INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1244 1 NOVEMBER 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
The PTG Rail Wonders of southern Greece railtour in October 2015 crosses the famous Gorgopotamos viaduct on the
mountain section between Lianokladi and Tithorea. The viaduct is famous for one of the biggest sabotage acts of World
War II, "Operation Harling". A British mission and 150 Greek partisans blew it up on 25 November 1942, cutting off
German supplies being transported between Thessaloniki and Athens (mostly headed for Africa). The blast destroyed two
of the six masonry piers of the bridge, which have now been replaced with steel girders. A massive deviation via the
Kallidromo tunnel will close this section of railway when it is (finally) completed.
 Austria – Notes of a visit to western Austria in August and September
Austria – Aug/ Sept 2015
Innsbruck's tram network is part of the wider IVB public transport network. The tram services are as shown
in the Schweers & Wall Eisenbahnatlas Osterreich. All routes are covered by the day ticket except for the
Stubiatalbahn (RouteSTB) beyond Tirol Panorama / Sonnenburgerhof stop. The day ticket is available from
ticket machines or kiosks for €5.10. Single tickets are €2.30, but cost more if purchased from the tram or
The Tiroler Museum Bahnen is located near the Stubaitalbahnhof stop on tram routes 1 & STB. The nearest
mainline station is Innsbruck Westbahnhof. The museum has two areas, the old Stubaitalbahn station
building which has displays of smaller relics and photographic displays of tramways and minor lines in the
Tirol region. The other building is the old depot which is used for restoration and storage of historic trams.
The museum is open on Saturdays and trips around the city centre are operated starting from the museum
at 10:40, 12:40 and 14:40. The vintage tram can be boarded at any stop on its round trip, which includes a
stop at the main station. On the return to the museum the drop off point is on the spur into the depot
entrance which is not on the regular tram routes. The museum entrance is €8.00 which includes one
vintage tram ride. On the day our members visited, tram 61 built in 1960 by Lohner of Wien was operating
the vintage service which runs from the IVB depot entrance.
The Pinzgauer Lokalbahn narrow gauge line between Zell am See and Krimml is operated by Salzburger
Lokalbahn (SLB) regional transport.
The travel bargain on this line is the WOCHENEND ticket, valid for up to three people who can enjoy
unlimited rail travel between Zell am See and Krimml on all weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) for just
€21. On state holidays this special ticket is available for just €17. The normal fare is €21.00 return. There is
an add on fare available for the post bus up to Krimml waterfalls.
Regular services are formed of 2 car dmu's or diesel hydraulic locos working push pull with two coaches.
Both loco hauled and dmu's trains have a bicycle van added to the formation at weekends. Where the
flood damage of 2006 and 2007 has been repaired, the line was rebuilt on low stone faced embankments
with concrete sleepers, modern rail and deep stone ballast - not the typical image of narrow gauge!
On 27 to 29 August the Pinzgauer Bahn operated a special service in connection with the Ironman 70.3
sport competition. For much of each day the running or cycle races crossed the line at Fürth-Kaprun
station and trains terminated and started back each side of the level crossing. (Does the temporary
platform on the Zell am See side of the crossing count as a change to the network as it was only used for
about 8 hours each day?). The shuttle service between Fürth-Kaprun and Zell am See was sponsored by
Ironman 70.3 to encourage participants and spectators to park outside Zell am See. To provide enough
rolling stock, two sets of vintage (1950's) stock hauled by 2095 class locos were used between Fürth-
Kaprun and Krimml.
On 29 August our members rode up the valley, away from the sport in Zell am See. All went well on the
train hauled by 2095 class loco Vs73 until Mühlbach im Pingzau halt, where they ground to a sudden stop.
Within a minute or two the guard, driver and travelling fitter were looking around the train and checking
that the vacuum brake hoses were properly seated. After a few mobile phone calls the "strings" were
pulled and the train went forward very gently as an unfitted train to Bramberg where the train terminated
due to a "brake defect." To the great credit of SLB a bus was arranged within 20 minutes which turned out
to be the post bus for the service between Krimml and Krimml waterfalls. By mid-afternoon, there were
still post buses working between Krimml and Hollersbach and both sets of vintage stock with 2095 class
diesels were stabled. Also by 1700, the racing had finished, so the level crossing at Fürth-Kaprun had been
reopened for rail traffic. So, they returned later in the week to cover the track up to Krimml. Thursday 3
September was chosen as it gave an opportunity to photograph the regular steam working. Holders of the
Zell am See - Kaprun holiday card receive a discount on the steam workings. Full details of the dates of
steam operation appear in the SLB timetable for the line.
Krimml station is well worth visiting as an unspoilt country station, looking like a prototype for a
continental image model railway. Also there are footpaths parallel with the upper part of the line with
really good "train in scenery" photographic opportunities.
This was visited on 1 September. Since the timber traffic has been lost to road haulage the diesel hydraulic
locos are used on push-pull passenger stock to operate the 30 minute frequency service from 0730 to
about 1800 every day. Much of the line has been relaid with concrete sleepers and 40kg/metre long
welded rail. The last train from Mayrhofen to Jenbach is at 1951 and the bus services seem to finish early
in the evening as well.
Tauernbahn Museum, Schwarzach St Veit
An unexpected museum tucked away at the Salzburg end of the station, its presence only betrayed by a
class 1245 electric loco stabled outside the museum. It is opened by volunteers on Wednesdays, Saturdays
and Sundays between 13:00 and 17:00. A visit was made on Wednesday 3 September and was found to be
very interesting despite our member’s limited knowledge of German and the volunteers limited knowledge
of English. There are interactive signalling and locomotive control equipment displays as well as more
technical displays such as OHLE equipment and data transmission. Upstairs in the modern building is a
1/87 scale model representing the Tauern pass line before the modernisation. The model is unfinished, but
has wonderful touches like internal details in some buildings and railway photographers waiting on
bridges. Entrance is €6.00. The steam loco mentioned in the Platform 5 Austrian book is plinthed at the
other end of the station.
OBB mainline services.
In contrast to the UK, much of the freight traffic is conveyed on trains of wagon load traffic, with few block
freights seen away from trans alpine corridor routes.
Train IC1280 0839 Zell am See to München (Germany) on 5 September was worked from Wörgl by DB
 Belgium - Antwerpen tram line 8 (Astrid-Wommelgem P+R)
Our railbiking member also took the opportunity to visit new tram infrastructure that opened for
passengers on 18 April 2015 to provide a fast link between Astrid (next to Antwerpen Centraal station) and
a park and ride adjacent to the E34 motorway. This brought into use the long dormant pre-metro tunnel
(actually two single-track tunnels) that runs from Astrid through the underground station at Zegel before
coming to the surface at Muggenberg. On the day he visited the service, nominally 8 times per hour, was
being provided by single-car PCC trams – riding in the end of these gives an excellent view of the twisting
tunnels and significant underground gradients. Immediately after passing under the motorway, line 8
diverges sharp right (straight ahead serves a depot) to run along the foot of the road embankment along a
new 1.8km section to the Wommelgem terminus.
