Romania October 2015 (Iasi, Alexandria & Bucharest)
Having done the PTG Southern Greece Alco Tour, as per the previous year, I planned to head out of Bulgaria and into Romania to spend a few days before flying home. There wasn’t much of plan really and initially we were going to spend a day in Iasi followed by a day in Targu Mures and then a morning in Bucharest before flying home; thankfully we saw sense and decided on a night in Bucharest before flying home instead of doing consecutive overnights in between. The bonus of that being that we knocked out Targu Mures, where there just so happened to be engineering works going on that would have affected our plans anyway!
Booked through British Airways direct
BA887 1710 Bucharest – Heathrow
Bucharest – Ibis Bucharest Gare Du Nord
Our room was on the 6th floor and was very sizeable with everything you’d expect from an Ibis hotel; essentially air conditioning, toiletries and free WiFi, what more could you need?
Balkan Flexi Pass (5 Day) – €88
Bought at the International ticket window (No.15) at Sofia station (Cash only accepted)
Saturday 10th September 2015 (A cold start, followed by a cold finish)
After the PTG Southern Greece Tour dropped us off in Sofia the previous night we had pre-booked tickets for train 2627 2245 Sofia – Varna in a three berth sleeper compartment; a knock at the door of which ensured we were up and ready to get off at Beloslav at 0556. I’d half expected the train to be well down the pan but this was Bulgaria not Macedonia or Serbia and trains on some lines seemed to keep nicely to time.
We were up and dressed in no time and at the door waiting to get off 5 minutes after the knock had alerted us to the fact we were nearly there. When we came to a stand the doors weren’t opened and the sleeping car attendant kindly informed us that Beloslav was the next stop; when we managed to make something out through the window we realised that the random red lights that appeared to be dotted in the sky were in fact those on the industrial complex by Povelyanovo station!
Beloslav came soon enough and we were deposited in the cold, and pouring rain, at 0600 in the morning. A swift run down the platform revealed 44111 still attached to the front of the train and then it was off into the darkness; leaving us behind to question what the hell we were doing at Beloslav at 0600 of a morning. As deserted and as rancid as it may have seemed, with Beloslav kind of typifying Eastern Europe at that moment, people started to come out of the darkness to wait for trains into Varna and we had the pleasure of two small kittens to entertain us during our fester; which at the time we were hoping wasn’t going to be long!
The kiosk on the shack saved the morning and provided us with a much needed hot drink while we waited; others turning up though seemed to think that the pissing rain and general cold weather called for a 2L bottle of crappy euro-fizz beer! Each to their own I guess? But seriously, WTF!? While pondering said question and watching some locals feed the shack’s dog, dud 45159 arrived with 20160 0600 Varna – Shumen so we stayed put to await events as in theory we had a choice of trains; 0652 to Povelyanovo and 0656 to Varna.
Unbeknown to us when we planned the trip, mainly as the BDZ online timetable isn’t always as up to date as it should be, there was a second overnight from Sofia to Varna that ran via Plovdiv and had we known it ran we’d have probably done that instead for the change of scenery, in the literal sense of course, as we’d not done the route via Plovdiv; sure enough 3637 2230 Sofia – Varna turned up with dud 45182 about 15 minutes late, shortly after 45159 had departed for Shumen.
I did say in theory we had a choice of trains as the hour approached 0700 but there was no sign of 30150 0625 Varna – Burgas when dud 44178 headed towards Varna at 0656 with 30151 0343 Karnobat – Varna; and still no sign when we had to do dud 44088 into Varna on 20161 0530 Shumen – Varna. However we did pass two trains between Beloslav and Varna, one would have been 2602 0730 Varna – Sofia and the other could only have been 30150 0625 Varna – Burgas; the latter probably having been retimed due to engineering works on the Burgas line?
By the time we got to Varna daylight was starting to break but the rain and cloud were doing their best to keep it as miserable as possible. On Varna shed the following demic locos stood in line: 07073, 07077, 44071, 55101, 55073 & 55082; 55088 was acting as Varna station pilot and was immediately onto the rear of our set after we arrived.
We had two things to do during the day, one was get breakfast and the other was try and get some reservations on a sleeper train from Bucharest to Iasi for that night; we only achieved one of those things as the Rila office at Varna don’t sell tickets for journeys solely within Romania. Breakfast was sought at the Hotel Aqua, which dominates the main road outside the station, on the left hand side. For non-guests the breakfast is 5 Lev, which is a bargain at £2 a head; and when it provides lunch as well what more could you ask for £2?! My money certainly went a long way that morning and by abusing the WiFi I also downloaded the ME Map for Romania, however that wasn’t before we’d headed back to the station and I’d realised I hadn’t got it on my phone; getting wet for a second time that morning, while hanging around outside the hotel doors wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind when I woke that morning, but it was where I was and needs must!
As luck didn’t have it a dud 44185 worked the 0845 Varna – Sofia and the same loco we’d had into Varna, 44088, dropped onto the load three set that was 9620 0920 Varna – Ruse. This was unfortunately formed of ex Hungarian stock and there were no compos, it was cold, dark and never warmed up at all! Along the way there was a little bit to see with demic 07074, 07078, 55102 & 55103 being at Kaspichan, 07050 with a freight and 44123 with two coaches at Samuil and freight 600519 at Senovo. Unfortunately there was a class 87, or 92 for that matter, in any of the yards at Ruse.
The Rila office at Ruse, downstairs in the booking hall, also couldn’t sell internal tickets for Romania so it was outside to gather some food before returning to the confines of the booking hall in a vain attempt to keep warm; while the rain had stopped it had been replaced by a bitter wind which was equally as unpleasant. What was also unpleasant was the fact that IR460 0755 Sofia – Bucharest went from 0 to 20 to 40 minutes late within the space of 10 minutes, while we sat and ate our dinner in the booking hall!
