The North Railway Station, later Józsefváros Railway Station, was the first railway terminus in Budapest, built in 1867 and was the main railway station until 1885. It’s more recent claim to “fame” was in WWII when thousands of Hungarian Jews were loaded on to trains here to be transferred to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Now it’s to be a museum called Houses of Fate commemorating the tragic history.
In the same area due to the close proximity to the railway station the Hungarian-Belgian Machinery and Shipbuilding Co. was founded in 1868 which later went bankrupt. The same fate befell Hungarian-Swiss Railway Carriage Works.
In 1870 the companies were bought out, merged and became known as Magyar Királyi Államvasutak Gép- és Kocsigyára (Royal Hungarian State Railway Machine and Wagon Factory). First steam engine was built in 1873. From 1873 it was called Magyar Királyi Államvasutak Gépgyára or MÁV Gépgyár for short (Royal Hungarian State Railway Machine Factory). From 1925 it was renamed to Magyar Királyi Állami Vas-, Acél- és Gépgyárak or MÁVAG (Royal Hungarian State Factory of Iron, Steel and Machine Works).
Next door was Ganz és Társa Rt., founded in 1844 by Ábrahám Ganz, who was the first person in Europe to successfully use the hard casting method to manufacture railway carriage wheels. This invention greatly contributed to the establishment of safe and large-scale railway traffic. In 1869 Mechwart András, inventor of hard cast rolling mill, was at the helm as technical manager. The Ganz Factory manufactured hydraulic turbines, cast railway wheels, electrical machinery. In 1880 Ganz és Társa Rt purchased the Első Magyar Vasúti Kocsigyár Rt. (First Hungarian Railway Carriage Works) and expanded into production of rolling stock and other railroad related products. Over the course history, Ganz manufactured trains, trams, engines, ships, aircraft, heavy machinery.
In 1950s the profiles of both MÁVAG and Ganz were so similar that it made perfect sense to merge them and Ganz-MÁVAG was born on 1st of January 1959 employing over twenty thousand employees, occupying forty two acres and in posession of more than 300 buildings. Ganz-MÁVAG became the second largest factory in the country.
Due to lack of orders and increasing debt the company was disbanded and separated into several units in 1987 and part of the area became privately owned and rented out to market traders. The company is now succeeded by Ganz Machinery Works Holding Group, established in 1988 as Ganz Gépgyár Vállalat (Ganz Machinery Works) which inherited practically all the machinery.
Although the Ganz-MÁVAG no longer exists the products manufactured are still in daily use. The 1 Metro Line trains were manufactured by the factory, as were the engines for the Ikarus trolleybuses. Also the trams that are running on route 2, 24, 47 and many others are Ganz-MÁVAG products. Finally the diesel locomotives used by Hungarian National Railways were also built by Ganz-MÁVAG. Some of the products were exported abroad and you can find them as far as New Zealand! Some of the more exotic products built were the Ikarus-Ganz Rail Buses that were exported to Egypt and Malaysia and also a prototype replacement for the ageing Soviet built metro trains.