sulzer engines in Poland
Poland
2,100hp Co-Co Locomotive

Between 1965 & 1978 the Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe, PKP) took delivery of 420 Sulzer 12LDA28 powered 2,100hp locomotives. These were built by Electroputere, Craiova, Romania and were very similar to the 060 DA class locomotives then operating on the CFR, Romania. The CFR examples were introduced in 1960 with orders continuing through 1981, for a total of 1,407 built. The PKP locomotives were delivered between 1965 & 1978, totalling 420. The Sulzer 12LDA28 engine could trace its heritage back to the 1930s, during the late 1950s locomotives with this model engine were being succesfully introduced in France and the United Kingdom. By the time of the PKP order CFR had almost two hundred locomotives with the Sulzer 12LDA28 in service, the track record thus far would be positive.

It's somewhat outside the scope of this website to understand how western technology in the shape of the six Swiss SLM built 060DA locomotives were ordered by CFR, Romania in light of the existance of the communist eastern bloc Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, abbreviated as COMECON or CMEA. The COMECON was an economic organization established in 1949 under the leadership of the Soviet Union and initially comprised of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. The creation of COMECON was in direct opposition to the Marshall Aid Plan which would have resulted in stronger economic ties to free (western) European markets than to those of the Soviet Union. The Marshall Aid Plan had attracted the attention of Czechoslovakia, Hungary & Poland, but this was seen as absolutely unacceptable to Stalin, who in July 1947, ordered these communist-dominated governments to pull out of the Paris Conference on the European Recovery Programme.

Joseph Stalin's desire to cooperate with and strengthen the international socialist relationship at an economic level with the communist states of central Europe led to these countries being generally cut off from their traditional markets and suppliers in the rest of Europe.

Despite the overtures of the Soviets however, Romania flexed some of its political power through the concept of soverign equality, resulting in a weakening of Russian dominance in a number of areas, including presumably Romania's ability to trade with non-communist countries. The forced Soviet (mostly Russian) cultural influence in the country which characterized the 1950s was stopped and an example of the result was that Western media was allowed to circulate in Romania instead.

Thus in the mid-1960s PKP turned to the license built 060 DA locomotives from Romania as a stop-gap between its out-of-favour steam fleet and its incomplete electrification schemes. Ironically Poland had large reserves of cheap coal and no home grown manufacturers of large diesel locomotives.

An order for thirty locomotives was placed by the PKP during June 1964 and entering service from March 1965 onwards, being designated ST43. Further orders would follow with the last being delivered in 1978. The ST43 class was intended to replace heavy freight steam locomotives types Ty246 and Ty51, primarily on routes between Silesia and western Baltic Sea ports. Although primarily built for freight operation they could be found on passenger services during the warmer summer months. The ST43 class was not equipped with train heating equipment.

There were a number of variants as the deliveries progressed:
ST43-156 onwards were fitted with slightly modernized 12LDS28B engine of the same output.
ST43-276 onwards introduced new brakes.
ST43-278 onwards the length was increased by 400 mm (longer frame due to the introduction of the automatic coupler), with a slight increase in overall weight.
ST43-313 onwards automatic fire-extinguishing system was fitted.

The ST43 earned a good reputation in Poland, being considered strong, reliable, with simple maintenance and good operating costs. Its main competitor was the Soviet built M62, which on the PKP was known as the ST44 Gargarin. This locomotive was larger and externally appeared more impressive, but internally they were heavy on the fuel and oil and were in fact less powerful that the ST43s.

The economics of the 1980s proved unfavourable to both the ST43 & ST44 classes. Main line electrification was now well advanced, escalating fuel oil prices made these older locomotives increasingly uneconomical and decreasing freight volumes reduced the number of locomotives needed. Although withdrawal of the ST43s commenced, many were kept in reserve, with some eventually returning to service. Plans from the late 1990s to modernize at least 250 of the locomotives, with new engines and other upgrades came to nothing. After many ST44 ‘Gargarins’ were scrapped or sold abroad the ST43 became the most numerous heavy line diesel locomotive in Poland. Plans to transfer some to north-eastern Poland were abandoned, they had never been used there previously and reportedly they were not considered well suited for this region's severe winter conditions.

The following is a compilation of sources with regard to the decline of the ST43 fleet and their reuse elsewhere:

Late 2006: 174: not all serviceable (roster compiled by Pawel Terczynski and given in AL).
Late 2010: 134: 106 serviceable, 28 awaiting repairs, although many were heavily cannibalised (article by Pawel Czech (KMD vol. 1-2/2011).
Mid 2011: 133: (at www.kolejowaklatka.org website by Marek Dabrowski).
??? 2014: 127: many were kept in reserve.
Mid 2014: PKP Cargo offered 48 withdrawn examples for sale, but probably only two (according to the above-mentioned website) were sold to a small private operator Wiskol in September 2015.
Late 2017: 8 in service with PKP Cargo; during next few months, several were withdrawn due to serious failures or completed mileage between overhauls (source SK).
Early 2019: 2 in service with PKP Cargo (ST43-355 & ST43-366). The former, based in Lower Silesia, ran for the last time with a freight train on March 14th 2019 and ST43-366, based in Jaslo, hauled its last freight train on April 25th 2019; three days later it was withdrawn from use, after a final run with a special passenger train for railway fans. Both these locomotives are intended for preservation.

