Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Picture of the week- 31st July 2013

What a difference eight years make! Back in March 2005 4-VEP unit 3447 stands at London Blackfriars on a rather gloomy day ready to work the 18:00 service to Ashford.
A lot has changed since- For starters 2005 was the final year for the southern region slam door units. Since then the Thameslink franchise has been re-let resulting in the original Thameslink livery dissapearing on the class 319's as seen to the left. Network South East livery, just visible on a 'Networker' on the right has also finally been eliminated from the rails. 
Of course another major change has been the complete re-building of Blackfriars station itself- the station now spans the Thames and is covered for its entire length. The original station roof and buildings have been totally demolished.
It is fair to say that somebody standing in this spot today would find this scene almost totally unrecognisable! 

Friday, 26 July 2013

Picture of the week- 26th July 2013

Ah! Summer is here again, which seems to equate to increasingly little time to blog...
Todays picture is another one from the 'long gone' category- Hampshire DEMU 205028 leads a classmate towards London Bridge to form one of the evening peak Uckfield trains back on 9th September 2004. If the date stamp on the photo is to believe, it would form the 18:12 London Bridge- Uckfield
This would be the last year of 'Thumpers' in regular traffic.
Photos such as these from the windows of passing trains are also of course almost impossible now.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Trip Report- Hungary 18-23rd June 2013

M41 (418 313) arrives into Kelenfold with a train from
Tapolca to Budapest Deli
Tuesday 18th June:

Flew from Stanstead to Budapest on the 11:55 Ryanair flight- once again no issues with Ryanair what so ever. Landed to find that it was, as expected, hot. Took the bus to Kobanya Kispest to pick up the Metro to Budapest Nuygati the closest stop for the hotel for the next few days. We were not sure at the time if the 7 day transport ticket was valid on local MAV trains (it is), and anyway, it was nice to see the Soviet metro cars on line 2.
M61 006 is stabled at Kelenfold
Having dropped off bags it was time to head out for some trains! First was a brief stop at Nyugati, but as the sun was really in the wrong place we quickly headed instead by tram to Kelenfold in the hope of some freight action. We travelled out via Budapest Deli and a 'Flirt' unit. Freight at Kelenfold was somewhat lacking with only one Lotos Traxx loco appearing over the course of about two hours. The passenger activity was a little more pleasing with a V63 sighted on a train out of Deli (the only one we would see on passenger all week) as well as a couple of M41's on trains to/from Tapolca. A couple of MAV 480 class (Traxx) locos were also seen as well as a Railjet Taurus. The biggest surprise was to see M61 006 sitting stabled outside the station with a short rake of engineers wagons. The station is currently undergoing major construction work and this train appeared to be in connection with it. I had not expected to see a NoHAB that easily!

On another note- the current construction work seems to have added extra masts in the view of the freight lines and the station generally seemed less photogenic than in the pictures I had researched!

The first of many thosand- M62 001 pauses at Szolnok

432 293 on a push-pull set at Budapest Nyugati
Wednesday 19th June:

With some uncertainty about freight levels west of Budapest as we were not sure if the line between Gyor and Budapest had re-opened at Komarom from flood damage [it hadn't] we decided to do our long excursion out east towards Debrecen.
DB Schenker 0496 106-6 passes through Szolnok
After a few shots in the excellent morning light at Budapest Nuygati we made our reservation and boarded an IC to Szolnok behind a 431 219. We had hoped the air con stock would be a nice bit of relief from the heat, but while it was not unpleasantly hot, it was certainly not cool on board.
On arrival at Szolnok DB Schenker loco 0469 106-6 instantly appeared with a tank train.
Fortunately most of the interest here could be covered from under the canopy at the station- it was far too hot to be standing on the ends of platforms and running around. This was the hottest day of the trip with the mercury hitting 35 degrees!
Romanian 477 753 heads towards Budapest from Szolnok

A couple more freights appeared under Taurus locos or V63's to break up the procession of V43's on passenger. This seems to be the furthest reaches of the push-pull sets from Budapest with conventional trains continuing through.
Before moving on we sighted probably our star loco of the entire trip with M62 001 appearing light from the east. Despite the heat this was one thing worth running for- shots were achieved before the loco went off onto the depot.
431 138 was our power on to Debrecen- This was not an IC, therefore not requiring reservation and having the delights of opening windows. The train was hot, but not noticeably any more uncomfortable than the air conditioned IC.
418 303 with a short train at Puspokladany
En route to Debrecen we passed [M62] 628 127 at possibly Szajol and also saw 628 323 at Puspokladany. Also at Puspokladany was [M41] 418 303 running around its train to form the 14:10 to Biharkeresztes.
Original condition 418 133 at Debrecen
Debrecen appears to be a great place for M41's (particularly original condition machines), but sadly not so good for photography. Within a short time of arriving we were reprimanded and told 'no photo, no video' which rather scuppered plans. It was then decided it would be a good idea to walk down the line away from the station to find an alternative vantage point, but this also proved a bad idea. On the way we were stopped by the station police... a phone call was made and we were escorted back to the station office where somebody who spoke English confirmed that we needed a permit from MAV to take photos and video. Not a great start- but we did at least feel we had made a narrow escape from a thorough checking over in the police office. A local enthusiast later told us that photos should be no problem but the staff at Debrecen are 'Crazy' and you should be particularly careful. A few more photos were taken with great care!
Cab car 114 is pushed into Dombotstanya by 418 188
With photograph somewhat scuppered we headed out and filled in half an hour with some trams before heading back to pick up [M41] 418 153 (can anyone confirm if this is 'real' it has air con units...) on the 15:15 to Fehergyarmat as far as Dombotstanya where we had a short wait for 418 188 pushing back to Debrecen on the 14:25 Fehergyarmat- Fuzesabony. Interestingly this train did not depart again from Debrecen... maybe for some reason trains were not continuing to Fuzesabony? I did not really observe other movements to confirm or deny this.
A very clean looking M62 628 163 arrives into Debrecen
During our time at Debrecen we saw two freights, both with M62's. Firstly refurbished 628 324 and secondly a very clean looking 628 163 in original condition. That was enough to keep me happy.
431 219 powered us back to Budapest in warm air con stock. Excellent... my 3rd trip behind a V43 and I've already got a dud!!!
628 324 is a pleasing sight as it rolls into Debrecen with a freight train

MAV's 431 135 meets ZSSK 350 008 at Budapest Keleti
Thursday 20th June:

A reasonably early start to get over to Budapest Keleti in time to see the Romanian class 477 leave with the morning train to Bucharest- 477 742 doing the hours. Plenty of activity at Keleti (and more would have been covered had it not already been too hot to think about running around!) including ZSSK class 350's, OBB Taurus on Railjet as well as MAV V43's, Traxx and Taurus locos. Plenty of 448 and 460 on shunting duties.
Rare traction indeed- 460 053 works the 10:05 to Kelebia
We took the 10:05 train for Kelebia the short hop to Ferencvaros. Amazingly this train produced 460 054. I was not totally aware of how unusual this was at the time- but it definitely seemed odd! Apparently these locos do not work passenger at all... though the grapevine would have it that this was not the only surprise working to drop one this week.
M40 locomotive stabled at Ferencveros
Ferencvaros is the hub of freight activity in Budapest, and also home to a depot. Many passenger trains also pass through between Keleti and Kelenfold. There is a footbridge crossing the depot complex which naturally happened to have a police officer walk across and escort us away within about 10 minutes of turning up. Again... 'no photo no video'. We were told we must go back to Keleti to obtain a permit. With no train from Ferencveros to Keleti for over an hour we decided to tram in... witnessing a FLOYD 86 pass while waiting at the tram stop. Annoyance was not the word. Back at Keleti of course we could not obtain a permit. The ladies at the information did try their best for us and made some phone calls the result of which was 'you do not need a permit'. Excellent.
628 330 appears at Szekesfehervar with a dead V63 and train
418 333 detaches from a Tapolca - Budapest train
628 316 is put away into the depot at Szekesfehervar.
In the hope of a more successful afternoon we headed to Budapest Deli and took 418 324 on the 12:50 to Tapolca as far as Szekesfehervar. The idea was that freight was being diverted through here due to the flooding at Komarom. There was at least plenty of activity going on here with the depot easily visible from the station and numerous locos being taken on and off shed via the turntable. There was however little respite from the sun. In addition to the M41's on Tapolca trains (some if which were running through to Budapest with others having a loco change) there were a couple of freights. These featured Taurus locos from GYSEV and Rail Cargo Hungaria, Mettrans 'Hercules' 761-005. Most trains were heading in the 'wrong' direction until [M62] 628 330 came around the corner into view. Not the freight quantities we had perhaps hoped for... but another good M62 shot and I was a happy customer (despite being pickpocketed in the station toilets). Our train home was the 14:24 ex Tapolca- this arrived with 418 326 which was ripped for 431 195 forward to Budapest Deli. On the way we passed pretty much all the eastbound freights we had seen all day in loops. Also passed was a train with a ZSSK 240 'Laminatka' and another FLOYD 86 which was looped either towed by a V63 or light engine.
We bailed at Kelenfold as the light looked nice, and more importantly ANOTHER M61 had appeared in the shape of M61 019. We had seen this together with 006 earlier in the day when we passed- both on construction trains. While the light was still good we were treated to CFR 40 0017 leading a freight with 0609-003 tucked inside.
240-088-5 is passed as we head back to Budapest-
well it is almost a working 'Laminatka'.

