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The Children’s Railway has a unique rolling stock. Most of the vehicles are not to be found anywhere else in Hungary, some not even abroad.
The core of the rolling stock, the vehicles in daily service, is made up diesel-hydraulic engines, covered and open compartment passenger carriages. The Mk45 series engines originate from 1973, some carriages from the 1940’s but mostly from the 1960’s.
The Children’s Railway also possesses a variety of heritage vehicles. Two steam engines, a complete railcar set and other passenger carriages add to the rolling stock. They are usually operated at the weekend as regular services with special fares.
The daily passenger services are hauled by Rumanian built L45H type diesel-hydraulic engines. In Hungary they are known as Mk45 series. There are six of them listed at the Children’s Railway depot in Huvosvolgy.
Mk45 series diesel engines
MAV, the national railway company and operator of the Children’s Railway, purchased ten of this type of engines in 1973. Six of them were delivered for the Pioneers’ Railway, as the Children’s Railway was called at the time. Four went into service on other narrow gauge lines. The six ones are still in use, the rest were withdrawn from operation in the 1990’s.
An industrial railway deployed two more in the 1970’s. Two decades later they were withdrawn from operation and sold abroad.
L45H engines used to be relatively common in Poland and Rumania. However they became almost extinct in the early 2000’s.
Entering the fourth decade of operation wearing off started to show on the ones operated in Budapest as well. It was high time to launch a programme of complete overhauling and modernisation. Mk45,2003 was first to undergo the process. It was equipped with a brand new and customised Caterpillar C-15 diesel engine. It re-entered operation in December 2010 to be followed by Mk45,2004 a year later.
The Children’s Railway has got special, open compartment passenger carriages and ones with covered compartments. Open carriages are operated in good weather in summer and are very popular with the public. The eight of them were delivered in 1963.
Four covered compartment carriages were delivered in 1950. Originally they were part of two railcar sets. Four more, almost identical carriages were shipped in 1964. The railcars have been withdrawn from service but the eight carriages are still in use. They are operated in winter and in less convenient weather in summer. They are equipped with a modern, diesel fuelled heating system.
These passenger carriages were built especially for the purposes of the Children’s Railway. They are unique, not to be found in the rolling stock of any other railway line.
Throughout the year, as long as technical and other conditions permit, the Children’s Railway operates services hauled by a steam engine on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.
An excess fee to the normal fares applies on these services. Usually the carriages in the set are also of historic value.
Two steam engines of Type 490 are listed at the Children’s Railway. Steam Engine No 490,056 was shipped in 1950 and was one of the last steam engines built in the country. It was meant for the former Yugoslavia but never ended up there. It remained in the country and was used for normal passenger and goods traffic. For a short while in 1950 it was operated at the Pioneers’ Railway as well. In the 1980’s it was deployed to a line connecting Lake Balaton with a spa resort to haul special trains in summer. With the decline of the line, it was made redundant and was relocated at the Children’s Railway in the winter of 2000.
Steam Engine No 490,039 was originally delivered in 1940 and deployed in Transylvania, belonging to the Kingdom of Hungary at the time. Later on it was transferred to other lines before being withdrawn from service. It was mounted on the platform of Huvosvolgy Station in 1973 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Pioneers’ Railway. It was removed and sent into a workshop in 2004. It has been in service again since 2007 extending our fleet of steam engines to two.
Our steam engines are authentic. They run on coal and water. Their mechanical parts are either original or replacements based on original designs. The only modern addition is the air brake system which is now a requirement for safety reasons.
Heritage railcar set
The Children’s Railway has got a unique narrow gauge railcar set. It is mostly operated in relief services at busy weekends. It is surely available when it appears in the timetable of the day but may also be operated on other days as needed.
The set was delivered for a narrow gauge railway company in the north east of Hungary in 1928-1929. Originally there were two, identical railcars and several carriages. They were built as prototypes for future deliveries of narrow gauge trainsets.
The two railcars and two trailers were lent to the Pioneers’ Railway in the first years of its operation in 1948 and 1949. One of the sets was returned in 1951. But the other one continued to be used in Budapest until 1963.
One of the railcars was withdrawn from service in 1977 and dismantled in 1980 by its owner of the time.
The other one last went in service in 1982. By that time it had been listed as a protected vehicle to prevent it from being torn down. The carriages were used until a few years later.
MAV, the Hungarian national railway company, exchanged the remaining units of the former railcar sets for four high capacity and serviceable carriages in 1989. The units of the railcar set were in a very bad condition and without a licence to run. They were taken to a workshop for complete reconstruction. The surviving railcar and four trailers returned to operation and completed their test runs in 1991. The fifth trailer could follow them only seven years later.
The railcar is usually operated hauling one of its trailers or coupled up with another heritage passenger carriage. Sometimes it is in service on its own. Most of the time the steam engines run with one or two of these trailers as well.
The Children’s Railway has always been meant and was built for passenger services only. It has never operated goods traffic.
However goods wagons are still needed for maintenance reasons every now and then. They are used for transporting wooden sleepers, rails, ballast rocks and other items for track maintenance, construction work, landscaping, etc.
There are some special purpose vehicles at the Children’s Railway as well. Some of them are converted passenger carriages, others are service vehicles.
There are three saloon cars on the rolling stock. They have got smart interior, mobile chairs and tables. The furniture can be arranged for a birthday party, a dinner or a meeting easily. Two of them have modern looks. One has a tea kitchen on board as well. The third one belongs to the heritage railcar set and has an old fashioned design. They are available only at advance order. They can be booked either to be coupled to a scheduled service or to be operated as a special train. In either case, special fares apply.
One of the passenger carriages has been turned into a laboratory on wheels. It is equipped to be the perfect venue of a biology, geography or science class. Electric magnifiers, stuffed birds, samples of rocks, etc. are at the teachers’ and students’ disposal. It is the venue of the so-called Forest Acquaintance Programme.
The oldest vehicle listed at the Children’s Railway is Passenger Carriage Bk357. It was built in 1905 which literally makes it a heritage item. It was delivered by a factory of machinery based in Arad (a city belonging to Romania since 1920). Originally it was shipped for the wide network of narrow gauge lines of the Hungarian Planes. Afterwards it was deployed at a forest railway for a short while before being listed at the depot of Balatonfenyves of another railway line operated by the MAV company. It was withdrawn from service in 1989 but preserved for future use. It was relocated to the Children’s Railway in 2000 to be added to the stock of heritage carriages. It took two years to completely rebuild. It has been in service since 2002. But, due to its light weight and small capacity, it is relatively rarely in use.
The Children’s Railway also possesses a so-called short open compartment carriage. Two of this type were delivered in 1958 with six more to follow three years later. They were the prototypes of the open compartment carriages built shortly afterwards and still in daily operation in summer. Short open compartment carriages used to be very popular and belonged to the image of the Pioneers’ Railway for decades. They were finally withdrawn from service in 1982. One of them was preserved and meant to be stuffed at one of the stations of the Children’s Railway. Eventually it was restored to be rail worthy again in the late 1990’s. It is mainly operated in steam engine services or hauled by the heritage railcar.