Jonathan Lee

Worldly Images

Hungary July 2014

This is an extract from a multi-country report to read the full report use the following link:

Multi Trip (France – Switzerland – Luxembourg – Holland – Czech Republic – Slovakia – Hungary) July 2014

A trip that started out a lot more simplistic than it actually ended up but did have two purposes, the main one being to have a day doing the BLS “brownies” on the car trains at Kandersteg, with a bike, and the second one being to cover the weekend Summer diesel turns at Prague, which had been dropping 749’s vice 754’s every weekend since the timetable change. While I was bumming around Europe I decided that doing Luxembourg, Holland and Strasbourg in France all seemed like a good idea at the planning stages; in essence only one of those three went anywhere near as planned and to be honest Strasbourg was a complete disaster and I nearly got fined by the police in Holland for ducking under a level crossing barrier; that was going up!

The trip was in two parts, the first bit being solid cranking and the second bit being a relaxing week, with a bit of cranking, drifting from Zurich to Budapest via Prague & Bratislava with my girlfriend and a cracking week it was too; with weather that couldn’t have been better but was verging on too hot.

Flights

Booked direct through Norwegian Airlines

DY2497 1535 Budapest 2B – Gatwick – £78.80 each

Hotels

Hungary

Budapest – Mamara Hotel, Nagy Ignac 21, 1055 Budapest – €136.18 for a double room for 2 nights – a 5 minute walk from Budapest Nyugati station, best reached by using the underpass; out of the station and on the right. It saves a lot of traffic dodging. While not a very big room it was well presented and had everything we needed for our two night stay. The hotel staff allowed us to check-in early and were very helpful throughout our stay. The room I’d booked included the comfort package which had airport pick-up as standard; as we’d arrived by train though we were allowed to use this option to get us back to the airport. The maps handed out at the hotel were probably the best I’ve used when in European cities, very easy to follow and they even gave the distance each walk covered. Breakfast was included and certainly sufficed.

Train Tickets

Eurostar 9022 1131 St Pancras – Paris £73 booked online at Eurostar

Thello Train 221 1959 Paris – Milan (4 berth couchette) €77 booked online at Thello

Inter Rail Global Pass 15 Days – £369 booked through EU Rail

Reservations booked through Deutsche Bahn UK (all reservation only with Inter Rail Pass)

CNL40478 Basel – Koln €42.50 (4 berth couchette)

CNL40478 Basel – Arnhem €65 (3 berth sleeper)

CNL40419 Amsterdam – Basel €65 (3 berth sleeper)

CNL459 Zurich – Prague €180 (for two) (2 berth sleeper)

Switzerland BLS Car Train

0919 Iselle di Trasquera – Kandersteg CHF91 – booked through BLS online

Tuesday 29th July 2014 (Just how big is Budapest….?)

We were Budapest bound on board EC271 0622 Brno – Budapest Keleti, with the same ZSSK 350, 350001, that we’d had the previous day from Praha, at 0753. Having fought our way through the waiting crowds on the platform to board there was a lot more room on board than there had been from Praha the previous morning and the journey served as our breakfast time in the compartment we secured to ourselves while consuming bits and bobs we’d bought at a local supermarket the previous evening.

As per previous day’s arrivals into capital cities a couple of step backs were in the offering so as not to reach the hotel too early and a quick glance at Szob as we passed through revealed MAV 432281 on a push-pull set waiting to depart so off we got at the building site that is Vac to await its arrival behind us. Waiting to depart at Vac was 432355 with the next all stations stopper to Budapest Nyugati so it would have been rude not to get off at Rakosrendeso to do it into Nyugati. Even with the two step-backs we were at the Mamara Hotel just after 11am; but were allowed to check-in immediately.

