December 2017 and May 2018: Two multi-loco “NoHAB” celebrations in Hungary

Two separate events have recently been advertised, both intending to feature multiple Swedish-built “roundnose” NoHAB diesel-electrics in and around Hungary.

The history and background of the fleet of General Motors-engined diesel-electrics supplied by the Swedish firm of Nydqvist & Holm AB (“NoHAB”) to Hungary has previously been explored in an article on this site – and it’s an interesting tale, lurking in the iciest depths of the Cold War.  May 2018 marks the 55th anniversary of the arrival of the first machine – M61.001 – and therefore it’s appropriate that they get some time in the limelight.

30th December 2017, Budapest to Tapolca

The first event is on Saturday 30th December 2017 and is a variation on something that has become a bit of an annual institution – similar events having occurred on 30th December 2016 and 22nd December 2015 – taking 8 NoHABs (all 6 surviving M61s and 2 former Danish MYs, one of which has just celebrated its 60th birthday!) from Budapest to Tapolca and return.

The above is a link to a video uploaded to YouTube by user Gábor Szőcsényi of 2016’s 8-NoHAB event.

The 2017 event, however, will have something of a twist.  Whereas in the past, all 8 locos have been the head of the same train simultaneously (although not all powering at the same time, causing some headaches for the haulage enthusiasts…), this year will see two separate trains each with 4 machines on the sharp end.

One, named the “Vulkán”, will be powered by M61.019, 459 021 (ex-DSB MY1125), 459 022 (ex-DSB MY1156) and M61.017.  The other, named the “Panorama”, will be powered by M61.001, M61.006, M61.010 and M61.020.

Both depart from Kelenföld station in the Budapest suburbs at 08:55 and run to Székesfehérvár, from where there will be a parallel departure of the two trains at 09:55.  From there, the “Vulkán” takes the route along the north shore of Lake Balaton, whereas the “Panorama” heads around the south side – the two trains converging on the M61s’ spiritual home of their later years of Tapolca.  Each train will return to Kelenföld via the opposite route.

Additionally, the cab of M61.004 will be able to be seen at Tapolca.  It has been on display in the vicinity of the station since the 2015 event.  This loco was a devastating loss; having already been earmarked for preservation, it struck a fallen tree, derailed and was written off at Badacsonylábdihegy on the north shores of Lake Balaton on 4th June 1999.  A memorial stone to the loco has stood at the trackside at the accident site since the 5th anniversary, in 2004 – and, of course, both charters will also pass this spot during the day.

Fares for each train are 5,990 HUF (£17.10 at current prices).  It does appear that if you wish to travel behind all 8 during the day, you will need to purchase a separate ticket for each train, but I’m sure you will agree that even then that would still represent superb value for money.  More details here.

10th-13th May 2018, Hersbruck to Budapest

A separate event for those with a significantly larger budget has been advertised by the German firm of IGE Erlebnisreisen; a multi-day affair stretching from Thursday 10th May 2018 to Sunday 13th May 2018, featuring 5 of the 6 surviving M61s (the only absentee from the plan as currently advertised is M61.017) along with Altmark Rail’s ex-DSB loco MY1149.

Above is a link to one of Kaspertog‘s videos of MY1149 at work for Altmark Rail in Germany in 2014.  This loco will work the trunk sections of the IGE tour in May 2018, it being a long way from its Danish homeland when it rolls into Budapest…

Kicking off from Hersbruck (near Nürnberg) with MY1149, it runs via the main line through Regensburg, Passau, Linz and skirting Wien as far as the Hungarian border at Hegyeshalom, where it is joined by M61.001 for a mainline blast to Budapest.

On the Friday, MY1149 is joined by M61.010 and M61.019 for a circular trip around the lake with a break in Tapolca – out via the north shore and back via the south.

The Saturday sees M61.006 take the train from Budapest Nyugati to Balassagyarmat, on the Slovakian border, and then back to the railway museum in Budapest whereupon there will be a photographic gathering of “as many NoHABs as possible”.

The return on the Sunday is as per Thursday’s outward, but the pilot loco to Hegyeshalom is M61.020.

The total fare for train travel only (not including accommodation) for the four days is €949 (£843.10 at current prices).  The organiser has stated that a minimum number of 130 participants signed up by 28th February 2018 is necessary in order for the tour to run.

More details here.

Other Charters

Additionally, Continental Railway Solution – the Hungarian company that used ex-British Rail class 47, 47375 on a ground-breaking railtour in May 2017 – have recently posted on their Facebook page (link below) that they are hoping to run a charter from Hungary to Kosovo and back using GM power all the way in 2019, the implication being that NoHABs will feature for at least parts of the itinerary.

This idea is reminiscent of a railtour that ran in August 2009 from Augsburg (in south-west Germany) to Kosovo and return that was intended to feature NoHAB power throughout – although sadly MY1125 had to be piloted by Serbian locos (electrics and also a GM class 661 “Kennedy” diesel) when in that country.  Additionally, the main train only reached Zvecan, as the contentious political situation in Kosovo prevented it going any further – passengers were conveyed south into Kosovo by road transport in order to travel behind the former Norwegian class Di3 NoHABs eking out their life there.

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