The single-ended cars call at a simple platform before returning via a tight turning loop. At Astrid there is a
platform serving each tunnel; according to the local guide there is usually no objection to staying on board
the tram while it goes around the underground loop but on the occasion of his visit the driver explained
that he was due for a scheduled break.
The Wommelgem terminus of line 8
 Czech Republic - Kojetin to Tovacov branch visited
This (currently) freight-only branch was opened on 1 September 1895 and so is celebrating 120 years of
operation. To mark the event, special trains were to be run on both 27 and 28 September from and to
Olomouc hl n. On the first day they were diesel hauled and on the second day they were due to be steam
hauled. The writer visited on 27 September. The same loco and stock also provided a shuttle service
between Tovacov and Kojetin during the day before the return working to Olomouc. Regular passenger
services were withdrawn as long ago as 1981, but the line has survived for freight and now also has
occasional special passenger trains organised by a local group. The group had a display in the station
buildings at Tovacov. The main sources of traffic are a sand and gravel pit and a concrete company
(Goldbeck Prefabeton), making pre-cast parts which seems to have two works. One of the works and the
sand/gravel pit are linked to the branch by a 3.2km private line which diverges to the east at Odb. Skasov,
before heading north. The second factory is connected to the branch by a siding just south of Tovacov. This
connection is overgrown and rusty. A preservation group is supposed to have a loco based inside the
works, but this was not visible, although an old CD coach was. There was no sign of any traffic at Tovacov
itself, but the connection onto the private live at Skasov was well used.
Distances are as follows: Kojetin 0.0, Kojetin Sever (Halt proposed by the local group) 1.9km, Uhricice
obec. 3.8km, Lobodice 7.9km, Odb. Skaskov 8.8km (Junction for the private line to the sand/gravel pit),
Goldbeck works siding 10.3km and Tovacov 10.8km.
 Czech Republic/Poland - Odds and sods in two countries
Sometimes, despite having ‘done’ an area, new opportunities arise and make another visit worthwhile.
Just such an opportunity arose for one member in the eastern Czech Republic and just across the border in
Poland. It started with a flight to Brno and bus to the main railway station.
A posting on the Europeanrail yahoo group, quickly passed on by BranchLine, had advised that the line
between Brno-Židenice and Kurim (table 250) was closed for engineering work until 31 August, and as a
consequence trains from Brno towards Skalice (table 260) were diverted through Brno-Maloměřice freight
yard, and the normally freight only flyovers at the north end. After quickly checking into his hotel an
evening grice was planned to investigate. The 19:01 Brno Hl.n to Skalice was a new class 460 EMU,
pleasantly air conditioned. It left late awaiting connections (remember those?), and proceeded to Brno-
Židenice, crossing over to single faced platform 1. The two track mainline was a bomb site, with large
holes, track ripped up and temporary track laid in parts. Taking the main line tracks as 1&2, the train went
through the yard on track 6, so not that far into the very large yard. As expected the easternmost flyover
was taken to rejoin the main line and five minutes later the train arrived at Bílovice nad Svitavou. The late
start meant a fast run down the ramp and under the railway, to reach the other platform, so of course the
train back to Brno was five minutes late! This time the westernmost flyover was used, and track 7 through
the yard, again calling at platform 1 at Brno-Židenice. And so, back to Brno with the first part of the grice
The following day our member had noted that about half the local services towards Breclav were replaced
by buses. A quick trip down the main line to Modrice revealed the reason. Engineering work had reduced
the double track line a little before the junction with the freight line to Brno dolní nádraží to single track. A
northbound local was seen heading north up the freight line towards Brno dolní nádraží. Maybe it regained
the main line via the carriage sidings? Alas, not the case. A very short distance up the Brno dolní nádraží
line crossovers allowed goods lines adjacent to the main line to be accessed, and more crossovers quickly
took the train back onto the mainline. A technical grice, more significant than microgricing, but not
ultimately very memorable or significant. Oh well. Time to head north to Ostrava.
The station at Mošnov (Ostrava airport) with the 2.9km post clearly visible
The objective at Ostrava was the recently opened (13 April 2015) line to Mošnov (Ostrava airport). The
afternoon service from Mosty u Jablunkova was picked up at Ostrava Svinov and was a double decker EMU
of the type branded as ‘City Elefant’. This proceeded south to Studénka, then took the Verovice line and
called at the station of Sedlnice, relocated slightly from its original position. From here it was quickly onto
the new branch. The line to Verovice continues and has not been electrified. Neither has the north to east
curve of the triangle – obviously installed with some future plan in mind, but not currently used. A
crossover and points have been installed immediately after the curve trails in, but the area it will go into is
currently a wasteland. It is only on the approach to the airport that industrial units can be seen. BLNI
1232.159 contains more on future plans. The airport station is a spacious structure with two platforms
and a 2.9km post near one set of buffers. An enclosed walkway leads in a couple of minutes directly into
the terminal building. There were few people on the train to the airport, few in the terminal and few on
the return journey an hour later.
Our member left the return service at Ostrava Svinov and waited for a service to Opava vychod – another
City Elefant. When he first did this line it was from the bay platforms with diesel and coaches. Things have
The beautifully restored booking hall at Opava vychod station
BLNI 1236.245 reported a summer weekend only service from Opava vychod to Svobodné Heřmanice, the
latter station being 4.2 km beyond the previous passenger terminus of Jakartovice. The whole line closed
to passenger services 7 April 2014, but a company called Railway Capital are running trains there in the
summer months, one train pair on Friday evenings and three train pairs on Saturdays and Sundays until 28
September. A single class 810 railcar is used and the train is branded as the ‘Hvozdnicky expres’. It was the
Friday train that was targeted, the departure time being 18:47. CD one day rover tickets were quickly
established to be not valid, and two tickets (one out and one back) were issued by the elderly guard.
Sixteen passengers set off on the train. The highlight, of course, was the last 4.2 km from Jakartovice to
Svobodné Heřmanice, in which the train climbs 85 metres through a mixture of woodland and open fields,
the latter much frequented by campers who waved at the train enthusiastically.
Eight passengers alighted at Svobodné Heřmanice which has a red brick station building of the type typical
of the line. This is now well screened by trees and privately owned. Otherwise there is a run round loop
and stop sign visible in the distance. No sign of any freight activity to justify retaining the line, and the
village of Svobodné Heřmanice is a long way away, so it is easy to see why this station closed. The line used
to carry on another 5km to Horní Benešov, but this closed in 1970 according to the one page information
handout given to our member by the guard, who obviously recognised a gricer when he saw one! Our
member was the only person returning to Opava when the train set off, though three more people joined
the train a couple of stations later.
