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:
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).
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)
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
Developments relating to the above:
As at June 2019 only two private operators have ST43s and not all of them are operational:
ST43-01 has reached the Chabówka rolling stock heritage park; its condition is not very good.
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
An ST 43 builders plate Electroputere Craiova, Romania sold at Great Central Railwayana Auctions for Ł120 during June 2017.
Page added November 13th 2004.