The Mamara is a 5 minute walk from Budapest Nyugati station, best reached by using the underpass; out of the station and on the right. It saves a lot of traffic dodging. While not a very big room it was well presented and had everything we needed for our two night stay. The hotel staff allowed us to check-in early and were very helpful throughout our stay. The room I’d booked included the comfort package which had airport pick-up as standard; as we’d arrived by train though we were allowed to use this option to get us back to the airport. The maps handed out at the hotel were probably the best I’ve used when in European cities, very easy to follow and they even gave the distance each walk covered.

Having walked about 8km, according to the maps we’d been given, it seemed like a good idea to have a rest. I certainly felt like it but my late afternoon gift to myself was a couple of hours running around on trains to recover; or not!

Having been in Hungary two moths previous and getting bowled quite a few times by new Flirt EMU’s on the local Monor/Cegled trains ex Budapest Nyugati I was pleased to not see a Flirt EMU at all that evening. There were hardly any EMU’s about at all and even the Lajosmizse DMU’s were all worked by older DMU’s vice nice shiny new ones as they had been in May; that was except for the Summer Hatvan M41 turns of course. The majority of the Monor/Cegled locals and the locals to Szob/Vac were 95% hauled with those not being old EMU’s. The fact that MAV has free WiFi on most trains, including the local sets, makes attempting to find out what’s about very easy; assuming you’re on the train for long enough and the WiFi connection is strong enough to get the MAV Mapper working quickly.

I never went beyond Kobanya Kispest, there was simply no need, and was kept on my toes for the two hours I was out and about. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary about but I have to say that M41 418185 sounded half decent when the driver wided it out of the station at Zuglo when departing with 2936 1718 Budapest Nyugati – Lajosmizse; it even clagged as well which wasn’t bad for something that usually rattles its way out of the station quite quietly. To be fair to the M41’s they really do need a bit of a punishing anyway to keep time on DMU timings. Pleased with my evening’s haul I was back at the Mamara by 1900; by which point food was high up on the agenda.

We didn’t walk too far that night and found an Italian place just up the road from the hotel, towards Margaret Bridge, called Okay Italia. The service was good, food tasty and served up the best home-made Tiramisu I’ve had anywhere in the world; nothing short of excellent and the price was reasonable too. As with all decent places we find this place was used again and again as the food was good.

Evening over it was nice to relax for a while in the hotel room, maps out, trying to figure out what to do the following day…….

The Moves

350001 Bratislava Hlavna Stanica Szob 0622 Brno Hlavni Nadrazi – Budapest Keleti EC271 ZSSK 350
350001 Szob Vac 0622 Brno Hlavni Nadrazi – Budapest Keleti EC271 ZSSK 350
432281 Vac Rakosrendeso 0925 Szob – Budapest Nyugati 2157 MAV 432
432355 Rakosrendeso Budapest Nyugati 1004 Vac – Budapest Nyugati 2387 MAV 432
431131 Budapest Nyugati Zuglo 1653 Budapest Nyugati – Szeged IC716 MAV 431
431217 Zuglo Budapest Nyugati 1445 Szeged – Budapest Nyugati IC765 MAV 431
418185 Budapest Nyugati Zuglo 1718 Budapest Nyugati – Lajosmizse 2936 MAV 418
431189 Zuglo Kobanya Kispest 1723 Budapest Nyugati – Nyiregyhaza IC626 MAV 431
432302 Kobanya Kispest Kobanya Also 1648 Cegled – Budapest Nyugati 2523 MAV 432
432251 Kobanya Also Kobanya Kispest 1738 Budapest Nyugati – Monor 2636 MAV 432
431048 Kobanya Kispest Zuglo 1130 Budapest Keleti – Budapest Nyugati IC655 MAV 431
431230 Zuglo Kobanya Kispest 1753 Budapest Nyugati – Szeged IC756 MAV 431
432292 Kobanya Kispest Kobanya Also 1737 Monor – Budapest Nyugati 2633 MAV 432
432303 Kobanya Also Kobanya Kispest 1803 Budapest Nyugati – Cegled 2518 MAV 432
431066 Kobanya Kispest Zuglo 1203 Zahony – Budapest Nyugati 6203 MAV 431
431140 Zuglo Kobanya Kispest 1823 Budapest Nyugati – Nyiregyhaza IC616 MAV 431
431357 Kobanya Kispest Zuglo 1440 Zahony – Budapest Nyugati IC623 MAV 431
432343 Zuglo Budapest Nyugati 1748 Cegled – Budapest Nyugati 2533 MAV 432

