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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

A colourful railroad before it went out of service

Line 76: Diósjenő to Romhány, Hungary

The beginning of the year is always problematic for me as a teacher to find time for writing. Now that we are practically locked down due to the Corona virus it is time to go on a trip in our imagination by a train instead of actually taking one. The best way to stay safe is to stay at home.
If I had to travel in my head then an obvious choice for me was a railway I could not travel on in real life anymore. This post is probably going to get rather sentimental, I hope you do not mind. Some railways I never even had the chance to travel on, some I missed out on before closure due to being obsessed with other things or not believing they were really going to do that. This line is different: I spent a lot of time on this railway and I think I can be content with the number of photos I have of it, also with the interesting events and trains I had captured on it before it was closed in March 2007.
Normally the blog would invite you on some of the most spectacular railway journeys in Europe. Despite the hilly scenery, this line is not a huge spectacle; it may be nice compared to the lowlands that dominate Hungary, but you will not feel the urge to immediately go and walk the railway now that trains are absent.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

My railway photography trips in 2019

2019 was a busy year for me. It, for starters, marked the launch of my English language travel blog (this one), and also has seen the blog decline in the number of posts. The sad reality is that I will not be able to make posts as frequently as I wanted to - but 2019 was at the same time a beautiful year with colourful trips to various locations that may be represented in upcoming posts on this blog. Altogether, partly because of my hobby, partly because of work, I have taken railway-related photos in 15 countries in Europe, which is a lot. Each country on its own is easily an adventure of weeks for a railway traveller and I could be to this many countries without being shocked by the different sensations is that this year I have only been to countries I have visited before, most of them many times already. But in those countries, there were many new locations to discover. Let's see, what my 2019 travels looked like!
2019 started by a photo charter called Fények Fotósvonata (Charter of Lights), which was an appropriate name for the night photography trip at the Királyrét Forestry Railway, a narrow-gauge railway in Hungary.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Retro Liveries of the Locomotives of the Hungarian State Railways

Retro is a term often used in Eastern and Central Europe for things that are left behind from the end of the 20th century, or, in an increasing number of cases, have been recreated to resemble the typical looks of those things. Unlike 'old', retro doesn't imply that the thing is incapable of doing its job anymore, just identifies it as something which has a unique style to it because of the year it was made.
When talking about trains, we must differentiate between retro vehicles and historic vehicles, both can mean locomotives, carriages or multiple units and railcars. Something is historic if it is kept in a museum or is only used on special occasions. They are often privately owned or belong to an identity separate from the railway companies that serve the usual traffic in the region. Retro, on the other hand, usually means a vehicle that still has some daily work to do and is actively used to earn revenue in ways which are not connected to the tool being older than the average stock. To put it straight: they carry passengers just like any other vehicle belonging to their operator or are used for daily freight or departmental trains. But they all wear a special livery that can turn back the wheel of time for the people who remember, force some good memories to resurface and add a significant bit to the class and mood of rail travel. In the UK this kind of repainting is often called a heritage livery.
The Hungarian network is not the only one to have retro trains, but the number of such vehicles has greatly increased recently and for the second year in a row, passenger operator MÁV-START has organized special Retro Weekends for enthusiasts and the general public to enjoy, thus bringing attention to the existence of these nice vehicles.
Bzmot 343 (117 343 in the current numbering scheme) is allocated to the MÁV-START depot at Balassagyarmat and wears the livery these tiny railcars had worn until the mid-90s refurbishment and engine replacement.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Photo of the Week: Neretva River Gorge with Old Train

The Neretva Gorge is one of the most spectacular views of the Balkan and a highlight of the train travel from Sarajevo to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The twice-daily trains used to be run by ASEA-license locomotives and an assorted set of carriages but nowadays the Spanish Talgo high-speed sets are mandatory. In the summer, extra trains are provided. See more about Bosnia and Herzegovina on my website.

Narrow-gauge train to Cortina d'Ampezzo

Using the groundworks of the 70 cm Austrian military railway and utilising the reparations paid by World War losing Austria to Italy, Ferrovia della Dolomiti, a 950 mm/95 cm gauge narrow-gauge railway had been built of a total length of 65 km from Toblach in South-Tyrol through Cortina d'Ampezzo to Calalzo, where connection to the Italian mainlines was provided. The railway line was opened for civil travel in 1921 and electrification was finished by 1929 with 2700 V direct current.


Saturday, 13 July 2019

Retro Weekends at Lake Balaton in Hungary

Retro locomotives become increasingly popular with Eastern European railways. A retro locomotive is not a historic vehicle: it is still in operation, even if not in everyday but departmental use, but it is painted in a livery resembling a previous era of the railway, in many cases the livery in which the locomotive had been delivered by the factory.
MÁV has only recently jumped on the bandwaggon but now taking part fiercely: this year two, so-called retro weekends are organised, during which the regular, usually more reliable and modern locomotives are swapped for some retro units on the scenic line running on the Northern side of Lake Balaton. The lake is extremely popular among Hungarians as a beach but has a strong culture and lots of vineyards, meaning that tourists soar in the summer season, making sure the trains will have an impressive length and the diesel locomotives will be forced to emit nice smoke and an easy to distinguish roar.
The first such weekend started only yesterday, with MÁV-START 408 224 (ex M40,224) hauling a fast train to the end of the railway, Tapolca, which is about ten kilometres from the shores of the lake and is situated in a basin surrounded by remnants of volcanoes, which is good for the wine and also creates a remarkable scenery. If you are interested in taking part, either by taking photos or videos of the spectacular consists or would like to travel on one of the trains, you are not late in any way: August 2nd to 4th is the next occasion. Before any details, let's see what yesterdays train looked like on photo...

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Photo of the Week: Narrow-gauge Interurban Tram in Slovakia

TREŽ (Trenčinská Električka Železnica) 411 902-0 is a ČKD-built, 76 cm gauge railcar that operates on the interurban tram line between Trenčianká Teplá railway station on the Bratislava-Žilina-Košice mainline and Trenčianske Teplice, a renown bath resort. The line mostly runs next to the road or on the embankment of the creek and passes by scenes of different character: village, hilly countryside, Socialist-era blocks of flats and townhouses dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Trains only operate on selected weekend and are ran by the association TREŽ. The photo was taken during a photo charter at Trenčianske Teplice zastávka.
Learn more about the railway from my recent travelogue about narrow-gauge trams in Slovakia.