It was a windy affair when we went up onto the platform to await the arrival of IR460 and more importantly the arrival of the 07 that would take us over the bridge into Romania; which both arrived at the same time as IR460 had 07106 tucked inside 45177. Nigel Pearson was on board and confirmed that the sole reason for the train being late was the fact that 07106 had been added to the consist at Gorna; and guess what it was bloody dud! To put it bluntly it had been a shit day for my red pen in Bulgaria; maybe it was trying to hide from the crap weather as well?
45177 was removed from the train pretty quickly and with there being very few people on board the border grip by the Bulgarians should have taken no time at all but thanks to a couple of American’s, who appeared to have not been processed into the country properly, we ended up 90 late away from Ruse! There was much questioning and their passports were taken away but what I could get from the conversations that took place was that the two American’s had entered the country on an overnight bus and the border security had just scanned their passports, seemingly like they would with EU ones, and not processed them correctly. The result of which everyone now had to suffer, including folks on IR461 Bucharest – Sofia coming the other way which had to wait at Giurgiu Nord until we arrived as we had its forward loco at Ruse!
Strangely those inconvenienced at Giurgiu Nord seemed to be American’s, who’d passed the time away, and were still doing so when we arrived, in drinking a bottle of whisky! Their cheers and just general liveliness as we arrived were a sheer sign of boredom but a little over the top to say the least! CFR Marfa 601160 was sat on the adjacent road as we arrived but unfortunately CFM GM 650959 was already waiting to drop on at the Videle end of the station and once 07106 was removed it did so; with 07106 running round our train and dropping onto IR461 to work straight back into Bulgaria.
The border grip on the Romanian side was a little more harmless than the one at Ruse had been and once formalities were completed 650959 did its stuff and headed towards Bucharest. Despite the 80 late start from Ruse, 650959 did its best to recover time and we were into Bucharest Nord, oh, about 80 late. We didn’t have much of a plan but did spot 820389 with R13739 1845 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni vice Sulzer so we opted to get our reservations sorted for our overnight that night rather than waste our time with the 82.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been a little apprehensive about turning up for an overnight train in Romania without a reservation beforehand but having found the sleeper reservation desk the woman behind the counter couldn’t have been more helpful; despite not speaking a word of English! My hand written request did the trick and she showed us what she was doing as she checked through the trains for available berths. Unfortunately there were no sleepers left in 2 or 4 berth compartments, on either of our required trains, so we had to make do with 6 berth couchettes. We already had tickets and the reservations for IR1667 Bucharest – Iasi and IR1668 Iasi – Bucharest the following night cost RON35 each and were made in the same coach and compartment in both directions. Our whole reservation buying experience was over in 5 minutes and what a pleasant one it was too. Had we actually realised how quick we’d have been we’d have had plenty of time from arriving to getting tickets and then making the 1845 Urziceni; as it happened we just missed it so the 1933 Bucharest – Targoviste it was.
While hanging around on the concourse we had 20 minutes to spare, which was plenty of time to spare to allow a walk down to the Basarab platforms to check out what was going on; or so I thought. While I found 410809 in the platforms there, having arrived with R9308 1615 Rosiori Nord – Bucharest Basarab with Sulzer 600733 dead inside, I literally only just made it back to the main platforms with a few minutes to spare for the 1933 Targoviste; which had been backing in with GM 631143 as I hurried back down platform 1. The short walk had actually taken me 18 minutes and I was knackered when I got back too!
The stations in the Bucharest suburbs, that serve the lines that head out to Urziceni, Rosiori and Targoviste can be a little confusing if you’re not on the ball with them; and even more confusing when the Urziceni line trains are diverted via Chitila and round a freight line towards the airport as they don’t usually go via Chitila, let alone call there! ME Maps certainly came in handy, when I managed to get it working, but I still went to check on the station sign when we got off at Depoul Bucharest Triaj Halt; and indeed it was the correct station, which is right at the side of the depot as you expect with the name it has.
While it was cold the rain had thankfully stopped completely, for the time being; which was nice as there was little to no shelter at Depoul Bucharest Triaj Halt. You’d expect the train you were waiting for, heading towards the same next stop as the one you’d just got off, to arrive into the same platform wouldn’t you? Well imagine our surprise when what we thought was our train arriving went straight through and then once clear of the platform revealed another train arriving into the opposite platform, going in the same direction! We had no choice but to leap across the ballast and round the front of the engine and thankfully the boards on the side of the stock confirmed it was a Ploiesti train. 400639 delivered us to Chitila 5 minutes later, just as a Desiro arrived heading in the opposite direction with the diverted, retimed and renumbered R13824 1700 Slobozia Veche – Bucharest Nord.
We didn’t have long to wait at Chitila before 400669 arrived with R3010 1646 Brasov – Bucharest Nord and on the way back into Bucharest, with the help of ME Maps, we figured out that the stations shown in table 1000, amongst others, as Bucharest Triaj Halt (not to be confused with Depoul Bucharest Triaj Halt) and Pajura Halt are in fact the same station; and we discovered a few days later that one of the station signs still had remnants of the old “Bucharest Triaj Halt” beneath the more recent signage that said Pajura; mystery solved!
GM 631060 was sat in Bucharest Basarab, as we passed by, with R9027 2005 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti and in the main platforms 820619 was sat with the stock for the diverted, retimed and renumbered R13741 2000 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni. With no moves back in being available we opted to walk the short distance to the Ibis Bucharest Gare Du Nord for food, where thankfully the restaurant was open and served up some good food at a cheap price too. As we would be staying at the Ibis two nights later we tried our luck with leaving our big bags behind and were very grateful when they were hidden away in the hotel’s storage room for us.
450322 didn’t back in with the stock for IR1667 2300 Bucharest Nord – Iasi until 2245 and it was a bit of a free for all when it did, with the platform being quite busy. I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on in our couchette coach as a load of women just hung around in the vestibule ends. The coach was busy but as Aidy & I had the top berths in our compartment we managed to get ourselves sorted quickly and then get out of the way while the four women down below fannied about a bit and eventually came back with bedding; which we later found out is to be returned to the coach attendant before you get off in order to retrieve your ticket from him, which is taken when he comes round to do his ticket checks. Once everyone was sorted and settled into their berth the lights were out, curtains drawn and sleep soon came along….
