Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Light and shadow (early spring photo tour)

by DoDo Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 08:05:39 AM EST

This morning I went on a photo tour along the railway line to Budapest, taking pictures of old and new trains, renewed bridges and desolate stations in early spring morning lights and shadows.

EN 477 METROPOL from Berlin, a night train consisting of a mix of Czech, Hungarian and (although not crossing Poland) Polish carriages behind a Slovakian class 350 "Gorila", nears its destination.

Here is something older: a BDVmot series electric multiple unit (EMU), produced by the onetime major domestic manufacturer Ganz-MÁVAG (now completely gone) for suburban service. Built in the eighties, with on-going quality problems, the series is still much needed in off-peak service, and is about to receive another general overhaul.

Here is something newer: a 5341 series suburban EMU, a member of Swiss maker Stadler's FLIRT family. They run on my line only on weekends.

Two more FLIRTs run across a cutting.

Here is some brave new rail liberalisation world: Rail Cargo Hungaria 116 047, a locomotive of the Austrian State Railways leased to its wholly owned subsidiary in Hungary which used to be the freight branch of the Hungarian State Railways, on an empty run. The lots of power line and catenary poles are for asdf's enjoyment. The yellow-white-striped signals are so-called caution signals, 'repeating' the signal of 'real' signals beyond them when the 'real' signals have an obstructed view (here due to the tight curve).

A desolate station, with decrepit intercity carriages in the background. The carriages however belong to Trenitalia (the wholly owned passenger subsidiary of the Italian State Railways), and are here for a reconstruction; gk might remember the old liveries that came to the fore as the latest peeled off.

Finally, another series BDVmot EMU at a crossing in my town, where nothing vertical is truly vertical:

:: :: :: :: ::

An extra: MÁV-TRAKCIÓ, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Hungarian State Railways that became the owner of its locomotives, is receiving 25 modern electric locomotives of the 460 series (a member of Bombardier's TRAXX family, also see From Universal to Modular (2/2)). A few weeks ago, the first one started regular services (pulling trains of MÁV-START, the wholly owned subsidiary of Hungarian State Railways for passenger service...), here in Budapest's Nyugati pályaudvar (West terminal station):

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

Here is a non-train photo. North of Budapest on the Danube, between Nagymaros and Visegrád, there was an abandoned project of a hydroelectric dam. The only superstructure that got built and is in operation to this day is a 550 m service tunnel, connecting potable water, wastewater, high-voltage and datastream networks on both shores. Once a year, there is an open day when people are allowed to walk across, for free. Here is the descent from one shore:

Under the river, the tunnel is made of concrete ring segments. At 2-3 of the joints, spectacular stalactites formed. Unfortunately guests couldn't stop the walk to take photos.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 08:14:15 AM EST
I like your last photo at Nyugati pályaudvar with the person kneeling down to take a photo of his own. When I'm documenting trains, usually vintage steam locomotives in the U.S., I always try to snap one or two pictures of the other photographers taking pictures so I can show I'm not alone in this to my bemused family and patient friends.
by Magnifico on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 03:27:34 PM EST
Nice photos, nice light.

The two main stations in Budapest are great places to visit (and photograph!). The street side glass end wall at Nyugati pu is one of my favorites.

by Jace on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 09:10:20 AM EST
Why do they maintain the ballast (first picture) with a ridge at the ends of the ties? Over here, the ballast slopes uniformly downwards from the centerline of the track, to encourage drainage...
by asdf on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 12:16:37 AM EST
From the centerline of the track? Already under the sleepers? Would that not be unstable? And do you mean strong downpours, because ballast is supposed to drain between the stones not on its side?

As for the ridges on the photo: I think the current height of the ridges on the first photo mostly indicates a section of track in dire need of tamping/re-ballasting (it's the tightest curve on the line operated at the full line speed of 120 km/h, so heavy forces act on the ballast). New track can have those ridges, too (though less pronounced), which I guess has to do with the reach of the tamping machine used. However, there might be a higher reason (protecting the edges of the sleepers?) or a lower one (careless/wasteful track workers?); I'll ask a colleague with better knowledge of tracks.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:00:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found a couple of technical documents (in Hungarian) which say that the ridges are one way to increase the stability of track against lateral motion in curves, and are currently applied in curves with a radius of under 600 m.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:29:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way: the main tack problem here is water pockets. These are locations where water and mud oozes upwards between the ballast rocks when a train runs over. When the mud dries out these spots are well visible from the train – and are felt, too, because the track loses its support. Lasting repair is expensive: needs a replacement of the underground. Which in Hungary means in effect that water pockets are not< repaired... just drained or ballast-replaced, and then the problem re-appears in a few months.

Are you fami8liar with this from the USA? (Though I'd think that there aren't many places wet enough in your region.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 04:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here in Colorado and further west it is so dry that water is not much of a problem--except for flash floods that can take out big chunks of road or railroad and there's nothing you can do about it. In fact, interesting trivia point, if you compare the railroad bridges built 100+ years ago out here to the regular road bridges, the railroad bridges are MUCH taller. I suppose they had more control of the engineering or funding to build the bigger infrastructure that would handle larger storms.

East of here, water is a huge problem. Most railroads here tend to follow rivers, to make the grading easier. That means that when there is flooding, the tracks have problems. The old transcontinental UP line through Nebraska and Iowa was in really bad shape last year when there was widespread flooding, for example.


by asdf on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 06:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you say taller, I presume you mean they're higher above the surface than the road bridges. Given this, rather than engineering control or resources, here's another (and to me much more likely) explanation:

Scientists who have compared various early accounts with current conditions in southern Arizona concluded that the region's riparian zones were not just different but ecologically diverse. "These accounts suggest that there were considerable complexity in the riparian zones in the 1800s. The valleys were wetter and more open than today, groundwater levels were higher, and the channels not as deep."

This outstanding book, Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems: A Troubled Sense of Immensity by Robert Adler was the source of the overall quote. The section in quotations came from here. Adler goes on to say that a lot of what we see now, the deep arroyos, intermittent washes, etc., are recent constructs that are the result of the major changes made to the water basins of the southwest.

by Jace on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 10:19:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, mud pumping, a very familiar problem to the roads here. CSX, for one, has had quite a few issues with inadequate track maintenance. Here's an accident report about a derailment caused by inadequate drainage.

TTCI, the research arm of the American Association of Railroads trade group, has studied the issue looking at the causes and possible solutions. Since they're a trade group, they're merely looking to find a way to limit the expenses. What it really needed is a well maintained and well cleaned roadbed.

by Jace on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 09:57:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The main line between Melbourne and Sydney was closed for 3 months due to exactly this problem.
by njh on Wed Apr 6th, 2011 at 08:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries