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Latest News - 22/07/2022

Latest News - 22/07/2022

With Covid travel restriction pretty much removed to all countries here is an update on our tours for the rest of the year (as of 22 July 2022)

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Summer and Autumn 2022

6 July: Midnight Sun. Ran as advertised and was a complete success

7 July: The Douro – Rail River and Wine. Ran as advertised and was a complete success

13 August: The Southern Sweden Explorer – moved to summer 2023

19 August: Sardinia and Corsica. Due to no “green line” trains this summer this tour will now operate in October 2023

1 September: Anne’s Scotland. We need just 2 more bookings to confirm as go.

2 September: Will not operate due to poor numbers booked

3 September: Trains of the Dolomites – Sold out and will run as planned

8 September: Southern France and the Pyrenees – Just a few places left

13 September: Hidden Slovenia. Good booking and will run as advertised

16 September: Classic Baltics. TBC but should run as planned

17 September: Portmeirion and Snowdonia. Just a small group booked but we still hope to run the trip with a few adjustments to the itinerary.

18 September: Costa del Alco. Moved to January 2023

22 September: Vintage Port 43 – Just a few places left

29 September: Spectacular New England in the Fall. Just a few places left. Confirmed go.

30 September: Two cabins left. Contact us for special prices

8 October: Stunning Railways of Colorado in the Fall. Good bookings confirmed as go.

8 October: Montenegro. Expected to run as advertised

12 October: Magical Minho. Just one hotel room left.

13 October: The Railways Around Bilbao. Good bookings and will run as advertised

22 October: Portugal the Return. Almost sold out and only a couple of hotel rooms left.

18 November: Saudi Arabia. Good bookings and expected to run as advertised

Early 2023

7 February: Amazing Railways of New Zealand. Booking well and expect to run as advertised

Staff Break

Please note that our office is closed from 23 July to 7 August so we can have a well earned break. Anything urgent please email urgent@ptg.co.uk


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Exceptional rail tours designed with the rail fans in mind

Rail tours designed with the rail fans in mind

Throughout our history, PTG has sought to provide a balance of holiday types; from the more adventurous, those culturally oriented, to those focused on relaxation and luxury. However, no matter what type of excursion you choose, at its core is a desire to satisfy the needs of those genuinely interested in all aspects of rail travel, notably the locomotives, their heritage, rail stock and the networks they use.

With PTG’s rail tours, having a trusted tour manager with you means not having to worry about such matters – it’s all taken care of for you.

Better still, you’re travelling with somebody who knows the landscape, has visited many of the places you’ll see before, and can take you to or point out things most travellers never notice or get to see.

Why should a PTG escorted rail tour appeal to a rail enthusiast?

The first point to note is that the tour managers leading this type of escorted tour are enthusiasts themselves. They like nothing more than engaging in discussions concerning the history of particular locomotives and rolling stock or the technology used over time, from steam through diesel, to electric.

Sandstone Estates, South AfricaSecondly, our tour managers tend to be experts in the local destinations our tours visit. They have conducted the tours many times and with passengers each with their own unique insights or expectations. You’ll not only gain a great insight into the trains we use on the particular tours, but also in the local culture and heritage of the places we visit. Our guides are expert at hunting out interesting sights that appeal to the particular audiences they escort.

So whether you’re a die hard rail fan or somebody with an interest in rail but wants to combine that with an excursion to explore a destination using rail, we have you covered.

We seek out local rail history

Every country has a deep history when it comes to rail travel. Consider the rugged history of rail transport in places like Alaska, ‘The Last Frontier’, or the ability to explore culturally rich destinations such as Machu Pinchu. Our tours cover global destinations and are not limited to just a few destinations. We have extensive tours through Europe and the UK too.

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Explore the steam railways in Germany’s Harz Mountains, famous for its network of narrow gauge lines. It’s often referred to as the greatest steam railway in the world. Meander through the fairytale villages of the Harz Mountains, mysterious forests and stepping back in time.

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, how about, for example, exploring deep into the history of what’s considered to be not only one of the most scenic railways in Europe, but also a unique narrow-gauge masterpiece in construction – the incredible “Šargan Eight” in Serbia.

We thoroughly research our tours, none more so than tours aimed at the hard core enthusiast. For example, if you’re looking for a rail journey few get to experience, then how about the array of unusual locomotives, rare lines and vintage rolling stock in Hungary and MÁV Nosztalgia. Note this is currently suspended at the time of writing due to the Ukraine crisis, but helps those interested develop a good understanding of the detail we incorporate into tours aimed to intrigue and excite devoted enthusiasts.

Our tours are ‘escorted tours’

There’s a considerable difference between tours that have a representative available to you at the locations you visit to that of a tour where there is a company representative with you 24/7.

For most travellers, the locations they visit will be entirely new experiences. As such, this can present challenges, such as buying tickets, identifying the correct stops on the various modes of transport available, finding food that’s suitable for their pallet or dietary needs or seeking out places of real interest and once their being able to explore and ask questions.

Regular package tours or those crafted by the travellers themselves, require a good degree of extra effort in the final stages of planning once at a destinations. Circumstances can change, travel can be unpredictable. Although it can be fun, waking up and deciding what to do where to go and what specifically to see once there, is an overhead that unless planned meticulously, takes time out of a valuable day’s holiday – not to mention what happens when something doesn’t work out.

With PTG’s rail tours, having a trusted tour manager with you means not having to worry about such matters – it’s all taken care of for you.

Better still, you’re travelling with somebody who knows the landscape, has visited many of the places you’ll see before, and can take you to or point out things most travellers never notice or get to see.

We look after the travel details, letting you get the most out of your excursion

The key to a successful holiday, no matter whether it’s just a fun family vacation or an enthusiasts rail tour, is great planning and preparation.

We realise that some of the more dedicated travellers and rail enthusiasts actually like to do a lot of the planning themselves too. Our approach is designed to remove the burden of the more mundane aspects of the process and let you become intimately involved in the base itinerary we follow.

Our itineraries are detailed, providing a day-to-day view of travel planes, activities etc. and our tour managers are always open to suggestions if when visiting a destination other points of interest crop up – time permitting of course.

When you book one of our tours, you can rest easy knowing that all the basic travel arrangements and accommodation has been taken care of and assured.

Tours for rail enthusiasts and rail fans created by rail enthusiasts and rail fans.

If you are a rail fan and want to indulge your passion through an escorted rail tour dedicated to the things in life that interest and inspire you, then check out our rail tours for enthusiasts. We’ve invested years of time and effort to bring these tours to you. Led by experienced travellers and rail enthusiast, you can let your passion run wild, as you’ll be among like minded travellers. You’ll meet new friends with a common interest. you can even book a trip with friends who enjoy the passion of rail travel and the deep histories found within the rail networks of the countries we visit.

Check out our rail enthusiast tours here and give us a call to discuss or just book online for the respective tours.


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Escorted holidays by rail - let the train take the strain

Escorted train holidays - let the train take the strain

Are you looking for a holiday with a bit of a difference? Perhaps also one that can take you off the beaten track and show you the side of a country many travellers won’t get to see? If so, this article will help you gain insights into a form of travel that many holiday makers simply overlook: train holidays!

Creating a holiday around rail travel is perhaps one of the best kept secrets of holiday making today. Not only do benefits include pre-planned itineraries, being escorted by knowledgeable guides and all travel and accommodation being taken care of for you, but you get to visit places that ordinarily are not within the typical reach of the average holiday maker.

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Accessibility and experience

While it is of course entirely possible to get a good feel for the culture and what a county can offer by visiting a major city or resort, the best experiences are there for those who are prepared to explore a bit further. Several options are open to travellers, including self-drive, local escorted tours, coaches and hiring a local taxi driver for a day.

train holiday accessibility

Opting to drive while on holiday is a great way to see a country and gives you the freedom to explore, but naturally this comes with some downsides. The main downside is that you have to do the driving and the risks associated with that, including driving on unfamiliar roads with unfamiliar laws. Plus of course, it can be tough to get help if you break down or wander into places that may not be best suited to tourists.

If you use a local service for tours as many do while on holiday, you’ll probably get bundled in with a merry throng of other tourists and get taken around the typical tourist sites with all that entails. To be honest, that’s enough for many holiday makers, but it won’t satisfy those keen adventure seekers that really want to dig deeper into the cultural, historical, and scenic aspects of the places they visit. Also, being part of a local tour while on holiday often ends up being a bit of a rushed affair, as the guide tries to pack in as much as possible to give value for money.

For those seeking a more relaxed and well planned adventure, with little if any planning to do yourself, then an escorted rail holiday could be the next holiday for you.

Using local rail services mean you can reach parts of a destination country many travellers never get to see. You get to share a very ‘local and authentic experience’ and often get to explore the more exotic side a destination has to offer. Suddenly, that mediaeval castle offering outstanding views and a dining experience, or more remote towns with their own traditional festivities, become accessible in relative comfort and ease, instead of requiring you to hire a car and driving yourself.

Probably the best aspect of a rail based holiday is that these experiences can be strung together, one after another as part of a well planned itinerary of a week or two. Doing that yourself, driving or using a local coach, bus or taxi, will prove a bit of a strain after a while. So, as the saying goes – “why not let the train take the strain?”

Convenience and comfort

Many of our clients are repeat clients who just love the convenience of travelling with an experienced guide and following a well thought through and planned itinerary. Every time is a new and rewarding experience, with little required of our clients other than to sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.

train holiday convenience

Comfort on a rail based holiday is paramount. A huge part of the experience is with the trains we choose to use throughout the itinerary. As you might expect, we look to deliver an experience that rewards both train travel lovers and enthusiasts alike. This includes using heritage trains as well as those that are more modern and luxurious.

Similarly, while trains are a means of exploration and need to afford a good level of comfort, our hotel accommodation is also chosen to deliver an authentic experience and a comfortable one. For those looking to experience luxury train rail based holidays, check out our ‘Escorted Train Holidays in Style” page.

