20 Eerie Train Graveyards & Abandoned Locomotive Cemeteries

abandoned-train-graveyards-railway-ferry-germany (Image: Eike Ramba; one of several train graveyards in Germany)

There’s no doubt that cemeteries are haunting, melancholy places… and we’re not just talking about the human variety. Across the world, there are dozens of secret and not-so-secret train graveyards where abandoned locomotives and a wealth of other vehicles have been left to rust. Quiet, eerie and often strangely-beautiful, the last resting places of these decommissioned engines and other rolling stock wouldn’t look too out of place in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Train Graveyard L (Belgium)

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abandoned-train-graveyards-belgium-4 (Images: Urbex.nl; Belgium’s eerie train graveyard ‘L’)

Posted to Urbex.nl in 2008, the following pictures have very little in the way of context. What they do have, though, is atmosphere. Oodles of atmosphere. From the rusted dials to the old fashioned carriages disappearing under a layer of dust, this train graveyard seems almost like a monument to the golden age of Belgian rail travel.

What we do know is that the pictures were taken at an unfinished open-air rail museum. It seems at one point the National Railway company was planning to collect all these old trains and charge people to see them. When the plans fell through, the company simply abandoned their stock outside somewhere, leaving the trains to decay beneath the constant downpour of rain.

Since these pictures are nearly eight years old, we can’t say for sure whether train ‘graveyard L’ still exists or not. Even if it’s now gone, there’s no doubting the haunting power of these original photos.

Abandoned Tube Train Graveyard, Harpur Hill (UK)

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abandoned-tube-train-graveyard-harpur-hill-5 (Images: True British Metal; abandoned tube train graveyard at Harpur Hill)

Outside the village of Buxton in Derbyshire lies a strange sight. A short railway leads between two compact tunnels, along which rest old London Underground trains, their windows scuffed and their sides covered with graffiti. Some are badly-damaged. Some are falling apart. All have been used for some disquieting experiments.

The Harpur Hill site itself is actually a health and safety laboratory. One of the lab’s remits in previous years has been to test and reconstruct explosions such as those that devastated London during the 7/7 bombings. Accordingly, the old stock has often been damaged by controlled explosions, in a quest to learn more about that fateful day.

Even without this knowledge, Harpur Hill is a clearly bleak and melancholy place. Its broken old trains and remote location are somehow both strangely poetic and deeply depressing.

Istvántelki Főműhely/Red Star Train Graveyard (Hungary)

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istvantelek-railway-workshop-budapest-4 (Images: True British Metal; a vast train cemetery dubbed the Red Star Train Graveyard)

Located in Istvántelek, Budapest, this monster of a train repair shop clocks in at a staggering 22 hectares. At one time, it was one of the most-important repair yards in the whole of Hungary. So great was its strategic value that the management constructed a gigantic air raid shelter there during World War Two that could house 800 workers (oddly, they never quite finished it, which rather defeats the purpose). Yet today it is mostly forgotten, even by locals. The few that do brave its interior are usually dedicated urban explorers, lured by the thrill of seeing these ghostly old trains.

The cemetery part of the shop, which is also known to some as the Red Star Train Graveyard, is actually relatively small, compared with the rest of the site. Yet it still manages to cram in a variety of rusting old steam engines. Parked nose-to-tail and with their paint stripped off, these hulking locomotives are a steampunk fan’s dreams come true. Hulking, juddering beasts that once kept an entire Communist state running.

Train Graveyard at Krakow (Poland)

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abandoned-train-graveyard-krakow-poland-5 (Images: True British Metal; train graveyard or storage facility?)

Seen from above, the train graveyard at Krakow in Poland looks delightfully vast. Rows of stock march steadily off toward the horizon, their arrow-straight lines broken only by the occasional tree sprouting up between the tracks. Segregated and geometrical, they seem to go on forever.

On the ground, things aren’t any-less interesting. Old Soviet-era engines are hemmed in back to back, their buffers crashing up against one another. Despite the odd bit of rust, most are in fairly good lick; as if they’re merely resting rather than decaying away to nothing.

Yet they’ve obviously been here a very long time. Grass has sprouted up between the tracks, and a handful have been removed from the rails entirely. There’s no doubt these seemingly abandoned trains are not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

Railway Ferry Harbour (Germany)

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abandoned-train-graveyards-railway-ferry-germany-7 (Images: Eike Ramba; defunct rolling stock in this German train cemetery)

Built somewhere in Germany in the 1980s, this railway ferry harbour represents the end of the line for a generation of trains. Railway engines destined for the scrapyard would be brought here for a final stop before getting shipped off and broken up, their journey finally at an end.

