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The way to the tramdriver "contest"

The annual tramdriver contest is a tradition now: every year a few volunteers gather at some less heavily used part of the Budapest tram network to see how good they are. This is being decided by executing practical routines in front of a jury. The exercises include emergency braking triggered by the flash of a light, the sound of a whistle or throwing a dummy in front of the tram, stoping the vehicle with its last door in line with something the jury points at, and stuff like that - you get the idea... The contest this year was held in Sport utca near Hungária kocsiszín. This is a short suburban street running between remise Hungária and Hungária körút, that has the important advantage of having three tracks in parallel, without a street crossing, and without large pedestrian or car traffic.

The competition was said to take place early in the morning, so I got up early. On the way I took a photo of this Ganz articulated on Route 1A - a depot ride. This route is served with Tatra T5C5 sets, but the Ganz cars going to and leaving Route 17 from and to depot Ferencváros usually "disguise" themselves as 1A's...

I wasn't heading for the contest's site yet, but for the Grand Boulevard, because someone informed me that a Tatra train from remise Szépilona ( which is at the other side of the city, probably the most distant remise from Hungária) will also participate in the competition, and that the said Tatra will pass the Grand Boulevard. You don't see many Tatras around  there (because Route 4 and 6 of the Boulevard are served by Ganz articulated sets), so I decided to go there and wait for it!

It was freezing cold, so I began taking photos, just to do something. The site seen here is the tram stop at Nyugati pályaudvar (Western railway station), and the car here is of course a Ganz articulated.

For those of you who are not familiar with Budapest: Route 4 and 6 complement eachother (by running parallel for most of their routes) to form a tram ring around the inner city. Both lines start on one side of the river Danube (Buda), go over to the other (Pest), circle the traditional core of Budapest and then pass the Danube one more time (to Buda again). They're served with coupled Ganz articulated sets (two 8-axle cars) with a train succession of 1.5 minutes in peak hours.

At last: there's the Tatra I've been waiting for!

As I said before, Tatras are not a usual sight here, they're not even allowed to operate on the two said routes.

Of course you can see them on depot runs or during rolling stock rearrangements (they can use the tracks but must not carry passengers), but you have to have luck to catch one of them!

The Tatra leaves the Boulevard at Blaha Lujza tér for Népszínház utca.

Népszínház utca is where the inner terminus of Route 28 and 37 is (therefore the scissors crossover in the front), but it's also the route for depot runs of Route 4 and 6, so the "alien" Tatra was caught in a traffic jam...

The corner of Fiumei út and Salgótarjáni út. That might look just like a coupled Ganz set over there, but it isn't one!

It's just a solo Ganz on Route 37...

... followed by another Ganz. But wait, there's something foul in Denmark: you just said Route 6 was served with coupled sets, but this one's a solo! Yes: this Ganz was on its way from remise Hungária to remise Baross to have its wheels lathered. They just forgot to take off the big "Route 6" sign...

A few minutes later the Tatra arrives to Sport utca. In the background you can see the entrance of remise Hungária, and in the foreground the three tracks leading there. This is not the most friendliest or nicest place in Budapest: the street is surrounded by the back sides of  two old football stadiums on each side. The street is in fact just a gap between them for the tram...

By the way, this car has just been refurbished. it's one of its first rides!

The other car in the coupled set is Nr.4055. As you can see here, the contest is now on its way: notice the jury member besides the driver!

Another solo Ganz labelled "Route 6". Again: this is not typical :-)

The street was cordoned off for the contest, but depot runs were still going strong.

Trams shoulder at shoulder: let's see who's the best!

A two-car set from Route 6 coming home after the peak hours have passed!

"Oh, great, how we gonna get into the depot now? Don't you guys have something better to do?" :-)

Unfortunately I didn't had the time to stay there and watch the contest: I was off to catch Route 1 for my working place!

Another depot run: this one's for remise Baross, one of the places where the Tatras from Route 1 are stationed.

"I'm off for a sleep!" To bad I could not claim the same...

Of course normal trains can't go ahead while another one is taking up the tracks while goind to the depot, so we now had a bit of a traffic jam again.

© Ákos Endre VARGA, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved.

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