Authenticity and experience is central to our escorted tours

As a holiday by rail company, we’ve been offering escorted rail holidays for over 20 years.  Our tours are well proven with guides that have years of experience with the destinations visited. At the heart of our itineraries is the desire to offer a truly authentic experience. This means we aim to please clients with not only discerning requirements but also those with quite varied expectations.

Ask any traveller what they look to get out of an excursion and you’ll likely get a very wide range of needs. There are those who want to enjoy the train transportation as a more unusual way to get around on holiday, but are there for the cultural aspects of the destination, such as food and drink and history. Others are there to enjoy and experience  scenery that’s difficult to access on a regular package, city or resort based holiday. Then you have the holidays for train enthusiasts, a part of our client base. Enthusiasts are there for the trains themselves, as well as the other aspects of the tour. This is the reason we choose the trains we use carefully indeed.

Not just rail travel

Many of our tours use a destination country’s rail transport network, both public and heritage, as part of the experience and to get to where we need to go. But, it’s not the only transport we use. Some of our tours will incorporate river transportation too. For example, a cruise along Portugal’s Douro, or using the tram systems in a number of cities.

Rail travel – a greener way to travel?

Travel these days is quite a contentious subject where environmental impact is concerned. Train travel can be a greener way to travel, simply because:
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  • You’re using an existing system that would be used in any case.
  • You’re not adding to CO2 emissions by using your own transportation, such as a car.
  • Many of our European tours offer a way to reach the start of your adventure by train rather than by Air, although air travel is still the easiest and likely most economical way to join your tour.

As time moves on, tour operators such as ourselves will continually look for ways of reducing our carbon footprint by using more environmentally minded services and third parties with similar desire to help reduce their environmental impact.

Try an escorted rail holiday for a change

Given the problems we have faced over the past couple of years, the desire to get away is extraordinary. However, restrictions remain and many would-be holiday makers choose to stay at home. Those that can travel often find that popular destinations are busy, accommodation hard to get and flights even more so, and expensive.

An escorted rail holiday offers an alternative; a way of beating the crowds, avoiding the crush and seeking out the lesser visited places. Checkout our latest brochure here.


The Amazing Railways of New Zealand

Tour Date: 7 February to 2 March 2023

Location: New Zealand

This is an advance notice of the tour at present being developed and costed by our New Zealand Operator. Some of the restored historic lines are run by volunteers who will not be opening bookings or setting prices until early calendar year 2022. However, it is expected that the vast majority of the train journeys and visits listed will be included in the final itinerary.

Welcome to Aotearoa, New Zealand. Offering you a mix of landscapes – rolling green hills, sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and rivers – an ever-changing variety packed into a landmass the same size as the UK.

Because of the terrain, the small population in the mid-1850’s, and the lack of money, 3ft. 6in gauge was very early adopted throughout the country for the railway system. At its peak the national railway system grew to over 6000km.

The closure of uneconomic lines has led to several groups of volunteers developing railway operations using a variety of equipment in various places on closed lines, and by the running of excursion trains on mainline tracks.

The national system was complemented by a large number of short lines related to the extraction industries – particularly timber and coal and other groups of volunteers have saved and restored key items of industrial heritage and now offer fascinating glimpses of bush tramways and former coal lines.

The closure of electric street trams has also seen several groups preserving and restoring key items and offering journeys on what used to be the norm in many of our cities

Your tour will include travel on all three of Kiwirail’s premier passenger services; on one of the rail ferries which enables the railway system in two islands to be operated as a single unit; visits to the best of the restored heritage lines and associated workshops; three charter trips on main lines and visits to several street tramway operations. On many days when you are travelling on trains, your tour coach will “shadow’ the train, with your large bags on board.

Your rail experiences will be complemented by an introduction to Maori culture through its people; a visit to Rotorua’s thermal reserve; a boat trip on the North Island’s largest lake; tours of several cities; views of the nocturnal kiwi and the tuatara; travel through the rain forest and around and on several of the gorgeous southern South Island lakes.

Availability

Tour Highlights


    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    Tuesday 7 February 2023

    Various flight options from the UK including “Round the World” tickets.

    Thursday 9 February 2023 (D)

    Arrive International Auckland Airport. Transfer to your waterfront hotel. Free day. In the late afternoon: Orientation to your tour, followed by a Welcome Dinner. (Overnight: Auckland)

    Friday 10 February (B)

    This morning you will be introduced to New Zealand’s largest city by means of a Coach tour, including the downtown areas; the waterfront; Parnell Village; Holy Trinity Cathedral; Auckland Domain and Wintergardens and Tamaki Drive (with a stop at Bastion Point for wonderful harbour views). Following time for you to purchase lunch, tour MOTAT, NZ’s largest transport, technology & social history museum (aviation; road; rail; kiwi ingenuity; trams). The tour will include a ride on a restored heritage tram which links the two compuses. (Overnight: Auckland)

    Saturday 11 February (B,D)

    Free morning (but possible options: tour the National Maritime Museum; travel on an EMU on the West Auckland line to Swanson and return; a ferry across the harbour to Devonport to stroll around the village, then return to Auckland). This afternoon, travel by coach to Glenbrook to visit the now over 40 years old Glenbrook Vintage Railway. Enjoy a steam engine hauled charter train on the 15km round trip through rural countryside to the historic town of Waiuku on the Manukau Harbour including photo run-by’s. You will also have a conducted tour of their workshops. Steam locos on shed include two Ww 4-6-4T locos; an F 0-6-0T loco; a Ja 4-8-2 loco and a 2-4-4-2 Mallet loco. Either dinner in their “Parlour Car” on the train, or a BBQ evening meal. Return to your hotel by coach. (Overnight: Auckland)

    Sunday 12 February (B,L,D)

    Coach to Pukemiro (near Huntly). Charter steam-hauled trip on the Glen Afton Line (formerly The Bush Tramway Club), followed by a tour of their workshops. View their Climax, Heisler & Price built bush lokies, plus their former coal hauling locos. Enjoy a bush tramway jigger ride and lunch. This afternoon, travel on by coach to Rotorua. This evening enjoy a comprehensive Maori Cultural Evening, including a hangi (cooked in an underground oven) dinner. (Overnight: Rotorua)

    Monday 13 February (B,D)

    Enjoy an amphibian “duck” tour of Rotorua, then travel out on it onto two of the local Lakes. This afternoon, tour the Thermal Reserve to view geysers, steam vents, mud pools, and local Maori engaged in a variety of arts and crafts. (Overnight: Rotorua)

    Tuesday 14 February (B,L)

    Coach across country from Rotorua to Taumarunui via Taupo (including a boat trip on Lake Taupo), and Turangi. (Overnight: Taumarunui)

    Wednesday 15 February (B,L)

    Because Kiwirail’s Taumarunui to Stratford line has been “moth-balled”, you will be able today to self drive (in convoys) battery operated railcarts to Whangamomona, with lunch en route. Your 40km ride will take you past a good number of small isolated communities; through several tunnels: over several bridges; and past ever changing back-blocks scenery. Return to Taumarunui later in the day in minivans. (Overnight: Taumarunui)

    Thursday 16 February (B,D)

    This morning enjoy a Jetboat trip on the Whanganui River. Around midday, join Kiwirail’s “Northern Explorer” train on the North Island Main Trunk line from Taumarunui to Paraparaumu (arrival time: 5.30pm). You will travel through a very scenic part of the Island, including the famous Raurimu Spiral, an engineering masterpiece which overcomes a 456 feet height difference between the volcanic plateau to the east and the valleys and gorges of the upper Whanganui River to the west. (Overnight: Paraparaumu)

    Friday 17 February (B,L)

    This morning you will participate in a charter trip on one of Wellington Tramway Museum’s trams, and tour their extensive workshops and tram barns at nearby Queen Elizabeth Park. The group has the largest stable of restored electric trams in the country. This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour around one of the country’s major preservation group (Steam Incorporated)’s Workshops at Paekakariki. They have restored several large steam and historic diesel locos, including J, Ja, K, and Ka steam locos and three 1950 – 1960’s era Da A1A-A1A diesel electric locos. You will also be able to inspect the ex Rhodesian Railways Garratt which is stored for it’s New Zealand owner. All of their carriage fleet have some historical or structural significance. (Overnight: Paraparaumu)

    Saturday 18 February (B)

    Travel on Steam Incorporated’s heritage diesel-hauled excursion train from Paekakariki to Napier to tour ART Deco buildings during this weekend’s Art Deco Festival. The section of line from Palmerston North to Napier is normally a freight only line. Return to Paekakariki (Overnight: Paraparaumu)

    Sunday 19 February (B,L)

    Travel on an EMU from Paraparaumu – Wellington, then on a Wairarapa train from Wellington (dep. 9.25am) through the Rimutuka Tunnel to Featherston. Conducted tour of the Fell engine (H199 0-4-2T) and Fell brakevan and associated Museum. Prior to the opening of the Rimutuka Tunnel in the 1950’s, the Fell System was used to convey freight and passengers on the 1:13 gradient forming part of the line over the mountain. Late morning, you will be collected by your coach and taken over the Rimutuka’s to the well established working heritage Silverstream Railway in the Hutt Valley, for lunch; a charter steam-hauled trip and a tour of their workshops. Their large collection of locos include three Barclay 0-6-0Ts; a C class (0-4-2T) built by Dubs in 1875; A C 2-6-2 heavy shunting loco; two 1950’s era diesel electric locos; Ka935; an 1887 Avonside loco (L509) and both a Standard class and a Wairarapa class railcar. Later, your coach will then take you to your Wellington hotel. (Overnight: Wellington)

    Monday 20 February (B,D)

    Free morning (options include the Kelburn Cable Car and its Museum; an EMU trip on the short but scenic Johnsonville branch line; or Te Papa (New Zealand’s premier Museum). At 2.45pm depart Wellington on an Inter-islander Rail Ferry to Picton, in the northern South Island) Arrive 5.55pm. (Overnight: Picton)

    Tuesday 21 February (B)