After a night in Opava, an early morning start saw him take the 06:19 train to Jesenik. This two car DMU
filled rapidly, mainly with walkers, some obviously seasoned professionals, others (invariably younger)
equipped with badly fitting rucksacks, sandals and headphones. The train reversed at Krnov and passed
through Třemešná ve Slezsku where line 298 to Osoblaha goes off. This is the only remaining narrow gauge
line operated by ČD, and still uses the little class 705/9 locomotives and one coach. To get to Jesenik the
line enters Poland, and a reversal at the Polish station of Głuchołazy allows the train to continue back into
the Czech Republic. Before Schengen the train used to run into sidings at Głuchołazy to reverse and no-one
was allowed off, but those days are past. Our member alighted at this wonderful old station and once the
train had departed was soon completely alone. The station is of the old communist style, now almost
disappeared in most of Poland. A large brick station building, cobbled platforms, wooden platform shelters
and numerous semaphore signals. A real relic – and manned as well. A lady sits in an office which surely
deserves heritage status, appearing briefly when a train arrives.
Głuchołazy, a fine example of an old communist style station
Since the cross border service from Jesenik to Opole ended a few years ago, there have been no regular
passenger trains from Głuchołazy north to Nowy Świętów, and before that a long time since trains went
from Głuchołazy south down the short branch to Głuchołazy Miasto. But this year, from 14 June to 30
August on Saturdays and Sundays, two train pairs make their way from Opole to Nysa, Nowy Świętów,
Głuchołazy and Głuchołazy Miasto, returning half an hour later. This was the reason for our member’s
early start. After the best part of two hours wait, the train arrived, surprisingly well patronised, and set off
for the short journey to Głuchołazy Miasto. The single line runs parallel with the Jesenik line alongside
wagons in a well used freight siding, until diverging a little and dropping through the outskirts of
Głuchołazy, before swinging back towards the Jesenik line and arriving at Miasto station. 1.8km of new
track for our member, which is scarcely enough by itself to warrant an expedition to Poland, but a nice
add-on. The old station building, rather venerable and up for sale, is by the bus station and there are two
supermarkets across the road.
Głuchołazy Miasto station is much more convenient for the town centre than Głuchołazy. It remains to be seen whether
the summer weekend service survives into the 2015-2016 timetable. The modern PKP DMU will shortly return to Opole.
It’s not the centre of Głuchołazy, but it’s a lot closer to it than Głuchołazy station. Only half the long
platform is in use, the rest is blocked off in dramatic fashion, first by a 20 metre long and half metre high
wall of sand on the tracks, then buffer stops, then 20metres of ballast, also half a metre high. Presumably
this is to stop runaway wagons from the sidings in Głuchołazy. The line used to continue to Głuchołazy
Zdroj until 2004 and the overgrown tracks are still present, though lack of time prevented further
investigation. Steps lead up the embankment to the Jesenik line, but there has never been a platform on
this – the steps were for railwaymen’s access. New track for the day completed, our member took the
return service all the way to Opole and made his way to Warszawa to do a narrow gauge heritage railway
the next day.
 Germany - More problems for the Wiehltalbahn
BLNI 1239.302 reported that on the Wiehltalbahn (Osberghausen to Waldbröl) reopening of the section
beyond Wiehl towards Waldbröl was still awaited. The battle to save this 23.6km branch fills several
Wikipedia pages, and in another twist to the story it has recently been discovered that a new building at
Denklingen has been built which is 0.6metres too close to the line (possibly illegally), so no trains are
currently running on this section. In any event, reopening of the line cannot take place until the end of
2016 as a bridge has to be replaced between Hermesdorf and Waldbröl.
 Germany - Diversions will temporarily reopen freight line
Before the junction at Ruhland, a 9.2km line (strecke 6198) connects the Cottbus – Senftenberg – Ruhland
and Hoyerswerda – Ruhland lines between Brieske and Hosena. For many years trains from Hoyerswerda
to Senftenberg, Cottbus and Berlin used the line, but in recent years it has been freight-only. However,
work on the Ruhland to Hosena line means that from the end of January until the end of September 2016
RE15 trains from Dresden to Hoyerswerda and v.v. will use the line with reversal at Brieske.
 Germany - Trains to return to the Kyffhäuserbahn
BLNI 1185.201 lamented the end of the Kyffhäuserbahn (strecke 6725) which once ran 30.9 km from
Sondershausen to Bretleben. It seems, however, that this was premature. The Bundeswehr (German
Army) and the Deutsche Regionaleisenbahn GmbH (DRE) are currently negotiating the reopening of the
eastern end between Bretleben and Bad Frankenhausen, closed since the end of 2008. Track renewal
should take place in 2016, with a view to shifting military equipment from road to rail transport.
 Germany – Another section of the Niederlaustizer Eisenbahn is peril
Deutsche Regionaleisenbahn GmbH (DRE) has put up for sale strecke 6826 the line from Uckro Süd to
Duben (Niederlausitz) running from km49.4 to km 64.2 of the former Niederlausitzer Railway which used
to run from Falkenberg (Elster) to Uckro, Lübben (Spreew.) and Beeskow. The line, now a branch, was
retained to serve the Alteno business Park at Duben. The single track, non-electrified line is in good
condition and capable of line speeds of 50km/h, but if not sold to new operator will probably be lifted and
sold. The line closed to scheduled passenger services 28 May 1995.
 Hungary/Romania/Bulgaria - Europe Trip Part 2 – 30 May to 6 June Part 3
Having spent the first part of the trip taking long distance trains and visiting four capital cities in as many
days, the remainder was spent doing what our member normally does in such visits abroad, covering
obscure services, so although today he would be going on to his fifth capital, Ljubljana, it was to be via a
very roundabout route, including three border crossings. The first of these was a pretty routine one on the
main Zagreb to Ljubljana line. He alighted at Sevnica, where he had an hour's wait for his connection.
Having spent most of his spare time in large hot cities it was a pleasure to have a break in a quiet wayside
station, and what made things even better was that there was a buffet, with shaded seats, on the station
The service from here to Trebnje, a M-F only one, was very quiet, as was the reverse journey taken the
following day. From Trebnje it was on to Metlika where, until recently, you could go no further. Now, twice
a day, a Croatian train, a single car unit in this case, ventures across the border from Bubnjarci to collect
passengers for onward journey to Karlovac, on the Zagreb to Rijeka main line. Our member had had to
amend his itinerary quite considerably a few days before he was due to depart from the UK as he
discovered that the day on which he was planning to do this line, 4 June, was in fact a public holiday in
Croatia, so the service didn't run. One other single passenger, plus family of three, joined our member for
the journey. The passport check at Metlika was carried out by a single border policeman with his car, but
at Bubnjarci the Croats had put up a portakabin, but only staffed by one person. This train picked up a
good number of passengers on the way and arrived at Karlovac quite full.
