Trip to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia - September / October 2011

General Notes

Part of this trip (2 to 7 October) was organised by PTG Tours. The remainder was planned to cover my remaining required passenger routes in Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia, a list which included almost all of the cross-border routes between these countries and Romania. This was therefore my first significant visit to Romania as well.

Operating Company Abbreviations:

  • BDŽ - Bulgarski Darshavni Železnici (Bulgarian National Railways)
  • BŽK - Bulgarska Železoputna Kompanija (Bulgarian Railway Company, a private freight operator)
  • CFR - Compania Naţională de Căi Ferate (Romanian National Railways)
  • MÁV - Magyar Államvasutak (Hungarian Railways)
  • RM - RATP Metrolink (operator of Greater Manchester Metrolink)
  • ŽS - Železnice Serbije (Serbian Railways)
Place Arrive Depart Train Traction details & notes

Tuesday 27th September 2011

Timperley   11:35   RM tram 3005
Altrincham 11:40 11:55 '18' Arriva bus (dep 14 late)
Manchester Airport (MAN) 12:20 14:30 LS897 Boeing 737-800 G-GDFD
Budapest Ferihegy Airport (BUD) 18:20      
Ferihegy   18:43 IC616 MÁV EL V43 1083
Debrecen 20:52     arr 15 late
New passenger track today: none.
Overnight at Best Western Hotel Kálvin, Kálvin tér 4, Debrecen. About 10 minutes walk from the station.
Simple positioning move for the border crossing into Romania next day. The flight arrived early enough for me to get a train to Debrecen an hour earlier than I had planned. Arriving at Ferihegy Terminal 1 is really convenient for the railway station, just a few minutes walk. There's a ticket machine on each platform but they only sell basic tickets - for anything complex there's the tourist information kiosk in the airport building.

Wednesday 28th September 2011

Debrecen   11:12 6814 MÁV DL M41 2333 + 3C + 1T + Bzmot 395
* Nyirabrany       MÁV DL M41 2333 + 3C
* Valea Lui Mihai photo photo       CFR DL 60-0196-0 (reverse direction) photo
Oradea photo 14:54 15:55  3116 CFR DL 82-0346-0 + 4C
via Arad photo        
Timişoara Nord 20:22     arr 20 late
New passenger track today: Debrecen - Valea Lui Mihai; Valea Lui Mihai - Oradea; Oradea - Arad; Arad - Timişoara Nord (dark).
Overnight at Hotel Victoria, Str. Lucian Blaga 3, 300002 Timişoara. Walked there (about 20 minutes) in the evening, taxi back next morning. Excellent hotel, near the centre of town: very friendly staff who spoke good English. Stayed there twice again later in the holiday!
Today I covered my northern-most required cross-border route between Hungary and Romania. At Oradea I purchased my 10-day Second Class Balkan FlexiPass without any difficulties.

Thursday 29th September 2011

Timişoara Nord   08:11 1624  CFR DMU 96-2094/2594
via Buziaş - Lugoj - Simeria
Orastie photo 12:20 12:30 1824 CFR EL 41-0924-5 photo + 6C dep 8 late
via Simeria east curve - Petroşani photo- Targu Jiu - Carboneşti - Craiova- Videle
Bucureşti Nord 20:44     arr 50 late
New passenger track today: all day (dark from Videle).
Overnight at Ibis Gare de Nord, Calea Grivitei 143 sector 1, 10708 Bucureşti. Just around the corner from Nord station, less than 5 minutes walk.
First day fully in Romania! I selected a routing which was unusual, just for a bit of variety. A lot of time was lost on the Targu Jiu - Carboneşti section due to condition of track. Purchasing Seat Reservations for those trains requiring them was easy: just explaining the train details and showing the Balkan FlexiPass ticket.

Friday 30th September 2011

Bucureşti Nord   12:13 461 CFR DL 65-1349-3 + 5C
* Ruse   15:25   BDŽ EL 44 115.4 + 6C
* Gorna Orjahovica   17:50   BDŽ EL 44 113.9 + 3C
Stara Zagora   21:58   retimed
Dimitrovgrad 23:40     retimed
New passenger track today: Bucureşti - Videle - Giurgiu Nord - Ruse - Yantra.
Overnight at Hotel Slaviani, ul Bulgaria, Dimitrovgrad 6400. 15 minute walk or short taxi ride from the station.
The bridge over the Danube at Giurgiu/Ruse is a rather splendid combined road/rail bridge, only built in 1954. The central section can be raised vertically to allow for taller boats to pass underneath. The overnight in Dimitrovgrad was planned in case the direct line from there to Plovdiv had re-opened the previous day, which was implied by certain timetable sites. However the further retiming of my train was confirmation that this hadn't happened!

