In a sleeper through Poland with a small excursion to Germany 2021

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Barciur

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Hello all!

It's been a long while since I've done an "exotic" trip report and since I was able to travel back home to Poland this summer, I did a little one day excursion to the Baltic with a little cross over into Germany. I went with a friend and we travelled on a very old Polish sleeper overnight from Warsaw to Świnoujście, and then a regional train across the border into Germany, with same day return on the same route. There will be mostly pictures (over 90) and some info, hopefully you will find that interesting!

First, some information. The map of the journey is as follows:



We dedpart at 5:56PM, have a 2 hour layover in Warsaw, then depart at 9:45PM to arrive in Świnoujscie at 7:50am. Normally, the journey would be about 2 hours shorter, but due to massive construction between Poznań and Szczecin - both former German towns before WW2 - the train takes a detour and travels all the way to the German border and then turns north to go alongside the Oder river. This, combined with longer stops, creates for a longer journey. We do not care, however, as we will simply sleep longer!


1. The journey starts, as always, in Lublin. The train station area is undergoing big construction, with a new Metropolitan Transit Center to be built here, which will house both the train and bus stations.



2. The nice thing about this train station is the old style boards, soon to be probably replaced and forgotten. We are taking the 17:56 Intercity train to Warsawa Wschodnia, which is Warsaw East station.



3. The platforms are new and modernized, which is nice to see.


4. View in the western direction, towards Warsaw. In the background we see our train.


5. The train we are taking is an EMU made by PESA Bydgoszcz, called PESA DART (ED161). Built in 2014, these were created for somewhat shorter Intercity routes, to replace a fleet of really old cars with 8 persons to a compartment.
 

Barciur

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6. The goofy thing about Lublin train station is the track numbers.. they use the full station technical numbers to announce trains, which is totally passenger unfriendly.. Hence, the train departs from track 55 on platform 3.


7. A more traditional loco+cars train pulls in from Kraków on the other track. Still, the cars are new. It is hard now to find trains with old, fully open windows and no AC. Things have changed a lot in the past 5 years.


8. The PESA Dart is pretty comfortable. It has doors in the middle of the car, so each car is divided into smaller sections. This makes it a bit more intimate than traditional open car. Here is my section of the train.


9. Seat pitch is pretty decent, and seats move down in the modern way, without causing any discomfort to other passengers.


10.
 

Barciur

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11. The trains hold bikes as well, which is a big plus.


12. View onto the rest of the train.


13. There are monitors above, however, they only display commercials, speed and the route.


14. And we are now off, looking at the modernized road network of Lublin.


15. At one of the stops, we pass by a modernized EN57 EMU, which has been in service since the 70s, with many different modernizations. This one belongs to the Polregio, which is Polish Regional Railway, Lublin division.
 

Barciur

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16. We take a walk to the bar car.


17. The bar car is small, but serves its purpose.


18. We can enjoy a traditional Polish meal (I chose Pierogi), a Polish beer.


19. And then coffee and dessert. All is very good and not too expensive, especially for western standards.


20. As we continue the journey to Warsaw, which takes 2 hours, we pass by another IC train, again with modernized cars.
 

Barciur

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21. We are approaching Warsaw East station.


22. At Warsaw East station, we have to get off and catch a local train to Warsaw Central (Warszawa Centralna). The reason for this is the big construction around the Warsaw Railway Junction, which causes a lot of detours, capacity issues etc. Some trains are truncated to Warsaw East, others bypass those completely and take another route by going through Warszawa Gdańska (1 mile north), some make the full journey through. Not a problem, though, as it only takes 15 minutes to take a local train to the central station. Here we are on regional platforms with a Pendolino ED250 train waiting to depart to Gdańsk.



23. The regional train which takes us to the center.


24. First stop is Warsaw Stadium, which is decked out in national colors - this is the National Stadium train station.


25. We cross the Wisła (Vistula) river, which symbolically divides east and west of Poland.
 

Barciur

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26. The busy city of Warsaw.


27. The station hall is nice and modern.


28. You can head upstairs to find a McDonald's a supermarket and some other amenities as well.


29. A big arrivals and departures board is hard to miss.


30. We head down to the platform to await the train.
 

Barciur

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31. Our Train UZNAM to Świnoujście is rather short this year. Partially due to COVID, partially due to smaller amount of people taking night trains in favor of day trains, as the rail network in Poland gets better and more faster connections are available.


32. The train arrives, here is our sleeper car.


33. On board the train, in the corridor.


34. Our compartment has 3 beds in it, but nobody booked the third one, so only the two of us are travelling.


35. The windows open, as there is no air conditioning. It is a hot day, so each station stop means it gets hot in the room.
 

Barciur

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36. The sleeper is sort of a "premium" class of travel, but service is absolutely bare bones. Best to think of it as buying a bed to sleep on the train rather than a special experience, such as Amtrak. You really do not get anything. We got a wet towel



37. A disinfectant gel


38. And a snack


Not even bottled water was provided. Those are available to be bought from the car attendant.

