Enthusiast, Culture, In Style

PTG 20th Anniversary Railtour

25 to 30 January 2019
Spain

On 28th January 1999 we ran the first PTG railtour. This tour, in Portugal, lives on in great memories for those who were lucky enough to have travelled on it. To mark our 20th Anniversary we had hoped to reproduce that first tour. Unfortunately, severe shortages of stock and locomotives mean we cannot operate a tour in Portugal so we have chosen the next best thing – Spain. Once again we will visit scenic lines, have vintage carriages with opening windows and be hauled by a vintage, and popular, class of diesel locomotive – an Alco 321 locomotive built in 1965.

We will visit lines not usually worked by locomotive hauled trains and stay in fine historic towns that we have never visited before. There will also be a few sections of “freight only” line not usually accessible to passenger trains.

If there is enough interest an on-train restaurant car will be included in the train formation.

Hiring special trains in Spain does not come cheap so this tour might seem quite expensive. However, there are discounts for previous customers and if the tour sells out the price reduces quite a bit.

Highlights

  • Private charter train with at least two seats per person
  • Opening windows
  • 1960’s carriages and locomotive
  • Great scenery
  • On board restaurant car (subject to enough people)
  • New locations for PTG of Teruel and Cuenca
  • Some non-passenger lines

Tour Managers: Phil and David

Itinerary

Day 1 Friday 25 January – UK – Madrid: Direct flights from most UK airports to Spain’s capital city, Madrid. Free time and overnight in Madrid. Although we offer a flight inclusive price you are very welcome to book your own flights and, being January, you can get some very good deals.

Day 2 Saturday 26 January – Madrid – Teruel: The first day of the tour using a special charter train formed of vintage RENFE carriages with opening windows and hauled by a vintage Alco 321 diesel locomotive (or two x 321 if the tour sells out). Our special train will depart from Madrid-Chamartín station. From there we will go directly by the curve exclusive for express trains to Torrejón de Ardoz where we join the original line from Madrid to Barcelona. We will run through the fast lines to Alcalá de Henares and leave behind the Metropolitan area of Madrid to enter the valley of the River Henares. Then, we continue travelling along the original line along the valley to reach Torralba tunnel. After the tunnel, the route enters the valley of the Jalón River with an intermediate stop at Arcos de Jalón, where an English Electric Mikado 141F steam locomotive is plinthed as a monument. We continue towards Zaragoza along the single track section between Calatayud and Ricla with an endless succession of tunnels and viaducts in the steep valley, which is especially scenic.

Departing Zaragoza we travel along the Ronda Sur tracks to link with the original line of the Central de Aragon Railway and head towards Cariñena which is a wine área. Here we will make a few minutes stop to taste wine. After the gentle cultivation landscapes, the train will embark on the ascent to the Pass of Paniza, a spectacular mountain pass. After that, we will descend gently through the immensity of the Jiloca plains dotted with vast crops and small municipalities to finally reach the city of lovers: Teruel. Overnight in Teruel. Option to stay in the Parador de Teruel in a beautiful building which is true to its heritage with medieval architecture easily recognisable by the arching windows and majestic entrance. Stepping into the Parador you are greeted by light and airy spaces which offer a refreshing ambiance, but which also features tasteful ornate decoration ensuring that the building does not lose any of its original charm. This Parador boasts a spectacular garden, which is very much like a private park, complete with lamp posts.

Teruel is Spain’s smallest provincial capital, with just 35,000 inhabitants. Occupied by Arabs during the Moor occupation of Spain, its streets still retain much of the architectural styles of that period.

Liberated by Alfonso II in the 12th century, Teruel became a centre of Mudejar art (a style influenced by Islamic tradition and more contemporary European architectural styles, notably Gothic). In 1986 the UNESCO declared the remarkable Mudejar architecture in Teruel and other parts of Aragon a World Heritage Site.

Day 3 Sunday 27 January – Teruel – Cuenca: Upon departure from Teruel the special train will make the incredible climb to the Port of Escandón, the highest point of the route with 1222 metres of altitude. After the ascent comes a steep descent to the Mediterranean Sea in Sagunto, passing through an area of incredible viaducts. The route runs parallel to the narrow-gauge Sierra Menera railway, famous for the use of Garratt locomotives, which is currently closed. We expect to take the Sagunto avoiding line, currently freight only, to join

the main line from Tarragona to Valencia, passing the freight terminal at Fuente de San Luís and entering the spectacular Valencia Nord station for a break of a couple of hours. We then resume our travelling, going back to Fuente de San Luís to run-round so we can take the Valencia east to west avoiding line before joining the Cuenca line.  After passing through the urban area of Valencia in Buñol, the line enters the steep slopes of Siete Aguas and Venta Mina to ascend abruptly to the Utiel-Requena wine area.

