“This is the last day here,” Mohammed, who is from Syria, shouted across the tracks to journalists, whom police prevented from approaching the train.
“I spoke to my friend in the camp. He said it is very bad there. The police use dogs there. If the police don’t let the train go, we will start walking tomorrow. Come with us, please, so the police don’t touch us.”
They did not wait to spend another night on the train — on which they daubed “No Hungary. Freedom Train” in shaving cream — and they set off within the hour.
At Budapest’s main train station, there was popular support among refugees for the idea of setting off on foot.
At lunchtime on Friday, two men and a woman stood on a pillar at the station entrance and, using a megaphone, told well over 1,000 refugees in the square outside that they should prepare to start walking to Austria in two hours.
“If we stay here, they will put us in camps. We know all about refugee camps where we come from,” he said in Arabic.
Gazi, 17, from Hama, Syria, translated into English as the crowd cheered and clapped. “People support this,” he said. “They are tired and frustrated. When the train left yesterday, we thought we could go to Austria and Germany, but when they took those people to a camp, we lost trust in Hungary.”
Gazi’s 16-year-old friend Nizar, also from Hama, said people traffickers were trying to profit from the refugees’ desperation to leave the station and travel west.
“They charge 1,800 euros to get to Austria. Taxi drivers are asking for 500 euros to the border. It is too expensive, and lots of people bought train tickets that they can’t use now. People want to move on. We all want to move on.”
As the man with the megaphone finished his rallying cry, the crowd chanted, “Yes, yes, yes!”
And just a few hours later, they were on the move again, toward Austria.