Saturday 1st October 2011

Dimitrovgrad   08:45 40250 BDŽ EL 43 509.0 + 1C
Mihajlovo 09:50 10:10 8610 BDŽ EL 46 238.2 + 6C
Plovdiv 11:39 12:45 1622 BDŽ EL 43 309.4 + 4C dep 7 late
Sofia 15:16     arr 8 late
Gara Centrale   15:41 '7' Sofia tram 824
Pl Macedonia 15:55      
Ul Pirotska   16:49 '3' Sofia tram 934
Gara Centrale 16:56      
Sofia   17:09 10210 BDŽ EMU 31013/31014 set
Volujak 17:22 17:33 13209 BDŽ EMU 31005/31006 set
Sofia 17:44      
Gara Centrale   17:53 '4' Sofia tram 815
Ul Pirotska 17:57      
New passenger track today: none.
Overnight at Hotel Anel, 14 Todor Alexandrov Blvd, Sofia 1303.
With the direct Line Dimitrovgrad - Plovdiv not yet open (another 3 months work perhaps?) it was a case of just getting to Sofia via a convenient route. The trip to Volujak and back was to meet up with some friends.

Sunday 2nd October 2011

Sofia   07:00 BV6691 BDŽ DL 06 060.8 + 3C
via Gorna Banja - Vladaja - Pernik - Radomir
* Kjustendil 09:54 10:50   BDŽ DL 55 057.4 + 3C
Gjueshevo 12:23 14:15 BV6692 loco run round
* Kjustendil 15:44 15:54   BDŽ DL 06 060.8 + 3C
via Radomir - Razmenna - Volujak - Ilijantsi (arr 20:00, loco run round, dep 20:22) - Birimirtsi - Podujane Razpredelitelna - diveunder east of Sofia station
Sofia 20:50      
New passenger track today: none.
Overnight at Hotel Anel, 14 Todor Alexandrov Blvd, Sofia 1303.
Day 1 of the PTG railtour. It was interesting to go to Gjueshevo again, and we had a good look around the place and learned more of the planned link from here to Macedonia. The original plan had suggested that the direct freight route between Volujak and Podujane via Birimirtsi would be covered, but this had been regretfully omitted from the itinerary. A bonus was the arrival at Sofia via a non-passenger diveunder line I didn't even know existed!

Monday 3rd October 2011

Sofia   08:25 BV1690 BDŽ DL 06 060.8 + 3C dep 5 late
via Volujak - Aldomirovtsi
Beli Breg 09:38 10:00 BV1692 loco run round
via Aldomirovtsi (arr 10:37, loco run round, dep 10:54) - Dragoman - Kalotina (arr 11:23, dep 11:53)
Stanjantsi 12:37 13:02 BV1693 loco run round
via Kalotina (arr 13:45, dep 13:47) - Dragoman - Volujak
* Ilijantsi 14:50 16:23   BDŽ DL 07 126.6 + 3C dep 77 late due to late arrival of loco
via Kremikovtsi - Jana (pass 80 late) - Stolnik - Pirdop (pass 85 late) - Klisura - Karlovo (pass 98 late) - Kazanluk - Tulovo - Dubovo
Tryavna 21:55     arr 97 late
New passenger track today: none.
Overnight at Hotel Kalina Palace, 15 Panorama Str., Tryavna.
Today's highlights were the branches to Beli Breg and Stanjantsi, both of which lost their passenger services in 2002. Both still carry heavy coal traffic from nearby mines. The arrival of the forward loco from Ilijantsi was delayed by a freight train derailment on the line from Gorna Orjahovica, which made our hotel arrival (and evening meal) very late!

