Ferrocarril de Sóller

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Mallorca’s popular tourist railway, the ‘Orange Express,’ has entered its 90th year of electrification. The Palma – Sóller route originally opened on 16th May 1912 (ironically the very week the Titanic had sunk – thus little was reported on the island’s stupendous new mountain railway route.) Electric traction was originally intended but discounted due to costs. However the 13 tunnels and many bridges were were built with this eventuality in mind thus no major work was needed for the 1929 electrification other than wiring the line and associated infrastructure. The Sóller railway’s electric services began on 14th July 1929 with four Carde & Escoriaza-Siemens Schuckert-Brill motor coaches which still perform sterling work.

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Ferrocarril de Sóller logo & id. Source: Twitter

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1929 motor coach no.1 at Palma station. Source: Twitter

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Sóller station in 2019, with the Puerto tramlines on the left. Source: Twitter

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The inaugural train from Palma arriving at Sóller on 16th April 1912.

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Early days at Sóller. Source: Facebook

The original steam railway was in existence for quite a short time – seventeen years to be exact – thus the line has practically always been an electric railway.

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The original steam train about to cross the bridge just before the long tunnel. Source: Facebook

The efforts of those who managed the huge task of building the railway through the Sierra de Alfàbia – part of the substantial Sierra de Tramuntana mountains on the north-west side of Mallorca – musnt be forgotten of course – without this the railway would have not even been built.

Once isolated by mountains, now linked by two tunnels. As little as 120 years ago the lovely town of Sóller and its port, nestling in the folds of the spectacularly beautiful Tramuntana mountains, were almost cut off from the rest of Mallorca because of those very mountains. The tortuous, switchback road with steep climbs, hairpin bends and often cut by bad weather conditions made travel so long and arduous to Palma, that Sóller looked more to Barcelona – a sea journey away – for its trade and prosperity. (Source: Mallorca Spotlight.)

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Plaque at Palma station commemorating the electrification scheme in 1929. Source: Transport Illustrated

Generally electric services began in much the same way as the first day of the line’s services back in 1912 (see earlier picture.) This compromised an inaugural train from Palma to Sóller with a coat of arms, shields, flags, and foliage on its front. Just like the 1912 opening, there are very few pictures of the 1929 electrification services opening, the surviving pictures generally being of the inaugural train at Bunyola.

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Bunyola (then known as Bunola) with the inaugural electric train from Palma on 14th July 1929.

The next picture evidently shows the opening celebrations, again at Bunyola. I am not sure if the inaugural train had a motorcoach at both ends or whether this is in fact the first up working from Sóller to Palma after the inaugural train had run.

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Bunyola with steam and electric traction evident on the inauguration day 14th July 1929. Source: Facebook

In terms of the 1929 opening on the 14th July, the inaugural train travelled from Palma to Sóller and then down to Puerto! There are a couple of pictures showing the inaugural train venturing through the streets of Sóller, however the quality of these is quite poor.

Most of the pictures here featuring the 27 km long Ferrocarril de Sóller (FS) are derived from social media with a handful of black and white pictures I took with a Kodak instamatic camera.

In those days the Ferrocarrilles de Mallorca (FCM) still existed it had a huge station and depot at Palma, thus the area around the Plaza de España was a huge hive of activity in terms of railways. Another aspect of the Mallorcan system was the underground tunnels leading to Palma harbour and one could see wagons and the tracks along the quays near Palma’s cathedral.

Talking of harbours even then the Puerto de Sóller tram still extended right round the bay at Puerto (this was freight only however) to the military base, and I followed the tracks right up to the security gates.

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Sóller station in 1968 taken with my instamatic. Beer barrels and milk churns can be seen on the goods platform, having been delivered by goods train from Palma.

Having said the word freight those too were the days when freight traffic indeed still operated on the Sóller line and most of the trains were of mixed stock. Indeed there was still interchange of freight between the FS and the FCM, something which isnt even possible now the main Mallorcan railway system has adopted metre gauge.

I would think the first visits we made to Mallorca were somewhere about when the interconnecting link between the two island lines became disused. I did inspect the tracks between the two systems and these seemed to be in good repair. Possibly they had fell out of use soon after.

