge tracks: main siding track, a loop track and a dead-end track (branching off the western head of the transhipment station). The Permanent Transhipment Area in Zubki Białostockie allowed the transfer of 12 broad-gauge troop trains per day at four loading stations.

The Permanent Transhipment Area in Narewka was located close to the standard-gauge Hajnówka – Siemianówka – State Border – (Świsłocz) line. A broad-gauge siding was constructed parallel to the Hajnówka – Siemianówka (Nowosady – Siemianówka) line: (state border) – Siemianówka – Miklaszewo – Zabłotczyzna – Skupowo – Chryzantów (length: 27.155 km).312 The station in Siemianówka was designed to receive military troop trains from the USSR, and later re-assemble and dispatch them onto the broad-gauge sidings to the correct transhipment facilities. A group of ten broad-gauge and four standard-gauge tracks was provided at the station. A front and side fixed transhipment ramp was provided between the outer broad-gauge track No. 118 and the standard-gauge track No. 5 (a track connected to the front of the ramp from the western head of the standard-gauge part of the station). A standard-gauge track No. 9 was directed (from the eastern head of the standard-gauge part of the station) in between the broad-gauge tracks Nos. 118 and 116, allowing direct transfers (without the use of the permanent ramp) from a broad-gauge to the standard-gauge track.

The main Siemianówka – Chryzanów siding as well as the Siemianówka – Więcków station siding branched off directly from the broad-gauge track group. Two broad-gauge side tracks Nos. 226 and 228 and a dead-end hoisting track No. 230 were set up in the branching area of the two sidings. A broad-gauge locomotive turning triangle with a stabling track No. 219 was constructed across the site. The station in Siemianówka was fitted with three signal-boxes: dispatching box Sm, and executing boxes Sm1 and Sm2.

A 3.931 km-long broad-gauge siding connected the Więcków transhipment point with Siemianówka313 as well as a 5.376 km-long standard-gauge siding to Narewka station.314 The transfer facility was fitted with both broad- and ←125 | 126→standard-gauge side tracks destined for troop trains awaiting transhipment. The main broad-gauge transfer tracks were built further down the transhipment point, comprising the main siding (transhipment) track, a loop track, a dead-end hoisting track, and permanent reloading ramp; the standard-gauge track group comprised the main siding (transhipment) track, a loop track, a dead-end hoisting track, and a side dead-end track branching off the western head of the transhipment tracks. The transhipment point was fitted with four signal-boxes: the dispatching box Wc, and executing boxes Wc1, Wc2, and Wc3.

Three broad-gauge stations were constructed on the main Siemianówka – Chryzanów siding, in order to serve the following transhipment points:

Miklaszewo – a five-track group, transit track, two signal-boxes: the dispatching box Mk and executing box Mk1. A 2.538 km-long broad-gauge Miklaszewo – Planta siding branched off the western head of the station;315

Zabłotczyzna – a three-track group, two signal-boxes: the dispatching box Zb and executing box Zb1. The 1.777 km-long broad-gauge Zabłotczyzna – Oskierki siding branched off the western head of the station;316

Skupowo – a three-track group, a dead-end hoisting track on the extension of track No. 1, two signal-boxes: dispatching box Sk and executing box Sk1.

A transhipment facility was set up at the Planta station, with a broad-gauge siding (Miklaszewo – Planta) and standard-gauge (Narewka – Planta, length: 2.501 km) siding connection.317 The transhipment facility comprised the following: a broad-gauge main (transfer) siding, bypass track, short protective hoisting trap, permanent reloading ramp, and a standard-gauge track system: main (transfer) siding, a loop track, a short hoisting dead-end track, and a short dead-end track branching off the eastern head of the standard-gauge station section. The station was fitted with two signal-boxes: a dispatching box Pl and an executing box Pl1.

A transhipment facility was set up at Oskierki station, with a broad-gauge siding (Zabłotczyzna – Oskierki) and standard-gauge (Bernardczyzna – Oskierki, length: 4.559 km) siding connection.318 The transhipment facility comprised the following: a broad-gauge layout of three transfer tracks and a short transfer track with two dead-end tracks; and a standard-gauge layout of three transfer tracks, ←126 | 127→a hoisting (reloading) track, hoisting (reloading) track two, and three communication tracks between the standard-gauge tracks No.1 and No.3.

A transhipment facility was set up at Chryzantów – the final station of the broad-gauge main siding, with a standard-gauge siding (length: 3.707 km) connection.319 This facility comprised a group of three broad-gauge tracks and a short dead-end hoisting track. The group of tracks was located between the standard-gauge tracks. Two reloading ramps (No. 1 and No. 2) were built in the proximity of the outer broad-gauge transfer tracks. Two standard-gauge tracks, complete with dead-end hoisting tracks, were provided across the two ramps. The station was fitted with two signal-boxes: dispatching box Chr and an executing box Chr1.

The track layouts at the Nowosady, Bernardczyzna and Narewka stations (on the Hajnówka – Siemianówka line) were expanded as well in order to secure a proper reloading capacity for the Permanent Transhipment Area in Narewka. The Area construction works involved an increase in the number of tracks at all stations, modernisation of railway signalling devices, and the construction of standard-gauge sidings leading to the reloading facilities at Chryzanów, Oskierka, Planta and Więcków.

The Terespol Permanent Transhipment Area was located in the area of the standard-gauge Biała Podlaska – Małaszewicze – Terespol – State Border – (Brest) line. A broad-gauge track combined with standard-gauge tracks (length: 8.088 km) was constructed along the State Border – Terespol – Kobylany standard-gauge line.320

At Terespol station, a layout of three broad-gauge tracks was constructed in order to accommodate trains from the USSR, with a further group of six standard-gauge tracks (one standard-gauge track section combined with broad-gauge tracks), and four standard-gauge stabling tracks dedicated for shunting locomotives. The station incorporated four signal-boxes and 29 mechanical semaphores.

Wartime plans involved the construction of a 2 kilometre railway link intended to replace the permanent (destruction-vulnerable) border railway bridge across the River Bug with a folding structure. A floodbank embankment was erected near the existing bridge.321

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The broad-gauge marshalling yard at Kobylany was the focal point of the Area, comprising a layout of 19 marshalling yard tracks and 10 side and transhipment tracks. Four tracks connected with two permanent reloading ramps, three with an ore reloading hopper, and one (broad-gauge) – to a coal reloading hopper; standard-gauge tracks connected station Małaszewicze to all the transhipment facilities.

The broad-gauge track layout of the Kobylany station branched out into the main broad-gauge Transhipment Area circular line: Kobylany – Zaborze – Osypisko – Karaczewo – Podsędków – Wólka – junction post Bogdanów – Popiel – Kobylany (length: 27.333 km),322 and a broad-gauge siding connecting the CPN-operated depot at Małaszewicze. The broad-gauge marshalling yard in Kobylany was fitted with six signal-boxes, and 41 colour-light semaphores and shunting signals. The standard-gauge stations at Małaszewicze and Małaszewicze Południowe were located further down the Transhipment Area. The facilities of the Małaszewicze station included standard-gauge and broad-gauge locomotive depots, locomotive stabling equipment, as well as standard- and broad-gauge steam locomotive turning triangles. A standard-gauge siding to the CPN-operated Małaszewicze fuel base also branched off the track layout of the Małaszewicze station.

Two track systems (standard- and broad-gauge) were provided at the CPN-operated Małaszewicze fuel base. Storage tracks branched off the access tracks of both sidings, intended to accommodate tank wagons awaiting reloading or transfer to the Polish State Railways. The broad-gauge siding system comprised the following: main siding, two transfer tracks, five short communication tracks, three dead-end hoisting tracks, and two locomotive stabling tracks. The standard-gauge siding track system comprised the following: main siding, three reloading tracks, six short communications tracks, three dead-end hoisting tracks, one dead-end track, and two locomotive stabling tracks. A steam locomotive depot (with one broad- and one standard-gauge track) and two rolling stock repair workshops (with one broad- and one standard-gauge track) were provided on the siding site.

Two inner broad-gauge sidings were provided within the Terespol Permanent Transhipment Area inside the peripheral line: station Popiel – station Raniewo – junction post Zaborze (length: 3.730 km),323 and junction post Bogdanów – station Kowalewo – station Osypisko (length: 3.115 km).324 The following stations and traffic posts were provided on the peripheral line:←128 | 129→

Junction post Zaborze, km. 7.06 – main siding track, secondary track, short communications track. The junction post Zaborze – Popiel siding branched off the additional track; station Osypisko, km. 9,450 – main siding track, secondary track. The Osypisko station – junction post Bogdanów siding branched off the main siding;

Karaczewo station, km. 11,373 – main siding track, two secondary tracks, two signal-boxes, four mechanical semaphores: one arrival semaphore (on approach from Kobylany station) and three departure semaphores (towards Podsędków station);

Podsędków station, km. 13.102 – six broad-gauge tracks (including one siding branching off the Wólka station track system), two permanent reloading ramps (600 m x 7 m). A standard-gauge track system was constructed across the site from both ramps, comprising six standard-gauge tracks and two dead-end tracks of a siding branching off the Chotyłów station. The broad-gauge station section was fitted with two signal-boxes and five mechanical semaphores – two arrival semaphores (on approach from Karaczewo), and three departure semaphores towards Wólka. The standard-gauge station section was fitted with one signal-box and four semaphores – one arrival semaphore on approach from Chotyłów, and three departure semaphores towards Chotyłów;

Wólka station, km. 15.366 – a system of four broad-gauge tracks (one track placed on an overpass track used for gravity-based unloading), overpass and permanent handling ramp; a siding towards Podsędków station branched off the eastern head of the track system (broad-gauge track). The standard-gauge station section comprised a system of eight standard-gauge tracks. The station in Wólka was connected to a standard-gauge siding branching off the station in Chotyłów, and to another standard-gauge siding branching off the main track of the Bór station – Kowalewo station siding. The station was fitted with three signal-boxes (including two on the broad-gauge section) and four semaphores: one arrival semaphore (on broad-gauge track, on approach from Podsędków station to junction post Bogdanów), one departure semaphore (on a broad-gauge track) towards Kobylany, one arrival semaphore on the approach from Bogdanów (on standard-gauge track), and one departure semaphore on the standard-gauge track, towards Chotyłów;

Junction post Bogdanów, km. 16.757 – junction post building;

Block post Mętraki, km. 18.847 – block station building;

Popiel station, km. 19.694 – three broad-gauge tracks, two signal-boxes, six mechanical arrival and departure semaphores. A broad-gauge Popiel ←129 | 130→station – Raniewo station – junction post Zaborze siding branched off the eastern head of the station’s track system.

Moreover, a Popiel station (km. 1.656) was provided on the inner broad-gauge Popiel – junction post Zaborze siding, with a layout of four broad-gauge tracks (main transhipment siding track, two storage and reloading tracks, short dead-end track, and two permanent reloading ramps [length: 229 m x 8 m and 790 x 10 m], including one end-to-end). A standard-gauge siding from the Mętarki block post – Raniewo station (km. 1.656) was constructed on the other side of the ramp, with a layout of eight tracks – two loading tracks, one loop track, main siding track, two side tracks, short communication track and a short dead-end track. The station was fitted with two signal-boxes and five semaphores – one arrival semaphore on the approach from junction post Zaborze (on a broad-gauge track), one arrival semaphore on approach from block post Mętraki (on a standard-gauge track), and three departure semaphores towards block post Mętraki (on standard-gauge track).

The Kowalewo station (km. 1.531) was constructed on the inner broad-gauge siding from junction post Bogdanów – to Osypisko station, with a layout of five broad-gauge tracks, three loading ramps, and a group of six standard-gauge tracks of a siding branching off the Bór station. The station was fitted with two signal-boxes and four semaphores – one arrival semaphore (on a broad-gauge track) on approach from station Osypisko, one departure semaphore (on a broad-gauge track) towards Bogdanów station, one departure semaphore (on standard-gauge track) towards Bogdanów station, and one arrival semaphore (on a standard-gauge track) on the approach from Bogdanów station.

The well-developed track layout of the station in Biała Podlaska was used as an additional facility to handle the standard-gauge siding system of the Terespol Permanent Transhipment Area. A standard-gauge siding handling the Chotyłów – Bór – Mętraki block post section of the Area branched off track two of the Biała Podlaska – Małaszewicze line near Chotyłów, further sidings branching out to connect individual reloading facilities of the Area.

In order to serve the Terespol Permanent Transhipment Area, the steam locomotive depot in Małaszewicze operated broad-gauge Ty23 steam locomotives. In the late 1970s, these were replaced by SM48 (TEM2) diesel locomotives produced in the USSR.

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Technical and rail traffic specification of the Terespol Permanent Transhipment Area325

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General specification of the Permanent and Temporary Transhipment Areas within the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw (Headquarters of Military Transport, Warsaw)326

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In 1958, the Permanent Transhipment Area in Dorohusk was constructed within the area managed by the Regional State Railway Management in Lublin. As all the related works were classified, the project was codenamed Area “D”, and all the respective transhipment facilities encrypted as “Daniel”, “Damazy”, “Dominik”, and “Dionizy”. A broad-gauge line (length: 31.258 km) was constructed along the standard-gauge Rejowiec – Chełm – Dorohusk – (State Border) – Yagodin section: (State Border, km 0.000) – Dorohusk, km. 2.031 – Wólka Okopska, km. 7.722 – “Dominik” siding, Chełm Wschodni, km. 20.922 – Chełm, km. 23.120 – Uherka passage loop, km. 24.967 – junction post Uherka – Zawadówka, km. 31.258.327 This line ran to the left of the standard-gauge Lublin – Dorohusk line; the broad-gauge line intersected with the standard-gauge line in a level near the junction post Uherka, with a concurrent transition to the right side of standard-gauge tracks. Three reloading facilities were constructed on the line: “Dominik” (at the Chełm Wschód station), Dorohusk, and (CPN-operated) fuel and lubricant transfer station in Zawadówka (“Dionizy”).

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In the 1950s, further two Permanent Transhipment Areas (Werchrata and Medyka) were constructed on the area managed by the Regional State Railway Management in Cracow.

The Werchrata Permanent Transhipment Area was built close to the standard-gauge Munina – Werchrata – Hrebenne line. As all the related works were classified, the project was codenamed Area “W”, the three respective transhipment facilities encrypted as “Waldemar”, “Wiktor”, and “Weronika”.328 A short standard-gauge track section (length: 4.316 km) was constructed from the station at Basznia to the reloading facility at Kaplisze.329 The broad-gauge line (Rava Ruska) – (State Border, km. 0.000) – Werchrata, km. 2.972 – Horyniec Zdrój, km. 16.770 – Kaplisze, km. 24.253 was also built to connect to Kaplisze.330 This line branched off in the USSR from the track layout of the Rava Ruska station and entered the Polish territory, running mostly in parallel to the standard-gauge line Munina – Werchrata – Hrebenne (Werchrata, km. 2.972 – Horyniec Zdrój, km. 16.770).

In 1953, a Permanent Transhipment Area at Medyka was developed as well, the investment associated with the expansion of the border reloading facilities in Żurawica, Przemyśl and Medyka. The second track of the Żurawica – Przemyśl – Medyka line was retained as broad-gauge, as converted during the war. The construction works were performed by the Railway Works Company No. 9 from Cracow. The preparatory works involved blowing up two Austrian reinforced-concrete forts, and replacing them with a new track layout of the Medyka station.331

As all the related works were classified, the Permanent Transhipment Area in Medyka was codenamed Area “M”, the respective transhipment facilities encrypted as “Michalina” (reloading facility at Torki332) and “Mikołaj” (reloading ←134 | 135→facility at Krówniki). The following facilities were constructed as part of the project:333

Reloading facility Torki “Michalina” (Chałupki Medyckie) – a broad- and standard-gauge track branch was provided from the dual-gauge track system at Medyka station. Broad-gauge (length: 2,327 m) and standard-gauge (2,894 m) sidings were built.334 The standard-gauge track to the facility crossed the broad-gauge Medyka – Przemyśl line, crossing the line at a level and at a non-standard angle;

Reloading facility Krzyniki “Mikołaj” – a broad- and standard-gauge track branch was routed directly to the Medyka-Przemyśl line at km. 250.589 near the Hurko loop, the broad-gauge track intersecting with the standard-gauge line at a level. Broad-gauge (length: 3,571 m) and standard-gauge (3,143 m) sidings were built;335

Reloading facility Małkowice – a broad- and standard-gauge track branch was constructed from the dual-gauge track system at Żurawica station. Broad-gauge (length: 3,679 m) and standard-gauge (3,554 m) sidings were built.

A fuel and lubricant transfer station was also built near the station at Żurawica (CPN Żurawica), both standard- and broad-gauge sidings branching off the station layout.

A double-track Żurawica – Hurko rail link (with broad-gauge length: 7,617 m; standard-gauge length: 6,399 m) was constructed over the years 1959–1960 with intent to improve the technical and rail traffic capacity of the Area “M”, and to bypass the track system at station Przemyśl, susceptible to destruction during wartime.336 The rail link was also constructed by the Railway Works Company No. 9 from Cracow, the project was greatly labour- and resource-consuming. The rail link construction included the building of high-rise embankments and welded steel bridge across the River San (approximate length: 63 m). The link branched off Żurawica station, while on the Medyka – Przemyśl line a new standard-gauge and broad-gauge layouts at Hurko were built. The technical acceptance procedure for the rail link coincided with the dismantling of the broad-gauge track two on the Przemyśl – Żurawica section. As a result of faulty construction of the ←135 | 136→link, land subsided in the early stages of operation, giving rise to considerable maintenance issues. The design of the Medyka Permanent Transhipment Area had assumed the wartime upkeep of two reloading facilities.337

Already in the 1960s, Area “M” was also used for commercial purposes – the reloading of Russian grain arriving in broad-gauge wagons. Wheat was mainly reloaded at Hurko station and at the reloading facility in Małkowice.338 The use of Area “M” for grain handling allowed substantial relief of the reloading facility in Medyka.339

Broad-gauge Ty23 locomotives (pre-war Polish freight steam locomotives converted to broad-gauge) from the Żurawica depot were used to handle the Medyka and Area “M” transfer facility traffic. In the late 1970s, they were replaced with broad-gauge SM48 (TEM2) diesel locomotives produced in the USSR.

The investments associated with the development of the Area were carried out in strict confidence by battalions of railway troops, the Polish State Railways, and civilian enterprises. In operational terms, transhipment bases were in all actuality used only once: to transfer the Soviet troops to standard-gauge trains during the intervention in Czechoslovakia. All Areas were managed by military transport authorities of the Polish Armed Forces, supervision over the operation, repair and maintenance of all tracks, equipment and facilities remaining with the Commands of Military Transport. Track and equipment renovation was handled by the Polish State Railways infrastructure maintenance division pursuant to a contract with the Ministry of National Defence. The areas were kept fully operational until the early 1990s.

The strategic reserves of steam locomotives allocated for long-term storage, together with the infrastructure required to operate steam traction, were also maintained on the Polish State Railways network340 – yet in principle, a different concept from that prevalent in the USSR was adopted, with preference for an active reserve of steam locomotives operated by the Polish State Railways for ←136 | 137→auxiliary work purposes: light freight traffic, shunting at stations, or hauling maintenance or permanent-way trains. Until the early 1990s, steam traction was frequently used on the Polish State Railways network, solely as a strategic reserve and with no economic justification.341

Even on lines electrified by the early 1990s, as it were, railway water stations, water cranes, fuel depots with coal-refuelling devices, and ash pits were all kept in sound technical condition. Heavy ST44 diesel locomotives (2,000 horsepower) imported from the USSR since 1965 with a total of 1128 imported locomotives were also largely intended to serve military purposes in conditions of Polish State Railways wartime mobilisation.

While no plans were provided for the re-gauging of the Polish mainline railways to broad-gauge in modern-time war conditions, from the 1950s onwards all rolling stock produced in Poland (with the single exception of steam locomotive) had to be designed in such a way that it was to be easily re-gauged to broad-gauge 1,524 mm; all design work was subject to Soviet regulations and technical standards, as well as the Soviet Railways broad-gauge loading gauge.

Full resurfacing to heavy S-49 and S-60 rails was carried out on multiple local and secondary lines categorised as strategic bypasses and/or parallel lines. Continuous resurfacing works and efforts to adapt the strategic railway lines for the passage of military troop trains weighing 1,500–2,000 tonnes were in progress as well. Railway signalling devices were also modernised and railway track layouts were being rebuilt, in order to improve the capacity of the strategic railway lines.

The responsibility for supplying the resources to allow the reconstruction of railway lines in order to provide the continuity of traffic in case of strategic railway line destruction rested primarily with the Ministry of Transport. Polish State Railways were obliged to secure the resources required to reconstruct railway lines, facilities and equipment at special-purpose mobilisation depots.

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In order to ensure the continuity of railway operations under wartime conditions emergency stocks of Zazulak system key interlocking boards342 and of field switching facilities were collected. Should signal-boxes and railway signalling devices be destroyed, they were to be replaced with the Zazulak system interlocking boards and with mechanical signalling devices. Should the operation of any damaged mechanical, electromechanical and/or relay signalling devices be discontinued, the existing interdependencies and centralised switch and catch-traps drives would also be removed by switching to non-centralised mode, and to simple key interdependencies of switches and catch-traps.

The emergency stocks of surface materials, sleepers and rail accessories was also kept on inventory (close to areas of predicted damage to front- and parallel railway lines).

The responsibility for maintaining wartime storage of surface materials rested with the Ministry of Transport. It was assumed that resources for the purposes of securing traffic continuity would be supplied with the aid of reserves established during peacetime. With the gradual meltdown of such supplies, materials were to be secured by dismantling local railway lines and seldomly-used access tracks and dead-end tracks. Commands of the Military Transport drafted evidence lists of tracks and junctions designated for wartime disassembly.

Storage facilities of surface and material supplies of the Warsaw Regional State Railway Management343

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As of late 1950s, railway troops were equipped with increasingly modern mechanised technical solutions intended for the reconstruction of railway lines. The technology was developed in association with the use of mechanised trains for rapid resurfacing with the use of components pre-assembled at special-purpose track span depots. A significant number of railway track assembly depots and specialised bridge-building plants were set-up on the Polish State Railways network. The mobilisation plans involved the conversion of specialised Special Polish State Railways track maintenance, overhead wire maintenance, as well as signalling and communications divisions were to be turned into militarised resurfacing trains, bridge reconstruction trains, communications restoration trains, and overhead catenary reconstruction trains. All trains as listed were charged with the task of technical protection of railway lines (critical bridges, junctions, and other railway facilities and devices). The technical protection of the railway network in wartime conditions was to be secured by the railway units of the Polish Armed Forces and by militarised railway troops.

