Trains & train stations, Bucharest
In February this year Dave Mooney and I flew Easy Jet to the lightly snow covered Bucharest Otopeni Airport. First lesson of the day was how not to be conned by the official taxis having first been warned about taxi touts. The tourist information agent told us to use the ‘yellow’ coloured official taxis, which we did. What they failed to tell us was; look on the door of the taxi for the price per km. We realised our mistake when the driver charged us 80 Leu (RON) instead of 20 Leu (RON) as recommended by the tourist information leaflet.
Trams in Bucharest
RATB operates a complex system of trams and light metros in the Municipality of Bucharest. Beside tens of tram lines, there are currently three light metro lines (numbered 32, 35 and 41), all of which run in the western part of Bucharest. Light metros use more modern rolling stock than trams and also run on separate designated corridors for faster travel times. The light metro service is expected to be expanded by upgrading existing tram lines to light metro status. The next line to be upgraded is expected to be Line 21.
Trolleybuses in Bucharest
Trolleybuses supplement buses on the RATB network, which operates 19 trolleybus lines, mainly on high-usage routes. During the 1990s, the fleet was updated with modern trolleybuses manufactured by Ikarus, in light blue and yellow livery, which have acoustic station announcements and digital display screens. These trolleybuses now make up the majority of the fleet. In early 2007, wheelchair-accessible Irisbus Citelis trolleybuses were introduced on routes 61, 62, 69, 70, 71, 86, 90, 91 and 92.
Bucharest has a fairly extensive subway system consisting of four lines: M1, M2, M3 and M4, and run by Metrorex. In total, the network is 63km long and has 45 stations, with 1.5km average distance between stops. It is one of the fastest ways to get around the city. (Thinks! Considering the traffic and our experienance of the driving standards it’s also the safest way to get around!!) Prices
Ticket machine in a Bucharest Metro stationPublic transport in Bucharest is heavily subsidized, and the subsidies will increase, as the City Council wants to reduce traffic jams, pollution and parking problems and promote public transport. Like the RATB, the metro can get crowded during morning and afternoon rush hours. The network uses metro cards, that are not valid for use on trams, buses or trolleys (that use stampable/punchable tickets). Riders must buy a ticket for every ground vehicle they use (RATB ticket - 1 trip - 1.3 new leu = €0.36). From July 2006, the public transport in Bucharest was to be coordinated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority - however, this was postponed until 2007. The ticketing systems for ground and subway transportation are currently being unified, with a new RFID card system being deployed across the network. Currently, the unified system is available for monthly passes, and trip cards, with the old cards slated to be discontinued.
Prices (as of February 2008):
2 trip card- 2.2 RON (€ 0.6)
10 trip card - 8 RON (€ 2.2)
Monthly pass (full price) - 23 RON (€ 6.33)
Student monthly pass (only for Romanians) - 11.5 RON (€ 3.17)
1 day card - 4 RON (€ 1.1)
Free for senior citizens over 70 years of age
Taxi ride to airport
The traffic congestion is appalling (Boris, you’ll have a field day collecting the Congestion Charges here!). Our drive to the Airport by taxi was an experience, with the driver weaving in and out of the traffic, driving down the tram lines and avoiding potholes (sorry craters!). We made sure that our safety belts were on. Still, with all that excitment we both had a good time taking photogarphs, especially when we walked about 2 miles to ‘Arc-de-Triumph’ only to find it surrounded by scaffolding.
Still, it was a good trip,
For train travel to and from Bucharest from other major cities, such as Sibiu and Brasov, and international trains to Moscow, Istanbul, Sofia, Chisinau etc use Gare de Nord A Station. It has its own Metro station so it is easy to get to. When you enter the station, the big hall to your right is where you purchase same day tickets. I have always found them very efficient. Also, the trains to and from Bucharest are remarkably punctual, or maybe I have just been lucky. There is a big electronic board in front of the line of platforms which tells you which platform to go to. It's very straightforward.
Typically, a second class ticket on one of the best trains costs about 30 - 40 lei to most major Romanian cities. Sighisoara is 39.90 lei and Brasov 33.90 lei. Your ticket will show you your carriage number and seat number. If you show it to one of the guards on the platform, he will direct you to the correct compartment. The seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom.
To purchase an advance ticket and for all international tickets, you should use one of the two CFR Agentie de Voiaj offices. Office No. 1 is in the city centre on Strada Domnita Anastasia. The nearest metro station to it is Universitate. Office No. 2 is just round the corner from Gara de Nord, next to the Ibis Hotel, on Calea Grivitei.
There are direct trains to Brasov from Bucharest almost every hour. The first leaves at 0550, with the last being at 2350. The journey time is about 3 hours, but will depend on the service. Check bahn.de for up to date times (using stations Bucuresti Nord and Brasov as your station locations). The train I had was modern and comfortable on both legs of the journey.
There are two direct trains to get to Sofia from Bucharest. The first leaves in the afternoon at 1216 and arriving at 2135. There is also a night train at 2004 arriving the next morning at 0600. Check bahn.de for up to date times (using stations sofia and Bucuresti Nord as your station locations.)
There are border controls at the frontier. You will need to show your passport on both sides of the border although you will not need to get off the train to do this.
Few years ago, I used to carry my bike with me be train, from Bucharest to the Carpathian Mountains. An easy way to do this is to tip the person taking care of the luggage car :) or to just pull the two wheels off and place the bike as a luggage in the dedicated place. What I would recommend is asking in the North Railway Station and they might make you buy a ticket or the luggage, go with the bike to the luggage car (even so, I used to lock it there tight to something stable, just for safety)
Let us know how you'll proceed. :)
the trains in romania are much more comfortable than buses, but are more expensive. however, for long journeys they are definately worth it.
for up-to-date info on timetable websites, how to book tickets etc www.seat61.com is a god send.
trains are punctual, but be prepared for slight delays at each station while the staff have a cigarette!
retain your ticket when you are on board, as conducters may ask to see it more than once. also, be prepared for people to offer you things to sell when in your compartment - they will leave them on the seat for you to look and then come back to collect them. this is often done without any conversation, so don't be fooled...they're not freebies!
The rapid train to Brasov takes 2,5 hours and costs 38.80 RON (Oct. 07). The slow one costs 17 RON. On your ticket for the rapid train you can see how many kilometers you travel (166 in our case), the “vagon” number you are travelling in and your seat number. Both trains we used were more like commuter train type carriages which meant that there is no leg room at all.
This old fashioned railway station is worth seeing by itself. It was inaugurated on 25th September 1872.
It is full of kiosks but none of them sell “In your Pocket” guides or postcards. There are left luggage facilities, an information, a small supermarket and snack places including the big M. In one hall, there was a printed timetable hanging there but it was out of date. You should take a look at the big board by the information. Don’t expect the ticket vendors to speak anything other than Romanian (at least at the domestic windows) which are in a separate hall. But all the young people speak English and we were happily helped.
Bucharest’s main railway station, Bucuresti Nord (Bucharest North), is splat in two sections:
- Bucuresti Nord Gara A (used, on the CFR website as Bucuresti Nord Gr. A), where all fast trains arrive and depart, as well as all international trains to / from Bucharest
- Bucuresti Nord Gara B also known as Bucuresti Nord Gara Basarab (marked by CFR as Bucuresti Nord Gr. B), where some local trains to / from Southern Romania arrive / depart.
Bucuresti Nord Gara A lies on 2 Gara de Nord Square (tel.: (021)2230880, extension 1341, 1342), having its own metro station (entrance from the very station or just outside the ticket office hall). The ticket offices lie right in the station when getting out of the metro (“Casele de bilete”), while the sleeping berths or international tickets can be purchased in the other hall, just a little further from the previous ones (look for Pamir Bar on the street side of the station). Concerning international tickets, I recommend Wasteels office, as they are far more helpful and sometimes have discounted tickets for people under 26 years old. All offices in stations sell same day tickets. For bookings, you can refer to Wasteels or to a CFR agency in the city, of which I shall list two:
Agentia CFR Nr. 2, 139 Calea Grivitei (just a little further down the Calea Grivitei from the Bucuresti Nord Gr. A station, passed Hotel Ibis, on the right side), tel.: (021)2128947.
Agentia CFR Nr. 1, 10 Brezoianu (walk down the Elisabeta from the crossing with Victory Avenue, then turn left before the Mc Donald’s and walk on the left side until finding it), tel.: (021)3132643 for domestic information, (021)3145528 for international routes, (021)3139021 for sleeping wagons. In both agencies, when entering get an order ticket and wait for your number to be called and displayed. "Bilete toate directiile" stands for all domestic tickets, while "trafic international" stands for international tickets. "Informatii" stands for waiting in vain, so even for information it is better to get a regular order ticket.
If possible, avoid coming to Bucharest via Belgrade; not because of Belgrade itself but because of the quality of transportation.
It seems like Romanian train company puts the worst trains they have on Belgrade-Bucuresti line. That train was THE WORST train I have ever seen! Very old and very dirty. Toilets were absolute disaster (this matters if you're facing a 12 hour ride). It was a problem finding a wagon with heating, and when we finally found one they turned the heating on maximum and then, on about half way to Bucuresti, they shut it down. Of course, there was a broken neon light which made such irritating sound ALL the way! Disaster...
We took Bucharest after a short time in train to Gara du Nord the main train station in the city...it was someway chaotic just at first sight and my expectation wasnt wrong..
first of all we went to tickets sale desk to purchase a ticket for Eddie's ride to budapest at 7pm and mine to Veliko Tarnovo (BG) at 19.30h
We met there a miami's latin girl who was travelling by herself as well and we managed to help ourselves in that jungle ....Eddie was lucky and he got it ! but my train (always under the lady's sellers was delayed till 23.45h i couldnt understand why 4 hours..anyway we tried to get a solution looking for any bus or something strolling by the crowded streets with no visible order for a foreigner ....our chase was unlucky and Eddie and me took the subway to look around for a while in the downtown
Daniella (miami's girl ) took her train to Brasov (i guess) and now we still keep in touch by msn messenger.. (so nice )
We took the backpack in a unexpensive left-luggage storage and we went to the palace and so on ...more stories in other tips
This pic is the final of the story when i met my dear aussies friends from Sighisoara waiting their train to Sofia
The website for train travel throughout Romania is listed below.
If you are looking to leave from Bucharest, in most cases you will be leaving from Bucuresti Nord, the website will pick a different station if you don't type that in.
There are several different types of trains, the IC (intercity) trains are the most expensive but are supposed to be the fastest although not all that much faster and the most comfortable. From what I've read Personal trains are to be avoided (slow, stops frequently, not very clean)
We went from Bucharest to Iasi on one of the new sleek Sageti Albastre (Blue Arrow) trains, it cost 490,000 lei ($16.50 US) one way for the 5 hour trip and the ride in 2nd class was comfortable and air conditioned, the WC (toilet) was incredibly clean.
On the way back from Suceava, we took an IC train but it was one of the older IC trains with the 4 seats facing each other. This ride wasn't nearly as comfortable and the AC wasn't cooling the car very well.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Agentia de Voiaj CFR, there's a location near Bucuresti Nord, next door to the Ibis Hotel. I was told that you can buy tickets at the train station only an hour in advance so for peace of mind we bought ours a day in advance at the Agentia de Voiaj. Bucharest has a spiffy automated system that spits out a computerized ticket, the office in Suceava they gave us a hand written ticket and a cardboard ticket.
The price of the ticket also includes a mandatory seat reservation, check your ticket for the wagon number and seat number. On the way back from Suceava, the ticket agent sold us a ticket for the wrong day so our seats were double assigned, the collector did not notice and there were a few empty seats so we didn't have a problem but it's a good idea to check your tickets before you leave the ticket office.
We could not buy return tickets, I think this was because we were returning from a different city.
Bucharests centerall railway station... a good place for people who like noise, pollution and irritating taxi drivers... but the station is geting better and better every year, today you can even sit down in a Mcdonalds and eat something... but i dont know who has the appetite to eat after what you see outside.
In my opinion this station need to be destroyed but for now, when it still exists you will have to learn to like it.
Outside there are gourds who dont let the gypsies get in... but it dosnt mean that the station is empty of gypsies. Inside you can see that the tickets are printed now by computers and there are large tv sets on the main hall and i even saw some very cool trash cans... but i also saw some broken walls like it was after a war.
Outside near the platforms you will have a lot of stands and kiosks... has i toold before, even a Mcdonalds and there all other kind of sores too...
Trains are coming and goiung out of here from all over Romania and Europe, for a complete timetable check:
The last thing that you have to remember is to not listen the Taxi drivers outside... they wil try to jump on you and will offer to take you to any place in the city. Ask some of them the price, even bargain and then go with the cheapest.
By train. Train travel in Romania is cheap and well organized. Bucuresti's Gara de Nord is the most important train station in the country and all international trains depart from here, as well as the important domestic trains.
Bucharest's main train station is Gara de Nord and we arrived from Bulgaria.If you don't have a valid tickets for a train you must pay a 3,000 lei entrance fee. This still hasn't kept all the beggars and taxi drivers out though!
There is a left luggage office especially for foreigners (open 24hrs; 7,100 lei/day, 14,200 lei/day for large items).
For a decent toilet, there is a McDonalds!
To get into the city centre it is a 30 minute walk. You can use the local metro or bus. As elsewhere taxi drivers will no doubt try to rip you off!