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Old 14th December 2011, 08:34   #1
Mark_Lester
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Default The Great Circular European Railway Challenge

we are organising this
http;//gcerc.wordpress.com

Which is 15 nights (just down from 16)
St Pancras
Brussels
Amsterdam
Copenhagen
Oslo
Narvik
Stockholm
Berlin
Warsaw
Prague
Vienna
Bratislava
Budapest
Bucharest
Istanbul
Sofia
Budapest
Zagreb (well, just 20 mins, but they have beer in the platform)
Ljubljana
Trieste (awesome tram)
Venice
Rome
Bernina (route, we'd prefer NOT those silly observation cars)
geneva
Barcelona
Madrid
Lisbon
Paris
and back


The current route, which right now includes sicily but we're probably going to have to finally ditch that, is on the blog at /route.
we need a forum where we can discuss the macroscopic timetabling, and stuff in general.

I am not a company, I just like organising this kind of thing. I did the equivalent in India earlier this year (gcirc.wordpress.com), in which I raised money for charity in order that my wife would let me do it. There's no charity this time, and I wont be inviting any kids on a fiver a day either,
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Old 14th December 2011, 09:27   #2
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Ljubljana toTrieste is a pain unless you get the sleeper or take a bus from the closest Slovenian station to Trieste (about 10 miles)
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Old 14th December 2011, 09:52   #3
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OK, lets start asking questions.

Now that we are most probably going to accept defeat and turn back at Rome, the most dodgy part of the plan is the 53 minutes we've got in Bucharest for the change from the train from budapest train to the Istanbul train.

Train 20 – EN 473 – Ister Express – aprox 861 km – duration 15:10
19:10 Budapest-Keleti pu
Day 8 – Tuesday June 25th
11:20 Bucuresti Nord Gara A

Train 21 – 461 – Bosfor Ekspresi - aprox 667 km – duration 19:37
12:13 Bucuresti Nord Gara A
Day 9 – Wednesday June 26th
07:50 Istanbu

We spaced out the run back up via Belgrade when I was kindly told by the controller at Belgrade that the Balkan Expresi from Istanbul turns up when it feels like it, usually after the connecting Ljubljana train has left.
The word I have about the Ister Express from Budapest to Bucharest is, barring the gypos nicking the trackside booty. that it's generally on time.
I have some excellent contacts in that part of the world, so I may well be able to put together an arse breaking plan B of a clapped out bus to take us down to Istanbul (prob get there mid afternoon).
My question to you is, have you been on this train in the last few years, or better still do you know anyone in either Hungarian or Romanian railways who can give us some real data on it.
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Old 14th December 2011, 10:02   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gordonthemoron View Post
Ljubljana toTrieste is a pain unless you get the sleeper )
Gordon
Which sleeper is that? I don't think that we spotted that one.
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Old 14th December 2011, 10:18   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenmutchkin View Post
Gordon
Which sleeper is that? I don't think that we spotted that one.
It (Venice - Budapest) was withdrawn as of last weeks timetable change so there are no passenger trains between Italy and Slovenia which is a sad state of affairs.

I've viewed the Istanbul - Belgrade and v/v a few times in Bulgaria and it has more often than not been up to two hours late, but the Bulgarians have now reopened the line between Dimitovgrad and Plovdiv which saves a lengthy diversion via Mihilovo. Never seen it not wait at Sofia for the through portion though.

HAFAS shows the 461/465 Bucharest - Sofia (nee Thessaloniki)/Istanbul is retimed to 1300 vice 1213 so that makes the connection a bit more secure (but at the expense of having to suffer more time in Bucharest)
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Old 14th December 2011, 10:28   #6
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87015

Thanks for the info. We were already reconciled to a non train trip from Slovenia to Trieste so we are no worse off. Two hours delay (and more) is built into the plan for istanbul - Belgrade so that's ok. The extra minutes at Bucharest seem welcome on the face of it. That place seems to have an image problem. Is there anything that we need to know?
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Old 14th December 2011, 11:30   #7
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oh 13:00 out of Bucharest, great. Does it go via Sofia then ?. We can arrange for supply drop there if so, we have special contacts there.

seat61 raves about Bucharest, I havent been for 20 years but my information is it's still a dump. still, we've time for a beer now in theory, and may be some of these
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mititei
which if they are good are very very good.
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Old 14th December 2011, 11:58   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_Lester View Post
oh 13:00 out of Bucharest, great. Does it go via Sofia then ?.
.
Mark

Not according to SCOTTY. They also reckon that the previous train is due in to Bucharest at 11.00 - so that's a whole 2 hours.
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Old 14th December 2011, 12:17   #9
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oh 13:00 out of Bucharest, great. Does it go via Sofia then ?. We can arrange for supply drop there if so, we have special contacts there.
Sorry, it splits at Gorna Orj into portions for Sofia and Istanbul. I wasn't a fan of what we saw of Romania around Bucharest, they don't disinfect the train anymore as it crosses back into Bulgaria though which is a shame if just for the riot value

I do think that the Istanbul - Belgrade has now lost its sleeper car so only a TCDD counchette car goes through looking at recent photos, although that could be temporary given the current mess that BDZ is in.
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Old 14th December 2011, 15:55   #10
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seat61 picked up on the loss of sleeper cars in the Balkan Ekspresi. the word is "until at least the new year", which sounds more like "canceled". I dont know if that's the same story down from Bucharest but I'm expecting it to be so.

I got this from our new mate in Switzerland
Quote:
The new high speed railway between Perpignan and Barcelona should start operating properly next summer, so by summer 2013 the train service between Spain and the rest of Europe will be completely different from what it is now. There are definitely going to be daytime trains Madrid - Barcelona - Paris, and they're even talking about a daytime TGV Zürich - Barcelona - Madrid pair. A lot will depend on how quick SNCF can get its new TGV Duplex DAsyE sets in operation. In Sweden the new Bothnia railway will speed up night trains to the north. - Slovenia might decide to run trains to Villa Opicina or even Trieste again now that RFI can't forbid them not to anymore.And what trains CNL will run in summer 2013 is not set in stone either.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Also, Krist, our swiss rep, says there's an 11:57 in summer out of Tirano which we can now catch, with open observation cars, and goes to St Moritz, which is just a little spur off the main line. but the through trains dont do it, it's worth it just for the platform shot.

Oh look
http://www.flickr.com/photos/andynash/2441055508/

Sicily is history.

Last edited by Mark_Lester; 14th December 2011 at 16:08. Reason: Double post prevention system
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Old 14th December 2011, 16:07   #11
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I'll pack my cagoule then.
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Old 14th December 2011, 16:14   #12
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Oh come on, yer a northerner, it's got a roof, er. well sort of

bit cattle truck, may be a cushion is more useful.
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Old 14th December 2011, 16:16   #13
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I saw that Indian Railways were looking at Swiss built coaches. Now i see why.
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Old 14th December 2011, 22:01   #14
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Originally Posted by Mark_Lester View Post
seat61 picked up on the loss of sleeper cars in the Balkan Ekspresi. the word is "until at least the new year", which sounds more like "canceled". I dont know if that's the same story down from Bucharest but I'm expecting it to be so.
Viewed both portions in October, and the Belgrade was down to just load two (1 couchette and 1 seated coach Sofia-Svilengrad) but the Bucharest portion was still running as load three with its CFR sleeper car in the consist, can just about be seen here behind the TCDD couchette car so hopefully that has is surviving.
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Old 15th December 2011, 00:27   #15
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Koper is the station you want to transfer to Trieste (Capodistria in Italian, which is widely spoken in this town anyway). Easy transfer to the bus. The train journey from Ljubljana to Koper is stunning at the Koper end, and the town worth a look around and a burek/cevapcici. The bus journey to Trieste is mostly through heavy dockland, however.

Oh, and Vienna-Bratislava, I have a preference for the less well advertised and slower service to Bratislava hl st (a tram ride or longish walk), not the fast train to Petrzalka (a fair bus ride from the old town). It's usually in a small railcar, and much more interesting a journey. Gone are the days where you'd have to clamber down from the Austrian railcar on the border (no proper station) and up into the rattling old Slovakian one, though!
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