While waiting for a train back into Keleti a red loco was spotted in the distance... to my great surprise this turned out to be M61 017 which headed through the station towards Budapest Keleti with one coach in fine style! Less than 5 minutes later M61 020 appeared heading light in the opposite direction. 3 NoHAB's (two moving) in a matter of minutes- lovely!!
M61 020 makes a surprise appearance at Kelenfold

40 0017 pulls a freight into Kelenfold

470 010 waits at Tatabanya- temporarily the end of the line
Friday 21st June:

418 197 departs Gyor Gyarvaros
Today was scheduled for a trip to Gyor though we were still not 100% certain the line was open through Komarom. A look on the Internet could not find any indication that the line was shut, so we boarded the Railjet at just after 9am with 1116 208. On board we bumped into three other British enthusiasts who we would see more of over the next two days (hello if you are reading this!). At Tatabanya it was apparent that the train was emptying significantly. We were then informed that the journey onwards to Gyor was indeed 'autobus'. That answers that then.
628 331 rounds the corner with a diverted freight
Into Gyor and we took a unit out to Gyor-Gyarvaros in the hope of seeing some freight- though with the line closed the levels were clearly going to be reduced. Much delight ensued when within minutes [M62] 628 311 rounded the corner off the line from Szekesfehervar with a freight. This was followed by DB Schenker 0469 107-4 dragging a Railpool Traxx and it's train. Due to the line being shut there was no freight or loco hauled passenger on the main line (only Flirt and Talent units were shuttling to Komarom) and the only loco hauled activity was therefore the M41's on the line to Celldomolk. We watched two more freights- 628 311 returning south and 628 331 heading towards Gyor before heading back to Gyor behind [M41] 418 310 on the 12:55 Celldomolk-Gyor.
418 305 pauses at Gyorszabadhegy
We then wasted an hour or so taking a unit up to Hegyeshalom in the hope of seeing the freight which had not produced at Gyor (in particular anything FLOYD). We passed no trains on the way and it was quickly apparent on arrival that we were wasting our time- so got another unit straight back!
Feeling slightly drained with that disaster so took 418 305 on the 16:40 Gyor- Celldomolk to Gyorszabadhegy to pick up what must have been a late running 15:56 Bakonyszentlaszlo- Gyor with 418 197 which put up a spirited performance. I was expecting the 16:08 Celldomolk- Gyor to turn up first with 418 318 + 202 which had gone south on Gysev stock earlier- I've no idea what happened to these.
Gysev 'Ludmilla' 92 530 651 004 departs Csorna
Back at Gyor we took Gysev 480 016 to Csorna to intercept the Gysev Ludmilla. This train was in theory an IC- but the station office would not sell me a reservation and the gripper seemed content with my interail.
Having spoken to the British crowd on the platform at Gyor we knew that the 92 530 651-004 was on the 'other' diagram which meant I couldn't have a ride. It was photographed leaving Csorna on the 18:07 to Szombathely. 430 321 was then taken back to Gyor where we re-met the other British group for the bus to Tatabanya. 1116 213 was the final winner for the day on the Railjet back to Budapest Keleti. The bus added a good hour to the journey so it wasn't an early night.