    Another highlight this morning, you will travel on a steam hauled (Ab 608 “Paschendale”) charter trip on the main line from Picton to Blenheim, centre of one of New Zealand’s largest grape growing regions. If there is time, travel on the 2ft. gauge Blenheim Riverside train to visit the local Aviation Museum which houses many of Sir Peter Jackson’s private collection of vintage planes and/or The Riverside Train group’s workshop. Depart Blenheim 2.46pm on Kiwirail’s “Coastal Pacific” train to Christchurch. Enjoy spectacular sea views for about a third of the journey. You will be able to purchase an evening meal on board. Arrival Christchurch at 8.30pm where you will be transferred to your hotel. (Overnight: Christchurch)

    Wednesday 22 February (B,D)

    Tour the Christchurch CBD on one of several restored vintage trams which operate on a figure of eight circuit. The excellent commentary will assist you to view the rebuilding of the central city following the devastating earthquakes. This afternoon, tour Ferrymead Heritage Park. Restored locos – steam (including a Wd 2-6-4T and a D 2-4-0T); electric (examples of former Otira Tunnel and Lyttleton Tunnel locos); and diesel) plus three Vulcan railcars and trams, complement the Victorian era village. ( A charter train trip is likely.) Ferrymead is also the site of the proposed National Railway Museum of New Zealand. (Overnight: Christchurch)

    Thursday 23 February (B,D)

    Today, travel from Christchurch to Greymouth on the very best of the Kiwirail passenger trains – the Tranz Alpine. Enjoy spectacular scenery and railway engineering and travel through the 7-mile long Otira Tunnel into the West Coast. You will be able to purchase lunch on board. Following time for photos at Greymouth Station, your coach will take you to Shantytown for a tour of their complex, including a steam hauled train; gold panning and bush tramway relics. Later, travel on by coach through historic Hokitika to Franz Josef (Overnight: Franz Josef)

    Friday 24 February (B)

    Tour the Dept. of Conservation’s Wildlife Centre to view Kiwis in a nocturnal setting and the prehistoric Tuatara reptile. Then travel by coach to Queenstown. The rainforest scenery during the morning is among the best in the country. This afternoon, following the crossing of the divide at Haast, you will travel down to Wanaka, enjoying fabulous lake views, then over the spectacular Crown Range to Queenstown. (Overnight: Queenstown)

    Saturday 25 February (B,D)

    This morning, your coach will take you to Kingston for a ride on the iconic Kingston Flyer, behind another restored steam engine and historic wooden-bodied carriages between Kingston and Fairlight and return. The “Flyer”, moth-balled since 2012, is expected to be running again by the time you visit. This afternoon, back in Queenstown, travel on TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu (this steam engine driven ship is over 100 years old and is still in regular service). This evening enjoy dinner at the Skyline Restaurant, accessed by cable car. While eating, enjoy magnificent views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. (Overnight: Queenstown)

    Sunday 26 February (B)

    Coach to Middlemarch to join the Taieri Gorge Railway train bound for Dunedin. This heritage diesel hauled train will take you through the spectacularly rugged scenery and over splendid iron viaducts en route to Dunedin. On arrival, tour the station. This most photographed building is the best of the Edwardian era Gordon Troup designed railway stations in NZ. (Overnight: Dunedin)

    Monday 27 February (B)

    This morning, travel on the “Seasider” Train from Dunedin on the main line to either Waitati or Palmerston and return. Enjoy great coastal views en route. This afternoon is free, but we recommend a visit to the Toitu Otago Early Settler’s Museum, which includes a double ended Fairlie loco on static display, or take a coach tour out onto the Otago Peninsula to visit the Royal Albatross Centre (Overnight: Dunedin)

    Tuesday 28 February (B,L)

    Coach from Dunedin – Christchurch with en route stops at Pleasant Point Railway & Museum near Timaru for a charter ride on their replica Model T Ford railcar used on several South Island branch lines in the 1930’s and lunch, and later, The Plains Railway near Ashburton to view their beautifully restored 1880’s Baldwin K class steam loco (we are expecting to be able to arrange for a short charter trip behind it). (Overnight: Christchurch)

    Wednesday 1 March (B,D)

    Coach from Christchurch to Waipara for a ride on a chartered train on the Weka Pass Railway from Glenmark (near Waipara) to Waikari. This historic rural railway was laid through the unique limestone beauty of the Weka Pass. The charter will include photo run-by’s. We hope to use one of their Dg class diesels built in 1956 by English Electric (12SVT engine). See photo. This evening, enjoy a Farewell Dinner in a Christchurch restaurant. (Overnight: Christchurch)

    Thursday 2 March (B)

    After breakfast you will be transferred to Christchurch International Airport for your onward flights back to the UK.

    Tour Prices (per person)

    Full 22 day tour from UK Airports from: £6,950*

    Full 20 day tour joining in Auckland: £5,850

    Single use room supplement: TBC

    *  with flight price confirmed at time of booking

    Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

    Online Booking

    Click here to see our Booking Conditions

    Click here to see our Privacy Policy

    We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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    The Old Patagonian Express – The Legend Lives on!

    Tour Date: 16 Days | 16 to 31 March 2023

    Location: Argentina

    The Old Patagonian Express has gone down in folklore history made popular by the author Paul Theroux and others over the years. But this train does exist in a remote region of the Argentine Patagonia, some 1000 miles southwest of Buenos Aires. Most railfans know this as the Esquel narrow gauge line. Locals call It “La Trochita” and railroad management calls it “El Viejo Expreso Patagonico” 2022 marks the 100th year anniversary of this historic rail line. We will have all of the locomotives that pull our trains re lettered into the original Ferrocarriles Argentinos in honor of 100 years of operation.

    Over the past 100 years this 251 mile 2’ 5 1/2” (75cm) gauge line has seen good and bad times, has seen several trains per day to just one train per week and during the Covid Pandemic no trains at all. One very important fact now stands out about this rail line… IT IS THE LAST AND LONGEST 100% STEAM OPERATED RAILROAD IN ALL OF SOUTH AMERICA! The Baldwin and Henschel 2-8-2’s are still being repaired in the workshops to keep the tourist trains operating. For several days in March 2023 we will turn back the clock and operate several charter trains that will look just like the way it was many years ago. Since 1987 we have now chartered 44 trains on this line.

    During our tour additional time will be spent enjoying other steam locomotive operations in the Buenos Aires and Bariloche areas plus a planned charter pulled by Baldwin/ Westinghouse electric No. 953 which is being restored to operating condition by the Ferroclub Argentino near Buenos Aires. This classic box cab electric was built in 1927 for the Red River Lumber Company out of Westwood, California and later operated on the Pacific Electric before being sold to Argentina in the mid 1950’s. We have requested that this box cab pull our charter train out of Buenos Aires to the Ferroclub Argentino museum at Lynch on the standard gauge Urquiza Railroad. Additionally the last operating Baldwin Shark Nose diesel in the world will pull our train out of Buenos Aires and we also are planning to visit the stored passenger cars that were built by Budd for the C&O’s Chessie which never went into service and ended up being sold to Argentina.

    PTG Tours have got together with Trains & Travel International in California to offer this tour in both UK and US, this results in a much better selling price and (an almost) certainty that the tour will run with sufficient numbers.

    Travel from the UK to Argentina on 16 March
    We offer a full package including scheduled flights from the UK and private taxi transfer on arrival into Argentina. There is now a direct, overnight, British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires. Leaving LHR at 22:25 for 14hr flight arriving into Buenos Aires at 08:20. We can offer connecting BA flights from many UK airports to connect with this flight at Heathrow. Alternative flights are also available from other UK airports, via Madrid or Frankfurt.

    Pre-Tour Nights
    If you would like to arrive into Argentina a day or two ahead of the main group, to relax and acclimatize, then we can arrange this for you. The only extra cost will be the cost of the hotel in Buenos Aires.

    Availability

    Tour Highlights


    • Remote stunning scenery
    • Private steam hauled charter trains
    • Plenty to space to spread out
    • Last and longest 100% steam railroad in South America
    • Baldwin and Henschel 2-8-2s
    • Plenty of runpasts and photo stops
    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    Travel from the UK to Argentina on 16 March

    We offer a full package including scheduled flights from the UK and private taxi transfer on arrival into Argentina. There is now a direct, overnight, British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires. Leaving LHR at 22:25 for 14hr flight arriving into Buenos Aires at 08:20. We can offer connecting BA flights from many UK airports to connect with this flight at Heathrow. Alternative flights are also available from other UK airports, via Madrid or Frankfurt.

    DAY 1 THURSDAY 16 MARCH (D)

    Independent arrivals in Buenos Aires and independent hotel check-in. Afternoon tour of the major passenger train stations in Buenos Aires. We will begin this tour at our hotel lobby at 2:00pm and walk to the near-by subway station. This afternoon excursion will be fully escorted by not only our American guide but our local railfan guides that live in Buenos Aires. We will introduce you to how most of the local folks get around the city. You will be amazed how all of the major train stations can be accessed by subway. In fact a person can visit just about all areas of the city by rail. We plan to visit these train stations: Plaza Constitucion (largest station in BA) has 16 platforms and hundreds of trains a day. Retiro Mitre, Retiro San Martin and Retiro Belgrano. These three stations are next to each other with easy access. Back

    DAY 2 FRIDAY 17 MARCH (B,L,D)

    Today we have a morning flight on Aerolineas Argentineas to San Carlos de Bariloche. (Air Tickets Included) We depart Buenos Aires at 9:30am and arrive in Bariloche at 11:50am. We will first have lunch overlooking the Andes and spectacular Lakes District. After lunch we go on a tour of the Lake District region and a city tour of Bariloche which was settled by Swiss and Germans and so this delightful town gives you the feel of being in the Swiss Alps. After our town tour we will go out to the train station and small shops which is on the Ferroviarios Patagonico (Railroad) . Then hotel check in and the evening will will have our “Welcome to Argentina Dinner”.

