At 1:36pm on Monday afternoon, the first renovated (and long-awaited) replacement train for Budapest’s battered M3 metro line was put into service, and from now on it carries public passengers, running according to the regular schedule. The refurbished Russian train carriage is now more comfortable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing; the cabins, the driver compartment, and the dashboard were all renovated, while the controlling, video-surveillance, and security systems were also all modernized. Before its public presentation today, we went for a test ride aboard the new train.
Running roughly parallel with the Danube on the city’s Pest side, Metro Line 3 spans 17 kilometers between north and south Budapest, serves a total of 20 stations, and transports nearly 500,000 passengers daily, which makes it the longest and busiest line of the city’s subway system. Ever since the early ’70s, the M3 has been operating with Soviet-era metro cars that are now dilapidated and sometimes somewhat dangerous, hence, there has long been a need and demand for a thorough renovation on the line. After long-postponed modernization plans, finally the first refurbished Russian carriage was put into service today at the subway’s southern terminus, the Kőbánya-Kispest station, at 1:36pm.
The new metro car’s rounded edges and sleek black-and-white design make it much more modern and reliable than its rusted counterparts. Stepping inside, the interior is dominated by light-blue surfaces and an understated-yet-advanced atmosphere. The doors smoothly close behind our backs without the abrupt slam of the old trains, and the seats are smartly divided into six comfortable individual places that give passengers a bit more personal space. When the brand-new engine starts, there is significantly less train noise, and our underground ride is now safer, smoother, and speedier.
The cars are not air-conditioned, but due to brand-new brakes that do not generate as much heat as before, the new metro cars will not heat up the entire underground tunnel, so the sizeable fans secured on the ceiling will create a comfortable climate in the cars even during summer. Furthermore, the cars will run with reduced energy consumption, and their maintenance will be much easier in the future. The interior is also enhanced with LED lights that evenly illuminate the carriages.
At the press conference, we found out that Metro Line 3’s renovation costs a total of 220 million euros, and according to the project plans, two renovated trains will be put into service every month until the summer of 2018, when the last Soviet-era metro car will be refurbished and ready to roll, too. The guaranteed lifetime of the vehicles is now 30 years longer, and they are capable of traversing three million kilometers safely. The colors and design of the refurbished carriages are similar in style to that of metro lines 2 and 4 in Budapest, and besides the Magyar metropolis, 7,000 similar trains also ride around the world in major cities like Warsaw, Sofia, and Prague.