The chaos is enormous: Hungarian taxi drivers are taking refugees for free

Author: Ferenc Hajba Original title: Hatalmas a káosz, már ingyen is viszik a magyar taxisok a menekülteket
Publication: Date: 17:59 10/09/2015

The chaos is enormous: Hungarian taxi drivers are taking refugees for free

The Austrian Railways (ÖBB) has terminated train traffic between Austria and Hungary, so the majority of the refugees now make the three-kilometre journey on foot between Hegyeshalom and Nickelsdorf. There are some benevolent taxi drivers who transport the refugees for free between Vámosszabadi and Győr (on the way to the border at Hegyeshalom – trans.).

The last Railjet passed through the Hegyeshalom railway station today. Nobody was removed from the international high-speed train: this time everyone was able to travel on to Austria. From Thursday afternoon, however, there were no further trains leaving, and the three o’clock train leaving from Budapest to Vienna was officially cancelled from the schedule.

According to the official communication, the Austrian Railways shut down the train traffic between Hungary and Austria due to the overload. The measure affects the Railjets traveling between Budapest and Vienna and the cross-border regional trains, and they are no longer issuing such tickets in Hungary.

Local trains, however, depart from Győr to Hegyeshalom every hour, and these trains are overflowing with refugees. They generally get the bus to Vámosszabadi from the full Röszke camp, and from there they travel by bus, or sometimes on foot or by taxi to the train station in Győr. Some of the taxi drivers give them a free ride on this nearly 10-kilometre road between the Vámosszabadi and Győr.

We were on site at Hegyeshalom when one of those local trains arrived at the station carrying refugees. The police told the passengers that they would have to walk from here to Austria. At the first call, a number of them did not want to get off of the train.

Eventually, however, everyone complied with the police request: they got off and walked together on foot toward the border that was three kilometres away. On their way, English-speaking police officers helped them to orientate. According to our correspondent, there were a lot of very small children, and even a woman in wheelchair among the refugees.

Austrian buses lined up to transport the refugees. To where? – was not officially clarified – but two bus drivers confirmed that the destination was Salzburg. Meanwhile, local trains keep arriving from Győr traveling only to Hegyeshalom, and with that, the headcount of the temporary refugee camp is growing. Nobody asks the refugees to show their papers or ID cards.

We learn that the first bus will depart shortly to Salzburg. There are also Hungarians amongst the drivers of the Austrian buses.

Most of the refugees say they are Syrian, but admit that they arrived from Iraq or Afghanistan. The main destination is Germany, but a surprisingly large number want to go to Finland.

Meanwhile, in Budapest’s Keleti station everything is calm, there is no chaos, about the same number of people are waiting peacefully in front of the ticket counters or on the platform as in the morning.

Refugees are allowed to board the 17:10 Railjet, even though the loudspeaker says that it operates only until Hegyeshalom. The policemen permitted about a hundred people to board the train in the first round, making sure that families are not broken up. The 17:10 train departed in good order, so much so, that there were empty seats on it, although it may be that this was only because of the pre-booking and the passengers boarding the train after Budapest.

Keleti has not been as empty in the past few weeks as it was this afternoon. The 17:30 train to Hegyeshalom departed toward the west with approximately 200 refugees. Some 25-30 refugees stayed on the platform, but not because they did not fit on the train, but because they arrived late and missed the train. There are about 100 people in the transit-zone, including volunteers and curious visitors. One of the refugees who missed the last train told our colleague that the others have already indicated that they will only get to Hegyeshalom, but from there they can walk across to Austria without being stopped.


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