Gen for Saturday 10th October 2015
44088 20161 0530 Shumen – Varna, 9620 0920 Varna – Ruse, 9623 1555 Ruse – Varna
44111 2627 2245 (P) Sofia – Varna via Gorna
44178 30151 0343 Karnobat – Varna
44185 8602 0845 Varna – Kalitinovo
45159 20160 0600 Varna – Shumen
45172 2655 0700 Pleven – Varna
45177 IR460 0755 Sofia – Bucharest Nord (to Ruse)
45182 3637 2230 (P) Sofia – Varna via Plovdiv
55088 Varna station pilot
07106 IR460 0755 Sofia – Bucharest Nord (Ruse to Giurgiu Nord)
Varna Demic – 07073, 07077, 44071, 55101, 55073 & 55083
Kaspichan demic – 07074, 07078, 55103 & 55102
631060 R9027 2005 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti
631143 R9107 1933 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste
650959 IR460 0755 Sofia – Bucharest Nord (from Giurgiu Nord)
820389 R13739 1845 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni
820619 R13741 2000 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni
Desiro R13824 1700 Slobozia Veche – Bucharest Nord
Note – all Urziceni line trains are retimed, renumbered and diverted via Chitila (all stopping there too) and the freight line round towards PO Aeroport Halt
400639 R5025 1952 Bucharest Basarab – Ploiesti Sud
400669 R3010 1646 Brasov – Bucharest Nord
410809 (600733 dit) R9308 1615 Rosiori Nord – Bucharest Basarab
450322 IR1667 Bucharest Nord – Iasi (to Tecuci)
The Photos Saturday 10th October 2015:
Sunday 11th October 2015 (It didn’t stop raining all bloomin’ day!)
We were woken by a knock on the compartment door by the sleeper attendant, about 15 minutes before the booked arrival time into Iasi. When we managed to get ourselves sorted, collect our pieces from bert and get to a door we were in a station, which we initially thought was Nicolina but it turned out to be the shack before Nicolina; where we were held for 15 minutes, which was just enough time to miss IR1662 at Nicolina by 2 minutes.
When we got into Iasi it became apparent that it was going to be one of those days; the weather was shit, it was cold and raining heavily, and there were a pair of GM’s on the front of IR1667 when we went to investigate. The big question I then had was did one of them pilot from Vaslui or had both worked from Tecuci? It wasn’t a question that was going to be answered anytime soon as the leading GM, 650980, was uncoupled and disappeared almost immediately and the inside one, 651227, wasn’t far behind.
There’s a rather handy McDonalds right outside the front of Iasi shack, which answered where breakfast and a hot drink was going to come from and there were a few familiar faces in the queue already when we got there; and I was betting that those that weren’t familiar had probably come off our train as well?!
As a quick fill-in move, before covering the 0755 Iasi – Galati, we were surprised to find R6402 0655 Iasi – Barlad hauled vice Desiro with GM 650980 off IR1667 at its helm. Dud or not it sufficed to get us out to Nicolina, where we had a short wait in the small booking hall, out of the rain, for GM 651192 back to Iasi with an on time IR1861 2130 (P) Constanta – Iasi. Then it arrived from the sidings; Desiro unit 2033/2533 to form IR1863 0755 Iasi – Galati. We’d been half expecting it as Nigel Pearson had told us the previous night he’d seen one on it a few weeks earlier; basically that was the move we had on paper in the bin as it had involved doing IR1863 a fair distance out of town! So rather than do that we decided on doing the Desiro to Nicolina for R6311 back in, which produced Sulzer 620577, then doing some moves on electrics as the next train towards Barlad wasn’t until 1310 in the afternoon!
The front coach of R5404 0914 Iasi – Bacau was initially a welcome respite from the rancidity outside it but the heat it was producing was just so overpowering that the windows just had to be opened. 410815 delivered us out to Budai Halt, where there wasn’t much shelter from the rain; unless you ventured into the unused booking hall, which looked like a bomb had hit it and had been used as both the local doss house and latrine. Thankfully 410836 was on time with R5401 0445 Marasesti – Iasi and no sooner did we arrive into the bay platforms at Iasi did 400800 arrive into the main platforms with a slightly late running IR1838 1720 (P) Timisoara – Iasi.
We didn’t have time to go very far but while at Iasi we did watch Sulzer 600863 arrive with IR1864 0600 Galati – Iasi, where immediately after arrival a queue of people gathered by the offside driver’s cab and were handed a load of luggage from inside! By the time we walked back to the bay platforms 400482 & 410465 had dropped onto the set to form R5605 1106 Iasi – Suceava Nord; which was unfortunately a lot less warm than the previous train we’d done out of Iasi!
R5605 only made R5602 0920 Suceava Nord – Iasi at Podu Iloaiei and not at Budai Halt where the previous move had made; there was about as much shelter from the rain at Podu Iloaiei as there had been at Budai Halt and it appeared that the set of ticket inspectors that had ruthlessly gripped the train out of Iasi were doing the same move as us, just that they were taking refuge in the station master’s office. While we waited CFR Marfa 400150 ran through the station with a coal train, followed shortly behind by 400855 with R5602.
Had it not been still hammering down with rain back at Iasi we’d have walked the 2.5km down the road to Nicolina, for what turned out to be GM 651324 back in with IR1661 0545 Bucharest Nord – Iasi. As it was we decided to get some food before viewing R6314 1310 Iasi – Tecuci, which came from a place just outside the station on the left hand side that was basically a pointy-pointy place with all the food pre-prepared and apparently sold based on weight; which I figured out when my plate was weighed before being handed over to me.
Sulzer 601291 was sat ready with R6314 1310 Iasi – Tecuci when we got back onto the station and while we sat on board waiting to depart Sulzer 600788 dropped onto the one coach, that was sat in the platform, to form R1064 1321 Iasi – Ungheni, which we’d hoped might be 890223 but as that was employed in shunting the station with 800219 as its partner in crime, it wasn’t to be. 600788 was soon into Nicolina, close on the heels of 601291, and departed into the gloom towards Moldova with quite a load of people on it, most having boarded at Nicolina.