 

The Photos

 

Wednesday 30th July 2014 (One coach trains are the way forward)

Having spent the morning watching the MAV Mapper on the hotel Wifi I found an M62 working 1987 0658 Gyor – Siofok, for the 6th day in a row but unfortunately unless you actually stayed in Gyor there was no move at all to get it in of an evening and the morning move to get to it from Budapest involved being up at 0400! The real reason for keeping an eye on things that morning was to see what was going on with the Szeged V46’s on the Kiskunfelegyhaza trains and initially everything wasn’t going swimmingly with only one turn of the two early morning turns being a V46, however I did notice that there was a spare V46 at Kiskunfelegyhaza and was thinking that it might be chucked out on the return working later that morning. As I didn’t want to risk being bowled by one of the turns being a unit we didn’t go for the 1053 ex Budapest Nyugati and I decided to wait and see how things progressed later that morning before heading out into the wilderness so after breakfast we headed out to Vajdahunyad Castle; following one of the walks from the map the hotel had provided.

We were back at Nyugati station with plenty of time to spare for the 1253 to Kiskunfelegyhaza and even made the 1223 Nyiregyhaza so got a reservation on that instead; so we thought. I’d asked at the ticket office whether I needed a reservation for the 1223 to Cegled, the answer to which was yes. As it turned out the reservation I’d been given was for the 1253 to Cegled, something we didn’t realize until someone else wanted to sit in our reserved seats; this ultimately resulted in us getting off at Zuglo and waiting for the 1253 anyway. Its standard in Hungary to need reservations on IC trains but these are actually only required in the fully AC coaches. The xx:23 IC’s from Nyugati are formed fully of these full AC coaches and only usually load 3 but the xx:53 IC’s from Nyugati to Szeged are formed of mixed stock and the non-AC coaches don’t require a reservation.

431131 headed IC714 1253 Budapest Nyugati – Szeged and we sat in our booked reserved seats to Cegled and then a sweltering hot compartment forward to Kiskunfelegyhaza; the original plan was to have got a reservation for Kiskunfelegyhaza at Cegled.

As I’d not managed to get the Mapper working on the journey down I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at Kiskunfelegyhaza and upon getting off the train there it took a while to find the one coach train that was 7124 1436 Kiskunfelegyhaza – Szeged. It was sat on the platform nearest the station building, on the opposite side of the train to that which we’d got off. The one coach was an open coach and even had correct window labels for the journey. Thankfully V46 460035 was at the head of the one coach.

The train wasn’t well used and when we got off at Kistelek there were only two people left on the train as it departed, after waiting for the next Nyugati bound IC to cross it; a lot of the line between Kiskunfelegyhaza & Szeged being single line. It was a sweltering afternoon and I have to say the driver’s uniform was one of the best I’ve seen, a pair of shorts and trainers; nothing else! He must have been melting in his cab. To avoid the direct sunshine we hid in the station waiting area by the booking hall, with a nice breeze blowing through when the doors were open. I did trespass a little during our fester when Train Hungary’s 400378 came through on a freight.

The moment of truth was soon upon us and thankfully through the haze appeared V46 460057 with 7125 1511 Szeged – Kiskunfelegyhaza; MAV seemingly having done what I thought they would but as we all know this doesn’t always happen! 7125 was equally as poorly frequented as 7124 going the other way but it had the correct traction so I wasn’t bothered and the day’s objective had been achieved.

On the way back into Budapest on IC703 1545 Szeged – Budapest, headed by 431058, the Mapper worked on the WiFi and while it didn’t work that fast I did manage to figure out that the two trains immediately behind ours both had required engines; 432252 with 2633 1737 Monor – Nyugati and 431025 with IC623 1440 Zahony – Nyugati. We were off at Ferihegy for the first and Kobanya Kispest for the second, then straight into Budapest on 431025.

