The Nagycenki Széchenyi Múzeumvasút, situated approximately six miles south-east of Sopron near the Hungarian border with Austria, was the first working museum railway in Hungary.
Opened on 6th November 1970, this little 760mm (2ft 5½in) gauge railway runs through the former private estate of Count Széchenyi István, a 19th century Minister of Public Works and Transport, whose name is commemorated in its title.
It is operated by the private Győr-Sopron-Ebenfurth railway (GySEV), and runs from Fertőboz station on the GySEV standard gauge network (on the Győr-Sopron main line) in something of an “h” shape, to a terminus at Nagycenk Castle (“Széchenyi-kastély” in Hungarian, as it was Széchenyi’s mansion). (Incidentally, the main line through Fertőboz station is notable as the location of a serious accident on 15th November 1973, which wrote off GySEV’s M62 906 just 17 months into its career – but more about that another time!)
The railway is open to the public from Tuesdays to Sundays – although the railway does not run as often as that – and houses the Széchenyi István Memorial Museum (entry 1400 HUF – £4.00 at current prices). There is also a small open-air museum of narrow-gauge steam locos and rolling stock here.
A link to a YouTube video (narrated in German) uploaded by kaktus1948 giving a great overview of the railway, with the C50 diesel “Kiscenk” in use.
The 1½ miles from Fertőboz to Barátság (“Friendship”) station were built in just three months largely by volunteer labour – local Communist youth groups and schoolchildren – with heavy-duty tasks carried out by Russian soldiers garrisoned locally. Track and signalling equipment was salvaged from closed narrow-gauge routes elsewhere in Hungary.
Barátság is a relatively isolated junction terminus (with a layout much like Battersby’s, to give a UK example), and there the loco runs round before taking the circuitous ¾-mile ‘extension’ to Kastély – the station for the castle – which was opened in July 1972.
There were plans in the 1970s to extend the railway through to the Széchenyi Mausoleum, near to Nagycenk station on the Sopron-Szombathely main line – but these never came to fruition.
At its opening, the railway used two 0-6-0 class 394 steam locos – 394.023 and 394.057 – both of which have now departed to pastures new (the former to the Zsuszi system at Debrecen and the latter to the Szilvásvárad system).
Nowadays, the railway is predominantly run by two locomotives – one steam and one diesel. The steam loco is an ex-industrial class 492 0-8-0T built by MÁVAG in 1923, named “András“, built for use for a coal mine at Balinka. The diesel is a C50-type diesel-mechanical loco dating from 1956, numbered GySEV 2921 001 and named “Kiscenk” (GV 3778), which was obtained from the Balatonfenyves system.
The railway operates on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from April to October. The C50 will be used as a rule; the exceptions being when steam is advertised : 17th June, 24th June, 9th July, 23rd July, 6th August, 20th August, 16th September, 17th September, 21st September.
The timetable can be found in PDF form here. An adult return ticket is 890 HUF (£2.54 at current prices).