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Taking a Ride on the Children’s Railway in Budapest

About four years ago, Devon read an article about Budapest and learned about a railway that was run entirely by children. Since then she has come to Europe quite a few times, but for some reason we never quite made it to Budapest together. This time around, we were determined not to miss it. Budapest is a gorgeous spa city, and it is very easy to spend a couple of days there just taking in the architecture and good food, but this time, we wanted to take the train.

A Railway Ran by Kids? The History of The Children’s Railway in Budapest

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest where most of the jobs are handled by teens and preteens.
The conductors will stamp your ticket and offer to sell souvenirs. They’re adorable!
The young station master salutes the outgoing train.
The station manager clears the train for moving out.

The Children’s Railway was started in the 1940s as a Soviet project. In fact, there are other railroads run by children in other parts of Europe that had Soviet occupation, like Dresden for instance. Called the “Pioneer” Railway in the beginning, it was a way to start introducing kids to real world jobs, and of course it’s lasted because how fun is working on a train? According to one boy I talked to, he has been working on it for four years; he loves it.

Getting ready to load passengers on the red and white Children's railway.
All aboard!

From selling the tickets, to changing the tracks, waving the flags, herding the passengers, and even selling souvenirs, just about every job on the train is done by the students. Of course they are not allowed to drive the train, so the engineer not only drives but he oversees the children and teaches them all about locomotion.

A young conductor in his bright blue uniform collects tickets on the train.
Of course, you’ll want a small memento.

The day we went was on a weekend and it was rather busy. We decided a one-way trip would be enough, so we took the tram to the beginning of the route. On the platform were kids of all ages. There were a few older couples that were there without children, but an all adult party was the exception. Jim and Erika went in search of the tickets, while Devon and I waited on one of the shaded benches watching all the families out for the day with their kids.

All aboard! Tourist are ready to go on board the Budapest Children's railway.

The train is well suited for summer travel as the cars are open from about halfway up. The benches are all wooden, so rain wouldn’t bother them either. You could either stand or sit, it was up to you. We enjoyed the winding track through leafy woods, imagining life as a Pioneer Scout during the Soviet times as there were plenty of reminders in the shape of sculptures and signs.

Two young conductors getting ready to roll out on the Children's railway.
It might be a job, but the children’s railway workers all seemed to love it!

At each station a young person would come out and flag the train into the station, then out again as it left. Most of the stops had things for families to do. There was a park, a ropes course, a picnic area, lots of things. Many families start in the morning and take their time doing the circuit. Kids go home with cotton candy still sticking to their lips or boiled corn stuck in between their teeth, but with huge smiles on their face.

Teen conductor takes tickets and sells souvenirs aboard the children's railway in Budapest.
Tracks are cleared by the youthful conductors.
Ready to depart.

We had huge smiles, too, as we watched how much the kids who worked there enjoyed their tasks. When we were done, we took the tram back down to the center of the city where we had much more to explore.

Getting there:

Take the 56, 56A, 59B, or 61 tram or the 61 bus to Hűvösvölgy stop then ride the children’s railway to Széchenyi-hegy, Gyermekvasút where you can take the 60 tram back into town.

Have you been to Budapest? Would you like to ride on the Children’s Railway?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Pin the Children’s Railway in Budapest for later!

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest.

Helena

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

This is such a fantastic idea! I would definitely love to go there :)

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Helena, It is a lot of fun. I loved how much the children loved their jobs.

Castaway with Crystal

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

WOW this is really cool isn't it? I love the idea. Will have to visit one day.

Crystal recently posted... Budget guide for New Zealand; North Island

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Crystal, It is a cool idea, and I think it's well done. The kids really seem to take their jobs seriously and love it at the same time.

Vyjay

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

This is so cute. An entire railway run by kids. I know that kids are always fascinated by trains and rail engines. I can vouch for it :) But an entire railway run by the kids, that sounds really awsome.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Vyjay, It is really a great idea. The kids worked like pros.

Sarah Stierch

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Ha! Wow, that's pretty wild. I'm a train geek, love to ride on them! If you're ever in my neck of the woods, Sonoma, California, you'll have to visit Train Town if you have kids :)

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Sarah, We're often in California so maybe we will do that one day.

Mary - A Mary Road

Monday 17th of October 2016

What?! This looks so epic! And great way to discipline the kids to be responsible in a fun way! :)

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 18th of October 2016

Mary, Exactly! The kids took their jobs seriously, too.