Trip to Spain -  June 2024

General Notes

Four days in northern Spain covering some awkward routes with poor services.

Operating Company Abbreviations:

  • RENFE - Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (principal train operator in Spain)
  • FGC - Ferrocarriles de la Generalidad de Cataluña (train operator in Barcelona)

Track gauge

Listed against each individual train. Broad gauge: 1668 mm; standard gauge: 1435 mm; metre gauge: 1000 mm.

Place Arrive Depart Train Traction details & notes

 Saturday 22nd June 2024

Timperley   04:15   taxi
Manchester Airport T3 (MAN) 04:30 06:35 FR 9844  Ryanair EI-EBY B737-8AS push-back 06:39, take-off from runway 23L at 06:50
Santander (SDR) 09:35 10:00 'S4' landed 09:23 on runway 29, on stand 09:27 - bus
Santander Estación de Autobuses 10:10     (opposite railway stations)
Santander   12:15 'C-1' RENFE EMU class 447 set 129 (broad gauge)
Maliaño 12:23     very short walk
Maliaño (la Vidriera)   12:57 'C-3' RENFE FEVE EMU class 438 set 007 (metre gauge)
Santander 13:13 14:35 Alvia 4142 RENFE Alvia class 130 set 02 (broad gauge)
via Palencia - Villamuriel de Cerrato gauge changer, to standard gauge - long curve at Bif Venta de Baños - left track to
Valladolid Campo Grande 17:39 19:38 Alvia 4181 RENFE Alvia class 130 set 06 (standard gauge) dep 28 late
via right track to Bif Venta de Baños then short curve - Palencia - Vilecha gauge changer, to broad gauge - León - new Pajares bypass - Uxo and Olloniego tunnel routes - 
Oviedo 21:56     arr 17 late
New passenger track today: Santander - Palencia; new Pajares bypass.
Overnight: AC Hotel Oviedo Fórum by Marriott, on top of Oviedo station (1 night). Today's photos.
Convenient flight from Manchester to Santander. The move out to Maliaño was just to pass the time, doing it out on the broad gauge and back on the metre gauge for amusement; the two stations are a very short walk apart in Maliaño town. Santander to Palencia will soon be upgraded, with parts becoming a high speed line, so I wanted to do it before things changed. Doing the new Pajares bypass (opened November 2023) was useful and anyway was the sensible way to get into position for next morning's long metre gauge trek. Note that despite some reports, only broad gauge tracks are available north of León, not the promised standard or dual gauge, hence use of the gauge changer there. The main length of the new Pajares bypass line is electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz, with trains switching from and to 3 kV dc a short distance into the new line.

Sunday 23rd June 2024

Oviedo   07:19 71830 RENFE FEVE DMU 2717/2718 (metre gauge)
* Ribadeo 11:29 11:34 71830 RENFE FEVE DR 2907 unit swap (metre gauge)
Ferrol 14:44 15:10 Alvia 4134 RENFE Alvia Bi-Mode class 730 set 20 reverses at Betanzos-Infesta and A Coruña (broad gauge)
Santiago de Compostela 16:53 17:45 AVE 4345 RENFE AVE class 106 set 59 (broad gauge)
A Coruña 18:14      
New passenger track today: Pravia - Ferrol; Ferrol - Betanzos-Infesta - A Coruña - Santiago de Compostela.
Overnight: Hotel Avenida, A Coruña (1 night). Today's photos.
Out before hotel breakfast, fortunately the station cafe opened at 07:00 in time for coffee and fresh rolls to support the seven hour metre gauge run from Oviedo to Ferrol. This line only sees two trains per day each way in the middle section. The schedules worked quite well - unusual for Spain! - for getting all the lines in this area that I need. The train from Santiago de Compostela to A Coruña was one of the new Avril class 106 Talgo sets, introduced in May 2024; these are marketed (and liveried) as AVE services, the first time (as far as I am aware) that AVE has been applied to gauge-changing trains; train 4345 was from Madrid and would have changed gauge at Taboadela, east of Ourense.

Monday 24th June 2024

A Coruña   07:06 MD 12644 RENFE DMU 594 011 (broad gauge) via Lugo
Monforte de Lemos 09:54 10:00 (Alvia 621) rail replacement bus dep 15 late
San Clodio Quirigo 10:19 10:44 Alvia 621 arr 25 late - RENFE Alvia class 130 set 28 (broad gauge) dep 15 late
via León:  Bif León - Bif Bernesga - Bif Rio Quintana - León Clasificación gauge changer, to standard gauge - León bay platform 4 (reverse, dep 13 late) - Palencia - Bif. Cerrato - Bif. Soto de Cerrato - Burgos Rosa Manzano - Burgos gauge changer, to broad gauge
* Miranda de Ebro 15:55 15:57   RENFE Alvia class 130 set 45 added on front, from Salamanca arr 8 late / dep 18 late
via Altsasu station avoiding line - Zaragoza gauge changer, to standard gauge - Zaragoza-Delicias - long curve onto high speed line - stopped 19:54/19:55 ~km360.5 - long curve off high speed line
Lleida Pirineus 20:12     arr 13 late
New passenger track today: Betanzos-Infesta - Monforte de Lemos; San Clodio Quirigo - León via Enlace Sur and León Clasificación gauge changer; Altsasu station avoiding line.
Overnight: Hotel Zenit Lleida, Lleida (1 night). Today's photos.
Out before breakfast again, but the station cafe was a suitable alternative. (Betanzos-Infesta -) Lugo - Monforte de Lemos has been affected by long term engineering works, and has been a bus service on certain dates recently. Some work has been done on electrifying it at 25 kV 50 Hz but this is far from complete; one realignment through a new tunnel is under construction. My train terminated in a bay platform at the north end of the station at Monforte de Lemos, nothing else was moving. Ourense to Monforte de Lemos is undergoing significant rebuilding and has been shut for several years with no sign of an end to it; the engineering block has been extended (for an unknown period) as far eastwards as San Clodio Quirigo, the rail replacement bus being an extension of the bus from Ourense. Heading into León the train ran via the southern connection (Bif León - Bif Bernesga - Bif Rio Quintana) then the León Clasificación gauge changer into south-facing bay platform 4 at León; this appears to be the normal route nowadays. Train 621 (which, ignoring the engineering works, should run from Vigo in the west to Barcelona in the east, crossing the country at nearly its widest point) then continued via the standard gauge curve from Bif. Cerrato to Bif. Soto de Cerrato avoiding Venta de Baños, this and its opposite working being the only ones to do so, then via the Altsasu station avoiding line, which only a few trains cover. The gauge changer west of Zaragoza is used so that the train can run via the high speed line east from there towards Barcelona. I stayed in Lleida partly because hotels are a lot cheaper there than in Barcelona!

Tuesday 25th June 2024

Lleida Pirineus   09:37 AVE 3073 RENFE AVE class 103 set 05 (standard gauge)
via long curve onto high speed line - call at Camp de Tarragona
Barcelona Sants 10:42 10:55 'R1' RENFE EMU 2 x class 447 dep 7 late (broad gauge)
Pl. Catalunya 10:58     arr 8 late
Catalunya    11:29 'S1' FGC EMU class 113 (standard gauge)
Terrassa Naciones Unides 12:22 12:36 'S1' FGC EMU class 113 (standard gauge)
Sant Cugat Centre 13:00 13:37 'S2' FGC EMU (standard gauge)
Sabadell Parc del Nord 14:01 14:07 'S2' FGC EMU (standard gauge)
Peu del Funicular 14:45      
Vallvidrera Inferior   14:52   Vallvidrera funicular car 2
Vallvidrera Superior 14:56 15:04   Vallvidrera funicular car 1
Vallvidrera Inferior 15:08      
Peu del Funicular   15:14 'S1' FGC EMU class 112 (standard gauge)
Sarriá 15:17 15:26 'L12' FGC EMU class 113 (standard gauge)
Reina Elisenda 15:29 15:39 'L12' FGC EMU class 113 (standard gauge)
Sarriá 15:43 15:48 'S1' FGC EMU class 112 (standard gauge)
Gràcia 15:54 16:00 'L7' FGC EMU class 114 (standard gauge)
Av. Tibidabo 16:06 16:10 'L7' FGC EMU class 114 (standard gauge)
Pl. Catalunya 16:20 16:30 'L1' Barcelona metro (standard gauge)
Plaça de Sants 16:38      
Barcelona Sants   17:39 'R2' RENFE EMU 465 261 (broad gauge)
Barcelona (BCN) 17:56 19:55 FR 7545 Ryanair FR B737-8AS EI-DYE push-back 21:31, take-off 21:49 from runway 24L
Manchester (MAN) 21:30 00:15   landed 23:47 on runway 23R, on stand 23:53 - taxi
Timperley 00:30     Today's photos.
New passenger track today: FGC: Pl. Catalunya to Terrassa Naciones Unides, Sabadell Parc del Nord, Reina Elisenda and Av. Tibidabo; Valvidrera funicular.
With the possibility of a broad gauge loco hauled tour around Barcelona later this year, I concentrated on other routes in the area. I chose the FGC standard gauge, 1500 V dc, lines north from Pl. Catalunya, and was rewarded by a super run through the northern Barcelona suburbs with plenty of scenery. The flight home was delayed, perhaps inevitably.


An excellent trip which fulfilled all my objectives.