EU financial inspectors find everything in order with train in Orbán’s village

Despite three days of government-propagated hysteria and accusations surrounding the visit of nine inspectors from the European Parliament to examine how EU funds have been spent in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can rest easy. The inspectors confirmed that from the perspective of how EU funds were spent on a vintage train, a project that has been the target of much derision, there was at first glance nothing glaringly out of order. Ingeborg Grässle, a Christian Democratic MEP from Germany and the EP’s co-rapporteur for financial regulation, confirmed on Wednesday that they did not detect anything inappropriate with the vintage train development, but added: “One can ask the question: should a train have been built from EU taxpayer funds in Felcsút?”

The liberal news site quipped sarcastically: “One can ask the question: was it worth it to travel all the way from Brussels for this?”

Ms. Grässle (right) smiles as she rides Mr. Orbán’s vintage train.

A total of 2 million euros in EU funds were used to build the 5.7 km railway line. The vintage train runs from the small town of Felcsút (population: 1,700) to the village of Alcsútdoboz (population: 1,500), connecting the gigantic, but consistently empty and unwarranted soccer stadium that was erected directly next to the soccer fan prime minister’s private residence to the arboretum in the neighbouring village. (The stadium’s capacity is over 3,800–more than double the size of the village’s entire population.) The justification for the European funding of the light railway was that it would transport an average of 2,500 passengers per day and would be beneficial for tourism. In reality, only 113 passengers use the railway on average each day, according to statistics from April 2016 to January 2017. In this time period, there were 53 days when not a single passenger purchased a ticket for this train–yet the train continued to operate according to a regular schedule on many of these days, running empty cars. Between January and June 2017, there were again 50 days when not a single ticket was sold.

The train has continued to run at a loss ever since it was opened in 2016.

Ms. Grässle, who sits in the same European People’s Party of which Hungary ruling Fidesz party is a member, had to provide a carefully crafted statement that was acceptable to all members of her delegation, including Fidesz politician and MEP Tamás Deutsch.

Mr. Deutsch and others in Fidesz were at first absolutely livid that Ms. Grässle and her delegation planned to visit the prime minister’s home town and intended to inspect the train. Mr. Deutsch, himself a member of the delegation, caused scandal by accusing the group of trying to interfere in Hungary’s upcoming national elections, to be held in April 2018. Even Hungary’s ambassador to the European Union tried to convince Ms. Grässle not to visit the prime minister’s home town until after the 2018 elections. Ms. Grässle, however, responded firmly: “We will not let the Hungarian government dictate what we can or can’t see.”

In the end, the Nervous Nellies in Fidesz had nothing to worry about. They were terribly intent on ensuring that Ms. Grässle and her inspectors stay far away from Viktor Orbán’s village, but in the end, they gave a collective sigh of relief, after it was declared that apparently nothing was considered amiss–at least at first glance.

In contrast, Ms. Grässle did find numerous problems with the development of the M4 metro line in Budapest–a project that began not under Fidesz, but rather the previous Socialist government. As such, Fidesz will not bear full political responsibility if, in the worst case scenario, Hungary must return these funds to the EU. That said, it will not be Ms. Grässle’s delegation that makes a decision on this.

But back in Mr. Orbán’s village, Ms. Grässle listened to a closed door presentation by Mr. Deutsch, where the Fidesz politician painted the light rail project as a grand success. Outside, the small, liberal Együtt party was on hand with signs accusing Mr. Orbán of becoming wealthy by pocketing EU funds and subsidies. Ms. Grässle used her cell phone to take a photo of the anti-Orbán placards, creating the impression that the delegation was being thorough and was hearing all voices.

If nothing else, EP politicians had the chance to see first hand the megalomaniac projects that have transformed a dusty, tired village in Eastern Europe–a village whose only claim to fame is that it is the home of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

A soccer stadium, which resembles a shrine, was built mere metres from Prime Minister Orbán’s country home, seen on the right.


  1. Is there something wrong with this article Mr. Adam?

    Just read yesterday in the Washington Post an article by Pablo Gorondi, (that I had to dig up in my discarded file) that presents a rather varying view of that toy-train inspection by EU inspectors. It points out in figures to the absolute wastefulness of money, efforts and senselessness of such public projects, if it could be called one.

