Budapest Railroad Run By 10 Yr. Olds

Originally a Stalinist program called 'Young Pioneers', the tradition of the Children's Railway is being revived in Budapest.
August 9, 2008, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Orsi Morzsik punches tickets of passengers boarding the suburban train at Szepjuhaszne station here with poise rare among 10-year-olds.

On the platform, other children in blue uniforms monitor signal lights and whistle for the train to depart. More kids staff ticket windows, plan schedules and manage track switches, following official Hungarian national railway rules.

They all work on the Children's Railway, a full-size train line serving the outskirts of the city and operated year-round almost exclusively by youngsters ages 10 to 14.

'It's like a job, but fun,' says Orsi, who joined in February.

Fun wasn't the goal in 1948, when the line was created by Stalinist apparatchiks to train future rail workers and instill political obedience in youths. Today, however, the line is a mix of apprenticeship and day camp. Children learn leadership and teamwork while playing."

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Published on Thursday, August 7, 2008 in Wall St. Journal
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