By Tony Traynor
This is a bit of an in depth view of bashing around Bucharest (București) and the facilities at station and tickets etc.
With regard to the so called Henri Coanda express train trip via P.O Aeroporto and then a shuttle bus, it really is easier to catch the 780 bus which goes directly to the main station.
64.1385 at Bucharest Gara de Nord A, 16/04/17 (JW)
I bought a weekly season ticket between Gara du Nord and Buftea which cost 24 Lei (£4.47). This ticket covers almost all the local turns out of Bucharest both Diesel and electric. The wording is “Abonament de calatorie saptamanal, pentru tren regio, pe ruta Buftea – București”. This ticket was invaluable as most trains had teams of ticket collectors on board (as they did in October last year) and people who didn’t have tickets were ejected at the next station, this happened on most of the trains I travelled on.
Most local trains are old double decker ones, generally blue for the local services and orange for the IRs although single deck ones do appear too. One annoying feature about Romanian trains is that a lot of them have pairs up front which are always both manned but you never know if they work or not, I decided that in fairness they probably didn’t power so were not countable but luckily all the ones I had in pairs I also had singularly too.
The morning turn out of B station which should have a 60 DIT, didn’t, the evening turn into B did, so I guess there is another way of getting it to Rosiori Nord for the Alexandria branch.
Only 1 class 60 working was noted that being 60.1038 on the 1640 ex Nord to Slobozia Veche, this train returns the following morning at 0605 to Bucharest Nord. No other class 60s were seen on passenger in the 4 days I was there.
All the local diesel turns were 63, 64, 65 or 82, all the local electric turns 40, 41 or 45. The 1407 which is shown as a pair was single every day.
The Regiotrans trains were all working in push pull mode with the class 425 loco at the Bucharest end, these push as far as Ploiesti Vest and then run around and lead to Brasov, the steep descent into Brasov being given as the reason for this.
The 1937 departure from Nord (not every day) is 43.0069 or 44.0124 of the Astra Transcarpatic Company and cost 16 lei for a single to Ploiesti.
Shack of the trip has to be P.R 1 Buciumeni between Chitila and Buftea with no platforms, no raised ground or anything, nothing, a few trains per day stop there on this double tracked mainline and getting off and getting on is not for the faint hearted but had to be done.
Station by station out of Bucharest
From Nord A blocks to viewing a loco at Nord B is exactly 1km, a good 10 min walk. The “stations” out of Bucharest are dire to say the least, Bucharest Gara du Nord A is the main one and has plenty of shops and McDonalds, KFC, Subway etc. A menu in McDonalds is about £3, there are also a couple of supermarkets selling booze etc. Cans of beer cost about 50p. Gara Du Nord B has a few food and drinks shacks but nothing to write home about.
The above is a link to a YouTube video of user ALEX CFR‘s showing 9 minutes of comings and goings at Basarab.
The first station out is Basarab…. Which quite basically is a length of raised ground covered in rubbish, bit of a leap getting on and off but if the local 80 year old Adas can do it so can I!! No facilities whatsoever although the derelict coaches along the station were burnt out on the Tuesday night which gave something to look at, fairly decent spot to watch the trains into and out of Nord but I really wouldn’t want to hang around pointing an expensive camera at trains. There is a big foot bridge which leads over the tracks and to Grivita metro station where you can catch a metro back to Gara Nord A which also stops at Gara Nord B.
Next along is the junction station of Carpati which is even worse and not a very friendly looking area, hardly any platforms and a bridge you wouldn’t use even if being offered money to do so. No facilities whatsoever but if you walk south for a few minutes you can catch a trolleybus back to Gara Nord B. Everybody and I mean EVERYBODY just crosses the track in Romania, kids, oldies, blokes with donkeys, shopping carts etc, anything goes even in front of the police, it just seems acceptable.
The next station is an oddity in that it has two names, an island platform with one side being called Pajura and the other Triaj – but in reality is the same station. Trains can turn up on any platform in any direction or even the lines without a platform going in either direction so keep your wits about you. Needless to say there are no departure boards or anything. There is a little shack here which sells beer, drinks snacks etc and seems quite popular. From here you can take a walk south through the old yard to Noi station within about 15 minutes, Noi has 1 platform but the trains tend to stop at the line without one. Pajura/Triaj has shelter from the rain whereas the others do not.
Next again is Depoul which is basically a stop for workers (but fine for us) at the depot and has two raised platforms and a bridge!!!!
The above is a link to a YouTube video uploaded by user ANDU2100HP showing Sulzer 60.0864 getting into its stride at Chitila.
The star of the show is the next one at Chitila, raised platforms, a tunnel, ticket office and a bar just outside, a yard is alongside and there is always something there. North of the station runs a bus which you can take to Depoul or Carpati, all stations being a 5 minute walk away.
P.R 1 Buciumeni is the next station which I described earlier, I guess it’s for the signal box but has several trains stopping there in the peak and even the local dogs got bored with me after a few minutes.
There are thousands of dogs in Bucharest, all a bit tatty and sad looking but generally harmless, a couple of years ago they had a purge where over 50,000 were captured – 50% were killed and the rest adopted into families. There are incidents of course, in 2012 over 16000 people were bitten by dogs, mostly older or younger people resulting in 3 deaths which kind of set the dog euthanasia law in to place, resulting in far, far fewer incidents.
Buftea station, raised platforms, a tunnel and a bar, nice and peaceful place where I spent some time yesterday watching a 3 legged dog struggling to eat a loaf of bread. A dog was killed at Basarab station on Tuesday afternoon as I arrived, being chopped completely in half by a light loco, mercifully for it, it was very quick although its carcass remained in full view until at least this morning.
The track layout at Gara Nord A is a mare, a very tight bottleneck opening out into 14 platforms (Gara Nord B has 4) there is a very severe restriction over this bottleneck of about 5-10kph depending on the driver, an amusing thing for me was on Thursday arriving into B at 1857 on 40.0811 (60.0652 DIT) and walking to A to see what was leaving on the 1900 Urziceni service, as I got to the station 63.1143, which I needed, was trundling along platform 7, I noticed the front carriage doors open (totally normal thing in Romania) and estimated that if I crossed the tracks to number 7 that I would reach the train as it passed me at the open door, this worked a treat, I didn’t speed up or anything and the meeting was perfect and on I bailed. There is service from Gara Nord A at 1440 which goes to Bucharest Obor (running around at Pantemilion and then again at Obor to form the 1620 to Fetesti) – an hour’s journey that ends up just 4 miles away.
Don’t be put off by the mayhem of Bucharest, it’s chaotic and downright dirty, full of character and wrecked old trains, just like BR in the 70s… Oh and there is a smallish railway museum on platform 14 at Gara Nord A.
http://www.railfaneurope.net/list_frameset.html photos of Romanian passenger locos
http://www.vagonweb.cz/razeni/ Train compositions for Europe, just enter a train number