Tuesday 4th October 2011

Tryavna   08:42 BV4690 BDŽ DL 07 126.6 + 3C
via Veliko Turnovo - Samovodene
* Gorna priematelen park 10:15 10:30   BDŽ DL 07 091.2 replaced 07 126.6 but this was faulty so 07 126.6 was re-instated - dep 56 late
via Gorna post 1 - Polikraishte - Akatsia - Yantra - Borovo - Dorostol RP - Ruse zapad - Ruse old station (arr 14:08, museum visit, dep 15:11) - Ruse Razpredelitelna (arr 15:20, depot visit by coach, dep 16:46) - Dunav RP
Ruse Sever 16:56 17:25 BV4691 loco run round
via Dunav RP - Ruse Razpredelitelna
Ruse 17:45      
New passenger track today: none.
Overnight at Hotel Anna Palace, 4 Knyajeska Str., Ruse.
Finally we succeeded in covering the last couple of required non-passenger curves around Gorna Orjahovica. An interesting hour was spent at the railway museum in Ruse, which is situated alongside the freight line that runs alongside the river bank. Ruse depot was also visited. Accessing Ruse Sever yard requires running east then passing under the approach to the Danube river bridge.

Wednesday 5th October 2011

Ruse   08:20 BV9691 BDŽ DL 07 061.5 + 3C
via Ruse Razpredelitelna photo - Vetovo - Samuil
Silistra 12:50 13:30 BV2693 loco propelled the stock out of the station, run round, propel back into the station
via Samuil (arr 15:31, run round, dep 15:52) - Kaspichan (wrong line running from after Kaspichan to before Providija) - Sindel
* Razdelna photo 17:42   BV2691 BDŽ DL 07 076.3 + 3C
via Razpredelitelna Varna Zapad - Phosphate port line (arr 18:21, reverse, dep 18:23) - Razpredelitelna Varna Zapad (reverse, dep 18:30) - Container port line (arr 18:35, reverse, dep 18:36) - Razpredelitelna Varna Zapad - Razdelna (arr 18:53, reverse, dep 19:15)
Varna 19:40      
New passenger track today: Ruse Razpredelitelna - Samuil; Samuil - Silistra; Samuil - Kaspichan.
Overnight at Hotel Golden Tulip, 3A Hristo Botev blvd, Varna 9000.
Today usefully covered the direct Ruse - Kaspichan line plus the branch to Silistra. Two branches in the port at Varna Zapad were also visited: in both cases the train got right onto the quayside.

Thursday 6th October 2011

Varna   08:00 BV2691 BDŽ DL 07 061.5 + 3C
via Razdelna photo photo - Varna Feribotna (arr 08:43, loco run round, dep 09:00 propelling)
Razpredelitelen Park Varna Feribotna 09:13 09:45 MBV13468  
via Varna Feribotna (arr 09:53, dep 10:20) - Sindel Razpredelitelna - Sindel (arr 10:35, loco run round, dep 10:52) - Razdelna - Dobrich
Kardam 13:10 13:40   arr 5 early, customs check, dep 18 early
Negru Voda 14:05 14:40 MBV13469 arr 25 early, customs check, loco run round, customs check, dep 15 late
Kardam 15:05 15:35   arr 10 late, customs check
via Dobrich - Devnja - Poveljanovo
Varna 18:20     arr 8 early
New passenger track today: Sindel/Poveljanovo - Kardam - Negru Voda
Overnight at Hotel Golden Tulip, 3A Hristo Botev blvd, Varna 9000.
Today was also very interesting: firstly a visit to the gauge-changing area at Varna Feribotna (Russian-gauge train ferries work here from Ukraine and Georgia). Then the branch to Kardam - out via one side and back via the other side of the triangle - plus the now non-passenger cross-border route to Negru Voda in Romania. Special customs checks were needed at both Kardam and Negru Voda.

Friday 7th October 2011

Varna   07:25 BV8694 BZK EL 87006-3 photo + 3C
via Sindel - Shumen - Komunari - Karnobat - Stara Zagora (arr 12:48, photo dep 13:35) - Filipovo - Plovdiv (arr 15:51, loco run round photo, dep 16:36) - Septemvri photo - Kostenets - Kazichene
Sofia photo 19:31      
New passenger track today: Shumen - Komunari.
Overnight at Hotel Anel, 14 Todor Alexandrov Blvd, Sofia 1303.
The trip's "British Rail Class 87" day was at the end, rather than the beginning, of this trip, for a change. Though pretty much a basic run home via the mainline (but 620km worth!) the routing included the Shumen - Komunari section, which was my last required section of passenger track in Bulgaria. An excellent way to complete a country, carefully arranged of course! The rarer route into Plovdiv was taken, via Filipovo.

