Wągrowiec steams to glory by capturing Station of the Year award

Over a hundred years old the station building has undergone a renovation with a glass extension added. Dworzec Roku/Facebook

The town of Wągrowiec, in north-western Poland, has just 24,000 or so inhabitants, but it has a railway station that it can truly be proud of.

Wągrowiec has won Poland’s “Station of the Year 2018” prize, awarded by Polish State Railways’ (PKP) foundation and the ProKolej foundation, an NGO that supports the development of Poland’s railways.

According to the organisers, the competition’s aim is recognise the best railway stations in Poland, collect and spread best practices in serving travellers, and promote modern and functional stations.

Of the 32 stations across Poland that were nominated, 21 were visited by auditors, who assessed them in a range of categories, from size to architecture, and from accessibility to customer service. They also checked how warm they were and how well integrated into the surrounding town the stations are, among other factors.

Ten stations made it into for the final, including Warsaw’s Central Railway Station and Wrocław’s Main Station, along with stations in several other major cities.

“Wągrowiec seemed to be a well-designed interchange node in a small town, executed with a considerable degree of forward thinking,” said Jacek Wesołowski.Dworzec PKP Wągrowiec/Facebook

While recognising the grandeur of major stations, such as the one in Wrocław, the jury was after something a bit different.

“We wanted to show that the station can not only be a transport centre, but can revive the city and can help make life decisions – [such as] accepting a job or studies away from home,” said journalist Anna Popek, the head of the jury, which included transport specialists.

This led them to pick the station in Wągrowiec, which lies between the cities of Poznań and Bydgoszcz in western Poland, and has long served as an important rail junction.

The station was originally built in 1888, when the town, known by its German name of Wongrowitz in 19th-century Prussia, was linked by railway line to Poznań.

The station was renovated in 2015, adapting it to today’s trains and people with limited mobility.Dworzec PKP Wągrowiec/Facebook

It was renovated in 2015, adapting it to today’s trains and people with limited mobility.

The 19th-century red brick station building was preserved, with a glass extension added to its side. The design was done by two architects’ firms in Poznań, Consultor Architekci and Ahor Anita Horowska.

“Wągrowiec seemed to be a well-designed interchange node in a small town, executed with a considerable degree of forward thinking,” said Jacek Wesołowski, a member of the competition jury.

“It is a message for responsible actors, calling for the public transport network to be reconstructed so that the needs of an increasingly mobile society are met,” he added.