    DAY 3 SATURDAY 18 MARCH (B,L,D)

    Today we have a charter two unit Spanish built railcar from San Carlos de Bariloche to Jacobacci a distance of 121 miles on broad gauge. But we also will have a charter train pulled by steam locomotive 121 a 2-8-0 North British built in 1913 for the first 25 miles out of Bariloche to the station of Perito Moreno. The railcar will depart Bariloche first with all of our luggage and then wait at the Perito Moreno station. In the 25 miles between Bariloche and Perito Moreno we will make several photo run-bys. Upon arrival at Perito Moreno the group will transfer onto the railcars and then continue eastbound to Jacobacci. Several photo run-bys will be made between Perito Moreno and Jacobacci. We will first pay a visit to the narrow gauge steam workshops before hotel check-in and dinner.

    DAY 4 SUNDAY 19 MARCH (B,L,D)

    We plan to depart Jacobacci very early with our charter pulled by one of the narrow gauge 2-8-2’s Jacobacci to Norquinco , a distance of 126 miles. The first 10 miles out of Jacobacci is a very unique dual gauge three rail line where the narrow gauge shares the rails with the broad gauge. We will stage as many photo run-bys today as possible but this is going to be a very long day so the photo stops will be somewhat limited. Back some 50 years ago “The Old Patagonian Express” could make it between Jacobacci and El Maiten in just 8 hours but not anymore. Today it will take our train a good 13 hours just to make it to Norquinco. We plan to arrive at Norquinco at around sunset. Here we transfer to our charter motorcoach for the small town of El Bolson and hotel check-in.

    DAY 5 MONDAY 20 MARCH (B,L)

    Return Norquinco via motorcoach to reboard our waiting charter train for the rail trip south to El Maiten, a distance of 23 miles. Visit what is left of the steam workshops and running shed at El Maiten and a small railroad museum. Many of the original buildings have now been torn down. There is plenty of narrow gauge locomotives and rolling stock stored here. The original roster was made up of 11 Baldwin and 11 Henschel steam locomotives of the 2-8-2 wheel arrangement plus one Henschel 0-6-0 that was used at the workshop and yard as a switcher. We then reboard our charter train and continue our journey southbound to a the station of Thomae where the Mapuche Indian Blockaide is located. Our charter bus will be waiting and we will ride back to El Bolson for the 2nd night. Everyone will get to keep their same hotel rooms. Between Norquinco and Thomae is less than 50 miles so we will pack in the photo run-bys today.

    DAY 6 TUESDAY 21 MARCH (B,L)

    We return to Thomae where are train had tied up for the night. This morning we will be able to follow our train by highway through the 13 mile blockaide taking pictues at a couple of the scenic locations. At the station of Leleque we will reboard our train and continue south to the end of the line at Esquel. Transfer to a local hotel.

    DAY 7 WEDNESDAY 22 MARCH (B,L)

    In the morning we will visit the running shed and stage the steam locomotives on the turntable at Esquel before boarding our charter train. Today we will have a doubleheader with one Baldwin and a Henschel and a mixed consist of freight and passenger cars for the steep climb out of the Esquel Valley and up to the Patagonian Plateau at Nahuel Pan, a distance of 12 very scenic and steep miles. After a water stop at Nahuel Pan we will continue on north for several miles to perform more photo run-bys in the rock cliffs. Also many photo run-bys will be made between Esquel and Nahuel Pan. When turning the steam locomotives on the wye track at Nahuel Pan we will also switch the locomotives around for variety. Same hotel and rooms tonight in Esquel.

    DAY 8 THURSDAY 23 MARCH (B,L)

    Today our charter will run 103 miles Esquel back to El Maiten with plenty of photo-runbys. We will make a stop at the Lepa station for lunch. Arrangements have been made for a authentic “Argentine Barbecue” to be served on an open fire BBQ pit built next to the station by authentic Argentine Gauchos (Cowboys). The Gauchos will start our barbecue in plenty of time before we arrive so it will be ready for us. Included in this barbecue is Beef, Pork, Lamb and fresh home made sausages, plus salad and french bread. This is a “All you can Eat” barbecue. After lunch we reboard our train and continue north to Leleque where we will transdfer to our waiting bus for the short ride to El Bolson and hotel check-in. Meanwhile our train will run the 13 miles through the indian reservation to Thomae and then tie up for the night.

    DAY 9 FRIDAY 24 MARCH (B,L)

    We return by bus to Thomae and reboard our waiting train for the journey north to El Maiten. Here our engine will be serviced before we depart northbound for the 23 miles to Norquinco. Plenty of photo run-bys today. Again we transfer to our waiting bus for the trip back to El Bolson. Everyone will have the same room.

    DAY 10 SATURDAY 25 MARCH (B,L,D)

    Return to Norquinco to board our waiting train and head northbound to Jacobacci, a distance of 125 miles. This will be a very long day so we will only run a few photo run-bys today. We estimate between departure from the hotel in El Bolson until you check in at the hotel in Jocobacci will be at least 17 hours. This is why we are giving you dinner on the train today. Upon arrival in Jacobacci hotel check-in.

    DAY 11 SUNDAY 16 MARCH (B,L)

    Today we have a charter train with a different consist from Jacobacci south to Ojo de Agua and return a distance of 54 miles. We will stage photos run-bys both directions as time allows. We must have our charter train back in Jacobacci by sunset which will be around 7:30pm. For those interested you can take some night photos at the workshops as the crews put our steam locomotive away for the night. The Tren Patagonico is operated between Bariloche and Viedma and is due into Jacobacci at 9:44pm. Everyone is in sleeper class for the 518 mile journey across Argentina to Viedma. Tren Patagonico has three classes of tickets. Sleeper class, First Class, and Coach Class. This train also has a dining car, lounge/disco car and even a movie car if you would like to watch a movie tonight. Upon boarding and after you get settled in your room we suggest you go to the dinning car and get dinner.

    DAY 12 MONDAY 27 MARCH

    Tren Patagonico is due in Viedma at 11:34am but is rarely on-time. Reports tell us that most of the time this train gets into Viedma in the mid afternoon. Upon arrival we will transfer to our waiting bus which then will take us to our hotel for check-in. After check-in anyone that is interested we will take you to the railroad workshops of the Ferroviarios Patagonico for a shop tour.

    DAY 13 TUESDAY 28 MARCH (B,L)

    Today we must have our charter bus take us from Viedma to Bahia Blanca, a distance of 165 miles to catch our next train. We will then depart Bahia Blanca at 7:00pm onboard “EL Bahiense” in sleeper class. Since we have all day to travel 165 miles on a good paved highway we are in no hurry to get up and check-out. So as we travel north on the highway to Bahia Blanca if we see any trains we will stop and take picturees. In Bahia Blance we will take you on a workshop tour before going to the train station and boarding “El Bahiense” Shortly after departing you can enjoy dinner in the dining car.

    DAY 14 WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH (L)

    Arrive in Buenos Aires at 8:30am at the Plaza Constitucion station. We have arranged to have our charter train waiting for our arrival at the Plaza Constitucion station pulled by the only operating Baldwin Shark Nose diesel in the world. Our train will be made up of classic wooden coaches including a dining car from the Ferroclub’s collection. We will be served lunch on this wooden dining car. Once at the museum at Escalada you can enjoy the large collection of motive power and rolling stock. One or two broad gauge steam locomotives will be in operation for our visit. Mid afternoon we return to downtown Buenos Aires on our bus and hotel check-in. Rest of the day and evening on your own leisure.

    DAY 15 THURSDAY 30 MARCH (B,L,D)

    In the morning we visit the Ferroclub Argentino’s railroad museum at Lynch which is on standard gauge. We will first go to the Federico Lacroze Station on the Urquiza Railroad which is located within the city limits of Buenos Aires. Here we will board our private charter train for the run to Lynch. Former Pacific Electric box cab 953 built by Baldwin/Westinghouse will pull our train. This classic box cab was built for the Red River Lumber Company in 1927 as No. 204. In 1944 it was sold to the Central California traction and renumbered to 24. Then in 1947 it went to the Pacific Electric as No. 1593. Finally in 1952 this motor was sold to Argentina. At the Lynch museum one or two of the club’s steam locomotives will be in operation. Also sister electric box cab 952 will be at the museum and the Ferroclub has agreed to repaint her in the original Pacific Electric scheme just for our visit. You will have plenty of time to explore the Ferroclub’s museum at Lynch including the deadline of former Pacific Electric motors just outside of the museum including a classic Hollywood car. All of this former PE equipment was sold to Argentina in 1952. We then return to downtown Buenos Aires on our bus. In the evening we will host our “Farewell to Argentina Dinner”

    DAY 16 FRIDAY 31 MARCH (B)

    Morning we will visit the Budd built passenger cars then the National Railway Museum which is located at the Retiro Station. The Chessie was a proposed streamlined passenger train developed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in the late 1940’s. This new train would have operated on a daylight schedule between Washington DC and Cincinnati, Ohio. The train’s luxury lightweight equipment was built new by the Budd Company but never put intro service. Out of 48 cars built for this train 12 were sold to the FC Roca Railway and shipped to Argentina. They were eight 36 seat coaches, two 28 seat baggage-coach, and 2 lunch counter/tavern/lounge cars. Once fitted to broad gauge and link & pin couplings this train went into service between Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, a distance of 250 miles, as an extra fare luxury vacation train and was called “El Marplatense”. This train was finally retired a few years ago and four cars were not scrapped and are stored in Buenos Aires. We will be back at the hotel in enough time before check-out and end of our tour.

    Return flights to the UK.

    Prices (per person)

    • Full 16 day holiday “from home” with flights from UK: £6,550*
    • Joining in Buenos Aires: £5,650**

    Options

    • Single room supplement: £890

    Deposit

    • £1,000 plus any flight costs

    * flight price confirmed at time of booking

    ** price is 7095 USD and will be converted into GBP at the then current exchange rate, two months before departure.

    Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

    Online Booking

    Click here to see our Booking Conditions

    Click here to see our Privacy Policy

    We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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    Historic South-West Spain

    Tour Date: 1 to 11 March, 2023

    Location: Spain

    The PTG slogan is “rail and culture” and that is exactly what this tour sets out to achieve, with a combination of trains, historic towns and sights, beautiful scenery and stunning hotels and Paradors.

    With options to travel out from the UK by rail or air, we gather together in Madrid before setting out on our rail tour of historic South-West Spain, taking in the passenger railways from Madrid down to Zafra and visiting some of Spain’s most important historic locations, including some that are well off the beaten track. We also slip into Portugal to visit a town built on a hill and fortified as a defensive measure against attacks from Spain.

    As you would expect from an “In style” tour, we stay at top quality hotels, including the Paradors in Mérida (a former 18th century convent), Zafra (a majestic castle, formerly the palace of the Dukes of Feria) and Plasencia (the stunning 15th century Santo Domingo Monastery) and in Caceres at the 16th century Oquendo Palace. In Madrid we will stay at a good quality hotel near Atocha station. This is a half-board tour and we will have dinner in our hotels or good local restaurants each night.

    For rail fans we cover the passenger lines between Madrid and Zafra, using the high-speed line south from Madrid to Puertollano where catch a broad-gauge train along the sparsely served line westwards to Mérida. As well as the other main lines from Mérida south to Zafra and north to Plasencia and eventually back to Madrid on this classic route, we have the opportunity to take in the branches from Mérida to Badajoz and from Caceres to Valencia de Alcántara. A new high-speed line, Spain’s first broad-gauge high-speed line, is being built alongside the classic line, and is particularly visible on the Caceres – Mérida – Badajoz route, so this may be a last chance to travel on the classic lines if the new line has not already opened. We also include a visit to the Rio Tinto Mine Museum, south of Zafra, with its own railway, which of course we will travel on. We hope to have a steam-hauled train here.

    At this time of year, the weather should be comfortable and without the excessive heat experienced in the summer months.

    Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

    Availability

    Tour Highlights


    • Half-board – dinner included each evening
    • First class train travel where possible
    • Historic towns
    • Staying in Paradores
    • Local guides
    • Very little coach travel
    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    Day 1 Wednesday 1st March, 2023 (D)

    We will be offering both flight and rail options for travelling to Madrid. We will meet up at our hotel near Atocha station for the first night. Dinner in the hotel.

    Day 2 Thursday 2nd March (B,D)

    Leaving Madrid, we head south on the high-speed line to the town of Puertollano. Here we join a train on the very scenic, but sparsely served, classic line heading westwards to our base for the next two nights, the UNESCO listed town of Mérida. This line meanders through rolling countryside with few settlements of any great size, so it is easy to understand why the eastern end of the line has only two trains per day. We soon find ourselves following the River Guadiana into Mérida, and have a brief view of the Roman Circus, one of many Roman remains in Mérida, a town founded by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. Mérida station is an important railway junction, with lines from four directions (north, south, east and west) all crossing here, though the line from Puertollano is the only route to enter the station from the east. We arrive at the Parador mid-afternoon, so you will have free time to enjoy the facilities in the parador or begin exploring the town. The Parador is very well-located for the historic centre. Over the course of its history, the building that now houses Mérida Parador has had different uses, including as a convent, a hospital, an asylum and even a jail. Today it still houses historical remains dating back 2000 years. The interior cloister and Jardín de Antigüedades (Garden of Antiquities), a collection of Mudejar, Roman and Visigothic archaeological pieces, are both truly fascinating locations. The Parador stands in a peaceful square decorated with orange trees. Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 3 Friday 3rd March (B,D)

    This morning we will meet our local guide Javier, who will also be joining us on certain other days. Our guided tour will begin inside the Parador, as it is an important historic building in its own right. From here Javier will lead us on a walk around Mérida’s historic sights which you will be able to visit later in your free time (most are included in the Monuments Pass), but the highlight of the tour is the visit to the Roman theatre and amphitheatre. We can also find a 792-metre-long Roman bridge over the River Guadiana, the Temple of Diana and the Aqueduct of Los Milagros. The National Museum of Roman Art, with over 36,000 exhibits from the local area, is well-work visiting. Another highlight is the Alcazaba, a 9th century Muslim fortification, the best-preserved example in Spain. We will visit the theatre and amphitheatre as part of the morning guided walk, and the afternoon will be free so that you can visit the other historic sites at your own pace. Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 4 Saturday 4th March (B,D)

    Today we have a free morning for final explorations in Mérida and after lunch we catch a train south to Zafra. Zafra Parador will be our home for the next two nights. The building was originally a majestic castle dating from the 15th century and is itself one of the highlights of the holiday, with well-appointed rooms, a swimming pool and a beautifully maintained garden. Many of the rooms face onto an attractive inside courtyard, as being a former castle, the outer walls do not have many windows! Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 5 Sunday 5th March (B,L,D)

    A very full day today, as we head south from Zafra by coach to visit the Rio Tinto Mining Park. Accompanied by an English-speaking guide from the park, we will spend the day visiting the different sections of the park-museum, including the train that runs through incredible landscapes, a river unique in the world for the colour and composition of its waters, a territory that shows the traces of 5,000 years of mining activity, a museum full of cultural heritage jewels, a house that transports us to Victorian England … even a walk on another planet, Mars, without leaving Earth! Today’s train should be steam-hauled. Lunch in a local restaurant is included, and of course we end the day with dinner in the Parador.

    Day 6 Monday 6th March (B,D)

    We have a free morning to explore Zafra. Look out for the attractive Plaza Grande and the Plaza Chica. After lunch we return to Zafra station for our train to Caceres. On arrival in Caceres, we transfer to our hotel, and after time to settle, we will have a guided walk with Javier. With sunset at around 7 pm, the old town is illuminated, and looks quite splendid. Though it was founded by the Romans, we can still see architecture of many other cultures that occupied the city, including the Moorish city walls and Renaissance and Gothic architecture. The town can really be divided into three – the ancient walled town, the old town just outside the wall and centred on the Plaza Mayor with the typical narrow, winding streets, and the modern town that has grown over the years. Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 7 Tuesday 7th March (B,D)

    Today we visit Trujillo by coach, on the Route of the Conquistadors, and once again accompanied by Javier. Highlight is Trujillo Castle, built in the 13th century on the site of an Arab fortress at the highest part of the town. It also boasts an important group of churches and manor houses near the central Plaza Mayor. This part of Spain is famous for its wine and Iberian ham, and we will stop off at a local winery for a visit and the chance to taste some of their wine. Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 8 Wednesday 8th March (B,D)

    Portugal calls today, as we travel west over the border to the hilltop village of Marvão, on the highest point of the Serra de São Mamede, overlooking the Spanish border. Only accessible from the east, due to steep slopes on the other sides, it played a fundamental role in major military conflicts, including the fight between the king D. Dinis and his brother D. Afonso (1299), the Dynastic Crisis of 1383-85, the Wars for the Restoration of Independence (1640-68), the War of Spanish Succession (1704-12) and the Peninsular Wars (1807-11). Inside the walled village you find a fascinating small town, and spectacular views in all directions. Marvão railway station used to be the border station on the line used by the international Lusitania train until it was withdrawn and the line closed a decade ago. However, the Spanish side of this line is still open, albeit with a very limited service, and we shall catch a train back to Caceres from the station on the Spanish side of the border, Valencia de Alcántara.

    Day 9 Thursday 9th March (B,D)

    We head north mid-morning to our final historic town, Plasencia, a walled market town. It is best known for the 12th century double line of walls, including 68 towers and six gates. We can also see the remains of a Roman aqueduct, and, in the old quarter, palaces, ancestral homes and magnificent cathedrals. Our home for the next two nights is Plasencia Parador, located in an old convent and renowned for its excellent food. The building is quite stunning, and it is a fitting location to end our tour of Historic South-West Spain. After arriving, you will have time to relax and enjoy the Parador or explore the small historic centre. Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 10 Friday 10th March (B,D)

    A more relaxing day to finish, but we will still explore some of the area’s history. Joined by Javier for the last time, our coach will take us first to Yuste Monastery. This Hieronymite monastery was founded in 1408-1414 under the patronage of the Infante Ferdinand, brother to Henry III. It has one gothic and one renaissance cloister, both still standing since the church was built in 1508-1525. Under the Confiscation Law of 1836, the complex was sold and began to fall into disrepair until it was purchased in 1857 by the Marquis of Mirabel who began to restore it and opened a new church on the site. We then move on to the charming village of Garganta de Olla, to see very well-preserved examples of popular architecture and some buildings that date back to the days of the emperor, such as the brothel used by his soldiers. We return to Plasencia to give you time to explore the historic centre a little more or simply enjoy the ambience and facilities of this stunning Parador. Farewell Dinner in the Parador.

    Day 11 Saturday 11th March (B)

    This morning we return to Madrid by train in time for lunch and to catch afternoon flights home.

    By its nature, on this trip you need to be able to walk around locations with steep hills, stairs and cobbled streets, and be able to lift your luggage on and off trains.

    Holiday Prices (per person)

    • From Heathrow (BA 11:30): £2,275
    • From Gatwick (Iberia 10:40): £2,275
    • From Stansted (Ryanair 12:45): £2,260
    • From Luton (Easyjet 13:10): £2,250
    • From Manchester (Ryanair 10:15): £2,295
    • From Edinburgh (Easyjet 12:00): £2,295
    • From St Pancras (Eurostar): POA
    • Join in Madrid: £2,045

    Options

    • Single use room Supplement: £490
    • No “From Home” service: deduct £75 from with flight prices

    Deposit

    • Travelling by air: £500
    • Overland by rail: £800
    • Own travel: £300

    Online Booking

    Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.


    Click here to see our Booking Conditions

    Click here to see our Privacy Policy

    We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

    Travel from UK

    in 2022 it is expected that there will be direct flights, to Madrid, from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. Also travel by rail from London St Pancras.