For those interested here’s a Flickr picture showing a steam locomotive from the FCM shunting a FCM wagon into the electrified FS’s Palma station!

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The Arenal viaduct. In the early 2000s it was proposed to reuse this for a new metro line. Internet Archive

Before we continue with the FS, let’s take a look at a bit more of the old FCM. In the sixties Mallorca was in the infancy of becoming a tourist hotspot, and many British were going there for their holidays. It seems too Britain somehow exported its railway arch nemesis – Dr. Beeching!

Mallorca’s quite expansive three foot gauge system was thus subjected to its own ‘Beeching’ cuts and the lines closed down a massive scale leaving just the somewhat profitable Palma to Inca line. That’s a cut of 229km (142miles) from a network that once stood at 267km (165 miles)! Much like our own Isle of Wight! In the end barely anything was left of the former FCM network.

At the time we were on the island there was the remains of the FCM’s Santanyí branch behind our hotel at Arenal. This had just closed and its route very quickly turned into a footway. It included embankments cuttings and a viaduct and we went for walks along it. Here’s a view of part of the viaduct on Google.

The FCM’s one surviving line to Inca line was converted to metre gauge in 1981, initially using the original Palma terminus, but later going underground to start from the Estacio Intermodal. A brand new metro line was also constructed as part of this initiative. Electrification too began at the same time as the Intermodal although it was restricted to the metro line at first. The wires were later extended to Inca and this fortunately helped to prove the popularity of rail travel once again.

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Despite the main Mallorcan railways having an ultra modern terminus, this graphic highlights the enduring appeal of a historic train ride to Sóller! Source: Facebook

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The attractive entrance to the FS’ Palma station, just off the Plaza de España opposite the Estacio Intermodal. Source: Pinterest

The network is now known as the SFM (Servicios Ferroviarios de Mallorca.) It combines the new Palma metro with its two branches, one to the UIB (Universitat de les Illes Balears/University of the Balearic Islands), and the other to Marrachí. Beyond here the railway continues as a commuter line to Inca before splitting to serve Manacor and Sa Pobla. These were originally diesel operated line when first reopened however the wires were later extended through Enllaç (Empalme junction) to Manacor. Last year the cantenary was extended to Sa Pobla and this video shows the ceremony inaugurating the town’s new electric services.

There have been proposals to extend the network back to Arta, once the furthest extremity of the old three foot FCM network but it seems the plans are on hold. The Majorcan Daily Bulletin says the island’s government (Govern Illes Balears) has an intention to see this section re-opened. There are numerous problems though. The Arta route has been built over in many places, even converted to a road, whilst bridges have been removed and cuttings filled in.

Video of the FCM in 1960.

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Nice pix of the train in Palma station with the large mural behind depicting a baby playing with some toy Sóller trains! Source: Twitter

What of the Sóller railway itself? It hasn’t suffered the wholesale cutbacks and decimation the main island network has although the Palma goods yard was closed down many years ago and is now a car park.

During those sixties visits to Mallorca I drew rough sketches of each one of the FS station layouts, and then when I got home I drew them up properly. The following shows Palma station as it stood in the late sixties (with one bit of track which I had missed out on!) Perhaps the most notable aspect is the goods yard which had its own turntable!

Actually the turntable was for the steam locomotives that had once used the line, however much like the turntable at Sóller it also offered a bit of flexibility in term of shunting wagons which is why it was retained for so long. I think it was sometime in the late eighties when the turntable was removed and the goods shed demolished.

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A ‘better’ map I drew in 1972 of Palma station. Its a good representation but slightly wrong however!

The engine sheds were in use in those days however about the same time as the other changes were made the engine sheds were taken out of use and converted into utility buildings and later into a museum.

However due to the popularity of the line and the need to provide many additional extra services, in the early 2000s the company had a substantial tented structure erected over the remaining tracks and this now forms the new engine shed, which is used to accommodate the motor coaches when trains need to be stabled at Palma overnight.

