Mallorca trains - April 2000 by Gerhard Schumann

Hello friends of the Mallorca Railways!

As a long-time Mallorca vacationer and enthusiastic railway enthusiast, I discovered your website on the Internet and can provide you with the following input:

1. In the Austrian railway magazine "Bahnverkehr aktuell" issue 4/2000 there is a report about Mallorca's railways, which I am reproducing to you in part:

The railway age began on the main island of the Balearic Islands in 1875 when the state company "Ferrocariles de Mallorca" (FFCC) was founded. Over the next forty years, the company built a 261-kilometer rail network linking the capital, Palma, with the cities of La Puebla, Arta, Felanitx, and Santanyi to the north and east. The routes had a gauge of 914 mm (= 1 English yard), with the most frequented section between Palma and Inca being double-tracked. However, most of the routes fell victim to increasing motorization in the 1960s and 1970s, and today the company "Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca" (FSM) only operates the 30-kilometer route from Palma to Inca. This still double track line was regauged to 1000mm in 1984 to accommodate used vehicles from mainland Spain. In the mid-1990s, the operation finally received twelve modern diesel railcars, which made it necessary to equip the stops with elevated platforms. After years of stagnation, the railway, which is mainly used by locals, is now very popular again (22 pairs of trains on weekdays!)

The private "Ferrocarril de Sóller" (FS) owes its existence to the tireless efforts of businessman Jeroni Estades. He simply did not want to accept the fact that the bay of Sóller in north-west Mallorca, which is surrounded by mountains over 1000 m high, was excluded from the development of the island by the railway. The capital Palma could therefore still only be reached by sea or by stagecoach along an adventurous serpentine road. The FS company, founded by Estades and a few wealthy merchants in 1904, started building the line as early as 1907, which ended with the official opening on April 16, 1912.

When it opened in 1912, there were four steam locomotives with a 1'C wheel arrangement, a total of ten 1st, 1st/2nd class passenger cars. and 2nd class, and 24 freight cars available.
Work on electrification began as early as 1926 and on July 14, 1929 electrical operation (1200 V=) with four four-axle bidirectional railcars of the AABFHV type (No. 1 - 4, 360 kW, 33 t, 50 km/h, electrical part from Siemens) are included. Since the wagons, clad in dark wood, gave the viewer a reddish impression, the train was soon given the nickname "Red Lightning" by travelers. These four railcars, which still manage the entire traffic in their original appearance today, naturally make the railway a special attraction for railway enthusiasts.

Since the tourists (and of course the tour operators) soon discovered the attractions of the railway, it developed into a first-class attraction in the 1960s and 1970s, which is why the ten passenger cars were completely overhauled between 1965 and 1997 and upgraded to pure 2nd class. Cars have been rebuilt (Nos. 1 - 10). In 1978, five additional cars were procured (numbers 11 - 15), but they can hardly be distinguished from the original cars. Finally, there are still three luggage trolleys (F1 - F3) in daily use, which were built according to US plans in 1931 and are used, for example, to transport magazines intended for the tobacconists in Sóller.

Although the timetable only shows five daily pairs of trains, there are usually at least as many that are chartered by tour operators. Since three sets have to be sufficient - one railcar is always being repaired - empty runs also have to be carried out from time to time, so that the four block sections of the route are almost constantly occupied between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The numerous tourists are taken by bus from all parts of the island to Son Sardina, where they change to the special trains provided. Since the cramped conditions at the Sóller station square do not allow buses to arrive, the "Can Tambor" stop, which is not shown in the timetables, was built about a kilometer earlier, via which the buses waiting on the main road can be easily reached.

On the other hand, it is much more comfortable to enjoy the one-hour journey from Palma to Soller in a scheduled train and to use the old tram in Soller to continue to the seaside resort of Port de Sóller, five kilometers away. This also belongs to the FS and was put into operation in October 1913 as a feeder to the "Red Lightning". The route, which was electrified with 600 V direct current from the start, begins on the station forecourt and, after crossing the central Placa Constitutio, reaches its own track body. After a two-kilometre ride along allotment gardens and orchards, the railway joins the main road to the port on the outskirts of Sóller, which it follows in a sideways position to Port de Sóller. In the popular seaside resort, the route, partly lined with palm trees, leads directly along the beach before ending in front of a bus stop building from the Wilhelminian era.
Operations are still largely handled with the two-axle, two-way railcars 1 - 3 delivered in 1913, which have been completely overhauled in recent years and equipped with scissor pantographs. The matching closed sidecars 5 and 6 were also procured for these railcars, but they are only used in the winter months. In the summer, all courses carry the open sidecars 8-11, which were taken over from the tram service in Palma, which was discontinued in 1956. There are always two such three-car trains running every half hour (lunch break 1 - 2 p.m.), which cross at a siding halfway.
While between 1958 and 1998 the second-hand cars 4 (motor car, built in 1924) and 7 (trailer car, built in 1924) from Bilbao provided variety, since the beginning of 1999 the two-axle cars taken over from Lisbon have caused a stir among the numerous passengers. In 1995/96, the two-axle vehicles 710, 716, 718, 725, 727, 729 and 734 (built between 1931 and 1939) and the four-axle vehicles 334 and 807 that had been decommissioned in Lisbon were brought to Mallorca in order to increase the fleet of vehicles, which was urgently needed.
While the bogie wagons were handed over to tram museums on the Spanish mainland after unsatisfactory test drives, people were very satisfied with the driving behavior of the two-axle vehicles. Between 1996 and 1999, four cars were therefore regauged (from 900 to 914 mm), completely restored and given an attractive red and white livery. The vehicles designated as numbers 20 - 23 are now used as push-in vehicles for larger tourist rushes, while the three vehicles that have not been refurbished serve as spare parts donors.

2. From my own observations in July 2000, I was able to determine that the track from Inca to Sa Pobla (La Puebla in Spanish) is finished in terms of superstructure. According to newspaper reports, it should go into operation in autumn 2000. The route ends in a new "Bahnhof" (an elevated platform at the end of the track, in front of it a switch with a siding) directly on the outskirts of Sa Pobla, on the road to Muro. There I also saw two 4-axle, yellow ballast wagons with German inscriptions and CFB stickers. There is no station building yet. It is a mystery to me how the railway to Alcudia is to be built there, because immediately after the buffer stop the houses begin with narrow streets and Alcudia is actually in the other direction.
In July 2000, the Inca train station looked the same as in your pictures, tracks without any connection to the network, partially filled in and covered with a new concrete platform.

3. I was able to learn from newspaper reports from the German-language Mallorca Magazine that a study had been commissioned into the possibility of building a tram between Palma and the airport and a rail connection between Sa Pobla and Alcúdia for 80 million pesetas, with results by January 2001 at the latest must bring.
The station building of Artà is also to be renovated soon

Greetings from Vienna

Dipl.-Ing. Gerhard Schumann
Union of Railway Enthusiasts