The situation: Government intends to close down up to three dozen Hungarian railway lines by 8 December 2007 (following 14 closures in March this year). Some of these lines could be taken over as regional railways by local municipalities, however, expect for the legal possibility no dispositions at all are in place to facilitate this from the part of the competent ministry. Therefore municipalities are most reluctant, not knowing the details and inexperienced as they are. Many have asked the ministry to suspend closures until a scheme for regional railways is in place, to no result so far. Regional railway lines have been neglected for years and therefore are less and less popular, although obviously their condition and efficiency varies. It would be quite a challenge to restructure and reorganise these railways.
Travel plan: We'll travel all round Hungary, a handful of mostly foreigners living in Hungary and railway friends from abroad. This a sign of solidarity with Hungarian population, and in favour of public transport with its positive impact on climate/environment and social effects. You may do the entire trip or join us for one or several days. An online game with valuable prizes will enhace envolvement with and interest in the goals of this action - participants e.g. may estimate or calculate just how long will it take us to go all round (including possible delays!). The action will be backed by a professional press campaign and members of the press may join us for parts of the trip. Local government and the population will be informed.
Goals: Raise awareness not only for the problems, but most of all for possible approaches towards more viable railway transport systems - establish decent timetables, re-establish cross-border lines towards cities across the border, fix desolate lines, create local transport systems, and acquire modern trainsets. The online game encourages participants to browse the railway map and timetables, and to reflect about the present shape of railway transport. Naturally we encourage folks to go by train instead of driving a car. In any case following loads of negative press, as foreigners living in Hungary and concerned about public transport, we'd like to disseminate positive messages with regard to local railways.
The itinerary: we follow the border as close as possible from within Hungary, including all branch lines towards the border. This takes time as the rail system is centered on Budapest and on some branch lines maximum speed is 20 km/h. Due to the nature of this action (and the online game) we will not stop to do sight-seeing, unless we have to wait for the next train. Departure: 23. November, return to the same spot a couple of days later (exact schedule not public due to the game).
Participants please take note:
+ Obviously this is not a luxury trip! however it will be a most fascinating and in many ways a pleasant one. We'll sleep some 4-7 hours a night, of course one might take a nap en route. Trains will be rather diverse from 50-years old nostalgic coaches to Siemens Desiro, but they are usually well maintained and heated. The itinerary goes through some of the poorer areas (locals are generally pleasant, hospitable folks), as well as through gorgeous countryside. Not only the hillside, also the Great Plains are full of wildlife as observed from the train.
+ Unfortunately MÁV Hungarian Railways have suspended sales of their Tourist Pass. If you live outside Hungary, purchase an InterRail ticket (for 8 days from the 22th of November, or as many days as you intend to travel. Those living in Hungary would have to purchase a full-price ticket, or at a 33% discount with HungaryCard.
+ First meeting: 22 November 7:21 p.m. at DOMBRÁD via Nyíregyháza. The train on the narrow gauge railway departs before the Nyíregyháza station at 5:06 p.m. (17:06). I have chosen this line as start/goal because it's one of the most archaic, most neglected, endangered lines and yet plays a rather important role in local transport.
+ If you will join us for a section, please share the possible dates with me, I'll mail you the timetable and we'll agree on the time and place we'll meet. The timetable will be public after the online game closes and you can check by mobile (+36-20 37 090 37) or online whether we were able to keep the timetable.
+ Accommodation HUF 500-2.500/night, if not for free. I'll finalise arrangements according to your wishes. In case we'll miss a train, we shall have to modify these arrangements, I'll be prepared to some degree and we may enlist the help of friends.
- clothing (limited hand wash, drying on the luggage rack)
- jacket with hood or light rain coat (in case of rain - occasional stroll around stations, walk to accommodation, and between two stations in the city of Szeged)
- personal hygiene
- possibly the FLAG of your country
- e.g. games, music instruments, reading matter, photographs, 1-2 gifts for kind people as you please
- sleeping bag and mat (as a precaution even if you'd sleep in a bed - we might be forced to sleep e.g. in a school at some point)
- high spirits ;-)
Yes I'll join you!
Please mail the following to Neumann István ujember kajata hu:
+ Name, phone numbers (country of origin if not obvious)
+ I'll go all round / I intend to join you from X to Y (23 Nov. + several days - participants will get the timetable, and we'll agree the meeting as necessary)
+ Remarks, accommodation (e.g. "cheap accommodation but I'd rather sleep in a bed", "sleeping bag OK", "if possible, single room up to XX Euro").