As can be gathered the line is indeed very popular. In a way it has always been popular simply because of the spectacular scenery the route passes through. From the early days the company was no doubt aware of the huge tourist potential the line offered and for years the line prospered.

Nevertheless in the sixties the FS was too in a sort of partial decline, its intermediate stations were quite run down and its track largely overgrown and in need of maintenance. One partial reason for this would be the closure of the FCM system and the huge decline in freight and in terms of patronage it too seemed as if the FS might too go to the wall.

The trains themselves were okay they needed a little more TLC. At some point the company decided tourism was the only way forward if it was to survive, and it undertook some considerable publicity, including half page adverts in the English press!

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Soller train advert in the British Press during the seventies or eighties – it was one of the main broadsheets but I cant remember which.

Soon word was going round that a trip on the line was a must, the train being the best and most scenic means of reaching Sóller. After all people liked going to Mallorca for its sun and beaches, and people could even combine a train and tram trip with a nice beach thrown in at the other end of the line!

In those days the railway was still managing to carry a fair number of locals because the mountainous roads between Palma and Sóller were still quite treacherous and this lasted until a parallel road tunnel through the mountains was completed in the 1990s.

Since that road tunnel has opened island residents using the line are now few and far between. Its thanks to tourism the line has survived and become extremely successful.

Residents of the island were actually offered a discount for riding on the train – that is until the EU stepped in and announced this practice to be discriminatory. That ended in 2017 and locals now have to pay the same as tourists. However the company has got round that by having special fare days at the beginning and the end of the season when fares are considerably reduced.

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Sixties advert from my scrapbook (I cut it out of the Majorcan Daily Bulletin) showing the old fashioned style real sofas and high chairs used in first class.

These days the railway carries just a handful of locals each day, most probably taking the cheaper bus instead or having their own car which they can drive between the two places in half an hour or so thanks to the new road tunnel that has been built through the mountains.

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Nowadays the armchairs and high chairs in first class are made of leather and look more modern. Source: Facebook

In those days (as opposed to now in terms of it being more plasticky looking) the carriages really sported proper sofas and armchairs in first class! TBH it was probably a cheap way of procuring a certain amount of luxury train stock but nevertheless it worked huge benefits. This unique style in first class was at the time very cheap yet generated a good source of income for the railway company.

Despite many setbacks the railway company is these days extremely successful and its a rarity among the numerous railway lines around the world to have this fantastic level of success and be able to invest in new track, improvements and modernisation making it viable for yet many more years to come.

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A lovely Sóller railway poster.

One may wonder, what is so popular about the Sóller Railway? Many things no doubt. The vintage atmosphere. The wooden bodied carriages and motor coaches are a huge draw. The run through the streets of Palma is no doubt another draw but perhaps the biggest of all is the line’s traverse through the mountains. The summit level is 235 meters (771 feet) above sea level and the dramatic descent down to Soller through the various curves and tunnels totals around 199 metres (about 637 feet.) The average gradient is about 1 in 45 or 23%. (Note. The stats differ from various sources so I have used what I think are the most exact.)

The Sóller line isnt a ‘Montreux Oberland Bernois’ or a ‘Bernina’ (in other words the FS is not in the top list of the world’s steepest adhesion railways) but in terms of being a pure adhesion railway, its pretty impressive in how it gains height quickly through the mountains and some sections of line are in fact 1 in 16 or thereabouts which is pretty steep. When one considers its essentially an an interurban railway line that’s pretty impressive!

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One other thing is the ‘wild west’ balconies the carriages have, which means people with a bit more determination (like Tim Dunn for example lol) can enjoy the ride out in the open air if they so wish. And its a good position from which to take videos!

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See what I mean! Train leaving Palma and entering the street section of line. The balcony is well populated. Source: Twitter

There’s one surprise about the railway – and its something that would be considered the other way round – the station at Palma is in fact sited higher than Sóller! The difference isn’t actually that much but here are the stats for the line’s two major stations – Palma is 43m (141 ft) and Sóller is 41 m (134 ft) above sea level.