Ministry of Transport militarised units of the Warsaw Regional State Railway and their wartime responsibilities

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4.1 Securing Transport for the Frontline Offensive Campaign

On the Western Theatre of War Activities, railway transport was charged with the fundamental responsibility of securing large-scale military transfer over medium and long distances from the interior of the country (and the USSR) to the rear of the frontline. The frontline railway network of the rear was intended to become the primary structure for the transport system. Railway transport connecting rear frontline bases to the frontline bases and their subdivisions (and the whole country) to the frontline was of paramount importance. Transferring complete tactical groups and units by rail became reasonable at distances of 500 km and above. In the case of lesser distances, troops were usually transferred by intermodal transport: heavy equipment (tanks, self-propelled guns, missile units, and engineering equipment) were transported by rail, light equipment – by road.344 In conditions of operational continuity, the railway could cover approximately 50–70 % of overall frontal transport requirements. Notwithstanding the above, given its inherent lack of flexibility and manoeuvrability – in confrontation with a powerful enemy armed with nuclear and conventional weapons – the railway’s contribution to general frontline transport could well be reduced to a mere 20–25 %. The experience of the Second World War has proven that groups of saboteurs and guerrillas operating far behind enemy lines could effectively limit the capacity of mainlines serving the frontline. The improvement to the operational lifespan of rail transport required options of transport adjustment, and the use of technical solutions allowing rapid crossing of obstacles (destroyed bridges, junctions or stations) on railway lines. The continuity and timeliness of military transport at the operational rear was achievable only with the parallel and linear use of other modes of transport, notably motor vehicles and field pipelines. Given that the planned intensity of military attack well surpassed any rate of railway reconstruction, road transport remained the only option as a military delivery link; when combined with other modes of transport, it became an extension of the railway system345 as well as a means of transferring troops by road.

Railway lines with the greatest capacity, equipped with all technical infrastructure required and least-used for other purposes were selected for the handling of military transports. Attention was paid to the susceptibility of lines to nuclear and conventional weapons impact (large and medium-sized bridges, tunnels, major railway junctions, industrial centres). Equally important was the ability ←142 | 143→to disperse the transports and the presence of devices and measures to secure transport continuity (bypass lines for bridges and junctions, rail links, crossings, Temporary Transhipment Areas prepared prior to the outbreak of war).346

The schematic map on the next page shows the structure of a transport network along the offensive campaign frontline. The offensive warfare doctrine of the Warsaw Pact presumed the use of large volumes of armoured weapons, aircraft and mechanised divisions.

Structure of the transport network in the frontal offensive operation (option). Source: Ministry of National Defence, Head of Com. 33/64, Military Transport, Warsaw 1965

Consequently, any planned rapid attack would require the delivery of large quantities of supplies, ammunition, propellants and lubricants. The aforementioned diagram shows an integrated network of transport networks in the operational rear of any frontline zone: railway lines, military roads, regular roads adapted for military operations as required, inland waterways, and helicopter airfields. The fundamental assumption for any transport system of the kind would involve its density, and an option of rapid transition from one mode of transport to another, once critical system components were eliminated or destroyed. The doctrine of continuous operability of transport and communications in nuclear warfare conditions was developed in the 1960s. Notably, the Worldwide Web was developed thanks ←143 | 144→to the efforts by the United States Army to secure uninterrupted operability of military data communication networks in the event of a nuclear war.

The introduction of radio communication to the Polish State Railways in the 1960s continued to improve the reliability of railway traffic control systems (eliminating their dependence on destruction-susceptible overhead telephone lines). While automatic and semi-automatic station and line locks offered significant improvement to railway line capacity, all such devices were vulnerable and easily destroyed.

As shown by the past conflicts, mechanical railway traffic control devices are by far the most reliable, although they do extend the time needed to set and release a road for a train to pass. Furthermore, wartime plans involved special methods of train operation, should technical infrastructure and railway traffic control devices be destroyed.

Significant destruction of transport lines and facilities by thermonuclear and/or conventional weapons could cause disruption to rail transport for periods extending over one to several days. The continuity of military transport was to be secured by dispatching military troop trains to bypass routes; unloading troops (or cargo) on approach to rail traffic disruption areas; bypassing these areas by march followed by re-transfer onto rolling stock; and improving railway line capacity through the use of odd-numbered timetables,347 use of packet timetables348 combined with the deployment of additional block posts (including mobile block posts), use of live block posts,349 organising unidirectional350 or shuttle351 train traffic, and introducing caravan railway traffic mode.352

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Plans of preparing materials to secure equipment on railway flat wagons were drafted with intent to ensure maximum safety during the loading and unloading of troops at stations. Furthermore, train shuttles and/or motor vehicle columns were to be kept on standby in the vicinity of vital railway facilities and large water courses, to assure access to appliances used to secure equipment on railway flat wagons, water and fuel resources, and other facilities. Railway rolling stock reserves allowing the formation of 1–2 trains were to be kept on approaches to large facilities at any given time.

The following distances were assumed as bypass route lengths for facilities destroyed by a ground explosion under conditions of radioactive clouds shrouding railway lines: in case of a small-calibre nuclear bomb strike – approximately 0–80 km; in case of a mid-calibre nuclear bomb strike – approximately 100–120 km; in case of a large-calibre nuclear bomb strike – approximately 150–180 km. It was further noted when planning bypasses for damaged facilities that troops marching along the road were a solution far less economical than rail transport, involving high consumption of propellants and lubricants. Approximate fuel consumption per 100 km of a marching mechanised division totalled 254 tonnes, of an armoured division – 488 tonnes; of a general army (4 divisions, 2 armoured divisions and army units) – almost 2,340 tonnes, the latter tantamount to four trains with a net weight of nearly 650 tonnes each.353

In view of the anticipated nuclear attack on the frontline railway network, plans were made to deploy rolling stock decommissioning facilities across a 150–200 km radius. In principle, fixed facilities were to be deployed at Polish State Railways wagon depots (fitted with carriage-cleaning appliances), while field facilities were to be set up at stations with access to railway water mains (water stations for locomotive supply purposes). Contingency plans involved rolling stock decommissioning with the use of hot water from locomotive boilers.

Two main front railway lines (each with a capacity of 24–46 pairs of trains per day) were designated for the purposes of handling transfers to the Western Front assault operations: (state border near Terespol) – Małaszewicze – Łuków – Skierniewice – Łowicz – Kutno – Poznań – Zbąszynek – Kunowice – Frankfurt, and Białystok – Łapy – Ostrołęka – Wielbark – Działdowo – Toruń – Bydgoszcz – ←145 | 146→Piła – Krzyż – Kostrzyń.354 A Wielbark Las –Suchy Las rail link was constructed on the latter, with intent to bypass the vulnerable Wielbark junction (the rail link was disused and kept on standby for wartime purposes, complete with signal-boxes). A rail link was also built to bypass the Działdowo junction (junction post Działdowo Wschód – junction post Działdowo Zachód), routed from Nidzica towards Brodnica. This rail section was also used for commercial purposes. Both front mainlines ran from the operational rear of the front to the bases at its very head. The front mainlines were also connected to the selected railway lines leading from Permanent Transhipment Areas to the state border. During wartime priority would be given to the reconstruction of front-bound railway lines as well as major parallel lines.

Diagram of technical solutions for a railway junction. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965)

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List of rolling stock decommissioning points within the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw355

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The plan for regrouping the Soviet Army and Polish Armed Forces troops in the Western Operational Direction assumed the use of Permanent Transhipment Areas in Braniewo, Skandawa, Kuźnica Białostocka, Zubki Białostockie, Narewka, Terespol, Dorohusk, Werchrata and Medyka, followed by the transfer of tactical units via the eight transport lines along the east-west direction according to a standard latitudinal layout:356 No. 1: Braniewo – Malbork – Tczew – Chojnice – Piła – Krzyż – Kostrzyn – Berlin (or Szczecinek – Stargard – Szczecin); No. 2: Skandawa – Korsze – Olsztyn – Iława – Toruń – Poznań – Rzepin – Berlin; No. 3: Trakiszki357 – Suwałki (Olecko358) – Ełk – Korsze – Iława – Toruń; No. 4: Kuźnica Białostocka – Białystok – Łapy Ostrołęka – (Wielbark359) – Nidzica – Brodnica; No. 4a: Zubki Białostockie – Białystok Łapy – Małkinia – Tłuszcz – (Legionowo360) – Nasielsk – Sierpc – Toruń; No. 5: Siemianówka – Czeremcha – (Siedlce361) – (Łuków362) – Pilawa – Skierniewice; No. 6: Terespol – Łuków –Pilawa – Skierniewice; No. 7: Dorohusk – Lublin – (Dęblin363) – Tomaszów Mazowiecki – Łódź Olechów – Ostrów Wielkopolski – Leszno – Głogów – Żagań – Cottbus; No. 8: Werchrata/Medyka – Przeworsk – Kraków – Katowice – Wrocław – Legnica – Żagań/Węgliniec. The loading operations were to be handled by the Permanent Transhipment Areas at the state border, all trains to be unloaded at stations ahead of River Odra.

This diagram of military Soviet troop transfer across the Polish territory shows two main frontline-bound railway lines.

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Diagram of an operational transport. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965)

When drafting forecasts of damages to the railway transport network, the Warsaw Military District of the Bureau of Military Transport conducted an “analysis of predicted damages caused by conventional weapons to the transport network of the Warsaw Military District area.”364 Pursuant to mobilisation plans, reforming Headquarters of Military Transport into a single field unit would take place within two days prior to the outbreak of war, whilst reforming militarised railway (Polish State Railways) units would take one day. Damage analyses proved that railway bridges over large and medium-sized water courses, stations and junctions, as well as Permanent and Temporary Transhipment Areas were the most vulnerable railway structures of all, and most difficult to rebuild. In the wake of mobilisation plan scrutiny, it was found that railway bridge reconstruction during the first stage of war would be impossible due to the shortage of human and material resources.365 Consequently, railway bridges over the following rivers were omitted in the reconstruction schedule for the first stages of warfare: Góra Kalwaria (Vistula), Tomaszów Mazowiecki (Pilica), Małkinia (Bug), Terespol (Bug), Osowiec (Biebrza), Łowicz (Bzura), Modlin (Narew), Grabowie (Narew), Warsaw, near the Citadel (Vistula), Warsaw, cross-city (Vistula), Skierniewice (Rawka), Permanent Transhipment Area Dorohusk ←150 | 151→(Bug), Dęblin (Wieprz), Nagnajów (Vistula), Sandomierz (Vistula), Lubartów (Wieprz), Hrubieszow (Bug), Podłęże (Vistula), and Kraków (Vistula).366 The following works were planned for the main front- and transport lines near the River Vistula: development of bridges as bypass routes for destroyed permanent crossings; organisation of Substitute Transhipment Areas; and the use of two substitute crossings at Wysokie Koło and Nowy Dwór Kwidzyński.

In view of the labour-intensive nature of all reconstruction works it was planned to switch railway operation to diesel and steam tractions should the overhead catenary of the electrified lines be destroyed.367

The permanent Transhipment Areas in Kuźnica, Zubki, Narewka, Terespol, Dorohusk, Werchrata and Medyka were most vulnerable to destruction, all recognised as vital components of connecting the two railway systems with different gauges. In case of destruction to the Permanent Transhipment Areas in Zubki, Terespol and/or Dorohusk, a Substitute Transhipment Area was to be used.368

It was also assumed that in order to prevent troops from regrouping, the enemy would destroy bridges over Rivers Vistula, Bug and Narew, on transfer lines leading from the Permanent Transhipment Areas in Kuźnica, Zubki, Narewka and Terespol to the River Vistula. Should permanent crossings over the Vistula be destroyed, Temporary Transhipment Areas were to be developed in Toruń, Płock, Karczew, and Góra Kalwaria, all traffic switched to the zonal mode.369

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Option for organisation of technical solutions for bridges over a large water obstacle. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965)

The planning of frontline offensive campaigns involved an assumption of regrouping the Soviet and Polish Armed Forces units by rail (the operation to be completed prior to the outbreak of war), to be followed by heavy equipment transfer only, via the Permanent Transhipment Areas and the front mainlines. It was assumed as part of the original estimates that the initial attack would cause major disruptions to moving troops by rail, in view of the destruction to bridges over the River Vistula (with two bridges remaining open). The capacity of transit lines was to enable the regrouping of a maximum of 1 tactical compound per day. Should 4 axes of the Temporary Transhipment Areas be made operational for the ←152 | 153→purposes of crossing the Vistula, however, the capacity could be increased to 2 tactical compound per day.370

Apart from the main transfer lines, parallel and reserve lines were to be put to use as well to secure manoeuvrability in case of the destruction to large railway facilities causing long-term disruption to rail traffic. Capacity reserves were pre-specified for the boundaries of all main lines,371 meaning large bodies of water and railway junctions, frontline rear demarcation lines, state borders, and Transhipment Areas.372

Furthermore, 40–50 unloading stations were set out as part of the frontline railway network: for troops, material and technical supplies, evacuation of the wounded, disinfection, and rolling stock decommissioning. The remaining front railway lines (parallel and support lines) and rail links were to be used for the purposes of regulating operational traffic density, and as bypasses of large junctions and transport facilities.

It was assumed that the destruction of railway objects by nuclear weapons would lead to the following disruptions in service: 1–6 days if railway hubs were destroyed, 6–8 days if bridges were destroyed, 20–60 days if tunnels were destroyed.373 Reconstruction of mainlines (at a rate of 30–40 km per day), reconstruction of railway bridges on permanent supports (at an approximate rate of 50 metres per day), and reconstruction of road-rail bridges on floating supports (NZM56, at an approximate rate of 250 metres per day) was to be handled by railway troops brigades assisted by militarised railway (Polish State Railways) divisions specialised in the reconstruction of railway structures (infrastructure reconstruction trains, bridge reconstruction trains, communications reconstruction trains).374

Strategic bridge component reserve list, Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw375

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The rear military transport was categorised as serving the following purposes: operational/military, supplementary, supplies, evacuation, reconstruction materials, and general support. Military exercise-related experience has proven that regular transfer of the units of a general army (three mechanised divisions, one armoured division, standard army units) would require between 200 and 250 trains (mechanised divisions – 50 trains, armoured division – 50–55 trains, army units – 30 trains, operational rear units and divisions – 20 trains). The mechanisation of tactical compound gave rise to a significant increase in the volumes of heavy (tank) flat wagons required for operational/military transport (whenever mechanised or armoured divisions were transferred, flat wagons comprised approximately 80–83 % of the rolling stock).376 Due to the shortage of such wagons during wartime, the army decided to set up special-purpose side-wall removal facilities for coal wagons.

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List of wagon side wall removal facilities within the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw (Command of Military Transport Warsaw)377

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In the period prior to the opening of the Permanent Transhipment Areas, it was planned to efficiently transfer wagons with side walls removed378 to Temporary and Permanent Transhipment Areas at the intersection of the Polish and Soviet railway networks. Securing adequate standard-gauge rolling stock and its smooth delivery was of great importance to the timely transfer of Soviet and Polish Armed Forces units along the West European Operational Direction. Plans involved the use of railway transport for heavy combat and technical equipment purposes only (40–45 % of all general army units). Approximately 100 to 120 trains were allocated to the purpose (infantry – 18 trains, armoured divisions – 20 trains, army units – 15–20 trains, rear units – 10–20 trains). Exercise-related experience has proven the average operational transport volume during the preparatory phase to be reaching approximately 50–70 trains, with 20–30 trains at the operational stage. Analyses suggested that nearly 120,000 tonnes of supplies should be delivered to the frontline. These would include the following: fuels and lubricants [50–55 %], ammunition ←156 | 157→[20–25 %], food and equipment [15–20 %], bombs [3–5 %], missile propellants [nearly 1 %], others [1–4 %]. Notably, approximately 75–80 % of all supplies have to be delivered at the preparations phase of the military campaign.379 An average of 100 trains would be required to carry materials for the reconstruction, maintenance and operation of railway lines during the operational stage.380

According to the operational plans, over 100,000 tonnes of material and technical supplies would be required to secure military operations over the first 6–8 days of war. The planned amount of cargo was to be moved using an average of 40 trains and around 2,000 road vehicles per day.381

The frontline rail network was divided into three zones, depending on the location of the unloading facility and the amount of cargo to be transported:382

Zone One (I), 40–60 km wide, included railway sections in the army’s operational rear area;

Zone Two (II), 10–150 km wide, included railway sections at the frontline rear in the vicinity of the army’s operational rear, comprising unloading areas for operational troops, frontline bases, and other frontline rear units and plants.

Zone Three (III), 200–250 km wide or wider, included all other railway sections concerned with railway deployment at the rear of the frontline. This zone comprised rear frontline bases, air force depots, frontline field technical missile base, and all other frontline rear units and plants.

The frontline railway network was intended to handle all centrally planned and intra-front transfers associated with the operational and tactical regrouping. Military trains carrying light equipment were to be unloaded on approaches to frontline distribution stations, troops dispatched to march to reach designated regrouping areas.

In the area adjacent to the rear frontline area, a parallel and linear method of using the different modes of transport was to be employed. Railway lines and roads in the area were exposed to mass destruction – which is why only heavy tracked vehicles were to be transferred by front railway lines.383 Trains carrying ←157 | 158→heavy equipment for tactical groups and units were to be routed via designated points of entry, and unloaded in unloading areas located 100–150 km from the frontline.384 It was assumed that military trains carrying heavy equipment would be allowed in immediate frontline vicinity in exceptional cases only: roads and railway equipment were exposed at all times to enemy attack and destruction.385

The mechanisation of tactical compounds and the increased number of tanks and APCs increased their transfer capacity to up to 200–250 km per day.386 Their significant marching ability secured troop transfer continuity for extended periods in the areas where railway lines were to be destructed for a longer period of time. It was assumed that the combination of moving troops by rail and marching would allow operational continuity in nuclear warfare conditions.387

The effective use of all modes of transport required a special transport reserve to be set up. The transport reserve could not drop below 25 % of the daily carriage volume in the operating zone of railways charged with the delivery of supplies. When operating within the rear frontline base – head frontline base transport diagram, with its daily transfer volume of 25,000 t, railway transport had to be mirrored by road vehicles (carrying approximately 4,000 tonnes of goods per day) and pipelines (with an approximate transfer capacity of 2,500 tonnes of fuels and lubricants per day).388 Transport reserves were to be dispersed whilst ensuring their seamless involvement if required.

When planning frontline offensive campaigns, staying ahead of the enemy in terms of troops regrouping was of paramount importance, to that end, the quickest possible deployment of operational transport became a priority focus. Plans involved high-speed transfer with parallel regroupings on several railway lines, as well as the use of other forms of transport.389

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4.2 Evacuation of the Wounded

The evacuation of the wounded and the sick from frontline hospital bases to hospitals and evacuation sites in the interior should primarily rely on railway transport. Special-purpose hospital trains were to be organised to transport the wounded and the sick, and to provide medical assistance and perform surgical procedures while in transit. Furthermore, medical emergency trains were to be temporary used as field hospitals.390

A hospital train was to comprise (permanent) staff carriages and mobilisation carriages. Staff carriages were built (rebuilt) and equipped to accommodate special needs. Designated Polish State Railways carriage depots kept all wagons on permanent standby. Staff carriages were designed and built for ambulance purposes; mobilisation carriages (for general purposes and to carry baggage) were adapted as required by the Ministry of Transport.391 During peacetime, mobilisation carriages were operated by the Polish State Railways for regular purposes.

Furthermore, Ministries of Transport and Defence prepared and stocked equipment and goods required to furnish mobilisation wagons in a properly designated mobilisation storage. In peacetime, staff carriages were made available to the Ministry of Transport, and they could be used for their primary purpose. In times of mobilisation, staff carriages (that only had to be re-fitted) would be dispatched by their home depots directly to the pre-specified assembly stations, mobilisation carriages to be taken out of operation and delivered to a Rolling Stock Repair Plant for adaptation. In order to form a hospital train the following were to be dispatched to a Rolling Stock Repair Plant:392

Three Dhxt (Fhxt) luggage cars, for use by train staff, and for food and uniform storage,

Eight Bhixt passenger carriages to be used for moving the severely injured,

One Ahuxzt carriage for medical and General Staff use as a sleeping carriage.

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Location of wagons and carriages in a military hospital train. Source: Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970)

A passenger carriage adopted for the transport of the heavily wounded. Source: Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970)

The Ministry of Transport designated a specific Rolling Stock Repair Plant charged with the complete re-fitting of mobilisation carriages, and assembly stations as venues for hospital train formation by Polish State Railways staff.393

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Hospital trains were to be equipped with the following: an MB internal field telephone communications system (a telephone to be also installed on a locomotive) connected to the general railway CB network (including a CB-20 switching station);394 an electrical system powered by a PAD-30-3/400/X-324-Ei-J/ 38 kVA power generator;395 an M-800 fire protection pump;396 and a motorcycle with a trailer.397

Carriages designated for military ambulance purposes were appropriately marked with additional exterior signage in addition to Polish State Railways:398

1) Red Cross emblem on the roof and side panels,

2) Carriage sequential number in the hospital train assembly – on side panels,

3) Carriage sequential number in the hospital train assembly – in the interior,

4) Red Cross emblem on the front panel of the first and last carriage.399

Use of the Red Cross emblem as part of hospital train signage

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Source: Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970)

Planned wartime railway staffing of hospital trains involved the following permanent staff required for the technical operation of a military hospital train: 1 carriage/wagon inspector, 1 electrician, 1 fitter/plumber, and 2 firefighters for heating vans.400

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In case of wartime destruction to staff carriages, the following vehicles could serve as their replacement:401

Staff kitchen support carriage – Dhxt (Fhx) luggage van,

Staff wound dressing/pharmacy carriage – lhxt bar car,

Staff kitchen carriage – Dhxt (Fhxt) luggage van.

The Ministry of National Defence would be charged with fitting-out all vehicles.

