Hungarian police stood by as thousands of migrants hopped cross-border trains Sunday into Austria, taking advantage of Hungary’s surprise decision to stop screening international train travelers for travel visas, a get-tough measure that the country had launched only days before to block their path to asylum in Western Europe.
Fourteen trains from Hungary’s capital of Budapest arrived at the Hegyeshalom station near the Austrian border, disgorging migrants onto the platform. Police didn’t check documents as passengers, mostly migrants, walked a few yards (meters) to waiting Austria-bound trains, which typically left less than 3 minutes later. Austrian police said more than 13,000 migrants have passed through their country to Germany over the past two days, far more than expected.
Arabs, Asians and Africans who often have spent weeks traveling through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans to reach Hungary, a popular back door into the European Union, found to their surprise they were permitted Sunday to buy tickets to take them all the way into Austria and Germany. Hungary had insisted last week they would no longer be allowed to do this.