Friday 2 September 2016

Midlands to Magyar [4]

Journey's End - Eventually!
Having typed the sub-header above, fbb suddenly rtemembered reading the play, set in the WW1 trenches, at school c. 1960. Where do these memories come from? But back to Balaton.
Chum and Leicester correspondent David has, we assume, made it to Budapest Déli (i.e. South) station to catch a train to Keszthely, a town at the western end of Lake Balaton.
Magyar Államvasutak ...
... a k a Hungarian State Railways owes much to its Soviet domination of the not too distant past.
But a programme of railway modernisation is underway with some swish looking rolling stock running on track without lumps and bumps.
Searching the MÁV web site can be a bit of a challenge as word-spotting is tricky. The language is not immediately related to French or German. That the mechanics of translation is not easy is shown by this little article about a branch line from one the Balaton resort towns.
The Great Lake State Farm Bereki initiative of the 1950th began on October 13 of the 760 mm gauge railway economic trajectory laying. The marshy, swampy area perpendicular to hálózták tracks. Majorságokból in the area of agricultural crops, peat and lime slurry supplied Balatonfenyves the railway station.
Today, both tourists and locals like to travel to the small train. Traffic is currently the only scheduled Balatonfenyves Central High-Major (Imre Major) Somogyszentpál-line, the latter section of the track condition is good, as has been completely refurbished, so here is the Mk48 rail diesel locomotives as well as navigate.

But fbb has tried (thanks to the webs offers of selective translation!) and here goes.

Searching for timetables involved inputting start and destination stations and a date; up pops a list of all the trains for the chosen day.
Trains is green are direct (no changes) and fast (for Hungary!) taking two and three quarter hours for the approx 200km (124 miles in real money) journey. Other trains take double that time with several changes. fbb could not find a conventional "matrix" timetable on line.

The map shows two routes via the north and the south bank of Balaton.
Further careful probing of this initial web page reveals that trains vis the north bank (via Tapolca) are even slower than slow trains via the south. So we presume, correctly as it happens, that the main line is the southern route.

Main line?
The line is electrified, single track and largely unfenced; not at all like a main line in the UK. There are many small stations each little more than a bus shelter and a ground level platform.
David was intending to catch the 1935 from Déli.
What, at first, looks like a change at Balatonszentgyörgy, barely ten minutes from Keszthely, is indicated as through coaches. This is explained on a tourist web site.

Usually a train to Nagykanizsa that splits at Balatonszentgyörgy. The train divides into two, the front carriages go to Nagykanizsa (or vice versa) and the carriages that were originally at the back of the train go to Keszthely (or vice versa). You should check with the guard which part goes to Keszthely to ensure that you have time to get into the correct part of the train before you get to Balatonszentgyörgy.


There is also a list of all trains passing any (main?) station with real time in red, and, alongside ...
... a collection of notes.
It is an express train, 2nd class, carries bikes, runs in all weathers and a supplementary fare is payable.

For the record, the northern, Lakeside route is diesel powered with fewer trains. Here is a 1991 picture of a train at Tapolca station.
But, assuming David made his connection in Budapest, he would have arrived at Keszhely at 2221, a weary traveller clutching suitcase and crutch. Here he would find a pleasant railway station with bus station adjoining (what a good idea, maybe we should try that more in the UK?).
His Fantastic Voyage is over - well day one, anyway.

It is, of course, a well known principle of journalism (and thus blogging) that you don't let the truth get in the way of as good story. Thus it is with David's trek. Such was his concern at the complexity and the time risk of crossing Budapest, that he was likely to take a taxi from Ferihegy airport to Déli station.

And miss all the fun. Shame.

He did tell fbb that he could catch a later train at 2135 and arrive at Keszthely at midnight. But the only later evening train that fbb could find was this ...
... with three changes and an arrival at 0559 the next day. Ahh the deep joys of over four and a half nighttime hours on Slófok station.
Hey ho! It looks quite pretty during the day.
No doubt David will report in what actually happened when he returns to good old Blighty the day after tomorrow. But if he were to be attempting to snooze on a draughty darkened station, he might have dreamed of Hungarian railways of old.
Dream on.

 Next book review blog : Saturday 3rd September 

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