The total length of a hospital train reached nearly 465 m, approximate gross weight 760 tonnes.402 During the heating season, Polish State Railways would be obliged to provide a Zhxt (Ohxt) heating van, together with its firemen, on request by hospital train commander.403

Hospital train organisation and operation was supervised by the military transport authorities, and the Health Services Bureau of the Ministry of National Defence. The railway section (station) military commander was responsible for the direct supervision of hospital train operation.404

On the frontline, hospital trains would be classified as either Permanent or Temporary Military Hospital Trains, or military hospital shuttle trains assembled in pre-specified conditions, with intent to transfer the sick and the wounded within the operational rear of the frontline, and on isolated railway sections.405

The Permanent Military Hospital Trains were designed to evacuate the sick and the wounded from the frontline sick bays to inland hospitals and evacuation areas. Permanent Military Hospital Trains were assembled as follows, with the use of vehicles listed below:

Carriage type and purposeNumber of carriages
TotalIncluding carriages with staff
Kitchen carriage (special-purpose carriage)  11
Wound dressing/ pharmacy carriage (special-purpose carriage)  11
Carriage for the severely wounded (special-purpose carriage or Bhixt)  44
Power generator van (special-purpose carriage)  11
Carriage for the lightly wounded (Bhuxzt carriage)  6---
Refrigerated van (S1)  1---
Uniform storage van (Kpt)  1---
Food storage van (Kdt)  1---
Sleeping car for officers and registry office (Ahuxzt)  1---
Carriage for non-commissioned officers and paramedics (Bhuxzt)  1---
Quarantine carriage (for contagious patients – Bhuxzt)  1---
Crew (service) carriage (Ft)  1---
Heating van (O)  1---
Total:217
←163 | 164→

On special request, a carriage for patients with mental disorders (Bhuxzt) could be included as part of a Permanent Military Hospital Train. The evacuation capacity of a Permanent Military Hospital Train was 520–640 persons (including 160 severely wounded, 360 lightly wounded or (in higher-occupation rate conditions, 8 persons per compartment) – 480 persons).406

Temporary Military Hospital Trains (comprising variable and fixed components) were assembled with the use of the following carriages:

←164 | 165→
Carriage type and purposeNumber of carriages
TotalIncluding carriages with staff
A. Fixed component:
Kitchen carriage (special-purpose carriage)  11
Wound dressing/ pharmacy carriage (special-purpose carriage)  11
Carriage for the severely wounded (Bhixt carriage)  22
Power generator van (special-purpose carriage)  11
B. Variable component
Refrigerated van (S1)  1---
Uniform, bed sheet and equipment storage van (Kpt)  1---
Carriage for officers and office (Ahuxzt)  1---
Carriage for non-commissioned officers and paramedics (Bhux)  2---
Carriage for wounded officers (Ahuxzt)  1---
Carriage for the severely wounded (Bhixt)  8---
Crew (service) carriage (Ft)  1---
Heating van (O)  1---
Box van for the lightly wounded (Kdt) included as required16---
Total:375

The evacuation capacity of a Temporary Military Hospital Trains was 720 persons, including 400 severely wounded and 352 lightly wounded (20 wounded per box van). Military shuttle trains were planned to be operated with the following composition – fixed component: 1 kitchen carriage, 1 pharmacy carriage, 4 carriages for the severely wounded, 1 uniform storage van, 1 food storage van, 2 train service crew carriage (all covered freight vans); variable component: assembled with ←165 | 166→the use of freight covered vans, their number determined on a case by case basis depending on current needs and on technical and operational capabilities. The average evacuation capacity of military hospital shuttle trains was approximately 500 persons, including 150 severely wounded and 320–350 lightly wounded. The variable component of Temporary Military Hospital Trains and military hospital shuttle trains could be uncoupled at unloading stations, their fixed component (train crews and equipment included) dispatched to a loading or storage station according to schedule. In conditions of increased transfer demand, both train components would upon unloading be dispatched for reloading to loading stations. All hospital trains were to be assigned a permanent number, which would not change throughout their operational life.407

4.2.1 Temporary Transhipment Areas

During the Second World War, the destruction of bridges over wide water obstacles and of large railway junctions was common as part of mass destruction of railway lines. As the reconstruction of such facilities was highly labour- and time-consuming, the so-called isolated railway sections were formed on areas between the destroyed bridges or junctions, operational rolling stock frequently remaining on these sections. For the reasons mentioned above, the concept of putting such sections to use was developed, involving the use of other modes of transport (by road or water) in areas with destroyed bridges or junctions – this is how double transhipment had to be employed in such areas. Over time, locations in which such reloading operations were being carried out began to be referred to as Temporary Transhipment Areas. Temporary Transhipment Areas were organised for the first time by the German troops on the Eastern Front in 1941. The Soviet Army began organising Temporary Transhipment Areas by using an isolated railway section on the Tula – Aleksin – Kaluga route during the counterattacks near Moscow. The retreating German troops blew up a bridge on the River Oka on the route. Temporary Transhipment Areas were organised to allow the use of this section and rolling stock located upon it, in the area of Rurikovo and Aleksin. An ice crossing was developed across the River Oka at the time; the section continued to operate as an ice crossing until the permanent railway bridge was rebuilt in the spring of 1942.408

←166 | 167→

Also after the war plans were drafted to switch to Temporary Transhipment Areas in case of wartime destruction of permanent crossings on Rivers Vistula and Odra on the main frontline, with intent to secure transport for frontline offensive campaigns.

A diagram of a Temporary Transhipment Area on the primary frontal direction with two station groups placed on the two sides of a water obstacle. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965)

In case of equipment or resources shortage, or insufficient time to properly construct a temporary crossing or detour, Temporary Transhipment Areas would be organised on main railway lines, on approaches to major obstacles (bridges, tunnels or critical railway junctions). In these areas, military transports and supplies would be reloaded from railway wagons to other modes of transport (by road or waterway) with intent to cross the obstacle. Troops and goods would be transferred and reloaded in the Area with the use of the following: low- and underwater road bridges on fixed floating supports, floating bridges developed with the use of pontoon parks or inland waterway stock, ferry and ice crossings, motor vehicle roads (detours of railway junctions, tunnels and other transport facilities), and transfer pipelines (used to transfer fuel and/or lubricants). Transfer by air was planned as well, with intent to deliver all cargo directly to the recipients.409

←167 | 168→

It was assumed that the use of section-based shuttle traffic, i.e. re-introduction of rail transport (once the damaged section was passed) would be justified for distances over 100–120 km. Under exceptional circumstances, such transport could be employed for shorter distances (40–50 km). In case of shorter distances, the goods would be transferred by road within the Area, or from the Area directly to the frontline, to military depots, or to the Division Supply Points.410

The following scenarios were adopted for the transfer of goods within the Area as part of an Area’s technological process:411

goods arriving at an unloading station – direct transfer by road to recipients,

goods arriving at an unloading station – transhipment from railway to road vehicles, then transfer to a loading station located on the other side of the obstacle,

goods arriving at an unloading station – transfer by road to a temporary storage yard, then reload onto motor vehicles according to availability and transfer to loading station for re-transfer onto rail transport,

goods arriving – to be transferred by road to loading station transfer yards, then loaded onto rail transport according to rolling stock availability.

The Temporary Transhipment Areas included the following: railway sections with specially-developed loading and unloading stations, areas of troops assembly and holding, holding areas for transfer by road and forming motor vehicle columns, temporary goods storage sites, motor vehicle roads and motor vehicle access roads, field fuel and lubricant pipelines, airfields (airstrips and landing areas), and (in some cases) ports (marinas and ferry crossings).412

←168 | 169→

An option for the regulation of military traffic with the use of a Temporary Transhipment Area. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965)

←169 | 170→

An option for the regulation of military traffic with the use of a reserve unloading area. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965)

On large river obstacles, Temporary Transhipment Areas were to be provided as access roads, floodbank crossings, inclined ramps and reinforced concrete marinas – this is how access roads and marinas were developed for Temporary Transhipment Areas Góra Kalwaria. Water Engineering and Construction ←170 | 171→Companies secured transport by inland waterways across the river (Żubr pushers and barges).413

Longitudinal type Temporary Transhipment Areas were developed with the use of a single frontline-bound rail section. Upon destruction of a bridge or a railway junction, the section was to be divided into two parts. In the case of single-track lines with a capacity of 18–20 train pairs a day, the length of a longitudinal Area could reach 70–90 km, the average transfer distance (from an unloading station to a loading station) reaching 40–60 km. It was assumed that should two main railway bridges located at an average distance of 50–80 km from one another be destroyed, the operation of the section located between them would be considered inexpedient. A system of frontline roads (connecting individual loading and unloading stations in the Area), crossings and field fuel and lubricant transfer pipelines would be employed for all Temporary Transhipment Areas types. Should a bridge within the boundaries of a large city be destroyed, motor vehicle bypass roads would be constructed in the Temporary Transhipment Areas, complete with a crossing and field fuel and lubricant transfer pipeline. On parallel railway lines, transverse Temporary Transhipment Areas would be developed in case of destruction to railway bridges. In such Areas, distances between unloading and loading stations would be smaller than in the case of longitudinal Areas. The general principle of developing bypass roads complete with crossings and field fuel and lubricant transfer pipelines was adopted. Mixed-type Temporary Transhipment Areas were to be developed with the use of primary and parallel railway lines. Thanks to the deployment of loading and unloading stations along the frontline-bound and parallel lines, high railway network density on the West European Theatre was to allow a shortening of the overall depth of an Area.414

The length of a rail section within a Temporary Transhipment Areas depended on the number of loading and unloading stations for trains carrying assorted goods. One train could be unloaded at any station at any given time. It was assumed that each Area would comprise 3–6 loading and unloading stations for missiles,415 military troop trains, ammunition and explosives, fuels and ←171 | 172→lubricants, and missile propulsion materials as well as food and other commodities.416 It was assumed that the average loading and unloading station capacity should be as follows: ammunition and fuels and lubricants – 4–5 trains per day; military trains carrying heavy equipment – 3–4 trains per day; other military trains – 5–6 trains per day. It was further assumed that an unloading station should be fitted with the following (apart from the essential main tracks): 2–3 arrival/departure tracks, 1 hoisting track (length: 300–350 m), and 2 unloading tracks. Groups of fuel tanks, field pipelines, and tank wagon unloading track systems were to be developed at fuel and lubricant transfer and unloading stations.417

1. A diagram of a Temporary Transhipment Area on the primary frontal direction with two railway bridges destroyed.

2. A diagram of a Temporary Transhipment Area on the primary frontal direction with bridges within a big city destroyed.

←172 | 173→

3. A mixed-type Temporary Transhipment Area is to be prepared on the basis of mainlines and parallel railway lines.

Fast-track reloading within a Temporary Transhipment Areas would involve mechanised loading appliances (lifts, forklifts, conveyors, hoists and road cranes).418

Militarised divisions of the Ministry of Transport (Polish State Railways line units) were to be charged with the operation and technical protection of railway sections in Temporary Transhipment Areas.

Mobilisation plans provided for Temporary Transhipment Areas to be organised on the water obstacles of Rivers Vistula and Odra, on strategic bridges, and on other railway facilities. The following Temporary Transhipment Areas were planned for the River Vistula (within the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw):419

←173 | 174→

4.2.2 Organisational Structure of Military Transport on the Frontline

The following military transport units and railway troops were to be formed, mobilised and developed to secure frontline railways operability:

Military transport branch for the army,

Two railway troops brigades,

Field railway equipment storage depot,

Military command for the frontline dispatching station,

Military command for railway frontline sections,

Military command for unloading stations,

Military railway management.

Military Railway Brigades were charged with technical protection of railway lines and bridges, and with the temporary operation of the main reconstructed ←174 | 175→railway sections. Railway troops brigades could be assisted by Resurfacing Trains and Bridge Reconstruction Trains. The primary responsibilities of a railway troops brigade included the following: construction of new railway lines, rail links on railway junctions, obstacle bypasses, additional sidings, station tracks and bridges; reconstruction of damaged tracks and railway structures on existing railway lines, and destruction of railway lines and facilities during retreat. Railway brigades comprised the following: 3 permanent-way battalions, 2 bridge battalions, 1 technical battalion, 1 railway signalling and communication battalion, 1 motor vehicle-and-tractor battalion, 1 water facility reconstruction company, 1 sapper company, 1 operational company, and 1 technical reconnaissance unit. Railway troops brigades were to be supplied with machinery, equipment and materials used in railway permanent way and bridge works.420

The field railway equipment storage depot was charged with providing the military railway brigade with equipment and with the permanent way and bridge materials required for bridge and railway reconstruction works. The field railway equipment storage depot comprised the following: an equipment warehouse, construction materials warehouse, explosives warehouse, repair workshop, and service and command subdivision. The following materials and equipment were to be stored in a field railway equipment storage depot: 30 km of railway track (including accessories and sleepers), 50 single switches, 10 double switches, 500 m of folding bridges (spans), 500 m of bridge structures (20–30 m spans), as well as lifts, trolleys, gantry cranes, and hoists.421

The railway frontline dispatching station was charged with dispatching military transports arriving from the domestic territory to the frontline rear operational area, and re-assembling evacuation trains and dispatching them back to Poland. The responsibilities of the military command of the frontline dispatching station involved the following: handling trains in transit; support and sanitary services for the passing military trains, groups and individual soldiers; preparing and assembling trains used for operational/military, sanitary, and evacuation purposes; and rolling stock cleaning, sanitation, and decommissioning. Two frontline dispatching stations and a dispatching station division were to be organised as well.422

←175 | 176→

The military command for railway frontline sections was charged with securing adequate transfers on the front railway line sections. Military commands for railway frontline sections were to be organised in areas with no line military transport authorities. The military command for unloading stations was charged with the following:423

accepting military trains and transports dispatched to respective loading stations and sites,

dispatching loaded or re-directed supply transfers to unloading stations,

dispatching evacuation transports,

dispatching empty trains.

Military commands for unloading stations were to be set up in Front Field Base and Army Housing Areas.

In order to provide rations and hot food to military troop trains, soldiers and prisoners were to be grouped into Mobile Railway Food Points within the frontline railway network, with the use of carriages adapted to the purpose and basically deployed within the frontline dispatching station.424

The Military Railways Management that was to be formed during the war was an independent organisational unit of the Polish State Railways, responsible for managing railway operations in a designated area (rear frontline territory). It reported directly to the Minister of Transport; in operational terms – to the head of frontline military transport. Primary responsibilities of the Military Railways Management included the following: organising and managing railway traffic on the supervised railway network; securing transport resources as required; securing efficient organisation and delivery of transport; and reconstruction and maintenance of railway lines, facilities and equipment. The following units reported to the Management:425

4 military railway transport divisions,

2 Bridge Reconstruction Trains,

2 Track Reconstruction Trains,

2 Mechanised Permanent-Way Trains,

2 Railway Traffic and Communication Appliance Reconstruction Trains,

2 Water Facility Reconstruction Trains,

1 Steam Locomotive Repair Train,

←176 | 177→

1 Wagon Repair Train,

12 steam locomotive columns.

The military division of military transfers was charged with managing transport and commercial operations on a designated railway line (approximate length: 200 km). The following line units were to report to the division (staff): 1 marshalling yard, 5 junction stations, 15 transition stations, 1 communication section.426

The Bridge Reconstruction Train was charged with wartime technical protection of railway bridges. The Train was to be assisted by the following teams reporting to it: construction team, assembly team, mechanics and electricians team, and operators team, workshop team, and a motor vehicle-and-tractor column. The Bridge Reconstruction Train was to be issued machines, equipment, and materials required for the first reconstruction phase (initial 1,5 days).427

The Track Reconstruction Train was charged with wartime technical protection of railway lines, culverts, and small bridges. The Train was to be assisted by the following teams reporting to it: earth- and track-works team, culverts and bridges team, construction and installation team, workshop team, mechanics and electricians team, operators team, and a motor vehicle-and-tractor column. The Track reconstruction Train was to be issued machines, equipment, and materials required for the first reconstruction phase (initial 6 hours).428

The Mechanised Permanent-Way Train was charged with wartime construction and reconstruction of railway lines. The Train was to be assisted by assembly and track laying teams reporting to it. The Mechanised Permanent-Way Train was to be issued machines, equipment, and materials required for the first phase of works.429

The Railway Traffic and Communication Appliance Reconstruction Train was charged with wartime technical protection of appliances securing railway traffic and railway line communications. In all works, the Train was to be assisted by the following departments reporting to it: telecommunications line works department (with 3 construction sections), railway traffic protection line department (with 2 construction sections), and workshop department (railway traffic and communications). The Railway Traffic and Communication Appliance Reconstruction Train was to be issued equipment for the purposes of railway ←177 | 178→traffic control and communications-related work, materials allowing the reconstruction of railway traffic control and communications appliances at 2 stations, mechanical semaphore wire, lines, locks for 4 stations, materials sufficient for 4 days of telecommunication works, and catenary poles stock sufficient for 1 workday. The Railway Traffic and Communication Appliance Reconstruction Train was to be fitted with a power generator van.

The Water Facility Reconstruction Train was charged with wartime technical protection of water facilities on railway lines. The Train was to be assisted by the following departments reporting to it: road department with a water intake construction and installation team, and an electromechanical department with electro-technical and mechanical teams. The Water Facility Reconstruction Train was to be issued equipment and materials required to reconstruct water facilities (installation materials for water towers, pumping stations, water cranes, etc.).

The Steam Locomotives Repair Train was charged with wartime running maintenance of steam locomotives, and with the repair and maintenance of workshop and support equipment placed in wagons. The Train was to comprise a production department consisting of a technical branch and repair teams. The Steam Locomotives Repair Train was to be issued machines, equipment and spare parts allowing steam locomotives to be repaired.

The Wagon Repair Train was charged with wartime running repairs and periodic inspections of freight wagons. The Train was to comprise the following teams: chassis team, body team, and workshop and support team. The Wagon Repair Train was to be issued equipment and spare parts allowing wagons to be repaired and inspected.

Steam Locomotive Columns were to be formed during wartime, in order to provide traction to military trains. The Column was to include dispatchers, train section engineers, steam locomotive crews (drivers and firemen), and auxiliary staff. Each Column was to be issued 16 steam locomotives (15 active and 1 undergoing maintenance), as well as equipment, materials and spare parts required for repairs.430

Material resources that were to be made available were of great importance to the timely reconstruction of railway lines and facilities: material storage warehouses were to be established near all the facilities and close to all large bridges. Storage facility bases with materials required to reconstruct railway junctions and adjacent rail sections were to be set up in the proximity of the largest railway junctions, at a maximum separation distance of 100–150 km. ←178 | 179→Each storage base was to hold approximately 5 km of rails, 50 tonnes of rail fittings, 5 thousand sleepers, 10 switch sets, 200 m3 of timber and wooden support structures, 10 tonnes of fittings, 2 portable water stations, 2 km of pipes, 4 hydrophores, 1 set of fast-access water supply appliances, 20 km of telegraph and telephone lines, 10 km of four-core cable, and two sets of communications devices and railway traffic control devices each. Wherever the railway network was dense, resources in stock could be reduced by an order of two or three. Lines, sidings and tracks earmarked for dismantling and of no strategic importance could be accounted for as one-half of all resources in stock.

In predicting the necessity to eliminate minor damage, mobile stocks of permanent way materials were to be carried by railway and motor vehicle shuttles. Due to the threat of destruction to storage depots, they were to be deployed at a distance of 10–15 km from the facilities that were being covered.431

4.2.3 Organising Technical Protection for the Frontline Railway Network

Technical protection for the frontline railway network was to be provided by frontline railway troops and with the use of Military Railways Management measures. The main railway line sections were to be protected by railway troops and auxiliary militarised divisions. Two scenarios were developed for the purposes of technical protection of the frontline railway network. Under the first scenario, technical cover for the frontline railway network was to be provided by the Military Railways Management, designated railway troops units dispatched to defend large facilities. Under the second scenario, technical protection for the frontline railway network and damage removal were to be handled by railway troops. Any sections and facilities not protected by the technical protection provided by railway troops were to be shielded by forces and resources of the Military Railways Management.432

A railway troops brigade was assigned to perform all tasks related to the technical protection and the removal of damage to facilities and sections of the frontline railway network. Each railway troops brigade was charged with providing technical protection for a single 300–400 km railway line, together with its facilities and infrastructure. Each permanent-way battalion was to provide technical protection for 1–2 large junctions together with approaches, or for a section up ←179 | 180→to 150 km in length. A bridge battalion could protect 1–2 large or 2–3 medium-sized bridges, separated by a distance not greater than 40–50 km.

The mechanisation battalion was to be used for the purposes of major earthworks when reconstructing facilities. The transport and technical battalions were not charged with protecting specific facilities either. The technical battalion’s crane company was to be used to form 2–3 reconstruction trains charged with track cleaning. Motor vehicle and railway reconstruction shuttle trains were to be organised for the purposes of transferring forces and resources across the works area.433

Units of railway troops or militarised divisions assigned to the technical protection of railway junctions were mainly charged with the task of rapid rail traffic restoration, should a junction be destroyed in a nuclear attack. The technical protection of a railway junction involved the following early action: setting up of concealed points of command in the area of the protected facility and in the deployment area of the unit; organising a system of communications; developing variant scenarios of reconstructing the junction; collecting building materials allowing the reconstruction works for no less than 2 days under the most difficult damage scenario; developing bypasses of communication lines; constructing short railway links to increase the capacity of train passage without entering the junction station; or building an extensive bypass if it was so stipulated in the frontline network technical protection plan.

Basic stationing (dislocation) sites for units of railway troops or militarised divisions were to be located at a minimum distance of 10–15 km from the facilities identified as likely targets for nuclear strikes. The works aimed at eliminating major damage to railway junctions were divided into two stages: Stage I – prevention of damage spreading (dispersion of burning wagons, extinguishing fires, liquidating unexploded bombs) and restoring transit rail traffic on main railway lines converging at the junction; Stage II – reconstruction of damaged facilities and equipment to an extent securing the junction’s traffic and processing capacity as required. Reconstruction of railway junctions destroyed by a nuclear attack involved the following works: connecting broken communication lines with the use of heavy field cable or by radio communication means; restoring direct rail traffic on main railway lines converging at the junction and securing minimum speed of 15 km/h (on some locations, such as freshly built embankments: 5 km/h); adapting surviving stations of the junction or stations located before the junction for the purposes of technical handling of trains ←180 | 181→passing through the junction in transit. The second stage of works as planned involved the following: track repair to increase train speed to 30 km/h and higher; opening temporary passing loops and traffic control posts; constructing second tracks for bypass purposes; reconstruction of junction stations or pre-junction stations, or extension of surviving junctions stations or pre-junction stations.434 “Reconstruction shuttles” (road vehicle- or rail vehicle based) with divisions, equipment and materials assigned were to be employed to eliminate major damage to the junction.

The basic assumption related to the protection of large bridges in nuclear warfare conditions involved the protection of all strategic bridge crossings over water obstacles, and the development of new crossings: it was assumed that at least some would prove operational. Increasing the number of crossings would boost the viability of the frontline railway network. Large bridge reconstruction was to involve two stages: during stage one, works were aimed at restoring rail traffic as quick as possible. The second stage of the reconstruction works was intended to secure the required traffic capacity at a speed of 30 km/h, restore and maintain navigation on the river, and allow passage of high water and ice. The rate of reconstructing temporary bridges with the use of ready-made components was defined as follows: for a bridge length of 500 m or greater – 150–200 m/day; for a bridge length of 300 to 500 m – 100–150 m/day; for a bridge length of 100 to 300 m – 3 days per bridge; for a length of 25 to 100 m – 2 days per bridge. The rate of short-term reconstruction or securing a bridge onto floating supports was set at 500 m/day (without the construction of bridge approach). Plans to organise technical protection for large bridges involved the drafting of detailed reconstruction plans (with varying destruction scenarios), as well as collecting material resources. Due to strict deadlines for bridge reconstruction (at the first stage), the reconstruction of bridges over major water obstacles was to involve floating bridge NZM-56 components and the SEK500 overpass, and to prepare railway river approaches at crossings within frontline territory. In case of equipment and/or materials shortage, ferry crossings would be developed (with the use of NZM-56 bridge spans). Should it prove impossible to quickly reconstruct the bridges or to destroy them once again, a Temporary Transhipment Areas was to be set up.435

In principle, it was assumed that the overhead catenary on electrified railway lines is extremely susceptible to destruction under conventional or nuclear ←181 | 182→attack, mainly due to the dependence of the energy supply system from the source of energy. Nonetheless, the experience of previous conflicts has proven that the use of demolition and crumble bombs causes limited-area damage, most frequently to the lines supporting the overhead wires. On the other hand, a nuclear explosion may cause damage to the catenary poles; the overhead wire would be torn with one to three tension sections, or at a station and on adjacent tension sections.436

The wartime technical protection was planned for electrified railway lines. Specialised subdivisions, shuttles and power restoration trains were to be charged with repairing and rebuilding the overhead catenary and traction substations. The temporary reconstruction of the overhead catenary assumed construction simplifications, such as: the use of one contact wire instead of two; reduction to the number of carrying wires; replacement of double-chain suspension and flexible hangers with single-chain suspension and ordinary hangers; use of standard chainless suspension on secondary station tracks, doubling the length of tension sections and distances between hangers; and one-sided contact wire compensation.

