Crossing Silesia by train

After our stay at the Holiday Inn Dresden and exploring the city of Dresden, it was time to continue our trip eastwards to Krakow in Poland. The fastest routes either go via Warsaw or Prague, but we decided on travelling on the classic route over Gorlitz and Wroclaw.

Since Wroclaw was the European cultural capital in 2016 there has been a direct train three times a day linking Dresden with Wroclaw, operated in cooperation between the German Laenderbahn and the Polish Koleje Dolnoslaskie. Unfortunately the times of the direct train did not match with our onward connection from Wroclaw to Krakow, so we decided on a trip with some changing of trains on the same route instead.

Our first train took us from Dresden Neustadt to Gorlitz near the German-Polish border. This train was operated by Laenderbahn and consisted of two Desiro Classic units. These units had a low floor area in the middle of the train with multifunctional compartment to store bikes, strollers and wheelchairs as well as an accessible toilet. On the Front and rear ends of the units there where higher compartments which can be reached by climbing up some stairs and behind a door there is a separate compartment with reserved seating for frequent travellers. The route took us along the former mainline towards Silesia, alongside fields, woods and rolling hills.

 

In Gorlitz we had about an hour waiting time before our connecting train would depart, so we went for a quick stroll into the city along the main shopping street, the main squares and saw some of the principal sights like the white tower. On our way back to the station we visited a supermarket to buy some provisions to drink and eat. The station itself was also pretty big and majestic, showing that it used to be far more important and centrally located than it is nowadays.

 

The next train was only a small 30 minutes hop on a polish built Polregio (the regional train department of the national PKP) train towards Wegliniec. It was actually a pretty modern and clean unit, featuring air-conditioning and Passenger Information systems. After crossing the Neisse river we mostly travelled over flat wooded areas, occasionally having to slow down for track speed limits because of bad track conditions.

 

Our short 6 minutes change in Wegliniec was quite interesting, a big connecting hub station that appeared to be almost in the middle of nowhere. Most platforms where nothing more than some concrete tiles in between the tracks, with no under or over passage. To change tracks you just had to walk over the tracks, something that would be unimaginable back home in Belgium!

Awaiting us was a brand new Polish built Electrical Multiple unit that would bring us to Wroclaw. It had a very nice colour palette using grey, whites and yellow. The seats in the train are some of the most comfortable in the industry, the same as are used on board the Austrian Railjet trains.

While the train itself was capable of running smoothly at a high speed, we still made very slow progress as we had to stop at every single station on the line, taking almost 2 hours before reaching Wroclaw. The landscape along the line was also not the most spectacular one with mostly fields and woods.

 

Upon arrival in Wroclaw we were stunned about how modern, clean and efficient the station was. While the old train shed and main building where kept and restored, they also added all necessary modern information signs and facilities and a lot of eating places to be fed and watered.

 

While originally we had a safe layover of 1 hours and 10 minutes, our next train was delayed by slightly more than an hour, so we were very happy to see it finally arrive. Considering the train runs across almost entire Poland a delay is of course not very exceptional. Despite the train having left its origin station in the morning it was still clean when we boarded in the late afternoon, even the toilets could still be safely visited. Composed of a locomotive and hauled coaches, it was still relatively modern and equipped with airconditioning.

 

As all intercity trains in Poland have compulsory reservation we didn’t have to search and fight over seats, but quickly took our allocated seats at the end of the coach, around a table. Even though we were not able to make the reservation in Belgium anymore, we were able to pull out of a standard German ticket machine in Frankfurt on our layover there. While we first thought it would be nice to be able to stretch out we were disappointed when an older couple came to sit across from us. When the Train guard passed by a bit later they found out they were in the wrong train and they had to change in the next station, allowing us to stretch out for the remainder of the trip.

 

Due to works on the Katowice – Krakow mainline our train was diverted over another route, taking us much further north than it usually would. This also meant travelling over secondary lines with lower speeds and single tracked sections, forcing us to wait for passing trains several times.

As they were also working on the railway line linking the Krakow main station to the other side of the river, our train also did not call at Krakow Glowny (the main station) but travelled along the goods avoiding line to Krakow Plaszow (about as nice and well located as Antwerpen-Noorderdokken is in our hometown) at the opposite side of the river.

As by now we had had it with trains and public transport, we just ordered an Uber to take us from the station to our hotel, the very nice Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre. After checking in and dropping our bags in the room, we walked to city centre to enjoy a nice meal at one of the fine restaurants Krakow has to offer. As we were both absolutely knackered we called it an early night, to be ready to explore Krakow and the concentration camps in the following days.

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Have you ever travelled by train in Poland? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!

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