The abandoned Istvántelek Train Yard (Istvántelki főműhely), otherwise known as the “Red Star Train Graveyard,” occupies a vast area of land outside Budapest. More than 100 locomotives and train cars rot away, some in deteriorating depots, others out in the field. Among these are some very rare train engines, and a few cars that are said to have transported prisoners to Auschwitz during the Holocaust.
Built at the beginning of the 20th century as a repair yard for the national railway, only a few southern parts of the train yard are still in use, while most of it is abandoned.
Two large depots, a few smaller sheds and open-air areas are scattered with locomotives and railcars, some of them very ancient, others more recent, from Hungary’s time as part of the Soviet Regime. Some of the trains were brought here to be repaired and exhibited in the Budapest Railway Museum but never made it to the display and were instead left behind in the train yard.
There are a few gems rusting away in the graveyard that are sure to make any train enthusiast’s heart beat faster. A few Hungarian MAV 424 steam engines weigh in at 137 tons and bear a red star on their fronts, which earned the train yard its nickname. There is also an engine of the MAV 301 series, used from 1911 to 1914, which is one of only a few still in existence.
Linked to this engine are several German freight cars, which may be the very ones that transported hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews to their death in Auschwitz during Nazi occupation in World War II. Standing in front of the freight cars, one can only imagine the horror, tragedy, and despair that went on inside of them.
Among the more recent items in the train graveyard are some engines and cars from the Soviet era, inside of which rail tickets from the 1960s can still be found. Altogether the train graveyard offers a great alternative to the usual Budapest tourism sites, not only for train lovers, but for anyone with an eye for history. The engines and cars are slowly losing their battle against nature, and before long the trains may be entirely obscured by overgrown plant life.
Know Before You Go
You can find an entrance gate at 47°33'12.1"N 19°06'11.0"E . As of July 2017, there is no public access and papers are needed to get in. It is a industrial area so it is possible that you could sneak in at night or on a Sunday. The fences at the north side are low enough to climb if you watch out for the barbed wire. It is recommended to stay near the first two northern buildings, as there is a guard post toward the south, with train conductors coming and going through the day. Avoid going too far into the woods, as there are stray dogs and guard dogs near some of the southern buildings.