Furthermore, contact wire could be lowered (once temperatures were accounted for) to 4,850–4,900 mm (at operating voltage 3.3 kV) or to 5,600 mm (at 25 kV); the distance of the live wire from earthed structures could be reduced to 150–300 mm, respectively. Reducing the distance of the catenary support poles from the track axis along straight rail sections to 2,450 mm was allowed as well. Contact terminals were to be used for the purposes of connecting wire and steel cables damaged or shredded by shrapnel. The reconstruction of the destroyed support poles involved the use of temporary standard poles (attached to the track) as well as temporary wooden poles. The second stage of works was to involve the replacement of the simplified construction solutions with regular structures, standard poles to be replaced with wooden or permanent ones (of metal and/or reinforced concrete). In case of the destruction to traction substations, they were to be replaced with mobile substations.437 A minimum reserve of two mobile substations was to be stored in the area of every electrified line.438 Concurrently, ←182 | 183→the Military Railways Management was obliged to prepare sections of electrified lines for transition to steam or diesel traction with intent to secure the continuity of transport on the railway network.439

Due to the novel nature of any future conflict (thermonuclear war), particular attention was paid to securing railway operability under conditions of radioactive contamination. Attention was also paid to securing transport viability in conditions of chemical and biological contamination. Plans involved the deactivation of rolling stock, structures, stations and railway devices, as well as the soldiers of the transferred units, their equipment and materials. Permanent and temporary sites of rolling stock decontamination were to be deployed across the frontline railway network.440 A special-purpose disinfectant solution, and hot water or steam supplied by steam locomotives were to be used as decontaminants. Guidelines on the passage of military trains through radioactive contamination zones were drafted as well.441 These rules were merely to preserve the morale of the transported troops (the use of personal protection equipment and gas masks was recommended).

4.2. Destruction of Railway Lines, Stations, Facilities and Rolling Stock

Destruction and reconstruction of railway lines, stations, facilities and rolling stock had been among the main responsibilities of sapper divisions from the early days of railway use for military purposes.

The first known case of railway line destruction involved was an episode of the final stage of the Palatine Uprising of 1849 under General Ludwik Mierosławski: “Thanks to the defence of Durlach, Mierosławski managed to evacuate the gun powder warehouse from Ettingen, war supplies from Karlsruhe, and dismantle the railway tracks on the line of his retreat. On June 26th, the revolutionary army found itself at the destination of its march – at the Rastatt Fortress. Consequently, the flank march – proceeding under the pressure of three enemy corps – was successfully completed.”442

The majority of contemporaneous staff members held General Mierosławski’s retreat march from Heidelberg to Rastatt in great esteem. Furthermore, thanks ←183 | 184→to the destruction of transport lines, he managed to free nearly the entire army of the threat of encirclement. As a result of these activities, the Prussian elaborate operational plan of Generals Peucker and Hirschfeld’s corps uniting behind the Baden failed utterly.443

Also during the 1863 uprising in Poland, the Russians used the railways for the purposes of massive troops transfer from within Russia. The insurgents engaged in regular struggle for the railway to counteract the dislocation of the Russian troops, having fought in as many as 61 skirmishes.444 In all probability, this was the first case of operational use of railways for military purposes on the Polish territory.

Beginning with the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, which served to prove the great strategic importance of rail transport, the formation of specialised railway engineering and sapper units began in all significant European armies, their responsibilities involving the construction, reconstruction and destruction of railway lines, as well as operating the railways along frontline sections of railway lines, by means of operational battalions.

The Polish sappers’ manual drafted between the wars contained a detailed description of methods of destroying railway lines. The first Miners’ Manual published by Branch VII (scientific) of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces in 1919, after Poland had regained independence,445 included a brief description of the destruction of railway lines and appliances:

[…] Rails shall be blown up on curves, in deep pits, or at high-rise embankment or tunnel locations. Blowing up operations shall be carried out every ½ km. Bursting charges comprise ½ of crumble ammunition, or 1 kg at rail intersections. Tracks can also be damaged by rail removal and concealment. Railway station destruction may involve the following: breakage to telegraph and telephone devices; blowing up of switches (bursting charge – 1 kg); destruction of water supply facilities, pumps, boilers and steam cylinders. Switch crossovers shall be blown up with 4 kg charges. Wagons and carriages shall be destroyed by blasting axles with 3 kg charges, or axle boxes with ½kg charges. With regard to locomotives, pistons and steam cylinders shall be blown up with a ½ kg charge, the boiler with 1–1.5 kg charges. Telegraph and telephone lines shall be destroyed by cutting wires and destroying insulators, also by connecting wires with a thin cable to the ground or by switching on the incorrect wire […].446

←184 | 185→

Chapter 4 (Destroying Railways) of the Sappers’ Manual for Use by all Types of Armed Forces447 published in 1930 by the Ministry of Military Affairs also described various methods of destroying railway lines, facilities, equipment, and rolling stock.

Railway track was destroyed outside stations by blasting rail joints, destroying curved sections and cutting rails as such. A 0.3–0.5 kg charge was used to cut a rail, joints blown up with the use of a 1 kg charge.448 Yet the best effect was achieved by blasting rails with a 1 kg charge: it destroyed the rail as well as the sleepers. Major destruction of selected railway line sections involved the use of 20 kg charges placed at 4–5 m intervals: when detonated, such major charges gouged craters 2–2.5 m deep.449

Railway tracks were also damaged mechanically by disassembling and removal of rails, by cutting hook and bolt heads (connecting rails to sleepers) on selected railway line sections, or by widening the railway track by several centimetres. Railway track sections were also destroyed mechanically (using locomotive pulling force) with the use of special chains and handles, attached to a locomotive. Such a solution allowed for quick and efficient destruction of railway lines of considerable length. To rip out longer railway track sections, loops and a special-purpose hook were attached to the rear hook of a train comprising a locomotive and 2–3 tightly coupled wagons. Loops were made of two straight rails and one curved rail, the hook – of two rails, the end of one curved into a hook. Before rails were to be torn, a crowbar was used to pull rail-fixing nails on 8–10 sleepers, one joint opened, and the loop inserted under the rails. After the train moved, the loop pulled rails out of sleepers; the hook was attached to the loop and arranged outside the track, catching onto one of the sleepers. With the train in motion, the hook rotated all loosened the sleepers.450

Engineering-miner trains fitted with mechanical railway track destruction appliances were used to destroy railway lines in areas of retreat in the early days of the September 1939 campaign (once border area fighting ceased).451

Telegraph and telephone lines were destroyed by cutting and entangling the wires; by cutting, burning or blasting poles on sections up to 2 km in length; and by breaking insulators.452 Telephones and telegraph devices and batteries were destroyed by shattering them.

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Before any railway station was destroyed, all rolling stock was removed, or destroyed if time restrictions did not allow for the removal. All railway station assets were destroyed: telegraph and telephone lines, switches, signalling and block devices, rolling stock, wells, buildings, and other station equipment. Switches were destroyed with 0.6 kg charges placed between the blade and the rail, and a 1 kg charge placed next to the second blade adjacent to the rail.453 Frogs were destroyed with a 2 kg charge placed between the frog and the rail (or with a 4 kg charge placed under the frogs for more effective destruction).454

Arrival switches were usually destroyed first, followed by the damage to the other switches and more double slip switches (centred and fitted with spring blades).455 Semaphores and stop signals were also blown up. Block apparatus at signal-boxes were destroyed with 2–3 kg charges.456

Water towers were destroyed with 1–1.5 kg charges lowered to the bottom of the tank; the water tower pipe could also be damaged with a 400 g charge, or the entire tower could be blasted with a cluster charge (usually 25 kg of TNT or 100 kg of gunpowder) placed at the tower’s centre.457 All window and door openings were blocked to boost explosion force. Water cranes were destroyed with charges applied to the crane pipe in the valve area (in the well). Turntables were destroyed with 4 kg charges placed low near the bearing pivot, or with 1–2 kg charges placed at rail-ends on the running board, and at the axles of support wheels.458

Wagons were destroyed with 0.40 kg charges applied to springs or axle boxes (should explosives be unavailable, axle boxes were to be filled with sand or ash).

Steam locomotives were destroyed with 1 kg charges applied to connecting rods, cylinders, steam dome and boiler; if locomotive was cold, boiler tubes inside the boiler were destroyed – on the tubeplate or in the firebox.459 Tenders ←186 | 187→were destroyed with an 0.8 kg charge applied to the lower section of the water tank.460

The Sapper’s Manual also recommended the “trapping” of armoured trains by blasting both sides of a railway track with the use of mines fitted with special self-activating devices.461

The Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction462 published in 1939 by the Ministry of Transport describes railway line destruction as well. Three fundamental destruction types were identified:463

Damage – dismantling, disassembly and removal of pumping station equipment, main track switches at stations, workshop equipment and machining tools, railway signalling devices and telecommunications appliances; dismantling of several track spans, track destruction on bridges;

Partial destruction – track damage along certain sections by joint blasting; gradual dismantling of several track spans and track removal at intervals; dismantling railway signalling devices; blasting switches at main track (if time constraints disallowed the complete switch and frog disassembly and removal), cutting parts of telegraph poles; partial bridge destruction by blowing charges on the first, second or third section of the lower flange or cross-brace; destruction of one span on multi-span bridges; destruction of crossbars or stringers in one or two sections; potential disassembly and removal of girders (in case of time constraints, blowing girders up with charges placed in several locations of the lower flange at the connection points to crossbars and wind guards);

Mass destruction – blowing up buildings, bridges with pillars, and tracks joints along longer sections; setting fire to wooden buildings and bridges; destroying railway tracks with a loop dragged by a steam locomotive or a tracked tractor and steel cable (riding on a lineside); cutting all telegraph poles; flooding tracks artificially; recommendations for mass railway bridges destruction involved blasting of all spans, bridgeheads and pillars, charges placed in a few bridge sections, preferably in the second and third section from the span-end;464 cross-sections of structural parts to be destroyed should ←187 | 188→be located in a single section and at an incline towards the centre of the bridge; recommended single-span bridge destruction included the cutting along two sections (fields) and blowing up bridgeheads; in case of multi-span bridges, as many spans as possible were to be destroyed, together with bridgeheads and pillars; bridge approaches were to be destroyed at the length of at least 60–80 m;

it was also recommended to cause masked railway track damage so as to derail enemy trains by expanding the track width by a few centimetres; cutting sleepers inside curved tracks (along one or more rail lengths); removing hooks or bolts on several outer curved lengths and concealing them with pre-assembled short (2–3 cm) hooks or bolts; by nailing the groove between the rail and guard rail;

rail traffic along a specific railway line could be brought to a complete standstill by blocking it with derailed rolling-stock; the method could be employed in tunnels or deep cuttings, and was particularly effective at locations where rolling stock could not be retracted.

The afore-described damage and methods of destroying railway lines and facilities were applied depending on the intended purpose. In cases of momentary retreat from a home territory (in anticipation of a quick return, slight damage was caused only), the following action was planned to make enemy advancement difficult: the dismantling and removal of machinery, equipment, switch components, telecommunication equipment, and materials; destroying tracks along specific sections; blowing up rail joints; destroying individual bridges. If there was no time to dismantle and dispose of equipment and/or materials, damage was caused to station facilities, tracks and structures with intent to hinder enemy advancement: switches in primary tracks, bridges and communication devices, waterworks and fuel depots. In the case of longer-term retreat, mass destruction was planned.465

When destroying railway stations, the order of destruction was pre-determined, priority assigned to devices whose reconstruction would enable rail traffic to be restored and be most time-consuming. Prior to destruction, it was recommended to remove any rolling stock potentially useful to the enemy. The following sequence of destruction was planned: main track switches, siding switches, communication devices, pumping stations and water towers, fuel depots, signalling equipment, main tracks, additional and side tracks, turntables, wells, buildings and other structures. If a station featured any artificial structures ←188 | 189→(bridges, viaducts, tunnels – platform tunnels, for example), they were to be destroyed as a priority, together with switches.466

Just before the outbreak of the war, in August 1939, special-purpose engineering-miner trains were formed, staffed with mobilised railwaymen troops as part of the effort to militarise the Polish State Railways. Similarly to emergency trains, these trains were fitted with specialised permanent-way equipment and mines with accessories, train crews comprising sappers and qualified employees of the Polish State Railways permanent –way departments. Engineering-miner trains were charged with reconstructing railway lines destroyed by the enemy, and destroying railway lines in troop retreat areas. Using mechanical appliances an engineering-miner train under the command of reserve Lieutenant Colonel Wacław Wojter completely destroyed the border Zbąszyń – Poznań railway line between September 1st and 2nd 1939.467

Also after the war, great importance was attached to the destruction of railway lines and infrastructure when organising and training railway engineering units. The Sappers’ Manual – Explosives and Destruction published by the Ministry of National Defence in 1947,468 based largely on the aforementioned pre-war Sappers’ Manual and on Soviet regulations in the field,469 described technical and mining measures employed to destroy tracks, switches, facilities and rolling stock. The Manual also described effective and economical (low explosive-consuming) methods of destroying such facilities during retreat operations.

The extent of damage depended on the time for which an area was to be abandoned. In case of short-term retreat, the railway line was to be only slightly damaged; conversely, if longer-term retreat was planned, considerable damage was caused to the permanent-way, rolling stock and infrastructure of the line. The same principle applied to all devices, facilities and rolling stock, and was duly reflected in contemporaneous sapper guidelines.

With mass destruction of the railway track, each rail length of 12.5 m and longer was cut into three parts, two charges placed on each side of the rail. Charges on both rails were arranged in a chessboard pattern. Rails below the length of 12 m (and all rails, should explosives not be available) were cut in two. Charges were applied to the neck of the rail just below the head. For better adhesion, the charge was sealed with soil or pressed with a special-purpose wire clamp.

←189 | 190→

Charges were ejected with long-delay fuse igniters (fitted with smouldering wicks, burning time: 6 minutes). A 200–400 g closely-fitting TNT charge was sufficient to cut a rail of any type.470 In view to destroy railway tracks between two stations as fast as possible, work was performed by several platoons simultaneously, 2.5–4 km section assigned to each. Sections of such length were destroyed over a time of 1.5 to 2 hours.471

Work diagram for a platoon when destroying railway tracks. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

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Cutting rails with explosives. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

Destroying of railway station devices and rolling stock. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

←191 | 192→

All major railway station technical infrastructure facilities were destroyed: water towers, water cranes, coal-fuelling equipment, tracks, switches, turntables, semaphores, telegraph and telephone devices, pumping station machines, ramps, railway workshops, materials suitable for reconstruction, rolling stock, and fuel.

Switches were destroyed with two rounds of 0.2–0.4 kg of TNT placed between the needle and the resistor. Switch crossbars were destroyed with a 0.8–1.6 kg TNT charge placed between the frog and the rail.472

Destroying switch crossbars. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

Railway turntables were destroyed with 4 kg TNT charges placed low next to the turntable pin, or with the use of 0.4 kg cartridges placed at the axis of a running wheel. Turntable trusses were destroyed as well.473

←192 | 193→

Water cranes were destroyed with 0.8 kg TNT charges placed on the water pipe next to the valve, or with a 1.6 kg charged placed outside the structure, at the base of the crane.474

Destroying turntables and water cranes. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

Water towers were destroyed by blowing them up (brick, stone and reinforced concrete structures) or by burning (wooden towers). Complete water tower destruction required the charge to be placed on the floor inside the building. All door and window openings were blocked with bags of soil, sleepers, and wooden planks. Skeleton-type water towers were destroyed by blowing up their support pillars. Slight damage to the tower involved blasting the tank, pipelines, and accessories only. Water-filled towers were destroyed with a 1.2 kg TNT charge ←193 | 194→dropped to the bottom of the tank. Empty tanks would be destroyed with a 1.2 kg charge placed on the outer tank wall, near its bottom panel.

Valves and pipes were destroyed mechanically or with 0.2 kg charges. Steam pumps would be destroyed with 0.4 kg charges placed on steam and water pipes and cylinders (near the pump valves); a centrifugal pump would be destroyed with a 0.4 kg charge placed on the body of the pump. In the case of mechanical destruction, cylinders, valves, steam pipes and transmission boxes would be damaged in piston pumps; in centrifugal pumps, their bodies and bearings would be damaged.475

Destroying a brick water tower. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

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Destroying of a reinforced concrete water tower. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

Wells were destroyed with water-immersed charges. In the case of concrete well walls, 16 kg charges were used; in the case of wooden ones, the charge could be reduced by half. For better explosion effect, topside well openings would be sealed with wooden planks and covered with dirt.476

Steam locomotives were destroyed to a greater or lesser extent, depending on charge location. Slight damage would be achieved by placing a 0.4 kg charge next to the connecting rods or valve gear. Significant damage was caused by a 1.2 kg TNT charge placed next to a cylinder or steam dome, near boiler walls or in the ←195 | 196→smokebox next to the rear tubeplate, the latter possible in the case of cold steam locomotives only.477 In case of mechanical destruction, the following accessories would be removed or destroyed by hammer: regulator, pressure gauge, water gauge, test cocks, and other fittings and control elements. Tenders were destroyed with an 0.8 kg charge applied to the lower part of the water tank wall.478

Destroying of steam locomotives and tenders. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

←196 | 197→

Wagons were destroyed with 0.4 kg TNT charges placed next to the narrower part of their springs or the wheels. If more wagons were standing on the same track, they were destroyed by blasting the track beneath them at several locations.479

Destroying of a box van. Source: Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947)

In case of mass destruction, railway rolling stock was destroyed in the following order: axles were blasted in the first and last wagon; vital steam engine components were blasted; rails beneath the train were damaged at several locations; finally the train was burned.

In the case of telegraph and telephone lines, telegraph poles with wiring leading into the station building as well as internal and external lead routings were destroyed with 0.4 kg charges.480

When destroying signalling and block devices, central devices as well as switches and signalling equipment were blown at the same time. In the case of mechanical switch operating devices, devices at a signal-box were blasted, ←197 | 198→together with wires and tensioners. In the case of electric switch operating devices, devices at a signal-box were blasted, together with switch motors. Signalling devices were destroyed with 0.8–1.6 kg charges; signal levers – with 0.4 kg charges; semaphores and mechanical shunting discs – with 0.8–1.6 kg charges.481

4.3.1 Bridge Destruction

The chapter on Destroying roads and Communications of the first Miners’ Manual published by Branch VII (scientific) of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces in 1919, after Poland had regained independence, included a brief description of the destruction of wooden and iron bridges:482

[…] The blasting of wooden bridges: achieved by blowing up of the piling of several bridge pillars and beams, and spans adjacent to the blown-up pillars. Under conditions of time constraints, bridge spans shall be blasted with longitudinal cross-arranged charges. Damaged bridge sections shall not be shorter than 20 m. Other wooden bridge destruction methods shall involve the following: dry-season burning by planting explosives beneath pillars and beams, or finally, dismantling. Wooden bridges on enemy-occupied territory can be damaged by floating river mines, stone-loaded fire-ships, etc. […] Destruction of iron bridges shall be achieved by blowing up bridge spans, less often by blasting pillars. Spans shall be destroyed near the padding, at the deepest point of the river bed. Continuous beams shall be blasted along two penetration cross-sections. If an iron bridge is to be destroyed, all relevant structural parts shall be blown up. Both sections, lower and upper main girders, auxiliary longitudinal beams, crossbars. Blast cross-sections shall be located within a single grating, and be inclined downwards, towards the centre of the bridge. Charges shall be placed on weaker structural parts. Charges should lie flush against penetration locations, with close attention paid to strong lacing and wedging. Under circumstances of ammunition shortage, we shall limit all action to the blasting of vital and easily accessible sections with intent to damage the bridge. In such case, the optimum solution shall be to blow up the lower section (crossbars) to hinder railway traffic. If possible, one shall also attempt to blast longitudinal auxiliary beams, causing the bridge to warp under its own weight. In the case of brick bridges, pillars and adjacent spans shall be blasted. Bridgeheads shall only be blasted in the case of small-width single-span bridges. Tunnels shall be destroyed by obliterating 20–30 m sections; the location of the tunnel passing through brittle rock shall be identified, with intent to cause further landslides upon blasting […] If possible, mine chambers shall be set up in tunnel side walls. Damage to the tunnel shall be caused by blowing up entrances, by ←198 | 199→barricading longer or shorter tunnel sections, or by derailing a train of stone-filled wagons. […].483

Bridge and railway viaduct destruction had been among the main responsibilities of sapper and railway engineering divisions from the early days of railway use for military purposes.

Another set of instructions – the Sappers’ Manual for Use by all Types of Armed Forces published in 1930 by the Ministry of Military Affairs484 – read under item 257 (Blowing up Iron Bridges) as follows:

[…] There are three types of devastation: total destruction, partial destruction, and damage. Total destruction shall consist of blowing up all bridge supports and cutting the spans. Partial destruction shall consist of blowing one or several spans or two adjacent supports at the deepest point, relevant spans included.

Damage. Under circumstances of ammunition shortage, destruction may be limited to the blasting of vital and easily accessible span sections only, such as the lower section, or cross-braces. In such cases, attempts shall be made to induce bridge warping under its own weight […].485

This was a very brief description of bridge destruction methods. No provisions were made with regard to the destruction of stone and concrete bridges, or pillars and bridgeheads. It did, however, discuss the destruction of individual materials indirectly affecting the destruction of bridges of other design.

The Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction published by the Ministry of Transport in 1939 described railway bridge destruction as well. Bridges were to be destroyed by the following patrols: preparatory patrol (6 people) – charged with preparing access to cross-sectional areas, digging shelters for squads486 for actual bridge-blasting, and other small works; cross-sectional patrol – charged with arming pillars and bridgeheads or drilling mine chambers within, attaching pre-calculated charges to cross-sections, and jamming mine chambers upon charging;487 fire system patrols (12 people) – acting upon command of the patrol or squad commander.488

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Bridges could be destroyed by air bombing, artillery or missile attack, and/or on the ground by retreating troops, or by sabotage. Bridges were destroyed with intent to develop obstacles preventing the enemy from using open transport routes. Obstacles and destruction-causing damage in the field and on transport routes were referred to as “damming” in military terminology. The following damming types were employed for bridge-related purposes:489

Bridge destruction (mechanically, by fire and explosives);

Bridge mining (immediate- or delayed-action mines).