GM 650980 came back on the Desiro diagram with R6401 1100 Barlad – Iasi and dropped us nicely into GM 651324, which was already sat on the stock for IR1664 1416 Iasi – Bucharest Nord when we arrived. Also of note when we arrived was the fact that R5408 1435 Iasi – Bacau was sat in the platform with 400855 as train engine and inside it, but running, was Sulzer 620577. When we got back to Nicolina on IR1664 though there were randomly two locos on the train and a swift run to the front before it departed revealed Sulzer 601355 piloting the GM; which must have dropped onto the train with minutes to spare before departure and we never felt it either.
We’d planned to do the 1434 Regiotrans train back from Nicolina to Iasi but the nice lady in the Regiotrans hut at Nicolina informed us that it was cancelled; when we attempted to buy tickets for it! So not only were most Regiotrans trains in the Iasi area caped permanently, they couldn’t even manage to run the ones they had left. The rather convenient tram lines that ran along the main road back into Iasi from Nicolina looked like our best bet; the original bet would have been to walk if it hadn’t been raining, with the rain not only persisting it was now also preventing me from exercising and ultimately had us soaked by the time we got to the tram shack that was only 200m up the road!
While the tram lines may seem convenient they lull into a false sense of security as ME Maps kindly pointed out that the trams that run to Nicolina don’t run directly from the front of Iasi station and do so from the other side of the station carriage sidings; the alternative being to change trams somewhere, which is always easy trying to figure out in a foreign language and in a strange place. However we came across a guy at the tram shack that spoke fluent English, the only thing was he wasn’t quite fluent in common sense by the sound of it and just didn’t seem to grasp that we wanted to buy tickets for a tram to take us from where we were to Iasi station. He also didn’t seem to grasp that we wanted to know which tram numbers we needed to use to get there and where to change in the process. The result was, rather than stand in the pouring rain trying to figure out how to get there, to get into a nice warm yellow taxi that was parked a further 50m away and pay RON7 (about £1) to be taken directly to Iasi station entrance in 5 minutes flat!
We had a bit of festering to do when we got back and did so in the booking hall with everyone else that was using Iasi station and even some that weren’t using it for travelling purposes; well not travelling purposes as you and I would if you get my drift? The whole place is full of gypsies and quite why the younger ones saw fit to mess around outside in the rain and then wonder why they were soaking wet and freezing cold when they came back into the booking hall? Bizarrely the local security/police turned a blind eye to this and even when bedding was taken out later and a place to sleep for the night found behind some of the makeshift signs about the place; yet they seemed very interested in a young teen out of the platform who I only managed to see giving the police lip as he was being bundled into an office on the platform, with his girlfriend and a mate in tow trying to get him released. Raised voices could be heard from inside the office when I braved the rain to find GM 651192 at the head of R6412 1546 Iasi – Vaslui; which only prolonged our fester having already had it that morning on IR1861.
Desiro 2055/2555 produced for R6508 1615 Iasi – Ungheni Prut, and stayed out for the rest of the day as booked, with GM 651227 then dropping onto IR1666 1640 Iasi – Bucharest Nord well in advance of the train’s departure; the set for which was being pre-heated by electric 400912. Thankful of the fact that 651227 had given us advance notice that IR1666 was dud we then had time, only just enough mind, to do R5402 1624 Iasi – Marasesti out to the first shack, Letcani. Our grippers from the previous move out on the electric line were out in force again and it was very clear that people were on the eff; and what was amazing, with about 6 grippers on the train, that some even managed to get away with it by walking back through the upper deck when the grippers appeared at one end of it and nobody blinked an eyelid. The train was full of Gypsies, all seemingly having been into town to accumulate new clothes, that were strewn around all over the place, hanging out of bags and in some cases being put on to help them keep warm; still with tags on!
Letcani had less shelter than either Budai Halt or Podu Iloaiei had and we found ourselves huddling outside a doorway in an attempt to keep dry; which turned out to be the doorway to a booking office as we found out when nearly getting knocked out of the way when it opened, outwards! And as booked the train you really want to be on time is the one that’s late and results in you getting that little bit wetter and colder. We had to watch a Regiotrans DMU head the following direction before 410815 turned up with R5405 1318 Bacau – Iasi turning the move into a mirror of our first electric move that morning engine wise. On this occasion though the grippers hadn’t done the move with us and went forward with R5402.
Back at Iasi we were very surprised to find Sulzer 601355 waiting to depart with R6404 1720 Iasi – Barlad, having watched it depart Nicolina 3 hours previous piloting GM 651324 on IR1664 1416 Iasi – Bucharest Nord. We could only assume, based on the timescales, that the Sulzer could have piloted IR1664 to Vaslui and then returned light to work R6404; and even then it would have been tight!? Either way upon departing Iasi at 1720 it was a solid Sulzer evening, until we got on our overnight back to Bucharest that night!
After a pretty solid day of timekeeping in the Iasi area we were treated to a train that was 25’ late and when Sulzer 601245 arrived with R6313 1331 Tecuci – Iasi is was plainly evident why the train was late; it was rammed solid! Every compo was full, all the aisles were full and standing and pretty much every inch of standing room on board was occupied; we were quite lucky to find some space in the front coach and that was only thanks to a raft getting off at Nicolina before we boarded.
R6313’s late arrival into Iasi gave us less time to fester and Sulzer 600863 was already attached to the stock for IR1865 1830 Iasi – Galati and it deposited us back at Nicolina where the booking office was becoming more like a home to us; it could have done with a door that closed itself though as most locals seemed to be incapable of such menial a task!
Within minutes of arriving at Nicolina did grey Sulzer 601396 turn up, having clearly followed IR1865 from Isai, which could only be the light loco heading off to Ungheni to bring back the Moldovan overnight IR401 1635 Chisinau – Bucharest Nord; according to the most recent diagrams it was booked off Iasi at 1835 so couldn’t have been anything else; so that was out move pretty much sorted for the evening and we’d be returning to Nicolina one last time to do what we hoped would be 601396 back in on IR401; little did we realise………..
