Update, March 2016: The interconnected tram network in Buda was launched in January and completed in March 2016. Although there are smaller construction works still to be carried out, the tram network changed big time: routes 17, 19 and 41 are longer, there is a route 56 again after a few years of hiatus, while the line number 18 is gone, and there are new services (47B, 56A and 59B). I'll try to update every page affected by this, but it will take some time, and you might see photos and information from prior the changes for a while.
Until the mid-1990s, this route and its terminus was somewhat neglected. But then, when traffic jams got more frequent in parallel streets, they discovered tram line 56 being a direct and relatively unhindered connection into the inner city, so they started upgrading the line. Some stops were consolidated, and a new terminus was built, right next to the buses bringing the people to the tram.
As an elegant solution, they didn't design a brand new something for the upgraded line, but moved (in fact rebuilt) the old terminus building a bit further to north. They abolished the reversing loop though, but since the Tatras running here are bidirectional, this was no problem.
Despite the loss of the turning circle, this is one of the nicest tram termini I have ever seen - anywhere!
The new terminus has two tracks with a scissors crossover.
They also built a P+R parking lot above the pit in which the termini of the buses and trams are located. The terminal and the depot of the Children's Railway is located above the parking lot, in only one or two minutes of walking distance.
This narrow (760 mm) gauge railway was built "by the people for the people" between 1948 and 51. It almost seems unbelievable that in the middle of the post-war trauma they've found volunteers (I mean real volunteers and not in the communist sense) and professional construction workers for this undertaking. The line features bridges, level crossings, safety devices just like the "big" railway - and even a tunnel. It was and is operated mostly by children, only the stationmasters and the motormen are adults (among them retired railwaymen and teachers).
A full trip takes about 45-50 minutes, but of course you can get on and off at the intermediate stations, too. There are scheduled trips with a heritage railcoach and also steam-hauled trains. In the summer they use open summer cars, in the winter closed ones heated by an on-board stove.
By the way, you can still recognise the old terminus platforms about 200 meters backwards from the new location.
Trams roll out from the terminus...
... and then you're in paradise, in the form of a winding cutting.
I like this place in every season: different colors, different lights and shades - it's very atmospheric! You have to walk a bit to get here because it's between two stops, but you can make very nice photos both from the bridge above the trams, and the walls of the "canyon".
After a few bends, the tracks cross a narrow underpass - so narrow that inbound and outbound trams are not allowed to go through it simultaneously!
The upper section of Völgy utca sports private right-of-way for the trams, but after arriving to a more densly built-in area, the tracks change for a bit of street-running.
Fortunately car traffic is not too heavy here, so trams can move on at a decent speed. And then we're on a separate right-of-way again!
The tram crosses a valley on an embankment here.
It's nice to get off and take a look around at the stop Nagyhíd ("Great Bridge")!
I think the stretch in/along Versec sor is best photographed in winter :)
The line still remains "touristic" after arriving to a more urban area, with nice wooden booths for stops, and with the sight of the Ördögárok. The name of this creek translates into "Devil's pit" - justly: although it seems like a harmless brooklet running in an over-dimensioned cut, it has flushed away whole parts of Buda a few times in the past!
Of course the place looks good without snow, too :)
This is where the "lost" (closed) tram route 58 once joined our tracks. Or better, this is where once route 56 diverged from route 58, because latter came first :).
The remaining few hundred meters of route 58 are still in use: this is the connecting section to the Szépilona tram depot.
"Fasor" means alley, and that's exactly how the next few kilometers look like
It's hard to make really nice photos here because of the overhead supports between the tracks.
The environment gets more and more urban as we dive into the city.
Szent János kórház is an old-fashioned hospital where I was born :) And it's also the site of a reversing loop, which is used by route 59 now. Previously it was the terminus of route 18.
A typical photo subject here is the cylindric tower of Hotel Budapest behind the trams.
Our next stop is the lower terminus of the "Fogaskerekű Vasút", or rack railway (Cogwheel railway), now called "tram 60".
vasút - Rack railway
The rack (or cog-wheel) railway is officially a part of the tram network, although its power system is different from the one the trams are using (1500 volts instead of 600) since a major reconstruction in 1973. Also, currently its vehicles are not able to run in the streets due to their width and the cog-wheel hanging down in the middle of their trucks. Nevertheless, it's a normal urban transportation mean, and not just a tourist attraction - in good weather most of the passengers are "downhill" youngsters with their bikes.
It's well worth to take a ride on this line, even if the vehicles are spartan and noisy: it's a nice ride up to the mountains!
The depot of the rack railway has a track connection to the tram network, so on rare occasions, you can even see trams (special rides, transports) inside there, because the depot is also electrified at 600 volts.
The park next to the tracks (not visible on these pictures) is called Városmajor.
We now reach the densly urbanised area, which can be seen as the inner city of Buda.
The curve via which the trams approach Széll Kálmán tér is quite photographable in the morning.
Trams 59 and 61 pass through the square on the tracks on the southern side. There's a crossover for reversing while shortenings, and also a reserve track, which we call "Rusty".
"old" terminus at Széll Kálmán tér
Until August 2007 route 56 ended in the reversing loop in the middle of the square.
The loop is still there, without any usage (apart from homeless people camping in the middle of it).
From here on we share the tracks with route 18 for a while.
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