This map has been extracted from the Railway Map of Europe with kind permission of the publishers.
You can purchase copies of the full map, as well as rail timetables, from The European Railway Timetable website

The rail networks of these countries were first developed in the 19th century when they were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or in the case of Poland, also the German and Russian Empires. Over the past 100 years they have been further developed as national systems, of course, but this remains an interesting and diverse part of Europe, reflecting some turbulent history.


HUNGARY

Hungary has a fairly dense network centred on the capital, Budapest which boasts three termini, a metro network (including the oldest line on the Continent), trams and a cogwheel railway up the Buda hills. The front of the East (Keleti) Station is graced by statues of railway and steam pioneers James Watt and George Stephenson.
East of Budapest is the Great Hungarian Plain (or puszta) and Hungary’s second city, Debrecen with trams, trolleybuses, a university, plus a strong Protestant tradition in this majority Roman Catholic country. Many main lines are being slowly modernized with the help of European Union regional development funds.

There are cross-border rail links to each of Hungary’s neighbours though some of these, such as to Romania, could be improved.
For those flying to Budapest, shuttle buses take you to Ferihegy station on the main line to Debrecen and to Kobanya-Kiszpest on the city’s metro system.
Rail passenger services are nearly all operated by MAV-START (https://www.mav.hu) though west of the city of Gyor some are operated by GySEV which also serves part of the Burgenland in neighbouring Austria. Most Inter City trains require compulsory reservations.

CZECHIA

THE CZECH REPUBLIC (or CZECHIA as it is now officially known) has a dense rail network serving practically all towns and cities, ranging from the Spa towns in the hills of the far west to industrial Ostrava near the Polish border in the east. There are at least 24 cross-border links, ranging from the franchised local service between Decin and Rumburk via Bad Schandau, to long-distance trains from Berlin to Vienna. There is a substantial modernisation programme for many main lines with the help of European Union regional development funds.

Prague, the capital, is a major destination for tourists interested in history and culture and, like many smaller towns and cities, has well-developed public transport.
The national passenger train operator is Cesky Drahy (https://www.cd.cz), but the Czechs have also encouraged open access operators such as Regiojet and Leo Express, especially on the main east/west route between Prague and Ostrava and sometimes into neighbouring Poland and Slovakia. These operators often have their own booking offices at major stations. Their tickets are not interchangeable with those of CD.
Austrian Railjet provide certain cross-border trains while GW Train Regio operate certain local services, such as between the major spas of Karlovy Vary and Mariansky Lazne on which CD and Interrail tickets are not valid. Reservations are compulsory on SuperCity fast pendolino trains.

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia has since 1991 been a separate country, with four rail passenger routes crossing into it from Czechia, its own language and the euro as its currency.
It is more rural and includes attractive areas such as the Tatra mountains and the Danube valley, which are easily accessible by train.
Bratislava, the compact capital, has Inter City trains to other major cities including Zilina, Zvolen and Kosice, and details of services can be found on the website of the national operator ZSSK (https://www.slovakrail.sk). Bratislava is an easy day excursion by train or Danube ship from Vienna.

As in neighbouring Czechia, Regiojet and Leo Express also operate some longer distance trains in Slovakia and have their own fares system. For Inter City and EuroCity trains within Slovakia a supplement is payable and in first class reservations are compulsory.

POLAND

Poland is the largest and most populous eastern European country in the EU and its attractions range from the sandy Baltic coast and wooded Masurian Lakes plateau, through historic cities such as Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow, to the mountainous regions along the Czech and Slovak border.
Some Polish cities, such as Szczecin, Kostrzyn and Gorzow Wielkopolski are an easy day excursion from Berlin. Most visitors to Poland for a longer stay will find the Berlin – Warsaw Express via Frankfurt-an-der-Oder a speedy and comfortable journey to the heart of the country.

Long-distance trains within Poland are operated by PKP InterCity (https://www.intercity.pl), using a number of different brand names; while more local services are mainly run by Przewozyregionalne (https://www.polregio.pl) and some are run by local regional councils. The latter category includes the steam service between Poznan and Wolsztyn. Reservations are compulsory on Inter City services.

UKRAINE

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, after Russia. In its western part the Carpathian mountains gradually give way to fertile plains; while the eastern part is more industrialised.
Trains are operated by UZ (https://www.uz.gov.ua) and those from the west cross into Ukraine mainly from Hungary, Slovakia or Poland. From Vienna an overnight service, the Hortobagy, operates via Budapest to the Ukrainian capital Kiev (Kyiv) and another from Kosice in Slovakia; while travellers from Poland have a sleeper from Wroclaw to Kiev.

TG 05/11/2021