    Hotels

    • Hotel Weare Chamartín, Madrid (1 night at the start of the holiday and 1 night at the end, if required)
    • Mérida Parador, Mérida (2 nights)
    • Zafra Parador, Zafra (2 nights)
    • Hotel NH Collection Palacio de Oquendo, Caceres (3 nights)
    • Plasencia Parador, Plasencia (2 nights)


    ANNE Header iStock 1150506039

    Anne's Scotland - from 1 Sept

    Tour Date: 1 to 10 September, 2022

    Location: United Kingdom

    Come and join us, to see out the last days of summer, for a two centre ten-day trip based in Glasgow and Edinburgh to explore the splendid scenery, the famous landmarks and the engineering wonders of the Central Belt.

    Glasgow is a vibrant city with splendid architecture and a reputation as a shopping mecca. Edinburgh is the national capital with its iconic castle, Old and New towns and the Parliament building.

    Your Tour Manager for this trip is Anne, who lives in Glasgow. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with her about the trip, please feel free to e-mail her on anne@ptg.co.uk.

    Highlights

    • Two excellent hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh
    • Breakfasts and dinners included
    • Culzean Castle
    • Birthplace of Robert Burns
    • David Livingstone museum
    • Glasgow: Transport Museum, Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Cathedral
    • Loch Lomond cruise
    • Falkirk Wheel
    • Steam train on Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway
    • Re-opened Borders line to Tweedbank
    • Dundee: V&A, the Discovery, Verdant Mills, McManus museum and Art gallery
    • Edinburgh: Castle, Royal Yacht Britannia and Holyrood Palace

    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    Day 1: Thursday 1st September (D)

    Various travel options to Glasgow by train, bus or plane. Check-in at Carlton George Hotel by mid-afternoon. PTG can organise your travel arrangements. We will have our welcome dinner in Windows restaurant on the top floor of the hotel.

    Day 2: Friday 2nd September (B, D)

    Today we will explore Ayrshire by train and coach.

    Having been met at Auckinleck train station, we will have a guided tour of the 18th century Dumfries House, once owned by the Marquis of Bute and rescued for the nation by the Prince Charles Foundation. This stately home was designed by the famous Scottish architects, the Adams brothers. After the tour, there will be coffee/tea and shortbread before departure.

    Being in Ayrshire, we will then visit the birthplace of Robert Burns, known as the Scottish Bard, the museum dedicated to his life, see Alloway Kirk and Brig o’ Doon which feature in his famous poem “Tam O’Shanter” as well as the Gardens and Monument to his memory. There will be the opportunity for a light lunch at the museaum cafe.

    Our final visit of the day is to Culzean Castle – again designed by the Adam brothers – with its stunning cliff top location and wonderful views of the Firth of Clyde. This is where President “Ike” Eisenhower was gifted an apartment after WW2 and where he visited several times during his lifetime.

    The coach will take us to Ayr railway station and we will return by train to Glasgow. Dinner will be in Windows restaurant.

    Day 3: Saturday 3rd September (B, L, D)

    Today we will visit two historic industrial sites.

    Firstly, we will travel by train to Blantyre to visit the birthplace of David Livingstone, and the museum about his life and explorations in Africa. From there we will continue the train journey to Lanark, and then to New Lanark, the famous Mill village built by David Dale and Robert Owen. It was revolutionary at the time as children were sent to school, mill workers could continue their own education, and the mill shop goods were fairly priced and of good quality.

    Other mill owners despaired of these innovations claiming there would be no profit, but they were proved wrong. For the energetic, there is a good walk to the Falls of Clyde and there will be a light lunch included. We will return to Glasgow by train and dinner will be in Windows restaurant.

    Day 4: Sunday 4th September (B, D)

    Today we will join the Glasgow “hop-on-hop-off” sightseeing bus for an orientation journey around the city, enjoying the myriad of architectural styles, above the shops, before using that facility to decide which landmark to focus on – the Transport Museum, Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow Cathedral etc. – whichever takes your fancy!  Incorporated into the day will be a tour of the hidden heritage of the Victorian Central Station, and a possible morning tour of the restored “Mackintosh at the Willows” tearoom in Sauchiehall Street – sadly there are only two time slots available here and numbers are limited, so please let us know when booking.

    Glasgow has a plethera of interesting eateries for lunch. Shopping havens in the heart of the city are the Buchanan Galleries, Princes Square, St Enoch’s Centre and the Merchant City, along with Byres Road in the west end (near the Kelvingrove Art Gallery) and you might even wish to experience the “Clockwork Orange” – the Glasgow Underground.

    Dinner will be in Windows.

    Day 5: Monday 5th September (B, D)

    Today we will cruise Loch Lomond, which is one of the largest bodies of water in the UK, dominated by Ben Lomond, an extinct volcano and the most southerly of the Munroes (mountains higher than 3000 ft). We will travel to Balloch by train and then cruise to Luss, which doubled as “Glendarroch” in the Scottish soap opera “Take the High Road”. The village has a heritage walk and a choice of eating houses for lunch, as well as small shops with interesting souvenirs. We will cruise back to Balloch and return to Glasgow by train.

    Dinner will be in Windows.

    Day 6: Tuesday 6th September (B, L, D)

    Today is “moving day” as we leave, by coach, for Edinburgh. En route, we will experience the engineering marvel that is the Falkirk Wheel which recreates the lost link between the Forth and Clyde canals. The canal system was restored as part of the Millennium celebrations and we will take a trip on the Wheel just as the leisure boats do.

    Our next stop is the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway which is the home of the Scottish Rail Preservation Society. On their steam hauled train we will enjoy afternoon tea and have to opportunity to visit their museum, or enjoy a riverside walk by the Forth.

    The coach will take us on to our hotel in Edinburgh, Apex Waterloo Place, where we will have dinner.

    Day 7: Wednesday 7th September (B, D)

    Today we will take the train along the re-opened Borders line to Tweedbank, from where we will visit Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott. The author was credited with introducing the Royal family to the romantic aspects of Scotland and with making tartan fashionable – the wearing of tartan had been banned after 1745 with the final defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden. We will return to Edinburgh by train.

    Dinner will be in the Apex hotel.

    Day 8: Thursday 8th September (B, D)

    A day out to Dundee by train today, crossing both the Forth and Tay rail bridges. Dundee was an industrial city built on the “three Js” – jam, jute and journalism – but it now houses the V&A, the Discovery, Verdant Mills, McManus museum and Art gallery, a university renowned for its courses in art and graphics (especially for computer games) and Ninewells, a pioneering hospital. Mary Slessor, a mill worker who became a missionary nurse in Africa is honoured by a garden. Again, there are plenty of places for lunch. We will return to Edinburgh in mid-afternoon.

    Dinner will be in the Apex hotel.

    Day 9: Friday 9th September (B, D)

    For our last day we will board the “hop-on-hop-off” Royal Edinburgh Tour, which includes entrance to Edinburgh Castle, Royal Yacht Britannia and Holyrood Palace, and offers more than one route. Additionally, you may wish to walk the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood, explore the vennels of the Old Town, enjoy the splendours of the New Town, take the tram from the town centre to the Zoo (or the airport), find the hostelries of Rose Street, wander in Princess Gardens (which used to be the No’r Loch before the railway was built), indulge in a cocktail in the Balmoral Hotel or visit the National Museum or Portrait Gallery. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants for lunch, as you would expect in the capital city.

    We will have our farewell dinner in “Howies” Waterloo Place.

    Day 10: Saturday 10th September (B)

    Sadly, after breakfast it will be time to go home. Again, PTG can assist with your travel arrangements back home from Edinburgh.

    Holiday Prices (per person)

    • 10-day holiday joining in Glasgow £1,875
    • 10-day holiday from home: £POA

    Options

    • Single room Supplement: £590

    Deposit

    • Joining in Glasgow: £300
    • With from home service: £500

    Hotels

    • Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow (6 nights)
    • Apex Waterloo Place, Edinburgh (3 nights)


    David's Scotland - from 8 June

    Tour Date: 8 to 18 June, 2022

    Location: United Kingdom

    Join us on a tour on Scotland’s most scenic railways.

    Join us on a tour on Scotland’s most scenic railways. We gather together in Glasgow for our Welcome Dinner, and the following day we have a choice of tours in the morning, followed by time on the sightseeing bus in the afternoon.

    On Friday our tour starts in earnest, as we head north-west on the famous West Highland Line, taking the branch to Oban where we spend three nights. A free afternoon in Oban on Friday, and on Saturday we have a coach trip to the charming loch-side village of Inveraray, with visits to the castle and the old jail. On Sunday, our coach takes us north to Fort William and a trip on the amazing Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig. We then move to Inverness for five nights, but on the way, we have the chance to travel on most of the rest of the West Highland Line and see the lovely little town of Fort Augustus with its series of locks on the Caledonian Canal. We will also visit the small railway museum at the only surviving station on the old line from Spean Bridge to Fort Augustus. Inverness is known as the crossroads of the Highlands, and this description applies to the railways too, and over the next four days we will explore the lines in all four directions: to Kyle of Lochalsh, part of the Far North Line, Keith and Aviemore, as well as having a charter of a 1st generation DMU on the Keith & Dufftown Railway and a second steam train on the Strathspey Railway to round off our tour. All dinners and two lunches are included too, and, of course, a visit to a whisky distillery and a cruise on a boat with an underwater viewing chamber.

    Your Tour Manager for this trip is David, who now lives in Lisbon, but is originally from Scotland. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    DAY 1, Wednesday (D)

    Travel to our city centre hotel with good rail connections from all parts of Great Britain or fly into one of Central Scotland’s three airports. Overnight and dinner at the Carlton George Hotel, next to Glasgow Queen St station (free bus link available from Glasgow Central station if you arrive there).

    Day 2, Thursday (B,D)

    This morning we offer a choice of tours. For rail fans we suggest the excellent tour in Glasgow Central station. Below the platforms there is a maze of passageways and rooms which the public never see, and we should also get to visit the “other” low-level platform that was not reinstated when the low-level lines reopened in 1979. For culture fans there will be a themed walking tour in the city centre. This afternoon we will all have tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus tour, allowing us to see many of Glasgow’s attractions at our own pace. Dinner in the hotel tonight.