Sulzer 600788 turned up early with R1063 1749 Ungheni – Iasi international train, on its one coach; a coach that was devoid of not just heating but lighting also. It wasn’t an enjoyable journey for the 5 minutes we were on it in the dark and pissing rain so god knows what the locals had thought of their journey in from Moldova! We were so looking forward to a nice warm couchette that night at this stage in the day and Aidy had even had to dig out a second T-shirt as he didn’t actually have a jacket with him at all!
As we had over 2 hours to kill before we needed to be at Nicolina to hopefully do 601396 back into Iasi McDonalds provided us with a warm haven, food and free WiFi; all of which were abused to their fullest, as was the bog! The WiFi allowed us to find out that Nige Pearson wasn’t having a great day in Targu Mures either and the weather seemed to be generally shit all over Romania; in his words it was fucking rancid and cold! We’d be seeing him the following day anyway so we’d have plenty of time to swap shit weather stories, while the weather was probably still shit as the outlook wasn’t any better for Alexandria the following day.
We had no problem getting a taxi from outside the station, even at 2130 at night, back to Nicolina; there were a good 15 to choose from. It cost us RON7, just as it had done earlier in the day, and took 5 minutes again; this time though we were dropped right at the platform edge at Nicolina so didn’t have to get wet walking down the road. We paid homage to the booking office for one last time, where the booking office attendant seemed busier than ever, doing a crossword and reading a magazine; with a book over the hole under the counter, which I can only assume was to keep the cold out; never mind that though she should have been sharing the bloody heat with us!
The announcement came for IR401 to arrive and out we went onto the platform, I the pissing rain, for the last time and were greeted with a bit of a surprise as 601396 rolled in with the train and its Moldovan stock. Initially I didn’t think anything of it when the doors wouldn’t open and when we spotted one open towards the rear of the train we hightailed it down the platform, getting quite wet in the process, and scrambled aboard, past the attendant; it was then that it sink in! The train was sleepers only in from Moldova, with the day stock being attached at Iasi, and we’d just barged our way into a sleeper coach; which unfortunately didn’t go un-noticed.
While stood in the vestibule area, waiting for the guy that actually had a reservation to be shown to his berth, some guy poked his head in at the doorway and asked if we spoke English. He turned out to be either security or border security and basically wanted us off the train as we shouldn’t have been on it. The sleeper attendant wasn’t at all bothered and was more than happy for us to travel into Iasi with him and thankfully the security guard eventually relented and let us be, with the door being closed to the outside world. The damn train was early though and had a good few minutes to wait before it departed and sure enough a knock came on the door before we did so; it was the same guy now wanting to see our tickets. He told us that they weren’t valid for “this” train and we needed to take another train into Iasi; at which point we were resigned to literally pleading with him to let us be just into Iasi as we needed to be there as soon as possible, which wasn’t far from the truth anyway at that point. I could tell he wasn’t happy when he let me have my ticket back and after some conversation with the sleeper attendant the door was closed for a second time; the difference this being that IR401 actually set off; with us still in the vestibule thankfully! The sleeper attendant really didn’t care at all that we were there and let us stand by the hellfire “real” fire that was blazing away in the cupboard at the end of the coach. It was only the self-sufficient heating system for the coach and about as real as they come in this day and age; of course about as dangerous as they come as well. When we were let out at Iasi the smell of the burning coal became apparent outside the train and it wouldn’t be the last time we smelt it now we were familiar with the smell.
Having flagged GM 641358 at Nicolina earlier in the evening with IR1663 1200 Bucharest Nord – Iasi we were quite pleased to find it bolted to the front of our IR1668 2310 Iasi – Bucharest Nord, which was already in on platform 1. IR1668 is booked a Sulzer to pilot to Vaslui, where both it and the stock marshalled to the rear of the train are removed to then work R6413 0510 Vaslui – Iasi in the morning. The pilot loco wasn’t attached straight away and I had to wait a while at the front of the train until eventually GM 650980 dropped on top of 641358; not what we’d been expecting but it was what it was and to be honest all I was concerned about at that point was making my bed up and getting warm!
We were in the same compartment as we had been the previous night and in the same coach, just different berths; middle instead of upper and as it turned out the upper two were vacant. The sleeper attendant was the same as we’d had on the way up and he recognized us as he collected our tickets after departure. In our compartment was a young woman and some guy who sounded disappointed to not have managed to get a 2 berth compartment when he booked; and we all saw why as he stripped down to his boxers before getting to bed. Which is ok, but not ideal, when the compo is full of men but when there’s a young woman present he should have had a bit more respect; as she had for him by not doing the same! He was quite a talkative chap too and was quite hard to shake off, although he did show me a photo taken elsewhere in Romania that day, where the ground was covered in snow; and we thought we were having it tough!?
Gen for Sunday 11th October 2015
800219 & 890223 shunting at Iasi station
600788 R1064 1321 Iasi – Ungheni, R1063 1740 Ungheni – Iasi (Load 1)
600863 IR1864 0600 Galati – Iasi, IR1865 1830 Iasi – Galati
601245 R6313 1331 Tecuci – Iasi
601291 R6413 0510 Vaslui – Iasi, R6314 1310 Iasi – Tecuci, R6315 1827 Tecuci – Iasi
601355 IR1665 1416 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (pilot GM 651324 ex Iasi; to Vaslui then back light?), R6404 1720 Iasi – Barlad
601396 L17682 1835 Iasi – Ungheni (light engine), IR401 1635 Chisinau – Bucharest Nord (Ungheni – Iasi)
620577 R6311 0505 Tecuci – Iasi, Dead inside RR5408 1435 Iasi – Bacau
650980/651227 IR1667 2310 (P) Bucharest Nord – Iasi (from Tecuci)
650980/3/641358 IR1668 2310 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (to Vaslui & Tecuci respectively)
641358 IR1662 0600 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (to Tecuci), IR1663 1200 Bucharest Nord – Iasi (from Tecuci), IR1668 2310 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (to Tecuci, piloted to Vaslui by 650980)
650980 R6402 0655 Iasi – Barlad, R6401 1100 Barlad – Iasi (turn finished by Desiro 2036/2536)
651192 IR1861 2130 (P) Constanta – Iasi (from Tecuci), R6412 1546 Iasi – Vaslui
651227 IR1666 1640 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (to Tecuci)
651324 IR1661 0545 Bucharest Nord – Iasi (from Tecuci), IR1664 1416 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (to Tecuci, piloted by 601355 ex Iasi; to Vaslui?)