Seen today, the first thing that strikes you about this train graveyard is how shockingly full it is. Crowds of engines line the tracks, their windows kicked out, their sides lost beneath a wall of graffiti and rust. Yet these trains are far from ruins. Inside, they still retain their seats and many of their features. You can almost picture the crowds that used to jam onto them for the morning rush hour; anonymous faces that haven’t left even the faintest trace behind.

Havana Steam Train Graveyard (Cuba)

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abandoned-train-graveyards-havana-cuba-5 (Images: Joe Riley – website: pleasedontfront.com; vintage steam engines in Havana)

With the US embargo now slowly winding down, Cuba may be on the verge of a massive transformation. Already there’s talk of the ‘old’ Havana with its 1950s-era cars disappearing; replaced with luxury flats and looming skyscrapers. Whether such dramatic changes really happen or not, we can only hope the steam train graveyard isn’t affected. A delightful collection of rusting old hulks slap bang in the middle of Havana, it seems as time-trapped as everything else on the island.

Opened in 2009, the museum deliberately harks back to the country’s 19th century imperial past. The first Latin American nation to have a railway, Cuba once used its trains to help speed up its sugar production network – which was at one time the engine room of the island’s economy. Thanks to the US embargo, plenty of these rusting steam trains were in use until recently. In at least one case, the ancient locomotive was running until only a few years ago.

Brandenburg Train Graveyard (Germany)

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abandoned-train-graveyards-brandenburg-germany-5 (Images: Eike Ramba; another impressive German train graveyard)

The collapse of the Iron Curtain was, among many things, a good time for steam train enthusiasts. Many Communist countries had continued to use old engines right up until 1989, and the newly-capitalist economies were keen to sell their stock off super-cheap. One fanatical collector in Germany bought up dozens of them. The only trouble was, he had nowhere to keep them. Enter a tiny village in rural Brandenburg.

In the mid-2000s, the collector managed to find an abandoned train repair shop in this village and moved all his stock over. It’s been there ever since. Today, the train graveyard is opened once a year to the public for two days only. The rest of the time it’s hidden away behind a great fence patrolled by grouchy security men.

Which is a shame, because the atmosphere inside is eerily perfect. The site is vast, crammed with so many rusted railway locomotives it’s practically impossible to keep count. Vegetation grows through engines and round wheels, as if nature itself is reclaiming these remarkable trains.

Yanov Train Station, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (Ukraine)

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abandoned-train-graveyards-yanov-station-chernobyl-5 (Images: ZerO 81; this train cemetery needs little introduction)

Yanov is the most-infamous of all the train graveyards on this list, with good reason. Until 1986, it was the main station for the ghost city of Pripyat – better known as ground zero for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Doused in lethal levels of radiation, the station had to be quickly abandoned; its former customers and operators fleeing for safety in the face of the meltdown. Engines, carriages and more were left empty on its rails, rusting hulks now too contaminated to ever be of use to anyone again. Although the abandoned station itself was largely made safe during the clean-up operation, it today resides inside the exclusion zone; a largely no-go area.

On a purely aesthetic level, this is a good thing. The ruins of Yanov station and its haunting train graveyard now have a spooky quality we can’t imagine finding anywhere else; the look of a place that has been through the Apocalypse. In a way, we suppose it has.

Healey Mills Depot & Marshalling Yard, Yorkshire (UK)

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Where do old British trains go to when they die? Judging by some of the photos, the answer might be ‘a small corner of Yorkshire.’ Healey Mills Marshalling Depot was once a teeming hub for freight, sending out around 4,000 wagons a day – many filled with coal. Then came the 1980s and the death of the pits. By 1987, the depot was nearly closed. In the early 2000s, it ceased operations altogether.

What remains now is a photogenic wasteland populated by decaying old locomotives and other rolling stock. Broken up, covered in dust and badly rusted, the abandoned engines and carriages seem to be waiting for nothing grander than the scrap heap. Yet the depot and its train graveyard still retains an austere beauty totally in-keeping with its northern surroundings. Weeds may be sprouting up through the tracks, but the spirit of the place remains powerfully alive.

Czestochowa Train Graveyard (Poland)

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A large city in the far south of Poland, Czestochowa is home to nearly 250,000 souls –roughly the same as Cardiff. It’s also home to something much more-interesting from an urbex perspective. An overgrown, seemingly-abandoned railway depot that is one of Europe’s most intriguing train graveyards.

Situated on the outskirts of the city, the ‘graveyard’ is a glorious mix of rusted metal, overgrown tracks and deserted rolling stock. Graffiti-covered wrecks of trains doze aimlessly on old lines, while trees sprout up through the middle of old trucks. In the distance the city looms, grey and modern; a perfect counterpoint to the end-of-the-world vibes found in the depot.

There seems to be some confusion online as to whether this is a genuine train graveyard, or just one neglected part of a larger depot stretching off all around. Whatever the truth, there’s no denying Czestochowa’s unique atmosphere.

Onverwacht Train Graveyard (Suriname)

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Onverwacht means “unexpected,” and as train graveyards go, that’s certainly how this corroding collection in Suriname feels. The smallest independent nation in South America, Suriname is a warm, humid stretch of nothingness so sparsely-populated it can feel almost empty. In such circumstances, you’d expect the rainforest to have reclaimed any evidence of human intrusion long ago. Not so in Onverwacht.

With a population of under 3,000, Onverwacht is practically the ends of the Earth. Yet it’s also home to an amazing little train graveyard. Old steam engines decay and fall apart alongside more-modern carriages. Everything is covered in rust, and everything is on the verge of being taken over and reclaimed by nature. Yet this small town has somehow managed to keep just enough decay at bay to make it worth visiting. Compared to the savage might of the South American wilderness, this is both unexpected and brilliantly impressive.

Charleroi Train Graveyard (Belgium)

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Charleroi in Belgium is a city with a grim reputation. If you type it into Google Images, it automatically suggests adding the words “ugliest city” to your search. It’s not hard to see why. The outskirts of Charleroi are a post-industrial nightmare of concrete wastelands, smog and boarded up buildings. Yet it’s in such surroundings that the coolest urbex locations can often be found… such as the local train graveyard.

A dark pit on the outer edge of town, the graveyard contains line upon line of rusting old trains, their paint peeling off after prolonged exposure to the wind and rain. The tracks are overgrown and neglected, and the whole place gives off the vibe of somewhere abandoned in a hurry – almost like the Mary Celeste of train graveyards. It may not be beautiful, but the gritty edge of Charleroi disguises some awe-inspiring surprises, not least an abandoned, never-used metro line and an old Airbus A310 airliner bizarrely parked in the middle of a housing estate.

Train Graveyard Outside Uyuni (Bolivia)

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uyuni-train-cemetery-bolivia-5 (Images: Josh Newman; the iconic train cemetery near Uyuni, Bolivia)

Under the burning sun of the Atacama Desert in South America, the city of Uyuni hides a spectacular little secret. Just a few miles from its outskirts lies the hulking ruin of a train graveyard. Abandoned in the middle of the region’s hallucinatory salt flats, the rusted exoskeletons of these long-dead engines are now turning to dust in the most-photogenic way possible.

Back in the 1940s, Bolivia’s dream of a state railway was shattered by a collapse in mineral prices, and an upsurge in anti-modernization attacks carried out by the area’s natives. The project was put on hold, and the trains themselves were carted into the baking heart of the desert, to await a more congenial future. It never came.

Instead, they were simply left to rust. Today, the train cemetery is a famous stop on the backpacker circuit, thanks to its surreal and ghostly atmosphere.

Booth’s Railway Scrapyard, Rotherham (UK)

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In the rundown, post-industrial landscape of the Don Valley, one industry is still hard at work. Booths’ Railway Scrapyard takes in a constant stream of old rolling stock, some of which is refurbished and sold on for preservation. A much greater amount is simply scrapped, the trains disemboweled and stripped of useful parts. The hulking, rust-caked skeletons that remain have given the place its reputation as one of the region’s most impressive train graveyards.

Many different types of locomotive can be found here, from broken old trucks to London Underground trains whose time has finally come. Stripped of their familiar surroundings, they look impressively weird. Mournfully shunted off to decay in a special corner, they almost look like they’re pining for their former home 160 miles to the south. Amid the gloom and grime of the post-industrial landscape, they provide a much-needed splash of colour.

New Hope & Ivyland Railroad, Pennsylvania (USA)

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Some things have to be seen at the right time to truly appreciate what makes them special. Paris in springtime, or an Alpine village in winter. The same goes for the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad graveyard in Pennsylvania. Seen at any time of year, the rusting carriages and moss-covered engines are awe-inspiring. But it’s in autumn when the site really comes into its own, as the locomotives take on the same color as the falling leaves around them.

The style of locomotives on display is nothing short of amazing. Great, hulking brutes of machines, they look like something that once rolled across the Wild West. The sides are chunky and covered in rivets. The stock is old-fashioned and rusted. These are the sorts of engines you used to imagine when playing with your trainset as a child.

Incredibly, the railroad only fully closed down in 2008. Since then, there have been many plans to remove the old stock, but nothing concrete has surfaced so far.