Wooden bridges were usually destroyed by burning or blasting; in some cases – by sawing supports and on-bridge roads. Steel spans on wooden supports were destroyed by burning supports or blasting the fundamental structure – piling and girders. Steel, reinforced concrete and stone bridges were destroyed by blasting. Bridge destruction by artillery fire or air bombing caused partial object destruction only (e.g. span breakage or demolition to the upper support). Burning wooden bridges was time-consuming in terms of preparing and burning the object, and required large quantities of flammable materials. Furthermore, the effect was largely dependent on weather conditions; this is why burning, while highly effective, was considered an auxiliary means of destruction.

Timber cribs potentially identified in reconstructed bridges490 were blown up with the use of explosives deposited in mine wells excavated in cribs along their axes.

Should time not allow mine wells to be dug, timber cribs were blown up with explosives placed on the outside along longitudinal crib walls, at points of intersection with the lateral walls.

Explosives were the most effective and least time-consuming bridge destruction measure. The extent of damage to the bridge depended on the period for which the area was to be abandoned. In case of short-time retreat, bridges were to be only slightly damaged; in case of longer-term retreat, bridges were damaged significantly – or destroyed outright. The following bridge destruction methods by blasting were applied:491

←200 | 201→

damage to spans (without collapse),

damage to supports and foundations (without collapse),

span destruction,

support destruction,

total destruction of a bridge, or of one or several spans.

Damage to steel bridge spans without it collapsing was achieved by cutting vital components, twisting, bending or ripping. In the case of reinforced concrete bridges, while damage did not usually cause the structure to collapse, cracks, punctures to the slab, or even piercing to the main girder could be induced. Steel bridge spans were destroyed by cutting the main structure components. In the case of plate girder bridges, girders and stringers supporting the surface were cut. On truss spans, upper and lower sections, posts and cross-braces were cut. Upon collapse, bridge spans were further deformed. With intent to enhance steel bridge span destruction in truss-design bridges, the rods of both girders were cut in different sections, causing spans to twist upon collapse. Blowing out supports could cause damage to the upper section, or complete destruction. Upon total support blasting, all that remained was debris, bridge spans deviating from the bridge axis and significantly warped. Upon the blasting of one support, the bridge span would plummet with an incline along the vertical axis. Upon blasting both supports along a single bridge face, bridge spans collapsed and twisted. Total bridge destruction was caused by the concurrent blasting of supports and bridge spans. As a result, span reconstruction would be impossible, bridge aperture significantly reduced by span collapse and resulting debris; consequently, the bridge could not be risen again at the original location.

The extent of damage could increase considerably once rolling stock loaded with flammable materials and ammunition was pushed onto damaged spans.

Reinforced concrete bridges were destroyed by blowing out supports or spans. In the case of reinforced concrete multi-span bridges with continuous beams, all spans were destroyed upon blasting selected supports only.

Stone (arched) bridges were destroyed by blowing up vaults and supports. Vault blasting was rather rare, as the results were unsatisfactory. Stone bridge supports were blown up – this would cause vault destruction, debris effectively blocking the riverbed.

Should time or resource constraints disallow the destruction of the entire bridge, the longest span over the navigable part of the river (or over a deep ravine) or the span with the highest supports would be blasted.

In the case of wooden bridge which would have to be destroyed, two charging methods were applied: large volumes of small charges would be placed at basic ←201 | 202→bridge components (piling, main beams); alternately, larger charges destroying several adjacent design components could be used.

When destroying steel bridges, charges were applied to the basic elements of the span. Charges would be placed in trusses along an inclined downward line to ensure freefall of the cut girders. Stone and concrete supports were destroyed by charges placed in fixed mine devices developed during the construction of the bridge or preparatory works.492 The type of fixed mine equipment used depended on support thickness. In the case of the supports being over 3 metres thick, mine chambers would be provided, complete with wells (manholes) and passages. The chamber size depended on the size of the charge calculated for a given support. In the case of supports 2–3 m thick, circular or square mine pipes (slots) were developed. In the case of supports less than 2 m thick, niches or furrows sufficed, their floor 0.5 m above the highest water level.493

If time allowed and in conditions of suitable mine device shortage, sleeves or niches were developed to 1/3–1/2 of support thickness, at the bottom of the support, 0.5 m above the highest water level. Sleeves were developed by personnel operating from platforms, rafts or boats, with the use of manual or mechanical tools. In the case of longitudinal charges and pillars less than 2 m thick, a furrow (or two furrows separated by a distance of 0.5 m) no shorter than one-half of pillar length would be provided.494 For greater explosive force effect, furrows and mine sleeves were sealed with available materials. Support destruction with outside charges was rare, as this required large volumes of explosives. Should time disallow adequate preparation, supports were destroyed by randomly-placed clustered or longitudinal charges, tightly attached to the support 0.5–1 m above water level.495 In the absence of fixed mine devices, support destruction charges could be placed in one of the following:496

wells dug directly behind bridgehead rear walls,

sleeves chiselled in bridgeheads to a depth of 2/3 of their thickness,

sleeves chiselled in intermediate supports (pillars) to a depth of 1/3–1/2 of their thickness,

←202 | 203→

niches chiselled in supports,

furrows chiselled in supports.

The provision of special-purpose mining appliances, in stone or reinforced concrete structures in particular, was extremely difficult, and not always possible in field conditions. Whenever such solutions were missing, bridges had to be destroyed with the fast-track method of exploding open-air large charges placed at specific components of the bridge.

Bridgeheads missing pre-developed mine placement devices were destroyed with cluster charges arranged (conditions pending) in one of the following: wells dug in the bridgehead’s peripheral section (their depth greater than the thickness of the base497), or in sleeves drilled across the entire support section, or to 2/3 of its thickness.498

Arched stone and concrete bridges were destroyed with cluster or longitudinal charges. Cluster charges could be placed on both sides of the vault keystone at 1/6 to 1/12 of span clearance length; above the supports; on the vault keystone – for quick destruction.499 Longitudinal charges were placed along the vault keystone and along the bridge. Whenever charges were placed on the bridge surface, wells or furrows were provided for cluster or longitudinal charges, respectively (at a depth allowing a charge to be placed directly against the vault or its backfill).500

In the course of the Second World War, the destroyed bridges would be additionally mined with immediate- or delayed-action devices being set upon debris and surviving supports, with intent to cause additional damage and hinder reconstruction works.

4.3.2 Bridge Mining

Mining bridges was a method of damming railway lines with intent to blow up the facility during subsequent reconstruction. Delayed-action mining was employed prior to the use of other damming types on railway lines. If the nature of destruction to a large bridge and its location suggested that the enemy would try to rebuild it along the original axis, delayed-action mines would be set up ←203 | 204→on approaches thereto. Delayed explosion time would be set according to the predicted dates of bridge reconstruction by the enemy. Unless interfering with bridge defence, delayed-action mines would also be placed at locations potentially useful to the enemy as construction sites or depots. The remains of damaged spans and supports were mined with immediate-action devices with intent to hinder the reconstruction works.

4.4 Temporary Reconstruction (Construction) of Railway Lines

Ever since the railway had been used for military purposes, rapid reconstruction of railway lines destroyed by the enemy was among the fundamental responsibilities of railway troops. Chapter V (Removing Effects of Damage to Tracks on Lines and at Stations) of the Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction published in 1939 by the Ministry of Transport describes the methods of removing damage to railway lines and facilities.

Air bombing of railway tracks gouged large craters in the trackbed: in the case of bombs containing 50–100 kg of explosives – 1–5 m deep, and 2–10 m in upper rim diameter.501 The removal of the effect of an air attack involved the crater to be filled with dirt (an estimated 70 % of soil blown into banks around craters could be refilled back into the crater). In case of complete track destruction craters could also be filled with crate structures of railway sleepers, once the crater bottom was landfilled, levelled, and compacted. Crates were used as auxiliary devices to facilitate crater landfilling and as load-bearing structures reducing the volume of earthworks required. In case of significant damage to a railway embankment, tracks were to be repaired by partial covering of the bottom of the crater, positioning two sleeper crates as abutments, and covering the hole with rails or iron beams. Should significant damage (e.g. a sequence of craters) extend the reconstruction time considerably, a detour would have to be developed.502

In case of destruction to railway tracks by joint or rail blasting or both, another reconstruction technology would be applied at the same time: in principle, it was recommended to replace damaged rails with rails of the same length. Such a method warranted the fastest restoration rate, allowing the time-consuming cutting and drilling of damaged rails to be avoided. Such a reconstruction method should guarantee the following approximate reconstruction rate: 8 km a day in case of a 50 % share of damaged rails; 16 km a day in case of a 25 % share of ←204 | 205→damaged rails.503 Under conditions of insufficient spare rail stock, damaged rail-ends would have to be cut off, and holes drilled on site. Pursuant to regulation D3, the length of rails installable in regular operational conditions was to be no less than 9 m. Under conditions of fast-track railway line reconstruction in wartime conditions, rails no shorter than 6 m would be used.504 During rail-cutting attempts were made to limit the number of different-length rails, and to use same-length rail pairs for repair purposes. Should a need to reconstruct a double-track line arise upon damage by rail blasting, material from track two could be used to reconstruct track one. Materials to rebuild track two could be carried on track one once restored. Damaged rail ends were cut and rail holes were drilled manually with the use of chisels or rail saws, and hand drills or oxy-acetylene torches.

When a railway line was destructed by means of a loop set significant warping to rails occurred (especially to screw-mounted track). Once such a method was used, only some accessories could be recovered. In case of rails fastened by nails, up to 50 % of sleepers could be recovered; in the case of rails mounted with screws, only around 20 %. Reconstructing of a loop set-damaged line basically involved the removal of most of the damaged surface, and the construction of a new track with the use of new material brought in.505

Warfare damage to railway junctions could be caused by air attack (bombing), artillery fire, or by blasting with explosives. Air bombs and missiles would usually cause damage to junction components (switches, frogs, connecting tracks) only, while blasting would destroy the entire switch. Repair of damaged switches was one of the most urgent jobs during rapid train traffic restoration.506

If spare parts were available on site or obtainable from side tracks, they were as a rule used to replace the damaged components. If no replacement switches or frogs were available, the need to use temporary devices (the so-called American switches) arose. During assembly, a frog was replaced by two standard rails, plate-connected on joints before the point rails to the main track, and moved towards a straight or curved track at the point where the point track guides would usually be located. Rails were kept in position by special-purpose hard-timber inserts. Additionally, bolts (or hooks) were inserted into switch sleepers to limit lateral rail sliding, angled flat joint plates used as rail head supports.507

←205 | 206→

Destroyed frogs were replaced with two rails connected with inserts (iron or hard timber) and bolts, rails slidable at one end, in semblance of switches. Portable hard-timber inserts and screws were used to keep the rails in position, angled flat joint plates serving as rail head supports. Frogs could also be constructed with the use of two regular rail sections, connected diagonally at a correct angle. Rails could be adapted by torch-cutting and grinding.508

The following repair recommendations applied to defective switch components: point rails damaged at the thin end would be filed or cut; in the case of stock rails with damaged ends – if planed, a stock rail would be moved forward upon cutting, if non-planed, it would be replaced with a rail of the correct type and length.

Spare switch parts (point rails, frogs, stock rails) were stocked at stations for fast-track repair purposes. Plans to acquire such components from the lesser-used side tracks were also made. It was further recommended that a single type of main track switch be used to facilitate spare parts supply.509

Roundhouses were particularly vulnerable to destruction.510 Destruction to the turntable would frequently render many locomotives inoperational, as they could not leave the depot building. Two methods were developed to allow locomotives to leave a roundhouse with a damaged turntable.

If a roundhouse with a destroyed or damaged turntable housed one or two steam locomotives, the turntable pit was landfilled and a provisional track was laid, one end connected to the station track layout, the other would be movable to connect to the particular track of the locomotive depot as required.511

However, should the need to release more locomotives arise, multiple changes to the shape and length of the makeshift track would be too burdensome. Moreover, insufficient space at numerous stations would disallow temporary track to be curved along the correct radii. In such cases, a uniform method of steam locomotive release with the use of a movable four-rail track was recommended: once the pit of the damaged turntable was landfilled, a combination of two tracks on switch sleeper (4 rails) was developed, with curved rails with R=180m radius, the length corresponding to the diameter of the turntable. ←206 | 207→A protective dead-end track connected to the 4-rail track, its length allowing accommodation of at least one steam locomotive. The released steam locomotive would make a number of shunting movements, moving from the depot track to the dead-end track and backing beyond the 4-rail track towards the depot. During shunting intermissions, the 4-rail track as well as the dead-end track would be moved; upon performing each pair of movements, depending on the way in which the 4-rail track was shaped, the locomotive would proceed to the next road (type I), or two roads further (type II).512

After the war, when technical specifications for wartime reconstruction of damaged railway lines were drafted, they were largely modelled on the Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction published in 1939 by the Ministry of Transport. In 1965, the Ministry of Transport developed the Technical Specifications for the Design and Construction or Reconstruction of Temporary Railway Infrastructure, their stipulations basically comprising nothing but technical parameters for the reconstruction of railway lines and facilities (with exemptions to peacetime railway regulations), and methods of provisional repair of railway switches.

The planned reconstruction of railway surface in field conditions involved exemptions to regulations in force at the Polish State Railways at the time: Regulations Concerning the Construction and Maintenance of Standard Gauge Railway Track (D1)513 and Technical Regulations of Railway Operation (PET).514

Reconstruction and construction of railway infrastructure under special conditions was classified by two categories: interim and temporary.

The purpose of interim reconstruction (construction) was to restore railway traffic on a specific line section as soon as reasonably possible, the time of reconstruction (construction) reduced at the expense of the technical condition of infrastructure, the number of station tracks (it was permitted to dismantle track layouts), and other railway equipment. During interim reconstruction (construction) works, technical conditions should allow trains to run at maximum speed of 10 km/h. The purpose of temporary reconstruction (construction) was to allow rail traffic operation for a relatively long period of time (over two years), as well as permanent reconstruction during such time if required. The technical condition of railway lines and devices during temporary reconstruction (construction) should allow trains to run at maximum speed of 30 km/h.515

←207 | 208→

In the case of interim and temporary reconstruction (construction) works, deviations from the standard track gauge against the prevalent regulations were allowable. Requirements concerning the geometry of track curves and track inserts516 used by trains to pass between two reverse curves were eased as well. Under low-speed conditions during interim reconstruction (construction) works, refraining from the use of cants, cant ramps and transition curves was allowed. During temporary reconstruction (construction) works, the cant use was not mandatory, if the rail incline on curves was correct and if rails were appropriately fixed to the sleepers. Otherwise, a tilt as stipulated by the table for maximum speed of 30 km/h517 was to be used. Furthermore, requirements regarding profile deflection and ballast thickness were considerably eased under both reconstruction (construction) scenarios: for interim reconstruction (construction) on lines and main station tracks – 13 cm, side tracks could be reconstructed without ballasting; for temporary reconstruction (construction) on lines and main station tracks – 16 cm, on side tracks – 10 cm.518 The use of ballast composed of any material available was allowed, including crushed stone, gravel, sandy gravel, sand and blast-furnace slag. The use of traffic signalling and indicators were also suspended for both reconstruction (construction) scenarios.

Both in the case of interim and temporary reconstruction (construction), the use of standard rails with minimum weight of 33 kG/m519 was recommended. For lightweight track material and high axle load scenarios, the number of sleepers per 1 km of track was to be appropriately increased.520 Damaged rail sections could be cut with oxy-acetylene torches; plate bolt holes were to be burned with a torch or drilled with a powder-actuated punch tool. The technical specifications for track joints were eased as well. Under interim and temporary reconstruction conditions, the use of rails with pre-specified defects and worn-out rails was allowed, as was the direct attachment of rails to sleepers with nails and without the use of rail chairs. All available sleeper types were permitted.

During interim reconstruction of a wooden sleeper track, regular sleepers could alternate with 90 cm short sleepers (single short sleeper beneath each rail) made of damaged sleepers.521 Should the majority of sleepers in a given track be ←208 | 209→mechanically damaged or decayed, alternate sleeper shift and re-attachment to rails at other locations was allowed.

In case of destruction to switches these could be replaced with rails connected to the main track with plates at rail joints before the point rails. Such rails were used as point rails and as such were movable. Rails were kept in position by correct hard-timber wood inserts. Steel spacers attached to switch sleepers facilitated rail shifting. Angled flat plates supported rail heads.

Frogs were replaced with two rail sections connected with steel or wooden inserts. At one end, rails were flexibly connected, as in the case of makeshift switches. Interim reconstruction (construction) also allowed mechanical machining of damaged switch components. Switches thus repaired could be passed at maximum speed of 10 km/h.522 The use of significantly worn switch components was also permitted. Track intersections could be replaced with two rail sections of correct length, plate-connected to rails and attached to a switch sleeper with nails or screws.

On steel bridges, rails could be installed on railway sleepers. For bridges with a span over 60 m, the use of joint-plates with oval apertures was allowed if there were no expansion joints available. Temporary reconstruction (construction) required no check-rails to be used.523

4.4.1 Reconstruction of Water Supply Facilities

Some steam locomotive types (mostly narrow-gauge) were originally fitted with water lifters – steam ejectors designed to take water from rivers or other reservoirs. Nonetheless, efficiency of water lifters was poor, watering significantly extending train travel time. Due to the above, fixed high-efficiency water lifters were developed near rivers or water reservoirs already during the First World War, these devices were powered by steam from a steam locomotive.

The Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction published in 1939 by the Ministry of Transport described methods of reconstructing water supply facilities as well. In case of destruction to water towers, a makeshift wooden tower of one of the three types listed would have to be constructed:524

water tower with a wooden water tank (capacity: 10 m3), mounted on a special-purpose wooden structure or on a sleeper-based structure,

←209 | 210→

water tower with a tank made of a railway tank wagon (capacity: 11.5 m3), mounted upon a special-purpose structure,

locomotive tender tank (capacity: 12 m3), mounted upon a sleeper crate.

In case of significant damage to water station facilities and/or waterworks, water lifters were to be set up near an existing water source (a water lifter could be positioned near a river or on a bridge). However, if there was no nearby river yet groundwater or surface water resources were available, it was recommended to dig water intake wells, with a water lifter mounted in one of the wells.525

4.4.2 Reconstruction of Buildings Indispensable to Railway Traffic

Already during the First World War, Prussian railway troops developed standardised temporary wooden station buildings designs. The Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction published in 1939 by the Ministry of Transport described methods of constructing temporary station buildings. Between the wars the following designs were recognised as a standard solution: temporary single-storey wooden station buildings, adapted freight wagon bodies to be used as a temporary station building, a hut and a block shelter made of railway sleepers.526

4.4.3 Reconstruction of Railway Signalling Devices

Appropriate railway signalling devices were indispensable to secure smooth and regular railway traffic as well as adequate railway line capacity. Any damage or destruction to railway signalling devices resulted in restricted capacity of railway lines. The efficiency of railway traffic depended on a maximum speed permitted on a given section, determined by the degree of security provided by the signalling equipment, and on the duration of activities associated with route preparation and resolution, also dependant on the type of signalling devices. The R1 Traffic Regulations for General Railway Lines determined respective standards for the first element of railway traffic device efficiency.

The maximum permitted speed for railway signalling devices with manual switch setting was identical to that allowed for centralised switch setting. The benefits arising from the use of centralised switch setting became visible only at the second stage of railway traffic operability and efficiency rates, when preparing the road for a given train.

←210 | 211→

The maximum permitted speed of a freight train was determined by travel direction (straight or diverging). When signalling clear road with the use of a single-arm semaphore, route distinction could not be indicated. Double-arm semaphores were used to discern directions, yet only in combination with switch interdependency. In order to allow maximum permitted train speed (both for straight and diverging traffic directions), making double-arm semaphores switch-dependent was sufficient, and required no further appliances. Nonetheless, making one semaphore arm switch-dependent for straight-directional travel allowed the highest maximum speed in this direction to be achieved.

The second element of rail traffic efficiency involved the duration of activities associated with route preparation and resolution in conjunction with the operation of traffic control posts. The efficiency of signalling devices was classified as follows:527

a) centralised switch and signal setting;

b) centralised signal setting and local switch setting (with bolt setting control);

c) centralised signal setting and local switch setting (with key lock setting control);

d) local signal and switch setting with key lock control.

Upon direct destruction of signalling devices and tensioner chambers, or major damage to the devices transferring the lever motion (signalling wires in mechanical devices; wiring in electrical devices) complete transition to manual switch setting was required, followed by the provision of temporary signalling devices.528 When substitute and temporary traffic control devices were to be made operational in wartime conditions and immediate restoration of rail traffic became a priority, manual rather than centralised switch control was employed. To reduce the time required to prepare and resolve routes by manual switch setting, the efficiency of a given traffic control post was improved by introducing the following solutions:529

1) rational division of centralised switch setting areas to switch setting post/station areas for manual switch setting,

2) installation of adequate telephone connection devices at those posts.