Having had a good day again we were in need of a decent meal and the Okay Italia served us up some good food again; I couldn’t resist another go at their homemade Tiramisu either. There was even one guy that came in and all he had was Tiramisu so maybe they were renowned locally for the best Tiramisu in town?

The Moves

431112 Budapest Nyugati Zuglo 1223 Budapest Nyugati – Nyiregyhaza IC565 MAV 431
431131 Zuglo Kiskunfelegyhaza 1253 Budapest Nyugati – Szeged IC714 MAV 431
460035 Kiskunfelegyhaza Kistelek 1436 Kiskunfelegyhaza – Szeged 7124 MAV 460
460057 Kistelek Kiskunfelegyhaza 1511 Szeged – Kiskunfelegyhaza 7125 MAV 460
431058 Kiskunfelegyhaza Ferihegy 1545 Szeged – Budapest Nyugati IC703 MAV 431
432252 Ferihegy Kobanya Kispest 1737 Monor – Budapest Nyugati 2633 MAV 432
431025 Kobanya Kispest Budapest Nyugati 1440 Zahony – Budapest Nyugati IC623 MAV 431

 

The Photos

 

Thursday 31st July 2014 (Would you allow your kids to run a railway?)

The homeward bound blues didn’t take effect until later in the afternoon and after breakfast we had decided upon one last jaunt before heading to the airport and that jaunt would be on the “Children’s Railway”, on the outskirts of Budapest at Huvosvolgy. Unfortunately this place isn’t advertised very well, or even at all, in all the tourist gen around Budapest and while it may seem like a bit of a hassle to get to its pretty straight forward really.

To get from Budapest we used tram No. 4 or 6 from Nyugati to Szell Kalman ter, where we changed to tram No.61 direct to Huvosvolgy. Szell Kalman ter is basically a big triangular tram/bus interchange point and everything is well advertised as to what is going where on electronic screens. At Huvosvolgy, the end of the No. 61 tram line, it isn’t immediately evident when to go to find the Children’s Railway station but there are stairs that led up from the tram station to a dirt track, once up the stairs turn left onto the direct track and follow it the short distance to the end; Huvosvolgy station is right in front of you. Tram tickets are HUF350 for single tickets and should be validated when you board, they’re valid for the whole journey to Huvosvolgy, including changing trams. We didn’t realize the tickets needed validating but didn’t have any issues thankfully.

To return to Budapest we did so from Szechenyihegy by using the Cogwheel Railway, which is actually operated as tram line No. 60, to Varosmajor and then tram No. 61 back to Szell Kalman ter for tram No. 4 or 6 back to Nyugati. Again there are no directions from the Children’s Railway station to the Cogwheel Railway station but it’s simply out of the Children’s Railway station, down the hill for about 200m and the Cogwheel station is on the right hand side of the road. Timetables are displayed on the station and there are at least 3 trains an hour.

When we first got to Huvosvolgy station there was nobody about at all, even the booking office wasn’t open. One of the Mk45’s could be seen in the yard from the platform end and this soon brought two coaches into the station to form the first train of the day, the 0910 to Szechenyihegy. Tickets went on sale about 15 minutes before departure and cost HUF700 each for a single journey the length of the line; rover tickets are only available for families.

Mk45-2004 headed our train with an open veranda type coach at the rear and a second coach behind the loco. We opted for the veranda coach of course and while we sat on board minding our own it became evident that the first train was used as a staff ferry train as there were only four fare paying passengers on board when it left but it was quite full. There were Permanent Way staff, who got off with equipment en-route, station staff that were dropped off at the relevant station and of course the Children; without whom the railway wouldn’t have any staff!

