On Thursday, MÁV offered a 50 percent discount for participants of the Balaton Crossing. However, on Friday morning the company issued a warning, urging passengers to only take the train if absolutely necessary. What is really happening? Continue reading below to find out more details.
Despite meteorologists predicting the arrival of the heat wave days in advance, MÁV issued a warning only on Friday morning that the extreme heat could cause disruption and even major delays to rail services, and asked passengers to travel only if absolutely necessary towards the end of the week. In a statement on Thursday, however, the company offered a 50 percent discount on occasional return fares for participants in the Balaton Crossing on Saturday.
“It could be seen as a positive thing that they tell you in advance not to travel by train if you don’t have to. This is indeed a way of encouraging people to drive. And at least it’s not a surprise if the train doesn’t come,” Áron Szalay, founder of the NGO Közlekedő Tömeg (Transporting the Mass), tells Népszava with some irony. He is referring to the announcement made by MÁV on Friday morning. As the railway company writes, “in the hot weather, due to thermal expansion, damaging material tension is generated in the tracks and overhead lines”.
This can lead to deformation and ejection, so MÁV is constantly measuring track temperatures and, if necessary, will introduce speed restrictions. To do this, the rails need to heat up to 45-50 degrees Celsius, which is a real possibility on a hot day, with air temperatures expected to stay around 40 degrees Celsius until Tuesday next week.
Another big issue in the heat is the air-conditioning of vehicles, another area where MÁV is doing poorly. Cooling is typically available only in the newer cars on the Budapest (and some rural) suburban lines. In addition, fewer than 100 IC+ coaches built in the last ten years have air conditioning. Moreover, these models have no more than one opening window per train.
A few weeks ago, a carriage had its window smashed by passengers at Keleti Station after it had been put aside (for the day) during a carriage marshalling, but for some reason was “forgotten” and people were almost boiled alive in the passenger compartment. Another extreme case happened this week when a train car caught ablaze.