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"Lost rails": Route 8

Beside routes 43, 51 and 65, tram line 8, making its rounds once in Újpest, is one of the most sorrily missed services in Budapest, if you ask the average tram enthusiast. This is partly because almost one third of the one-track line was still there to see in 2001, more than twenty years after traffic was closed! This is not the case anymore, because Baross utca, where the tram went, was rebuilt in 2002, and the remaining tracks have vanished. To comemmorate this route, let's take a look at historically and then see where it went!

The route with the yellow marking is line 8The history of the line dates back to the end of the 19th century: the transportation company BURV (Budapest-Újpest-Rákospalota Villamos Közúti Vasút Rt. - Budapest-Újpest-Rákospalota Electric Railway Inc.) opened its first service between Lehel tér and Megyer in January 1896. Back then Újpest and Rákospalota (now the 4th and 15th disctrict of the capitol) were separate villages that needed a public transport link to Budapest. Traffic on this line would have been heavy, but the inner terminus at Lehel tér was not the best choice: it was one stop away from the Great Boulevard and so from the heartbeat of city traffic. This was because BKVT (one of the tram companies of Budapest) had a concession for the part between Lehel tér and the Boulevard, and they did not let anyone else (like BURV in this case) in there. This led to BURV going almost bankrupt (bacause the passengers took the BKVT line going parallel and the the BURV one), with BKVT buying the shares. Now that the BURV line belonged to BKVT, it was extended to the Boulevard and generated big profits. The gains were so big that the line was extended into northern Újpest by building a turning loop consisting of several streets, in 1911. The line also had a few sub-routes going to Istvántelek and Rákospalota.  In the 1930's joint Budapest transportation company BSZKRT separated the base route into two lines: one going from Nyugati railway station to Újpest, István tér (route 92), and other going from Újpest, István tér to Megyer (93). The latter was renumbered to the number 8 in 1955, when numbers higher than 69 were given to trolley bus lines.

Tram traffic on route 8 stopped on 31. December, 1980. with BKV indicating "low utilization" as the reason, which of course wasn't true, but they had problems with one-track lines. Since the first day of 1981 bus line 147 supplements the tram.

Before we start to explore the route, I must warn you that this is certainly not the nicest part of Budapest: the tram went through some industrial districts that fallen victim to the collapse of the socialist economical system. But if you're still interested, let's start our trip: we're at István tér, just besides the city hall of Újpest. I already said that route 8 was a one-track line, so howcome there are two tracks? Well, these tracks connected the route to the tram system, and also to the hungarian railways. To make things easier for everyone, the freight trains could wait here to let the trams pass. Notice the rails: they're big, heavy ones, much stronger than a tram would need it. This section was also used as a tram terminus during temporary track closures.

Károlyi István utca, called Táncsics Mihály utca back then. To the left is the Újpest marketplace, and over the street you can still see remaing bits of the overhead wires! This is because route 14 had its terminus here between 1981 and 86. (But that's still 15 years!)

''Home-made" 1228 in the last days of the route. As you can see on the other photo (taken in 2001), the place hasn't changed very much since the trams are gone...

Two twin set types types at the terminus: 1900-series (to the left), 2000-series (to the right).

Going forward along what was once route 8, you can still find overhead supports and other bits. This section of the line was used for a few years after the closure by freighter trains (goods wagons pulled by "Muki" locos) going to the factories located along the track. I believe the last freighter train passed by here in 1985.

Looking back in the direction of István tér: another "Bengali" a few blocks away. These vehicles were not typical for this route, they were only used in the last months before the closure. If you see them on the photos here, it's because they were taken in the last days (not by me: they're taken from the collections of other tram maniacs).

The asphalt stripe on the road surface marks the location of the tracks. And almost all of the wire supports are still there, too!

One of the two by-passes was located only a few corners away in Károlyi utca at the crossing of Attila utca; pictured here with twin set 1942+1943.

Tha same place with another twin set.

After the by-pass it looked like if both tracks would continue...

... but in fact one of them went into the yard of a factory.

A 2000-series twin set passing the sidetrack seen above.

Just one corner away from Váci út (and so from route 3 and 10), route 8 turned right to Baross utca.

Baross utca is not a comfortable place today (even despite it was apshalted since these photos were taken): most of the factories were knocked down or are in a terrible shape. A few decades ago, most of these factories and industrial settlements were booming and they all had a rail connection, which ment heavy traffic. From the seventies, most of the freights were done in the night in order not to interfere with passenger traffic. Of course most of the passengers were heading to these factories.

There was a side-track turning left at Arany utca to head for the Danube.

The other by-pass at Perényi Zsigmond (then Paksi József) utca. The streight track was demolished earlier but the by-pass one was still there in 2001.

The same stop from the other side of the street.


The remaining rails in 2001. These are now gone.

The start of the loop: trams going outwards were heading straight forward, and trams coming inwards would join to the bi-directional one-track section coming from Irányi Dániel utca. The tram-stop booth is still there.

A few side-tracks, supports, and other artifacts...

The tram turned left to enter Vasvári Pál utca, this is 90 from the 360 degrees of the big turning loop...

The street slopes downwards to the Danube, and there was also another side-track here. Look at the overhead wire support, it must be really old! While the tram was still going, the street was covered with tarmac and not real pavement, so this was not really an urbanized disctrict...

Another left turn. The tram now rides on Megyeri út.

Megyeri út during the last winter of route 8. The tram turns again into Irányi Dániel utca.

The tracks went up to Baross utca from here, turned to the right there, and that completed the full circle of the loop.

Archive photos and maps: the collections of Zoltán Ádám Németh, "Mr. Cyber" and the author
And: Tim Boric
Current photos: Varga Ákos Endre and Mr. Cyber, unless stated differently

© Ákos Endre VARGA, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved.

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