Hungary, and indeed the entire Carpathian Basin, was once covered in a dense network of narrow gauge railways. Built in the late 19th and early 20th century, this network carried people as well as serving commercial purposes (forestry, mining and agriculture). This narrow gauge railway has been systematically broken up, most of it since the 1960’s as a result of centralised political decisions. Most recently in 1976 and 1980, much of the 210-kilometre route that once ran from Nyíregyháza to Füzérkomlós, Dombrád and Zemplénagárd/Királyhelmec was discontinued and then immediately dismantled.
Some narrow gauge railways survived and small sections have even been reconstructed. With their heritage value and superb country routes, these lines maintained by companies and forestry enterprises are perfect tourist attractions often travelling through spectacular scenery in out of the way places.
State Railways still operate a few longer routes serving regular passenger traffic (Nyíregyháza -Dombrád / Balsa and from Kecskemét to Kiskörös / Kiskunmajsa). These lines are rather neglected and stand under the constant threat of closure. One success story amongst several, however, is the children’s railway in Budapest which continues to carry thousands around the hills of Buda, particularly on sunny holidays.
Here (Nyiregyháza-Balsa/Dombrád) narrow gauge would still serve regional transport needs in case of a modernisation project!
Films about the last operation days of Nyírvidék and Kecskemét narrow gauge railways
Auf dieser Railway map of Hungary 2009 including narrow gauge railways
KBK - Association of Friends of Narrow Gauge Railways