As a lover of travel and history I often stumble upon things of interest in terms of historical travel or the history of travel. One very recent find is the Austro-Daimler Luxtorpeda or, for the Polish-built versions, the Fablok Luxtorpedas.
Luxtorpedas were luxury single car trains – streamlined, powered by petrol (A-D) or diesel engines – and ran mainly out of Kraków, taking rich people to rich people’s destinations, such as the mountain resort of Zakopane or the spa town of Krynica-Zdroj.
The original Luxtorpeda was acquired in 1933 from the makers, Austro-Daimler. It had an 80hp Mercedes Benz engine at each end (the trains had a cab at both ends, so did not need to be turned when they reached their destinations), could easily handle the may reverse curves of the line into the Tatras and could reach speeds f up to 100kph.
The Polish-built versions (1935) had two 150hp MAN diesel engines and were capable of up to 115kph. Five were built.
Local interest – in fact where I picked up on the existence of these trains – came from an old photograph showing a Luxtorpeda at the tunnel in Kamionka Wielka. The Luxtorpeda would pass through KW on its way to Nowy Sącz, where it would then go on to either Krynica or Zakopane, depending on whether that day it fancied healthy waters or mountain air!
In September 1939 Germany and the USSR invaded Poland. In the aftermath, two Luxtorpedas were found to have survived and they became cars “for Germans only” operating out of Kraków to Zakopane and Krynica. At the end of the War, one Luxtorpeda was re-built, cannibalising the second survivor for parts. However, it never ran at its design speed due to lack of parts and so on and was allocated to operate local routes near Trzebinia, a town and major junction on the main line between Kraków and Katowice.
The last Luxtorpeda were scrapped in 1954.
A Luxtorpeda still holds the record for a train running Kraków to Zakopane, at 2h 18m.