Metro Plans from the Kádár Era
Car use was becoming increasingly prominent in the 1970s, therefore the policies at the time were aimed at providing more and more space for road traffic. The concept was to replace ground surface public transport services on the busiest routes with metro lines, with a focus on bus services along other routes. A plan for an ambitious metro line network was developed, accompanied by plans for terminating neglegted tram lines and building urban expressways.
The implementation of the plans greatly exceeded the resources of the country during the last decades of the Kádár era and the period of the change of regime. Some valuable lessons can be drawn from the history of the M4 metro line: in 1976, its construction was planned to commence in two years as the next element of the network. However, it was only completed by 2014(!) along a significantly shorter route.
The existing lines were also planned to be continued: the M3 line was to be extended southward to the airport and northward to Káposztásmegyer; some plans even provided for a branch to Rákospalota. Signs of its prospective terminal station are still noticeable in Káposztásmegyer, at the terminus of the tram line that was constructed instead. The M2 metro line was intended to run as far as the District X (Stone Quarry) district; the terminal station of its spur line was planned to be constructed on Zalka Máté (today: Park) Square.
The M4 metro line was originally planned to connect Budafok with Újpalota. Eventually, instead of realising this concept, the plans at the time regarding the Buda section of a M5 metro line were used. The plan for an M5 metro line was resurfaced with the plans for the integration of the suburban railway (HÉV) lines in the 1990s and its preparation is still in progress.
The extension in both directions of the M4 line has been a much-debated issue of urban policy ever since its completion. Multiple elements of the original metro concept are still included in transport policy visions but the termination of ground surface fixed-track transport is no longer included.
“The new stretch of our metro line – together with the first one – is one of the greatest feats of Hungarian architecture over the last fifteen years. (...) I think all citizens of the one hundred year-old Budapest are proud of this work. And it is very good that people are proud of our high quality, aesthetic and truly modern creations as it affects their general well-being, their cognitive development and their tastes, which is something that our society in search of the best possible ways and opportunities for realising socialism is very much in need of.”
Influential architect-theoretician of the time, Máté Major, on the new metro in 1973.
(Above) Since its inception, the Calvin Square metro station was constructed to accommodate the M4 metro line at some point in the future. The design of the station prepared by UVATERV in 1972 shows the double tunnels of the South-Buda line.
(1) The department store that was to complement the planned metro terminal on Zalka Máté (today Park) Square in the 10th district. The 10th district spur line was never constructed and the department store, opened in 1976, a facility that was considered highly modern at the time, fell into disrepair after the change of regime change and was pulled down in 2017.
(2) Visual design of the Ocean Trench Street metro station from 2019. The M3 line was planned to be extended by five new stations.
(3) The Káposztásmegyer housing estate was completed in the late 1980s but the remote suburb has still not been provided with the metro connection promised at the time.
(4) The construction of the metro lines was the socialist Hungary’s largest pubic transport project. The picture shows the construction of the north-south line in the 1970s.
(5) The 1976 metro plans envisaged four metro lines and a number of shorter spur lines in addition to the Underground Railway. Had it been completed, the system would have fully satisfied the demands of the metropolis at the time but by the time of the change of regime, only the north-south line was completed after the east-west line and even that was shorter than originally planned.