Although significantly affected by the Twilight War, the presence of intact railroads is confirmed in “Going Home”, the 5th Poland adventure supplement for T2k v1.0, which centres around the group traveling via steam train along the remnant rail network of northern Poland and Germany to reach Bremerhaven on the coast. Although the state of sections of track is questionable due to damage from nearby battles and salvaging by locals in the urban sections, significant stretches in the country remain usable.
Looking at the maps included in the supplement, there appear to be several potentially rail lines of interest to players of the introductory “Escape from Kalisz” scenario or “The Black Madonna” – rail lines that may provide an alternate transport option. I’ve tentatively added these to the relevant detail maps posted on this site for ease of reference.
Although the players are unlikely to be able to access a steam train initially (the Korzub used in the subsequent module is actually sourced from the nearby railway museum in Konin, at the northern edge of the Kalisz Area detail map), the possibility of using service equipment or creating rail wagons using modified light vehicles designed to run on tracks is an option (see “Going Home”, pages 10 and 37).
Kalisz-Zdunska Wola-Lodz Line
Unfortunately the western sections of this track have likely been destroyed by the recent battle between the US 5th Division and the Soviet and Polish forces. Although stretches of track in Kalisz may be intact, the intense shelling and fighting around the city have made using the rail line eastwards as a transport route impossible.
About 5km to the north of Sieradz however, the track is likely to be relatively preserved and passes over the Warta via a rail bridge towards Zdunska Wola, passing through that town before continuing northeastwards towards the main hub station at Lodz. Although the rail bridge cannot be used by conventional vehicles without modification (see below), it provides a means of crossing the Warta on foot and is not initially guarded. The line continues into the town and although the rails are intact, the station is well within sight of the makeshift barracks and stables of the local detatchment of the Polish 125th Border Guard Brigade and the compound holding American POWs.
From Zdunska Wola, the track veers northwards out of town, bypassing the next few towns until it reaches the heavily occupied city of Lodz Currently there are no rail convoys running between the two settlements but this is one of the most intact stretches of track in the area – once the military moves out, the townspeople are likely to use the rails as a means of trade transport, although the wagons will be horse drawn due to the confiscation of all functioning vehicles.
Although the northeastern section near the recent battle has been rendered unusable, the remaining stretch from Ostrow to Olesno (and the further section on to Opole, see below) is remarkably intact and ready to use if appropriate vehicles and rolling stock are available. The Soviet forces haven’t been in the are for long enough to utilise the rails.
It is possible that several abandoned boxcars and a supply of extra tracks and scrap metal may be found within the woods in the northern stretch of the track. Armoring and weaponising these into a makeshift “armored train” is possible given sufficient time and an appropriately converted vehicle to pull the rail cars – see “Going Home” page 9 for suggestions on fortifying train cars and this video and this article for inspiration.
This section of track near the Margravate of Silesia is in active use – supply and troop convoys of the Soviet 129th MRD maintain the relatively preserved tracks and regular small rail convoys move north and south from their temporary encampment in the ruins of Opole. The flatcars they have salvaged are pulled by converted civilian vehicles and light trucks such as a GAZ-53 or AZ3308 Sadko (Russian “2.5 ton truck”) or UAZ-469 jeep-like vehicle rather than horses but will provide a ready means of withdrawal once the unit commander decides to withdraw to their divisional base in Wroclow.
Unlike the rail lines in most city ruins which have usually been scavenged for their metal, the tracks running through Opole are continuous, though a combination of luck and the determined efforts of the engineers. It is possible to travel entirely by rail convoy along this line, which contributed to the 129th’s rapid deployment from their base to the south and southeast of Kalisz in response to the rout of the US 5th Division. The tracks run within the woods to the west of the the patrol range of the “B-Troop” encampment at Dobrodzien, making an encounter between the demoralised Soviet forces and the American survivors enclave an almost certain event.
Deep within Polish territory, the northern section of track is preserved but there is little incentive to maintain the southern stretch leading to the ruins of Czestochowa. The local Polish forces are mainly cavalry, but haven’t started to utilise horse drawn rail convoys or wagons to help transport wounded and supplies but if they remain in the area, this would be a simple undertaking.