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Picasso at Sóller. Source: Twitter

Sóller station was built in 1606 so it has to be the oldest railway station in the world! Certainly Georgius Agricola had a hand here! The date is of course synonymous with some of the world’s earliest railways, but don’t let it fool you!

Actually what happened is during construction in the 1900s the railway decided upon the use of an existing but much older building for its new station, thus retaining and old but nevertheless still usable structure. The station is also unusual that its home to one of the world’s prominent Picasso and Miró art collections.

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Picasso ceramics in Soller station. Source: Twitter

The trains on the Sóller line might seem ancient compared to the SFM but in fact modern technology is used to keep them working efficiently. This has included complete renewal of the motor coaches’ control systems so they are more efficient. The only traditional operation that has been retained in the motor coaches is the braking system. GPS is used on both the train and tram systems to help management keep track of the stock’s locations and progress.

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The driver’s cab – with all its modern equipment. The unusual braking gear (the round thing with pipes see at the top of the picture) is the only traditional mechanism left in use and is operated by means of a handle on the side of the cylinder housing which the driver pulls down to operate the brakes. The trains power was formerly operated by a wheel. Source: Facebook

There has also been an upgrade of the permanent way and strengthening of tunnels and bridges in order to keep the railway serviceable for many more years to come. Here’s a video of work being done in one of the tunnels. The most recent of this was this past winter which involved major work on the Cinq Ponts viaduct (video) high above Sóller. Another video showing the helicopter.

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This winter’s work on the Cinq Ponts viaduct. Because of its remoteness a helicopter was sometimes needed. Source: Facebook

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New track waiting in readiness to be laid through the main tunnel in 2016. Source: Facebook

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Visitors inside the main tunnel, January 2017. Source: Facebook

In the winter of 2017-2018 the line was once again with works focusing on the gradients above Sóller and the next phase of a programme of improvements in the main tunnel, this being to change the permanent way throughout this long structure to the more modern concrete slab type. It seems however this aspect of the work will take several winters as recent videos indicate there’s still ballasted track within the tunnel.

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Works in the main tunnel and on the trackbed above Sóller, January 2018. Source: Facebook

The Sóller railway isnt controlled by signallers in any sort of traditional way. As a matter of fact it has never been and there were no signals of any sort (except at Sóller station) until perhaps the 1990s when a number of incidents including trains crashing into cars caused extra safety measures to be required especially at the various crossings and on the street section in Palma. However motorists in Palma continue to take reckless risks against the trains…

The telegraph was used for communications until perhaps the 1990s too. These were not carried on dedicated poles, simply the pots were attached to the cantenary masts or in some places, on the sides of the line’s steep rocky cuttings. Most of these are still in place, just without the telegraph wires.

Only three stations have important signals of any sort and these are Palma, Bunyola and Sóller. These are controlled by station staff. The one signal at Palma controls the exit from the station and is linked to the crossing immediately outside of the station precinct. Similarly those at Bunyola are linked to the main road crossing immediately adjacent to the station there.

The section from Can Tambor to Sóller appears fully signalled even inside the tunnels but its really for the crossings on the final section as this stretch is steeply graded and the trains need ample time to slow down. The signals in Sóller itself are only used when there are conflicting movements within the station or the line voltage is temporarily switched to 600v dc.

As has been said the management of the trains is achieved by means of radio communications. That however didn’t prevent two trains crashing into each other near the Cinc Cents tunnel during June 2005 on the steeply graded sections above Sóller. It is said both drivers saw the imminent collision and put the emergency brakes on before jumping out of their cabs.

Injuries among the passengers from that particular collision were thankfully minor. The crash itself occurred at a somewhat low speed however it still put two of the line’s four locomotives out of action for months.

Despite the inconvenience of having to rebuild the motor coaches this isn’t something totally unknown to the company as it has skilled craftsmen whose job is to keep all the rolling stock in top condition and there have been a number of body rebuilds over the years on both motor coaches and carriages. The photograph below shows railmotor no.3 with a brand new body – this likely being a result of the 2005 accident.

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Motor Coach no.3 with new body at Sóller during 2006 Source: Internet Archive.