M61 017 waits to begin the tour from Budapest Nyugati
Saturday 22nd June:

Today was to be a little less hectic than those previously- a full day and night on board MAV Noztalgia's 'Midsummer Night Dream Express' railtour.
A pair of ex-british class 86's (now working for FLOYD
are passed in the yard at Hegyshalom
The train left Budapest Nyugati in delightful weather at 08:20 to head to Spitz an der Donau in Austria via Kelenfold, Szekesfehervar (we were diverted due to the closure of the railway near Komarom), Komarom, Gyor, Hegyshalom, Vienna and Krems an der Donau. The train lost time steadily before Gyor mainly due to the diversionary route being taken- some nice jointed track though and traditional semaphore signals. A pair of Floyd class 86's were passed at Hegyshalom and a class 56 at Komarom.
The accommodation we had chosen was 6 berth couchette- though in reality there were only 4 of us in the compartment which made things much more comfortable.
M61 017 has reached Durnstein in Austria
The tour ran with M61 007 throughout which performed impeccably. We arrived a little late into the picturesque town of Durnstein where passengers has a few hours to look around. During this time the local train hauled by 2043.24 passed along with another charter steam hauled by 109.13. As we rejoined the train for the short trip on to Spitz an der Donau the heavens opened and the entire valley got a heavy dumping of rain. Fortunately this had finished for our arrival where there were a couple of hours to spare before the fantastic fire display.
Steam loco 109.13 heads along the Danube valley
M61 017 departed from Spitz at 23:00 to return to Budapest- the party continuing in the Disco coach for many hours! We arrived back into Budapest Nuygati over an hour late, but that was no bad thing as it enabled at least a little extra sleep!
This was a fantastic tour with a top engine, good quality rolling stock and a run very competently by MAV Noztalgia- as an aside for many miles of NoHAB haulage the price was a bargain at approximately £55 in a couchette.
M61 017 waits to head back to Budapest from Spitz an der Donau

Mk45 2004 in action on the Budapest 'Children's Railway'
Sunday 23rd June:

The last day of the trip started early with our pre-7am arrival back into Nyugati. In the morning we headed to the Children's Railway where Mk45- 2003, 2004 and 2006 were in service. Following this I took some time out for a bit of sightseeing.
My final loco of the trip was to be 432 184 to Ferihegy (Budapest Airport) from Nyugati.
I spent about an hour here which included two freights (630 031 and class 1116 011 Taurus).
Flew home with BA to London Heathrow on the 18:55 flight.

630 031 leads a freight train through Ferihegy

My first time in Hungary and as far as I am concerned a very successful trip. I managed to see virtually all that I had intended and the number of M62 hauled freights was certainly pleasing. There is plenty of M41 passenger action to be had across the country and these locomotives are fairly rateable- particularly those in original condition. The weather throughout the trip was hot and sunny- really quite a bit too hot making railway activities somewhat uncomfortable- the virtually unbroken sun did at least make up for this photographically. Levels of freight seen generally were disappointing- how much of this was due to the main route between Budapest and Gyor being closed I do not know but there was certainly a significant impact.
Travel for the week was with an Interrail pass with a 7 day Budapest transport ticket for local transport.
We did encounter problems with photography at several locations (though others were no problem at all!). Nobody was unfriendly but we were asked more than once to produce a photo permit which we did not have. It may be worth others considering a photography holiday to Hungary to obtaina permit before leaving home.