23rd January 2016 - Karcag carry-on
Saturday 23rd January 2016
Our last day in Hungary for this trip so we took a few minutes to consider what to do; not that we were struggling to think of anything, more that there was so much we could do it was hard to choose. As we had spent a couple of days mostly pootling around Budapest it was perhaps time to go a little further so we settled on Debrecen with the aim of doing the line to Fehérgyarmat. It would probably mean having the same loco out and back but at least it would put some miles on the Interrail and ensure that we would get to do this 95 mile stretch of line hauled in case the services went over to DMU before we could arrange a return visit.
The IC reservations were purchased at Keleti the previous evening and, just for a change, there was a 1st class coach on the train though the loco was dud which was slightly annoying as there were still huge gaps in our V43 haulage list. A further issue arose on board when we found an older man sitting in one of “our” seats surrounded by a stack of luggage but as there were plenty of free places available, we sat elsewhere hoping that we hadn’t chosen someone else’s seat. Nobody did come to stake a claim so we stayed happily ensconced until Karcag where the train came to a rapid halt just beyond the station which did not bode well as the next stop should have been Püspökladány some 15km further on. Perhaps there was some single line working; but a train passed in the opposite direction and there was still no onwards movement then there was an announcement which we couldn’t make head or tail of but we guessed that it was not good news.
Something was obviously wrong now so we got up for a leg-stretch, found a door open at the front of the train and had a peek outside; the loco had come to a stand on the loop points with the rear door of the train just on the platform. Some people were starting to gather their belongings when a further announcement was made at which point nearly all the other passengers stood up and reached for their stuff so it was game over and, presumably, walk to the rear of the train to get off.
Of course some people just headed for the nearest door and jumped out onto the ballast on both sides of the train including one chap who went base over apex upon landing. Needless to say, we have had plenty of practice regarding “ballast leaps” on various tours over the years so we followed suit as it would save a long walk, bailing out carefully into the nice large space on the “wrong” side, rigorously checking that nothing was approaching before crossing the track and walking to the “up” platform where the following “O” train had caught us up. It was unable to go in to the adjacent platform as the failed train was blocking the points and it was obviously being held for the passengers off the failed train although it would no doubt be heavily delayed in the process.
We were quite surprised by the number of people on the four coach IC train who were trudging along both platforms towards the already comfortably loaded “O” train. We quickly found a couple of spare seats on the latter and amused ourselves marvelling at the amount of time that some people had taken to extricate themselves and their luggage out of the failed train; in fact it looked as if the guard had to go through the train to shoo some people off.
The “O” train finally left Karcag around 40 late but even if it had been on time we would have missed our intended connection so alternatives had to be worked out. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi in the IC train had been fairly good so we had used the Vonat Droid app to work out which diesel locos were around and found that there were two working between Debrecen and Fehérgyarmat. The downside was that we would have to wait an hour at Debrecen but this was not too onerous as there were a couple of things to photograph, most notably an Austrian class 1116 on a freight.
We now had two choices, two return trips to Aradványpuszta which would get both required locos or one longer trip to Mátészalka; we did the former as another visit would be needed do the rest of the line at a later date so we might as well go for the locos instead. These couple of moves went without a hitch apart from getting accosted by a dubious individual on the return of the second trip who tried to engage us in conversation despite not seemingly knowing a single word of English – you do get to see and meet allsorts on trains!
There was enough time to grab a quick photo of 418.172 after it arrived from Romania and grab a cup of tea (no sugar this time!) before the IC back to Budapest turned up. We had wondered why our seat reservations were in coach no. 372, a much higher number than usual, and were a little surprised when the train arrived formed of Czech coaches despite being a Budapest Keleti to Nyugati via Miskolc service. Even better, it had a dining car, something which has long since disappeared from internal Hungarian trains so that sorted out the problem of where to eat this evening as we are not keen on eating a full meal too late in the day. The meal was good value with three courses and cider from Plzeň of all places setting us back the equivalent of a mere £17 for both; oh, and did we mention that the loco was a “winner” as well? A good result with the day ending a lot better than it began.
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