Returning to Zagreb, he took a diesel hauled service to Zabok, for another reopened border crossing, on
the line to Grobelno in Slovenia. The Croatian service runs to Đurmanec, short of the border, as from here
the onward journey is provided by a Slovenian Railways DMU, even though most of the reopened section
is in Croatia. Just two other people joined for the start of this journey, and very few more boarded during
the remainder of the journey to Celje. The border arrangements here were that, on the Croatian side, a
single policeman joined at Đurmanec and left the train at the other Croatian station of Hromec. On the
Slovenian side, rather amusingly, a border police car, which had presumably been waiting for the train, left
immediately after the train arrived, so no checks were done.
With both objectives for the day achieved, your member headed south for a relatively late arrival in
Ljubljana, made later by 30 minutes because of the major engineering works taking place south of
Maribor. He eventually arrived at his hotel at 21.45 and, the following morning when he picked up his
emails, discovered that they'd sent him a message at around 21.30 to ask him when he was arriving as
their reception was closing soon! Fortunately it was open when he arrived, and nothing was said, although
the confirmation had stated that it was open until midnight, but clearly not!
The change of plan mentioned above resulted in an extra day in Slovenia, which enabled our member to at
least attempt to cover four lines that are either difficult or, in the case of the Kamnik Graben branch,
impossible to do at weekends. Starting at Ljubljana, the obvious line to do first was the aforementioned
branch, which runs up into the hills north of the capital and has healthy commuter traffic, both in and out
of the capital, as well as freight, so looks pretty safe. Next was the line from Ljubljana to Trebnje, thus
linking up with what he'd done the day before. This line does have a service of four return trips at the
weekend, but only two go right through to Metlika. This train too was busy throughout.
Our member then travelled on to Celje, for the branch to Velenje, busy on the way out, quiet coming back.
DMU at Velenje, terminus of the branch from Celje
There is a large power station between Sostanj and Velenje, but the sidings for it appear disused. Further
on, however, there is a new factory, which does have traffic. Beyond Velenje the line used to run through
to Dravograd on the Maribor to Bleiburg line. It no longer does, but the line is in use as far as the eye can
see, although Google Earth suggests that it’s just a long headshunt.
Final line of the day was the Imeno branch, reached by retracing the route from the previous day,
Grobelno to Đurmanec, as far as Stranje. Although it wasn't that late, it was the last return trip of the day,
and our member was the only passenger to travel through to the branch end, and the only passenger at all
on the return journey. The line runs through a busy tourist area with lots of hotels and spas, and on
summer Saturdays a steam service is operated from Celje to Imeno. From here his final move of the day
was to Maribor for his overnight stop. He'd chosen a hotel for its proximity to Maribor Tezno station, as he
wanted to start from there in the morning. Fortunately the major engineering work between Celje and
Maribor didn't delay him, although it was to impact on his travels the following day.
 Hungary – A little more track at the Felsőtárkány National Forest Railway
North of Eger is the isolated Felsőtárkányi Állami Erdei Vasút tourist railway, running for 4.8km between
Felsőtarkany-Fűtőhaz and Stimecz-ház. The 760mm gauge line is a former forestry railway.
A recent visitor noted that new track (about 250 metres) had been laid from Felsőtárkány-Fűtőház station
to the picnic ground of the National Park Information Centre. Leaving Felsőtárkány-Fűtőház towards
Stimecz-ház the new track diverges right after about 350 metres, and is apparently available for special
 Italy - Branch line under serious threat
An Italian source claims that the Regione Valle D'Aosta want to close the Aosta to Pré Saint Didier line on
12 December 2015. This is the final 31.4km of the Chivasso to Pré Saint Didier branch, and includes a
station with the unlikely Italian name of Derby.
 Romania – More branches reopen, but another one hits problems
From 7 October the branch from Caracal to Corabia reopened with three train pairs daily. It is also
reported that Alexandria to Zimnicea has reopened, with two train pairs.
Bad news however from the scenic Oravița to Anina branch reported on 5 October. The two train pairs per
day had recently been cancelled because two of the coaches are out of certification. They have one other
coach but are not permitted to run with a single coach due to braking requirements.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Canada – The Cascades service
Further to BLNI 1242.A69/70, Amtrak’s Cascades services use a separate platform on the south side of the
Pacific Central station in Vancouver which is fenced off from the rest of the station. Just like the Canadian,
Cascades trains back into the station, an exercise which seemingly takes forever as all “switches have to be
hand-thrown” to use the North American term and there are quite a lot of them. Then, as the train backs
in, it stops several times for checked baggage to be unloaded onto the platform, which is in the open air,
and lined up against the fence, irrespective of the weather. Eventually the passengers are allowed off, they
collect their bags and go through a quick and efficient immigration and customs check to be allowed into
Canada. In the reverse direction, the train stops just over the US border and the procedure can take up to
two hours. Vancouver is the only Canadian station served but the good folk of White Rock, BC, just north of
the international frontier would very much like the trains to stop there. The border procedures would be
very complicated so it’s unlikely ever to happen.
 USA - Amtrak Gulf Coast Service. No future?
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico coast in August 2005, Amtrak’s thrice-weekly Los Angeles, CA
– Orlando, FL Sunset Limited was suspended east of New Orleans, LA. Although the owning railroad, CSX,
reopened the seriously damaged line in August 2006, Amtrak has yet to restore this service which is still
officially “suspended” but all reference to trains east of New Orleans was removed from Amtrak’s
timetables last year. Despite several attempts at restoration both locally and federally, virtually nothing
has happened since an Amtrak report dated 16th July 2009. Locally, it is popular but federally it becomes
entangled with the view of many legislators that Amtrak should not be supported by the public purse at all.
Impasse has been reached. Unofficially, Amtrak does not think that the service will ever be resumed.
List of Special Trains on Lines without Passenger Services
Note: Entries marked with a "+" were updated within the last four weeks.
31. 10. + DGEG u.a. Koblenz-Lützel DB-Museum, Brohl Umladebf (1435 mm), Brohl Hafen
- Brohl (1000 mm)
31. 10. + EF Staßfurt (Staßfurt -) Berlin Südkreuz - DTM and return.
DB Diversion of several long distance trains between. Köln Hbf and. Wuppertal
31. 10. Hbf by. Übg Düsseldorf Hbf (only stop Solingen Hbf)
-02. 11. DB Diversion of IC/EC between. Vaihingen(Enz) and. Ulm Hbf via. Üst Langes
Feld - Abzw Zazenhausen (no halt Stuttgart Hbf) [also 21/22.XI]
14/15. 11. u.a. Remscheid-Bliedinghausen
Bielefeld Hbf - Gütersloh Nord (- Bad Laer) and return.