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No.3 looking a bit more resplendent in early 2007. Source: Internet Archive.

Crossings on the line plus the street section in Palma are protected by track circuits and signals that indicate whether the route is clear and some of the more busier roads have automatic half barriers too. Surprisingly there are some roads where there’s not even any signals of any sort for traffic although these are very quiet roads.

How many tunnels on the line? That’s an interesting question! The FS itself says there are 13 tunnels on the entire line. Videos showing the entire journey between the two points will demonstrate there are in fact fourteen tunnels! So what’s up?

Well the FS are right in a way. There are 13 no doubt built for the original line. But there is a fourteenth (built 1995-97 to the same profile as the others) which goes under the Ma-11 road and its 55 metres long (longer than the line’s shortest at 33m) because the traverse also involves passing beneath a roundabout. The FS specify there are 13 ‘longitudinal tunnels’ which means those that go through hillsides or the mountains so they clearly do not classify the 12th tunnel up from Sóller (or the 3rd one north of Bunyola if you prefer) as a true tunnel.

In terms of train frequency, there’s not an awful lot each day. Although there is a fixed timetable involving about five or six trains each way (depending on season) there are in fact a number of extra trains run solely for the tour companies. Whilst some do go as far as Palma, most will operate between Sóller and Son Sardina where the tourist coaches can drop off/pick up their clients. Son Sardina station was considerably upgraded for this purpose and includes coach parking. This arrangement conveniently relives pressure on the limited layout at Palma station.

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Flooding on the Sóller line in Palma! Source: Twitter

In the sixties and seventies the compulsory stops en route were Son Sardina, Santa Maria, Bunyola. Santa Maria is now a request stop this is the station on Google Streets. Its quite recognisable because of the various sidings around here that form the line’s permanent way depot. The other three request stops are Son Reus, Caubert, and Can Tambor. The latter is unusual because the line is on one of its severest gradients thus the platform is stepped rather than level.

There have been a lot of changes since the early days and these include the street running section. This was beautifully kept with a nicely manicured hedge along either side of the tracks as I remember and this photo from Flickr shows. After being left to sort of look a rather dejected linear topiary (!) it was uprooted in the mid 1970s or thereabouts.

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Mirador Pujol de’n Banya October 2018. Source: Twitter

A number of the Sóller trains pass at the Mirador Pujol de’n Banya which is what the platform stationed high above Sóller is called. The loop was put in here about twenty five years or so ago. Previously there was just a single track and no platform to speak of.

Just a couple of passenger trains stop here to let passengers off for a short while in order to admire the scenery and the sights of Sóller far below in the valley. Most trains that will stop here will be the frequent specials run for the tourist companies. The trains’ more astute passengers will even be able to spot their train’s eventual destination far down below in the valley!

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Motor rail coach no.3 on a train from Palma arriving at Bunyola. Source: Twitter

Bunyola is however the line’s main passing point as it has always been, and its where most services will pass each other. The station is also where some of the line’s maintenance rolling stock is kept. Until the early 2000s a huge three foot gauge diesel locomotive was kept here in reserve but has now been discarded.

I am not sure what the company intends on in terms of reserve power. I think it all depends on the railway’s CEO, Óscar Mayol. His very successful directorship of the company has been one which has seen the railway adopt a totally historic direction – because that is where practically all its money these days comes from.

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The train balcony during a UNICEF (Balearics) ceremony at Palma in 2016. The guy at right is Óscar Mayol – the railway company’s boss. Source: Twitter

It seems diesel locomotives, even for emergency use, were something that wasn’t desired. Presumably they are happy with the four motor coaches they have even though there are no other emergency stand by locomotives. At one time the company did acquire a narrow gauge diesel locomotive of some sort of vintage (a Russian Eusko Tren class 4000) but that languished at the Santa Maria sidings for a number of years awaiting re-gauging, before finally being broken up.

The line’s one and only track tampering machine, a Plasser Unima 3, is kept at Bunyola and works on the entire system including the tramway itself right down to the commencement of the street section through Puerto.

