Ty51-185, location unknown, August 1961. Photo from my collection.



Ty51-133 (HCP 2425/1956) currently on display at Chabówka rolling stock heritage park, photographed on June 18, 2001.



Another picture of the Ty51-133, taken on November 12, 2008…



…and yet another, this time with a special train in Zabrze, February 5, 1993. Photo by Wojciech Szpigiel (from my collection).



Two more Ty51s can be seen in Chabówka: Ty51-182 (HCP 2474/1956)…



…and Ty51-137 (HCP 2429/1956); both pictures were taken on the same occasion.



This beautiful Ty51-183 (HCP 2475/1956) has been preserved at Wolsztyn loco depot; photo taken on September 8, 2004.



Ty51-223 (HCP 2532/1957), photographed on the same occasion.



Less than two years later, on April 29, 2006, Ty51-183 looked worse; the railcar in the rear is SA108-005.



Ty51-183 again: things have improved. Photo taken on April 28, 2007.



This Ty51-15 (HCP 1994/1954) has been plinthed near Sędziszów railway station; photo taken on June 19, 2003.



In 2010, Ty51-15 was externally refurbished; photo taken on January 8, 2012.




Ty51 side drawing by Wojtek Lis from www.parowozy.com.pl .



Slightly derelict Ty51-140 (HCP 2432/1956), photographed at the PCC Rail Polska loco depot in Szczakowa on March 3, 2005. In July 2011 this engine was transferred to the Industry and Railway Museum in Jaworzyna Śląska.



This beautiful picture of Ty51-71, operated by PMP PW (sand railways), was taken in October 1989, between Rybnik and Kotlarnia, by Roman Ficek – thanks for permission! (source: www.transport.amsnet.pl).



Derelict Ty51-177 + 27D51-153 (HCP 2469/ 1956), abandoned in Korsze; photo taken on September 8, 2005. This machine was scrapped in early 2006.



Ty51-1 + 27D51-108 (HCP 1980/1953) at the Zduńska Wola Karsznice depot; photo taken on October 27, 2003.



Another picture of the Ty51-1, undergoing restoration at the PSMK premises in Skierniewice; September 19, 2011.



Ty51-228 + 27D51-92 (HCP 2627/1958), Railway Museum, Warsaw, September 5, 2006.



Ty51-228 – coal feeder details.



Ty51-138 (HCP 2430/1956) was used by the Kotlarnia sand mine and has been plinthed at the company’s premises. Photo taken on October 4, 2006.



Ty51-17 (HCP 1996/1954) from the TOZKiOS collection, photographed in Pyskowice on May 2, 2009.



Ty51-37 (HCP 2131/1955), plinthed in Rzepin; photo taken on May 15, 2009.



Ty51-57 (HCP 2349/1955) with a draft of double-deck coaches, typical for commuter trains at that time. Włocławek, May 23, 1980. Photo by Roman Witkowski (postcard from my collection).



Ty51-36 (HCP 2130/1954), photographed in Chełm in 1983. Photo by Jerzy Szeliga (postcard from my collection).

Coal export has always been important for Polish economy. This explains intensive development of heavy freight locomotives after WWI, almost exclusively with the 1-5-0 axle arrangement (class Tr21 of foreign origin was the sole exception). Ty23 was the most numerous steam locomotive of indigenous design ever built (612 machines), and its direct development, Ty37, went into series production shortly before WWII, to re-appear in a modified form soon afterwards as Ty45. Thus Decapods dominated heavy freight traffic in Poland until the end of steam era.

Poor condition of Polish locomotive factories immediately after the termination of hostilities prevented them from supplying badly needed machines in sufficient numbers. On the other hand, coal export was vital for the entire national economy, so 100 heavy freight locomotives were purchased in the USA in 1947. Designated Ty246, they were considered an interim measure: there was enough experience to design and build an indigenous machine in this class. It was, however, evident that Ty246 was a modern and efficient machine, so instead of further developing the Ty23/ Ty37/Ty45 family, descending from early 1920s, it was decided to base the new design on the  powerful ‘Truman’.