Train Graveyard in a Garden, Stockport (England)

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train-garden-stockport-manchester-4 (Images: © Cavendish Press (see Facebook); old diesel loco cabs in a Stockport garden)

Not all train graveyards are made by their size or spooky wildness. Some become spectacular simply when you consider the location. Case in point: this tiny cemetery in Stockport, England. With the fronts of only four trains to its name, you probably wouldn’t expect to find it on a local interest site, let alone a list like this. But then you get a good look at where it stands: in the back garden of an otherwise normal house.

That this amazing place has engines where others might have a pool is thanks to  railway enthusiast Eric Hobson. When British Rail was broken up, Hobson bought up as much stock as he could and had it shipped to his house in Stockport. After Hobson died in 2006, his nephew put the house and train graveyard on the market. It’s unclear at this time whether the loco cabs are still there.

Although it may not be as spectacular as some on our list, there’s something touching about this budget tribute to the glory days of British Rail. That one man loved trains enough to devote his life and garden to them is something we at Urban Ghosts strongly approve of!

Abandoned Train Graveyard (Poland)

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Unlike many on our list, this abandoned train graveyard in Poland is something of a mystery. Documented by urban explorer Andre Miedema in 2014, its location is undisclosed, its history unknown. All we know is that, at some point in the past, a group of locomotives were dragged across Poland to decay there. Beyond that, we’re somewhat in the dark.

Despite this lack of background detail, the train cemetery itself remains visually impressive to behold. Row upon row of carriages line up to disintegrate, overshadowed by rusted old engines. The tracks themselves are overgrown with grass and weeds. In some places, they’ve grown so high that the rails are lost to sight. Whether or not this train graveyard has some complicated past we’re not aware of, there’s no doubting that today it looks quite hypnotic.

(Amtrak) Railway Graveyard, McDonald, Ohio (USA)

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It’s a place where old Amtrak and other stock goes to die. A great, vast train graveyard stretching out over the American wilderness. Featuring dozens upon dozens of derelict diesel locomotives stacked back to back in a multi-coloured cacophony, this train cemetery in Ohio has to be seen to be believed.

Like the Krakow locomotive graveyard above, the train cemetery near the tiny village of McDonald is impressive mostly for its size. Lines of engines stretch in all directions, trailing away into the distance as far as the eye can see. Up close, things are even more-impressive. The trains are from all ages and in different states of decay. Some look like they’ve only just rolled off their route for the last time. Others are broken up and falling to pieces, parts of them strewn across the mud-caked ground. Walking among them must be like wandering through a history of Amtrak and other American railway companies.

Abandoned Class 33 Locomotive 33034, Dorset (UK)

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According to those in the know, locomotive 33034 was the first preserved Class 33 in the UK. While that may not mean much to non rail enthusiasts, there’s no denying that photos of its death look painfully melancholy even without the context. Lying alone on a piece of disused track in Dorset, 33034 is rotting before the world’s very eyes.

Everything about it is sad. The windows are long-gone, replaced with gaping holes not unlike those of a skull. The inside has been so comprehensively trashed that it’s basically a cavern built of wreckage. The sides are stained with mold and streaked with rust. Seen on a winter’s day, crouched beneath grey skies, it looks strangely heartbreaking.

That’s not to say the site doesn’t have atmosphere. The gentle Dorset hills contrast nicely with the ruined engine; as if nature itself is making a comment on the transience of all things human. What’s more, 33034’s useful parts have been salvaged to help preserve less corroded Class 33s. What remains is the empty, hulking shell.

Pacific Electric Streetcar Graveyard (USA)

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Our last entry is neither modern, nor a train graveyard as such. But sometimes, we like to shake things up a little here at Urban Ghosts. Besides, these pictures, and the story behind them, are too good to ignore.

In the 1900s, America was home to hundreds of streetcar and tram systems. Nearly every significant town – let alone cities – had one, and the continent as a whole had a distinctly European vibe. That all changed, allegedly, with the arrival of National City Lines, Inc. (NCL).

Backed by a consortium of automobile manufacturers and gas companies, NCL began buying up a number of streetcar operators, which were later closed down. Over the years it’s been hard to separate fact from urban legend in what became known as the Great American Streetcar Scandal, with proponents arguing that NCL sought to kill off trolleys across America and replace them with buses. But the reality is that streetcars were already in decline.

The above pictures reveal rows and rows of previously functional trolleys, taken off their tracks and listed for demolition. From our far-future vantage point, it’s interesting to reflect on our transportation history, as modern trams and streetcars slowly return to our cities.

Related – 10 Abandoned Car & Vehicle Graveyards of the World

 
 


 
 
 

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