23rd March 2019: Spanish class 310 special to Teruel

An interesting special train is operating in Spain on Saturday 23rd March 2019, taking an ADIF class 310 from Casetas to Teruel and return (details here), to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its organisers, AZAFT.

The tour costs €40 and depart Casetas at 08:30, has over four hours in Teruel, before arriving back at Casetas at 20:32.  The architecture of Teruel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so that, in conjunction with the sociable timings, make this excursion fall into the ‘family friendly’ category!

The traction

Planned motive power for this excursion is a class 310, a class of loco that has had a small number of passenger outings over recent months but is generally very rare for haulage.

These are four-axle single-cab General Motors Bo-Bo diesel-electric switchers, with 8-cylinder 645E engines, the same as the Irish ‘C’ Class Metro-Vicks and B181s.  The Spanish machines are no shunters either, with a top speed of 110 km/h.

Above is a link to a YouTube video uploaded by plasticdance showing a 310 in action.  “Numbers for short sighted trainspotters” well in evidence…

To get to it…

Casetas is located a short distance to the west of the city of Zaragoza, with the Cercanías route C1 linking the two in just 12 minutes.

To combine it with…

If it helps tempt you, the ALSA Rail-operated “Tren de Felipe II” heritage train, usually in the employ of ex-RENFE class 321 “ALCo” no. 321 059 (carrying “2148”), is operating between Madrid Príncipe Pío and El Escorial the following day, departing the capital at 10:20.  You have two options to get to Madrid in the evening off this tour via AVE high-speed train, currently available between €20-€25 single, arriving by midnight.

Madrid is also well-served by widebody aircraft on short-haul flights, including the Iberia Airbus A340 and British Airways Boeing 777 to London Heathrow, LATAM Chile Boeing 787 to Frankfurt and Air Europa Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 to Amsterdam Schiphol, adding a little possible extra interest to your trip away.

To book…

Anyone interested in this tour please contact Phil Wormald using this email address. The train will be formed of mostly air con stock, but some opening window seating will be available, but the organisers need to know rough numbers in advance.

Off the beaten track: 301 009 in Getafe

The latest in my series of brief articles highlighting locos “off the beaten track” is again a shunter, but this time in Spain.

Above is a link to a Google Maps image of 301 009 in situ as of July 2017.

RENFE’s class 301 diesel shunters, dating from 1961-63, are all now withdrawn – although 19 of this once 46-strong class survive in some way, shape or form.

One of them – 301 009 – is especially unlikely to work again, being – as it is – plinthed on public display.  It is situated just outside the exit to Alonso de Mendoza, a station on line 12 of the Madrid Metro, in the Madrid “suburb” of Getafe.  Line 12 does not, in fact, run into or though Madrid itself, being a circular route in the south-west outskirts of the conurbation.

The explanation for the loco being there is that, prior to 1998, the north-south road through the area was in fact a railway.  At that point, the railway was closed, the Metro was built on the same alignment but underground (this opened in 2003) and the road was laid over the top.  The 301 has been in place since this project was carried out, as just a small historical reminder.

It’s less than half an hour’s travel from Madrid Atocha to see 301 009 – 17 minutes to Getafe Centro on line C-4, from where it is a 2 minute journey on line 12 to Alonso de Mendoza, which is the next stop along.

Selected Wednesdays and Sundays through 2017: Metre-gauge Alsthom power near Barcelona

3rd June 2017 saw the start of an occasional special train near Barcelona with some motive power interest.

The “Montserrat Classic Express” is essentially a daytime dining train on the network of the the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC), departing from Sant Boi de Llobregat at approximately 09:30, running north into the Montserrat mountain range to a destination of Monistrol de Montserrat, with a journey time of approximately 90 minutes.  After a break, during which you can travel on the Montserrat rack railway included in the price of your ticket, it departs home, arriving back into Sant Boi at 14:18.

Motive power

The locomotive is planned to be no.1003, a metre-gauge 850hp Alsthom diesel-electric dating from 1956, one of a fairly large (if a little heterogeneous) fleet of locos that led the way with the dieselisation of Spain’s numerous metre-gauge railways in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The above is a link to a YouTube video uploaded by Andrés Martos showing 1003 on a train in 2015.

When does it run?

Despite claims on its website that it runs on Wednesdays and Sundays through the year, information received is that it runs only on: 12th July, 16th July, 2nd August, 16th August, 27th August, 6th September, 17th September, 20th September, 8th October, 22nd October, 19th November, 3rd December, 17th December and 31st December 2017.

Tickets and Fares

The cheapest ticket available for the round trip on the “Montserrat Classic Express” is €80 and is a non-dining option, although it includes some food at the destination.  The full dining option is available for €130.

Tickets must be obtained in advance from comercial@montserratclassicexpress.com.

How to get there

Sant Boi is situated in the western reaches of Barcelona, approximately 7 miles of Barcelona El Prat (BCN) airport.  FGC services run several times per hour to Sant Boi from Barcelona Plaça Espanya station, with a journey time just shy of 20 minutes.

