31st March 2001

PTG Tours
The Marvao Marvel

Loco Used CP 1464 (1)
Stock Used 10 69 008-4 + 88 40 003-6 + 10 69 014-2 + 10 69 015-9

Route :

Loco Route (2)
1464 Entroncamento (3) - Abrantes - Torre des Vargens - Vale de Peso - Castelo de Vide - Marvão Beirã - Valencia de Alcantara - Cáceres
1464 Cáceres - Mérida
1464 Mérida - Badajoz - Elvas - Torre des Vargens - Abrantes

Notes :
originally advertised to use a CP 1551 class locomotive however RENFE (Spanish Railways) blocked this (reportedly on account of the axle loading) and a 1401 was used instead.
Tour crossed into Spain at Marvão Beirã and back into Portugal at Badajoz.
(3) About an hour before the tour started the stock as shunted from platform 11 to platform 3 another using Sentinel shunter 1159. CP did not detrain those passengers (including myself) who were on the train at the time, thus allowing the shunter to be "scored" for haulage (unless you had been in either the leading or rearmost coaches at 3am after arrival on "The Night Owl Co." when 1159 had also been used to shunt the rear, defective, coach off and add the restaurant car between the leading and second coach!).

Source : Gary Thornton.
(on the train throughout)

Tour review :

Follow this link for some photos.

Despite a somewhat sleepless night (see "The Night Owl Co" review), our second on the train too, we were all fired up and ready to go a while before booked departure time. Disappointed our second coach compo was now the third (an extra vehicle having been added) I negotiated with two others to share their compo in the leading coach (Roger and Chris - who we'd met and shared a table in the Chinese restaurant in Setúbal what already seemed like several weeks before).

Traction for the day turned out to be 1464 - good, a winner at least.

This whole day tour basically covered a triangular route in and out of Spain (my first trip ever to Spain!). Loads of photo-stops were taken and the rocky scenery meant I spent quite a bit of the journey at the corridor window enjoying the thrash off 1464 and looking at the scenery speeding past. Now this is what railtouring and being on holiday are all about!!

En-route I got the "full Portugese dining experience" for the first time. PTG Tours normally have a restaurant car in the formation and meals are offered at quite a reasonable ching (for being on-train anyway). The three course meal included wine (from Portugal of course) and it was about an hour before we made it back to our compo, slightly bloated from the food and a little mellow from the wine we'd quaffed!

Somewhere along this stretch we lost an hour - on crossing the border into Spain the time goes forward an hour!

The further west we went the warmer the weather got and by Cáceres the temperature was well over 20°C. A break was taken at this Spanish town but I was one of many who never actually made it off the station - photographing 1464 and my first RENFE locos (class 333's) kept me busy.

For the run to Mérida we were at the back of the train - with the heat I'd abandoned my beers and was onto bottled water by this time!

 The journey was mostly downhill so little thrash to be heard. On the approach to Mérida we passed ruins that were obviously roman in origin. Time to explore and this opportunity as taken, as well as getting loads more 333 phots (and a 319)! On our walk into the town itself we saw a digital clock/thermometer which said it was 23°C - and this was now after 7pm, so I dare say it had been warmer during the afternoon. Just before we left a Talgo train came in - although I'd seen photos of them before, seeing one in the flesh confirms just how strange the locos look that were built to haul the stock.

We left at 8pm and headed back via Badajoz to Abrantes and the end of the tour. Not much to report except another (older) Talgo being seen en-route. The loco on this as one of those which apparently has a Maybach power unit and hydraulic transmission - in other words, half a Western!! Must make the effort to go back and experience one of these little beasts before it's too late....

Oh, yes...we got our missing hour back at Badajoz as we crossed back into Portugal!

Arrival into Abrantes was roughly on-time and a couple of road coaches were waiting to take us "up the hill" to our booked hotels. Too knackered (and in need of a shower) to think about hitting the hotel bar - it was straight to bed for most of us!

Verdict : a superb day out! The inclusion of the dining car makes for a nice way to eat - watching the scenery whizzing past...and all accompanied by 1464's thrash too.

Timings :
courtesy of Matt Gaskarth

Train reporting numbers :
13833 : Entroncamento - Alcantara (142.5km)
14101 : Alcantara - Merida (160.1km)
14100 : Merida - Badajoz (59.4km)
13834 : Badajoz : Abrantes (146.4km)

Location Booked Actual
Entroncamento 10.10d  
Barquinha 10/15  
Almourol 10.20a ~ 10.26d  
Praia do Ribatejo 10/29  
Santa Margarida 10/34  
Tramagal 10/38½  
Abrantes 10.44a ~ 10.54d  
Bemposta 11/04½  
Ponte de Soir 11/18½  
Torre das Vagens 11.28a ~ 11.45d  
Vale do Peso 12.10½a ~ 12.15½d  
Castelo de Vide 12.34½a ~ 12.39½d  
Marvao-Beira 12.55a ~ 13.10d  
Alcantara 13.25a ~ ??.??d  
Cáceres 14.46a ~ 16.14d 15.02 ~ 16.18
Merida 17.13a ~ 19.01d 17.22 ~ 19.07
Badajoz 20.00a ~ 20.15d ??.?? ~ 20.24
Elvas 20.32a ~ 20.33d  
Santa Eulalia 20/52  
Portalegre 21/17½  
Crato 21/34  
Torre das Vagens 22.05a ~ 22.08d  
Ponte de Soir 22/17  
Bemposta 22/29  
Abrantes 22.37a  

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

n.b. times in Spain were one hour later than shown above due to time zone change.

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