At least 53 ST43/060DA locomotives were purchased by eight companies for further use in Poland (total provided by KMD, SK and internet sources). These locomotives are formerly from the PKP & CFR fleets, most are easily distinguishable, the PKP examples have larger lights on the lower cab front and the CFR have small double headlights mounted above the cab:

15: CTL Rail (later CTL Logistics)
10: Lotos Kolej
13: PTKiGK Rybnik
3: PTKiGK Zabrze
5: PCC Rail (all sold to Lotos Kolej)
2: PRKiI (track maintenance company)
2: FER Polska
3: EuroNaft

1: ST43-20 was transferred to a quarry as early as May 1985 – the first of this type not operated by PKP.

Of the above at least 26 were ex-CFR machines, bought via German Karsdorfer Eisenbahngesellschaft (KEG). At least two came from Spanish Comsa Rail Transport – probably all were also ex-CFR locomotives.

The status of these 53 locomotives was somewhat fluid, as reported below for mid-2011 only 31 remained (source www.kolejowaklatka.org):

13: CTL Logistics
7: DB Schenker Rail Polska
6: EuroNaft
2: PRKiI
2: FER Polska
1: Lotos Kolej

Developments relating to the above:
Lotos Kolej purchased brand-new locomotives and disposed of their ST43s.
FER Polska (a joint venture of Rail4Chem and Comsa Rail Transport) went into liquidation in late 2010, the fate of ST43-2416 (formerly 60-2416) and ST43-1221 is uncertain.
DB Schenker Rail - three transferred to Bulgaria.
Four private-owned 060DAs were written off and scrapped between 2001 and 2011.

As at June 2019 only two private operators have ST43s and not all of them are operational:
10: CTL Logistics
6: Orlen KolTrans.

Preservation:

ST43-01 has reached the Chabówka rolling stock heritage park; its condition is not very good.
ST43-02 is preserved at the Industry and Railway Museum in Jaworzyna Slaska, in bad condition & not on display (as at 2019).
ST43-80 is also intended for preservation (sources SK & SS).

The bulk of the information above is used with permission from Tomasz Galka, webmaster of the website www.locomotives.com.pl. Thank you!

Miscellaneous Images of the ST43 Class

Photograph courtesy 'Orpington'.
ST43-192 awaits an uncertain future.

Photograph courtesy 'Orpington'.
ST43-244 keeps company with other stored/withdrawn machines.

Photograph courtesy 'Orpington'.
A fine study of ST43-328 at Nowy Swieton on April 17th 2003. The livery has components reminiscent of British Railway's two-tone green livery, the red buffer beam, small yellow warning panel, and the use of the two greens, though the darker green was definately not found on BR's machines.

Photograph courtesy Marcin Folek, from a posting on 'abpr'.
ST43-231 and another locomotive at Jaworzyna Slaska during July 2004.


Production List of the 060DA locomotives.
Year CFR (Roumania) Private Industry (Roumania) PKP (Poland) BDZ (Bulgaria) China
1960 10 Nil Nil Nil Nil
1961 8 Nil Nil Nil Nil
1962 35 Nil Nil Nil Nil
1963 59 Nil Nil Nil Nil
1964 85 Nil Nil Nil Nil
1965 65 Nil 45 Nil Nil
1966 80 Nil 35 10 Nil
1967 76 Nil 35 15 Nil
1968 75 Nil 40 17 Nil
1969 75 Nil 40 30 Nil
1970 96 5 42 Nil Nil
1971 86 9 40 8 8
1972 91 Nil 35 10 Nil
1973 73 Nil 52 10 10
1974 88 Nil 26 10 20
1975 77 Nil 8 20 20
1976 51 4 2 0 Nil
1977 84 20 10 Nil Nil
1978 60 3 10 Nil 16
1979 49 4 Nil Nil 43
1980 58 2 Nil Nil 21
1981 26 10 Nil Nil 21
1982 Nil 5 Nil Nil 30
1983 Nil 15 Nil Nil 14
1984 Nil 11 Nil Nil 24
1985 Nil 10 Nil Nil 27
1986 Nil 10 Nil Nil 23
1987 Nil 9 Nil Nil 26
1988 Nil 7 Nil Nil 31
1989 Nil 12 Nil Nil 26
1990 Nil 15 Nil Nil 19
1991 Nil 7 Nil Nil Nil
1992 Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
1993 Nil 2 Nil Nil Nil
TOTALS 1407 160 420 130 379

An ST 43 builders plate Electroputere Craiova, Romania sold at Great Central Railwayana Auctions for Ł120 during June 2017.

Page added November 13th 2004.
Last updated August 16th 2019.

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