Majorca, Spain

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Puerto de Sóller Tramway car no. 2 at S'Eden. Photo by David Pirmann, September 2004.


The island of Majorca, part of the Balearic chain of islands in the Mediterranean Sea, is a great place to take a holiday. Sandy beaches and constant sun tempt the tourist but once you are cooked and your liver is soused by all the bars, what is there for the railfan? Only one of the best narrow gauge electric railways in Europe. Come on this photo tour and I will explain.

Starting off in the main port city of Palma de Majorca, or, simply, Palma to us and "City" to the Majorcans, the station is located across from Plaça Espanya and adjacent to a more modern station for the train to the Majorcan town of Inca. A single platform and a passing siding to enable the motor coach to get back to the front of the train is all that is necessary and all that is provided. The railway leaves Palma via the backdoor, running down the middle of a main road, part street running and part preserved right of way, before heading off across the plains toward the mountains.

First passing through the ramshackle outskirts of Palma, the usual trappings of urban life prevail, with the scenery changing to that of discarded cars, fridges and furniture, and light industrial parks, then entering an expanse of orange groves as the terrain becomes more rugged. A passing siding and station stop is located at Bunyola, just before heading into the mountains and the first of the line's 13 tunnels. At Bunyola we will pass another train packed with tourists, arms and heads of the passengers protrude from every window in an attempt to stay cool as they wait their turn for the single track line in the searing summer heat. The carriages have platforms at each end which make up for the lack of air conditioning, and provide a better view for railfans.

The views of orange groves have given away to panoramic views of the base of the Sierra de Alfábia range. A series of short tunnels passes and then we enter Túnel Major, as its name indicates, the longest and most important tunnel on the route, built at the route's highest point of 323 meters for a length of 2,856 meters. The construction of Túnel Major began in June 1907 and was completed in June 1910. The chilly air of the tunnel is a shock to the platform riders and only the brave remain to enjoy the lightshow given by the pantograph as it scrapes off the 1200 volts of DC power. As the train emerges, the pantograph has stooped so low you can almost touch it, but perhaps best not to do so.

A stop is soon made at Mirador des Pujol de'n Banya, a panoramic viewpoint and passing siding. Trains bound for Sóller stop here for a few minutes letting its passengers admire the view while waiting for the Palma-bound train to finish its climb up the mountainside. If one looks carefully the Sóller station can be seen slightly to the right of Sóller's cathedral in the valley below.

Twisting our way down the mountainside in a tight "U" configuration, we quickly arrive at the delightful station in Sóller, a town nestled in the mountains dividing the holiday hot spots of the south from the quieter, more picturesque, and rugged northern coast. The station is full of character and Spanish charm which seems to come alive at the coming and going of the few trains which serve it. Passengers waiting for Palma-bound trains are entertained by the shunting back and forth of the engines of the railway, as well as of the adjacent tramway. The heat is made bearable by an ice cold drink from the station cafe.

Also located here is the depot of the railway, which looks after the 500hp electric locomotives which haul the trains, as well as the tram cars. Steam traction was used in its early days, but the line was electrified in 1929, seventeen years after it opened. The current rolling stock dates from the conversion to electric operation. <a href="http://trendesoller.com">Official site of the Tren de Sóller and tramway.</a>

The ride doesn't finish here, however; a tramway line using heritage and some home-built cars operates from Sóller to the coastal town of Puerto de Sóller. The tramway, used by tourists and locals alike, runs 4 km. through the heart of the town of Sóller along streets and through its main square, and then via private right of way emerging at the edge of Puerto de Sóller's cove beach. The tramway was Majorca's first electric railway, operating since 1913. The tramway makes 17 stops along its route but only a handful are used-- those in-between the town centers of Sóller and Puerto de Sóller have limited boardings, mostly by locals (and railfans), and many are "flag" stops. The tramway is single track except at the Sóller terminal, at Ca'n Guida station, at Es Control station, and just past Marysol station outbound. (The penultimate station on the line, Marysol, is the current terminal of the line due to repair works between there and the usual terminal at Sa Pagesa.)

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 21904

(192k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Simon Billis
Location: Sóller (Tram Depot)

Image 21910

(222k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Simon Billis
Location: Bunyola

Image 33793

(211k, 1044x701)
Photo by: David Pirmann
Location: Mercat

Image 33801

(235k, 1044x701)
Photo by: David Pirmann
Location: Sóller Station (Tram Stop)

Image 37981

(94k, 700x491)
Photo by: Jim Halsall
Location: Sa Torre

More Images: 1-50 51-100 101

Page Credits

By Simon Billis.

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