The idea arose in the mind of Łukasz Wzorek, still a student back then, who was looking out the window while taking a train ride and saw a bunch of deteriorating locomotives on the side tracks. He thought then that it would be nice to acquire one of these historic marvels of transportation and auction it during the annual final of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. He told Dr. Eng. Leszek Kurcz, Rector’s plenipotentiary for the scientific circles of the metallurgy division about his idea. He suggested that getting the locomotive was a great idea, but it would be worthwhile to keep it at the AGH University of Science and Technology as a mascot – a symbol of student research activities. Maciek Król then joined the project team and they began with checking the feasibility of the various stages of the project. How to get a locomotive? Where and how to renovate it? How to transport it to the University grounds? And all this at the lowest possible cost, if not for free! Finally: where to set it up around campus and how to utilize this unusual acquisition?
The pace of work from the beginning was extremely fast, each stage required hard work, often for several hours a day.
After long searching, a Ty2 559 locomotive standing in Chojnice in Pomerania was chosen as the object of interest as it was available in the best condition. With the support of the University’s authorities a letter to the PKP Cargo was sent, expressing the desire to take care of the historic steam train. With the help of Era Parawozów organization the locomotive was withdrawn from public tender, allowing this historic artifact to be salvaged from cutting it down for razor blades.
At this point tedious and difficult negotiations with the railroad company began concerning receiving the Ty2 559 locomotive from Chojnice for free. It took six months to achieve our goal and we were given the OK sign. Decision: The „we”, was made after six months. PKP Cargo added an extra tender to the locomotive and wagon from the 1950s. They also generously gave up the payment for the transportation of the gifts to Krakow. AGH University’s Rectors donated a very attractive location on the campus. At this point, the project evolved as an idea of using the locomotive site as a square for students. This place would be named „AGH Station” and was a symbol not only of young Polish intellectual activity, but also a modern approach to saving historic marvels.
An unusual train hit the road on Friday evening: first a quite modern locomotive, then the Ty2 559, tender and finally the half-open wagon, which in the past was used to transport troops. And in the car, of course, Łukasz and Maciej. It was an unforgettable journey on wooden bunks. They drove through almost the entire country with banners promoting AGH University, often using various side trails at 30 km per hour and were met by great interest and kindness of passing people.
The locomotive arrived at Kraków-Płaszów rail station on Monday. There was another problem: where to carry out the repair of the locomotive at the lowest cost? After a long search, a meeting with Mr. Mariusz Hrabaka, Head of the Wagon Repair Rail Transport Companies Sp. Ltd. was set up. Mr Hrabaka understood the students’ enthusiasm and determination and giving them a huge dose of trust he decided to help. Experts from companies belonging to the Department of Repairs and Maintenance of Rolling Stock in Pyskowice started to work on the locomotive with great dedication and at minimum cost. To further lower the cost of renovation Mr. Krzysztof Sarna, owner of Carsystem East greatly helped by submitting materials to overcoat the locomotive with primer and varnish.
The favor and assistance of Mr. Bartosz Kłosowicz from Car Lak company, who helped finding the above mentioned company and painted the smaller parts. A major problem in the renovation of historical monuments of this type is the lack of most of the parts made of nonferrous metals. The high price of metals combined with the ease of removing parts meant that virtually no locomotive still carries a pan or plate with the original Polish emblem and lot number. Our Ty2 was lucky to hit the AGH University. Thanks to prof. Stanisław Rzadkosz from the Department of Foundry Engineering restored the locomotive parts in question.
Repair due to their specificity was lengthy and problematic. Thanks to our sponsors and help of the whole team involved, the final effect were stunning. While the locomotive was being renovated , land development was done at the future project site near pavilion B-5 of AGH. Renewed locomotive, tender and wagon (about 120 tons of steel) was delivered from Łobzów rail station to its final location at AGH University using self-propelled carriages from Panas Transportation Company at the price of fuel. The owner of Panas Transportation referred to the project with great fondness, as it turned out that his father had been a motorman of Ty2 locomotive for many years. Mr. Przemysław Panas supported the initiative practically from the beginning with his counsel, experience and contacts.
During the 90th anniversary of AGH University of Science and Technology the official unveiling ceremony of “Żyleta” took place and the object was opened for the public.
You could say that the project that spanned over two years has surpassed the initial expectations and ended with complete success in every dimension.