Detailed design was prepared by Central Design Bureau of the Railway Stock Industry (CBK-PTK) during 1951 and 1952. Prototype, designated Ty51 (s/n 1980), was completed by HCP (commonly known as Cegielski) of Poznań in 1953 and underwent extensive tests. Results were considered satisfactory and new machine was viewed superior even to Ty246. This might have been exaggerated by official propaganda (after all, Ty246 had been designed by the ‘imperialists’…), but nonetheless Ty51 was successful. Most shortcomings were in fact due to poor workmanship quality, inferior technology and low-grade materials; fatigue cracks of side sills were perhaps the most serious damages suffered during service. Modifications were progressively introduced during production and later examples, from Ty51-71 onwards, were sometimes designated Ty51/1, but this was probably not used in formal documents. In service they earned a good reputation, being not only powerful and impressive, but also economical and reliable. They were commonly nicknamed ‘Stokers’, as most of them were fitted with mechanical coal feeders. It should be said, however, that they were neither largest nor heaviest steam locomotives built in Poland: both these distinctions go to pre-war Pu29 express engine.

In 1957 it was decided to terminate orders for steam locomotives in Poland, in view of expected rapid electrification (which, however, proved over-optimistic). Production of Ty51 at HCP (sole manufacturer of this type) was stopped in 1958, after 232 machines had been built. It was intended to develop an improved version, designated Ty55, differing mainly in boiler details and equipment, but it did not progress beyond the initial project stage. Many of later examples (including last five, built in 1958 with serials from 2627 through 2631 and service numbers Ty51-228 through 232) went directly to industrial operators, mainly Silesian sand railways, which used 29 of them. In 1971, three Ty51s from sand railways were transferred to PKP in exchange for lighter Ty23s. This class was withdrawn from the PKP service in 1980s and the last examples operated by sand railways survived in active service until 1993.

All Ty51s were included in the strategic reserve (intended to haul heavy military trains) and many were kept operational until 1990. Contrary to the Soviet practice (keeping ‘cold’ locomotives, fired from time to time), in Poland such engines remained in use at depots for auxiliary duties, so that in a case of necessity they could be mobilized almost immediately. Fortunately, this never happened…

Several Ty51s have been preserved, including the prototype. Withdrawn in May 1989, it was kept in reserve for five more years and in 1994 was transferred to the Karsznice loco­motive heritage park. In March 2008 next transfer took place, this time to Skierniewice (PSMK collection at the former depot). Ty51-223 (HCP 2532/1957), withdrawn in 1988, remained operational at the Wolsztyn depot until late 1990s and sometimes hauled special trains. For some time it was the largest and heaviest steam engine in Europe remaining in service – at least until ex-SNCF 241A class No.65 express loco was brought up to the working order in Switzerland in September 1997. Unfortunately, after boiler certificate expiration in 2000 Ty51-223 remains on static display and will not be restored in service. Several Ty51s are plinthed at various locations. Competent sources (e.g. lists available at www.holdys.pl/tomi, compiled by Tomisław Czarnecki) give fifteen preserved machines, albeit two as wrecks. Of them, Ty51-9, previously displayed in Bielsko-Biała, was later transferred to the Kraków Płaszów depot. Ty51-140, plinthed at the sand railway premises in Jaworzno Szczakowa, went to the Polkowice Pol-Miedź Trans (PMT) railway depot in May 2010, to be externally refurbished and  finally transferred in July 2011 to the Industry and Railway Museum in Jaworzyna Śląska. Anyway, those railway fans that held this type in high esteem due to its impressive appearance still have several examples to see, as most of the surviving Ty51s are in comparatively good condition.

One more locomotive of this type has survived until today: Ty51-83 (HCP 2375/1955), used by sand railways, was sold to France in 1989 and is now plinthed in Walibi-Schtroumpf, Lorraine.   


Main technical data







Years of manufacture


1953 – 1958


Total built / used in Poland


232 / 232


Tender class




Axle arrangement




Design maximum speed




Cylinder bore


2 X 630


Piston stroke




Engine rating


1590 / 2160


Tractive effort


18 400


Boiler pressure




Grate dimensions

m X m

3.048 X 2.063


Firebox heating surface




Distance between tube plates


5 000


Number of flue tubes




Heating surface of flue tubes




Number of smoke tubes




Heating surface of smoke tubes




Evaporating surface, total




Superheater heating surface




Diameter of drivers




Diameter of idlers front/rear


850 / -


Total weight, empty


100 320


Total weight, working order


109 920


Weight on drivers, working order


95 120


Weight with tender, empty


131 790


Weight with tender, working order


188 890


Maximum axle load




Axle base (with tender)


17 200


Overall length (with tender)


23 050


Brake type


Knorr, Westinghouse



References and acknowledgments


-        www.parowozy.best.net.pl (website maintained by ‘Doctor’),

-        Polish State Railways as a means of transportation for the Warsaw Pact armed forces by Zbigniew Tucholski (IHN PAN, Warsaw, 2009),

-        www.holdys.pl/tomi (website by Tomisław Czarnecki),

-        AP, PPN.