BLNI Extra 50 – Spain Extra 2
[E12] Spain - Late news, variante de La Hiniesta opens
On the evening of 3 August 2018 ADIF closed permanently 6.4 km of the existing 'classic' Zamora -
Ourense line between the Valorio tunnel (2.9 km west of Zamora) and La Hiniesta, to enable each
end of this section to be connected to the new alignment built for the high speed line to Ourense.
At present only Iberian gauge track has been laid on this section, although some fixtures and fittings
for a third rail (UIC gauge, not electrification!) are present. The new line opened to public traffic on
8 August, with test runs on 7 August. It appears therefore that the line between Zamora and La
Hiniesta, where the high speed line diverges northwards from the existing line, will be mixed gauge.
600 metres of largely parallel track connects the new line to the present Iberian gauge line to
Ourense and is now used by all trains. This will close if the classic route closes after completion of
the high speed line. The classic line between the Valorio tunnel and La Hiniesta is believed to be
disconnected at both ends and will probably be lifted.
[E13] Spain – Gauge changer to be built at Granada
ADIF has awarded a contract for a cambiador de ancho (gauge changing facility) to be built 3km
from Granada (specifically at kilometre 53 / 742.6 of the Moreda-Granada line) with a contract
period of 10 months. To accommodate the gauge changer it will be necessary to displace the
Moreda-Granada line to the east. From Granada to the gauge changer will be dual 1435/1668mm
track, so sleeper replacement will be necessary.
The new high speed line from Antequera to Granada is currently being tested, and once it opens
high speed trains will run Madrid – Córdoba – Antequera – Granada. The gauge changer will allow
trains from Madrid to go from standard gauge to Iberian gauge, and continue from Granada to
Almeria via Moreda. Once through services commence it will almost certainly mean the end of the
current Madrid - Granada Talgo and maybe the Almeria Talgo also. Withdrawal of the former service
will remove passenger use from the north to west curve at Moreda, , but presumably not to freight
as whilst a member was waiting at Linares Baeza a diesel hauled freight (tank wagons) arrived from
the south, presumably from either Granada or Almeria.
[E14] Spain – Rail spending to increase in 2019
The minister of public works announced details of the Ministry of Development’s €9.97bn 2019
budget on 14 January 2019, confirming a significant increase in public spending in the rail sector,
particularly Cercanias (suburban rail network lines) and conventional lines. This is claimed to be in
line with the government’s policy of “reversing the abandonment to which both have been
subjected in recent years and aiming to guarantee inter-regional connectivity and mobility.”
[E15] Spain – Observations from a recent visit
Madrid: The tracks into the new standard gauge tunnel at Chamartin are rusty. There was a track
machine sitting on one of them but nothing to suggest anything happening - no sign of any test
Our member had to buy a RENFE &tu card for his journeys on the local trains (Cercanias). To save
time in the morning, he loaded 2 journeys on to it. The next morning at Sol he found that the credit
had vanished and had to top it up again, which is not an obvious process - you put the card in in a
small transparent plastic holder on the front of the ticket machine - especially in the rush hour - just
what he wanted to avoid. So one can presumably top it up for only the current day. He tried using it
in machines at Malaga but it was rejected as invalid. Presumably it is valid only for the Cercanias
network where it was bought, although nothing is printed on the ticket giving the network it applies
It also isn't at all obvious how to access the platforms at Atocha Cercanias if you have a non-
Cercanias ticket. Our member had to ask at the Information Office; fortunately he had allowed
plenty of time and there was no queue. There is an unobtrusive desk marked 'Media Distancia'
under the stairs, which is also the only exit, for those using these tickets. It would help if the notice
read something like "Acceso con Billetes Media Distancia" and also a notice at the barriers, as there
are no allocated staff there. Incidentally, Chamartin has no barriers, so one mustn't forget to
validate a Cercanias ticket at the unobtrusive machine at the foot of the escalators.
The closed San Martin de la Vega branch was noted as still in situ but very rusty.
Antequera SA - Granada: It appears that the fast bus is intended for passengers from north of
Córdoba, as booking from Córdoba puts one on the slow bus. However, the bus connecting out of
the Avant from Sevilla ran non-stop, arriving about 5 min early; it would have been much earlier had
it not been for the traffic in Granada. The railway was visible in only three places. The broad gauge
rail of the mixed gauge track was rusty but the standard gauge rail had a thin shine. So there doesn't
seem to be that much test running in progress. One platform (i.e. 2 faces, P4 and 5) at Granada has
been extended considerably, obviously to cater for AVE services.
Granada/Almeria - Moreda - Linares Baeza: The loadings on the 07:35 Granada to Madrid were
pathetic. Our member did this line quite some years ago and had forgotten just how slow it is. To his
surprise the bar, etc., at Linares Baeza was open and doing reasonable business during his 1½ hr
wait for the train to (not) Almeria. Passing through southbound the previous day it had looked
closed. A town bus arrived and brought quite a number of people for the 'Garcia Lorca' to
Barcelona. Only one person got off the northbound train from Almeria, so his expectation that
people would use this to connect to Barcelona was wrong: clearly the inhabitants of Linares do use
Linares Baeza station.
There has been quite a significant realignment of the Almeria line south of Gergal within probably
the last 10 years.
The transfer at Huercal-Viator to the bus was smooth and arrival in Almeria was early. Our member
had planned to do a quick turn back into the Huercal-Viator - Granada train but thought better of it.
This was just as well as this train departed very soon after the Madrid train arrived and there was no
way of accessing it other than crossing the tracks at one end or the other of the station. Passengers
for Granada are presumably escorted across the tracks before the Madrid train arrives.
[E16] Spain – Variante de Camarillas opens at last
The variante is on the line between Albacete and Murcia in south-eastern Spain. From Agramón the
line went south past the Camarillas reservoir to the station of Calasparra after which it turned east
to reach Cieza. The new line goes from south of Agramón to north-west of Cieza, cutting 17.9km
(from a newspaper article or 17km according to the map – eBLNI only) off the distance compared
with the old route.
Calasparra station saw its last train on Friday 1 March 2019, with locals giving the train an emotional
send-off. There followed 19 days with bus replacement while engineers made the final connections,
modified signalling and drivers were route-trained. The variante de Camarillas opened on 31 March,
a mere 30 years after its construction was announced. The closure of the old line meant that
journey time was cut by 20 minutes, eleven level crossings were abandoned and Calasparra station
[E17] Spain – The railway that never was
The town of Alcoy (Alcoi in Valencian) in south eastern Spain to the north of Alicante has always
been an industrial town despite its upland location. To export its products a narrow gauge railway
was built east to the small port of Grao de Gandía and a broad gauge railway west to Villena. Today
the remaining broad gauge line comes from Xativa, to the north. Southwards however was the large
and important port of Alicante and as part of the Guadalhorce Railway Plan of 1924 construction of
a 66 km line was approved on 27 November 1926 and commenced on 8 March 1928. Construction
was expected to take three years, but although the track bed and infrastructure were completed (in
1932), the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and post-war hardship meant that rails were never laid.
Today the two ends of the line are Green Ways (Via Verdes) for walkers and cyclists. The northern
section out of Alcoy is now the Via Verde de Alcoy and is 12km long with 11 tunnels and 3 viaducts.
The southern section has become the Via Verde de Maigmó and runs for about 22km from km 46.7
to km 67.3 to end near Agost which is 15km from Alicante on the Madrid to Alicante railway line. It
has 6 tunnels and 2 large viaducts including the very impressive viaduct at Maigmó. The original
narrow gauge railway from Alcoy Muro to Gandía is also a Via Verde.