    Day 3, Friday (B,D)

    A short walk takes us to Queen St station, one of Glasgow’s two mainline stations. From here we catch our direct train to Oban, heading west out of Glasgow before turning north alongside Loch Long and then Loch Lomond. At Crianlarich, we leave the West Highland Line to join the remaining section of the Callander and Oban Line, heading west, passing first Loch Awe and then Loch Etive. At Connel look out for the Connel Bridge which crosses the fast-flowing tidal Falls of Lora and which used to carry the railway line from Connel to Ballachulish. A free afternoon in Oban, and dinner in the hotel.

    Day 4, Saturday (B,D)

    A train free day today, as we have a coach trip to the lovely loch-side town of Inveraray. On the way we stop at Inveraray Castle for a guided tour around this magnificent 18th century building. It is one of the earliest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. After lunch, we step back in time to see how life in a 19th century jail was, as we visit the popular Inveraray Jail. Return to Oban at the end of the afternoon. Dinner in the hotel.

    Day 5, Sunday (B,D)

    The Jacobite Steam Train is without a doubt the highlight of the tour and today we have a return trip on this famous train on one of the most scenic railway lines in the world. Our historic train is likely to be hauled by either a K1 (62005, built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow in 1949) or Black 5′ No 45407, ‘The Lancashire Fusilier’. The coaches are all ex- British Railways’ 1960s Mark 1s. Our outward journey of just over two hours passes the southern entrance to the Caledonian Canal. As we leave Banavie station we cross a swing bridge over the southern end of the canal, and you will have a view of the first in a series of locks. The journey can be described with many superlatives: we start in the glare of the British Isles’ highest mountain, Ben Nevis, pass the deepest freshwater loch, Loch Morar, the deepest seawater loch, Loch Nevis, the shortest river, the River Morar, the most westerly railway station in Great Britain, Arisaig (beating Penzance by a whisker) and probably the most famous viaduct in the world (thanks to the Harry Potter films), the Glenfinnan Viaduct. After crossing the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel, we stop at Glenfinnan station where you will be able to visit the West Highland Railway Museum. On arrival in Mallaig, you have free time to have some lunch before we set back towards Fort William. To reach Fort William, we travel up from Oban by coach, but even this journey has railway interest, as we follow (or even drive along) the alignment of the former railway line that ran from Connel to Ballachulish. The Connel Bridge was a rail-road bridge, and the “new” bridge over Loch Creran is supported by the pillars from the original railway bridge. After the steam train arrives back in Fort William, our coach will be waiting to take us back to Oban. Dinner in our hotel tonight.

    Day 6, Monday (B,L,D)

    We move on to Inverness today, firstly catching a train to Crianlarich for our connection to Spean Bridge. Spean Bridge was once a junction station for the line that headed north to Fort Augustus. After time for lunch at a local restaurant, our coach will be waiting to take us to the only surviving station on this line, Invergarry, now a small railway museum. We then have time in Fort Augustus, a lovely small town at the south end of Loch Ness, most famous for its series of locks linking the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. Finally, we reach Inverness, where we check in to the Royal Highland Hotel, our home for the next five nights. Dinner in the hotel tonight.

    Day 7, Tuesday (B,D)

    Travelling north on the line towards Thurso and Wick, we leave our train at the private halt of Dunrobin. A short walk from here brings us to the splendid Dunrobin Castle, the furthest north of Scotland’s great houses. As well as a self-guided tour, you will be able to watch a falconry display and explore the gardens, inspired by the Palace of Versailles. We return to Inverness by coach with dinner in the hotel.

    Day 8, Wednesday (B,L,D)

    Today we head east out of Inverness on the line towards Aberdeen for a charter on the Keith and Dufftown Railway. Nowadays there is only the main line between Inverness and Aberdeen, but in the past, there were numerous branches and loops, and the Keith and Dufftown Railway is the only one of these that still survives. We walk from the mainline station in Keith to Keith Town station where we join our charter, a historic class 108 DMU, for the 45-minute journey to Dufftown. A light lunch is included and will be served in an old railway carriage at Dufftown station. Return on our charter to Keith Town and  before catching our train to Inverness, we have a short visit to a local whisky distillery. Dinner in the hotel.

    Day 9, Thursday (B,L,D)

    From our base in Inverness, we have an out and back trip along another of Scotland’s most scenic railways, the Kyle Line. Leaving Inverness after breakfast, our train crosses the north end of the Caledonian Canal on another swing bridge at Clachnaharry. At Dingwall, we see the Far North Line to Thurso and Wick branch off to the right, while we head west, through an unspoilt and mostly uninhabited wilderness. At Achnasheen, we turn south-west and pass Plockton, famous as the location where the TV series Hamish Macbeth was filmed. Soon we arrive at Kyle of Lochalsh, which until 1995 was where ferries to the Isle of Skye departed. Nowadays there is a bridge, but we will still cross by boat, as part of a cruise in a very unusual vessel with an underwater viewing chamber. On arrival at Kyleakin we have lunch in an excellent local restaurant. We then drive to Eilean Donan Castle, located on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery. We return to Kyle of Lochalsh to catch our train back to Inverness. Dinner in the hotel.

    Day 10, Friday (B,D)

    We complete our tour of Scotland’s Scenic Railways with a short trip south to Aviemore. Most famous as a ski-resort in the winter, it is the terminus of the Strathspey Steam Railway, and today we will be riding on our second steam train along the lovely line from Aviemore to Boat of Garten and Broomhill. We break our journey each way in the quaint Boat of Garten station as the loco takes on water, arriving back in Aviemore to catch a train to Inverness, before meeting up for our Farewell Dinner in an excellent local restaurant.

    Day 11, Saturday (B)

    Our tour ends today, but your journey along Scotland’s scenic railway lines can continue on the Highland Mainline to Perth and then on to Glasgow, Edinburgh or London. Look out for the 29-span Nairn Viaduct, at 1,800 feet, the longest masonry viaduct in Scotland. We steadily climb into the Grampian Mountains until we reach the Drumochter Pass, at 1,480 feet above sea level it is the highest point on Network Rail. From here we gradually descend towards the narrow valley and viaduct at Killiecrankie. Perth is an important railway junction, and your journey will continue south via either Stirling or Fife, depending on the train you choose. There are good connections in both Glasgow (change of station required for journeys further south) and Edinburgh.

    This trip will have a bit of walking, including around 200 metres with your luggage in Oban between the hotel and the station and just over a kilometre between the two stations in Keith. There is also a walking tour in Glasgow.

    Holiday is fully escorted from Glasgow to Inverness.

    Holiday Prices

    • Full 11 day “from home” Holiday: POA
    • Full 11 day joining in Glasgow: £1,975

    Options

    • Single Room Supplement: £780

    Deposit

    • £350

    Hotels

    • Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow (2 nights)
    • Columbo Hotel, Oban (3 nights)
    • Royal Highland Hotel, Inverness (5 nights)

    Travel

    • You may arrange your own travel to/from Scotland or PTG can arrange this for you as part of the package


    Cambodia Featured GG7P00

    Let's Clear Cambodia

    Tour Date: 5 to 12/17 March, 2023

    Location: Cambodia

    We are just asking for expressions on interest on this tour. Those registering an expression of interest, before the 31/08/2022, will receive a discount, per person, if we get 30 passengers. No deposit required until September 2022.

    The Kingdom of Cambodia in South East Asia has recently refurbished its former French Colonial metre-gauge railway, which is now an active freight carrier with a skeleton passenger service.  There are two rail lines, totaling 612km of single track with passing loops.  One route goes north-west from Phnom Penh the capital, to Poipet, where there’s a connection to the Thai railway network.  The other line goes south to the port at Sihanoukville on the south coast.

    The mainstay traction for the Royal Railway is a fleet of 10 Indian-built ALCo YDM4 locomotives which the Railway purchased from IRCON in Malaysia in May 2019 after the national carrier, KTMB, declared them surplus to requirements.   The ALCos work anything and everything on the network including oil trains to Sihanoukville, and also passenger trains during holidays, when trains need to be strengthened.

    Cambodia Shovel Loco LowRes

    We are chartering a train and giving us a week of rail travel in a program to travel the whole Royal Railway network using YDM4 locomotives to haul our train along the lines to Poipet and Sihanoukville. Highlights should include the Docks lines at Sihanoukville and also a day is planned in the Phnom Penh area to cover all the available track in the vicinity of station, locomotive shed and wagon repair shops.  On this day it’s planned to use a top & tail formation with locomotives at each end and to change the locomotives as often possible.  In addition to YDM4 we hope to utilize ČKD Bde410 series, ČKD BB1010 series, Alsthom BB1050 series and CRRC Qishuyan CKD6D BB1060 locomotives.

    Map (Shutterstock)

    shutterstock 449609410

    Cambodia is full of diversity and offers a variety of activities for visitors. From its array of glorious temples and religious structures, rich heritage and culture to the rare wildlife and stunning eco-tourism spots, the country has it all. You can’t go to Cambodia and not see some of this! So, after the main charter train has finished we have a 5 day add on explore the country beyond the railway. Places we will visit include the world-famous Angkor Wat, this UNESCO heritage site stretches across more than 400 kilometers squared and contains hundreds of temples and structures dating back to the Khmer Empire era; The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh; Wat Phnom pagoda. If this isn’t enough then stay on for a luxury, 4 night, Mekong River cruise.

    Cambodia shutterstock 1088519279

    Our special train will be formed of fresh-air stock (with opening windows) in which we will have room to circulate during the tour.  There will also be a visit to Phnom Penh Locomotive Shed to for inspection and photos of the resident fleet and the steam locomotives that reside in their own shed.

    So, we should “Clear” Cambodia in one go – ride on all the track, see all the rolling stock.

