Very good news for refugees at Keleti Railway Station

Original Article with photos, and updates: http://hvg.hu/itthon/20150904_Nagyon_jo_hirt_kaptak_a_menekultek_a_Kele 

Very good news for refugees at Keleti Railway Station

Hungarian State Railway (MÁV) abolished its recently introduced maximum 40 EUR limit-restriction on unused international ticket cash-refunds. This is very good news indeed for refugees, many of whom were facing losing most of what they had paid for their tickets, because of the suspension of international train departures.  

MÁV-Start Zrt. (public transport subsidiary of MAV – trans.) have changed their policy as of 10 am, allowing the instant refund of unused international tickets without limit –the rail company announced. There is no commission on refunds and they repay the price of the tickets in Hungarian forints.

They wrote that ticket offices are prepared for an increase in claims, but temporary delays can be expected if they need to replenish their cash resources. Tickets purchased online and with bank cards will not be refunded instantly with cash, due to international financial regulations that apply.

Refunds can be claimed at any MÁV-Start international ticket office. Those passengers purchasing their tickets before the introduction of restrictions and who bought their tickets without presenting valid travel documents can claim a refund at Keleti Railway Station’s old International Ticket office, at a dedicated window.

Until now MÁV were only refunding tickets instantly with cash up to a maximum of 40 EUR or its equivalent in HUF. Those with tickets costing more than this could claim refunds only with their bank-card or by providing a postal address. 

Some buy bicycles with their refunds
Our associate was talking to four Syrian youngsters this morning who were waiting for their money for their returned tickets. They were told by the cashier that they will get the money sometime later on today. They paid 37000 HUF for the tickets. ( approx..118 EUR, 86 GBP – trans.) They said that, once they got the money, they would buy bicycles and try to get to Austria on those, as they think this is their last chance.

All of them are university students, engineers, economists trying to get to Germany and wanting to continue their studies there.

MÁV explains what their intention was with the restriction
MÁV-Start also explained in their announcement that the measures introduced on Tuesday morning, whereby they were writing the number of travel documents presented onto the tickets were aimed at making it more difficult for fraudsters and criminals, who are active amongst the refugees, preventing them from buying tickets in large numbers and then selling them at a higher price.

The other aim of these measures was to prevent the sale of tickets to refugees who have not yet registered in Hungary, because their onward travel would have been impossible anyhow because of measures introduced by Hungarian, Austrian or German authorities. 

Secret of suspiciously expensive tickets revealed
MÁV-Start also states that photos of seemingly overpriced tickets in the media are misleading. On Tuesday HVG (leading independent economic and political magazine in Hungary – trans.) wrote about a ticket costing 493 EUR, purchased by a family of four, hoping to travel to Munich.

We have now learned from the railway company that a single ticket can be issued for multiple users – usually a maximum of 5, but possibly even more. The number of passengers will be shown on the ticket in all cases. Also these tickets are more expensive as they can be used for any train at any time within their 15-day validity-period; however, they do not entitle the holders to any additional services.Most probably these tickets were not purchased by refugees for themselves but by the ticket-touts, who had no previous knowledge of whom would they be reselling to or whether there would be children amongst the final buyers –MÁV added.

MÁV-Start does not exclude the possibility that whoever sold this ticket to the refugees sold it at an even higher price than shown on the ticket itself. They said that, when a cashier sees children with the customers, he or she will issue 50% discounts for them. Further, cheaper alternatives open up immediately when the passenger names the destination and all cashiers are prepared for these typical scenarios.

Regardless of this the cashier issuing a full price international ticket based on distance and lacking any further information is acting completely in line with company guidelines and regulations.   According to MÁV-Start it is not possible for the cashiers to cheat passengers, as all international ticket sales are registered at the point of purchase

Of course this is of no consequence for the refugees right now, as there have been no trains leaving for Western Europe since Thursday morning.

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