1st-3rd February 2003
Portugese Traction Group
|Locos Used||1417, 1805 & 2628|
13831 : Abrantes - Valencia de Alcantara
14xxx : Valencia de Alcantara - Badajoz
13832 : Badajoz - Abrantes
13834 : Abrantes - Lisboa Oriente
13836/7 : Lisboa Oriente - Sintra
13838 : Sintra - Lisboa St. Apolónia
13839 : Lisboa St. Apolónia - Évora
13870/1 : Évora - Porto Sines
13872 : Porto Sines - Barreiro
13875/4 : Barreiro - Lisboa St. Apolónia
|01/02||1417||Abrantes - Torre das Vargens - Marvăo- Beira - Valencia de Alcantara - Cáceres|
|01/02||1417||Cáceres - Aljucén|
|01/02||1417||Aljucén - Badajoz - Elvas - Portalegre - Torre das Vargens - Abrantes|
|02/02||1805||Abrantes - Entroncamento - Lisboa Oriente|
|02/02||1805 (1)||Lisboa Oriente - Sintra|
|02/02||2628 (2)||Sintra - Lisboa St. Apolónia Docks|
|02/02||1805 (1)||Lisboa St. Apolónia Docks - Lisboa St. Apolónia C.S.|
|02/02||2628 (2)||Lisboa St. Apolónia C.S. - Lisboa St. Apolónia Sta|
|02/02||1805||Lisboa St. Apolónia - Setil - Vendas Novas - Casa Branca - Évora|
|03/02||1805||Évora - Casa Branca|
|03/02||1805||Casa Branca - Beja - Funcheira|
|03/02||1805||Funcheira - Torre Vă - Bif. Ermidas Sul - Bif. Ermidas Sines - Porto Sines|
|03/02||1805||Porto Sines - Ermidas Sado - Pinheiro - Setúbal - Pinhal Novo - Barreiro|
|03/02||1805||(3) Barreiro - Pinhal Novo - Bombel - Coruche - Setil - Lisboa Oriente - Lisboa S.A. (3)|
(1) 2628 on rear.
(2) 1805 on rear.
(3) Bonus train!
Source : Janet Cottrell (on the train throughout)
(by Janet Cottrell)
1805 at Sintra on the Sunday (photo : "Lycra")
Like Britain, Portugal is rapidly going downhill in railway interest, so the chance of a tour with a class 1800 (now extinct in normal service) was not to be lightly passed up. With the bonus of covering the Sines branch, my last major piece of required broad gauge CP track, and the probable final run of 1810 (required) it was not to be missed. Unfortunately, CP is also similar to Britain in that farces and last minute changes are also not unknown. Before we had even left our wet and windy shores we knew that two of the three short branches at Sines had been refused as well as the short spur to the cement silos at Beja due a new edict by REFER (Portuguese Railtrack). This being that special trains would only be allowed onto freight lines that have been maintained to a passenger carrying standard. We would also not be able to use the Funcheira Avoiding Line due to it being temporarily closed whilst the line to Faro undergoes electrification. Well hopefully that should have been the problems over with ... until the night before when we learnt that 1810 had failed on a test run and our loco for the tour would now be 1805 (dud !) instead. It was hoped that 1810 would be fit enough to play a part on Monday.
Saturday 1st February
Day one started at a bright but cold Abrantes station. Due to the hotel being a couple of miles away up a steep hill, John & I decided to order a taxi down to the station so we could have a look round first and avoid the scrum for the buses. The first indication that all might not be well occurred as soon as we arrived, there was no sign of the tour stock which we had assumed would be there waiting for us. As other people started to arrive, news filtered through that 1805 had failed on shed at Entroncameto, unable to start - oh great, the only other serviceable 1800 in the country was 1810 over 200 km away at Barreiro and that was not in the best of health. To cut a long story short we ended up with 1417, an ex Douro Valley Passenger sector machine - at least it was an English Electric product, although a freight sector one would have been preferable.
We eventually set sail an hour and twenty eight minutes late, after having to wait to follow the 1000 train to Badajoz as far as Torre das Vargens. The lateness should have increased there as this train had a connection with a railcar to Marvăo, but this was still in evidence at the junction and the few passengers for it were put onto our train, so we remained some 80 to 90 minutes late.
By now most people were past caring, we had all day, the weather was glorious without a cloud in the sky and 1417 was performing well with it's load of four coaches. MLW built 1554 was parked at Marvăo and attracted a lot of attention, even more excitement was generated at the Spanish border station of Valencia de Alcantara by the sight of 333 104 and an ex-German Railways class 216 "Lollo" hydraulic stabled with some PWay wagons. Unfortunately they were too far away to be photographed in the time available, we were still trying to claw some time back and had only stopped to observe the formalities for the single line ahead.
Cáceres was bathed in unbroken sunshine just right for photos after the loco had run round. The only other items in evidence were another 333 and a DMU, the former was also parked "right for the sun". The line southwards was through fairly barren countryside but the track was good which meant that 1417 had to be worked quite hard to keep the speed up over the undulating terrain.
Our next stop was at the junction station of Aljucén where the loco was run round, catching many people out as the tour brochure showed us going to Mérida (as we did on the previous tour to cover this route). At first I thought that this was an attempt to regain some time, but a look at the RENFE notice for the train revealed that this was in fact the booked reversing place. Mérida was less than 5 km away and for me at least it did not matter as I had done the journey before (along with many others on the train) but it did leave the feeling that somebody was not being quite straight.
En route back to Portugal, we passed another DMU and waited for a few minutes at Badajoz. There was a 333 freshly painted in the new blue and white passenger sector livery which caught most peoples attention, the best phot was from the other platform but as soon as a few had crossed over the security guy appeared and started to rant (For those that don't know most medium and large Spanish stations have these who tend to rigidly enforce the RENFE "no photography" rule). As there were so many of us, he returned to the station for reinforcements, but by the time he had dragged another member of staff from his hiding place most of the rest of us had nipped over the track, taken our phots and returned to the correct platform looking as though butter wouldn't melt in our mouths.
Leaving Badajoz some 30 minutes late, we soon crossed back into Portugal and made for Elvas, where we needed to be in front of the local train or suffer a very long wait due to the long single line sections. This was accomplished, although I expect that the local train got held up a bit. We actually arrived back at Abrantes only 8 minutes down, having made up 80 minutes during the day by dint of cutting back or deleting some of the booked stops and the schedule being rather generous.
Sunday 2nd February
A later start this morning, but John & myself still ordered a taxi in order to get down the station a bit earlier. We had been preceded by two others who wanted to have a spin on the 0751 to Entroncamento for the IC back, so when we arrived to find them still on the platform we thought that they had missed the train as their taxi was a bit late. In fact the train had not even arrived and it eventually turned up in the shape of a Nohab Railcar rather than a loco and coaches, looks like it was 1431's turn to not start this morning.
Three of the tour coaches were in the loop at the back of the station, the all important front coach had defective heating and lighting yesterday and had obviously been taken back for repairs or replacement. There was no sign of any engine for the train so that must have gone back too, hopefully to be replaced by 1805. Although the sun was starting to break through the early fog, it was still cold so the three of us (One of the others had decided to flag the railcar) repaired to the mobile heated waiting room, the coaches for the 1000 to Badajoz. A short time later we received a text message from our man on the DMU that he had just passed 1805 hauling one coach.
Yet again we had a late start, but this time due to a shunting cock up. Instead of running round the one coach whilst there were no other trains in the way, then shunting it into the loop with the others, the crew went to fetch the rest of the train first. This then meant that they had to return the whole set to the loop whilst three other trains used the platforms and when they put the coaches back into platform 1 for departure, the loco couldn't run round as there were two other trains in the platforms 2 and 3.
Anyway, we set off towards Entroncamento and the main line and the thrash was worth waiting for even on load four. We had a break of 50 minutes at Santarém to have a look in the interesting little museum there and to be passed by two IC trains, which were late. Most people hopped off as soon as we arrived there in order to phot the train in the sunshine and thereby missed the shunt move into the sidings however, we departed from the sidings so the desperate did not lose any track.
Our next port of call was to be to the resort of Sintra, a first and probably last for an 1800. This line has been electrified since 1957 and is normally exclusively EMU's. To ease operations at the far end we stopped at Lisboa Oriente to attach an electric loco to the rear. This was one of the passenger sector 2621 class, needless to say it was dud for me. One of the freight class 25 electrics would have been far more interesting, but I suppose that the 26 was more convenient.
Following a long break in Sintra we retraced our steps to Lisbon, but this time to Santa Apolónia where we paid a visit to the southern limit of the remains of the Linha da Matinha, now only a headshunt and run round loop for the docks line. A request to cover short spur into the docks themselves had been flatly refused by the Docks Authority, we were informed by the tour brochure that this was only a few hundred yards long.
The day was rounded off nicely with the 115 mile haul "round the houses" to Évora. 1805 was performing well and had plenty of scope to show us what it could do as far as Casa Branca as the track is of a good standard. Beyond there it is a total stagger, 1800's being restricted to 40 kph due to the state of the track. Apparently the line is to close for three months later this year in order to be totally relayed.
Monday 3rd February
Just for a change, the hotel was within walking distance of the station so we had a gentle stroll to start the day. En route we had to give the Army horses a wide berth as they were led from the stables to the training school on the other side of the road.
Thankfully, 1805 was already ticking over and parked on the "fuelling point" having a drink - this was little more than a large "petrol" pump parked next to one of the lines just off the platform. Initially we had to suffer the same stagger as last night before regaining the main line where the loco returned to our end of the train and some decent noise could be sampled on the main line. Cab rides were on offer as usual and John and I had our turn between Castro Verde and Funcheira through a barren landscape with a couple of stations that appeared to serve nowhere. Funcheira had been turned into a base for engineers trains engaged on the electrification work and much film was expended on the eclectic collection of locos there. These comprised of ex CP 1200's and a 1501, an ex RENFE "World Series" Alco and an ex DB class 212, there was also a class 1901 on a freight working waiting to follow us north.
Most of the journey to Sines was taken up by consuming dinner in the restaurant car, we finished just in time for the final couple of kms into the coal terminal which was surrounded by lots of construction work on various projects. There was an option to visit the town of Sines and the disused passenger station by coach, but John & I decided to stay and have a look round the site including the coal loading bunker with it's unusual privately owned locos.
Once the coach party had returned, we set sail up the steep bank out of Sines back towards the mainline with 1805 making plenty of noise. This time we took the other side of the triangle to head north and used the new through lines through a heavily rebuilt Ermidas Sado station, the only recognisable part from our first visit three years ago being the station building itself. We were then called to the bar car for a "birthday party" for two of the tour participants. This had started out as celebration for Peter Hey (owner of 50031) who had reached a certain milestone birthday, but during the tour the PTG had found out that another regular customer shared the same birthday. The cake was easily the largest one I had seen and was the size of one of the restaurant car tables with a greeting to Peter in Portuguese - fortunately the other birthday boy was also called Peter ! There were free drinks all round and we also celebrated the recent engagement of top Portugal basher Garry Brown.
The last part of the tour was rather tedious, starting with a prolonged fester in the loop near Aguas de Moura to wait for the evening train to Funcheira to pass. Despite being timed for a snail (shades of Network Rail) we still managed to arrive at Barreiro some six minutes late, the end of the tour for John & myself. There was a "bonus train" to take the stock back round to Lisbon which it was hoped that 1810 would work but despite the best efforts of Barreiro Works, they were unable to fix the problem so 1805 finished the tour off. With a 2310 arrival at Oriente and two hour fester at Barreiro whilst the stock was serviced there was little point in the two of us doing this now that there was no new loco to be had so we bade our farewells and headed back to Lisbon on the boat.
Verdict - an enjoyable tour despite the problems although I have a nagging feeling that something was missing compared to previous tours of this type. On a personal level this could be put down to not getting 1810 or maybe it was having a 1400 for one of the days, but in truth I cannot really put this feeling down to any one particular event. Having said that, the date for next years tour has already been put in the diary.
Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Janet & John Cottrell)
|Torre das Vargens||09.25a ~ 09.35d||11.00 ~ 11.02|
|Castelo de Vide||10.13a ~ 10.18d||11.44 ~ 11.45|
|Marvăo-Beiră||10.34a ~ 10.44d||12.00 ~ 12.06|
|Valencia de Alcantara||11.01a ~ ??.??d||12.22 ~ 13.32
(change to CET)
|Cáceres||?||14.56a ~ 15.26d|
|Aljucén||?||16.15a ~ 16.32d|
|Badajoz||??.??a ~ 17.03d||17.14 ~ 17.34|
|Elvas||16.20a ~ 16.30d||16.53 ~ 16.58
|Portalegre||17.17a ~ 17.27d||17.43 ~ 17.48|
|Torre das Vargens||18.06a ~ 18.21d||18.25 ~ 18.28|
|Entroncamento||10.27a ~ 10.42d||10.43 ~ 10.46|
|Santarém||11.08a ~ 11.59d||11.09 ~ 12.16
|Oriente||12.44a ~ 13.05d||13.00 ~ 13.17|
|Cacém||13.36a ~ 13.41d||13.52 ~ 13.54|
|Sintra||13.55a ~ 15.50d||14.06 ~ 15.53|
|Lisboa SA Docks||?||16.35a ~ 16.41d|
|Lisboa St. Apolónia||16.30a ~ 17.30d||17.02 ~ 17.31
(visit to docks line)
|Setil||18.12a ~ 18.17d||18.14 ~ 18.16|
|Vendas Novas||19.12a ~ 19.17d||19.25 ~ 19.26|
|Casa Branca||19.42a ~ 19.51d||19.50 ~ 19.51|
|Casa Branca||10.07a ~ 10.20d||10.18 ~ 10.27|
|Cuba||10.47a ~ 10.52d||10.57 ~ 10.59|
|Beja||11.04a ~ 11.12d||11.11 ~ 11.18|
|Castro Verde||11.43a ~ 11.48d||11.47 ~ 11.59|
|Funcheira||12.11a ~ 12.26d||12.22 ~ 12.38|
|Torre Vă||12.39a ~ 12.44d||12/54|
|Porto Sines||13.40a ~ 15.06d||13.48 ~ 15.06|
|Săo Batholomew da S||15.31a ~ 15.37d||15.31 ~ 15.41|
|Grândola||16.19a ~ 16.27d||16.23 ~ 16.28|
|Setúbal||17.54a ~ 17.59d||17.54 ~ 17.59|
Bonus train! 03/02
|Lisboa Oriente||23.12a ~ 23.13d||?|
|Lisboa St. Apolónia||23.20a||?|
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