Tour Date: 7 to 13 November 2021Location: Spain

Escape to Spain again this winter on our now annual five-day railtour with a classic 1960’s ALCo class 321 locomotive.

Our private charter train is formed of vintage carriages with opening windows, and the steam heat should give marvellous photographic effects as well as a real period atmosphere.

Starting from Madrid, we travel to Zaragoza, our base for three nights from where we travel the scenic and sparsely served lines to Canfranc and La Pobla de Segur before making our way to Bilbao and returning to Madrid by a different route. If we are lucky we will travel under blue winter skies, maybe with snow on the ground!


Tour Manager: Phil and Paul (Griffin)

Expected to be flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh or overland from St.Pancras. Various UK airports (depends on which route resume after coronavirus crisis).


Tour Highlights

  • Private charter train
  • Spacious ‘fresh-air’ carriages with at least two seats per person
  • Great scenery and lovely cities
  • Heritage diesel locomotive
  • Unusual lines for a "real" loco hauled train
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Sunday 7 November 2021

Flights from most 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. This year we will be accompanying the overland travel (see below).

Day 2 Monday 8 November (B)

Our private charter train formed will be formed of ALSA series 5000 steam heat carriages and will leave from Madrid Chamartín and take the classic main line towards Zaragoza via Baides as far as Torralba. We will then take the 93 km branch to Soria (providing permission is granted by ADIF and staff training can be done). The branch has a very sparse DMU service and is always considered as “under threat”. We then return to Torralba and continue via Morata de Jalón and Casetas, where we will make a short visit to the AZAFT workshops. Our train then continues the short distance to Zaragoza-Delicias station. We stay here for three nights.

Day 3 Tuesday 9 November (B)

Today we travel on the dual gauge line towards Huesca before taking the Iberian gauge freight-only avoiding line and heading north following a circuitous route up several different river valleys which lead into the foothills of the Pyrenees through marvellous scenery. After Castiello the train travels a great loop to gain height, initially in tunnel, then over the spectacular Viaducto de San Juan with its 28 curving arches. Not far now to Canfranc where we stop opposite the enormous former station building. This opened in 1928 and the main building is 240 metres long with 365 windows and 156 doors. Recently the roof was repaired after many years of neglect and now the exterior of the building is being restored with conversion into a hotel apparently in progress. The last international train from France through the Somport Tunnel ran on 20 March 1970 when a train derailment, on the Bedous-Canfranc section, demolished the L’Estanguet bridge in France. The tunnel mouth is still open and we may be able to visit it. We will then return to Zaragoza.

Day 4 Wednesday 10 November (B)

Today our journey takes us over part of the former Zaragoza – Barcelona railway built by the Compañía del Ferrocarril de Zaragoza a Barcelona in 1861. At Lleida-Pirineus we plan to visit the ARMF workshops, accessed by a 1.5 km private line which initially runs parallel with the main line. The depot is home to two ex RENFE UM10 class 308 diesels which work tourist trains on the line to La Pobla de Segur, but, if available and with sufficient bookings 316.003 will be requested to work the branch. It has not worked a passenger train in many years. The non-electrified single-track line follows the left bank of the Segre valley to Balaguer. From here passenger services are sparser. The 3499 metre Palau tunnel takes us into the spectacular valley of the Noguera Pallaresa where the incredibly photogenic church and castle at Sant Oïsme may be seen across the Camarasa reservoir, followed by the imposing Terradets Gorge. The line was originally meant to continue into France but never got beyond the current end of the line at La Pobla de Segur. There may be time for a coffee in this pleasant town before we return to Zaragoza.

Day 5 Thursday 11 November (B)

Today we leave Zaragoza and head north-west through Castejón de Ebro and Logroño to Miranda de Ebro where we take the line to Bilbao. We pass through some very fine scenery, especially in the area between Pesquera and Molledo-Portolino where the railway loops through fifteen convoluted kilometres to travel just 1.3 kilometres in a straight line! We have requested the two suburban branches to Muskiz and Santurtzi, and if paths can be found we will look to access them using the little known freight curve which avoids Bilbao Abando. The fact that it is completely underground makes it difficult to spot! Bilbao is a fascinating city with metre gauge FEVE lines, metro and funiculars to tempt one out for the evening.

Day 6 Friday 12 November (B)

Our last day as we return to Madrid Chamartín with our train and a highlight of the tour with our ALCO locomotive growling up the ferocious grade of the Rampa d’Orduña. At Miranda de Ebro we join the classic route from Irún/Hendaya to Madrid. Our journey now takes us through Pancorbo, Briviesca and the cathedral city of Burgos, where the remaining section of the direct line to Madrid can be seen before we reach the junction station of Venta de Baños, now greatly reduced in importance. Here we plan to visit the AVENFER workshops. The classic route continues through Valladolid Campo Grande, Medina del Campo and Avila back to Madrid Chamartín.

Day 7 Saturday 13 November (B)

Transfer to Madrid airport for flights back to UK airports or overland by rail to London St Pancras. Flights back to various UK airports (depends on which route resume after coronavirus crisis). Or stay on for a night in Madrid to make a full week of it.

Prices (per person)

  • From Heathrow: £1,625
  • From Gatwick: £1,595
  • From Stansted: £1,595
  • From Bristol: £1,595
  • From Birmingham: £1,595
  • From Manchester: £1,635
  • From Edinburgh: £1,635
  • From St Pancras: POA
  • From Madrid: £1,425


  • Special Train Only (no hotels): £1,125 for all 5 days
    Individual days may be available at £230 a day if less than 100 people booked for full tour
  • Single room supplement: £175
  • Save £50 on with flight prices if you only take hand luggage

Deposit (payable 1st October 2020)

  • £250 own flights, £500 with flights included

Options depending on booking numbers (for a sell out all of these will be included)

  • Day 2 and Day 3 Restaurant car included AZAFT ex-CIWL (for 70+ passengers)
  • 1603 on La Pobla Line. 170 Km (for 80+ passengers)
  • 333.107 hauling Medina del Campo to Madrid day 5 (for 90+ passengers)

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