We would not suggest using rail timetables as a definitive indicator of the state of relations between neighbouring states. But it is interesting that train schedules are often altered very quickly when there is a downturn in relations. So the news this week that the Bucharest to Chisinau night train is to be restored to daily operation from 30 May probably says something about diplomatic relations between Romania and Moldova, which share a common border along the River Prut.
The train that links the two capitals is called the Prietenia, a word that means friendship. But relations between the neighbours were hardly friendly this time last year, following civil unrest in Chisinau in April 2009. The Moldovan government suggested that Romania might have been meddling in Moldovan affairs and within a few days relations between the two countries had reached such a sorry state that the Prietenia train service was suspended.
Subsequently the train link was reinstated, but only running on alternate days. That the Prietenia will again run daily from next week is good for travellers in the region, but is probably also a good indicator of the normalisation of relations between the two countries.
The new Moldovan train timetable comes into effect on Sunday.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
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