Zsuzsi (Susan) Scenic Railway bears the name of the first 107 horsepower steam locomotive that ran on the old, 950 mm gauge railway near Debrecen, construction of which began back in 1882. In 1961, the rail was re-gauged to 760 mm (2 ft 5⅞ in), and the old steam engines were replaced by Mk48 diesel locomotives. Since 1996, the narrow gauge lines between Debrecen and Harmashegyalja survive as a preservation project, and the operators plan to extend/reconstruct the lines in the direction of Nyirmartonfalva, Nyiracsad, and Nyirbeltek
A Date with Zsuzsi
Zsuzsi, with its two green passenger cars is all set and ready to take us on a scenic excursion between Debrecen-Fatelep
. The name of the Debrecen
station – Lumber Yard – carries the air of the old logging days. And the way the sun flickers through the green of the nearby trees gives us the fleeting sensation that we are about to leave on a time travel, not just on a relaxing trip in God’s country.
As we step into the squeaky clean passenger car, the wooden seats put us in a nostalgic mood, for a moment, but then Zsuzsi shakes a bit, and off we go towards the countryside. The lines wind within Debrecen for a while, with homes on one side and the road on the other. The locomotive whistles quite often; everyone is warned, Zsuzsi is coming.
A short time later, we leave the city, and only the bike trail accompanies us into the woods. A small water habitat follows, with lush green vegetation: the Kondoros
stream crosses our way. The train only stops at the end of the line, but as we ride along, we can read the names of the earlier stations posted along the rail.
Few kilometers after Fancsika, the train turns the corner before Csereerdo
(Oak Woods), and leaving Road 48 and the bike trail behind, after Csereerdo and Erdeszlak
(Forester’s Cabin), the line crosses Panorama road. The train gets deeper and deeper into Erdospuszta
(the Wooded Puszta): a woody parkland dotted with pastures and farmland. The scenery from the train includes various forests and vegetation groups as well as homesteads, fields, and even a bee yard (apiary).
The 45-minute trip brings us to Harmashegyalja, the end of the line, where we are greeted by a sign pointing us in the direction of a large clearing with a picnic area, playgrounds, an open-air stage, a field school, and a snack bar. More adventurous passengers can stretch their legs on a hiking trip to the nearby lake, and be rewarded with the scenery from the lookout tower.
Zsuzsi departed and arrived at the exact times indicated in the railway guide, and as we pulled into Debrecen, people honked and waved when they heard her whistle.
Riding the Zsuzsi Scenic Railway is a definite must to all who enjoy a relaxing day outdoors, coupled with the nostalgia of narrow gauge railroading. This trip will make you forget the daily rush, and will allow a slow-motion observation of the soothing scenery.
Story and photos: Laszlo Fodor
English version: Iren Bencze
Ticket prices 2008
- Full price: one way 400 HUF, round trip 800 HUF
- Discount price: one way 250 HUF, round trip 500 HUF.
Zsuzsi's Railway Guide
is located on the Hungarian Great Plains (Alföld
), 22 miles from the Romanian border and about 160 miles from Budapest.