Short history of the Hungarian Railways

Part #5: After WW1 (1921-1938)

After WW1 Hungary lost 2/3 of his territory with more than 50% of its population. The majority of the locomotives and rolling stock had to be given as war reparation to the neighbour countries, mainly to Romania and Yugoslavia, but Czechoslovakia, Poland and Italy inherited them as well.

1918 1922
All Tracks (km) 22,318 8183
MÁV Tracks (km) 7784 2822
Locomotives 5070 1882
Passenger cars 13,885 4812
Freight cars 119,360 52,970

These numbers include the property of all railways in Hungary, not only MÁV.

A more detailed table about locomotive distribution after WW1 can be found here

All tracks of the private companies KsOd and mostly those of the ACSEV were outside the new borders. SB/DV was divided into four companies on the territory of the four countries where his tracks were located. All three companies of the Austrian, Yugoslavian and Italian SB/DV parts were soon nationalized and merged with the local State Railway. In Hungary, however, it continued to operate under a different name: Danube-Sava-Adria Railway (DSA) until 1932.

Hungary faced with an economic disaster and had no opportunity to build or even maintain railways. A design for a mountain steam locomotive made during WW1 has been redesigned, and the most popular Hungarian steamerClass 424 loco minipic, Class 424, 4-8-0 was born (1924). MÁV however had no finances to buy more than the first 8 pieces.

The situation stabilized until the end of the '20s, but the Great Economic Crisis stopped the development again. At this time the remaining SB/DV company, DSA entered into receivership, and in 1932 MÁV took it over. The usable SB/DV locomotives and rolling stock were rebuilt according the MÁV standards - this was necessary as SB/DV used vacuum brake system. Many small local railways were also consolidated by MÁV after their bankruptcy.

Locomotive Development

Kando loco prototypeThis time the electrification and dieselization started in Hungary. The Class V40 and V60 electric locomotives were designed and built for the newly electrified line Budapest-Hegyeshalom in 1931. This was the world's first mainline electrified with high voltage (16'000V) industrial frequency (50Hz) AC catenary.

"Arpad" diesel railcar prototype minipicThe Class Bmot and ABmot branchline diesel railcars in 1928 and the fast long distance "Árpád" type diesel railcars in 1934 represented the cutting edge technology in Europe.

New steam locomotives were developed for branchline service Class 275 loco minipic(1928, Class 22 later 275) and light express service (the streamlined Class 242 in 1936). The steam development however remained rather moderate as MÁV already considered the electrification as a solution for the future.

New, all-welded lightweight passenger cars entered into service. Only this time they started to equip freight cars with Westinghouse brakes, earlier only the passenger rolling stock had air brakes, the freight cars used hand brakes.

MÁV started to improve the trackage too. They started to replace wooden ties for concrete ones, and the mainline rails for heavier ones.


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This page was updated last time on 24th September 1998
© János Erö