Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Train of Thought (More Twilight: 2000 Railroad Notes)

In light of my interest in railroad adventures, I've been working on a consolidated "lie of the land" map along the most likely rail routes from Central Poland to the relative safety of "the German Border" at Frankfurt - the first map contains potential *spoilers* for material in the T2k v1.0 module "Going Home" and I discuss some ideas on the optional routes and encounters below, based on the canonical descriptions but also ideas drawn from more modern resources such as Wikimapia.

The above map is an annotated excerpt from the "Major Railroads - Poland" map from Going Home covering the most likely routes from the default start of the Korzub near Konin westwards - the troop positions have shifted by Autumn (late October) compared to their deployment at the time of the starter adventure Escape from Kalisz set in mid July and settled into relatively fixed cantonments.
Note: the combined maps image I posted to the "Twilight 2000" MeWe group recently includes the older troop positions at the time of Escape from Kalisz in mid July 2000 - useful for a player group that decides to follow the railways earlier in the campaign...
I'd note it's not the complete annotated map (to be posted at a later date), just the 40km or so (2 periods of travel on foot, ie. one day's march) either side of the main east-west route from Warsaw.

The section roughly corresponds to the relevant topological Hexmap excerpt I've posted previously but without the hexes like the previous eastern half section (still working on the hex-grid overlay, for some reason it's trickier than I thought and involves "alpha" layers):

Corresponding Lodz to Frankfurt Hexmap detail
(excerpt from Jed McClure's Hexmaps)

Looking at the two maps together I draw the following conclusions:
  • There's a fairly clear run directly west to Poznan without major built up of forces
  • The southern loop through the Kalisz area has several major cantonments
  • The troops in and around need to be negotiated somehow
  • Both the northern and southern routes from Poznan have forces that may interdict the line
  • Once in Frankfurt, the group is relatively safe in "allied" NATO territory

The major obstacle regardless of the group's route seems to be at the complex junction at Poznan, where there is not only a concentration of Soviet troops (the remnants of several divisions in the ruins and nearby cantonments to the north of the line) but also a major river to cross (the Warta as it heads north before turning westwards to the Oder at Oborniki), and the maze within the rubble of the ruins.

Poznan seems to be fairly interesting looking at the corresponding view on Wikimapia in terms of a group travelling along the railroads - there's the Warta with several bridges, at least two airports, a large "landscape park" to the northeast and what looks like a military training ground directly to the north of the city - certainly worth detailing more, perhaps adjusting some of the rules from Ruins of Warsaw or later supplements... 

The Missing Eastern Section near Warsaw

"Ah, but what about that stretch from Warsaw off the first map", I hear you ask @Wayne's Books...
OK, so I actually developed this map below from Wikimapia solely in response to the journey of Wayne's player group finding the train in the western outskirts of Warsaw detailed over at his play report blog - my understanding is that they're planning on heading south towards Lodz and then Pitorkow maybe because of prior favourable interactions with the forces further south, which is an interesting choice given this leads straight into the encampments of the Soviet 20th Tank Division (incorporating the shattered remains of the Soviet 4th Guards Tank Army)...

It shows some interesting features for a rail travelling group, including:
  • A whole major river, the Bzura River that needs to be crossed at the bridge at Lowice
  • Multiple small tributaries along the rail line from Warsaw to Skierniewice 
  • Another major railway line south to Radom
  • A small secondary line to Old Pilica Airport

The major issue I can foresee is potential time lost repairing small rail bridges over tributary rivers - well within the means of a group carrying extra lumbar and steel tracks, but each repair would chew up a fair bit of time... time that may be needed to keep ahead of any pursuing forces - perhaps Baron Czarny's men from Warsaw tasked with recapturing a stolen WW2 armoured train even... 

WW2 era PzTrWg16 German Armoured Train from Warsaw Railway Museum

There's not a direct major line to Lodz (the Lowice-Zgierz line is shaded as a "secondary" line) but scrolling just to the south, the line from Skierniewice extends to a major junction at Koluszki, a small town to the east of Lodz connecting to it's major station in the eastern suburbs and some other areas of interest:
  • A WW2 era tank warehouse complex off the connecting line from Koluskzi to Lodz
  • A mass of rails to the SE of Koluszki, suggesting a rolling stock military storage yard
  • A cluster of rail lines suggesting another supply yard in the northwest suburbs of Lodz
  • The continuation of the line heading toward Piotrkow (home of the124th MRD and 12th GTD)
  • The town of Zgierz also seems to have a major rail yard in its southern area

The Koluszki junction and the old tank warehouse seem like important sites to control, so I'd imagine the nearby Soviet tank division remnants would have troops guarding both. It's possible the rolling stock railyard to the east has not yet been discovered or looted by the Soviet tankers due to perceived lack of value but the locals would certainly know about the area and could be persuaded to guide well paying Americans. 

Nevertheless, I'd see the east-west connecting line patrolled by the local troops, perhaps even with converted so-called "hyrail" soft-skinned vehicles such as older Soviet armoured cars, the BTR-40 ZhD (a rail converted variant of the precursor to the BTR-60 and subsequent models)the older BA-64G, a WW2 era vehicle converted to run on rails (see T2k v2 Soviet Combat Vehicle Handbook 2004 for details of this latter retired vehicle) or even an armoured rail car or two... 

BTR-40 ZhD with rail wheels in the retracted position
BA-64 without rail-wheel conversion

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