Ol49-65, photographed somewhere in Poland in July 1960. Photo from my collection.




Ol49-44, preserved at Chabówka railway stock heritage park; photo taken on June 18, 2001




… and another example from Chabówka: Ol49-100, photographed on the same occasion. Note different smoke lifters.




 Earlier picture of the Ol49-100, taken at the Kraków Łobzów station on October 11, 1992. Photo by Wojciech Szpigiel (from my collection).

Ol49-100 participated in the steam locomotive parade on July 29, 2006; a few pictures can be seen here.



Ol49-100 again, this time in somehow poorer condition; Chabówka, May 6, 2017.




Another picture of the Ol49-44, taken on July 29, 2006.




Ol49-79 (Fablok 3190/1953), preserved at the Zduńska Wola Karsznice depot; photo taken on October 26, 2005.




Ol49 side drawing, taken from PPN.




Ol49-50, beautifully preserved at the Toruń Kluczyki depot. Photo taken on August 8, 2003




First Ol49 purchased by PKP: Ol49-1 can be seen at Jarocin station. Photo taken on November 11, 2003.




Another picture of this engine, taken on February 18, 2008.




This Ol49-29 is now plinthed at Stare Juchy railway station; photo taken on August 1, 2004.




The same engine, photographed on July 21, 2012.



Ol49-29 once again: August 20, 2021.




Ol49-4 + 25D49-61 (Fablok 2606/1951), photographed in Ełk on August 1, 2004. In May 2006 this machine was transferred to the Skierniewice depot...




...and was photographed there on September 17, 2006.




Another picture of the Ol49-4, taken almost exactly five years later. Restoration is under way.




This Ol49-71 (Fablok 3182/1953) was photographed at Kościerzyna loco depot on August 13, 2004.




Another picture of this engine, taken on September 23, 2013.




Derelict, but complete Ol49-69 + 25D49-59 (Fablok 3183/1954) was photographed at Gniezno depot on September 10, 2004




Ol49-90 (Fablok 3202/1954), kept in Pyskowice, is a private property; photo taken on October 8, 2004. Lightning on smoke lifter is not very typical.




Another picture of the Ol49-90, taken on May 2, 2009.




This Ol49-20 + 25D49-57 (Fablok 2622/ 1952) is plinthed in Częstochowa; photo taken on January 2, 2005




Ol49-21 + 25D49-?, Fablok 2623/1952, Railway Museum, Warsaw; photo taken on May 25, 2005




Ol49-18 + 25D49-18 (Fablok 2620/1952) at the Łuków depot; photo taken on June 13, 2005. After withdrawal this engine was for some time used as a stationary boiler, then plinthed and finally scrapped in 2006.




This Ol49-15 (Fablok 2617/1952) was photographed in Krzeszowice on May 27, 2005 by a friend of mine, Waldek Rosiński.




In 2008, Ol49-15 was transferred to Pyskowice; this picture was taken on May 2, 2009.


Some pictures of the Wolsztyn-based Ol49s can be seen here.


If wrecked locomotives don’t upset you too much, you can see some Ol49s here.




Sometimes things improve. Two engines from the wreck section were later  photographed in the Industry and Railway Museum in Jaworzyna Śląska, in much better condition. Ol49-93 + 25D49-93 was transferred from Ełk  in September 2005 (which made a five-day trip). Photo taken on October 28,2005.




Ol49-64 + 25D49-? (Fablok 3175/ 1953), photographed on July 8, 2009.




Another machine from Ełk, Ol49-38 + 25D49-? (fictitious designation Ol49-27) was transferred to Korsze...




... and plinthed near  the station...




... which really makes an impressive sight! Three above photos were taken by Damian Lemański (http://korsze-foto.blog.onet.pl) on January 10, 2006. Thanks for permission!




Two more pictures of the Ol49-38 at Korsze




…both taken on September 9, 2008.




