Corruption is a feature, not a bug

3% of the national railways’ annual profit is lost on just this one line

The equivalent of 3% of the 2019 profit of the Hungarian national railway was spent through car sharing apps on just this tiny, little piece of railway between Debrecen and Mátészalka, because commuters desperate for alternatives ditched the unreliable and painfully slow trains.


Map from 2013

Without the state who could figure out how to transport people or envelopes? If it weren’t for the state, things would be even worse for the desperate commuters of Mátészalka.

Or maybe not.

Turns out, car sharing apps fill the gap public services left behind (as the government is busy financing cronyism and stadiums, while fails to finance anything that actually serves the taxpaying losers such as healthcare or public transport).


Clearly, public transportation must be monopolized because no non-state could ever figure out how to operate a high-tech miracle like this. Or how to make it profitable because no one would use it. Oh wait… Image: the train in question. Source: Wikipedia

Clearly, public transportation must be monopolized because no non-state actor could ever figure out how to operate a high-tech miracle like taking people from A to B. Or how to make it profitable because no one wants to go from A to B. Oh wait…

Mátészalka leaks, a local NGO dedicated to bring some sanity into public services in their town, used openly available data and calculated that the amount spent on cars sharing apps on this one route is equivalent to 3% of the annual profit of the national railways in 2018. The amount the same trips would cost on train.

It’s all the War’s fault. To everyone’s relief, the Debrecen-Mátészalka railway line wasn’t bombed in the war and thus stayed in operation. But it hasn’t been renovated either. Which is a problem because the line was built in 1887. By the 1990s the speed limit for the trains has been lowered to 20-30 km/hour on most of the line – because lowering the speed limit was cheaper than renovating the line.

As a result, trains ran faster in 1943 than in 2018, according to a 1943 timetable unearthed by a thematic blog. Today, the 78 km trip takes 1:39 minutes in one direction, 1:49 in the other. The 13,5 km section between Nyíregyháza and Nagykálló takes the trains over 21 minutes. When it operates, that is. There are as few as thee trains per day, but even those three trains often break down, leaving commuters with little choice and much inconvenience.

True to the true spirit of serving the public (LOL), the trains let people down so much, they have stopped seeking out opportunities in nearby towns. A job next town might as well be on the Moon.

In August , a video went viral where a local activist outran the train, wearing a snail costume.

snail costume train hungary

The local NGO doing the stunt immediately became the target of the government media. But that time civil society has been the target of the government’s vile, two-year media and billboard campaign. People who had no idea what civil society even meant, people who may even have been helped by civilians, believed that “civilian” means the love child of Satan and George Soros on steroids. Civilians were pictured as vile, horned animals lurking to suck the marrow out of the nation’s bones, to drink pure, ethnic Hungarian blood, and to make Lebensraum for the promiscuous hordes of Muslim terrorists. (All these things have been said and repeated, in this style and manner, endlessly, on Fidesz media, by its publicists, talking heads, “experts”, opinion leaders, not to mention the Orbán’s direct marketing mail campaigns and government billboards that plagued the country for two whole years without a break.)

The snail run was viciously and immediately attacked by the Orbánist media (that includes the public broadcaster). They claimed that the activists are “Soros-mercenaries”  demanding faster trains only to bring more migrants into the town.

You see? You can’t get faster trains because the terrorists could use it. But keep paying taxes nonetheless.

But contrary to the government media’s accusations, these people are neither evil nor anonymous. They have names and faces, neatly listed on their website where they also publish all their activities, their modest funding, and their correspondence with the authorities. Its members work four shifts in the optical works factory of Mátészalka – and spend their free time raising awareness of local issues. They make between 400-550 euros a month and thus can’t afford to buy cars instead of using the painfully slow (if running) trains. Lately, scheduled trains are even missing because there is no one left to drive them.

Meanwhile, the Orbán-government will spend more on propaganda in 2020 (500 million euros) than Trump spent on his campaign in 2016 (340 million dollars). And 2020 is not even an election year in Hungary. Ever tax paid goes to the right place. Please keep arguing whether taxes should go up or down (while they go up). Discussing how they are spent is discouraged.

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