39. The full route of our train


40. We approach Warsaw West station with an EIP Pendolino train coming back from Kraków.
 

Barciur

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41. Open windows make it possible to take nice pictures. Warsaw West Station building is a main office building for PKP Intercity and other PKP group companies.


42. As we pass many stations, they are mostly modernized. A big change has definitely taken place on the Polish railroad in the past few years, not only in terms of trains, but also station infrastructure.


43. With the moon hovering over this lonely and pretty church, we bid you a good night.


44. We wake up in the morning to see a kitchy Casa del Mar motel.


45. Polish railroad suffers a chronic lack of cars for its seasonal routes, so it borrows the worst cars from the Czechs. Here is a train that goes all the way to the Czech border.
 

Barciur

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46. Our train visible on a curve.


47. As we arrive, lots of people detrain with their bikes for the Baltic summer adventure. In the background we see a regional train of the West Pomerania region.


48. Świnoujście station is clearly undergoing construction.


49. As we are on islands, we have to take a ferry. This is the only part of Poland not connected with a road connection to the mainland, as most of the island is Germany. The island is called Usedom, only the port town of Świnoujście is Polish.


50. We are taking a 1.5 mile walk through Świnoujście to the only German-run train station on the territory of Poland.

 

Barciur

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51. We are still in Poland, but only a couple hundred yards away from the border. The German railway extended the tracks and installed its own train station. Only the regional UBB trains call here.


52. It's easy to spot that this is a German station - by the German signs, even if they are in Polish.


53. As well as German traffic signals give it away.


54. We are in Świnoujście Centrum.


55. The train is a DMU owned by the local Usedom Regiobahn - UBB.
 

Barciur

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56. The interesting thing is that inside there is a 2+3 seat configuration, not common in Poland, but perhaps more so in Germany.


57. The seats are comfortable enough.


58. The train ride will only be about 10 minutes, to Heringsdorf. After not even a mile, we stop at the border. Since we are in Schengen zone, there are no border checks. In the background, you will see Polish and German colored posts - these are border markers.


59. There is a station here, Ahlbeck Grenze which means Ahlbeck border.


60. The local train fare is €3 per person, not bad.
 

Barciur

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61. At Heringsdorf, the train will turn around, but we depart here.


62. A pretty and historical train station in Heringsdorf.


63. The town here is one of the historical kingdom towns - one of the most prestigious resort towns in the 18th and 19th century for the royalty.


64. Very pretty and elegant.


65.
 

Barciur

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66. We enjoy a nice aperitif on the dock.


67. With a pretty view on the Baltic.


68. The Germans fly the Polish flag there as well


69. Later on, we enjoy a Hering...


70. And some nice German beer.
 

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71. We enjoy nice beach town and some beach time, as the weather is 82 degrees (28 celsius) and the water is bearable, even though it is a more northern sea. On the way back, we cross the border by foot



72. Before 2007, this all used to be blocked off by fences and barbed wire, since then it has become a "transborder promenade", with a bike path and lots of traffic visiting both sides of the border.


73. Some remnants of the old border fence remain.


74. And after dinner on the Polish side, we head back to the ferry to take us back to the train station.


75. Very similar sleeping compartment awaits
 

Barciur

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76. It is nearly 10pm at night and the sky is still relatively bright!


77. I enjoy travelling along the roads like this.


78. This one being empty, although often we can travel faster than cars.


79. It has gotten considerably darker now.


80. Crossing the Oder river in Szczecin by night.



81. An unexpected 2 hour stop on the outskirts of Szczecin due to the catenary problem, alongside a train heading back to Czechia.


82. Still, we are able to sleep nicely as we have a sleeper car and we arrive with a 70 minute delay at Warszawa Gdańska, a more local train station with a very old, desolate communist station building.



All in all, a great trip. The entire journey one way cost about $40 with the sleeper, which is not bad by western standards, although it is lacking in some amenities. Still, it's an 850km trip, so that's the best way to travel. Too bad that Poland has not been modernizing its fleet of sleeper cars, but maybe with the western trends changing and night trains becoming more favored again, so too things will change in Poland.

I hope you enjoyed the journey and hopefully next year I can bring you a bigger trip with less COVID-related restrictions!
 

caravanman

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Very good trip report, thank you for posting it. I have enjoyed my own train rides in Poland, and have affection for the older style of trains there, more than the swish modern ones. (I admit that my views are as a tourist... I am sure if I lived in Poland, I would be pleased to see modern trains and stations introduced!).
 

Ziv

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Thank you for the trip report! Poland is one of my favorite destinations. I spend more time in Krakow and Zakopane so it is cool to see some of the rest of the country. I have traveled through Warsaw and the downtown was a work in progress the last time I was there in 2008. WWII treated it badly, to put it lightly. I would be curious to see how it looks now. The Warsaw Central station looks like they updated it nicely. It was a bit tatty the last time I was there.
 

acelafan

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Thank you for such a detailed trip report! I loved looking at all the pictures and reading the captions. I was in Poland two years ago, and although I did not ride the trains there, I did visit the main Warsaw central station and thought it was really something. I definitely want to go back to Poland and take a train trip. Lucky you for enjoying it. I love Europe. :)
 
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