This photo of Ol49-3 (Fablok 2605/1951), taken inside the engine shed in Ełk on June 15, 2006, is perhaps not very good, but at least shows the machine to be in a good condition.




Ol49-8 + 25D49-?, Fablok 2610/1951. This engine is plinthed in Przeworsk and was photographed on August 12, 2006.




Three Wolsztyn-based Ol49s, photographed during the 2008 Steam Locomotive Show: Ol49-23...




...Ol49-7 ‘Bob Wyatt’...




...and Ol49-99.




Again Ol49-23, photographed in Wolsztyn on July 25, 1992. Photo by Wojciech Szpigiel (from my collection).




Ol49-23 again. Photo by J. Weselik (postcard from my collection); details are lacking. Note small stars painted on pilots.




Scenes from the last days of Ol49s service with PKP: an unknown Ol49 near Łódź, early 1990s…




…Ol49-21 (Fablok 2623/1952), also near Łódź, with double-deck coaches frequently used in suburban traffic…




…again an unknown Ol49, this time photographed near Nasielsk in 1987…




…and Ol49-79 (Fablok 3190/1953), probably withdrawn, photographed in Sierpc in early 1990s. All four photos by PhotoGataR (from my collection).




A rare occasion to see a steam engine in my home town: Ol49-59 visited Warsaw on June 2, 2012, to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Vistula River Railway. This picture was taken at the Falenica station, a few hundred metres from my home.




Ol49-32 (Fablok 2994/1952), photographed near Wolsztyn on August 31, 1994. Photo by H.Magoń (postcard from my caollection). This engine, withdrawn in 2000, was later cannibalized for spares at the Gniezno depot and finally scrapped in 2002.




A very nice picture of the Ol49-111, taken at the ZNTK Piła repair works in September 1990 by Edgar Geffe (from my collection).



Ol49-12 (Fablok 2614/1951), photographed at the Stoomcentrum Maldegem on September 18, 2005. Photo by Vitaly Volkov (source: www.commons.wikipedia.org).



Ol49-83, location and date unknown. Photo from my collection.



Two postcards from my collection, photos by Zygmunt Gajewski: Ol49-69 (Fablok 3180/1953), Poznań, July 2, 2012…



…and Ol49-111 (Fablok 4073/1954), Kopanica, 2006.



Ol49-11 + 25D49-87 (Fablok 2613/1952), photographed in Orzysz on May 2, 1997. In 2000 this engine was written off and is currently kept in Ełk. Photo by Marek Niemiec (from my collection).



After a few years of neglect, Ol49-11 was refurbished and now looks quite well; Ełk, August 20, 2021.



Back to Warsaw: Ol49-21, Stacja Muzeum (previously Railway Museum), July 6, 2023.

Immediately after WWII, most numerous passenger locomotives in the PKP inventory were elderly Ok1 (Prussian class P8) and Ok22 (its direct derivative, built in Poland on the basis of German design). Their combined number exceeded 500. These machines, despite their age, still proved very useful, especially with light local trains. Their tractive effort was, however, comparatively low in view of growing demands, and economy left something to be desired, particularly due to low boiler pressure of only 12 bar – the principal shortcoming of these otherwise very successful and reliable machines. New and modern locomotive for such service was thus necessary.

Design of the new machine, designated Ol49, was submitted by the Fablok factory of Chrzanów and accepted in 1950. Axle arrangement was changed from 2-3-0 to 1-3-1, in order to accommodate wide firebox (intended to burn low-grade coal) and at the same time keep axle load within moderate limits. Such arrangement was not very widespread in Europe, at least with passenger locomotives; only Austrian and Hungarian railways ordered 1-3-1s in considerable quantities. It was more popular in the USA (known there as Prairie), but few, if any, line locomotives of that layout were built there after 1910: Pacifics ran better at higher speeds and Mikados were better balanced. Single-axle lead truck (in the case of Ol49, of Krauss-Helmholtz type) resulted in somehow uneasy running, the more so that the main rod was usually connected to the second pair of drivers, located near the center of gravity, so that such machines were prone to yaw. Moreover, Prairies were usually ‘tail-heavy’. In Ol49, weight distribution was almost perfect (17.0 tonnes on each driven axle and 15.95 tonnes on each idle axe in working order), but there was some tendency to slip, as coupled axes were shifted forward and power was transmitted to the second pair of drivers by a short main rod. For these reasons, Pacifics were preferred with passenger trains, but it was difficult to accommodate large firebox with this layout without considerable increase in length.

