Ride with me the brand-new Metro 4 in Budapest

Metro 4 Budapest corruption tunnel mosaic escalator design architecture

Are you coming to Budapest and want to explore not only the old face of this pearl on the Danube but also the new, modern one? Is your city planning on expanding the metro network (I am looking at you, Prague!), and you want to see how other cities approached metro expansion? Then wait no longer and have a ride with me on the new metro in Budapest – Metro 4.

Curious on how the Budapest Metro 4 looks like? Is it raining, and you want to do some cool activity, but the travel budget for your Budapest trip is tight? At the price of 1 metro ticket worth of 350 HUF, you can take a ride with the Metro 4 (and enjoy it for 80 minutes!). I think this is so far the cheapest indoors activity in Budapest that you will ever find. I took a ride with the new metro, get off at every stop, checked the stations, made some pictures, waited for the next train to come and rode to the next stop. Do it too!

Fully automated – almost

The new Metro 4 is an automated one. However, it is hard to recognize because normally, automated metros have a sort of a barrier between the platform and the approaching train to prevent people from falling. You will not find such protection in Budapest Metro 4. Instead, several guards supervise the metro operation from the platform. There are two sets of trains that ride at M4, but both are without a driver. One is with an open cabin, so you can stand at the front or back and watch the ride, another one is the same set from Alstom that is already deployed on M2, but the driver cabin is empty. It looks a bit freaky when you see the metro arriving with literally nobody sitting behind the control panel.

Signal in the Metro 4

Unlike the blue Metro 3 that still has old Soviet train sets that produce a lot of heat while braking, Metro 4 is fully air-conditioned. This comes in handy, especially during hot Budapest summers. There is also a full mobile coverage in the underground so if you need to handle any call or want to check the internet while riding the Metro, you can!

Impressions from the ride with Metro 4

The stations are designed with the excessive use of concrete that may have a bit rough and cold feeling, but I was quite impressed with the complexity of the connectors and the maze that it sometimes creates.

Long gone are these low ceiling station designs that you see in Metro 3. The Metro 4 stations have huge halls and are quite generous with space. They make you feel you can breathe in.

There are not many stations that would have a glass roof or a lot of natural light. Given there are little sources of natural light, the stations are quite bright thanks to the reflection panels on the ceiling and strip lights. Check the pictures below.

The stations have quite some impressive details, be it designer seats, vertical dividers or mosaics at Szent Gellért tér and Fővám tér. I also enjoyed the nature of the stations in Buda – especially the ceiling decoration at Újbuda központ and the skylight at Bikás park. I did not have the opportunity to get back to the surface to check how the station entrances look like. Join me on a ride through the Metro 4 to see some of these details by yourself.

Budapest Metro 4 – station gallery

1. Keleti pályaudvar

ride metro 4 budapest keleti palyaudvar public transport public space
The terminal station – Keleti pályaudvar – Metro 4 Budapest – generous and optically narrowing space. This light holding connector somehow does not fit there.
ride metro 4 budapest keleti palyaudvar public transport public space
There is little natural light coming from the street at the terminal station of Metro 4 – train station Keleti pályaudvar.
ride metro 4 budapest keleti palyaudvar public transport public space
The LED strip on the edge of the platform changes colour based on the metro arrival. It feels a bit strange to have so many concrete connectors just carrying light strips.

2. II. János Pál pápa tér

ride metro 4 budapest II janos pal papa ter public transport public space
The most basic rule of optics in practice. I really like this reflection board.
concrete ride metro 4 budapest II janos pal papa ter public transport public space
I have never seen so much concrete. It makes me feel like wanting to touch the ceiling or putting a swing there.
ride metro 4 budapest II janos pal papa ter public transport public space concrete geometrical escalator stairs
Horizontal lines make up a plastic view of the station II. János Pál Pápa Tér (John Paul II. square)
II. janos pal papa ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration geometrical reflection
The geometry of the station is strengthened by the decoration on the wall.
II. janos pal papa ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration geometrical reflection
A detail of the great and very airy space. There is a park above this metro 4 station.

Trash can in the metro? This one is even ready for recycling. Notice the clock and the informational panel? Watch out for this on pics from other stations.

II. janos pal papa ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration geometrical reflection
Trash can in the metro? This one is even ready for recycling. Notice the clock and the informational panel? Watch out for this on pics from other stations.

3. Rákoczi tér

rakoczi ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light illumination
Dots will apparently never go out of style. See again the mirror reflecting the light?
rakoczi ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light illumination
Reflecting and emitting – these pipes look like extended ceiling. I do not understand why there are the names of the cities in the concrete.
rakoczi ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light illumination
The entrance was full of dots and round shapes, the mosaic on the platform and the strip lights in the pillars kind of mix the emotion.
rakoczi ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
What does an architect when he does not want to put lights on the ceiling? He puts them in the columns. Neat idea.
rakoczi ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
Mosaic at the Rákoczi tér Metro 4 station. I believe the reason for it, was that it is easy to maintain.

4. Kálvin tér

kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration bench
Vertical bench and an optical divider at the Kálvin tér station. I like how Budapest public transport tries being bilingual.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station light illumination
Concrete connectors that look a bit too massive but optically enlarge the space. Mirrors to increase the light.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station light illumination
Two reflectors and a bit of light make up more light.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station light illumination
This is either supposed to be an advertisement space or it is missing something.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station
This metro stop is very generous in height. It is located 6m above the M3 line (28 m). There is a difference of 38 years since their opening.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station
There are almost all geometrical shapes you can ever think of.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station
Two pairs of escalators indicate that we are quite deep under the ground.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station
Kálvin tér station has an impressive concrete connector.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station
The line was opened in March 2014, and it seems that nobody has done the cleaning yet.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station dust
This is not a piggy from Josef Lada pictures but an incredible amount of dust that collects on the top platforms of the omnipresent concrete.
kalvin ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station mosaic
A door hidden in the mosaic. If anybody knows what is this inscription about, drop me a comment below.

5. Fővám tér

fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
Concrete maze with incredible complexity and the play of colours.
Fővám tér station metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration
Mosaic tiling at the Fővám tér station – platform side
fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
Strip lights making up a cross at the Fővám tér station
fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
I am totally in love with these seats. Feels like in the old T3 tram but these are easy to maintain.
fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
Do you see on the left how it is already falling apart? The ceiling matches geometrically with the seats.
fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
Seats once more. They are still white and surprisingly comfy.
fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
Mosaic tiling at the Fővám tér station – tunnel side
fovam ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
The lining is not really very decorative as I am used to from Prague. And yes, there are a lot of light sources.

6. Szent Gellért tér

szent gellert ter subway metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration light panels
This mosaic is the work of Tamás Komoróczky.
szent gellert ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design seat
Did you notice the difference compared to the ones at the Fovám tér station?
szent gellert ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station
The mosaic really makes a nice optical illusion. I also like the black mosaic on the columns. This station has a good spirit.
szent gellert ter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station mosaic tunnel subway
LED strip on the platform announcing the train is coming and more of the gorgeous mosaic including a reflection.
szent gellert ter subway metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration seats seat bench white mosaic
I cannot get enough of these seats.
szent gellert ter subway metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration seats seat bench white mosaic
The Metro 4 was opened in March 2014. I was quite surprised to see this leak. It is not something recent judging from the limescale.

7. Móricz Zsigmond Körtér

moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway
This station is very colourful. Again, the importance is given to the walls but not to the tunnel as if the station had to impress by the internals. It makes sense, you can see it both from the metro and when waiting.
moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway light panels colourful
These lights remind me of dancing tiles. The colourful panels have a bit strange shades but I like the overall feel.
moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway privacy divider bench
Yet another divider to bring a bit of privacy and to create a bench without taking too much space on the platform.
moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway colour play
Game of light at the Móricz Zsigmond Körtér Metro 4 station in Budapest. You just need two sources of light and some reflection area.
moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway colours
One more view at the platform. Notice the blue light coming from the connector.
moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway colours light
Escalators and a similar design like at Keleti but this station is surely more colourful.
moricz zsigmond korter metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station colourful tunnel subway
I enjoy the work with light in this station. Do you?

8. Újbuda-központ

ujbuda kozpont metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway
The end of the station has an interesting bubble glass structure which I originally thought is broken. A hidden door, again!
ujbuda kozpont metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway tiles ceiling colourful green purple
Ceiling detail at the Újbuda-központ. These tiles look really impressive and are a true dominant of the station. Inspired by the metro decoration in Naples?
station detail ujbuda kozpont metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway
An amazing ceiling that quite well combines with the rough concrete walls. Notice the work with light here.
ujbuda kozpont metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway ugly concrete tiling
The concrete feels a bit rough and unwelcoming here.
ujbuda kozpont metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway bench green texture textile
One more panel to lean against when sitting on the bench on the platform. This one has lined embroidery.
ujbuda kozpont metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway trash can
Recycling trash can on the platform. Does not feel disturbing and is small enough.

9. Bikás park

bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway reflection glass mirror
Seeing clouds and the blue sky already when you get off the metro? Yes, please!
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway waiting man platform reflection glass mirror engrave
Working name of this pic: waiting
Btw glass can serve as a mirror too!
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway geometry spot lights tree forest divider
More of these privacy bench dividers. This time, with a park theme because of this station’s location.
bikas park metro stop underground fail M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway geometry maintenance
The station was opened in March 2014. These concrete panels might need some revamping already.
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station design tunnel subway geometry skylight
As compared to the metro station Střížkov in Prague, this one is much more modest, yet manages to make quite an impression. Check out some pics from outside of the metro.
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration steel glass
I love when it does not take ages to get down to the metro. The skylight is amazing and the shadows are quite impressive too.
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration steel glass hanging string lights
Cute sources of light for parts of the platform that get less natural light from the skylight.
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration steel glass hanging string lights
A detail of the closing wall decoration and the hanging lights.
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration steel glass hanging string lights
The geometry of this station and the game of light including the skylight make this station my most favourite one.
bikas park metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration steel glass hanging string lights
One more privacy divider and a fitted fire extinguisher.

10. Kelenföld vasútállomás

kelenfold vasutallomas metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration passage platform
The terminus of Metro 4 is at the Kelenföld train station. Where have you seen these reflective plates on the ceiling?
kelenfold vasutallomas metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration passage platform
There are two lifts on the platform whose tubes take up a lot of space and are, to be frank, quite ugly.
kelenfold vasutallomas metro stop underground M4 Budapest public transport public sphere architecture station decoration passage platform
The atmosphere at the platform totally evokes that you have to rush to catch your train.

Making Metro 4 Budapest

Metro 4, the green line of Budapest is the newest addition to the metro network in the Hungarian capital. It has a total of 10 stations connecting Buda and Pest. Its construction was quite a ride by itself because it was postponed 17 times. The first announced opening was to be in 2003, but it took extra 11 years until its grand opening on 28 March 2014.

The timing of the opening was quite well chosen as it was just one week before the parliamentary election, and it was in the best interest of the governing party led by Viktor Orbán to make an impression on the voters. Thanks to postponing, the financing of the metro line could have been done from the EU funds.

The construction was announced by the liberal Mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky. However, the first government of Viktor Orbán (1998 – 2002) has withheld the funds for the construction, and it could continue after the socialist-liberal government returned to power in 2003. It took extra three years until the construction started and it was multiple times postponed and new opening dates were announced. If you are interested in reading about the Metro 4 rigmarole, read this.
The construction cost amounted to 1.5 billion EUR (1.5% of Hungary’s GDP), from which 600 million were coming from the European Union funds.  The annual maintenance costs are around 26 million EUR, which is four times more than the current maintenance costs of M3 and M2 combined. The line is being criticised for not being well in line with the current places where people live and work, and hence with the routes that they take. Inevitable when you prepare a study, and it takes a decade or two to bring it into life.

New development around Metro 4 – the construction of this metro line has been closely observed and questioned by OLAF for alledged corruption. The government of Viktor Orbán blames that on the previous establishment reigning until end of the year 2004. However, Hungary joined the EU only in May 2004. If you are interested about the topic of corruption in public interest constructions, check those articles out.

Time travel with Metro 4

modern architecture metro budapest hall escalator Modern architecture in public space – a case study of the metro M4 in Budapest. Gallery inside.
Take a ride with me through the brand new Budapest Metro 4 line.
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2 Comment

  1. Dear Katechka,

    The names of the Hungarian settlements on Rákóczi square station are the names of some of the possessions of the Rákóczi family who were the richest magnate family in the Kingdom of Hungary during the time of Rákóczi’s war of independence.

    Kálvin tér. What you can see on the mosaic walls are the notes of Zoltán Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus. One floor below is the manuscript of the same piece of music can be seen.
    Of course, for those who followed the construction of the underground this piece of information is not new. It, however, is less known why the notes of this piece of music are on the wall.
    On the one hand the station is named after the square, which is named after Calvin. There is a remarkable protestant church nearby and the song itself is from a protestant songbook.
    On the other hand, the psalm goes like this: “But you, God, will exalt the poor and will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay;”
    The designer liked the idea that all the people who go by this text actually come up from the „pit” and also go down there.

    1. Dear Jozsef!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving this comment. As my knowledge of Hungarian and cultural history is fairly limited, I am happy to discover more. I like the “pit” simile 🙂 Budapest is truly a place where modern meets old in many different ways and this is one of them.

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