Key locks (or, in their absence, switch point locks) were used to secure manually operated switches. Key interdependencies were introduced for several switches ←211 | 212→and catch points to secure proper handling sequences. Moreover, interdependencies facilitated switch setting control, and simplified devices (key control panels, key interlocking frames, field control panels with interlocking locks). Double locks were used to achieve such interdependencies; should these be unavailable, two single locks (one main and one interdependency lock) would be used. Compound locks (comprising a regular and a catch point lock) were used as well. For a large number of locks, the number of regular key registers was increased, exceeding the usual 24.530

Catch points were used to protect transit tracks from intersection collisions with wagons uncoupled from locomotives. Catch points were usually dependant on the switch leading to the track upon which it was mounted. Catch point interdependency involved the use of two locks, one intended to lock the catch point in a track closing position (clamped on the rail), the other – in a track opening position (removed from the rail). A section of loading track or other station side track were secured with a catch point along 150 m sections (tracks used as dead-end track).531 During temporary reconstruction, destroyed catch points were replaced with wooden ones.532

When manual switch setting was used, switch bolts were used to secure the proper switch setting, and their required dependence on semaphore signalling. Using bolts rather than key locks to control switch settings allowed major time savings in terms of preparations for train passage. The bolt-locking of switches (the position of which frequently changed) was of key importance to speed-up trains crossing or passing each other. Bolt-locking was facilitated by including bolts into a signalling wire, and having a number of bolts combined into a joint bolt wire. The maximum permitted length of a separate bolt wire including a tensioner, was 500 m.533

Key control panels were the simplest system of facilitating correct switch setting control and key-locking them for train passage as required. A more complex device used in conditions of destruction to permanent devices were key interdependence boxes. Such boxes were designed to make signal settings dependent on the correct setting and closure of switches corresponding to the relevant train course and passage. Simple-version key boxes were most suitable for the purposes of the fast setting of interdependencies, as they were not fitted with ←212 | 213→interdependency key sliders, mutual contradictory signal exclusion systems, or station block dependency systems. Yet such boxes featured a number of structural limitations in terms of the number of train passages they could handle. Should signal-boxes and traffic posts be destroyed, field signal interlocks, structurally designed for indoor or outdoor placement (as required) would be applied. Such interlocks were connected to station block systems with the use of key interdependencies. In case of outdoor field interlock use, they were secured with tents or wooden shelters. Upon transition to manual switch setting, key interdependencies were applied to field interlocks directly. Signalling, switch and catch point interdependencies were applied on field interlocks.534

In case of complete destruction to railway signalling devices, train traffic had to be managed without them. The first condition involved outpost (location) protection with the use of D1 stop signs and DO warning signs. The next move involved securing semaphore operability to allow trains to enter a given post (location) without stopping. If semaphores were destroyed, makeshift wooden semaphores and stationary warning signs were set up. Should a need arise, provisional wooden semaphores could be adapted to be manually set.535

4.4.4 Temporary Bridge Reconstruction

Fundamental responsibilities of all sapper and railway engineering units included rapid reconstruction of the damaged railway bridges. As steel truss and girder bridges became more common in the late 19th century, railway engineering units were trained to lift the blown up and damaged spans on wooden crates. Furthermore, bridge reconstruction included the replacement of damaged spans with makeshift structures. During both world wars, battalions of railway engineers and sappers of all the fighting armies rebuilt a significant number of field wooden bridges. The Prussian army went as far as to design special-purpose high-rise wooden field bridges. The Bridge Repair and Reinforcement chapter of the Sappers’ Manual for Use by all Types of Armed Forces published in 1930 by the Ministry of Military Affairs briefly described the methods of building and reconstructing wooden field bridges.536

The Manual of Railway Damage Reconstruction published in 1939 by the Ministry of Transport also described the methods of provisional railway bridge reconstruction. Essentially, damaged bridge and culvert reconstruction works ←213 | 214→followed the rule that the reconstruction shall proceed along the destroyed bridge axis (with the option of using the remains of the old bridge structures, pillars, and bridgeheads). The reconstruction would involve the following solutions: filling the openings in; covering the openings with temporary structures; supporting the damaged spans; elevating the spans and setting them upon existing or makeshift supports; developing structures set upon the damaged spans; dividing the openings into smaller spans; and building track detours and detour bridges.537

The openings were filled only at smaller structures (culverts and small bridges) where the water flow was insignificant. Earth, sand, gravel, stones, and timber were used as opening fillers. Stone drainage and concrete pipes were applied to allow watercourse passage. In case of a greater water flow openings were blocked with structures constructed with the use of sleepers (with triangular culvert openings) and backfilled with dirt, or filled with sleepers completely (leaving a watercourse opening as required). In case of partial destruction to a culvert or bridge, it was to be reconstructed with the use of wooden beams and railway sleepers.538

Openings were covered with makeshift structures when the water flow was strong enough to prevent complete opening to be filled. Temporary supports were constructed with makeshift load-bearing structures set upon them. Temporary supports could be built using the following methods: crates made with railway sleepers;539 wooden pillar frame structures set upon the ground; wooden pillars driven into the soil; timber cribs.540 Temporary supports were protected with starlings against the impact of ice floes or logs carried by flood waters. Provisional load-bearing structures made of wooden beams, rail bundles, I-beams and folding structures were laid on wooden supports. Mixed structures were also provided with the use of wooden beams and steel I-beam girders. Short-span I-beam girders (less than 4 m) were slid onto supports with ropes and a lift placed on the opposite bridgehead. In the case of larger spans (over 5 m), additional supports (rotational pillars) were set up beneath the span mid-sections.

In case of a partial damage to the span load-bearing structure (breakage of individual truss components, partial carriageway damage), the structure remaining on ←214 | 215→supports but was unable to carry any traffic load, additional girder supports were developed at the damaged locations with the use of sleeper crates or piling span pillars. Damaged longitudinal and/or lateral beams in one or several span sections were replaced with rail bundles or rolled girders; the section in question could also be filled in with sleepers.541

Spans destroyed and collapsed into watercourses were elevated. Entire spans or their usable sections were lifted. Rapid reconstruction works involved the most common lifting method of levers placed against sleeper crates. In the case of low-weight structures and insignificant elevation (10 m or less), this was the fastest way to lift the collapsed spans. Levers542 (hydraulic, bolt, crank levers), lifts, pulleys and special-purpose suspension appliances were used in such an operation. In case of the use of a hydraulic lift, single or multiple lifting points were applied. In case of complete destruction of the span intended for elevation, structural truss components were reinforced with wooden beams, steel rods, or flat bar ties; concrete encasement would be applied as well.543

If a collapsed span was unusable or could not be easily lifted, it was used as a support for the new makeshift structure to facilitate rapid bridge reconstruction, usually limited to developing the bridge superstructure on the collapsed span; a fill of timber (timber crates) would be used; alternately, crate or wooden frame supports would be set upon the damaged structure, wooden beam girders, with steel I-beam girders or rail beams arranged on top.544

Should a larger-span bridge be completely destroyed and unsuitable for reconstruction – yet allow easy and swift removal of the damaged components – the bridge opening would be divided into smaller sections, depending on girder availability. The supports would be constructed with the use of crates or frames, with new girders set upon them. If bridge reconstruction was to be permanent rather than provisional (and thus require a detour bridge for the time of reconstruction anyway), or if reconstruction works at the exact destroyed bridge location could prove difficult due to the old structure being impossible to be removed, excess support height, and/or poor riverbed conditions, the concept of bridge reconstruction along the old axis was to be abandoned, rebuilding works involving developing a track detour and detour bridge construction.545

←215 | 216→

Railway troops were also trained in constructing wooden bridges. Such structures involved piling-, frame-, and piling-and-frame-based supports and abutments. Other solutions included crib pillars and supports as well as crib-and-frame supports (cribs used as a foundation to construct frame supports). Sleeper-built crate supports were used as well (maximum permitted height was 4–8 m, due to significant spring deflection). Wooden starlings were used as protection for temporary wooden bridges, which induced unfavourable water flow conditions.

The following temporary railway bridge span types were fairly common: beamed, stayed, trapeze-stayed, arched, framed, and Howe truss (steel frame). Fundamentally, wooden bridges developed since the 1950s were all beamed,546 framed bridges were built only on narrow-gauge lines.547

Soft timber (pine, spruce, fir) would be the common choice for wooden bridge construction, timber felled in wintertime was the optimum option.

During the previous wars, rolled beams would be a common choice in reconstructing small-span bridges. Rolled girders offered a number of advantages, such as easy storage, transport, and span assembly; disadvantages included insignificant beam length (30 m or less) and considerable weight. Span clusters were a simple and feasible solution for field conditions. Rolled-beam spans would be assembled on the riverbank, and slid onto supports in whole or in sections.548 Regular-flange and wide-flange rolled beam spans were developed with the use of rolled beams, longitudinal and lateral clusters, and railway track components.

The First World War experience served to prove beyond any doubt that the use of folding steel spans allowed the quickest restoration of rail traffic across major water obstacles. The development of technical battlefield solutions and modern weapons, not to mention the huge volumes of ammunition, supplies and fuels that had to be delivered to the operational rear of troops in combat, showed irrefutably that the use of folding steel bridges produced optimum effect. Such bridges were highly durable and highly resistant to destruction; they were designed and calculated to meet specific rolling stock load standards; truss assembly with the use of standard components was much faster and less complicated than the construction of wooden bridges. Furthermore, the construction of such crossings did not depend on the delivery of large volumes of timber which required pre-processing with field ←216 | 217→sawmills. In addition, steel bridges did not carry the risk of fire caused by sparks from locomotive ashpans. Yet due to the shortage of steel folding bridges and the need for quick reconstruction of crossings, the sapper units of the fighting armies constructed numerous wooden bridges during the Second World War as well.

4.5 Folding Railway Bridges

If a water obstacle required a large-span crossing, and in the case of bridge reconstruction over deep ravines in mountainous terrain or over large rivers in high water or ice floe conditions, folding structures were applied for temporary reconstruction purposes whenever the use of indirect supports (piling- or crib-based pillars) was not feasible.549

From a military point of view, folding bridges were considered the second and more permanent way of securing bridge crossing-related technical measures, pontoon bridges and accompanying mechanised bridges classified as first solution measures.550

In the second half of the 19th century, as the economic and military importance of railways increased, the first military-purpose folding bridges were introduced, their practical use becoming more common in the wake of the Franco-Prussian war in France.551 The technological changes in metallurgy – and the development and popularisation of riveted joint technology – were of great significance to the progress in the field of folding bridges. The first folding railway bridges were made part of regular equipment issued to the engineering and railway troops in European countries in the 1890s. At the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, railway and road folding bridges designed by Eiffel and a Polish engineer Brochocki were on display.552 At the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, the following folding railway bridge designs were introduced: Eiffel (French spans were also made part of regular equipment for the Russian army railway battalions), Harkot (Prussian railway folding bridge with a span of 30 m), and Roth-Waagner (Austrian spans). In 1910, professor Paton designed a folding bridge structure, made part of regular production during the First World War.553 The design became hugely popular during the Great War; towards its end, armies ←217 | 218→of the European countries involved in warfare owned several dozen kilometres of folding bridges.554

In Russia, dismountable bridges were used as temporary crossings during the construction of the strategic East China Railway.

Between the wars, the Polish Armed Forces Railway Sapper Units were issued steel Roth-Waagner555 and (K) type folding rail bridges.556 Sapper companies handled folding span assembly.

The Roth-Waagner spans were designed by the Austrian officer Roth before the First World War, and manufactured at the Waagner plant. Prior to the First World War, they were commonly used by the Austrian army. The Roth-Waagner spans later became a design reference for the Wehrmacht’s R system, and the British army’s Everall Sectional Train Bridge folding span system.557

The versatility of the Roth-Waagner bridges offered numerous options of adapting them to the local conditions – spans could support top-, central- and bottom-deck carriageway bridges.558 The Roth-Waagner bridges could also be constructed on curved tracks.559 Adapting a bridge to the height involved the assembly of regular and elevated sections, as Roth-Waagner spans were available in single- and double-storey versions. The breadth could be increased by reinforcing bridge components, with conversion into double- and triple-walled sections. Single-walled girder spans were only applied for the purposes of narrow-gauge railway and road bridges. Conversely, the following components were used in the case of standard-gauge railway bridges: single-storey spans with double-walled girders and double-storey spans with double- or triple-walled girders.560 The Roth-Waagner bridge main beams were calculated according to standards I and II of the Austrian KKStB railway bridge load rates (from the year 1904).561

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The span breadth for mobile loads according to load standard C (in force on the Polish State Railways as of 1923) ranged from 18 to 84 m:562

single-storey double-walled spans – up to 45 m,

double-storey double-walled spans – 46.5 ÷ 72 m,

double-storey triple-walled spans – 72.5 ÷ 84 m.

According to standard I loading rates of the Austrian KKStB railways (from the year 1904), the maximum permitted Roth-Waagner span breadth (top-deck carriageway) was 63 m.563 Standard type I span truss sections were 3 m long – consequently, the total main span width was a multiple of 3. If so required, short sections could be installed at span-ends (so-called half-sections, 1.5 m in length).564

The Roth-Waagner spans were developed as lattice beams with parallel riveted sections, individual lattice (frame) components were connected using bolts. Roth-Waagner span components were made of open-hearth steel.565

The Roth-Waagner spans were assembled on scaffoldings, with the use of a special-purpose crane and the semi-cantilever or cantilever method. A cantilever Roth-Waagner span assembly involved the use of ballast, or ballast-free counterweights (longer spans). A semi-cantilever assembly involved the development of an additional support beneath the span, used when a suitable counterweight was not available, or whenever the limiting length of the cantilever was greater than the span width. A dismountable Roth-Waagner crane moving along the upper sections of the installed span was used for the purposes of span component assembly. The crane was fitted with winches and pulleys with a lifting capacity of 1.5 tonnes; the crane’s front extension allowed span assembly over a frontal distance of 6 m.566

One linear meter of a single-storey span could be assembled within 1 hour. One linear meter of a double-storey span took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to assemble. The assembly of a double-storey tripled-walled span required approximately 2 hours.567

←219 | 220→

The span’s heaviest component (end section) weighed 627 kg (length: 6.5 m); Roth-Waagner span dead weights were as follows:568

double-storey double-walled spans: 3.0 tonnes/m,

double-storey double-walled spans: 4.2 tonnes/m,

double-storey triple-walled spans: 6.2 tonnes/m.

The other system (K) of folding railway bridges made part of regular equipment carried by Railway Sapper units of the Polish Armed Forces between the wars was basically intended to replace the damaged spans of permanent bridges. K-type bridges could also be used as temporary crossings developed in field conditions on railway lines or roads, whenever time disallowed the provision of a permanent bridge.569

The bridge structure comprised the main lattice beam and lateral carriageway and wind brace components. The rivetted components of K-type bridges could be square, triangular, rod-shaped, or latticed. The extended bridge crossbeam was the structure’s heaviest component (650 kg); a 6 m section was its longest element.570 K-type bridges could be assembled as single-, double-, or triple-storey structures. Single-storey bridges were assembled as single or double-walled.

K-type bridges were installed for the purposes of crossing obstacles with the use of the following:571

1. standard-gauge railway (Polish State Railways load standard D), single-storey structure; double traction – maximum span breadth: 24 m span, single locomotive – maximum span breadth: 30 m;

2. narrow-gauge railway (two military steam locomotives) single-storey, double-walled – span breadth: 24 m – 36 m,

3. narrow-gauge railway (single military steam locomotive) single-storey, single-walled – maximum span breadth: 27 m,

4. roads, single-walled – maximum span breadth: 33 m; double-walled – maximum span breadth: 42 m.

K-type bridges were built on a scaffolding, with the use of the cantilever or mixed method (on scaffolding, partly with the use of cantilevers). A crane moving along ←220 | 221→the main section-mounted track was used for the purposes of cantilever assembly of double-walled single-or double-storey K-type bridges.572

During the Second World War, Wehrmacht sapper troops were issued six folding railway bridge systems: V – four-girder and six-girder; Roth-Waagner – single- and double-storey; MZ – single- and double-storey; R – single-, double-, and triple-storey; SZ – single- and double-storey; SKR 6 – single-, double-, and triple-storey.573 Using the aforementioned spans, the German troops rebuilt the damaged railway bridges on the Polish territory. Other equipment employed by Wehrmacht sapper troops on the Polish territory included the captured French Bonneta-Schneider (BS) railway spans, and the seized Czechoslovak Skoda-Faltus (SF) spans.574 After the war, the UNRRA aid included the delivery of heavy English ESTB575 system spans to Poland (span breadth: 36.5 ÷ 21.92 m), used to reconstruct the damaged Polish State Railways network (i.e. the railway bridges in Tczew on the Vistula and in Malbork on the River Nogat).576

Equipment issued to the railway troops577 of the Red Army at the time included non-dismountable top-deck carriageway L-23 lattice spans (theoretical breadth: 23.04 m, span height: 2.67 m).578 Main parallel-section span girders were fitted with triangular lattice and support posts. Upper and lower wind braces (and lateral bracing on supports and each post) were installed between the girders. Due to their considerable weight (28 tonnes), the spans could only be transported by railway flat wagons. Spans were placed on wooden supports with the use of special-purpose wagon cantilever cranes. The use of such bridge reconstruction technology by the Red Army allowed extremely fast assembly of temporary bridges.

During the Vistula-Odra Offensive, the Russian forces rebuilt most of the railway bridges across the major rivers on the Polish territory with the use of ←221 | 222→L-23 spans: over the River Vistula near Opalenie, at the Warsaw Citadel, over the River Odra near Szczecin, over the River Narew near Modlin, and near Dęblin and Sandomierz.579

The single track bridge near the Warsaw Citadel was elevated 15 meters above the destroyed abutments. Twenty five L-23 steel frames were placed on wooden supports and abutments, the total bridge length was 510 m.580 The bridge was reconstructed over a period of 10 days with the use of L-23 spans.581

After the war, Polish Armed Forces troops were issued L-23 spans as well, most were withdrawn from use in the 1950s and 1960s for reasons of their low strength rating and poor design. Static calculations for L-23 spans proved that (in dynamic coefficient terms) they usually did not even conform to load standard C in force during the previous period582 (17 tonnes/ axle load). In view of the load standard NL having been introduced for the Polish State Railways rolling stock in 1955 (20 tonnes/ axle load), limits for rolling stock passage were adopted in conformity to the new standard. When crossing L-23 span bridges, trains had to reduce their speed to 5 km/h when hauled by a single locomotive.583 A single Russian L-23 span was left for training purposes on a military training ground of the 2nd railway regiment in Łojewo near Inowrocław.584

In the mid-1950s, new L-30 folding spans (designed and produced in Poland to the NL585 load standard) were introduced as an equipment issued to bridge battalions of railway troops (the L-30 span design was modelled on Second World War Russian L-23 spans). The L-30 type lattice span was partly dismountable, with a top-deck carriageway and theoretical maximum span breadth of 30 m. L-30 spans comprised two parallel-section lattice girders and a rectangular truss with support posts and crossbars. The extreme cross-braces converged with the upper section, forming the basic trapezoidal truss outline. The carriageway comprised rails and bridge sleepers or sleepers, arranged directly on the main girder’s upper section. In an effort to reduce the dead weight, the span structure was designed with high-quality 18G2A steel, the posts, bracing and wind braces with standard St3S steel (with riveted main girders). The total weight of an L-30 span was 42 tonnes.

←222 | 223→

1. A diagram of an L-30 span with removable ends. 2. Transport of an L-30 span on railway wagons. Source: Odbudowa mostów (1968)

The L-30 spans were transported upon assembly by heavy railway flat wagons, as an out of gauge load. The main span girders were transported by three railway flat wagons: the central wagon upon which the span rested (load-bearing capacity: 42 tonnes, length: 20 m), and two backup flat wagons to support the span-ends.586 The girders were unloaded onto sleeper-built crates by crane or, if unavailable, using a manual lift. The span assembly involved the embedding of upper wind braces and lateral bracing between the girders. L-30 girders were fitted with dismountable girder-ends (length: 1.5 m), allowing a theoretical span width adjustment to 27.0 m or 28.5 m by removing one or both ends.587 The main girders were supported by fixed and mobile tangent bearings.588

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The second method involved the transport of pre-assembled spans onto the bridge axis, and lowering them onto supports with the use of SRK (Sborno – Razbornyj Kran) 30/40 railway cranes.

The L-36 span (width: 36 m) was more modern, also designed and produced in Poland.589 The span was a parallel-section double-girder590 truss, with a top-deck carriageway. The L-36 span design was largely modelled on the English ESTB wartime folding spans. To facilitate transport and assembly, a span 36 m long591 was composed of six independent 6-metre bolt-connected truss sections (weight: 2890 ÷ 2951 kg). The span was assembled with the use of 20 different components.

In an effort to reduce the dead weight to the extent possible, the main span structural components were designed with high-quality 18G2A steel, secondary components constructed with the use of St3M steel.592 Structural span components were welded; the use of welding technology and adequate materials allowed an overall span weight of 48.349 tonnes – or 1.34 tonnes/m.593

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An L-36 span. Source: Odbudowa mostów (1968)

A diagram of sliding an L-30 span onto piers using a KR-36 crane device. Source: Odbudowa mostów (1968)

A carriageway of bridge sleepers or IB sleepers was constructed on the span’s parallel sections (on main girder sections directly). S42 or S-49 rails, with accessories, were laid upon the bridge sleepers or bridge sleepers. Check-rails were ←225 | 226→installed between the rails. A one-sided footpath (for railway service crews) with a handrail was installed on the span. Mobile and fixed tangent bearings were used on the L-36 span.594

The option of multi-section span assembly allowed component transport by rail and by road (on low-floor trailers with a load-bearing capacity rating over 8 tonnes). Six-metre spatial blocks were transported on a railway flat wagon, 2 per wagon. As such components were slightly wider than the rolling stock loading gauge, they could only be carried as out-of-gauge loads.

The L-36 span assembly required unloading and assembly sites to be organised near the bridges undergoing reconstruction. K-104 lorry-mounted cranes (installed on KrAZ219 lorry chassis), K-162 lorry-mounted cranes, and SRK 50 railway cranes (designed to transport and assemble the L-36 trusses) were used to unload the span sections from railway flat wagons on assembly sites. Once assembled, spans were transported to the bridge on tracks, by special-purpose railway trolley or by a SRK 50 railway crane.

Once assembled, the span could be positioned on supports using a KR-36 device (as in the case of the L-30 spans); by moving the span over the watercourse and lowering it onto bearings with the use of KR-36 gantry cranes; or by arranging the span with the use of floating measures or an SRK50 railway crane.

In the 1950s foldable steel supports were developed in the USSR for military purposes, with intent to reconstruct or build damaged railway bridge supports. These supports were developed up to a maximum height of 20 m, to construct top-deck carriageway railway spans (breadth: 23 ÷ 36 m), and bottom-deck carriageway spans (breadth: 36 ÷ 72 m). The Russian project was modified to reflect the Polish technical conditions of bridge design, and Polish State Railways load standards. The folding steel supports were made of the following steel grades: 18G2A (main structural elements) and St3M595 (other elements), and used to carry L-30 and L-36 spans. Supports were placed on a piling cap and grating, comprising piling bundles driven into watercourse beds with the use of pile drivers.

In the late 1950s, a military-purpose folding railway overpass was designed in the USSR, intended for the rapid railway bridge reconstruction and to cross shallow water obstacles. This state-of-the art universal structure was labelled REM-500 (Rasbornyi Estakadnyi Most, single set length: 500 m). Russian documentation was later used to develop a variant of this overpass; its production ←226 | 227→commenced in Poland, the structure labelled SEK-500 (Składana Estakada Kolejowa – Folding Railway Overpass). The Polish design involved lower-strength steel; consequently, the cross-sections of its structural elements were increased.596 The overpass was produced by the Railway Bridge Production Plant Białystok-Starosielce.597 An overpass version modelled on the Russian design was also developed in East Germany and labelled ESB-16 (Eisenbahnbrücke – length: 16 m). The design and production commencement of folding railway overpasss in the Warsaw Pact armies was associated with the changes to the battlefield technical solutions, arising from the development of the nuclear warfare doctrine. The operational plans predicted that the initial NATO tactical nuclear warhead strike would destroy the permanent strategic crossings on the Rivers Odra and Vistula, on main railway lines along the Western Operational Direction. The REM-500 overpass (modified) and that NZM-56 floating rail-and-road bridge would be used to quickly develop substitute crossings for the damaged railway bridges over the Rivers Vistula and Odra.

Consequently, the SEK-500 overpass components were introduced as equipment issued to railway and road units (railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław).

The overpass could also be used to cross floodplains, on approaches to floating-support bridges, and to cross breakages in railway embankments. It could also be employed on approaches to high-rise detour bridges, allowing the elimination of time-consuming embankment construction. In shallow water and weak current conditions, the overpass could also be used to cross standing and running water.

The SEK-500 overpass was a steel structure, its components used to assemble spans and bridge supports alike. An NL standard train, its full dynamic coefficient increased by 10 %, was adopted as the mobile load benchmark (in view of the fact that rails were laid directly on the main span beams). The maximum permitted speed for trains crossing the overpass was set at 30 km/h, the maximum longitudinal gradient at 30 ‰.598

The theoretical span of individual spans was constant (length: 12.51 m). The greatest structural height of the overpass (bottom of the foundation footing to span rail heads) reached 14.0 m (lowest height: 3.06 m). while the overpass was adapted for construction along straight and curved lines alike, a single radius rating (R = 400) was permitted. The design of the overpass involved two steel ←227 | 228→grades: high-quality 18G2A steel for support structures and support pillars, and St3M steel for other components. All structure joints were welded, individual components bolt-connected during assembly. The overpass set comprised 40 spans and 39 supports (length: 500 m). The total weight of the set was 825.5 tonnes, i.e. 1.63 tonnes/ m across the entire structure. Each overpass span was assembled with the use of 14 assorted repetitive components, supports requiring 19 repetitive components.599 The size of individual overpass components allowed for transport by rail and by road, without exceeding the loading gauge.

S-49 rails were connected to the upper overpass section with bolts and washers. A footpath (for railway service crews) was provided along the external span girders. A service platform was periodically suspended on chain hoists from overpass support structures (supports), to allow adjustment works and bolt connection checks.

Source: Odbudowa mostów (1968) Construction drawings of a Folding Railway Overpass (SEK-500).

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The main overpass girder supports were assembled with the use of a K-104 lorry-mounted crane (installed on a KrAz-219 lorry chassis), K-162 lorry-mounted crane, or SRK 20 railway crane, or with the use of the cantilever method involving a trolley to slide the span and a winch-fitted rolling crane.600 Upon assembly ←229 | 230→of the entire overpass, it would be levelled and adjusted along the vertical and horizontal axis.

Since the 1960s, railway cranes of Soviet design and manufacture had been used for the purposes of assembling and transporting folding bridge spans and SEK-500 overpasss components. The SRK-20 crane (lifting capacity: 20 tonnes) was designed to transport and align the SEK-500 overpass elements. It had a light-alloy structure to account for the need to enter the temporarily developed overpass sections during assembly. The SRK 30/40 crane (lifting capacity: 30 tonnes) was used to transport and align the L-30 lattice spans along the bridge geodetic axis, while the SRK-50 crane (lifting capacity: 50 tonnes) was designed to transport and align the assembled L-36 trusses (weight: 48 tonnes) along the bridge geodetic axis.

The cranes were not self-propelled – they were moved by a diesel locomotive or a KrAZ 256 lorry (fitted with rollers allowing it to be used on railway track). The cranes were transported to the assembly site on seven freight wagons, and assembled over a single day. The cranes were fitted with the following accessories: a power generator, a counterweight, and a system of three electric winches to raise and lower the transported trusses and supports. Two winches were mounted on the crane’s operating arm. The winches were controlled from the panels located on the platforms provided on both sides of the crane. The crane was equipped with small four wheel bogies (with an option to replace them with broad-gauge 1,524 mm bogies). Not fitted with regular coupling devices, the crane was connected to a locomotive or a KrAZ lorry with a special-purpose beam and pin. The crane was operated by a crane team of ten soldiers and a non-commissioned officer operator.

The SRK-30/40 folding crane could be installed on rails or floating vessels according to three different procedures. The assembly following the first scheme meant that the crane could be used on the broad Soviet Railway loading gauge. The assembly according to the second scheme allowed the crane to operate within the standard gauge loading gauge. The third way of assembling the crane meant that it could be used on floating vessels (NZM-56 pontoon bridge) – following a number of improvements, this version enabled the crane lifting capacity of 40 tonnes.

The crane design enabled the negotiating of curves with a radius not less than 150 m.

The railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław had three railway cranes: the SRK 20, SRK 30/40, and SRK 50. The 12th railway regiment in Tarnowskie Góry (JW 4117) operated one SRK20 crane as well.601

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The NZM-56 (Naplavnoy Zheleznodorozhnyi Most) folding floating rail-and-road bridge of Russian design and production (design: mid-1950s) allowed the provision of crossings of a maximum length of 500 m over 2 to 4 days.602 The bridge was adapted for assembly together with the SEK-500 overpass. The NZM-56 set comprised floating bridge supports (pontoons) and a span structure which included road and rail lengths, bank and elevation supports, and auxiliary equipment.

A cross-section of a NZM-56 floating bridge. Source: Odbudowa mostów (1968)

Welded railway bridge spans were 6.25 m long. A footpath was provided along both sides of the spans. The bridge allowed the laying of 1,524 mm and 1,435 mm tracks. Main railway span girders comprised two welded I-beams connected with lateral and longitudinal braces. Four I-beams were installed in the carriageway cross-section. These beams were aligned on pontoon bulwarks. Beams were paired with the use of struts mounted above the pontoon side boards. Struts were also used to attach beams to the pontoon side boards. The road surface was built with the use of double wooden logs, arranged laterally.603

Pushers were used to connect the bridge sections. The floating component comprised sections; a typical bridge section of 6 pontoons was 37.5 m long. Each bridge section was provided with three pushers. A complete NZM-56 bridge set could be used to develop 13 ferry crossings with a load-bearing capacity of 300 tonnes reach. Upon transition from a shore to a floating component, a hoisting ←231 | 232→support was used, adjustable depending on water level conditions, connected with an articulated span-joint above it.604

The riverbank spans were developed to connect the shore to the carriageway of the floating bridge section, one end connected to the carriageway on the floating support, the other – resting upon a crate of railway sleepers on the bank. Navigation was enabled by a drawbridge section, the clearance between the drawbridge section components and the connected pontoon bridge reaching 300 ÷ 500 mm. Such a solution warranted unrestricted attaching and detaching of the drawbridge section.605

4.6 Railway Bridge Crossings Built by the Road and Railway Units of the Polish Armed Forces as part of the Warsaw Pact Military Exercises and Performing Tasks to Support the National Economy

In 1962, the 2nd railway regiment (as part of a field camp in Rybienko near Wyszków), working together with the bridge company of the 1st road and bridge battalion and the bridge company of the 2nd road and bridge battalion, built a permanent railway bridge over the River Bug (length: 446 m) in Rybienko Leśne near Wyszków (riveted steel frame, bottom-deck carriageway).606

In the years 1962–1963, the 2nd railway regiment (as part of field camps in Łojewo), working together with the bridge company of the 2nd road and bridge battalion, constructed a railway siding (length: 3.5 km), bridgeheads and a bridge across the Noteć Channel (single-track, steel frame, bottom-deck carriageway, length: 38 m).607

In 1964, on the military training site of the 2nd railway regiment in Łojewo, a presentation of the NŻM-56 bridge construction was performed for PMD officers.608

On July 11th–13th 1964, a model procedure of constructing a NZM-56 road-and-rail bridge (length: 142 m) on the Lake Szarlej, together with railway and road approaches, was organised on the bridge military training site of the 2nd railway regiment in Łojewo, as part of a tactical and communications exercise.609 ←232 | 233→The presentation was witnessed by Marshal Marian Spychalski, and by Chief of General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces General Jerzy Bordziłowski.610

On September 7th–8th 1965, the 2nd railway regiment constructed piers and ferry crossings with the use of NZM-56 bridge components on the River Vistula in Nowy Dwór near Kwidzyn, as part of the military exercise codename OPAL-65.611

On October 1st–2nd 1965, the 2nd railway regiment constructed piers and ferry crossings with the use of NZM-56 bridge components on the River Vistula in Topólno, as part of the military exercise codename BAZA-66.612

Also in 1966, during a visit by Chief Quartermaster of the Polish Armed Forces Lieutenant General Wiktor Zieminski, accompanied by the Minister of Transport Piotr Lewiński, a procedure of constructing a NZM-56 bridge was organised on the military training site of the 2nd railway regiment in Łojewo.613

In May 1967, the 2nd railway regiment constructed an L-30 structure-based railway bridge (to the NL load standard, length: 60 m, with wooden supports) on the River Nysa Kłodzka in Gracze as part of a regiment tactical and communications exercise for the reserve corps.614

In May 1969, the railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment from Inowrocław assembled a number of SEK-500 overpass spans sections, which were connected with an adjustable support to a single ferry of the NZM-56 floating railway bridge, as part of a military exercise in Nowy Dwór near Kwidzyn. The facility was partially built on site of the planned strategic railway crossing over the River Vistula, on the Smętowo – Opalenie Tczewskie – Nowy Dwór Kwidzyński – Kwidzyn railway line.615 The overpass spans and supports were transported by an SRK crane pushed by a diesel locomotive – a significant advantage over lorries operated by the Soviet Army, adapted for rail operation.616

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“BARIERA 70” Military Exercise of the Allied Forces, Ługi Górzyckie

In October 1970, a bridge crossing was constructed over the River Odra near Kostrzyn with the use of a REM-500 overpass (length: 570 m, to the NL load standard), as part of the “BARIERA 70” military exercise of the Warsaw Pact Allied Forces.617 The railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław under Captain Janusz Oraczewski’s command constructed a railway siding (approximate length: 3 km) during the preparatory period; the siding branched near Ługi Gorzyckie, securing a connection to Odra floodbanks.

A triangular siding entrance was constructed so that the siding could be entered directly from the mainline from both directions (Kostrzyn and Rzepin/Górzyca).

On the German side, a siding diverging at kilometre 3.502 of the Küstrin Kietz – Frankfurt (Oder) line of an approximate length of 1 km was constructed, branching off the line before the Neu Manschnow station (located on km. 3.8). Plans involved wartime construction of a folding railway bridge with the use of REM-500 overpass components on the River Odra. The Neu Manschnow – Ługi Górzyckie reserve section allowed the direct transit of military troop trains from Rzepin and Kostrzyn to Berlin, bypassing the Kostrzyn – Küstrin Kietz section, which was vulnerable to destruction.618

A temporary road-rail crossing was developed over the River Odra with the use of REM-500 overpass components (on the Polish side and directly on the Odra) and ESB-16 folding spans (on the German side) as part of the 1970 “BARIERA 70” International Joint Military Exercise (of the Polish Armed Forces, the Soviet Army and the East German National People’s Army). The overpass spans and supports were transported by an SRK crane shunted by a diesel locomotive.619

On the flood embankment – riverbank section the overpass was assembled by the railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment from Inowrocław; a railway bridge battalion of the Soviet Army constructed the overpass on the river proper. The railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment used lorry-mounted cranes to assemble overpass supports along the axis of the crossing (they were positioned vertically with the use of winch trimmers); an SRK 20 type railway crane was used to carry and align spans along the bridge geodetic axis. The railway bridge battalion of the Soviet Army used an SRK 20 crane to align ←234 | 235→the overpass components and supports on the river. Two SRK 20 cranes were used to build the crossing.620

Railway Bridge Construction in Małkinia (1971)

In 1971, the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław constructed a new permanent road-rail bridge on the River Bug in Małkinia (Siedlce – Małkinia – Ostrołęka line) as part of a task to support the national economy. The L-36 folding military spans were appropriately adapted for the purpose, extended to a length of 48 m by adding two sections (each 6 m long). Following the extension, spans had to be reinforced from the outside (to the left and right) with additional girders; consequently, quadruple-sided bridge spans were developed, their load-bearing capacity was significantly increased. Standard bolt connections on span sections and other structural elements were replaced with rivets.621

Construction of a High-Water Temporary Bridge on the River Nogat in Malbork (1972)

In 1972 in view of the planned construction of a new reinforced-concrete bridge to replace an old bridge on its old site,622 a temporary detour bridge crossing was developed with the use of military folding railway bridge components. According to contemporaneous assumptions, the substitute bridge would be operated for a period of five years. The bridge was constructed by the railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław (JW 1523) as part of a task to support the national economy. The bridge construction works were supervised by Major Kazimierz Balog. The temporary railway bridge was constructed with the use of REM 500 overpass components on approach to the crossing, and L-30 steel frames over the River Nogat.

The L-30 bridge spans on the river were aligned on folding steel supports resting upon a wooden pile grating. Assembly base No. 1 developed for the ←235 | 236→purposes of assembling the steel supports and the treatment of wooden piles to be used for pile grating was set up 1.5 km upstream. Piling to be driven into the riverbed was floated down the river by boat, three KDM 2 M pile drivers used. Upon assembly steel frames and steel supports were transported as complete units by a PRK 50 floating crane,623 and placed on pre-arranged pile grating. Pushers were used to transport the crane (positioned on an NZM-56 bridge ferry) down the river with all bridge sections. The assembly base No. 2 set up in order to assemble the REM-500 overpass sections and L-30 steel frame girders was set up at the Malbork freight station. Upon assembly at the base, the bridge span components were carried to the bridge axis by SRK 20 and SRK 30/40 railway cranes.624

“BARIERA 79” Military Exercise, Siekierki n. Odrą (1979)

The railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment from Inowrocław (JW 1523), having joined forces with troops of the Red Army and the National People’s Army of East Germany, constructed a bridge crossing on the River Odra in Siekierki as a part of the practical coalition test of the Warsaw Pact Allied Forces Military Exercise, codename “BARIERA 79”,625 held during the period of October 18th until October 24th 1979. The battalion was commanded by Captain Józef Szwajka, M.Sc. Eng.

Throughout the mission the railway bridge battalion was staffed according to wartime requirements (approximately 500 soldiers), and supported by a rail crane company of the Soviet Army, stationed in Międzyrzecze and reporting to the battalion commander (two SRK 20 cranes and three KrAZ lorries adapted for operation on rails; the Polish Armed Forces had one SRK 20 crane).

The Soviet battalion assembled NZM-56 spans upstream at the assembly base; these spans were then carried by BMK 90 cutters onto the location, and connected with two pre-assembled overpasses (both from the Polish and German sides) with the use of adjustable NZM-56 bridge supports.

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The railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment constructed a part of the crossing with the use of REM-500 overpass components (approximate length: 820 m) on the River Odra marsh territory, while the Soviet Army troops worked on the crossing’s mid-section on the river using an NZM-56 floating road-rail bridge (length: 255 m). Subdivisions of the National People’s Army of East Germany assembled the bridge section terminus on the German side using REM-500 overpass components (length: 150 m, component assembly along the bridge axis with the use of a lorry-mounted crane).626

Upon assembly the crossing (constructed over 3 days) reached an approximate length of 1,200 m. The railway section was developed to the NL load standard; the road section – to a 40 tonne load standard.627 The crossing was given an informal name, Tadeusz Bridge, after Colonel Tadeusz Hanowski, commander of the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław.

In preparation for the military exercise, the Military Unit JW 1523 constructed an embankment,628 together with a track connecting the Siekierki station to the overpass bridgehead (approximate length: 9 km, average height: 4 m), it set up the assembly base at the Siekierki station, stocked two overpass sets, and completed surveying, design and carried out coordination works in co-operation with the “BARIERA” Exercise Training Command, for the purposes of resolving issues of military exercise collaboration and the connection of the two different bridge structures (the final overpass girder with the mobile support of the NZM-56 floating bridge, adjustable to river water level).

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The REM-500 overpass was connected to the NZM-56 floating bridge with the use of a transitional span of railway sleepers, 550 mm I-sections and S-49 rails fixed to the bridge.

The railway bridge battalion of the 2nd railway regiment assembled the REM-500 rail overpass (length: 820.43 m), including its initial 334.72 m section along a curve (radius: 400 m) from support No. 2 to support No. 27; the overpass was built with a ruling gradient 3.82 ‰ along its entire length. The SEK-500 and REM-500 structures respectively were applied along the curved and straight section. The overpass was assembled with the use of 65 spans (length: 12.61 m) resting on 64 S-6, S-7 and PN supports of different heights. The overpass was reinforced with the use of 12 brace clusters. The entire project was completed over a very brief period of 68 hours, with the use of three SRK 20 railway cranes and a triple-shift system (approximately 150–170 soldiers per shift). The overpass assembly involved the transport and assembly of entire overpass spans and supports.

The project owed its significant construction speed to the uninterrupted work of three SRK 20 assembly crane units (one crane provided by JW 1523, with an SM30 locomotive; two SRK 20 cranes coupled with rail mounted KrAZ 256 lorries. The two SRK20 cranes and KrAZ lorries, crews included, were dispatched by the Soviet Army railway unit stationed in Międzyrzecze. The average rate of bridge construction from the REM-500 overpass on the riverbank reached approximately 12.05 m/h (around 290 m per day).

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Above: Siekierki 1979, “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise. Overpass span with supports being lowered onto the bridge geodetic axis by SRK 20 crane, SM30 locomotive visible in the background, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna) Below: Siekierki 1979, “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise. Overpass span with supports being lowered onto the bridge geodetic axis by SRK 20 crane, SM30 locomotive visible in the background, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna)

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Load test of the overpass with an SP45-188 locomotive during the “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise, Siekierki 1979, photo by Colonel J. Jarzyna (photo courtesy Colonel J. Jarzyna)

The bridge crossing constructed during the “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise was load-tested with a single SP45-188 locomotive, followed by the passage of a heavy military troop train with a company of medium-sized tanks of the National People’s Army of the East Germany on heavy Saap flat wagons (18 tanks + Kl vans for the transport of soldiers), hauled by a Deutsche Reichsbahn/German National Railways BR 118 374–8 diesel locomotive. Upon arrival at Siekierki station running round its train, the locomotive hauled the train back to East Germany to Bienenwerder station. The commander of the battalion responsible for the construction of the crossing, Captain Józef Szwajka, remained standing beneath the span of the bridge throughout the passage of the train, a common custom for tests under load.

In order to construct the bridge at the required rate of 290m per day the following equipment was used during the bridge overpass assembly: three SRK 20 railway cranes; one SM30 diesel locomotive; three KrAZ 256 road-rail lorries, five K164 and K104 lorry-mounted cranes used for assembling the structure on the assembly base; two power generation units; EO 1, PAB 4, PAB 8, and PAD 16 generators; 3 bulldozers to prepare the foundations for the overpass supports; 2 excavators to dig the support foundations; 4 tipper lorries to prepare ←240 | 241→the foundations; 1 wheel loader to prepare the support foundations; 20 lorries of different types; 5 trailers; 4 off-road vehicles; 2 ambulance vehicles; 3 fuel tanker vehicles with dispensers; 1 set of surveying instruments (levellers, theodolites, geodesic surveys, rangefinder), one R 118 car-mounted radio station, portable radio stations supporting the communications between the construction site, assembly base, and crane commanders; battalion commander’s staff car; steel structure assembly tools; 2 rail impact wrenches.

1979, “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise. On the German side – the main stand for observers from the Command of the Allied Forces of the Warsaw Pact. Bottom row, standing – representatives of troops of the Soviet Army, the Polish Armed Forces and the National People’s Army of East Germany taking part in the Exercise (photo courtesy Colonel Józef Szwajka)

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1979, Siekierki, the”BARIERA 79” Military Exercise. An SRK20 railway crane and an SM30 locomotive with a support and span attached; in the foreground – bridge company of the bridge battalion, with commander. (photo courtesy Colonel Józef Szwajka)

1979, Siekierki, the “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise. A military troop train with a regrouping tank company of the National People’s Army of East Germany enters the crossing (photo courtesy Colonel Józef Szwajka)

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1979, Siekierki, “BARIERA 79” Military Exercise. Chief Quartermaster of the Polish Armed Forces General Mieczysław Obiedziński, Colonel Józef Szwajka, and commander of the 2nd railway regiment Colonel Pacyna against the connection point of SEK-500 and NZM-56 bridge structures (in the background) (photo courtesy Colonel Józef Szwajka)

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224 The war doctrine of tsarist Russia underwent considerable modifications with every change in the minister of war position. The Russian Empire’s railway policy was based on the premises resulting from defensive strategic plans, which is why the Russian General Staff opposed the expansion of a number of strategic railways located on the left bank of the River Vistula. These lands were written off with a defensive concept of destruction of railway lines and withdrawal of railway rolling stock east of the River Vistula demarcation line (the line of withdrawal and evacuation), in case of an enemy attack. The first line of the 1st class fortresses was treated as a strategic shield for the mobilisation of the Russian army, which was much more lengthy than in case of other European countries due to the poor railway network development. These plans resulted from the fear of the flanking of the first-wave mobilisation of Russian troops. Cf. Bochenek (1996), introduction.

225 Final delegations of the Supreme Board of Military Transport of the Soviet Army at the General Polish State Railways Management and Regional State Railway Managements were liquidated only upon the final withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Poland in 1992.

226 In the area of Regional State Railway Warsaw Management, these units were located at the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, and at stations Czeremcha and Kutno.

227 The construction of assault vessels in the Polish shipyards and the forming of landing and assault divisions were both determinants of such trends in the Polish Armed Forces.

228 The rate of attack as quoted was extremely high, and rather optimistic in assuming complete success of the offensive operation. Notably, the average daily rate of attack for units of the 1st Belarussian Front and 1st Ukrainian Front during the Vistula-Odra Operation reached 17 to 40 km, Cf. Ministry of National Defence, GS 181/56, Rozgromienie wojsk (1956), 115.

229 Ministry of National Defence, CC 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 18–19.

230 Ministry of National Defence, CC 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 19–22.

231 Ministry of National Defence, CC 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 256.

232 Ministry of National Defence, CC 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 191.

233 Antipenko (1970), conclusions.

234 Antipenko (1970), 350–351.

235 While inland waterways were of marginal significance to military transport, during the Red Army offensive campaigns in the Second World War, inland waterway stock and facilities on major Polish and German rivers were used to carry supplies and ship war spoils to Russia.

236 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 19.

237 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 191.

238 Significant increase in military transit traffic gave rise to the need to build a second track, completed on this section in 1965, see: Pisarski (1974), 127.

239 Pisarski (1974), 124.

240 Following electrification, the line capacity increased and journey times decreased – yet electrification remained marginal to military purposes. Due to the high destruction sensitivity of the overhead wires, traction substations, transmission lines and the power system, plans were made to switch to steam and diesel traction in wartime.

241 Regional State Railway Management Warsaw, Wojskowo-techniczny opis (1972), 2.

242 Line opening dates in parentheses.

243 Wojasiewicz (1982), 50.

244 After the war, the German wartime investment forming part of the Otto plan was completed, opening dates as indicated in Lijewski, Koziarski (1995), 100.

245 Lijewski, Koziarski (1995), 100.

246 Regional State Railway Management, Wojskowo-techniczny opis (1972), 2.

247 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 6.

248 Lijewski, Koziarski (1995), 98.

249 Junction post.

250 Regional State Railway Management Warsaw, Wojskowo-techniczny opis (1972).

251 The line was reconstructed by a battalion of the 2nd railway regiment in Inowrocław (stationed in Tłuszcz near the steam locomotive depot) and by Permanent Way Work Company No. 15.

252 Lijewski, Koziarski (1995), 101–102.

253 Lijewski, Koziarski (1995), 33.

254 Own study based on materials owned by the Polish State Railways General Management.

255 Ministry of National Defence, General Staff, Doświadczenia i wnioski (1962), 126.

256 Lijewski, Koziarski (1995), 86.

257 In 1929, the bridge across the River Vistula was dismantled, spans transported on barges down the Vistula to Toruń. In Toruń, these components were used to construct a road bridge over the River Vistula.

258 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 384, 397.

259 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, Attachment No. 8, 2.

260 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, Attachment No. 8, 3.