28. 11. + DGEG Bocholt - Mussum and return. PLANNED
29. 11. Osningbahn (Lutherstadt Wittenberg -) Pratau - Eilenburg (- Leipzig Hbf)
04-06. 12. + VEFS u.a. Zwotental - Adorf(Vogtl)
05/06. 12. + FV BAE Seitzsteg - Augsburg-Ring - Rangierstation 6 and return.
05. 12. + IG Nossen (Chemnitz Hbf -) Olbernhau-Grünthal - Neuhausen(Erzgeb) and return.
05. 12. + BSM Sulingen(Han) - Diepholz (- Hamburg Hbf) and return.
06. 12. TG Ferkeltaxi
19. 12. Osningbahn
Europe 2015 Molise Sulmona - Castel di Sangro and return. [also 6,26.XII] IT
01. 11. + TurKol Ceva - Ormea and return. IT
07. 11. + TREŽ (Poznań Gł.) Wągrowiec - Rogoźno Wlkp. and return. PL
21. 11. Landesbahn Shuttles Trenčianska Teplá - Trenčianske Teplice SK
28. 11. + ČD
29. 11. ČD (Wien Praterstern -) Paasdorf - Mistelbach Lb - Bullendorf and return. AT
29. 11. KHT
04. 12. MLV (Č. Budějovice -) Dívčice - Netolice and return. CZ
05. 12. CFCB
05/06. 12. + Příbram - Kovohutě Příbram and return. CZ
(Zvolen os.st. -) Zvolen město - Zvolen nákl.st. (- Zvolen os.st.) SK
Special train from Zwettl AT
Loudéac - Saint Brieuc [also 19,20-22.XII] FR
Germany 2016 DGEG u.a. Gelsenkirchen-Horst Nord, Essen-Vogelheim, Walsum
DGEG u.a. WLE, TWE
21-26. 01. + PTG Special train in Portugal PT
01-03. 04. + KŽC Special train in Jihlava CZ
Slovenia and Trieste [SI/HR/IT] SI
29. 04.-03. 05. + PTG Special train in South West Sweden. May move to September. SE
Special train in Bosnia [BA/HR/RS] BA
07-15. 05. + PTG \"Holiday with the railcar 2016\" [SK/PL/UA] SK
Southern France FR
12-18. 06. + PTG Special train CZ/SK CZ
06-14. 08. + KŽC
19-24. 09. + Siede
28-30. 10. + KŽC
BLNI – Spain Extra November 2015
[A73] Spain - Observations on the Majorca railway system
Majorca has a relatively simple urban rail network that serves the capital Palma from Inca, Sa Poblo and
Manacor in the east, as well as what can only be described as the tourist railway from Palma to Sóller, and
the associated tram from Sóller to Puerto de Sóller in the north of the island.
Starting with the Sóller railway/tram, all the information on times and fares for the two operations can be
found here: - http://www.trendesoller.com/. In high season there are 5 trains a day from Palma to Sóller
and 4 in the other direction. This may seem odd but it is certainly correct. Our informants understanding
from talking to one of the staff is that there are a number of ghost paths for private charters and that the
last evening train from Sóller at 18:30 often has a relief right behind due to volume of passengers. Trains
leave from a surface station immediately adjacent to Palma's central station. It's a small affair with three
platforms and a simple shed which had nothing in it when he arrived at 10:15, though he assumes that the
railcars stable in it overnight. The train runs through the streets for the first 2-3 miles after which it enters
open countryside. There is a stop at Son Sardina which provides both an interchange with the Palma Metro
and an option for tourists to join out of town if they don't wish to go into central Palma. After Son Sardina
the railway crosses the plain and gently climbs to the halfway point, the station of Bunyola. After Bunyola
the train passes under the mountains through an impressive 3km tunnel, and then winds its way down to
the town of Sóller. You can see Sóller below you shortly after emerging from the tunnel but the train takes
another 15 minutes simply losing altitude to get down to the town. There is a halt shortly after the tunnel
where Sóller bound trains stop for about 5 minutes to allow for photos.
Railcar number 3 is at Palma awaiting departure of the 10:50 Palma - Sóller on 7 October. It has 7 trailers behind it.
The website does not show arrival times at the destination station which is most unhelpful, but it does
show times for the intermediate stop at Bunyola which are shown 25 minutes after departure from origin
in either direction. That said, in reality, the journey times were; Palma - Son Sardina 15 minutes, Son
Sardina - Bunyola 15 minutes and Bunyola - Sóller 30 minutes (25 minutes in the other direction as it
doesn't stop for photos). The trains on the Sóller line are operated by 1912 built Railcars which haul a
number of trailers behind. These railcars are numbered 1-4. They have 3 rakes in use during high season,
which he considers very inefficient. The rakes are wooden open coaches with reversible seating, and are in
configurations of 6 or 7 vehicles. It looks like 7 is the maximum trailing length you can pass with at
Bunyola. Tickets for the train are purchased before boarding at Palma or Sóller, or on board if you join en
route. The Sóller to Puerto de Sóller tram was interesting to say the least. The tram runs from immediately
outside Sóller main station down the hill for about 7km to the Port. The tram is connected physically to the
main line at Sóller though the stations are separate. It should be noted that there is no such thing as a
connection. Again the website does not show journey times, only departure times. The journey takes
about 20-30 minutes depending on how much of a shambles the operators make of it. The trams tend to
operate in 3 or 4 car formations with powered vehicles and trailers mixing in various forms. At the time of
our informants visit the trams were still very busy despite being out of season. The timetable shows
departures from each end at xx:00 and xx:30 (though some hours the northbound xx:30 actually leaves at
xx:25 ?! ). Again, the reality is a little more shambolic, and during his visit the entire operation seemed to
be about 10 minutes behind schedule all day. The departures from each end are not normally just one
tram, but 2, or maybe 3 running immediately behind each other. Beware though, sometimes they are
private charters, but there is nothing anywhere to tell you which is which, just some Spaniards shrugging
shoulders and pointing elsewhere. What was clear from both the train and the tram experience is that the
timetable is reasonably good at delivering people to Sóller and the Port, but the afternoon timetable is
poor, and the return journeys are chaotic. At Port de Sóller there were two trams at 16:30 plus a third
which was privately chartered. All three were extremely full, and the same number of people were left
behind. The 17:00hrs departure was clearly going to be just as bad so our party ended up travelling back to
Sóller by alternative means. The 18:30 from Sóller back to Palma is also regularly full and standing, as is the
relief. Tickets for the tram are sold only on board, or as part of the train+tram deal you can purchase at
TIB (Transports de les Illes Balears)
TIB operates the Majorcan urban rail network which is essentially a main line from Palma to the large town
of Inca, which then splits shortly afterwards at Enllaç to serve branches to Sa Pobla and Manacor, the latter
being the longest of the two branches. Times at http://www.tib.org/portal/en/web/ctm/tren
This operation is far less interesting in that it is 100% modern air-conditioned electric and diesel units, very
S-Bahn like. The train service from Palma is every 15 minutes with a departure each hour for the two
extremes, the other two departures run to Inca, and Marratxi which is half way to Inca. The Sa Pobla and
Manacor trains run fast over parts of the core section. Palma - Manacor is 70 minutes, Palma - Sa Pobla is
60 minutes. You can clear all the track in 3hrs 30mins if you start from Palma. What wasn't clear at first
glance though is that the network is not wholly electrified. The branches from Enllaç are both diesel only,
and every train has a set swap at Enllaç with passengers switching trains with each other. The timetable
does show a "T" symbol but our informant didn't imagine for one minute this meant a change of trains.
