There are many different ways to travel, and exploring has become easier and more accessible in recent times. Travelers have a number of options available to them when planning a trip, and moving from country to country can be done using ferries, airplanes, automobiles, and trains (among others).
There was a time when trains were considered the fastest and most technologically advanced form of travel, but many routes are no longer in operation. The modes of transport in use now, have changed dramatically within the last few decades, which has resulted in some locomotives and the train stations that once served them, being rendered obsolete. This could be for a number of different reasons, perhaps economic hardships and the change in the transportation industry made the city that the railroad once connected less important, or it could be that World War II left the subways without workers or funds.
Some of the most populated cities have abandoned subways beneath them that many people do not even realize, while other cities have hundreds of trains rusting in a train graveyard. Below are 20 of these forgotten railroads that are now nothing but a reminder (and sometimes a haunting one) of the past, and offer a glimpse into how transportation has evolved over the years.
City Hall station in New York is an abandoned subway station that dates back to 1904 when it first opened. According to Atlas Obscura, the station was operated by Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) but despite being incredibly beautiful, it was one of the least-popular stops because of its inconvenience.
But, unlike so many other abandoned railroads, this one has not been entirely forgotten, and the publication notes that members of the New York City Transit Museum are able to go on periodic tours of the station.
The Istvántelek train yard, or the Red Star Train Graveyard as it’s also known, is located in Budapest and it’s quite a remarkable place, offering a glimpse into the history of locomotives. According to Deserted Places, the area is home to more than 100 disused train cars and locomotives which are scattered across the yard.
Some are many decades old and others are newer, but the one thing that these trains have in common is they are all in various stages of ruin and lay rusting in the yard.
The city of Czestochowa was once one of the leading industrial centers in Russian Poland as part of the Kingdom of Prussia, Urban Ghost Media reports. But now the city is known for something else, its abandoned railway depot. The depot is filled with disused trains and overgrown railway tracks, the combination of which makes for incredible, albeit creepy, scene, and a great photo opportunity.
Keeping this in mind, it should not be surprising that the destination has become a tourist destination, where millions come to explore each year, the publication notes.
One of the more well-known abandoned metro stations in France is the Croix-Rouge in Paris. According to The Local, this station is among several of France’s ghost stations (of which there are 12) that closed during World War II after workers had to join the army. There were not enough people to work on these stations, nor enough money to fund them, and so, they were closed.
Some of the ghost stations have been used as filming locations, but most are illegal to visit and the publication notes that it is not recommended either.
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful railroads is the Tunnel Of Love, which can be found near the city of Klevan in Ukraine. Although it looks as though no train could ever pass through the lush greenery, so often visited by couples, it is actually partly operational (which makes it a little different to the other entries on this list, but also too beautiful not to include).
According to Atlas Obscura, three times a day there is a single train passes on the tracks to transport wood to the nearby fiberboard factory, apart from that, it is free from locomotive traffic and filled with tourists.
In the 19th century, Germany was experiencing an industrial revolution and thus begun building a network of train stations across the country, including the Berlin Pankow Heinersdorf Station, which according to Digital Cosmonaut was opened in 1893. It was connected to Berlin’s major railway lines and was designed like a “giant turntable” for the steam-powered locomotives of the time, which could only travel in one direction. It was later abandoned because it could no longer accommodate the new trains, which were expanding in length.
The old Buffalo Central Terminal is one of the most beautiful train terminals. Opened in 1929, the station served the New York Central Railroad. At the time, Buffalo was a thriving city and the eighth-largest city in the United States, Atlas Obscura reports, and it serviced 200 trains per day.
Much attention was given to the building, and it was a grand structure filled with soda fountains, telegraph offices, and luncheon rooms. According to the publication, the Art Deco building was designed by Alfred T. Fellheimer, the same man who worked on New York’s Grand Central Terminal. But economic times changed, as did transportation needs, and this resulted in the terminal closing in 1979.
There are many disused railway stations across the world, from New York to Adare, a village in Ireland that has one of the prettiest abandoned railways. According to Buildings Of Ireland, the Adare Railway Station was built in 1856, with high-quality materials and skilled workers, and despite closing in 1963, the structure still stands.
The publication notes that the limestone quoins, voussoirs, and chimney stacks, “serve as a reminder of the quality of craftsmanship and stone masonry available right up to the end of the nineteenth century.”
Paris is the city of love, light, and apparently also abandoned railroads because, for the second time, the city finds itself onto our list because of its disused railroads. This time we are referring to the La Petite Ceinture, an abandoned circular railway that was used by urban passengers since it's opening in 1862 (construction initially started in 1852) to its closure in 1934, Atlas Obscura reports.
The railroad was left to the elements because it did not cater to the needs of the ever-expanding city, and had competition from the Paris Métro.
According to Urban Ghost Media, Folkestone Harbour Railway Station in Kent was one of the stations in the town that provided a rail connection to join the boat trains from London to ferries headed for the French cities of Calais and Boulogne.