Desiro (2033/2533) R6410 1052 Iasi – Vaslui, R6415 1428 Vaslui – Iasi
Desiro (2055/2555) Iasi – Ungheni shuttles all day (viewed on R6503, R6508, R6507 & R6510)
Desiro IR1863 0755 Iasi – Galati, IR1866 1640 Galati – Iasi
400078 IR1832 0910 Cluj Napoca – Iasi
400482/410465 R5605 1106 Iasi – Suceava Nord
400800 IR1838 1720 (P) Timisoara Nord – Iasi
400855 R5602 0920 Suceava Nord – Iasi, R5408 1435 Iasi – Bacau (620577 running inside)
400912 R5604 1214 Suceava Nord – Iasi
410815 R5404 0914 Iasi – Bacau, R5405 1318 Bacau – Iasi
410836 R5401 0445 Marasesti – Iasi, R5402 1624 Iasi – Marasesti
The Photos Sunday 11th October 2015:
Monday 12th September 2015 (Seriously, what’s with the fucking weather!?)
We were woken by the attendant 10 minutes before arrival into Bucharest, which was bang on time. We didn’t have much time to spare and headed straight for McDonalds for a takeaway breakfast, collecting 450374, which had worked our IR1668 in from Tecuci, as we did so. 450397 was sat in the platform adjacent to where we’d arrived so we didn’t have to walk all the way back to see what was on IR1591 0645 Bucharest Nord – Drobeta Tr. Severin, which departed bang on time and was pretty empty to Videle, where we got off to do R9303 0715 Bucharest Basarab – Rosiori Nord forward.
En-route to Videle I’d figured out from the EU Rail app that something wasn’t quite right with trains on the Rosiori line and some seemed to be missing from the app, which could of course have been a glitch with the app but we weren’t taking any chances and getting stranded at some shack in the pissing rain and freezing to death in the process; so we decided to just do R9303 forward to Rosiori Nord and have done with it.
The wait at Videle was certainly an interesting one and we, like the everyone else waiting there, spent the time inside the large booking hall, where it was dry but far from warm. The old wooden benches could have added a bit of character to the place but the dog shit on the floor and general state of the place soon took what little character it could have had away; as did the nuisance dog that wouldn’t leave me alone while I was trying to read my timetable. It just roamed the waiting room picking on anyone it could and in some cases managed to get food out of them, yet when it wasn’t forthcoming it simply rummaged through the bins and left the rubbish all over the floor; without even attempting to tidy up after itself, how very dare it eh?!
I’d had enough of Videle, the rain and its dog when R9303 was announced as arriving, 20’ late. Kit was like a scrum to get out of the doorway as people simply didn’t want to make way for the foot traffic that needed to use it so they got barged out of the way. 410160 was leading R9303 with Sulzer 600652 dead inside, as it was booked to be. We definitely played the correct move in not getting off en-route as at Rosiori Nord we found an amended list of trains posted on the wall showing R9001 0745 Bucharest Nord – Craiova as cancelled; with various other amendments and re-timings as well. All were duly noted of to prevent any withering’s later in the afternoon/evening.
At Rosiori Nord, where it seemed to have stopped raining for a bit, R9303’s stock was split on arrival with two coaches being left in the platform to form R9365 1045 Rosiori Nord – Alexandria. The rest was shunted into the sidings north of the station, where 600652 was released, with it running onto the two coaches in the platform to work R9365 and 400160 running to the south end of the station and being left in the sidings.
The engineering works, which seemed to be resulting in single line working south of Rosiori Nord, was causing delayed to even the amended timetable and R9303 had been 25 late into Rosiori Nord. Nige Pearson was soon sat with us on board R9365, which ultimately departed late waiting connections off IR1529 0845 Bucharest Nord – Targu Jiu; which had the one and only CFR Class 42 at its helm, 420302.
The run to Alexandria was definitely nothing to write home about and the double deck stock was both cold and rancid; which as predicted made a good talking point for us all to swap stories about the previous day’s crap weather where we’d been! And if we thought the stock had been crap on the way to Alexandria we were in for a treat when we boarded the load two double deck set that formed R9364 1215 Alexandria – Rosiori Nord on the way back! Not only was it cold and rancid, it had water puddled in the aisles and mud plastered all over the seats; clearly where some twats had put their wet and muddy feet on them.
Outside it was still cold and the rain was holding off for the time being but it was about as Autumnal a scene as you could get at Alexandria. There were yellow and brown leaves all over the trees and floor, along with the biggest littering of conkers I’ve ever seen; which actually made walking along the platform quite hazardous. Sulzer’s 600733/601356 were just being prepared as we walked down and while getting our photos they were both started and both had separate drivers in them. The only good thing about the run back to Rosiori was that both locos were powering, which saved a second round trip to Alexandria that afternoon to get the 3rd loco in the book. This was my second trip to Alexandria and on both occasions the weather has been absolutely atrocious yet both the Sulzer’s on R9364 have powered; I said it last time but maybe they both power when the weather it crap for traction, or of course maybe it actually happens every time and people just don’t realise?
We parted ways with Nige at Rosiori as he was going to hang around and do the Sulzer back towards Alexandria and then on to Zimnicea, where CFR had just started running in the aftermath of the Regiotrans meltdown. Nobody actually knew that the turn was hauled at that point mind as it had only recently started running but the stock had Zimnicea boards on and the loco was at Rosiori to do it; with the train basically being an extension of the 1415 Rosiori Nord – Alexandria anyway. Let’s just say we weren’t so surprised to get a text from Nige to tell us that the ancient DMU, that had been sat in the sidings at Rosiori Nord all day, had done the 1415 Rosiori Nord – Zimnicea and the stock ex R9364 had been shunted into the north end sidings by the Sulzer’s on arrival; and that was that! His message had a lot of swear words in it, which I probably shouldn’t write word for word but those that know him can probably picture what he said quite easily! Meanwhile, on board IR1692 0530 Timisoara Nord – Bucharest Nord everything was as well as could be, other than the delays caused by the single line working; with 410106 leading the way back to the Romanian capital.
