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
2. II. János Pál pápa tér
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
4. Kálvin tér
5. Fővám tér
6. Szent Gellért tér
7. Móricz Zsigmond Körtér
9. Bikás park
10. Kelenföld vasútállomás
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 in public space – a case study of the metro M4 in Budapest. Gallery inside.