Engineering Manager | Trail Runner | Stockholm, Sweden


This past winter I’ve had the chance to travel using international trains between Hungary and Austria quite a few times. It has been an interesting experience to see how differently the ticket inspection went on each side of the border.

Snow is coming. Hauptbahnhof Wien.

I’ve purchased my tickets using the ÖBB mobile app and asked for in-app delivery (e-ticket).

The Austrian conductors—dressed in an impeccable uniform with a tie—often just looked at the printed information, ie. which train the ticket was valid for. I’ve never been asked for an id. The few occasions they checked the QR code it only took seconds with their tablet device.

On the Hungarian side the QR codes were always read. The conductors used some ancient brick-like contraption for international tickets. I managed to glance on the little screen: the camera produced a very low resolution picture with appalling refresh rate. On the moving train with me holding my phone the process took forever. The camera somehow picked up the glare from the screen, too, obscuring a large part of the QR code. Often the conductor just gave up and agreed that everything was in order.

For domestic tickets a mobile phone is used to read codes but with a similar rate of success.

I really wonder what the conductors think of all this.


Ilyen egy vonatút Pestre tesóval. Vacak a szókincsünk?

Kár, hogy a Scrabble nem használja ki a Retina displayt, és pixeles. Viszont ahogy nézem, az amerikaiaknak van újabb változat, csak a magyar App Storeban nem találom.

Smoke on the Water

One thing I hate when going home is the increased exposure to cigarette smoke.

You’d think that it’s because an undeveloped semi-Balkan country like Hungary would have a lot more smokers. I don’t have statistics at hand but based on my observations there aren’t any fewer smokers in Japan compared to Hungary. If anything there are more.

It’s the attitude that makes it hard to cope with at home. In Japan the only time I can’t escape smoke is in the narrow streets. On the more crowded ones they even use megaphones to ask people to refrain from smoking.

Not the case in Hungary. People tend to disregard rules and they smoke where they damn well please. A prime example is trains: apparently the strain of being confined in the enclosed space of a passenger car is too much to bear without a couple of sniffs.

On the way to Szeged a girl went to the corridor at every station and puffed happily. The only problem was that with the practically nonexistent insulation of the compartments everyone else got to inhale the smoke.

Another time I asked a young man to please wait a bit with his cigarette until the train stopped and we got off, since it was impossible to escape the smoke while queued up in the corridor. He ignored me obviously. After all isn’t is his bloody birthright to kill himself?

Yet another time passengers watched dumbfounded as a heavyset man with a prisoner demeanor walked through the car (coach style not parlor) with a lit cigarette leaving a trail of putrid stench. No one was brave enough to challenge him of course.

It would be easy to blame the railway company. However I believe the main problem lies within the people. It’s easy to deduct that not even smokers can stand the prolonged exposure to smoke: this is why the majority of smokers tend to sit in the non-smoker cars, and use the aisles to satisfy their addiction. Obviously the doors cannot prevent the smoke from entering the compartments. People can’t even refrain from smoking when the trains are so crowded that the aisles are full as well. And I don’t think it’s the controller’s job to keep order, even if he/she could…

I have yet to see anyone in Japan smoke on a train. The concept of smoking cars in unknown too, except for the shinkansen, where there’s always one dedicated to smokers. However on regular trains it simply is forbidden. And however much they crave, Japanese would never break this rule.

In my opinion the Japanese overdo the whole keeping in line thing, nevertheless we could learn a thing or two about courtesies to others from them.