    Prices for this tour depend very much on how many people decide to join. Here are the rough prices based on 30 people (and 50 people)

    Availability

    Tour Highlights


    • Day-time rail-travel between Ho Che Minh and Hanoi
    • Steam locomotive haulage, railway depot and works visits
    • Vietnam War and imperial history artifacts
    • Hoi An, Hue, Dalat and Sapa
    • Halong Bay, Hai Van Pass and Muong Hoa Mountain Railway
    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    Full Itinerary to Follow soon

    The mainstay traction for the Royal Railway is a fleet of 10 Indian-built ALCo YDM4 locomotives which the Railway purchased from IRCON in Malaysia in May 2019 after the national carrier, KTMB, declared them surplus to requirements.   The ALCos work anything and everything on the network including oil trains to Sihanoukville, and also passenger trains during holidays, when trains need to be strengthened.

    We are chartering a train and giving us a week of rail travel in a program to travel the whole Royal Railway network using YDM4 locomotives to haul our train along the lines to Poipet and Sihanoukville. Highlights should include the Docks lines at Sihanoukville and also a day is planned in the Phnom Penh area to cover all the available track in the vicinity of station, locomotive shed and wagon repair shops.  On this day it’s planned to use a top & tail formation with locomotives at each end and to change the locomotives as often possible.  In addition to YDM4 we hope to utilize ČKD Bde410 series, ČKD BB1010 series, Alsthom BB1050 series and CRRC Qishuyan CKD6D BB1060 locomotives.

    Cambodia is full of diversity and offers a variety of activities for visitors. From its array of glorious temples and religious structures, rich heritage and culture to the rare wildlife and stunning eco-tourism spots, the country has it all. You can’t go to Cambodia and not see some of this! So, after the main charter train has finished we have a 5 day add on explore the country beyond the railway. Places we will visit include the world-famous Angkor Wat, this UNESCO heritage site stretches across more than 400 kilometers squared and contains hundreds of temples and structures dating back to the Khmer Empire era; The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh; Wat Phnom pagoda. If this isn’t enough then stay on for a luxury, 4 night, Mekong River cruise.

    Our special train will be formed of fresh-air stock (with opening windows) in which we will have room to circulate during the tour.  There will also be a visit to Phnom Penh Locomotive Shed to for inspection and photos of the resident fleet and the steam locomotives that reside in their own shed.

    So, we should “Clear” Cambodia in one go – ride on all the track, see all the rolling stock.

    Prices for this tour depend very much on how many people decide to join. Here are the rough prices based on 30 people (and 50 people)

    Price Estimates (per person)

    • Full 9-day holiday joining in Phnom Penh: £2,650 (£2,250)
    • Full 10-day holiday including flights from London Heathrow: £3,400 (£3,000)
      (via Singapore, with Singapore Airlines)
    • Full 10-day holiday including flights from Manchester: £3,500 (£3,100)
      (via Singapore, with Singapore Airlines)
    • Special trains only: £2,050 (£1,650)

    Options

    • Supplement for single use of double room: £170
    • Mekong River cruise: from £1,500

    Deposit

    • If booking before 31/08/2022 we only need an expression of interest. Deposit payable in September.

    * with such a large number of flight options, and upgrades, the with flight price will be agreed at time of booking

    Online Booking

    Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.


    Click here to see our Booking Conditions

    Click here to see our Privacy Policy

    We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

    Hotels (subject to confirmation)


    2021 11 12 008

    The Costa del Alco

    Tour Date: 22 to 28 January, 2023

    Location: Spain

    Escape to Spain again this winter on our annual five-day railtour with a classic 1960’s ALCo diesel locomotives hauled vintage compartment carriages.

    Join us for our annual special charter train around Southern Spain – one of the traditional winter havens for the British, offering pleasantly warm temperatures especially on the coast. Four long branches run to four very different ports, two of which are not electrified and so offer better photographic opportunities. There are mountain ranges to cross as well and some of the gradients will certainly test our class 316 and 321 Alco locomotives. Iberian gauge railways in Andalucía are in a precarious position with some reduced to freight-only operation and others under threat from new high speed lines and services. Now is definitely the time to travel these historic railways, some of which offer spectacular scenery and magnificent railway infrastructure.

    Tour Managers: Phil and Paul G

    Availability

    Tour Highlights


    • Private charter train
    • Spacious ‘fresh-air’ carriages with maximum of 4 people per compartment
    • Great scenery and lovely cities
    • Heritage diesel locomotives
    • Granada, Córdoba and Seville
    • Tour Itinerary
    • Prices & Options
    • Booking
    • Gallery
    • Transport & Accommodation

    Day 1, Sunday 22 January, 2023

    Flights from most major UK airports to Madrid. Transfer to our hotel beside Madrid Chamartin station for our overnight stay. Overland travel via the Eurostar is also possible by leaving St Pancras at 09:24, via Paris and Barcelona, arriving in Madrid at midnight.

    Day 2, Monday 23 January (B)

    We start our journey from Madrid Chamartín, taking the combination of freight lines and Cercanías (local train) lines that skirt the east side of Madrid to reach Villaverde Bajo where we join the former main line from Madrid to the south of Spain, now greatly reduced in importance. After passing through Aranjuez and Alcázar de San Juan we continue south, still under the wires, through the Despeñaperros pass to Linares-Baeza. The station is remote from the towns it serves and is of note only because the non-electrified line to Almería diverges here. This line takes a winding route through the very empty countryside of the Sierra Mágina passing over the amazing Salado Viaduct to reach Moreda where the triangle gives access to the Granada line before we cross the Anchuron bridge to arrive at the port city of Almería. We should have time to leave the new Intermodal station and admire the beautiful old station next door and continue down the road to view the very photogenic loading pier known as the English Cable from where iron ore was sent to Scotland. We return north to Guadix with the Alco working hard on the severe gradients before taking the south to west curve at Moreda onto the Granada line. We will spend the night in this historic and very beautiful city, home of the world famous Alhambra Palace.

    Day 3, Tuesday 24 January (B)

    The direct broad gauge line to Málaga is severed and out of use so we must return to Linares- Baeza. Soon we pass the new gauge changer where high speed trains on the standard gauge from Madrid will change to broad gauge for the journey to Almería, then to the south are the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. We take the west to north curve at Moreda and head back north to Linares-Baeza where we reverse and continue on the former Madrid to Cádiz main line, passing the triangle at Espeluy which gives access to the Jaén branch. Only one train pair currently uses the old main line at this point. At Córdoba our route heads south down the old main line to Málaga, freight-only as far as Bobadilla since 2013. The old line between Fuente de Piedra and Bobadilla is out of use, though not formally closed, so we take a new line which runs through Antequera Santa Ana station. Ahead is the Sierra de Abdalajís which the line goes under through a series of tunnels between there are some amazing views of the Gaitanes Gorge. Our destination is the port city of Málaga where we arrive at Málaga María Zambrano station. There are suburban platforms for the Málaga Centro-Alameda to Fuengirola branch, an evening possibility for dedicated track gricers.

    Day 4, Wednesday 25 January (B)

    The plan for today is to return to Córdoba, with a side trip to Algeciras. This means we must reverse at Bobadilla (the triangle towards Granada is out of use) before setting off down the non-electrified branch to Algeciras, built by the Algeciras Gibraltar Railway Company and allowing British military officers to escape the summer heat of Gibraltar. At Ronda the line swings twice through 180 degrees before continuing south-west down the valley of the Guadiaro River as it passes through the Serranía de Ronda gradually descending to the Mediterranean coast and Algeciras. We will be asking permission to visit the branch line which goes past the RENFE station into the port, with suitable assurances that there will be no problems similar to those we encountered at Huelva in 2020. If granted, we can expect fine views of Gibraltar across the bay. Our journey to Córdoba will be by the outward route, but we have requested the 2km freight bypass which avoids Antequera Santa Ana station to the west. The entire historic centre of Córdoba is a UNESCO world heritage site, with the Mezquita Cathedral the heart of the city and a visit is strongly recommended.

    Day 5, Thursday 26 January (B)

    We leave Córdoba on the classic main line which runs broadly parallel with the high-speed line which has taken most of the traffic to Sevilla, where we pass through the main station, Sevilla Santa Justa, and continue south through Dos Hermanas after which we see the direct line to Bobadilla, currently closed while a bridge is bypassed. The line we are travelling on now has been completely rebuilt with cut-offs and new alignments completed in 2016. After Jerez de la Frontera a new deviation crosses a curving 3km bridge over a broad river valley offering great pictures.

    At Las Aletas we will travel the short Cercanías branch to Universidad opened in April 2005 and requiring careful timing to do on service trains. Back at Las Aletas we continue to the station in Cádiz, now reached by an underground approach. We have no time to linger in this attractive city with its new metro and soon set off back to Sevilla where we take the avoiding line through Padre Pío Palmete to reach Los Rosales and thence back to Córdoba for a second night in this beautiful city.

    Of course, you are welcome to opt out of today’s train and remain in Córdoba for the day to explore this fascinating city.

    Day 6, Friday 27 January (B)

    The final day of the tour and a return to Madrid but with a visit to the city of Jaén to add variety. Jaén is accessed by the triangle at Espeluy and for those who have been there prior to August 2020 there is an 8km deviation halfway along the branch to get you excited. After reversal we regain the classic main line with the third side of the Espeluy triangle and proceed to Linares-Baeza where the possibility of travelling the short freight branch to the biodiesel works is under investigation.

    Our journey now takes us by the outward route through Alcázar de San Juan and Aranjuez and back to Madrid Chamartín to end a memorable winter adventure.

    Day 7 Saturday 28 January (B)

    Flights Madrid to UK. There might be a special, optional, circular trip with the vintage 333 locomotive today – TBC

    We have requested each day of our special train to start after 9am. This might not be possible on all days.

    Estimated Prices (per person) – Final Prices TBC

    • From Heathrow: £1,785
    • From Gatwick: £1,785
    • From Stansted: £1,785
    • From Bristol: £1,785
    • From Manchester: £1,785
    • From Edinburgh: £1,785
    • From St Pancras: POA
    • From Madrid: £1,585

    Options

    • Special Train Only (5 days, no hotels): £1,295
    • Single room supplement: £210
    • Circular trip with 333: TBC

    Deposit

    • £300 own flights, £500 with flights included

    Online Booking

    Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.


    Click here to see our Booking Conditions

    Click here to see our Privacy Policy

    We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice