Line 4 of the Budapest Metro has been under construction for over 5 years now, but consistent delays mean that the opening is still not scheduled until 2014. The train manufacturer has apparently failed to produce the break system in line with the instructions, and as such, there are now 10 stations under various states of construction waiting to proceed.
Finding myself in Budapest with Marc and NC Kapita, we took it upon ourselves to check for topside access. Advice from a local that the Pest side of the city had heavily guarded stations due to the more sensitive downtown location, we checked on the Buda side to find that the stations were very much the same, with guards sat in huts watching CCTV, along with other guards on site with dogs. The only exception to this was at Kelenföldi pályaudvar where due to the completed construction of a new mainline rail platform, one could cross the track at night to the unopened platforms and dip into the Metro concourse without having to climb the 7 foot construction fence around the main entrance.
On edge somewhat due to the security evident elsewhere on the line. we delayed our descent until we were confident that the freight drivers who used the main station as a stopping point had their attention diverted. (One guard had kept a constant eye on us as we stood at another platform, looking very much like the dishevelled frieght hoppers that he probably suspected we were).
Sliding down a steep ramp we found ourselves in the main concourse, which had wooden boarded connections built to each of the platforms above. Checking for cameras and human presence, we avoided the plastic wrapped escalators and slowly made our way towards a stairwell which unfortunately only led to a below ground office area. Coming back up, we heard voices and hid for a while, realising as a noisy frieght train rattled over the site that this would provide suitable cover while we legged it down the escalators. Unfortunately, being 4am these were somewhat irregular and unpredictable. We left and went to sleep in an old wagon in a freight yard that amazingly you can just walk into.
Returning the following evening at around 2am, we hastily descended down the wrapped escalator onto the platform in as two freight trains approached on top. Warned of cameras, we suspected that these would be either at the entrance to the station, or on platform level around the tunnels. We saw neither, assuming that the fact the station works were directly under a busy railway station gave the builders enough confidence to be more lenient with security at this station.
Making our way down the square tunnels, the line widened out and led up a ramp towards a maintenance depot, another fenced off and secured area topside. We left these, instead electing to continue down the bored tunnels towards Tétényi út, the next station along the line where we’d seen CCTV cameras from the top. Hearing noises further down the line, we opted to retreat back where we came from, aware from signage on the fence that the Police and a private security firm patrol.
Conveniently ignoring our previous precautions, we legged it up the escalators and out of the site, having to take a long route back to the car to avoid the police car and security response vehicle parked by the site entrance. Although we only saw one station, our timing appeared to have saved us a police interrogation or worse.