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Motor rail coach no.2 on a Palma bound train at Bunyola. Source: Hidden Europe

The trams:

One cannot really mention the Ferrocarril de Sóller without the tramway the company also manages. The tranvia is without doubt part and parcel of the Sóller railway empire and constitutes an important transport link between Sóller and Puerto de Sóller, as well as linking up all the communities and villages in between the two places.

The tramway was in fact an unintentional add-on to the Sóller-Palma line. Government rules specified that new railways over 30km could get certain grants, and the main line was just 27 km which fell short. It is said the tramway was built simply to circumvent this limitation in order to gain these additional grants.

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A lovely 1961 poster depicting the Puerto tram. Source: Pinterest

The tramway was built at the same time as the original steam railway, and for those seventeen years the steam railway the tramway was the only electrically operated part of the system.

Ironically at the other end of the steam operated railway there was another electric tramway too, and this was Palma’s very own tram system. This little known but fairly large three foot gauge network served Palma until its closure in 1958. Some of the trailers from the Palma system were acquired by the FS for its own tram system.

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There he is! UK Rail Expert Tim Dunn at Puerto – where the trams from Sóller end. Source: Twitter

Many would think the tramway has remained static throughout its life. It hasn’t. In recent years huge changes were made and the tramway in Puerto itself isn’t the original! This was something that was done much to the annoyance and objections of the locals, but the authorities were insistent on the changes.

Previously it ran right along the beach at Puerto de Sóller, however in 2012 it was moved inland to make way for a new promenade, thus the only original alignment at Puerto is the final bit approaching the Marysol (now Marisol) terminus. I kept a tag on the progress of this thus so hopefully there’s a second part to this Sóller post featuring the tramway and its alterations – because that’s something that has not even been blogged anywhere on the internet.

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View of a tram headed for Sóller at the new loop alongside the Ma-11 (Mallorcan road designation number) with the Serra de Tramuntana ahead. Mallorca now has an excellent top-quality road system, including a number of motorways. I suppose that’s the pressures of being a highly esteemed tourist destination! Picture source: Twitter

With regards to the above picture, it may not be apparent to many however the train to Palma itself almost reaches this point too several miles out of Sóller towards Puerto! The main line is not even a kilometre distant from the tram’s route! What the other is actually doing is it’s climbing its way up the mountainside to the west and a good few hundred feet higher.

Earlier this year during extremely high winds damage was done to both train and tram lines. The picture below shows the tram’s overhead wires brought down and the masts damaged at the Can Guida loop.

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Damage to the tram’s cantenary. Source: Twitter

It must be said that the FS’ four motor coaches were once capable of working through to Puerto de Soller. They originally came with dual voltage capability and could switch from 1200v to 600v for the tramway section.

As the picture below shows, this is motor coach number one seen on the tramway passing Saint Bartomeu en route to Puerto. These somewhat rare workings were soon seen as superflous and the tramway undertook those duties instead including the transfer of freight stock throughout.

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One of the few times a motor coach has ventured onto the tramway. The scene is at the Església de Sant Bartomeu probably in the early days of electrification. This isn’t the official opening train when a decorated motor coach also went down the tramway. Source: Internet Archive.

The dual voltage ability (600v dc/1200v dc) as we have seen was to enable through freight trains directly between the naval base at Puerto and Palma, and although this was done on occasion in the early months of the new electrified line, it was soon dispensed.

One of the problems was the motor coaches couldn’t enter the naval base. The curve from the entrance gates into the military compound itself was just too sharp which meant the motor coaches could only do half a job, whereas the tram cars could complete it easily by venturing all the way right into the naval depot itself.

Although the Sóller tram was designed for the transport of passengers, it was also used to transport merchandise down to the port. Fresh fish was carried from the Port to Sóller in a small isothermal car and coal was taken to the former military submarine base in the Port of Sóller and the ‘El Gas’ factory on trailers; mines and torpedoes were also transported from the Caubet magazine. Source: Facebook

Its possible through trains for navy personnel had been envisaged. Whether this was done I do not know. Historic photographs do show navel personnel taking the tram instead so perhaps it was simply convenience that enabled one preference over the other.

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Train and tram at Sóller in May 2019 – note the new electronic train/tram departures indicator on the platform! Source: Twitter

In the days of through operations to the naval pier, the trams hauled their freight stock from Sóller to the Marysol terminus where they would then run round their freight stock before pushing these forwards to the naval port. The simple reason was the naval port line was a lengthy single track siding, nothing more. There are photographs and film showing the trams in the 1920s working exactly in the way I have just described. Another post hopefully on this soon including pics of the tramway few have ever seen.

In terms of dual voltage workings, whilst there isn’t any now, the station area at Sóller can still be switched between the two voltage systems (600v for the trams and 1200v for the trains) to allow tram cars to cross the station throat and gain access to the railway’s workshops and of course the motor coaches to be stabled in the tram sheds if the need does arise.

The FS once used to stable their motorcoaches in the tram shed in those days because there was the room and these were the sheds for all the line’s powered stock. The other yard sheds were used for the carriages and wagons because there was still freight on the line, whilst other sheds were used for maintenance and repair of the stock.

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My photo of the tram shed in 1968 with unidentified railmotor coach in the centre road. The shed has now been altered considerably.

Thus I was able to take a picture of the tram shed showing one of the motor coaches some distance inside on the centre road. One won’t see a motor coach on the tram lines or in the tram sheds now – unless there is an exceptional requirement – for example a motor coach is needed to perform some shunting of tram stock. The additional tramcars bought from Lisbon and extra passenger stock means the tram shed has little space for other stock and also there are other spare tram cars to perform the motor coaches’ former duties.

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The switch to allow the trams to be driven through the station yards for servicing. The trams’ power lever (labelled 600) is down and the 1200v lever is up, thus the latter system is energised. Source: Internet Archive

In the sixties I followed the tramway right round to the naval base which was at the time still in use so could not venture further than the guards at the entrance to the base. The track still seemed to be in use at the time though I did not see any stock on the military pier.

The naval base itself is no more, it was demolished in 2006 and the rubble from it used to build new piers for the luxury boats and yachts which now populate this part of the world!

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The end for the naval base in Puerto as it is demolished. Summer 2006. Source: Internet Archive

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The furthest the lines in Puerto go these days – although trams do not generally venture this far. Source: Google Streets

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One of the Lisbon trams caught at the very end of the line in September 2012. Perhaps there are ghost trips down here just to assert the line is still in use beyond the Marysol terminus? Source: Flickr

One of the most curious things is the tramway map still shows the most public extremity of its services even though this hasn’t been done for decades…. Marysol is the terminus (and has been for a very long time) yet on the current map it shows the terminus as La Pagesa, which is about half way to the former naval base. I am not sure if the trams do run any service this far, say with a single motor car whilst in the process of running round its stock at Marysol. As FS says on Facebook: “Do you know the stops of our tram? Take note!”

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The company’s current tram map which shows the line reaching La Pagesa when it only goes as far as Marysol (Marisol.) Source: Facebook

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Lovely picture showing one of the former Lisbon tramcars at Puerto. Source: Twitter

Whilst some of the above pictures used for this post were originally to be found on the excellent Majorca Railways site (last updated March 2012 and a number of pictures now missing) I have used those from the Internet Archive instead because it has several pictures that are missing from the other.

Videos:

Favourite videos? There are many and the best include those of the entire journey taken from the rear of the train. There’s also one where the train is slowed to a crawl in the mountains because a donkey is walking along the tracks in front of the train and refuses to get off to allow the train to make progress!

This is a good one taken from the front cab.

I like this one too, which shows journeys can take about fifty minutes including stops (rather than an hour – and no the guy didnt cut out any of the trip through the line’s 2876m tunnel.) Not only that it shows how quick the trains can reach Mirador Pujol de’n Banya, this one took just ten minutes climbing a constantly rising gradient! I have seen claims the trains can do the entire journey in 45 minutes even and these faster journeys are invariably from Sóller to Palma which is surprising because the line’s stiffer climb is in that direction!

There’s this recent one showing an accident with a car on the Palma street section. Its not the first time it has happened – and it wont be the last obviously…


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