Saturday 8th October 2011

Sofia   12:25 490 BDŽ EL 441-118-8 + 3C dep 35 late
* Dimitrovgrad (Serbia)       ŽS DL 661-152 arr/dep 55 late photo
* Niš       ŽS EL 441-512 + 3C arr 93 late/dep 88 late
Beograd 19:47     arr 193 late
New passenger track today: none.
Overnight at Hotel Belgrade City, Savski trg 7, Beograd. Opposite the station.
Needing to head for the northern Serbia/eastern Hungary areas, this train was the best route - but it has a well-deserved dreadful reputation. The through couchette coach from Istanbul to Beograd was only about half an hour late, so we waited for that to be shunted onto the back of our train. Things went their usual route from bad to worse: delayed at the border with Serbia, delayed crossings - the coaches from Niš had already left without waiting for us - then further delays. A freight train problem/failure caused further delays. HAFAS says this train calls at Osipaonica Stajaliste - suggesting that it might do the Mala Krsna bypass line, but this is an error and a Mala Krsna call was duly made.

Sunday 9th October 2011

Glavna Železnička Stanica   09:04 '2' Beograd tram 367
Vukov Spomenik   10:06 8042 ŽS EMU 412-015 + 2T + 412-040
Zemun photo photo 10:27 10:52 7009 ŽS EMU 412-030 + 2T + 412-029
Pančevo Vojlovica photo 11:55 12:40 6001 ŽS EMU 412-029 + 2T + 412-030 arr39 late/dep 2 late
Rakovica 13:31     arr 45 late
Zeleznicka Stanica Rakovica   14:26 '3' Beograd tram 362
Glavna Železnička Stanica 14:44      
Beograd   15:50 361  ŽS DL 644-006 + 3C
propelled to alongside the loco depot photo, then via Beograd Dunav photo
* Stamora Moravita       CFR DL 60-0809-8 arr 31 late/dep 105 late
Timişoara Nord 20:55     arr 116 late
New passenger track today: Karadjordjev Park - Beograd Centar; Pančevo Glavna Stanica - Pančevo Vojlovica; Vrbas - Stamora Moravita; Stamora Moravita - Timişoara Nord (dark).
Overnight at Hotel Victoria, Sr. Lucian Blaga 3, 300002 Timişoara. Taxi both ways.
The morning was spent covering the west/north curve east of Beograd Centar, which is operable both ways as a flying junction at both ends, not as shown on some maps. Train 7009 failed (overloaded?) in the tunnel east of Zemun and time was lost while the driver fixed this. I was planning to return north from Rakovica to Vukov Spomenik by train but this would have been late so I took the tram back to the main station instead - this was quicker than the train anyway.
Tickets for Beograd trams and buses can be obtained from almost all kiosks - just ask for "tram ticket", I bought 5 to cover for a few days impromptu travelling - RSD 50 each. There appears to be no day ticket.
Train 361 can go either of two routes - see EGTRE - today it was routed via Beograd Dunav. At Stamora Moravita customs staff pulled the train apart and found lots of contraband substances, causing a further unwelcome delay to what was a cold train!

Monday 10th October 2011

Timişoara Nord   08:21 2603 CFR EMU 58-3x03 set
Arad photo photo photo photo 09:40 11:19 376 CFR EL 41-0137-4 + 3C arr 17 late
Békéscaba 12:12 12:53 37634 MÁV DR Bzmot 380 + 1T
* Kötegyán       MÁV DR Bzmot 380
Salonta photo 15:10 16:21 3115 CFR DL 65-1357-0 + 2C
Oradea photo 17:09 17:59 362 CFR DL 65-0950-9 + 3C
* Biharkeresztes       MÁV DL M41 2322 + 4C
* Püszpöklodány       MÁV EL 91 55 0480 001-1
Budapest Keleti pu 21:20     arr 21 late
New passenger track today: Arad - Curtici - Lökösháza; Kötegyán - Salonta; Episcopia Bihor - Biharkeresztes - Püszpöklodány.
Overnight at Ibis Hotel Budapest City, Akacfa u. 1-3, 1072 Budapest. Ten minutes walk down the road from Keleti station (or use the metro for one stop if it's not being dug up).
Today's routing was designed to cover my three remaining Hungary - Romania cross-border routes. Fairly simple and painless.