As far as speed and weight were concerned, Ol49 was in the same category as its predecessors, weighting in working order 82.9 tonnes without tender (Ok1 and Ok22 – 78.2 and 78.9 tonnes, respectively) and having the same maximum speed set at 100 km/h. Boiler pressure was, however, increased to 16 bar and rated power was, in comparison with the Ok1, about 40 percent higher. This gave considerably better economy, but with smaller cylinder diameter (reduced from 575 to 500 mm – the smallest in Polish passenger engines) tractive effort was in fact slightly lower. Experience gained with earlier locomotives built by Fablok right after the war, namely Ty45 and Pt47, was used to a great extent, and certain features were patterned upon those of American Ty246s, which certainly influenced Polish locomotive design. In fact, Ol49 was to have belonged to the family of six post-war normalized Polish locomotives, of which two never materialized.

First machine, Ol49-1 (s/n 2603) was delivered in 1951. Production lasted only until 1954 and totaled just 116 examples. Three were exported to Northern Korea in 1953 (s/n 2977, 2978 and 3001, all built in 1952) and fourth followed in March 1954. Korean engines were fitted with Janney knuckle-type couplers and different pilots, but were otherwise identical with Polish machines. Their service life was rather short, as they were withdrawn in late 1970s. In PKP service, Ol49 never supplanted Ok1 and Ok22: these three classes in fact served together. All machines were fitted with small smoke lifters, mounted on the smoke-box top, but these differed in shape. Ol49-1 to 70 (except Ol49-58) had kinked, inward-sloping smoke lifters (with additional kink of the upper edge in Ol49-4 to 11), while in remaining examples they were almost vertical. However, of machines that still exist, Ol49-79, -80, -93 and -11 have ‘older’ smoke lifters, while Ol49-60 has ‘later’ ones. Modifications during service were few. Feedwater heater, used in first machines, proved problematic in service (due to rapid scale buildup) and was later deleted. Friedmann injector was replaced by Nathan one in later examples. Twelve machines (including prototype), based in Olsztyn, were converted to oil firing from 1965 onwards, but this was not widely adopted and coal firing was soon reintroduced. Ol49s were used with new tenders, purpose-designed for this class and designated 25D49; due to excessive heating of axle journal bearings, roller bearings were introduced in service, and in many tenders during overhauls entire undercarriage trucks were replaced with modified ones, adopted from freight cars. These, however, deteriorated running qualities and maximum speed while running tender first was later reduced to 45 km/h. Despite better economy and more modern design of the Ol49, railway engineers tended to prefer older Ok1s, which were considered more reliable and offered better running qualities.

Ol49s were sometimes used with trains heavier than previously envisaged, even with express ones, although their running qualities were not entirely satisfactory for that purpose. Moreover, due to small diameter of cylinders, their startup was rather slow. Five machines (Ol49-2, Ol49-30, Ol49-62, Ol49-94 and Ol49-101) were written off as a result of crashes and accidents. Supplies of new diesel locomotives for passenger trains were, by comparison with freighters, much delayed, so this class was one of the last to be withdrawn from regular service with PKP; this took place in early 1990s, so they outlived Ok1s and Ok22s by more than ten years. This certainly had a positive side-effect: as their withdrawal took place in the period of growing nostalgia for steam, comparatively many of them avoided scrapping. According to rosters quoted in SS vol.104, in 1988 PKP inventory still included 81 Ol49s and in 1990 – 73. According to the same source, 51 machines still existed in 1999. SK 4/99 lists 31 existing engines of this class, plus 17 more as wrecks. Some of them have been scrapped since then. Last ‘losses’ include Ol49-48, initially preserved (in fact, in a very poor condition) at the Piotrków Trybunalski loco depot. This engine was captiously bought dirt cheap from PKP in early 2004 and immediately sold for scrap, which caused much stir among Polish railway fans. Over two years later the same happened to the Ol49-18, which after withdrawal had been used as a stationary boiler at the Łuków depot and later was plinthed there. When repair works at the Gniezno depot were closed down in mid-2009, the wreck of Ol49-32 was also qualified for scrapping, which was completed in October 2010.

As for now (mid-2022) the list of surviving Ol49s includes 36 examples, almost 30 percent of all serving with PKP – undoubtedly the best result in Poland!  In late 1990s and early 2000s the largest ‘herds’ of Ol49s in Poland could be found at Wolsztyn and Ełk depots. The latter had nine examples in 2004, but now is home to only two: Ol49-11 on static display and wreck of the Ol49-80. Ol49-4 was transferred to Skierniewice in May 2006, to become a part of the railway stock collection maintained by the PSMK society. Three engines (Ol49-9, -61 and -102) went to Dzierżoniów (a division of the Museum of Industry and Railways in Silesia). Ol49-3 was still operational in 1999 and currently is awaiting repair at the Toruń Kluczyki depot. Ol49-38 was plinthed in Korsze to commemorate important contribution of railways into the development of this town and Ol49-93 was transferred to Jaworzyna Śląska. Wolsztyn depot had seven machines; Ol49-7 ‘Bob Wyatt’, Ol49-23, Ol49-69 (in fact Ol49-99, re-numbered in 2001) and Ol49-111 were kept in working order and sometimes hauled local trains, while Ol49-60, Ol49-81 and Ol49-85 were on static display. Currently only Ol49-69 is operational and the remaining six are listed as wrecks. Ol49-23, -60 and -111 were transferred to the Leszno depot; the latter has been dismantled. Ol49-60, transferred in May 2010, was to be refurbished externally – there were plans to put it on static display at Rundhaus Europa in Augsburg, Germany, but they failed to materialize.

In 1993, Ol49-77 (3188/1953) was sold to Denmark and is now plinthed in Langå. Three years later, Ol49-12 (2614/1951) followed, this time to Stoomcentrum Maldegem, Belgium; this engine retained its original designation and was used with special trains. Due to boiler certificate expiration, Ol49-12 was withdrawn in 2005 and moved to static display. In May 2017 it was, quite surprisingly, purchased by a Polish private company, with an intention to restore it in service.


Main technical data







Years of manufacture


1951 – 1954


Total built / used in Poland


1161) / 112


Tender class




Axle arrangement




Design maximum speed




Cylinder bore


2 x 500


Piston stroke




Engine rating


950 / 1290


Tractive effort


9 600


Boiler pressure




Grate dimensions

m x m

2.412 x 1.532


Firebox heating surface




Distance between tube plates


4 815


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 / 850


Total weight, empty


75 100


Total weight, working order


82 900


Weight on drivers, working order


51 000


Weight with tender, empty


100 100


Weight with tender, working order


144 900


Maximum axle load




Axle base (with tender)


17 265


Overall length (with tender)


20 665


Brake type


Knorr, Westinghouse


1) Some sources erroneously give 115.


List of vehicles can be found here.


References and acknowledgments


-       Monographic article by Paweł Terczyński (SK vol. 9 and 10/2005);

-       www.parowozy.best.net (website by Michał ‘Doctor’ Pawełczyk);

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

-       AP, PPE, PNPP.