I was beginning to wonder where all the Children were, just as they were marched across the car park, military style and almost in time, and then lined up on the station platform in rows three deep. Lunch was then handed out to all with the first kid in line taking three of everything and the goods being distributed behind. All were briefed by the person in charge before being loaded into the front coach and distributed to various stations en-route to complete their required duties for the day. The grippers for the train had turned up separately and must be rostered in advance as they all seemed to know what they were doing and I have to say it was quite strange having my tickets checked by a kid that couldn’t have been older than 12.

The line is basically a solid uphill climb from Huvosvolgy to Szechenyihegy; it’s a shame the Mk45’s are a bit pants and make very little noise. There is a cracking view over Budapest part way up the line, which the driver slowed down for; these are adults by the way! Our morning on the railway would be just that and we did 2004 all the way out and part way back to Janoshegy for what turned out to be 2003 back to Szechenyihegy on the other turn.

As there was no interest in selling me a ticket for the return journey to Janoshegy at the booking office we ended up buying them on the train. Single journey’s short of full length of the line cost HUF600 and we had no issue buying the tickets from the 12 year old gripper. On the way back though there was obviously a bit of a language barrier, which I was keen to figure out how they dealt with it and the many tourists they must have travelling on the line and was quite withered when the young lad produced a booklet, thumbed through it and ran his finger underneath the line that said “Where would you like to go”. Then he produced a map for me to point to my destination and moments later I was in possession of two tickets back to Szechenyihegy, the cost for which was written down on the lad’s booklet. Impressed I was.

While the railway does seem to run relatively to time there were occasions that you could tell it was being run by Children and also times when you could tell that the adults were frustrated with the Children; still we had a great time and by the look of the crowds coming the opposite way as we walked down the road to catch the Cogwheel Railway at Szechenyihegy we’d left at the right time. The train had already been full as we left the station and there was another train full walking up the road.

We were back at Nyugati with plenty of time to spare before our courtesy taxi from the Mamara to Ferihegy airport so we had a farewell lunch at the Okay Italia before beginning our journey home. The taxi journey took about 30 minutes and was as straightforward as they come. Unfortunately getting through to security at Ferihegy airport wasn’t as straightforward. The queues were massive at terminal B so we walked round to terminal A, where there wasn’t one at all and were promptly sent away to go and get proper boarding passes as our print-out entitled “Travel Document” apparently wasn’t what it said on the tin.

As we queued at the Norwegian Airlines desk it looked as though loads more folk had been victim of the same assumption we had. The queuing was harmless enough though and we were through security and sat in the waiting area with rafts of time to spare. The flight itself ended up being about 30 late but was a decent flight and definitely an airline I’d fly with again.

Luckily we were dropped at the right terminal at Gatwick for the station but I was further delayed getting through immigration as my passport was scrutinized, for a change. After it hadn’t worked at the electronic gate I ended up at a desk, as usual, but the guy processing me didn’t seem to be able to deal with whatever scribbling he was seeing on the screen so had to take me to someone else to get me through. Thankfully we made the train we needed to but it was fruitless rushing in the end as the third train of our journey to Tunbridge Wells, from Tonbridge, was cancelled! Upon arrival at Tonbridge it wasn’t quite the end of our holiday and we had three days of Spa Valley Railway Gala to look forward to; that was until 31206 failed on the Friday night and that was that for the weekend and we were home on Saturday vice very late Sunday!

The Moves

452004 Huvosvolgy Szechenyihegy 0910 Huvosvolgy – Szechenihegy 31137 Childrens Railway Mk45
452004 Szechenyihegy Janoshegy 1003 Szechenyihegy – Huvosvolgy 31132 Childrens Railway Mk45
452003 Janoshegy Szechenyihegy 1010 Huvosvolgy – Szechenihegy 31237 Childrens Railway Mk45
54 Szechenyihegy Varosmajor 1122 Szechenyihegy – Varosmajor Cogwheel Railway
LN-DYH Budapest Terminal 2B Gatwick South Terminal 1535 Budapest – Gatwick DY2497 Norwegian Airways

 

The Photos