Troubling questions concerning refugees’ tickets to Munich

Original article with pictures and updates available at: http://magyarnarancs.hu/belpol/nyugtalanito-kerdesek-a-menekultek-muncheni-jegyeirol-96351
Author: Zsófia Fülöp  (Magyar Narancs)

Troubling questions concerning refugees’ tickets to Munich

Two hundred euros for one ticket to Munich, reimbursement via bank transfer. The Hungarian Railway refuses to comment. We (Magyar Narancs – ed.) tried to find out what the issue was with the refugees’ tickets to Germany.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we (Magyar Narancs – ed.) met a couple of Syrian young men who had bought train tickets to Munich on August 31 or September 1 in Keleti or Nyugati Railway Stations. One of them paid 617 euros, that is almost two hundred thousand forints, for tickets for five people, which is almost 125 euros per head. Another paid 120-150 euros for the tickets bought (on the original pictures you can see a ticket for two people with a total of 246,80 euros) but because some of his friends paid him 200 euros per head to buy the tickets, he actually felt lucky to get the tickets so cheaply.

On Tuesday night, we (Magyar Narancs – ed.) inquired at the international ticket office of Keleti Railway Station, asking how much it cost to travel to Munich. The lady at the cash desk told us (reporters of Magyar narancs – ed.) that one day before departure one can still buy the most beneficial, 39-euro-ticket but thereafter tickets become more expensive. There are also 49-euro-tickets but the maximum price is 78 euros, which (80 euros) may only be exceeded, if a couchette ticket is requested for the night train. We (reporters of Magyar Narancs – ed.) asked on several occasions whether it was possible to buy tickets at a higher price than the 78-euro-ticket, but the answer was a definite no.

Thus it is inexplicable why tickets for 140-150, in some instances 200 euros , were being sold to refugees. The Hungarian Railways at their press conference held early on Thursday afternoon explained themselves by saying that many people bought 29-euro tourist tickets, forged them and resold them to the refugees for a much higher price. Some refugees reported that, once the police closed off the Keleti Railway Station, they could buy tickets through intermediaries – naturally for an extra couple of hundred euros. On the tickets that we (reporters of Magyar Narancs – ed.) saw there was nothing suspicious that would suggest forgery and refugees insisted that they bought the tickets themselves.

So the question is, who is responsible and how could this happen? Regarding this we (the reporters of Magyar Narancs – ed.) put our questions to the Press Office of the Hungarian railways, which as this article goes to press have not been answered. Should they answer, the article will be updated.

Another problem also arises with regard to the tickets: the possibility of reimbursement. According to information received by Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary, if someone would like their tickets reimbursed, they have to present valid documents (although this was not needed for the purchase), fill out a form with their personal data and give an explanation why they can’t travel. Then comes a 30-day processing time, after which a maximum 80% of the ticket price may be reimbursed via bank transfer. This may only be arranged though at the railway station – which was closed off by the police until Thursday morning. At the aforesaid press conference, Márton Feldmár, deputy CEO for sales of the Hungarian Railways, said that, due to the extraordinary circumstances, even otherwise non-reimbursable ticket prices under 40 euros would also be reimbursed, whereas above 40 euros an application for reimbursement must be submitted – with a name, address, together with the place of application and proof that the tickets were not used. The case would be decided within three months.

It is quite obvious that the procedure – whether extraordinary or not – is problematic in many respects, starting from the bank transfer, the place of residence, the unapproachable client services, as well as the fact that refugees are unable to use their train tickets through no fault of their own. We (the reporters of Magyar Narancs – ed.) have submitted our questions concerning this as well to the Hungarian Railways (still waiting for an answer). They let us know this much though at the press conference: mass reimbursements have not been observed. After asking refugees it is no wonder – they either trust that they will be able to use the tickets purchased for horrible prices within the two-week period of validity, or they have already traded them and are seeking other opportunities.

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