One and half a million passengers took the train to or from Lake Balaton in 2018. Now MÁV, Hungary’s national railway company, is trying to meet demand by laying on more services for 2019. The new schedule comes into force from June 15.
The MÁV summer timetable runs from August 25. Passengers can look forward to modern, air-conditioned trains, InterCity carriages and dining cars, as well as extra services at weekends and more provision for bicycle storage.
MÁV promises not only more trains but ones with higher capacity. Dining cars will return to Balaton express trains on the south shore, but only as a test run for the time being. The so-called Beach Train is a novelty this year, a near direct service between Budapest and Siófok at weekends, with plenty of space for bicycles.
Kék Hullám ('Blue Wave') trains between Budapest and Tapolca leave every two hours daily. These only stop at Kelenföld, Székesfehérvár and Balatonalmádi before reaching Balatonfüred on the north shore. After Balatonfüred, they stop at every station as far as Tapolca. Kék Hullám trains can carry 16 bicycles, and you must purchase a reservation on top of your bike ticket. This is the fastest train to Balatonfüred, a journey of just under two hours from Budapest Kelenföld. Air-conditioned InterCity carriages with WiFi and powerpoints will also be attached.
Last summer’s high passenger numbers proved that new timetables and sales innovations are working. During the summer of 2018, 1.5 million people rode on Balaton trains, a 120,000 increase on the previous year.
Siófok was the busiest station, with 318,000 passengers arriving or departing. Balatonfüred traffic numbered 124,000.