Abandoned Spaces notes that in the 1830s, Folkestone Harbour lost importance as Dover increased in importance. The publication also notes that the station had several temporary closures before it had no choice but to “shut down” in 2001.
Another abandoned location in England is the Aldwych Tube Station in London, which according to Business Insider, was used during World War II to hide British treasures. The publication notes that the station opened in 1907 and was used to service the Piccadilly line.
Later, it acted as a bomb shelter and a hiding place for the British Museum’s valuable pieces, and then, finally, after an interesting history, the station closed. It has been disused since 1994, although it has served as the location for several films, including V for Vendetta.
Located in the Spanish Pyrenees is the Canfranc International Railway Station, which according to Urban Ghost Media, was left abandoned after a train destroyed the L’Estanguet bridge. Although a few trains traveled here after this incident, the station lost importance and eventually became abandoned.
The station served the Pau–Canfranc Railway, which once connected the Spanish village of Canfranc to Pau in France. It took 24 years to build and is believed to have transported many passengers trying to escape during World War II.
Sometimes, abandoned railways can get a second chance, and according to Lonely Planet, this is what has happened in the Miyazaki Prefecture on Kyushu Island of Japan. The railway line was closed in 2005, after sustaining damage caused by a typhoon, but it has now been renamed Takachiho Amaterasu Railway and changed into a tourist ride (which is quite a brilliant idea).
Visitors to the area are able to travel in small carts along 5-kilometers of the tracks -- giving them an opportunity to take in the beautiful views.
According to Visit Sydney Australia, construction for the Old Glenbrook Tunnel first started in 1891 and was completed in 1892. One of the biggest problems with the tunnel is that there was no ventilation shaft installed, and according to the publication, this was done to save money. The S-shape of the tunnel was also steep, and seepage left the rails wet and slippery.
Considering all these issues, it was perhaps a smart decision to bypass the tunnel. It did find itself in use again in an entirely different capacity though and served as a military storage facility during World War II.
There is something both creepy, but also beautiful about abandoned railway tracks and stations. Perhaps it’s because it makes us wonder about the past and what these destinations would have looked like in their heyday, or maybe it’s simply that there is something oddly alluring about empty buildings. Whatever the reason for our fascination, the Montzen Station in Belgium is one of these places, and according to Urban Ghost Media, it was built in 1915 by Russian prisoners for the German army.
The station was bombed in World War II, then rebuilt as a freight station, which was then abandoned in 1998.
The Chernobyl power plant incident turned the town of Pripyat, Ukraine, into a ghost town, and not just the town, but also the trains. According to Chernobyl Place, the largest number of abandoned trains in the city can be found in the Yanov train station, which is located on the outskirts of Pripyat.
The station opened in 1925 and was used to transport passengers, and for freight work. But following the incident at the Chernobyl power plant, the area was affected by high areas of radiation, and now, decades later, there is not much reason for trains to travel to Yanov.
Beneath Oslo, at a depth of 136 feet, you can find the Valkyrie Plass, a ghostly abandoned underground structure that has been left empty since 1985, Urban Ghost Media reports. The reason this sprawling station is no longer in use is simply that there was no need for it, given how close the Majorstuen station.
The publication also notes that the increased demand for transportation in the city meant that something had to be done, and there was no room to expand the Valkyrie Plass, which could only serve two carriages. Thus, the station had to close.
Train enthusiasts will find Bolivia’s Uyuni Train Cemetery of great interest because this is the destination that is referred to as the “Great Train Graveyard” for good reason; it’s filled with rusting locomotives. And rusting they are because the area is known for its salt plains, Atlas Obscura notes -- although, the rust adds to their character.
Many of the trains which can be found here were originally imported from Britain, and date back to the early 20th century. The publication also reports that to appreciate the graveyard, it’s best to visit when the salt tour companies are not taking tourists here.
If you were to take a walk through the Healey Mills Marshalling Depot in Yorkshire, England, you would find many long-forgotten freight trains. Considering the state of disrepair these trains are in, it is hard to imagine that this was once a destination well-known for its freight trains, and one of Europe’s biggest marshaling yards, Rail reports.
It was road transport which resulted in the demise of these trains, later followed by the decline of the local coal industry, both of which drastically reduced the number of trains needed.
The Soviet Union has left behind many memories, and some are in the shape of trains. According to RT, there is a secret Soviet train graveyard in Russia’s Perm region, filled with abandoned Soviet-built locomotives and cargo trains. It was only recently that this train yard came onto everyone’s radar after footage from Ruptly news agency showed the long-forgotten trains on a forest road.
Despite years of disuse, the publication notes that the trains, with their heavy-built core, look to be in surprisingly good condition. Euro News reports that the oldest locomotive is from 1936, while the newest is from 1956.
References: Atlas Obscura, Deserted Places, Urban Ghost Media, The Local, Atlas Obscura, Digital Cosmonaut, Buildings Of Ireland, Abandoned Spaces, Business Insider, Lonely Planet, Visit Sydney Australia, Chernobyl Place, RT, Euro News