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Budapest to retire outdated subway carriages

The decision comes after accidents on the metro sparked serious safety concerns about the Russian-made subway trains that are in some cases more than 40 years old.

Budapest will have to cope with 43 fewer metros starting Monday morning, mayor István Tarlós told reporters.

In the wake of accidents, one train unexpectedly catching fire, another starting to smoke from a presumed brake defect and yet another emitting smoke for unknown reasons, the capital contacted the Russian manufacturer. The supplier said that all trains that are still in use after 30 years pose a safety hazard. Tarlós said there are currently five trains that are 43 years old and another eight that are 41 years old still running.

Consequently, passengers should expect longer waiting times due to the fewer trains.

Tarlós, who took office at the end of 2010, criticized his predecessors for keeping the outdated vehicles in operation, even though they were aware of the risks.

The three incidents that occurred in April resulted in no serious injuries to anyone involved, but firefighters did have to evacuate three employees of the public transport company BKV in oxygen masks after they had inhaled smoke.

Budapest has long been looking to update the fleet of its metro trains, with little results. In fact, the city is currently locked in a legal battle with France’s Alstom, which was contracted to supply new trains, but the delivered carriages were rejected by Hungarian authorities claiming they did not meet size requirements and there were also issues with their brake systems.

The French firm resented the charges and said the Hungarian side is making fabricated accusations in an attempt to hand the HUF 65 billion contract to Russian partners.