    The stated figures verify the absolutely idiotic fiscal understanding of Hungary’s leaders.

    It’s about a million dollar per mile for a useless, and indeed seldom used project by the people of the area.

    The soccer stadium is another red herring. Ever held game, and filled the site?

    Made any money? They do not know what it mean.

    Brings to mind that the US built the interstate highway system, six-lane super highways for about a million dollar per mile.

    It is one that Rowan and Martin sure would proudly present the “Fickle Faith of Finger” award. And something sure had to be a real “Red Herring” for that.

    What an amount the country waste constantly just to keep the trains operating?!

    For a tiny fraction of that total cost they could have purchased a Cadillac limo, and keep providing absolutely free local service any time of the day/night and year for all the town’s residents. , while saving 90% of the wasted money, for some useful purposes.

    Now ,if this is not going to blow up in the face of that idiotic bureaucrats, than nothing is a scandal in Hungary.

    This proves why I consider them real ass holes, often in my comments.

    Seems it is a country of real A.H.s.

  2. I think their anxiety was justified, given how that EC court judgement went in regards to migrant quotas. I mean, it found all was good, despite the fact that EU countries never ever relinquished sovereignty over the issue of migration in any EU treaty, therefore the EC overstepped its bounds on that one to say the least. Not to mention the moral aspect of the EU imposing colonists on distinct local native cultures. That can only be described as a policy of cultural genocide, yet the EC court found it was fine? So, actually I am very surprised that the EU inspectors did not come up with some bull.

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      Peter–are you really saying that there is nothing odd with a prime minister building a stadium in his home village, twice the population of that village, directly adjacent to his house, and then building a railway link from this location to another village in the middle of nowhere–a train that government statistics have conceded runs completely devoid of any passengers much of the time? These are trains that carry an average of just 113 passengers per day, thus consistently generating losses. In the meantime, the mayor of the village that has seen all this unjustified investment is a plumber by trade and a Fidesz politician who somehow turned into a billionaire overnight?

      Would you seriously consider this acceptable behaviour from your elected officials?

      • The stadium thing is a bad investment of taxpayer money, but that was not the object of the inspection. As for the train, the EU is full of such EU-funded projects, or even worse. I recently read about a ski resort in Romania that cost about 6 million Euros, which never saw a skier and possibly never will. With 113 passengers per day, I’d say the train thing does not look anywhere near as bad. Taxpayer money being wasted is nothing new or out of the ordinary.

  3. I really doubt if this could have happened in any other country of the world.

    Horthy has not done any such things in his home town of Kenderes. Had a nice kuria, but it was built by his father in the past century, not with tax-payers money.

    Like the old saying; ‘they have the government they deserve’.

  4. Mr.Adam;

    You titled your article as “Financial Inspection…”

    Honestly, did they look at the books ?

    The report actually show that the EU delegates looked at the choo-choo, traveled in the “smoking section”, than one they may sue the Hungarian nation for allowing to contribution to her future lung-ailment.

    Can you give figures here on HFP ?
    Total, and/or daily,monthly, annual opperating costs, salaries, wages, fuel, fees, taxes, interests, etc.
    And of cause total revenues.
    PLEASE !

  5. After October 2016 no actual passenger numbers are being reported, but only tickets sold.
    The latter most probably bought by Mészaros & co. with taxpayers’ money.
    Such EU actions abeit and encourage corruption.

  6. Sorry Peter, you are wrong on one thing.
    Gyurcsany signed the Lisbon Treaty !
    Under Article 7. Hungary can be punished by restricting its voting right for the violation.

    Agreement, right or wrong, but binding, even while there is NO Constitution, nor any legal precedent.

  7. Mr.Adams; could you please provide some trustworthy data to show how this plummer guy got so wealthy and so fast ?

    I know, he has good friends in high places, so to say, but must be some hard facts to indicate any wrong-doings.
    In case you have, would you please publish it?
    Thank you.

  8. Dear Hungarian Free Press;

    Just when do you, and most Hungarians start realizing that when the so called common-horse-sense was given to humans, most Hungarians were absent?

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