It hasn't been a good year for the Majorcan Railways. We had a very serious crash on the SFM at Sa Pobla, resulting in a train being virtually written off and a fatal accident, again on SFM, at Lloseta in April. The Majorca Daily Bulletin reported that the train driver saw a man standing next to the track at a pedestrian level-crossing and blew his horn to alert the pedestrian to the oncoming train. Apparently when the driver sounded the horn the elderly man lay down across the track and the train was unable to stop.
Subsequently we have had an ongoing situation on the Sóller Railway as reported in May 2002 newsletter whereby a senior director of the railway resigned after many years of apparently good service A deal of criticism followed and it transpired that the railway found itself in dire financial circumstances. It was said that there had been serious failures of judgement in respect of a number of issues including the purchase of and subsequent costs of renovation and re-gauging of the Lisbon tramcars and also the construction of the newly built trailers which I referred to in my newsletter last August. I personally would add the unfortunate ongoing fiasco with the "Crocodile" (follow the links to Museum and then Azpetia) locomotive which was received from the Transport Museum at Azpeitia in Northern (Basque) Spain in exchange for the tramcar and trailer which had originated from Bilbao. The bogies of this locomotive have been regauged at Sóller from the original metre-gauge to the Sóller Railway gauge of 3 feet (0.91m) but they now lie out in the open alongside the road adjoining Sóller station awaiting the day when they will be re-united with the body of the locomotive which is apparently still in Alcudia. It seems that the Sóller Railways doesn't possess a crane sufficiently powerful to raise the body of the locomotive so that the bogies can be put underneath and it has no funds to pay an outside contractor or hire a crane, either !!
Here's a photo of the bogies, kindly provided for me by Edith and Rodney Knight - thanks !!
Click on the photo to enlarge.
(I saw the bogies myself a couple of years later and pictures are in later newsletters)
There has been quite a lot written in the two Sóller digital newspapers, Veu de Sóller and Sóller Digital about this situation. The first of the two links above will take you to a compilation of reports which I have copied from Veu de Sóller but for the time being the second link will merely take you to the current edition of Sóller Digital. I'm working on a compilation of their reports which I will insert at a later date. Both bulletins are in Mallorquin which is very difficult to understand, even with a smattering of Spanish, French and Italian, all of which seem to have influenced this highly unusual language which seems to have a format all of its own with fullstops (periods) in the middle of words, presumably to accent the break in syllables.
Now, on a happier note, I have had a series of e-mails from Carlos Ortigosa Rausch who has sent me a series of no less than 58 photographs of the work being carried out to extend the SFM from Inca to Manacor. This line will continue from a junction at Empalme, or Enllac (in Catalan) as Carlos calls it, on the Inca-Sa Pobla line which was re-established at the beginning of last year, and will follow a great deal of the orginal route which, until quite recently, still had the 3ft gauge rails in place. In many places it looked as though it had only been out of use for a matter of months rather than decades !! On the approach to Petra the line will divert from its original course as part of it had been built over and the local residents apparently objected to a railway going through their town as it had so many years ago. The line will now go around Petra and the station will therefore be on the outskirts. On a number of the photos which will appear in future newsletters Carlos has wisely incorporated a small section of map showing the location and direction of his picture. The following are "thumbnail" versions of the first few pictures - if you click on them they will enlarge.
Carlos' photo of the work going on at Empalme - contrast this with the picture Peter Martin took just two years ago
Also take a look at Mike Kaben's photo of the same area, taken a year earlier, by clicking
here - don't they have some terrific cloud effects in this part of the island !!
Carlos' photo of the parting of the ways at Empalme - the branch on the left is the branch to Sa Pobla, newly re-opened at the end of December 2000. The branch to the right is the old route leading to Manacor, waiting for the new metre-gauge track to be laid.
A train is arriving from Sa Pobla
More of Carlos' photos in the next newsletter, I hope.
Another bit of good news - the website of the Associación de Amigos del Ferrocarril de Baleares has relocated to a better server at http://www.aafb.net/ - well worth a visit.
If anyone out there is not already on the "mailing list" and would like to be included, please let me know - remove MAJORCA from the address before sending (I'm getting far too much spam, much of which is intolerably offensive). Thanks again to my contributors and supporters, any comments on the contents will be appreciated.
Brief descriptions of the contents of previous newsletters
Books on Majorcan Railways (Revised March 2002)
A Gallery of Pictures of the Sóller Railway and the
Sóller Tramway is now available on Alan Rolfe's server (thanks Alan) by clicking
Majorca Railways Home Page
Majorca Railways Photo Gallery
Watch this site for further
developments which will take place whenever new information or pictures come to hand. Any submissions or contributions of information, photos old or new, postcards, books etc., will be very gratefully and enthusiastically received and if used on the site will be suitably acknowledged (as above). The photos, pictures and diagrams used on this site are presented for your information and viewing pleasure only. If any of them should be in copyright violation and the copyright holder would care to notify me I will either remove them or acknowledge the copyright accordingly.
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Emmott 28th September 2002