22nd January 2016 - Esztergom at last
Friday 22nd January 2016
It was our last weekday in Hungary so we couldn’t put off the trip to Esztergom on the hauled turn that departed Nyugati at 7:20 in the morning any longer. As we expected, the loco was 418.313; for some reason this one turn is booked to be a re-engined class 418/3 rather than one of the original 418/1 type that are booked to work all the other diagrams from Nyugati. It was just getting light as we left Budapest and the forecast was for good weather all day though it was still bitterly cold. It was a nice enough line, quite scenic in places and had been totally rebuilt, hence the reason for it having been closed for the last three years although they hadn’t finished the planned electrification which had not got any further than the odd section with masts in situ.
There was a nice photo at Esztergom once the loco had run round and there appeared to be some freight in the area in the shape of a scrap yard and a Suzuki car plant. Štúrovo, in Slovakia, was just across the River Danube and the station was only 4 ½ miles away, taking about 1 ½ hours to walk according to our phone app; an interesting idea but not something that appealed to us today so we took some photos and sat back inside the nice warm train.
Having had our fill of the lines from Nyugati over the last couple of days, we went for a tea break then caught the number 73 trolleybus to Keleti, arriving just in time to get a reservation and catch the 12:10 IC to Győr. By some miracle there was no queue at the ticket office though we did need two attempts at getting the reservation. The first clerk spoke no English at all and stared at our note saying “helyjegy” with the train number and the Interrails like she had never seen such things before. Luckily there was still no queue so we tried the next window, one quick look at our note and the tickets, tap, tap, tap on the keyboard and two reservations produced in seconds and we didn’t even need to run up the stairs to catch the train. There wasn’t time to get down the front so we looked up the loco number (480.016) on “Vonat Droid” once we had got the Wi-Fi to work though it would have been quicker to walk through the three coaches to the front to check in person!
Required 418.316 was in the platform attached to some stock when we arrived at Győr but it wasn’t the first train out so we took dud 418.305 out to Ménfőcsanak to get the incoming train which turned out to be a Bzmot DMU; schoolkid error, should have checked the diagrams! Back out with 418.316 and we decided to hop off a couple of stops before we needed to in the hope that we might see a freight train but there was nothing around.
The train back to Győr was a Bzmot as expected but we were rather withered as we arrived when an “O” train from Budapest Keleti arrived behind 630.151. We had seen it in the carriage sidings there earlier but there had been no clues as to what it was going to work so we were none the wiser. The 2 minute connection onto the next IC back to Budapest was rejected due to having no reservation so we trotted off to the booking office to get one for the following Railjet only to get the usual answer of “train full” which we knew was unlikely to be correct. Railjets are meant to be compulsory reservation within Hungary but we guess that the MÁV reservation system can’t issue one once the train has started its journey which could be from somewhere as far away as München.
There was no problem in finding seats of course and our tickets didn’t even get checked in the end as the conductor walked straight past without so much as a glance. We got back to Keleti on time and after a quick trip to the rear of the train to make sure that the loco number matched the set number (it did and it was dud) we went straight to our favourite restaurant in Budapest, the Rosenstein which lived up to its reputation as usual.
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