This week, Hungary’s „yellow underground” is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The Millennium Underground Railway, built as the first underground on the European mainland, is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage list in Budapest.  

On 2nd May 1896, Budapest’s M1 metro embarked on its first journey in the dynamically developing metropolis – although it was only on a line of 4 kilometers at that time. The significant event took place in the year of the millennium (the thousandth anniversary of the arrival of the Magyars); as a result of which, Budapest’s small underground is also called the Millenium Underground.

The line had eleven stations at that time – nine underground and two overground – that ran underneath Andrássy Avenue, from Vörösmarty Square to City Park, and was able to carry 35,000 people a day – reported by Wikipedia.

Millenium Underground, Budapest, Hungary
Photo: Fortepan/Uvaterv

The small underground was a pioneer of technical innovation of that age which left its trademark in the history of transport and technology to this day. The best evidence of this is that last year

the Millennium Underground Railway was chosen as the world’s most considerable technical engineer milestone by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Read also: Readers’ Letters: Small journey by Millennium Underground Railway into Hungary

As the Hungarian news portal Világgazdaság reports, for the success of the business, the project owner, Mór Balázs even contacted the rival tram company, Budapest Road Railway Company; as a result of which, half of the 20 wagons was yellow and the other half was brown. The technology of the 20 electric motor cars were provided by Siemens and Halske.

Millennium Underground, Budapest, transport
Photo: FORTEPAN/Uvaterv

The Millenium Underground was the first low-floor rail vehicle with a cab at both ends, which was a pioneer compared to the one-way locomotive-drawn vehicles used at the time. One of them, the beautiful, timber-framed vehicle with track number 11, preserved in its factory condition, is still one of the oldest members of the Budapest Transit Company nostalgia fleet.

Millennium Underground, Budapest, transport
Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Smiley.toerist

The Millenium Underground Railway became part of the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2002,

along with Budapest’s most iconic sites, the Heroes’ Square, the Andrássy Avenue, the Buda Castle District and the panorama of the Danube banks.


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