A wonderful fact about Hungary: you can get almost everywhere by public transport. Take the opportunity to travel with the people and get to see a more interesting face of the country. As foreign visitors also increasingly take advantage of public transport, it may play an important role in the attempt to protect the rather well-used but threatened railway system, as well as to realign the system in view of sustainability.
Mátra Railway Gyöngyös: Mátraháza line only operates on weekends and holidays "until further notice" due to track works, on weekdays the partly rebuilt Szalajkaház line can be enjoyed. By the way, the popular narrow-gauge railway has introduced a regular timetable.
Beware of the tariff chaos! Government decisions to introduce a supplement for long-distance trains, as well as sophisticated pricing for IC supplements mean that you ought to be more careful those days when planning a trip to Hungary. Here are the most important rules about supplements and reductions!
Cheaper bike tickets! Only HUF420 from anywhere within Hungary to Lakes Balaton, Fertő and Tisza; also cheap tickets from Hungary to nearby countries: 5€ (Sk, Ro, Hr, Slo, Sr) or 10€ (At, Cz, De, Pl).
New Budapest transport passes: 5x 24h according to your choice within 30 days (not valid on trains and Volán coaches). Day pass for 2-5 persons for the price of 2. Free train travel in Budapest for holders of a MÁV Start Klub 50% Card (including far-distance trains, no supplements apply, but excluding EC/IC trains).
Until 6 Ocober 2013, Balaton Mix train-boat day tickets! Features a 50% discount on inland return tickets to and from the Lake Balaton region. On the chosen days no far-distance supplements must be purchased for Lake Balaton lines (only for IC-type coaches)!
Budapest 24h Day Passes (1,550 HUF) sold by drivers of 200E airport express bus and conductors in the suburban HÉV light rail system (lines H5,H6,H8-9)!
SMS payment for rail tickets: T-Com, Telenor and Vodafone Hungary clients may now settle by SMS full-price tickets, IC supplements and bike tickets purchased on the web
The other side of the coin - certain obstacles the traveller may encounter:
Our wish is that you enjoy your stay in Hungary. We hope that our tips help you to plan the best trip possible here using public transport. Finally you may choose your own priorities for your journey, e.g. 'as comfortable as possible', 'as quick as possible' or 'as cheap as possible'. Off on holiday with little to no time constraints you might well enjoy rambling across the countryside with some of the antiquated rolling stock!
Please choose from the menu the areas of your interest.
Somewhere in space. This Yesterdays music video features some atmospheric rail pics from Transsylvania. Hungarian progressive rock from Romania. (More music videos with railway themes in the bottom section of the Hungarian start page!)
Railway networks are like trees, they cannot succeed without roots and branch lines.
Next to TEN-T corridors, invest in Central Eastern Europe's desolate regional transport infrastructure!
(@ transport ministers on the occasion of the 2011 Hungarian council presidency)
Rail Tour de Hongrie Transport policy statement, sign up by mail if you agree
Massive closures in 2009 - turnaround in transport policy 2010; again in April 2012 the same government canceled one out of 7 trains in regional transport...
The socialist government which effectuated the massive closures in March 2007 and December 2009 was voted out of office in the spring of 2010. The new center-right government first reactivated 4 railway lines on 4 July 2010: Komárom–Székesfehérvár (5), Pápa–Csorna (14), Tiszafüred–Karcag (103), and Lajosmizse–Kecskemét (142); and the Zirc–Veszprém (11) line again operates every day, not Friday to Sunday only. Secretary of state Fónagy announced reactivation of Szilvásvárad–Putnok (87) and Abaújszántó–Hidasnémeti (98) in parliament (the first never came to pass due to earth slides and is impassible by now, the second was indeed reactivated, but from 2012 only two runs a day remain). Later in December 2010 another 6 lines were reactivated: Esztergom–Komárom (3), Sárbogárd–Székesfehérvár (45), Komló–Sásd (47), Abaújszántó–Hidasnémeti (98), Fehérgyarmat–Zajta (113), and Mátészalka–Csenger (114). More reactivations were promised, but this promise was later silently dropped and lines considered as likely candidates, such as Mezőfalva–Paks (42), Aszód–Vác (77), Kisterenye–Kál-Kápolna (85), Sáránd–Létavértes (107), and Kecskemét–Fülöpszállás (152) remain closed. Freight services were resumed on the Nyékládháza–Mezőcsát (88) and Kiskörös–Kalocsa (153) lines, the Körmend–Zalalövő (22) line was given to GYSEV with a mandate to reactivate it following medium-term refurbishment. Oral promises in view of reactivation (modernisation??) of narrow-gauge networks were also dropped, and Nyíregyháza council has renounced of an intended MÁV operation within city limits (the quote of state railways being considered too expensive). Meanwhile an initiative for a tourist-type services to be resumed on part of the Nyírvidék and Kecskemét networks from 2013 gained some government support, which might bring about a chance of later renewal of city and regional passenger transport on these narrow-gauge networks.
Effective from 15 April, in the year 2012 a massive cut left all reactivated lines with a daily 2 or 3 train services, many other services were caneled, mainly on the neglected regional networks. Cuts amounted to 8% of train kilometres, or 1 out of 7 train services was completely cancelled or only runs part of the line, or on certain days only. This move came after the project of a National Transport Holding embracing rail and bus companies was abandoned and some bus company managers, amongst others, openly campaigned for a takeover of regional services. Following the move to reactivate lines it was not considered viable to close lines, but if no modernisation efforts are undertaken, the April decision might well set the stage for massive railway line closures.
For a more detailed summary of the 2007-2012 developments, check the German main page or the Hungarian page of Tour de Hongrie (Rail).
Looking back: Following the breakup of the 2002-2009 government coalition a minority socialist government once more changed leadership of the Ministry of Economy and Transport. Previously it had been decided not to close down more lines until 2010. According to experts and NGOs this by no means represented a solution of the urgent problems of the transport sector. Unless the chance to opt for a more viable transport policy approach is used within 1-2 years, this moratorium would only have meant that unpopular decisions are being postponed until after the elections.
According to the policy of the past government a considerable number of lines were blacklisted for eventual closure, next to the lines already closed, if they are not taken over by private operators or local municipalities. Some socialist MEPs resisted, however, for reasons of local interests, and in any case no tenders had been published as intended for late 2008 in order to attain private local railway operators outside of MÁV State Railways. The new government in office from June 2010 is pro-rail and pro-MÁV but has to deal with a very limited budget.
The second Rail Tour de Hongrie took almost a week to go round the country by rail non-stop, in the last week of November 2009, including endangered and some now already closed branch lines en route. In 2007 we missed two connections due to delays, therefore the site of the last night's rest changed and arrival at Balsa took place one train later than planned. Now in 2009 no missed connection at all! Most regional trains ran perfectly in time; minor delays were handled in a way that passengers would not miss their connections. What we had to realise, however, is the frequent lack of signs and clear communication. Railway employees and fellow passengers usually are happy to help, but in case you do not speak Hungarian or if there is simply nobody to turn to, you might have a hard time finding your train, or recognising the stop where to get off.
Railway map of Hungary
Railway map of Hungary, without stops (hubs only), more track data, also maps of neighbouring countries!
Map with lines where passenger trains were recently discontinued
Lines reactivated on 12 December 2010, services thinned out 15 April 2012:
* Esztergom–Komárom (3)
* Sárbogárd–Székesfehérvár (45)
* Sásd–Komló (47)
* Hidasnémeti–Abaújszántó (98)
* Fehérgyarmat–Zajta (113)
* Mátészalka–Csenger (114)
Lines reactivated on 4 July 2010, services thinned out 15 April 2012:
* Komárom-Székesfehérvár (5)
* Zirc–Veszprém (11 - again Győr-Veszprém, from 13 Dec 2009 to 3 July 2010 only Fri-Sun reduced timetable)
* Pápa–Csorna (14)
* Tiszafüred–Karcag (103 - Lake Tisza circle complete again)
* Lajosmizse–Kecskemét (142 - Kecskemét suburbain)
Reactivation announced in Parliament, but postponed indefinitely:
* Szilvásvárad–Putnok (87 - Bükk Hills circle complete again)
Lines with passenger services discontinued on 13 Dec 2009
* REMAINED with diminished traffic: Hegyeshalom-Rajka (1 - Győr-Bratislava!!!)
* Almásfüzítő–Esztergom Kertváros (3 - Danube-valley railway)
* Székesfehérvár–Komárom (5)
* Körmend–Zalalövő (22)
* Balatonmáriafürdő–Somogyszob (37)
* REMAINED: Balatonfenyves–Somogyszentpál (39 - narrow gauge, last MÁV line)
* Mezőfalva–Paks (42)
* Börgönd–Sárbogárd (45)
* Godisa–Komló (47)
* Pécs–Pécsvárad (64 - formerly Pécs-Bátaszék-Baja-Subotica-Szeged)
* Galgamácsa-Vácrátót (77 - northern bypass of Budapest)
* Szilvásvárad–Putnok (87 - part of Bükk circular, most spectacular scenic railway)
* Abaújszántó–Hidasnémeti (98 - reactivated 2010, then services thinned out in 2012)
* Tiszafüred–Karcag (103)
* Sáránd–Létavértes (107 - suburban Debrecen)
* Fehérgyarmat–Zajta (113 - formerly suburban Szatmárnémeti/Satu Mare)
* Kocsord alsó–Csenger (114 - formerly suburban Szatmárnémeti/Satu Mare)
* Tiszalök–Ohat-Pusztakócs (117)
* Nyíregyháza–Balsa/Dombrád (118-119 - narrow gauge, formerly 216 km network, partly suburban)
* Kisszénás–Kondoros (126)
* Vésztő–Kőrösnagyharsány (127 - formerly suburban Oradea)
* Hódmezővásárhely–Makó (130)
* Lajosmizse–Kecskemét (142)
* Kecskemét–Kiskörös/Kiskunmajsa (148-149 - narrow gauge)
Some other threatened lines (most of them very neglected):
* Hegyeshalom–Csorna (16 - GYSEV wants it)
* Villány–Mohács (65b)
* Balassagyarmat–Ipolytarnóc (78 - project of a Hungarian-Slovakian railway)
* Újszász–Vámosgyörk (85)
* Eger–Szilvásvárad (87)
* Szerencs-Abaújszántó (98)
* Kál-Kápolna–Kisujszállás (102)
* Sáránd–Nagykereki (106 - formerly suburban Oradea)
* Mátészalka–Záhony (111)
* Újszeged–Mezőhegyes (121b - Tisza bridge never reconstructed, RegioTram Makó project study)
* Battonya–Mezőhegyes–Orosháza–Mezőtúr (125)
* Vésztő–Szeghalom–Gyoma (127)
* Szeghalom–Püspökladány (128)
* Kiskunfélegyháza–Lakitelek–Kunszentmárton (146)
* Kiskunfélegyháza–Szentes–Orosháza (147)
Lines with passenger services discontinued in 2007:
* Pápa–Veszprémvarsány–Tatabánya (13)
* Pápa–Csorna (14 - reactivated 2010, then services thinned out in 2012)
* Zalabér-Batyk–Szentgrót (24)
* Hajmáskér–Csajág–Lepsény (27)
* Sellye–Villány (62)
* Diósjenő–Romhány (76)
* Kisterenye–Kál-Kápolna (84)
* (Miskolc–)Hejőkeresztúr–Mezőcsát (88)
* Kazincbarcika–Rudabánya (95)
* Nagykálló–Nyíradony (112)
* Murony–Békés (129)
* Kunszentmiklós-Tass–Dunapataj (151)
* Fülöpszállás–Kecskemét (152)
* Kiskőrös–Kalocsa (153)