Tuesday 11th October 2011

Budapest Keleti pu   10:05 343 MÁV EL V43 1272 + 4C
* Subotica 13:52     ŽS EL 441-704
Subotica       draw forward after customs clearance
Subotica main street   14:40   taxi
Sombor 15:30 15:40 6459 ŽS DR 812-175 dep 27 late
Vrbas 17:00 17:20 4403 ŽS EL 441-601 + 2C arr 25 late / dep 10 late
Novi Sad 18:01     arr 15 late
    19:32   ŽS EL 441-312 + 5C dep 32 late
Beograd 21:12     arr 52 late
New passenger track today: Sombor - Vrbas.
Overnight at Hotel Belgrade City, Savski trg 7, Beograd. Opposite the station.
Today's principal aim was to cover the Sombor - Vrbas route, which has a poor service, plus the Kelebia/Subotica crossing in daylight. After border clearance at Subotica I waited for the 14:30 train to Sombor to arrive, which it never did! This is regularly loco-hauled, apparently, but I eventually found out that the train was "kaput"! With only about an hour to get to Sombor, 60km away, I bypassed the taxis outside the station and found a few in the main street. One spoke some English and checked with another that he was happy to do the move, and agreeing a likely fare (RSD 3000, say GBP 25) we set off at a fair rate. Thankfully the road was good and we made it to Sombor in good time and at the agreed fare. At departure time for my train nothing had appeared (though there were quite a few people waiting, I wasn't sure if they were waiting for the train from Subotica that I knew had been cancelled!) but I checked with the station staff to be told "30 minutes late". Phew! It appeared from behind a row of wagons - being fixed or fuelled perhaps?
Getting to Beograd was a farce, though: the onward connection at Vrbas was late so was made OK; but the 18:06 at Novi Sad was not held. OK, 19:03 for the next one, but this was from Praha/Moskva/Kiev and was reported 70 late! The 19:32 was available, but despite being ready to go on time the loco was apparently faulty and needed to be changed! More delay and yet another late arrival into Beograd. At Beograd I noticed that the Praha train was now 120 late!

Wednesday 12th October 2011

Glavna Železnička Stanica   09:04 '9' Beograd tram 605 + 1415
Karađorđev Park 09:12     should have got off at next tram stop "Franse d'Eperea"
Karađorđev Park   09:33   ŽS EMU 412-078 + 2T + 412-077
Beograd Centar 09:35 09:53   ŽS EMU 412-015 + 2T + 412-040
Novi Beograd 09:57 10:27   ŽS EMU 412-068 + 2T + 412-067
Pančevački Most 10:42     short walk, see notes
Beograd Dunav   11:26 2514 ŽS DR 812-301 + T photo delayed by crossing move at Ovča
Zrenjanin 14:06 14:10 2522 ŽS DR 812-301 + T arr 34 late, dep 44 late after shunt
Kikinda 16:11 16:40 7583 ŽS DR T + 812-301 arr 40 late, dep 22 late
Jimbolia 17:59 19:53 9598 CFR DR 77-0983-5 + 77-0954-6
Timişoara Nord 20:41     arr 6 late
New passenger track today: Pančevo Glavna Stanica - Orlovat Stajalište; Zrenjanin - Banatsko Miloševo; Kikinda - Jimbolia; Jimbolia - Timişoara Nord (dark)
Overnight at Hotel Victoria, Sr. Lucian Blaga 3, 300002 Timişoara. Taxi both ways.
The primary target for today was train 2514 and following, so I did some more exploring of the bizarre and never-completed central section of the Beograd suburban system. The first trick was finding Karađorđev Park station, which didn't seem to be marked on my street maps. I got off the tram at the stop with the right name, but then it was clear that the station was one stop further on - downhill, fortunately. This station is only just below street level. On for a look around Beograd Centar, which to the unknowing might be the main station in Beograd. No. It's an incomplete shell - see Wikipedia article - but it has provision for six platforms and ten tracks, with only four of each in use. There is length for ten or twelve coaches but only finished for the four-car EMUs that work all the services. There is a subway linking the platforms, and an overall flat roof. Going upstairs there are walkways across the flat roof - which was clearly intended to have something else built on top of it  - to a nearby bus stop. Water builds up on the flat roof, which wasn't designed as such so there are plenty of leaks onto the platforms below. There are no departure or arrival indicators, so you have to know (or ask if you can find someone) which platforms the trains depart from, and if you get it wrong you have to use the subway since the track usage is especially designed to prevent cross-platform interchange. Novi Beograd is similarly overdesigned, with far too many far too long platforms, but at least these are out in the sun (or rain). Again, no departure platform indications.
Coincidentally the train I needed to catch to do the Zrenjanin route was the one departure of the day from Beograd Dunav station. This was formerly the terminus of the line from Pančevo, but the only trains which work here now are the Beograd - Timişoara trains (see Sunday 9th October 2011) plus 2514 and its inward working. It's rather less than a kilometer from Pančevački Most station, an easy five to ten minute walk along a road paralleling the line (alternatively, there are buses). There's a "side" platform at Pančevački Most, called "Dunavski Kolosek" or "Dunavski Peron" (Dunav track or platform) which, as well as being served by this Zrenjanin line pair of trains, is used by some - but not all - of the outer suburban electric trains to and from Pančevo Voljovice or Pančevo Varoš that terminate at or start from Pančevački Most. The line is electrified just far enough to operate these electric trains. Beograd Dunav station is not advertised at all from the road, but there's a gap between two buildings to walk though......
As happened a few days ago there were long delays on the route to Pančevo, and we waited for half an hour to cross an EMU at Ovča. Knowing I had only a four minute connection at Zrenjanin, this was somewhat concerning, but I'd told the train crew what my plans were. I wish they'd told me what was going to happen, though! Eventual arrival at Zrenjanin was 34 minutes late, and I was concerned that there was no forward train; the arriving train shunted out of the way, but there were lots of people waiting - I assumed for the train to work back towards Beograd, but no, when it returned I was advised that it was my train to Kikinda! The shunting (why?) had lost more time so we departed Zrenjanin 44 minutes late. Again, the (new) crew knew I needed to make the 29 minute connection at Kikinda into the cross-border service. There are long stretches of 30km/h running on short (approx 20ft) length rails on this section. Arriving at Kikinda still 40 minutes late I was led through the customs hall, had a bit of a grilling from the police and a stamp in the passport, and then went back outside and onto the same train again, of course! Same crew, as well! 22 minutes late but who cares - a train just for me again! I don't think the return working from Jimbolia to Kikinda carried any passengers at all.
With the best part of two hours to wait for my train to Timişoara, I walked up the main street at Jimbolia, picked a bar and had a beer outside - even managed a wifi connection though it was getting rather dark for typing!
I don't think I'd seen a CFR Class 77 railbus previously, never mind travelled in one. Arriving back at the station with 20 minutes before train time, the two railbuses were parked but shut down. There was only one small light per saloon area, so I put my big bag inside to reserve a place then waited outside until the driver started the engines. The interior didn't get any brighter! On time, we departed with a lurch and a horrendous grinding noise from the transmission gears. There seemed to be no suspension to speak of, and the seats were hard plastic, so every rail joint - and there were plenty - was felt. I wonder if all these railbuses are so bad? Certainly I would judge that this was the worst rail vehicle I've ever travelled on! Fortunately this journey was only 45 minutes - plus 6 for late running.

Thursday 13th October 2011

Timişoara Nord   08:21 2603 CFR EMU 58-3x06 set
Arad 09:40 11:19 376  CFR EL 41-0931-0 + 3C
* Curtici 11:46 12:20   MÁV EL V43 1126
Szolnok 13:25 14:15 6105 MÁV EL V43 1145 + 6C
Ferihegy 15:11      
Budapest Ferihegy Airport (BUD)   18:50 LS898 Boeing 737-800 G-GDFC dep 60 late
Manchester Airport (MAN) 20:50 22:05 taxi arr 50 late, then home by taxi
Timperley 22:20      
New passenger track today: none.
Going home, nothing special to report.


Another excellent railtour organised by PTG Tours - many thanks to Phil Wormald and Marion Matthews, and also to Petya and others from Across Europe. The aims of my "befores" and "afters" were fully realised, in that I've now travelled over all the available passenger track in Bulgaria and Serbia, and all except one minor curve in Hungary; and I've also travelled over all the available cross-border routes from these countries.

Tickets used (excluding special trains): Balkan Flexi-Pass (10 days in one month), plus individual journey tickets for Hungary.