Kinder… Train? All Aboard The Railway Run By Children
Kerry Sharpe, Open Jaw
Like something straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, in the hills above Budapest, there’s a train line fully staffed by children.
The Gyermekvasút or Children’s Railway, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, is a throwback to the days of communism, when Hungary created the Pioneer Railway to give kids the chance to learn teamwork and responsibility.
It’s much the same today, minus the communist principles, and like any other railway it has ticket offices, diesel locomotives, signals, guards and a timetable… all staffed by kids who work under the supervision of adults (who are the engineers and train drivers).
Only top students are considered for the railway, and those selected must take a training course and even pass railway worker exams. From then, for a full year, the kids go on duty every two weeks, getting excused from school on workdays on the condition their grades don’t suffer.
Travelling for approximately 11 kilometres through woods and over hills, the entire journey takes a little under an hour and is extremely scenic.
Tickets cost a few hundred forints (about $2-3), and if you have time to kill before hopping aboard, the station’s small museum has relics from its Pioneer Days, such as old uniforms and a huge cast iron ticket machine.
Kerry Sharpe Columnist
Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.