We will travel slowly across this flat area, but after the Mira station we enter the valley of the Hoces of Cabriel River, with spectacular viaducts such as Torres Quevedo where the train is dwarfed by the landscape. From this point the trip runs through the mountainous area of Serranía de Cuenca by one of the few lines that preserve the telephone lock system in Spain. Finally, the trip reaches the enchanted city: Cuenca. Overnight in Cuenca. Option to stay in The Parador of Cuenca which is in the former “Convent of San Pablo” overlooking the Hoz del Huecar gorge. A World Heritage Site, Cuenca is one of Spain’s most memorable cities, its old centre a stage set of evocative medieval buildings, many painted in bright colours and stacked on a steep promontory at the meeting of two deep river gorges. Narrow meandering streets separate tall houses with wooden balconies that literally jut out over the sheer cliffs.

Day 4 Monday 28 January – Cuenca – Madrid: The last day as the train starts its return to Madrid from Cuenca. We will travel along the original line from Aranjuez to Cuenca, meandering through valleys with small streams. We reach Tarancón, with special interest in the Strait of Paredes, a significant upland area. At Aranjuez, a large historic town, we join the main line from Alicante to Madrid, and enter the capital of Spain from the south passing through industrial zones before diverging onto freight lines at Villaverde Bajo. We now pass through the railway complex of Vicálvaro, including workshops and freight yards, to finally reach Madrid Chamartín station and the end of our three-day excursion. Overnight in Madrid.

Day 5 Tuesday 29 January – Madrid: Fly home today or stay on for the day and join David on a visit to the Madrid Railway Museum. Inaugurated in 1984 in the old Delicias station, the railway museum offers a trip through time, showing visitors the history of train travel in Madrid. The imposing building, constructed as the start of the line in 1880, has a central engine room where the most important part of the museum can be found, the area with the platforms and the tracks with the expositions displaying the old locomotives. Here you can see the first steam engines which passed through the country, the first electric locomotives and the first diesel locomotives. On the platform’s visitors can see the old carriages, which show how it was to travel in the past, as well as some of the old maintenance vehicles. This surprising collection is completed with model trains of different sizes, as well as three animated models from different time periods.

Day 6 Wednesday 30 January – Madrid to UK: Various flight options from Madrid back to UK airports. Direct flights to Liverpool, Edinburgh and Bristol do not operate today so you will need an extra night in Madrid – POA.

Hotels

Madrid: Hotel Barcelo Imagine (double/twin), Hotel Weare Charmartin (singles)
Teruel: Gran Hotel Botanico (or similar)
Cuenca: Hotel Torrmangana (or similar)

Flights

BA0462 15.40 Heathrow to Madrid (arr 19.10)
BA0461 17.50 Madrid to Heathrow (arr 19.10)

EZY8277 12.00 Gatwick to Madrid (arr 15.30)
EZY8278 16.35 Madrid to Gatwick (arr 18.00)

FR5996 15.05 Stansted to Madrid (arr 18.35)
FR5995 13.05 Madrid to Stansted (arr 14.40)

EZY6035 16.40 Bristol to Madrid (arr 19.55)
**EZY6036 20.30 Madrid to Bristol (arr 21.45)

FR2083 12.05 Birmingham to Madrid (arr 15.30)
FR2082 10.10 Madrid to Birmingham (arr 11.40)

EZY7101 11.25 Liverpool to Madrid (arr 15.00)
** EZY7102 14.25 Madrid to Liverpool (arr 16.00)

FR3187 17.15 Manchester to Madrid (arr 20.55)
FR3186 21.30 Madrid to Manchester (arr 23.10)

EZY6993 07.30 Edinburgh to Madrid (arr 11.40)
EZY6996 19.30 Madrid to Edinburgh (arr 21.25)

** return flight is on 31 January. A surcharge applies for the extra night in Madrid

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (Maximum)

  • Full 6-day holiday from various UK airports: £1,250
  • Full 6-day holiday joining in Madrid: £1,050
  • 5-day holiday (leave on 29 Jan) from various UK airports: £1,180
  • 5-day holiday joining in Madrid: £980
  • Special Train only (no flights or hotels): £750

Our with flight prices include one item or hand luggage and one item of hold luggage. If you want to take just hand luggage then you can save £50 on the prices shown.

 

Discounts – available until 31 October 2018

  • £100 discount if you travelled on PTG’s first tour (The Douro Pioneer in January 1999 or £50 discount if you have travelled with PTG to Portugal or Spain in the past
  • PLUS a further £100 discount for everyone if the tour sells out.

Options – per person

  • Single Room Supplement: £125 (5 nights), £85 (4 nights)
  • Stay at the Parador in Cuenca: POA
  • Madrid Railway Museum visit: £20
  • Upgrade to paradores in Teruel and Cuenca: £120 (twin/double) or £210 (single)
  • Supplement might apply for flights from some UK airports or for late booking

Deposit

  • £500 with flights or £300 if joining in Madrid

Price Includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Breakfast included at the hotels
  • Services of our Tour Manager. Holiday is fully escorted from Madrid
Online Booking
Hotel Option:
Flight Option:
Quantity :

* please note that online bookings do not allow purchase of a holiday including flights. If you wish to book a fight-inclusive holiday choose the option “Please contact me for flight options”.