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The first railway in Majorca, the FC de Mallorca, was opened in February 1875, between Palma and Inca. It was built with mostly British equipment to 3ft gauge, allowing the use of readily available British-made steam locomotives and rolling stock, thus keeping down costs. Over the next few years further routes and extensions were built to Arta, via Manacor; La Puebla (now called Sa Pobla); Felanitx (from Santa Maria on the Palma-Inca line) and Santanyi. None of these, with the exception of the original Palma-Inca line which has been modernised and converted to metre-gauge using diesel powered multiple units, remains in service and most have all but disappeared but the route from Inca to La Puebla was re-opened in 2001 after having been closed since 1981. It has also been re-laid to metre-gauge and it is planned to be extended to Alcudia on the North-East coast. The Majorcan government has also a re-opened the route to Manacor, which has subsequently been closed following the collapse of an embankment wall and is also considering a possible new railway or metro to link Palma with the airport. There is also talk of a tramway linking Palma and Arenal

Sóller TrainThe other railway system in Majorca is the Sóller Railway which was constructed between Sóller on the North coast and Palma with the intention of facilitating the transport of the agricultural produce of the Sóller area to the markets of Palma. Previously this produce had to be transported over the Sierra de Alfabia mountain range by cart or shipped round the island by sea from Puerto de Sóller. This railway, which has several tunnels and an impressive five-arch viaduct, was also built to 3ft gauge and opened to the public in April 1912, using steam locomotive power. A 3ft gauge electric tramway from Sóller to Puerto de Sóller was connected to the railway and opened the following year. In 1929 the main line had been converted to electric traction and to this day uses the original rolling stock which features an attractive "old west" appearance, being all wooden-clad. The motor coaches and the nature of the track are reminiscent of the early days of the Swiss Rhaetian Railway but with a definitely Mediterranean influence.

Much of this information was gleaned from Giles Barnabe's excellent book "The Railways and Tramways of Majorca", published by Plateway Press ISBN 1 1871980 13 5 which is unfortunately out of print but can sometimes be got second-hand from the better railway book dealers. I cannot recommend this book too highly and am grateful to Giles Barnabe for the inspiration his book has given me.
Giles' new book, entitled "Rails Through Majorca", was published in August 2003 by Plateway Press. The ISBN number is 1 871980 51 8 and the price is £21.95 + p&p. Plateway press can be found on http://www.plateway.co.uk/, the book has 248 pages with more than 200 photographs, maps, diagrams and scale drawings - well worth the expense and the wait !!

Barry Emmott   

© Barry Emmott, January 2005, minor adjustments 12th April, 2009