What can you combine it with?

This is going on not too far from the “Tren dels Llacs”, which operates from Lleida to La Pobla de Segur with standard-gauge RENFE class 308 power.  In particular, Sundays 16th July, 27th August, 17th September, 8th October and 22nd October 2017 all follow Saturdays where the “Tren dels Llacs” is 308-hauled.

Barcelona itself is, of course, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, so it’s certainly rational to do this as part of a non-railway holiday in that area.  However, if you do wish to look at other diesel haulage while you’re in Spain, I’ve put together a brief round-up of what is on offer here.

Many thanks to Charles Hinton for the information on this operation.

Modern GM diesel power in Spain

There are relatively few places in Europe where diesel locos can still be found on several-hundred-mile-long cross-country routes.  Spain remains something of an exception.

It’s fair to say that if you like the Class 67s in the UK, then the 28-strong RENFE Class 334 will be up your street.  Built between 2006 and 2008, these are 200km/h (125mph) Bo-Bos that feature 12-cylinder General Motors 710-series power units in an “Alstom” bodyshell too.  Indeed, they were built in the same factory in Valencia.  The main difference, of course, is that the Spanish machines are built to the wider Iberian gauge (1668mm, as opposed to 1435mm of our “standard gauge”).  They are also 3,300hp – slightly more than the 67s’ 3,200hp.  Link to the Vossloh information sheet on the class.

334013 departs Madrid Atocha Cercanias, 31/01/15 (JW)

In something of a Spanish tradition, they are not entirely-new locos, but did in fact re-use certain components from previous generations of RENFE GMs.

Their work is almost exclusively on long-distance passenger trains, which makes them an excellent choice if you just want to effortlessly sit back and relax behind diesel traction, passing through fantastic scenery for up to 700 miles a day with a lunchtime break at an interesting destination.  It’s much less straightforward, however, if your personal aim is to get as many different machines for haulage as possible!

Mainly, this is due to all of their work requiring a compulsory seat reservation (as is the norm in Spain), and trains sometimes travelling for upwards of 100 miles in between stops.  Even if you have an “all line rover”, you can’t simply get the deckchair out at a station and wait for your machine of choice to roll in; if anything, the system steers you towards committing yourself to a “move” before you leave home.


334013 at Madrid Atocha Cercanias, 31/01/15 (JW)

However, if that hasn’t put you off, then I can highly recommend giving them a go.  Arguably the best place to base yourself is Spain’s capital city; Madrid.  Being the third largest city in the EU, there is plenty of accommodation to suit any budget, a generally excellent standard of English spoken, and plenty to do and see away from the railway if trains aren’t your sole focus (or if you have the family in tow!).

Spain diesel routes

Spanish diesel-hauled routes (JW)

For a relaxing but rewarding “bash”, two of the main routes for 334 power radiate from the capital, and are the 350-mile journey to Almería, in Andalucia, and the 330 miles to Cartagena, in Murcia; both seaside towns on the Mediterranean.  I would actually go as far as saying that the departure from Almería at the edge of the stunning Sierra Nevada mountain range is one of the most scenic parts of the Continent that you can experience with a diesel at the sharp end.

There are morning departures from Madrid to both Almería and Cartagena that give you a lunch break at the seaside, and can get you back to the capital in time for “last orders”.  To Almería:-

Talgo 276, 08:00 Madrid Chamartin – Almería arrive 14:17

Talgo 279, 16:05 Almería – Madrid Chamartin arrive 22:33

You actually have two options for a round trip to Cartagena (or, indeed, can mix and match):-

Altaria 222, 09:00 Madrid Chamartin – Cartagena arrive 14:12

Altaria 225, 16:00 Cartagena – Madrid Chamartin arrive 21:00


Altaria 228, 12:34 Madrid Chamartin – Cartagena arrive 17:28

Altaria 227, 18:20 Cartagena – Madrid Chamartin arrive 23:40

Both yield an interesting day.  Indeed, it’s possible to do the either route out and back to Alcazar de San Juan (92 miles distant from Madrid, and the junction of the two routes) and then have a break there in order to complete the journey on a different 334.  Be warned, though, I have not found punctuality to be great on these trains, and my 90 minute wait at Alcazar de San Juan one night turned into nearly 4 hours on my own, with little information as to when (or even if) my train would arrive!  Some consolation, however, was a good amount of freight traffic passing through to keep me entertained.

334012 runs round at Almería, 30/01/15 (JW)

All of the trains on these routes are 334-hauled, though, and you can easily piece together a “move” that can feature up to five of them in a day, should you so wish.  This would be my personal suggestion for a long day (but with built-in breaks):-

Altaria 220, 07:13 Madrid Chamartin – Hellín arrive 10:22

Altaria 223, 10:49 Hellín – Alcazar de San Juan, arrive 12:34

Talgo 694, 13:15 Alcazar de San Juan – Villarobledo, arrive 13:46 *

Altaria 228, 14:29 Villarobledo – Murcia del Carmen arrive 16:43 **

Altaria 225, 16:47 Murcia del Carmen – Alcazar de San Juan arrive 19:28

Talgo 279, 20:59 Alcazar de San Juan – Madrid Chamartin arrive 22:33

* This is a Class 252 electric – you can wait for the 334 behind if this isn’t your cup of tea.

** If sweating on a +4 doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, you can instead “leap” at Albacete, 15:00-18:34.  This certainly wouldn’t be something to be avoided; it’s not the stereotypical “bit of tarmac with a bench and a sign, miles from civilisation” but is in fact the largest city in its province and is certainly somewhere you could spend 3.5 hours.

334018 departs Madrid Atocha Cercanias, in the very early hours of 31/01/15 (JW)

It would, however, be completely wrong of me to suggest that these are the only places you can ride behind 334s.

There is further 334 haulage on offer in Murcia, on the Talgo services between Alacant and Murcia del Carmen (some continue to Lorca Sutullena or Cartagena, and vice versa).  Occasionally, the loco change occurs at Valencia rather than Alacant.

334s are also used on the Altaria services from Madrid to Algeciras – Spain’s most southerly station and only about 25 minutes on the bus from the border with Gibraltar.  These trains are worked from Madrid (Atocha) to Antequera by standard gauge class 252s, where the train goes through a gauge changer – after which a 334 picks it up on the other side and takes it forward to Algeciras on the standard gauge.  There are two trains a day in each direction from Madrid to Algeciras – 08:35 and 15:05 from Madrid and 08:43 and 15:03 from Algeciras.  These can all be covered by the same 334.

Diesel haulage – from both class 334 and the Co-Co class 333.4s – is also available in the north-west of the country on the unelectrified sections of the remnants of Spain’s decimated overnight train network – from Monforte de Lemos to Ferrol and A Coruña, from Medina del Campo (although this will imminently change to Salamanca) to Vilar Formoso (on trains to and from Portugal) and also under the wires from Ourense to Pontevedra.

There are also a number of heritage operations that feature diesel loco haulage – including the “Tren dels Llacs” (class 308) and the “Montserrat Classic Express” (ex-FEVE metre gauge Alsthom no.1003).


Many thanks to Philip Wormald, Charles Hinton and the posters to European Rail Gen for their assistance in keeping this article up to date!

Various dates in 2019 – “Tren dels Llacs”, Class 308 power in Catalonia

An interesting seasonal operation in Catalonia provides a perfect way of combining a family-orientated holiday with some diesel thrash!

Situated approximately an hour by train inland from Barcelona, the 89.35 km (55.5 mile) branch from Lleida to La Pobla de Segur climbs into the southern reaches of the Pyrenees, and is astonishingly scenic.  On 26 dates throughout the summer months, it is possible to make the journey along it on the “Tren dels Llacs” behind a pair of classic Spanish diesel locomotives.

These are of Class 308, a single-cab four-axle diesel-electric loco type built by General Electric and Babcock & Wilcox in the late 1960s, each powered by a 710hp Caterpillar D398 lump.  The machines in question will be permed from 10817 (308 017), 10820 (308 020) and 10838 (308 038) – from the ARMF (Associació per a la Reconstrucció de Material Ferroviari Históric) at Lleida.  The operation kicked off for the year on 15th and 16th April 2017 with 10817 and 10838 with load 7.

To “British” ears, they probably sound most like Class 20s.  The “Tren dels Llacs” gives an excellent opportunity to hear them hard at work; it’s certainly not a sedate trundle through the countryside.  To get an impression of the locos and the scenery they run through, put off what you were planning to do for the next 20 minutes and check out this video by “Garratt462” on YouTube.

Dates and Prices

The “Tren dels Llacs” will operate on every Saturday from 20th April until 6th July 2019, and then on every Saturday from 17th August to 2nd November 2017.  (The Saturdays in between the two see the train operated by a panoramic modern DMU).  The return trip costs just €30 (€16.50 for children aged 4-13, under 4s go free).  Tickets are to be reserved in advance at botigap@fgc.cat but can be collected on the day.

It departs from Lleida (Pirineus) at 10:40, getting back at 19:00 (timetable and further info here).  As well as some great scenery – the “Llacs” (lakes) that give their name to the operation – and of course the 110 miles of diesel power, there are a number of activities around the train – such as a welcome at Lleida from a local theatre group, and a brief stop on the return at Balaguer for some local food.  You also have 4hr 25min to fill in La Pobla de Segur – check out the website of their tourist office for some ideas on what to do.  It definitely isn’t “trains all day” and therefore is an entirely “family-friendly” activity!

Getting there

Lleida has its own airport and there are a small number of flights from the UK directly to it.  Other airports in the area include Barcelona, Girona, Reus and Zaragoza.

The “Tren dels Llacs” could be easily combined with a city break in Barcelona – a great destination, with all of the facets of a city-based holiday combined with good beaches.  It’s easily doable as a day trip from there, departing Barcelona Sants by service train at 08:30 and arriving back before 21:00.


Many thanks to Stewart Wells for his help with this article.