30th March 2001

PTG Tours
The Estremoz Freighter

Loco Used CP 1807
Stock Used Passenger (throughout) : 10 69 014-2 + 10 69 015-9 + 10 69 007-6
plus Freight (outward only) : 35 60 073-2 + 35 60 047-6 + 35 60 086-4 + 35 60 004-7 + 35 60 016-1
plus Freight (return only) : 18 10 085-8 + 18 10 068-4 + 18 10 027-0

Route :

Loco Route
1807 Praias Sado (1) - Poceirão - Vendas Novas - Casa Branca - Monte das Flores - Evora - Vimeiro - Armeixal - km post 171.9 (2) - Estremoz

Estremoz - (reverse of outward route) - Vendas Novas (3) - (reverse of outward route) - Praias Sado (station)

1807 Praias Sado station - (propelling move) - back to junction to freight curve
1807 junction to freight curve to freight curve (same spot as tour started from)

Notes :
This was a regular freight working onto which was added three passenger coaches! Load reported by crew to be about 700 tonnes.

(1) From freight curve adjacent to station
stopped at km post 171.9 where the train was split and 1807 took the freight wagons to the station then came back for our passenger coaches. 1807 had been struggling with adhesion owing to wet rails caused by a heavy drizzle.
(3) Tour delayed whilst 1807 was used to rescue the 18.55 Barriero to Beja service which had failed (loco was 1935). On arrival back at Vendas Novas 1807 was removed from the service train to allow us to carry on our way!

Source : Gary Thornton.
(on the train throughout)

Tour review :

Follow this link for some photos.

What a riot - how about a 21 hour railtour which was hauled by a "class 50" and was actually a freight train onto which a number of passenger coaches were added!?! Such was "The Estremoz Freighter", the first of several PTG Tours run over the first weekend in April in Portugal.

Our meeting point (for the 40-or-so passengers) was a middle-of-nowhere shack called Praias Sado - located in an industrial area near Setúbal, south east from Lisboa. The train was due to leave about midnight so we had to meet at 11pm at the station. Our three coaches had already arrived and were positioned on the curve into the docks area. We all however waited at the station for instructions. Our loco, 1807, arrived about 11.30pm and about this time the word went round that we should walk over to the coaches to board. Although there was a seating plan, the use of an extra carriage meant we were free to sort out our own compartments - most of us having elected to pay the extra to be allocated a whole side of a compo.

The freight wagons (containing bagged cement) were shunted on to the front of the train by 1807 and we set off just after midnight on our 21 hour jaunt. Having been up at 3.15am it wasn't long before I "turned in" for the night. Can't say it was that comfortable a night - in addition to the constant movement we had managed to pick the one coach in the formation which had defective heating, so by the early hours it was a little chilly. That said, I still managed to sleep through the addition of an MLW 1551 class plus its entire freight consist at Vendas Novas!

I did however wake up as we were stopped at Torre da Gadanha and looked out to see a line of locos as far as the eye could see! They were withdrawn 1321's (ex-RENFE 313's).  I also slept through when the 1551 and its train was dropped off at Casa Branca and the next thing I knew we were stopped at Evora. We left there a little after 7am, but again I was not in the world of the awake at that stage!

By around 7.30am I was back in the world of the living and ready to enjoy the novelty of riding along in a freight train. The reason the passenger coaches had been put at the rear of the consist was soon realised - there were many level crossings along this stretch of the line and one member of the crew rode in the rearmost coach and hopped out to open the set of gates after we had cleared each crossing.

I wandered up to the leading coach and was able to get a few quite interesting shots looking over the freight wagons to 1807.

A few of miles short of Estremoz we began to stagger big-style - but a look out showed we had a member of crew walking along in front of the train inspecting the track. Apparently we'd come upon a stretch with debris on the track and the crew member was ensuring the track as clear. A bit further on however and we stopped in the middle of nowhere. A rumour soon circulated that 1807 was now in some sort of trouble. It turned out that 1807 was struggling to get adhesion on the wet rails (owing to a very heavy drizzle that was falling). Solution - unhook our carriages and head off to Estremoz without us! Loads of us scrambled into an adjacent field to get photos of 1807 heading off - to a rather amusing comment from someone about the potential of spreading Foot & Mouth Disease! We spent a happy hour or more sat in complete silence before an air-horn warned of 1807's return, light engine.

Hooked back on and we set on our way again, soon arriving into Estremoz, over two hours late. Departure was re-timed by 30 minutes to give us a chance for a leg-stretch and stock-up on supplies from a local shop. Also an opportunity to photograph 1807 as the return train was marshalled-up.

We left a little later than the re-timed time and enjoyed some more 1801 thrash from the rear of the train - the CP staff having decided they liked the luxury of riding in the rear vestibule between re-opening level crossing gates. At Evora we had a break - time to photograph a couple of railcars then head for the station bar....

A bit further on and we were held at Tojal to pass a 1201 on a service train. This we duly did - and we noticed a few cranks appeared off the service train to join ours! Further on and a stop at Casa Branca was quite entertaining. Some MLW 1551's kept our attention then it was station bar time again. This proved even more entertaining as one customer in the bar - dressed in CP uniform - was absolutely out of his skull. When he left the bar he couldn't even walk in a straight line and promptly collapsed onto a platform seat and started ranting at anyone who passed by. Someone of the tour was then heard to say "don't know what you're all laughing at - he's our onward driver....".

He wasn't (!) and he was last seen still sprawled on the platform seat as we left.

Next stop was at Torre da Gadanha where there was time to photograph the line of 1321's before we were passed by a 1931 on the "Blue Train" (Faro to Porto fast service). Getting dark by now - hard to think we'd been on the same train now for something like 20 hours. Oh well, only one more to go....


At Vendas Novas we pulled up and sat. After a few minutes it was discovered that we were waiting as the 18.55 Barriero to Beja was due the other way but had failed on the single line. After some debate CP took the obvious step of hi-jacking 1807 to go and rescue the errant train. I'll bet the CP equivalent of Rail-gen as going crazy....an 1801 out on passenger!! 1807 eventually arrived back with dead 1935 in tow and a load of pretty bored looking passengers - they were almost 90 down by now. They were going to be even later too as we promptly got 1807 back so we could continue on our way.

I fell into a slumber somewhere along this stretch and awoke as we pulled up to a rapid halt at Praias Sado station. Within seconds however and we were reversing off in the direction we'd just come at a fair old lick. Back past the junction and we stopped then moved forward again to the yard. We finished up in the same spot we'd been in almost 24 hours earlier!

With just two hours before we were due to set off again (on our next railtour of the set) there seemed little point going in search of a bar or food (doubt we'd have found anything anyway - this was a real nowhere-shack). Just a case of dossing out again to try and get some sleep, our second night on the same train!!

Verdict : Despite my initial reservations it might be a bit of a boring day out (i.e. loads of stagger and stops) it was actually very enjoyable and I mentally gave top marks for it. Having an 1801 no doubt helped, as did actually being in a freight train (my two previous attempts in other countries both having failed).

Timings :
courtesy of Matt Gaskarth

Train reporting numbers :
75891 : Praias Sado - Evora
76991 : Evora - Estremoz
76992 : Estremoz - Evora
75980 : Evora - Praias Sado

Location Booked Actual
Praias Sado (1) PSO Yard 23.59d 00.06
Vendas Novas (2) ??/?? ??.??a ~ ??.??d
Casa Branca (3) ??/?? ??.??a ~ ??.??d
Evora 05.00a ~ 07.00d ??.?? ~ 07.12
Ameixal 09.37a ~ 09.57d ??.?? ~ ??.??
km post 171.9 (4) ??/?? 10.05a ~ 11.28d
Estremoz 09.30a ~ 12.30d 11.38 ~ 13.08
Ameixal 12.31a ~ 12.51d ??.?? ~ ??.??
Evora 15.30a ~ 16.00d 15.07a ~ 16.08d
Monte d Flores 16.16a ~ 16.33d ??.?? ~ ??.??
Tojal 16.48a ~ 16.49d 16.33 ~ 16.52
Casa Branca 17.07a ~ 18.20d 17.07a ~ 18.22d
Torre da Gadanha 19.34a ~ 19.08d ??.??a ~ 19.18
Vendas Novas 19.23a ~ 19.37d 19.33a ~ ??.??d
Bombel 19.43a ~ 19.57d ??.?? ~ ??.??
Poceirao 20.22a ~ 20.32d ??.?? ~ ??.??
Praias Sado (station) - 22.22a ~ 22.23d
PSO Yard 20.59a 22.29a

Key :
a : arrival time
d : departure time
/ : passing time

(1) Booked departure time from Praias Sado was Thursday 29th March (23.59). Tour started from PSO Yard, not station.
(2) Stopped to attach loco 1560 plus 6 hopper wagons.
(3) Stopped to detach loco 1560 plus 6 hopper wagons.
(4) Train split, 1807 taking freight wagons onwards first, then returning for the passenger coaches.

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