On Sun, 01 May 2005 10:43:05 +0100, Arthur Figgis
Post by Arthur Figgis
Does anyone have any recommendations for railway (and transport)
enthusiasts' "must see" highlights in northern Spain?
We're back. We went on the metre gauge lines between Hendaye and
Ferrol, but in a round-about sort of way, out via Donostia and Bilbo
to Leon and then RENFE to Santiago and A Coruna, then back along the
coast to Bilbao before going inland again.
Bilbao - Leon is a long afternoon's ride, but very scenic and well
worth doing. Anyone know why this line still exists? Does it carry
freight anyway, so the marginal cost of a passenger service is low?
The FEVE DMUs with 2+1 seats used on the seriously long runs are
pretty good, but ones with 2+2 seats are less than ideal for long
Viveiro has a small halt on the Ovideo-side of the main station which
is closer to the old town centre than the main station - the FEVE
ticket seller at Ferrol helpfully pointed this out (does Ferrol really
need separate RENFE and FEVE ticket offices, given the lack of
The Asturias railway museum in Gijon is worth a look, with lots of
narrow gauge locos and stock, and even some 1435mm gauge stuff. If
like me your Spanish runs to a forgotten GCSE grade E(!), it is worth
paying EUR1.50 for the English-language audio tour. There is also a
plinthed steam engine at Bilbao RENFE station, looking like a
Metropolitan Railway loco (at least when seen from a distance in the
rain at night).
The EuskoTren EMUs used between Donostia and Bilbao are more like
trams than trains, a long ride on low-backed seats with no on-board
facilities. The recorded music is different, but I hope it doesn't
catch on here!
We failed to buy Oviedo - Leon return tickets; either they wouldn't
sell them because a 20 min turnround was too short, or they couldn't
understand why we would just go "for the ride". Multi-lingual ticket
machines are handy, but not yet perfect, translating "welcome to X"
while leaving "single", "return" "valid 1 calendar day/24hrs" etc in
the local language. Still, a British one would be monolingual.
For the record, EuskoTren seemed happy with us taking photos, but a
FEVE chap at Bilbao got rather over-excited and came running and
shouting at us (maybe bin Laden/nationalists/whoever they are scared
of, has an eye on the little steam loco between the tracks). FEVE had
no problems at Leon, and the crew told us we could get off to take
pictures at the passing point on the way from Bilbao. But FEVE at
Santander weren't happy with photos. RENFE told us to stop taking pics
at Leon, but elsewhere ignored us. We saw a number of people
photographing from the lineside. Interestingly, people were happily
leaving baggage unattended, in a way that could cause chaos in the UK!
Arthur Figgis Surrey, UK