Trip to Spain - November 2023

General Notes

Two weeks track-bashing in Spain, surrounding the PTG tour around Galicia.

Operating Company Abbreviations

  • RENFE - Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (principal train operator in Spain)
  • TPE - Trans Pennine Express (operator of trains across northern England and into Scotland)

Track gauge

Unless otherwise stated, RENFE trains of types AVE and Avant are standard (1435 mm) gauge, others are Iberian (1668 mm) gauge. Gauge-changing trains are listed individually.

Place Arrive Depart Train Traction details & notes

Friday 10th November 2023

Timperley   13:43   Metrolink tram 3018
Manchester Piccadilly 14:12 13:51 [13]   TPE DMU 185102 dep 36 late
Manchester Airport 14:10 [2]     arr 30 late
Manchester (MAN)   16:55 FR3232 Ryanair EI-DLC B737-8AS push-back 17:01; take-off 17:11 from runway 23L
Malaga (AGP)   20:50 21:15   landed 20:40 on runway 31; on stand 20:43 - taxi
Hotel Holiday Inn Express Malaga Airport 21:20      
Overnight: Hotel Holiday Inn Express Malaga Airport, Avenida de Velazquez 294, Malaga.
Flight from Manchester to Malaga. The only sensible priced hotel I could find in Malaga was near the airport, which needed a taxi to get there and a bus into Malaga next morning – but still cheaper than Malaga central hotels.

Saturday 11th November 2023

Av Valazquez (close to hotel)   08:18   bus A
Estación Autobuses Málaga 08:34      
Málaga María Zambrana   09:25 Avant 8815 bus replacement dep 20 late (no train)
Via A-7 A-45 A-92    
Granada 10:43     arr 36 late
Granada   13:35 [6] Avant 8935 RENFE AVE 102 set 8
Via Antequera-Santa Ana avoiding line     
Málaga María Zambrana 14:57 [1]     arr 6 early
El Perchel   15:16 [-2]   line 1 metro set 305
Via Guadalmedina [-1]
Atarazanas 15:20 15:22   line 1 metro set 305
Via Guadalmedina [-2]    
El Perchel 15:26 [-1] 15:34 [-1]   line 2 metro set 306
Guadalmedina 15:37 [-1] 15:44 [-2]   line 2 metro set 306
El Perchel 15:46 [-2]      
Málaga María Zambrana   18:19 [4] Avant 8784 RENFE EMU 104 set 13
Via Córdoba (reverse) 19:23/19:33 [4]
Sevilla-Santa Justa 20:18 [2]     arr 5 early
New passenger track for today: Antequera-Santa Ana avoiding line (standard gauge).     
Overnight: Hotel Ibis Styles Sevilla City Santa Justa, Av. de la Buhaira 2, 41018 Sevilla (~10 mins walk from station) Today's photos.
I planned to do to Granada and back via the curve avoiding Antequera Santa Ana but couldn’t reserve in advance as these are Avant trains. Checking on the app the day before, places were available, but on the day the app said “tickets temporarily not available”. Strange. The lady in the booking office at Malaga said the train was full. I checked the app again and found seats available to Antequera AV so she booked me one of those (though initially she said she couldn’t as the train was full), then to avoid further confusion I booked from there to Granada on the app (with Tarjeta Dorada discount) – the app lets you select a seat and there seemed to be plenty available; and I was able to select the same seat I had got the Antequera reservation for! Also same on the return, splitting the journey at Antequera AV; same seat for both legs, though this was irrelevant as it turned out.
Armed with this variety of tickets and reservations, I went through security to the platform area. No platform was advertised, but a queue of hopeful people had formed at a platform – with no train in sight. At about departure time a member of staff informed us all that there is no train but there will be a replacement bus. OK, but do I go on this and hope a train will be found for the return journey, bearing mind the service can be worked by a single unit all day just working backwards and forwards? Nothing to lose and not much else to do in Malaga before my reserved evening train out, so I took the bus…..two were offered, one direct and one calling at Antequera AV and Loja; needless to say I took the direct bus: a good scenic run that only took about 15 minutes longer than the train should have. I went for a wander around Granada – the Al-Andalus train was in one of the broad gauge platforms but all shut down. I’d done the trams here previously. When I got back to the station for a coffee, an AVE class 102 (Talgo) set had arrived and was duly advertised as the 13:35 Avant to Malaga. As we passed through the ticket barrier we were advised “sit where you like” – probably about 60 passengers rattling around in a 12-coach train. This duly did the required curve, using the “long curves” as expected. So at least I did my required track, if only in one direction.
This was the only time I had a problem with reservations on the whole trip. There were nowhere near enough people on the buses out and train back to fill the Avant EMU (had it turned up) so I can only assume that there is a problem with the booking system. Talking about this to one of the passengers on the railtour, he asked me about a specific date later in November when he might be in the area, and the app was showing one train as available, and two others as “tickets temporarily not available” again.
Back at Malaga I had time to do the metro extension, opened in March 2023. Line 1 is extended two stops from El Perchel (platform -2) to Guadalmedina (-1) and Atarazanas (single platform) , returning through Guadalmedina (-2) to El Perchel (-1); and line 2 from El Perchel (-1) to Guadalmedina only (-1, then empty shunt to -2) returning via El Perchel (-2). I did both new routes, both, ways to ensure I’d done all the combinations.
Continued to Sevilla SJ via reversal at Cordoba.

Sunday 12th November 2023

Sevilla Santa Justa   09:12 [7] Torre del Oro 694 RENFE EMU 120 set 52 14 late
Via Sevilla Majarabique gauge changer onto high speed line; Córdoba [2], dep 10 late; Alcolea gauge changer; very slow with PWay slacks; Espeluy dep 40 late     
Linares-Baeza 11:39 [2]      arr 36 late
    12:47 [2] MD 18030 RENFE EMU 449 002+004 dep 18 late
Jaén 13:28 [1]     arr 14 late
    14:32 [4] MD 13083 RENFE EMU 449 015
Córdoba 16:10 [8]      arr 28 late
    17:47 [1] AVE 3981 RENFE AVE 100 set 12
Via Torrejón de Velasco curve (avoiding Madrid Atocha); into loop at Valdemoro, brief stop 20:25/20:29     
València Joaquín Sorolla 21:40 [5]     arr 18 late
New passenger track for today: Sevilla Santa Justa - Sevilla Majarabique gauge changer; Alcolea gauge changer; Espeluy east curve; Torrejón de Velasco curve.     
Overnight: Hotel RH Sorolla Centro, Convento Santa Clara 5, Valencia (~15 mins walk from València JS, 5 mins from Nord) Today's photos.
I caught “Torre del Oro” train 694 from Sevilla SJ via the expected gauge changers at Majarabique and Alcolea. Lost around 30 minutes due to slow track east of Alcolea. Then MD to Jaén to do the east curve at Espeluy since I didn’t do the desperate move off the PTG tour. Then MD to Córdoba then AVE 3981 via Torrejón de Velasco curve as expected. The “heritage” class 100 AVE was struggling to get above about 200 km/h and lost a lot of time, and south of the curve we went into the “emergency” loop at Valdemoro. I suspect the train was rebooted here and we then set off with 300 km/h reached in the remainder of the journey.
The security queue at Córdoba was horrendous, taking around half an hour. No other security queue took anywhere near as long. Too many trains in a short period, I think.
Incidentally these 30-year-old TGV-lookalikes have the best ride by far compared to any of the other high speed trains I took during the trip. The Talgos in particular are very “lively” at their top speed of 250 km/h. They are building some new sets that are designed for 300 km/h, let’s see what happens……
Regarding construction work on the direct curve Malaga – Sevilla avoiding Córdoba, the formation and bridges appear to be complete, but no ballast laid. The necessary deviation of the broad gauge Córdoba – Sevilla line, to clear the new line’s flyover, was covered by the PTG tour last January.

Monday 13th November 2023

València Estación del Nord   09:35 [3] MD 18502 RENFE DMU 599 023/024
Via LH track through FSL, lots of works, cross to RH track north of freight triangle - Sagunt bay [5] (reverse) –Teruel - Zaragoza Ronda Sur - Zaragoza Delicias [6]
Zaragoza Miraflores 14:42 [1] 16:01 [3] R 18753 RENFE EMU 448 002
Via Zaragoza Delicias [6]
Calatayud 17:42 [1A] 20:06 [6] AVE 3393 RENFE AVE 100 set 2 dep 20 late
Via long curve into Zaragoza - Zaragoza Delicias [2], dep 28 late     
Huesca 21:22 [1]     arr 29 late
New passenger track for today: Sagunt – Teruel - (Zaragoza); Bif. Cambiador Plasencia de Jalón – (Zaragoza) – Tardienta (standard gauge).     
Overnight: Hotel Abba Huesca, Tarbes 14, Huesca 22005 (~3 mins walk from station) Today's photos.  
MD from València to Zaragoza to cover the Teruel line. Some reporters have mentioned lots of realignments between Sagunt and Teruel, but most of these are actually the near-parallel course of an independent mining railway Several loops have been extended on the line, and electrification work is ongoing north from Teruel – so starting from the north end. One freight was crossed en route.
Out to Calatayud via the broad gauge to get the overlap at Casetas, which we missed on the PTG tour of the area. This nicely led into the daily standard gauge working to Huesca. As seen last year in Badajoz, the train guards were in the same hotel that I was in….

Tuesday 14th November 2023

Huesca   08:10 [1] AVE 10272 RENFE AVE 100 set 2
Zaragoza Delicias 08:55 [4] 09:01 [6] Cercanías C-1 RENFE EMU 470 094 dep 5 late
Zaragoza Goya 09:13 [1]     arr 7 late
Fernando El Catolico   09:29   Zaragoza tram 309
Avenida de la Academia 09:52 10:00   Zaragoza tram 309
Magor de Oz 10:38 10:45   Zaragoza tram 309
Fernando El Catolico 10:59      
Zaragoza Goya   11:48 Cercanías C-1 RENFE EMU 464 231
Zaragoza Delicias 11:53 12:41 [1] iryo 6111 iryo EMU 109 002 (standard gauge)
Via long curve out of Zaragoza - Lleida avoiding line; non stop     
Barcelona Sants 14:10 [3] 15:15 [5] AVE 3942/3992 RENFE EMU 103 023+xxx
Via short curve to Lleida-Pirineus then short curve - short curve to Zaragoza Delicias then short curve - curve avoiding Madrid Atocha     
Ciudad Real 19:17 [1]     arr 9 late taxi to hotel (20 mins walk)
New passenger track for today: Lleida avoiding line and on to Barcelona Sants; curve avoiding Madrid Atocha.     
Overnight: Hotel Silken Alfonso X, Carlos Vázquez 8, Ciudad Real 13001 Today's photos.
Back out on the AVE to Zaragoza, then back one stop to Goya to cover the tram route here. It runs roughly north-south centred close to Goya station.
I had bought an individual ticket on the iryo to get the Lleida avoiding line; at about EUR 18 it was only a bit more than the InterRail reservation on a RENFE train. About 30 years since I had been to Barcelona Sants, it has changed a lot!
That also led into one of the Barcelona – Sevilla trains that avoids Madrid; overnighting in Ciudad Real to avoid being too far south. This was helpful as I was able to view via TEAMS in the hotel an IMechE meeting in Manchester that I didn’t want to miss, about the new GBRf Class 99 loco.

Wednesday 15th November 2023

Ciudad Real (walk to station)   08:35 [2] Avant 8081 RENFE EMU 114 set 11
Madrid Atocha 09:32 [13]     arr 10 late
Madrid Atocha Cercanías   09:54 [1] Cercanías C-1 RENFE EMU 465046+076
Via Recoletos     
Madrid Chamartín 10:09 [12] 11:20 [16] Alvia 4115 RENFE ALVIA 130 set 40
Via long curve at Olmedo - Zamora [4] - cross to LH track after Sanabria AV (RH NIRU) - back onto RH single after Pedralba connection - Taboadela gauge changer 13:36 - into broad gauge 3 kV platforms at Ourense     
Ourense 13:58 [3] 16:40 [5] R 12960 RENFE DMU 594 011
Via Lalín
Santiago de Compostela 18:20 [5] 19:50 [1] R 12441 RENFE DMU 599 018 dep 9 late
Via Portela
Vigo Guixar 21:26 [7]     arr 13 late
New passenger track for today: Medina del Campo AV – Zamora – Ourense (standard gauge); Ourense – Lalin - Santiago de Compostela old line; Portela.     
Overnight: Hotel Atlántico Vigo, Avenida Garcia Barbon 35, Vigo 36201 (10 mins walk from station) Today's photos
Back to Madrid. Chamartín is an appalling building site - you can see why the PTG railtour couldn’t go there, especially with Sol tunnel out of use. With so many trains now using the standard gauge line under Atocha the high speed “collecting area” is much enlarged, to the detriment of the suburban side.
First time via Zamora to Ourense (either standard or broad gauge): interesting mixture of single and double track, and long tunnels interspersed with viaducts.
At Zamora (broad gauge km 0) there are separate pairs of broad and standard gauge platforms, but at the west end they all converge into one dual gauge track at Zamora Ag km233.0 (distance from Madrid via the HSL presumably) = broad gauge km 0.5 – the site of the former gauge changer is visible. Then at Bif Valorio (at km 235.4 = km 2.9) the two tracks split off again into two parallel tracks. The broad gauge line has been realigned from here to La Hiniesta (km 10.2), where there’s an engineering site in the V of the broad and standard gauge lines. So there’s only 2.4 km of dual gauge track, but the formation width allows for two tracks all the way from Zamora station.
As my train was an Alvia continuing beyond Ourense, it used the gauge changer at Taboadela. There’s a standard gauge bypass line here (travelled over next day) then it’s dual gauge for the remaining 15 km or so into Ourense. Just before Ourense the standard gauge splits off to go into platforms 1 and 2 only, all at 25 kV; there’s a voltage change on the broad gauge to the 3 kV of the main station area.
There’s a new line under construction from Taboadela gauge changer which loops around the east side of Ourense – it’s visible on OSM – entering via the Monforte line. Lots of work to do yet though.
Then Ourense to Santiago de Compostela via Lalín, the original classic route (one train per day each way). In one place the old line curves around the end of valley, passing under the same high speed line viaduct twice.
Then Santiago de Compostela to Vigo Guixar via Portela (one train per day each way). Though EGTRE suggest this may be at risk, as indeed it was a request stop, I can’t see how this would work. As per the train via Lalin, there was no guard on the train so no-one to check who might want to get off at Portela. In theory it’s a Regional train so doesn’t need reservations, though I had to move once as some people did have reservations!

Thursday 16th November 2023

Vigo Guixar   07:20 [9] Alvia 621 RENFE ALVIA 730 set 13 (Iberian gauge)
Via Guillarei     
Ourense 08:49 [3]     arr 17 late; buses onwards to Monforte de Lemos
Ourense   09:30 [5] Alvia 4275 RENFE ALVIA 130 set 40 (Iberian gauge)
Via Santiago de Compostela avoiding line
Vigo Urzaiz 11:00 [3] 13:20 [3] Alvia 4354 RENFE ALVIA 130 set 40 (Iberian gauge)
Via Santiago de Compostela avoiding line     
Ourense 14:48 [5] 16:25 [2] AVE 5382 RENFE AVE 112 set 043
From Ourense standard gauge bay platforms - via Taboadela gauge changer bypass 16:40 then onto RH track - stopped before Meamán/Vilariño loops then continued - cross to LH track Villavieja? No RH track - RH track before Sanabria AV - Zamora [3] - RH track from Medina del Campo AV 17:57 (non-stop)     
Madrid-Chamartín 18:40 [18]      
New passenger track for today: (Vigo) – Guillarei – Ourense; Ourense - Santiago de Compostela new line and avoiding line.     
Overnight: PTG Hotel Ilunion Pio XII, Avenida de Pio XII 77, 28016 Madrid (20 mins walk from Chamartín station) Today's photos.
Vigo Guixar to Ourense by the broad gauge 3 kV route via Guillarei, as it happens on an Alvia working. This was supposed to be through to beyond León via Monforte de Lemos, but of course would be a bus from Ourense to Monforte due to the long-term engineering works on the route. This was not advertised at all at Vigo, and only mentioned in Spanish and Galician (but not English) in the on-train announcements.
Then Ourense to Vigo Urzaiz and back via the Santiago de Compostela avoiding line on Alvia workings - for some reason I couldn’t get reservations for these from the Interrail web site. Note that after departure from Ourense the change from 3 kV to 25 kV has to be done when climbing the steep hill, my train came nearly to a stop during this manoeuvre.
Finally, by waiting a while at Ourense I could get an AVE working to Madrid out of the standard gauge 25 kV bay 2, thus doing the Taboadela gauge changer bypass line.

Friday 17th November 2023

PTG bus from hotel   06:45    
Madrid Principe Pío 07:10 07:27   PTG charter ALSA DL 2148+2150 (Iberian gauge)
Via Ávila 09:02 - Medina del Campo (rev 10:16 ~35 late/10:29 ~ 75 late) – Zamora 11:57 ~95 late - Puebla de Sanabria - Taboadela Ourense (rev 15:22 ~125 late/17:39 ~70 late) – Puebla de Sanabria - Zamora 20:50 ~110 late
Medina del Campo 21:51     arr ~120 late PTG bus to hotel
New passenger track for today: Medina del Campo – Zamora (broad gauge).
New non-passenger track for today: Zamora – Ourense (broad gauge).    
Overnight: PTG Hotel Villa de Ferias, Av. del V Centenario de Isabel la Católica 4, 47400 Medina del Campo Today's photos.
For me the main point of the PTG trip was to cover Medina del Campo – Zamora – Ourense on the broad gauge, this being the last line I missed before starting to cover Spain “seriously”. It was good to have done the standard gauge on the previous two days, as that allowed many things to make more sense.
Between Requejo and Lubián the single track (at present) new line and the single track old line run through long parallel tunnels (5.9 km; “Padornelo Tunnel”; longest on the Spanish broad gauge network according to; at both ends the unused infrastructure for the second track of the new line leads directly into the old line. See Open Street Map (east end) and Open Street Map (west end). I wonder what the long term plans are here?
The rail head on the little-used descent into Ourense was very slippery and we had several braking lock-ups, which resulted in a number of wheel flats.
Regrettably we didn’t have any photos stops on the Zamora– Ourense line, though ironically on the way back eastwards we had to wait at Puebla de Sanabria for the one service train to arrive – there were about a dozen passengers on it.
Unlike on the last tour the locos didn’t throw oil over each other but one of them kept tripping hot axle box detectors. After a suitable check we could continue, but much time was lost – a couple of hours late each of the first two days.

Saturday 18th November 2023

PTG bus from hotel     
Medina del Campo   08:33   PTG charter ALSA DL 2150+2148 (Iberian gauge)
Via León avoiding line – Villamanín (lunch break)  - Busdongo - Pajares 13:45 ~90 late – Oviedo 15:08 ~110 late -
Gijón 15:34     arr ~120 late
New passenger track for today: Venta de Baños - Palencia - Bif. Rio Bernesga; Bif. Torneros - Bif. Asturias (part León avoiding line).
New non-passenger track for today: Bif. Rio Bernesga - Bif. Torneros; Bif. Asturias - Bif. Galicia (part León avoiding line).
Overnight: PTG Hotel Silken Ciudad Gijón, Bohemia 1, 33207 Gijon (1st of 2 nights) (opposite station) Today's photos.
We did the western bypass at León both ways, today and Monday. We had several photos stop on the Pajares pass, in sunny weather.
The press releases about the forthcoming (and after it happened) opening of the new Pajares variante are misleading or incorrect: the line will be opened only for broad gauge trains, the dual gauge track north from León are incomplete, and the junction pointwork south of La Robla where the new line diverges (Bif Pajares) has some dual gauge pointwork but it’s not complete on the standard gauge.
We did both the “tunnel” routes south of Oviedo.

Sunday 19th November 2023

Gijón   08:15   PTG charter FEVE EDL 1916-TnT-1915 (metre gauge) dep ~20 late
Via Sotiello (rev 08:23/08:38 dep ~30 late) - Avilés 09:30 - San Esteban de Pravia (rev 10:35/10:55 ~20 late) – Trubia 11:56 – Mieres (rev 12:46 ~50 late/12:54 ~120 late) – Trubia 13:30 – Oviedo 13:51 - El Berrón west-to-south curve 14:12 ~120 late/14:40 ~120 late - Sotrondio - Laviana (rev 15:28 ~120 late/15:40 ~120 late)     
Gijón 16:57     arr ~120 late
New passenger track for today: Aboño - Pravia - San Esteban de Pravia; Pravia - Trubia; Baiña - Mieres; Trubia - Oviedo.
New non-passenger track for today: Sotiello - Aboño; Trubia - Baiña; El Berrón west-south curve.    
Overnight: PTG Hotel Gijón (2nd of 2 nights) Today's photos.
The mini-tour of the FEVE was good for me as I needed all the network to the west of Oviedo and Gijón. Three coaches, top-n-tail with two of the class 1900 bi-mode locos.
Trubia to Mieres sees very little usage and we had to keep stopping to remove debris from the tracks – though we did hit one fallen branch quite hard which resulted in damage to some of the outside covers on the underframe of one of the coaches. This all took time, which allowed this tour to be two hours late as per the main tour first two days.
We covered the non-passenger west to south curve at El Berrón.
Work does seem to have (re)started in putting the line underground on part of the Laviana line.
Incidentally ALSA electric loco 269 411 hauled the main railtour stock from Gijón to Villamanin and back today, open to the public. I gather most or all the tickets had been sold.

Monday 20th November 2023

Gijón   07:25   PTG charter ALSA DL 2148+2150 (Iberian gauge)
Via Lugo de Llanera - Ramal de Viella – Tudela-Veguín (08:01/08:21) – Campomanes - Puente de los Fierros - Linares-Congostinas - Pajares 11:26 - Busdongo - La Robla  – Bif. Pajares - Bif. Galicia - León avoiding line – Santas Martas - Palencia - Venta de Baños - Medina del Campo 17:21 – Ávila 18:23 - diveunder south of Las Matas
Madrid Principe Pío 20:09     arr ~20 late
Principe Pío   20:45 '10' Madrid metro
Plaza de Castilla 21:01 21:07 '9' Madrid metro
Duque de Pastrana 21:09      
New passenger track for today: Ramal de Viella – Tudela-Veguín and curve towards Olloniego.     
Overnight PTG Hotel Ilunion Pio XII (10 mins walk from Duque de Pastrana metro station) Today's photos.
The tour avoided Oviedo by using the line via Viella, as promised. It did the tunnel route bypassing Olloniego, but we used the river valley route south of Ujo.
Fewer photo stops were had over Pajares, and the weather wasn’t so good as it was on Saturday. Time was available at La Robla for the very much disused track in the metre gauge station to be viewed. The western bypass at León was used again.
Missing out some stops enabled Principe Pío to be reached only slightly late.

Tuesday 21st November 2023

Madrid-Chamartín   10:15 [10] Cercanías C-8 RENFE EMU 446 013 + xxx
Cercedilla 11:21 [4] 11:35 [2 Cercanías C-9 RENFE EMU 442 004 (metre gauge)
Cotos 12:16 12:43 Cercanías C-9 RENFE EMU 442 004 (metre gauge)
Cercedilla 13:24 14:33 Cercanías C-8 RENFE EMU 465 099+100
Pitis 15:33 15:38 Cercanías C-7 RENFE EMU 465010+094
Príncipe Pío 16:08 [1] 16:09 [1] Cercanías C-1 RENFE EMU 465010+094
Via Atocha Cercanías platform 2, Recoletos platform 1     
Madrid-Chamartín 16:39 [13] 17.38 [19] Alvia 4167 RENFE ALVIA 120 sets 059+058 (standard gauge)
Via HSL to Burgos then gauge changer, delayed at Santa Olalla, Miranda de Ebro [4] dep 7 late with set 059 only (note rear portion will run via ES23/32)     
Vitoria/Gasteiz 20:58     arr 12 late
New passenger track for today: Cercedilla – Cotos; Venta de Baños – Burgos (standard gauge) and Burgos gauge changer.     
Overnight: Abba Jazz Hotel Vitoria, Florida 7, Vitoria-Gasteiz 01005 (~10 mins walk from station) Today's photos.
With a couple of others I covered the 11:35 to Cotos and back, as I needed to be back at Chamartín for my evening train. Not so quickly that I couldn’t ensure that I had covered all six routes at Las Rozas though.
The Alvia from Chamartín was a pair of class 120 EMUs: front set for Vitoria/Gasteiz (my destination) and San Sebastián, rear set for Bilbao. After doing the required high speed line to Burgos and then the gauge changer there, the train split in platform 4 at Miranda de Ebro (north side of the island). This means that the Bilbao portion must have done the short curve, ES23/32. It’s probably worth checking which other trains might be in two portions, as these are much more likely to use platform 4.

Wednesday 22nd November 2023

Parlamento   08:07   Euskotren tram 603 (Vitoria/Gasteiz trams) (metre gauge)
Abetxuko 08:28 08:36   Euskotren tram 603 (metre gauge)
Unibertsitatea 09:06 09:13   Euskotren tram 603 (metre gauge)
Florida 09:18 09:21   Euskotren tram 605 (metre gauge)
Salburua 09:32 09:44   Euskotren tram 605 (metre gauge)
Ibaiondo 10:16 10:30   Euskotren tram 602 (metre gauge)
Parlamento 10:47      
Vitoria/Gasteiz   11:58 [1] Alvia 4087 RENFE EMU 120 set 61 dep 12 late (Iberian gauge)
San Sebastián/Donostia 13:37 [1]     arr 7 late; drop bag at hotel
Amara-Donostia   14:37 [7]   Euskotren EMU 926 (metre gauge)
Altza-Donostia 14:48 [2] 15:05 [2]   Euskotren EMU 905 (metre gauge)
Loiola-Donostia 15:11 [2] 15:19 [2]   Euskotren EMU 917 (metre gauge)
Via reversal at Amara-Donostia platform 6     
Lasarte-Oria 15:40 [2] 15:45 [2]   Euskotren EMU 917 (metre gauge)
Amara-Donostia 15:58 [4] 16:20 [3]   Euskotren EMU 911 (metre gauge)
Zarrautz 16:50 [temp] 17:08 [temp]   Euskotren EMU 911 (metre gauge)
Añorga-Donostia 17:32 [1] 17:36 [2]   Euskotren EMU 921 (metre gauge)
Via reversal at Amara-Donostia     
Hendaia 18:22 [1] 18:33 [1]   Euskotren EMU 921 (metre gauge)
Amara-Donostia 19:10 [6]      
New passenger track for today: Euskotren Altza branch; Amara - Lasarte-Oria and to Zarrautz.     
Overnight: Hotel Villa Katalina By Intur, Hondarribia Kalea 42, San Sebastián 20006 (10 mins walk from station) Today's photos.
Time to cover the Vitoria/Gasteiz trams this morning. Note these are run by Euskotren so the “barik” smartcard I had from my previous trip to Bilbao was valid, and even had enough remaining value stored on it. Single fares were only 36 euro-cents when using one of the valid smartcards.
Then onto San Sebastián, to cover more of the Euskotren system. On the main line, south of Astigarraga station, a newly built viaduct, but with no track yet, drops down from the south, onto the present formation. From here northwards one track of the double track has dual gauge sleepers but with only the broad gauge rails laid. I couldn’t see where else this new line is visible.
At San Sebastián main line station, the two tracks and platforms are now on the east side of the layout - compared to the west side a couple of years ago. To get to the city centre and Amara station requires a long walk around via a tall footbridge.
I covered the short Euskotren branches to Altza and to Lasarte-Oria. The Bilbao line is long-term blocked due to tunnel work between Zarrautz and Zumaia; I went to Zarrautz, which is presently a single platform some distance short of the “normal” station, which is undergoing considerable rebuilding work.
Regarding the new arrangement at Amara, there is a clear and completed simple divergence in the tunnel north of Lugaritz station, as shown on OSM. However nothing is visible on the Hendaia line south of Amara. So, any change isn’t likely to happen soon.
I also went out to Hendaia just to pass the time away.

Thursday 23rd November 2023

San Sebastián/Donostia   07:10 Alvia 533  RENFE EMU 120 set 02 (Iberian gauge)
Via Altsasu [2] then north <=> east curve inside track – Pamplona - Castejón de Ebro - Zaragoza gauge changer - Zaragoza Delicias [1] - long curve out of Zaragoza - long curve into Lleida     
Lleida-Pirineus 11.58 [2]     arr 19 late
Lleida-Pirineus   13:05 [5]   R 30522 RENFE EMU 470 070
Via Juneda - Reus [2] dep 16 late - Tarragona [2] dep 10 late - Sant Vicenç de Calders [2] dep 23 late - Vilanova i la Geltrú [3] dep 31 late - Garral through line     
Barcelona-Sants 16:07 [14]     arr 32 late
Barcelona-Sants   18:09 [11] Rodalies R2N RENFE EMU 465 set 46 dep 11 late
Aeroport T2 18:26     arr 12 late
Barcelona (BCN)   20:40 FR7545 Ryanair EI-IGW B737 MAX 8-200 push-back 20:47, take-off 21:10 from runway 4L
Manchester Airport T3 (MAN) 22:15 22:45   landed at 22:21 on runway 23R, on stand 22:27 - taxi
Timperley 23:00     Today's photos.
New passenger track for today: Altsasu north/east curve – Pamplona – Castejón de Ebro; Lleida – Reus – Tarragona – Barcelona Sants; Barcelona Aeroport T2 branch.     
Out of the hotel before breakfast to get Alvia 533 via the Altsasu east curve, one per day each way. Note Open Street Map shows two curves, both were shiny; my eastbound train did the curve nearer the midpoint of the triangle; it would be feasible for the westbound train to do the other curve.
Via the “back” route from Lleida to Barcelona via Reus and Tarragona; a Rodalies service. This train got very full at times and managed to lose 30 minutes over its journey. No guard or ticket checking. The evening peak at Sants was mayhem, everything was 10 to 20 minutes late.
Flight from Barcelona (required airport) to Manchester.