261 Account of June 15th 2006 by Colonel Józef Szwajka, and Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 379.

262 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 17.

263 Colonel Jerzy Jarzyna’s account of September 4th 2006.

264 Colonel Aleksander Jakimczuk’s account of December 12th 2006. The Colonel was involved in the preparations for the VISTULA 75 coalition exercises.

265 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, Attachment No. 8, 4.

266 Account of September 3rd 2006 by Jerzy Brych, M.Sc. Eng, former deputy manager of the Regional State Railway Management in Lublin.

267 Account of September 3rd 2006 by Jerzy Brych.

268 Account of September 3rd 2006 by Jerzy Brych.

269 Colonel Jacek Wyszyński’s account of August 28th 2006.

270 Kuhlmann (2004), 171–172.

271 Study based on instruction Inż. 470/81, Ministry of National Defence, Charakterystyka (1982), 12–29. Based also on the record of bridges kept by the RA of the Regional State Railway Management Wrocław and Szczecin.

272 Study based on instruction Inż.470/81, Ministry of National Defence, Charakterystyka (1982), 172.

273 The Frankfurt (Oder) railway junction was of great military significance during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The Red Army’s Berlin Operation also showed that the strategic Frankfurt (Oder) junction was the gateway to Berlin. Blowing up the railway bridge on the River Odra and heavy fighting for Frankfurt delayed the delivery of supplies to troops in combat (all factors of significant impact to the course of the Operation Berlin itself).

274 Kuhlmann (2004), 124–125.

275 Kuhlmann (2004), 94.

276 Kuhlmann (2004), 94.

277 Kuhlmann (2004), 94.

278 On April 16th 1945, the 1st Polish Army proceeded to cross the River Odra near Siekierki and Stare Łysogórki. On April 17th 1945 a waterway manoeuvre was attempted with the use of a pontoon bridge (width: 16 m, length: 220 m), which was floated in sections with the use of five cutters from Gozdowice, and re-assembled in the area of Stare Łysogórki. On April 18th 1945, the 9th battalion of the 1st Sapper Brigade, 11th battalion of the 1st Sapper Brigade, 2nd road battalion, and 3rd bridge construction battalion built a low-water wooden bridge (width: 4.5 m, length: 220 m, load-bearing capacity: 30 tonnes) over 71 hours, near the village of Siekierki (in front of the railway bridge). Based on Ministry of National Defence, SG 118/53, Zbiór przykładów (1953), 65–66.

279 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 15th 2006. German railways allocated DM 9.4 million to the construction of the siding in difficult terrain conditions.

280 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 15th 2006.

281 Kuhlmann (2004), 82.

282 In general, related plans involved reconstruction of a rail link dismantled in the 1950s or 1960s.

283 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 21–22.

284 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 10.

285 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 30–33.

286 Kwiatkowski (No. 8), 51.

287 Large transhipment stations (with significant reloading capacity) that were developed since the 1960s in Przemyśl, Medyka, Żurawica and Małaszewicze on main railway lines were used for military purpose as well.

288 Account of October 20th 2006 by Colonel Jerzy Maj, retired head of the Head of Military Transport at the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw.

289 Individual areas were equipped with field anti-aircraft defence stations.

290 In view of the significant acceleration of military operations with the use of the newly developed types of weapons and the doctrine of thermonuclear war, re-gauging railway lines from standard-gauge to broad-gauge was too time-consuming, and would unnecessarily involve significant resources and technical means.

291 Kwiatkowski (No. 8), 57.

292 Ministry of Transport, D 29, Wykaz linii (1985), 30.

293 A water tower was constructed to feed water cranes at station mid-length of the station.

294 http://www.starejuchy.pl/kolej/wrpbran/wrpbraniewo.htm [access: 18.10.2019].

295 http://www.starejuchy.pl/kolej/wrpbran/wrpbraniewo.htm [access: 18.10.2019].

296 According to data of the Infrastructure Administration Authority, Regional State Railway Management Gdańsk.

297 http://www.starejuchy.pl/kolej/wrpbran/wrpbraniewo.htm [access: 18.10.2019].

298 http://www.starejuchy.pl/kolej/wrpbran/wrpbraniewo.htm [access: 18.10.2019].

299 http://www.starejuchy.pl/kolej/wrpbran/wrpbraniewo.htm [access: 18.10.2019].

300 Official-purpose map, Regional State Railway Management Gdańsk.

301 According to the data of the Infrastructure Administration Authority, Regional State Railway Management in Gdańsk.

302 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 5.

303 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 43.

304 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 37.

305 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 37

306 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 37.

307 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 43.

308 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 72.

309 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 72.

310 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

311 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

312 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 43.

313 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

314 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

315 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

316 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

317 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

318 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

319 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 71.

320 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 43, 60.

321 Account of October 20th 2006 by Colonel Jerzy Maj, retired head of the Head of Military Transport at the Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw.

322 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 60.

323 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 60.

324 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 60.

325 Diagram of the Terespol Permanent Transhipment Area (undated, probably the 1970s).

326 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 8.

327 Official-use map of Regional State Railway Management Lublin and Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 43; also Polish State Railways, Regional State Railway Management East, Dodatek 5 (1990), 24.

328 Polish State Railways, Regional State Railway Management East, Dodatek 5 (1990), 24.

329 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 64.

330 Official-use map of Regional State Railway Management Cracow and Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 45.

331 Account of September 11th 2006 by professor Henryk Bałuch, Ph.D, M.Sc. Eng.; in the 1950s, he designed and supervised the construction of reloading station Medyka and Permanent Transhipment Area M (Medyka).

332 At a later date, Torki was renamed Chałupki Medyckie.

333 Account of September 11th 2006 by professor Henryk Bałuch, Ph.D, M.Sc. Eng.; in the 1950s, he designed and supervised the construction of reloading station Medyka and Permanent Transhipment Area M (Medyka).

334 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 45.

335 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 45.

336 Polish State Railways, D 29, Wykaz linii (1995), 64.

337 Account of September 11th 2006 by professor Henryk Bałuch, Ph.D, M.Sc. Eng.; in the 1950s, he designed and supervised the construction of reloading station Medyka and Permanent Transhipment Area M (Medyka).

338 Account of September 11th 2006 by professor Henryk Bałuch, Ph.D, M.Sc.Eng.

339 Account of September 11th 2006 by professor Henryk Bałuch, Ph.D, M.Sc.Eng.

340 Plans for wartime use of steam locomotives by the Polish Armed Forces were abandoned only in the early 1990s, the last strategic military inventory of Ty51 heavy freight locomotives was still in stock at the Polish State Railways station Zarzeka near Dęblin in the early 1990s. In the early 1990s, ST44 diesel locomotives were dispatched to long-term storage (for military purposes).

341 The Polish concept of maintaining active steam locomotives stock for wartime purposes differed from the Soviet principles, one example of the trend was the retaining of steam locomotives in the Skierniewice locomotive depot until 1990. From the 1970s onwards steam locomotives operated in Skierniewice were employed for auxiliary work purposes, the depot in Skierniewice served no non-electrified track sections at the time. Steam traction was also maintained at numerous other PKP locomotive depots (e.g. at Kielce Herbskie and Sędziszów) located on completely electrified lines. Heavy freight Ty51 steam locomotives – originally designed to haul also heavy military trains – remained in operation as well.

342 The railway signalling devices operated by mechanical lockdown of horizontal and vertical sliders, used to block train passage and manage traffic interdependencies.

343 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 23.

344 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 262.

345 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 198.

346 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 262.

347 Odd-numbered timetables could only be used on lines with well-developed track layouts.

348 A packet of several trains could pass through a given section in one direction, then a number of trains could pass through in the opposite direction.

349 Temporary block posts fitted with telephone communication devices were deployed along the line. Semaphores were replaced with D1 stop signs. Trains would be allowed to pass through a block post upon the All Clear signal given by the signal officer manning the given post.

350 Two lines were essentially selected whenever unidirectional traffic was set up: one used by loaded trains, the other – by empty ones on return.

351 Shuttle train operation comprised unidirectional traffic cycles on a single line (train passage would be allowed in alternate directions for pre-specified periods of time). Such method was employed if no other option for the return of empty wagons was available, or if the need arose to dispatch trains for unloading at night.

352 Caravan rail traffic involved train dispatching over minimum separation intervals of 3–4 minutes at 20 km per hour, in general with the train before being constantly in sight. Due to safety requirements for such traffic mode, the permitted train speed was significantly reduced. Caravan mode with steam traction was permitted on sections up to 60 km in length, for periods no longer than one day.

353 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 286–287.

354 And two front parallel lines (with a capacity of 8–14 train pairs per day).

355 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 26, 28.

356 Reconstruction of the location of the lines according to indirect sources.

357 In Trakiszki, the standard-gauge track entered USSR territory where a Permanent Transhipment Area had been developed; standard-gauge military trains were to enter Polish territory upon reloading.

358 Via rail link Łęgówek – Lesko.

359 Via rail link Suchy Las – Wielbark Las.

360 Via rail link Legionowo Piaski – Chotomów.

361 Via rail link Doły – Ujrzanów.

362 Via rail link Trzaskoniec – Poważe.

363 Via rail link Wieprz – Wisła.

364 Command of the Military Transports Service, Warsaw Military District, Analiza (1978), 4.

365 Command of the Military Transports Service, Warsaw Military District, Analiza (1978), 4.

366 Command of the Military Transports Service, Warsaw Military District, Analiza (1978), 9.

367 Command of the Military Transports Service, Warsaw Military District, Analiza (1978), 9.

368 Command of the Military Transports Service, Warsaw Military District, Analiza (1978), Appendix No. 1 – map.

369 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 5.

370 Command of the Military Transports Service, Warsaw Military District, Analiza (1978), 4.

371 The reserve was established at 10-20 % of the total railway line capacity.

372 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 263.

373 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 202.

374 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 194.

375 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 29.

376 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 260.

377 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 27.

378 Due to the shortage of flat wagons capable of transporting tanks, a decision was made to mobilise a significant number of coal wagons as part of the mobilisation effort, and remove their side walls with the use of acetylene torches.

379 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 260.

380 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 203.

381 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 192.

382 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 205.

383 Under favourable road conditions, road vehicles could be regrouped using their own transport, even over distances of 400–500 km.

384 Plans involved the preparation of heavy equipment loading and unloading stations.

385 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 207.

386 Theoretical capacity.

387 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 261.

388 Ibid., 196. These numbers were inflated: transport reserve plans assumed lower carriage capacity.

389 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 260.

390 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 3.

391 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 3–4.

392 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 4.

393 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 5.

394 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 46.

395 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 50

396 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 17.

397 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 20.

398 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 6–7.

399 If the front panel of the first or last carriage was fitted with a door, the Red Cross emblem would be replaced with a 500 x 500 mm Red Cross identification flag, suspended from a wooden stick (approximate length: 1,500 mm) allowing the flag to be slid over the stick.

400 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 8.

401 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 8.

402 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 12.

403 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 12.

404 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 13.

405 Ministry of Transport, Pk-31 (1970), 295–296.

406 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 296.

407 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 296–297.

408 Nowak (1994), 56–58.

409 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 343–344.

410 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 344.

411 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 357–358.

412 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 344.

413 Account of October 20th 2006 by Colonel Jerzy Maj, retired head of the Head of Military Transport at the Regional State Railway Management Warsaw.

414 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 345–348.

415 2–3 primary and 2–3 backup unloading stations were to be developed for the unloading of missiles. The unloading of missiles and missile rocket propulsion materials at the same station was forbidden. A missile unloading station would be fitted with 2–3 tracks (in addition to the primary one) and 1 unloading track (siding) located at a distance from the arrival/ departure tracks.

416 Stations for the unloading of rail and road reconstruction materials and for militarised resurfacing and bridge reconstruction divisions were to be developed as well, if required.

417 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 348–352.

418 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 358.

419 Headquarters of Military Transport at Regional State Railway Management in Warsaw, Ogólna charakterystyka (1984), 9.

420 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 373.

421 Ibid., 373.

422 Ibid., 373–374.

423 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 374.

424 Ibid., 374.

425 Ibid., 374–375.

426 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 375.

427 Ibid., 375.

428 Ibid., 375.

429 Ibid., 375–376.

430 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 376.

431 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 428–431.

432 Ibid., 421–423.

433 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 423–424.

434 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 424–426.

435 Ibid., 427–428.

436 An analysis of nuclear bomb explosion effects in Japan confirms the nature and extent of all predicted damages; catenary poles withstood the impact of the shockwave on Japanese railways due to their flexibility and small size.

437 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 433–438.

438 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 444.

439 Ministry of National Defence, Transport Command 33/64, Komunikacja wojskowa (1965), 444.

440 Ibid., 458.

441 Ibid., 469–472.

442 Owsińska (1965), 96.

443 Owsińska (1965), 96–97.

444 Łaniec (1974), 269.

445 General Staff, Instrukcja (1919).

446 General Staff, Instrukcja (1919), 62–63.

447 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930).

448 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 20.

449 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 212–213.

450 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 213–215.

451 Żołnierze (1988), 34.

452 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 215.

453 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 215–216.

454 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 216.

455 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 21.

456 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 217.

457 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 217–218.

458 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 219.

459 A practice common during the Second World War involved extremely effective destruction of steam locomotives by blasting a charge placed inside a cold engine’s firebox; according to an account by railwaymen, this was how retreating Germans destroyed locomotives at the Myszyniec locomotive depot (Ostrołęka Narrow-gauge Railway). This method was also used by guerrillas – they destroyed a narrow-gauge steam locomotive on the Zwierzyniec-Biłgoraj narrow-gauge line with a bunch of grenades thrown into the firebox.

460 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 219–221.

461 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930), 221–222.

462 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939).

463 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939) 4–7.

464 With intent to destroy all structural elements of a section: upper and lower flanges, crossbars, stringers and wind braces.

465 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 7–8.

466 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 7–8.

467 Żołnierze (1988), 33–34.

468 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947).

469 The manual includes engravings from Russian wartime sappers’ handbooks.

470 Resistance movement soldiers recalled that an S-49 rail (running meter weight: 49 kg) could be effectively cut with the use of a single 200 g TNT brick.

471 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 244.

472 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 252.

473 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 252.

474 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 253.

475 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 257.

476 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 257.

477 Blowing up the firebox of a hot locomotive would lead to a locomotive boiler explosion with effect of unpredictable proportions.

478 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 259.

479 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 259.

480 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 260.

481 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 261.

482 General Staff, Instrukcja (1919).

483 General Staff, Instrukcja (1919) 58–62.

484 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930).

485 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930) 210–211.

486 Shelters (deep shooting ditches) were developed no less than 300 m from a bridge along its longitudinal axis.

487 Patrol composition depended on the construction of bridge elements; girder box section – 3 persons; single or double T-profile beams – 2 persons; single-layer steel sheet – 1 person.

488 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 19–20 (methods employed also after the Second World War).

489 Odbudowa mostów (1966), 12.

490 Timber cribs – special-purpose bridge supports of wooden design, comprising around a dozen or several dozen horizontal layers of corner-notched logs, forming a frame stabilised from within with transverse and in some cases also longitudinal walls. Crib cavities are filled with stones or gravel.

491 Odbudowa mostów (1966), 13.

492 The provision of niches, pipes, wells and mine chambers in supports and bridgeheads of newly built railway bridges in case of war was common practice. These devices were usually masked with steel covers or stones with the appearance and colour of the support surface.

493 Odbudowa mostów (1966), 17–18.

494 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 191–192.

495 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 190–191.

496 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 18–19.

497 In case of arched bridges, charges were placed below the bearing stone or the foot of the vault.

498 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 196–197.

499 Should charge placement in supports prove difficult, stone or reinforced concrete bridges could be destroyed with charges placed above supports or vaults, on both sides of the keystone.

500 Ministry of National Defence, Instrukcja (1947), 197–199.

501 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 78–79.

502 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 78–84.

503 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 91.

504 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 91.

505 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 96.

506 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 98.

507 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 98.

508 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 101.

509 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 104.

510 This is why the Germans constructed rectangular and stepped locomotive depots when implementing the Otto plan to prepare the transport system to invade the USSR. In case of such locomotive depots the damage to particular depot tracks was easily removable.

511 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 105.

512 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 105–108.

513 Polish State Railways, D1, Przepisy budowy (1957).

514 Ministry of Railways, Przepisy eksploatacji (1956).

515 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 5–6.

516 Reverse curves could be joined without a straight insert or cant, provided that curve radii were greater than or equal to 1,200 m.

517 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 11.

518 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 15.

519 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 18.

520 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 22.

521 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 23.

522 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 30.

523 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 34–35.

524 Ministry of Transport, Warunki techniczne (1965), 314–319.

525 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 306.

526 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 310–314.

527 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 229.

528 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 241.

529 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 230.

530 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 231–232.

531 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 233–234.

532 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 263.

533 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 234–235.

534 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 236–239.

535 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 257–258.

536 Ministry of Military Affairs, Instrukcja (1930).

537 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 139.

538 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 140–142.

539 Maximum permitted sleeper crate support height reached 10–12 m.

540 Cribs were used when piling intended as pillar frame support could not be driven into rocky or stony ground.

541 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 178–180.

542 If no levers were available, low-elevation lifting could even involve the use of hard-timber wedges.

543 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 180–198.

544 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 199.

545 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 200–201.

546 In beamed bridge design, main beams carried the entire weight of the bridge, and were set upon support saddles. Bridge girders comprised single, multiple and composite beams.

547 Odbudowa mostów (1966), 266.

548 Odbudowa mostów (1966), 301.

549 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 168–169.

550 Białobrzeski (1978), 8.

551 Białobrzeski (1978), 8.

552 Wrześniowski (1955), 217.

553 Wrześniowski (1955), 217.

554 Białobrzeski (1978), 8.

555 Roth-Waagner folding spans were referenced as Type 1 by the Polish Armed Forces of the interwar period.

556 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926).

557 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 11.

558 The improved German R version of Roth-Waagner spans was used during the last war by the sapper units of the Wehrmacht. The considerable durability of this successful design is evidenced by the fact that even in the late 1960s, several Roth-Waagner spans continued to be in use on secondary lines of the Polish State Railways network.

559 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 18.

560 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 173.

561 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 4.

562 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 12; Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 175.

563 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 5.

564 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 171.

565 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 1.

566 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 15.

567 Ministry of Transport, Podręcznik (1939), 176.

568 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 15.

569 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 61.

570 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 64.

571 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 62–63.

572 Ministry of Military Affairs, Budowa (1926), 76.

573 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 11.

574 Three types of Skoda-Faltus spans were designed: Aa, Ab and Ac – for railway bridges, types B and C – for narrow-gauge railway bridges and road bridges, and D – for road bridges.

575 Everall Sectional Train Bridge.

576 EVERALL SECTIONAL TRAIN BRIDGE spans in Tczew were moved from the railway bridge to the road bridge in 1958.

577 Soviet brigades of railway troops employed special-purpose bridge reconstruction trains. These trains featured appropriate mechanical equipment and wagon cantilever cranes for the installation of temporary railway spans. Soldiers assigned as crews to bridge reconstruction trains were quartered in living vans.

578 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 28.

579 Odrodzenie (1947), 30.

580 Sterner (1960), 145–146.

581 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 29.

582 Bridge load standard was in force for PKP from 1923.

583 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 30.

584 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

585 All spans manufactured by the Railway Bridge Production Plant Białystok-Starosielce.

586 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 33.

587 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 34.

588 Two methods of setting an assembled L-30 span on supports were used. The first method involved their placement on the track on special-purpose trolleys, upon which they were moved to the outer bridge support. Once lifting beams were in place, two KR-36 gantry cranes were brought in, the span suspended thereon. After the span was hoisted by the KR-36 cranes, it was hung on the gantry crane, moved onto the bridge axis, and lowered by lift. Placed on trolleys, the span was moved with the use of a puller winch and a brake winch. After lowering the span onto supports, the KR-36 gantry cranes were moved backwards to suspend the next span. Bridge sleepers, tracks, and footpaths were constructed on the span after it had been aligned on the bridge axis.

589 All spans manufactured by the Railway Bridge Production Plant Białystok-Starosielce.

590 Trusses with multiple statically indeterminate lattice.

591 Smaller-breadth spans were used as well, with fewer lattice elements (length: 30 m, weight: 40.581 tonnes, i.a. 1.34 tonnes/m; and length: 24 m, weight: 32.828 tonnes, i.a. 1.36 tonnes/m. The use of spans shorter than 24 m was not economically viable in view of the inability to use the remaining elements to assemble an independent span.

592 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 37.

593 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 37.

594 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 50.

595 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 128.

596 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

597 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

598 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 72.

599 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 78.

600 Assembly supports were made of piles driven into soil, or sleeper crates.

601 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

602 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 228.

603 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 229.

604 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 229.

605 Odbudowa mostów (1968), 230.

606 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 437.

607 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 446, 451.

608 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 455.

609 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, Attachment No. 8, 2.

610 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 384.

611 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 384, 397.

612 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 397.

613 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 384.

614 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, 397.

615 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

616 Lieutenant Colonel Kazimierz Balog’s account of December 10th 2006.

617 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, Attachment No. 8, 4.

618 Kuhlmann (2004), 94.

619 Lieutenant Colonel Kazimierz Balog’s account of December 10th 2006.

620 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

621 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

622 After the war, the destroyed railway bridge over the River Nogat in Malbork (Warsaw–Gdańsk line) was temporarily reconstructed with the use of heavy folding spans of the English ESTB system. The increased rail traffic and the declining technical condition of old-type spans gave rise to the need of developing a new bridge in the early 1970s. Since a bridge was necessary to secure uninterrupted train traffic, a decision was made to set up a provisional bypass bridge.

623 The PRK 50 crane (Plavayushchyi Rasbornyi Kran), lifting capacity: 50 tonnes, was designed to position steel frames and steel supports along the bridge axis. The crane was assembled on NZM-56 road-rail bridge ferry pontoons..

624 Colonel Józef Szajka’s account of June 11th 2006.

625 The “BARIERA 79” Exercise involved the construction of other bridges as well, including a folding road bridge in Cedynia on the River Odra (wooden supports, length: 89 m, load-bearing capacity: 40 tonnes).

626 In view of the plans to develop a wartime reserve crossing, a siding branching off at km. 10.895 (Abzweigung Nra) between station Neurüdnitz and the bridge over the River Odra (approximate length: 1.5 km) was developed down to the riverbank as early as 1976. Construction works on the siding codenamed “Object-83” proceeded in extremely difficult wet terrain. The embankment of the siding was connected to the floodbank below the head, which is why the floodbank was secured with special-purpose flood gates housing the final section of the siding on the floodplain. Gates were opened at low water, temporary crossing construction possible in low water conditions only. The East German Deutsche Reichsbahn/German National Railways allocated 9.4 million East German Marks to the construction of the siding in difficult terrain conditions.

627 Gembora, Ref. No. 1138, Attachment No. 8, 5.

628 Siding construction works involved the construction of a gravel embankment in rough wet terrain; gravel was transported from the Chojna gravel pit with a dumpcar wagon shuttle hauled by a ST44 locomotive.