Tickets for the TIB operated services are purchased from machines or ticket offices before boarding and
there are regular ticket inspections even though most stations are fully barriered anyway.
[A74] Spain - First single-track high-speed line opens
The 162.7km Valladolid - Palencia - León high-speed line was officially inaugurated on 29 September. The
fastest services link León and Madrid in 2h 6min, a 44-minute improvement compared with the previous
journey time. Tickets are on sale with fares starting at around €20, and are expected to remain at that level
for the initial three months, as the line will initially operate with trains running at a maximum speed of
200km/h because ETCS has not yet been commissioned. A build-maintain contract to equip the Valladolid -
León and the Valladolid - Burgos high-speed lines with ETCS Level 2 was awarded to an Alstom-
Bombardier-Indra consortium in March 2014, with a delivery time of 24 months. When ETCS is
commissioned, the maximum speed will rise to 300km/h. This will be the first of several high-speed lines in
Spain which will open with only a single track installed - despite being designed and built for double track -
in a bid to minimise construction and maintenance costs on those routes in where demand will be well
below capacity. The route comprises 78.7 km of double track and two single-track sections totalling 84 km.
As well as two gauge-changing installations at León, a third has been built at Villamuriel south of Palencia,
used by services joining the conventional network to reach Santander. With the start of commercial
services on 30 September, the fastest journey times from Madrid are 3 h 53 min to Santander, 4 h 02 min
to Oviedo and 4 h 32 min to Gijón.
[A75] Spain – Wires go live between Medina del Campo and Salamanca
ADIF energised the new electrification at 00:01 on 13 October, and testing began immediately on the
88.4km of line which includes the connection to the Zamora to Olmedo – [Madrid] high speed line. This
connection allows trains from Salamanca to diverge right after El Campillo station, pass through a gauge
changer, and join the southbound Zamora – Olmedo – [Madrid] line before the new Medina AV station.
The map (available only to e-BLNI subscribers as it is in colour) makes this clear.
[A76] Spain/Portugal - A disused border crossing and some Spanish trivia
Marvão-Beirã CP – Valencia de Alcántara RENFE border crossing. The current position is that track survives
westwards from Valencia station, with RENFE staff insisting that the line could still be used in any
emergency. On the Portuguese side, however, REFER have deleted this line from their list of railways, so it
seems likely to have slipped into a kind of limbo similar to the border crossing at Barca d’Alva/La
For some years the Community of Extremadura has had an estimable pro-rail stance, evident in (for
example) their refusal to allow disposal of the trackbed of the Vía de la Plata northwards from Plasencia,
with a view to eventual reopening. Further north, however, the neighbouring province is already
converting a section south of Salamanca to a Vía Verde.
Furthermore, it seems our correspondent is not the only one unimpressed by their aspirations for a high-
speed line to Badajoz: according to a story reported with glee in Spanish media some time ago, the Catalan
Minister of Transport deplored Spain’s ability to throw away money on a transport scheme so obviously
wasteful: his Extremeño counterpart reacted with fury, commenting “if he’s got balls, let him come and say
that to my face”....Such is sometimes the level of informed debate in this fascinating country.
[A77] Spain - Notes from SW Spain Part 1
RENFE connectional policy: Various potential travellers may be surprised by the current practice, as was
our correspondent, in the light of RENFE’s stance on “allowing 60 minutes”. For example, MD18331, which
he caught from Mérida, connects (and is advertised to do so) for Madrid at Puertollano (arr 11:17, Alvia
dep. 11:25) and for València and Barcelona at Alcázar de San Juan (arr 13:09, TALGO dep. 13:15). On the
day he caught it his train was running about 5 minutes late, but both connections – off a Media Distancia
DMU into Larga Distancia trains – were carefully held. Our correspondent being a fluent Spanish speaker,
he actually went to look for the Jefe de Circulación at Alcázar (who turned out to be an ADIF employee)
and asked him about this: he outlined their policy, which is reminiscent of that of DB, with guidelines on
how long to hold trains/what to do in cases of serious delay. In summary, although one shouldn’t
generalise from specific cases, he would now feel far happier making such connections on RENFE than on
our own UK network.
Extremadura: A bit of history: Back in the 1960s, when our correspondent first visited Spain, the principal
loco depots/centres of rail activity were Mérida (as you would expect), then Arroyo (W of Cáceres), then
Plasencia-Empalme (the present Monfragüe), then Almorchón. The last three of these were junctions “in
the middle of nowhere”, each a true railway town with housing and dormitory blocks for train crews, some
of which survive uninhabited. (Obviously the progressive switch from steam to diesel traction reduced
their significance; but closures and re-routings even more so. As an illustration, Arroyo had 1088
inhabitants in 1960: in 2014 it had 48.) The original main line toward Madrid then ran northwards from
Arroyo: Cáceres was at the end of a dead-end branch, fed mostly by a shuttle service via Aldea Moret
to/from Arroyo (now “Arroyo de Malpartida”). The 19-km “variante de Casar” northwards from Cáceres
was opened in May/June 1971 (actual/official openings) providing a through route northwards from the
city to Casar de Cáceres and onward toward Madrid, and the original line from Arroyo was closed at the
same time (the diversion ended just south of Casar station). Official maps show the original route as
turning northeastwards from Arroyo station: on the ground there are traces of a triangular junction there,
but this may have been used for turning locos. Few traces remain at the Casar end.
Realignments: there is one south of Cáceres, which may or may not be related to the LAV (see below), but
the situation around Mirabel/Monfragüe/Plasencia is more remarkable. Here the “Vía de la Plata” north
from Plasencia closed (along with many other lines) on 1 January 1985, leaving Plasencia a dead-end
branch served from the present Monfragüe junction. A north-to-west spur was added in 1987 (O. 6.3.87),
after which most trains between Madrid and Cáceres ran via Plasencia, reversing there. For some reason it
was later decided to instigate a considerable realignment about 50-100 metres south of the original east-
west line: this was opened some time in 1990, requiring the three-year-old spur to be extended at its
[A78] Spain – Notes from SW Spain Part 2
General comments: the first part of a carefully-planned week was spent mostly on Media Distancia DMUs
(classes 598, 599). Load figures were mostly very light, the exception being the Badajoz – Cáceres – Madrid
trains, which effectively loaded to capacity from Talavera onwards (and v.v.): Spanish media have reported
on squabbles between passengers on this section over seat reservations. At the other extreme is the daily
service (TuX) introduced in 2014 (2 years after diversion of the overnight “Lusitania” off this line and onto
to the Salamanca route) between Cáceres and Valencia de Alcántara (pics attached) with max 8 outbound,
4 on return. Given the current state of the track, this service currently needs all of the 90 or so minutes
allowed. It is clearly timed to give a 3-minute connection at Cáceres (12:17/12:20) out of the service from
Madrid, and a 9-minute one (15:57/16:06) in the reverse direction: sure enough, our correspondents train
was around 7 minutes late into Cáceres, but the connection was held. Discussion with the “agente de
acompañamiento” revealed a very Spanish explanation: the crew for the Cáceres - Valencia de Alcántara
return trip are rostered to travel “passenger” from further afield, so if those for the Madrid – Cáceres train
are prepared to work a long day, they arrange to ‘do the lot’, and their colleagues get an unofficial extra
day off. A journey on this line is highly recommended, not merely because (despite local politics) its
retention seems indefensible, but also because of the remote terrain through which it passes, and the
associated wildlife: seen from the train, as well as the inevitable storks in large numbers, were also eagles,
a flock of vultures, deer and hares.
Some further comments, in the order of the Ball Spanish maps:
Ball 15: parallel with the Iberian-gauge single-track, the standard-gauge track from La Tour de Carol to
Puigcerdà, presumably originating from the principle of reciprocity, survives rusting and unusable. Further
south, not shown in Ball, is a “helicoidal” (defined as ‘arranged in or having the approximate shape of a
flattened coil or spiral curve’, Ed.) within a tunnel. After several days spent travelling around Spain, it was a
pleasant surprise to see healthy levels of freight traffic (mostly aggregates) over the section from
Barcelona to Vic.
Ball 20 and 28 (not shown): the aspiration (dating from 1926) to build a cut-off line from Talavera de la
Reina to Villanueva de la Serena was still shown on official maps as “under construction” as late as 1964.
This gave rise to two half-completed railways, to Santa Quiteria, on which track was never laid, and is now
the Via Verde de la Jara, and northeastwards from Villanueva de la Serena to Logrosán, where track was
actually laid, and which briefly became the property of RENFE in 1962. Passenger stations were built but
never used, a few trains of cereals got as far as Madrigalejo before the line was closed and abandoned (on
Government instructions) in 1964. Works on the central section, from Santa Quiteria to Logrosán, were
never completed, but include some major engineering which survives to this day, as do most of the never-
used passenger stations on the section between Villanueva and Logrosán.
Ball 27: the freight-only branch from Zafra to Jérez de los Caballeros is shiny, and clearly sees regular
Ball 28: at Almorchón the freight-only line southwards towards Córdoba is laid with CWR, in better
condition than the (passenger) “main line” east-west (which has long sections overdue for relaying, and a
30 km/h TSR). There survives here a fine collection of semaphores (as there are in many other parts of the
Extremadura system). The whole line Mérida – Almorchón – Ciudad Real is well worth a visit, as are others
in the province which can surely not last much longer (e.g. Huelva – Zafra, [Sevilla –] Los Rosales - Zafra).
Ball 35 and “GB” diagram: Sevilla: considerable EU funding was dedicated to upgrading the “temporary”
suburban line to Cartuja, as posters proudly proclaim: it now has a good, if irregular, EMU service (C2) but
low patronage. Further east, part of the original main line into Plaza de Armas survived for some years as a
freight stub to San Jerónimo: this has been lifted for some years now, and little trace remains. (The former
Plaza de Armas station itself has been sensitively restored as a shopping/cinema centre, and is well worth
The original alignment Utrera station – south-east curve has long been lifted, as has El Sorbito – La Trinidad
Ball 36 and “GB” diagram: the original alignment Pedrera – La Roda de A has been lifted fairly recently. The
complex arrangements around Antequera-Santa Ana are well covered in EGTRE.
Málaga: our correspondent hadn’t visited since the LAV was opened to here, and was unaware of the
layout. Briefly, the standard-gauge LAV and its depots has taken up pretty much the whole trackbed of the
original access route into the city. At some point in the last few years, a suburban service known as C2 has
been introduced between the single underground platform of Málaga-Centro Alameda and the small town
of Álora, on the original Iberian-gauge main line. Thinking that this might offer “new track”, he caught one
of the C2 services (quite well patronised, despite an irregular timetable), only to discover that it uses
exactly the same track from the tunnel mouth to the Iberian-gauge “old main line” as do the longer-
distance services which start from Málaga-Maria Zambrano and veer off “down a hole” to join the
suburban line before climbing back to the old alignment beyond Los Prados.
Finally there is the farcical situation of the Andalucía high-speed line, most of the trackbed of which was
completed several years ago and is visible from the existing line from near Antequera to Marchena. Less
well-known is the current state of what was proposed to be the LAV Madrid – Extremadura – Portuguese
frontier, a high-speed line to be built to standard gauge linking Madrid with Lisbon. This was to branch off
the Madrid – Sevilla LAV at Pantoja, and contracts were let for construction of large sections of the route.
Then in 2008 the Portuguese Government abandoned its participation, notwithstanding which Spain
persevered with the sections being built on its territory. The current outcome is that long sections of
trackbed have been completed (mostly starting abruptly from wherever the particular contract stipulated)
alongside the Madrid - Cáceres – Badajoz line, with no obvious sign of track being laid thereon. The current
intention is to utilise these not for a double-track, standard-gauge Línea de Alta Velocidad, but for a single-
track Línea de Altas Prestaciones (= “high-performance line”) laid to Iberian gauge: the first such section to
be opened being Plasencia to Badajoz. Given that the populations of the towns to be served are Badajoz
150,000; Cáceres 96,000; Mérida 59,000; and Plasencia 41,000, one is forced to wonder at the financial
viability of all this, merely to shave a few minutes off current journey times. More seriously, visible
intermittently from the present station of Río Tajo (north of Cáceres, Ball 18) two stupendous bowstring
viaducts are being constructed for this line, presumably on the basis that it would cost more to abandon
construction and pay penalties than to complete them: whether they carry trains or not, they will
constitute engineering marvels....What seems certain is that, even if they do, the trains will not be from or
[A79] Spain - Report on a visit to the Soria -Torralba line
The 93km line connecting Soria to the Madrid-Zaragoza line at Torralba now has only a minimal service
(two daily train pairs between Soria and Madrid), making it an obvious target for a visit. The line is the last
remnant of a once extensive network in the area. Given the rather unhelpful timings, the best solution
turned out to be an evening return trip from Soria to Sigüenza (17:32 from Soria/20:24 from Sigüenza –
only two of the four daily trains stop at the junction station).
Soria’s station is on the southwest edge of town and occupies a vast site, with 10 tracks and six platforms.
East of the station, two derelict tracks continue into a tunnel. An investigation of the southeastern corner
of town found a single track in place across the River Duero bridge, once used by the routes to Castejon De
Ebro and Calatayud. The line that used to go west to Burgos can be glimpsed from the Madrid train as it
leaves the station; it is at a lower level and no longer carries any tracks.
Only three stations on the branch still have passenger service; the most important is Almazán which is
some way north of the former junction station at Coscurita where two more lines used to diverge.
Unsurprisingly there was plenty of space on the 3-car class 599 DMU. The northern section of the line
passes through some dense areas of conifers; further south it has a more typical Spanish profile with long
sweeping curves following the contours around low hills. There was no sign of any freight traffic.
The junction station at Torralba is an impressive 3-storey palace-style building of red brick, with platforms
on both the main and branch lines. Probably owing to poor track condition, the train lost time in both
directions and deposited your correspondent back in Soria at about 22:00 (due 21:42). Of course in Spain
that is not too late for dinner but there were no helpful taxis waiting at the remote station.
Soria station from the north View north from Soria station
Soria – River Duero bridge
[A80] Spain – Old and new railway stations at Burgos
The new railway line opened in 2008 and bypassing Burgos to the north controversially removed the lines
from the city centre altogether and replaced them with a wide road. The new station on the northeastern
side of town, Burgos Rosa de Lima, is built on a huge scale in the middle of open fields but is difficult to
reach and has an unwelcoming feel, particularly at platform level. Could such a development be imagined
in a UK town of similar size, say York or Bournemouth?
Burgos Rosa-de-Lima station
A nostalgic visit to the old station site, where your correspondent once boarded a direct sleeper service to
Paris, found it being comprehensively restored for a new use as a shopping centre.
Burgos – Old station
[A81] Spain - Report on visit to Lerma
Lerma is around 35km south of Burgos on the ‘Directo de Burgos’ line from Madrid. The station is in an
isolated and windswept location on the western edge of the town; on the map the track seems to include
an easterly diversion to bring the line closer to the town. Nowadays there are no passenger services and
the whole site is derelict and looking like something out of a Western. There are two huge grain elevators,
one each side of the station building (boarded up on the ground floor). There are four tracks through the
station, three between the station building and an island platform (these appeared disused) and one on
the western side which had seen a train not too long ago.
The whole scene was very sad, considering the line only opened as a through route in 1968 and well into
the 21st century saw daily Talgo services and occasional diversions of the Madrid-Paris Trenhotel. Lerma’s
modern bus station, roughly midway between the railway station and the town, easily accommodates the
passenger traffic as well as refreshment stops for long-distance coaches along the nearby motorway.
Lerma looking south east Lerma looking north
[A82] Spain - Barcelona local lines
R7 St.Andreu Arenal- Catalonia University and R8 Granollers C. - (Catalonia University) - Martorell:
These two local lines have a relatively recent history, R8 runs over the northern freight by-pass line around
Barcelona and R7 covers the connecting line onto this roughly mid-way to serve the University. Times do
not seem to be designed to connect, so some connections from R7 into/out of an hourly R8 service are
good and other give you about a 52 minute wait! Both ends of R8 offer considerable interest, that at
Martorell is well documented, see EGTRE ES15/24 with the elaborate layout of what is now both BG and
interlaced BG/SG tracks weaving around the metre gauge FGC lines. The SG tracks/rails are not in
passenger use and for now offer access to Barcelona docks for wagons from the rest of Europe. At the
Granollers Central end, the service uses the bay platform on the north side the layout where the standard
gauge (now freight lines) leave the HSL from France and gain the Barcelona freight ring (R8). Just west of
Mollet St.Fost a most elaborate set of flyovers and viaducts connect the BG tracks to the SG and become
DG! This means the routes taken by the individual tracks served by line R8 to/from Granollers are on
separate single track viaducts taking completely different alignments sometimes 500m apart, possibly
more, which could not possibly have existed before the SG HSL arrived from the west in the last year or so.
Similarly the former alignment must have disappeared.
[A83] Spain – New gauge changers (Cambiador de ancho) at Palencia and León
León Contenedores is on the southern approach to León south of Bif. Rio Bernesga and is used by Madrid -
Asturias services not calling at León. Madrid services using the Iberian gauge platforms at León would also
use this but it is doubtful that there are any. From the time point of view it makes sense for trains calling at
León to change gauge north of there.
León Clasificación is on the southern approach to León but north of Bif. Rio Quintana. Used by Asturias and
Galicia services using the standard (1435 mm) gauge platforms at León.
Villamuriel de Cerrato is south of Palencia at the northern apex of the 'Nudo de Venta de Baños' - the new
and smaller HSL triangle and is meant for Madrid - Santander services. It would be used by anything
transferring there to the 'classic' line to León, but it is believed there are no such trains.
[A84] Spain – Extracts and comments from an article in Railway Gazette International
"The Mediterranean Corridor programme which will see 1435 mm gauge provided from Barcelona to
Valencia, Alacant and Murcia."
It is presumed this means making use of the new high speed lines west of Valencia and not extending dual
gauge on the classic lines to Alacant and Murcia. As far our member is aware dual gauge on the classic
route will extend only as far as Silla in order to serve the Ford plant at Almusafes.
"Freight projects include €56.2m to upgrade Almoraima – Algeciras, €30.1m to improve rail access to the
ports of Ferrol and A Coruña, and €27.5m for a new branch to serve the Port of Barcelona."
"Investment of €287m in suburban networks across Spain is planned by the Ministry of Development.
Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona in Catalunya are to receive €205.2m, with major projects in Barcelona
including a new CTC system, installation of ETCS and the new airport branch. A total of €54m is to be spent
in Madrid, where the network is being extended to Soto del Real and Illescas"
Our member thinks the Barcelona airport branch may already be under construction. Illescas is on the line
to Talavera (- Plasencia). However, Soto del Real is beyond Colmenar Viejo, which means reopening of a
portion of the former Directo de Burgos. This was all included in a huge investment programme for the
Madrid Cercanias system published a few years ago, which it was assumed had died in the financial crisis.