Due to IR1692 losing a fair bit of time into Bucharest we had a bit of a rush on to get down to the Basarab platforms at Bucharest before R9025 1552 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti departed; unfortunately the loco was hidden behind a set of stock as we arrived into the main Nord platforms. Our mad rush turned out to be a complete waste of time in the end as GM 650915 was sat waiting the road to depart with R9025 and GM 631143 was sat with the stock to form R9105 1635 Bucharest Basarab – Targoviste; so it was back to the main platforms in a lot calmer manner, where we found a Desiro with R1787 1625 Bucharest Nord – Pitesti. At this point KFC was calling and after a very cheap and large KFC, into the afternoon rush we went; with the rain once again gracing us with its presence!
A very battered 400068 started proceedings working R3007 1633 Bucharest Nord – Brasov, which we did out to Buftea for a little less battered 400919 forward to Crivina on IR1633 1645 Bucharest Nord – Brasov. I’d got grand ideas of doing a similar move to that I’d done on my previous visits, which involved electrics, ending up at Ploiesti Sud and then stepping back again towards Bucharest; however Aidy came up with a better move that allowed us to cover some diesel turns back in Bucharest so we headed back to Chitila with 410896 on R3008 1445 Brasov – Bucharest Nord.
GM 651295 wasn’t far behind us at Chitila with R9108 1642 Targoviste – Bucharest Nord and we passed GM 651349 at Pajura Halt with IR1775 1812 Bucharest Nord – Galati. Back in Bucharest, surprisingly Sulzer 621142 soon backed in with the stock to form the retimed, renumbered and diverted R13739 1845 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni; we’d been expecting an 82. Of note was the fact that grey Sulzer 601203 was shunting the station too, along with at least 4 80’s/89’s in use in the carriage sidings area as well. We did the Sulzer out to Pajura Halt for GM 650947 back into Bucharest Basarab with R9026 1652 Pitesti – Bucharest Basarab; where a quick walk to the main platforms had us boarding R9107 1933 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste with GM 651046 at its helm. A very annoyed Nige Pearson was also present but as his red pen seemed to have ran out that evening he retired to the Ibis for something to eat while we nedded a few more engines in!
Having commented on the fact that there wasn’t much shelter at Depoul Bucharest Triaj Halt, I can now confirm that the only shelter from the rain is underneath the very high footbridge steps; even then we might as well have stood on the platform in the rain for how dry it was! We didn’t make the same mistake as we had two nights previous and waited on the platform we now knew R5025 1952 Bucharest Basarab – Ploiesti Sud would depart from and sure enough the express passed through on the main line just as R5025 hit the platform end; it was like clockwork. 400908 took us forward to Chitila where we ended up back into Bucharest on R3010 1646 Brasov – Bucharest Nord with 400540; after watching a Desiro head into Bucharest with R13824 1700 Slobozia Veche – Bucharest Nord, 820389 arrive and depart with the retimed, renumbered and diverted R13741 2000 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni and then GM 651025 arrive and depart with R9027 2005 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti.
At the Ibis Bucharest Gare Du Nord we were pleased to find our bags still in the store room and we were checked in straight away. Our room was on the 6th floor and was very sizeable with everything you’d expect from an Ibis hotel; essentially air conditioning, toiletries and free WiFi, what more could you need? We found Nige Pearson in the restaurant and the evening was spent chilling with a beer or two; the topic of conversation didn’t change though and always led back to the crap weather we’d endured over the previous few days! Not for much longer though as we were all heading home the following day.
Gen for Monday 12th October 2015
600652 R9303 0715 Bucharest Basarab – Rosiori Nord (dead inside 4100160), R9365 1045 Rosiori Nord – Alexandria
600733/601356 R9364 1215 Alexandria – Rosiori Nord (in tandem)
601203 (grey) shunting stock at Bucharest Nord
621142 R13739 1845 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni
DMU R9366 1415 Rosiori Nord – Zimnicea
631143 R9105 1635 Bucharest Basarab – Targoviste
650915 R9025 1552 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti
650947 R9026 1652 Pitesti – Bucharest Nord
651046 R9107 1933 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste
651295 R9108 1642 Targoviste – Bucharest Nord
651349 IR1775 1813 Bucharest Nord – Galati
651025 R9027 2005 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti
820389 R13741 2000 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni
Desiro IR1787 1625 Bucharest Nord – Pitesti
Desiro R13824 1700 Slobozia Veche – Bucharest Nord
400068 R3007 1633 Bucharest Nord – Brasov
400392 IR1799 0750 Bucharest Nord – Craiova
400540 R3010 1646 Brasov – Bucharest Nord
400669 R5010 1505 Buzau – Bucharest Basarab
400908 R5025 1952 Bucharest Basarab – Ploiesti Sud
400919 IR1633 1645 Bucharest Nord – Brasov
410106 IR1692 0530 Timisoara Nord – Bucharest Nord
410160 (600652 dead inside) R9303 0715 Bucharest Basarab – Rosiori Nord
410896 R3008 1445 Brasov – Bucharest Nord
420302 IR1529 0848 Bucharest Nord – Targu Jiu
450335/410780 R9004 0808 Craiova – Bucharest Basarab (450335 removed at Rosiori Nord)
450374 2310 (P) Iasi – Bucharest Nord (from Tecuci)
450397 IR1591 0645 Bucharest Nord – Drobeta Tr. Severin
The Photos Monday 12th October 2015:
Tuesday 13th October 2015 (What no rain? How fair was that after the previous few days!?)
We didn’t want to waste our last morning so we were up and at the station for 0715, with our big bags remaining in the room for the morning. It was a massive relief to walk to the station without rain pouring from the sky and the pavement being relatively dry. When we got there 820619 was sat waiting with R13733 0731 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni and was the first of three step-off moves out towards Chitila, which we did to Carpati Halt. 400781 soon arrived, behind it, with R3003 0740 Bucharest Basarab – Brasov, which we did forward to Depoul Bucharest Triaj Halt, where it was a pleasure to actually enjoy the fresh morning air; without getting wet! Unfortunately GM 650915, which we’d had the previous day, turned up with R9023 0755 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti, which we had no choice but to do forward to Chitila where upon arrival we found CFR 420302, GFR 425176 & Softrans 480011 in the adjacent sidings; the 425 was just being prepared for work by its train crew.
We initially thought we were waiting on the wrong platform at Chitila when GM 651349 approached platform 1 but when it accelerated on entering the platform we realised that it was the diverted IR1772 0450 Galati – Bucharest Nord as it passed straight through. GM 630847 wasn’t far behind and was in the platform only a couple of minutes later with an early R9432 0703 Targoviste – Bucharest Basarab, which we did back to Pajura Halt to await R9024 0630 Pitesti – Bucharest Nord behind; which turned up with GM 651025 piloting Sulzer 890335. The bonus of it being that both locos powered into Bucharest, which neither of us were expecting; 890335 was later sent back out of town inside R5005 1315 Bucharest Nord – Buzau.
There’s not a great deal to do, nedding about wise, in Bucharest after the morning rush finishes so we did 140564 out to Buftea on R5003 0933 Bucharest Nord – Buzau, missed the minus 3 onto R3004 0620 Brasov – Bucharest, only because we were late, and ended up on IR1632 0730 Brasov – Bucharest Nord with 400919 back into town; at which point there really were no more moves for a couple of hours so it was back to the hotel to relax for a while, before a few more moves en-route to the airport for our 1710 British Airways flight back to Heathrow.
Having covered pretty much all the Bucharest GM turns between the previous evening’s rush hour and the morning one we weren’t surprised when everything was dud in the afternoon with 630847 on R9437 1230 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste, 650944 on IR1774 0900 Galati – Bucharest Nord, 651349 on IR461 1250 Bucharest Nord – Sofia, 650959 on IR1773 1340 Bucharest Nord – Galati, 651025 on R9109 1406 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste, 651046 on R9103 1440 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste and 651295 on R9112 1200 Targoviste – Bucharest Nord.
Our move involved doing 630847 out to Chitila where 410810/410304 arrived with R5006 1000 Buzau – Bucharest Basarab to take us back into Bucharest; where we just made R5005 1315 Bucharest Nord with 410292, which was thankfully in platform 1 and bizarrely had Sulzer 890335 dead inside. From this point on we’d done one move too many and rather than calling it a day we did Desiro 2066/2566 back into Bucharest Nord on R13736 1200 Urziceni – Bucharest Nord for GM 651025, which of course we didn’t know would be dud when we left Chitila, back to Chitila for the same Desiro forward to PO Aeroport Halt on R13735 1414 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni, via the freight line from Buciumeni. The CFR minibus wasn’t just waiting for us at PO Aeroport Halt, it had reversed up the spiral ramp and was sat waiting on the platform for us! 6 minutes after getting into it, with us being the only two passengers, we were dropped at the front doors of Bucharest airport; officially on our way home!
Unfortunately our flight, BA887 1710 Bucharest – Heathrow, was late taking off and didn’t make any time up en-route. While circling just above the cloud near London though we were treated to some spectacular sights, with planes all around us. There was something on the horizon that I couldn’t quite figure out what it was at first; then I clicked it was the vapor trails of both planes taking off planes landing being lit up in the evening sunlight. The cracking sights and sunset didn’t take my mind away from the task at hand though and all that was on my mind was making my 2035 train home from Kings Cross. After breezing through security and legging it to the tube, where Aidy was already waiting, I’d just missed one by about 30 second and the next was 8 minutes later. Thanks to some delays approaching Acton Town I only had 5 minutes from arriving at Kings Cross to making my train, which put any idea I may have had of getting something to eat well out of the window. I made it though and it’s amazing how some things work out for the best and I ended up sat in 1st Class with Brigg, who I’d last seen in Sofia and who was travelling home pass to Doncaster; I even managed some food off the trolley as well, which was well needed by that point!
Having been to Romania twice, been mostly pissed on during both trips and having not had much in the way of thrash from any of the Sulzer’s I was so glad to be home and wasn’t thinking of returning any time soon; they do say third time lucky though………
Gen for Tuesday 13th October 2015
890335 R9024 0630 Pitesti – Bucharest Nord (inside 651025 but in tandem), then dead inside 410292 on R5005 1315 Bucharest Nord – Buzau
630847 R9432 0703 Targoviste – Bucharest Basarab, R9437 1230 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste
650915 R9023 0755 Bucharest Basarab – Pitesti
650944 IR1774 0900 Galati – Bucharest Nord
650959 IR1773 1340 Bucharest Nord – Galati
651025 R9024 0630 Pitesti – Bucharest Nord (in tandem with 890335), R9109 1406 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste
651046 R9103 1440 Bucharest Nord – Targoviste
651295 R9112 1200 Targoviste – Bucharest Nord
651349 IR1772 0450 Galati – Bucharest Nord, IR461 1250 Bucharest Nord – Sofia (to Giurgiu Nord)
820619 R13733 0731 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni
Desiro (2066/2566) R13736 1200 Urziceni – Bucharest Nord, R13735 1414 Bucharest Nord – Urziceni
400781 R3003 0740 Bucharest Basarab – Brasov
400919 IR1632 0730 Brasov – Bucharest Nord
410292 (890335 dead inside) R5005 1315 Bucharest Nord – Buzau
410359/410147 IR1662 0600 Iasi – Bucharest Nord (from Tecuci)
410564 R5003 0933 Bucharest Nord – Buzau
410810/410304 R5006 1000 Buzau – Bucharest Basarab
The Photos Tuesday 13th October 2015: