The Anonymous Widower

Remodelled Station Opens In Canfranc Ahead Of Reopening Of Cross-Border Link

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

On April 15, a RENFE DMU carrying invited guests from Zaragoza became the first train to arrive at the remodelled and relocated station in Canfranc, marking a further step in the long-running plan to reinstate the railway through the Pyrénées mountains linking Pau with Huesca.

I have an ambition to visit Canfranc station, where the Spanish and French railways meet at one of the largest stations in Europe.

  • On the French side the Pau-Canfranc Railway is gradually being reopened.
  • On the Spanish side there is a railway to Zaragoza, from where there are high speed trains to Barcelona and Madrid.

Both routes appear to be mainly single-track

There would appear to be pressure for reopening  the full route In a Section entitled Renovation and Reopening, Wikipedia says this.

In present economic development, the transport route beneath the Aspe peak via the Gave d’Aspe valley is changing from a relatively unknown into a major transport channel. This is not only due to the regional pressure between Bordeaux and Zaragoza (which on the Spanish side alone has a regional population of 1 million people), but also the importance of the international route between Paris and Valencia. These economic pressures – in part driven by the General Motors plant located in Zaragoza – have in recent years resulted in heavy truck and car traffic on the roads of the upper Gave d’Aspe valley, and an increased number of accidents.

Sounds like this indicates a powerful case.

Madrid And London By The Scenic Rail Route

The route would be as follows.

  • Madrid and Zaragoza by High Speed Train.
  • Zaragoza and Canfranc by local train  through the mountains.
  • Canfranc and Pau by local train  through the mountains.
  • Pau and Paris by TGV
  • Paris and London via Eurostar.

Note.

  1. According to the Railway Gazette, a luxury hotel is being built at Canfranc.
  2. Bordeaux is a good city for an overnight stop.
  3. Prior to the covids, Eurostar were hoping to run a direct London and Bordeaux service.

I hope to do this trip in the next couple of years.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

EU Funding To Support Madrid – Lisboa Link

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

More EU funding has been allocated to enhancing rail links between Portugal and Spain. The EU co-financing is part of a €1·4bn package of European Green Deal projects in seven EU states that was announced by the Commissioner for Cohesion & Reforms Elisa Ferreira in mid-March.

I very much feel, that the lack of a quality rail link between the two Iberian capitals is one of the most important missing rail links in Europe.

Read The Man In Seat 61 and you’ll find that you can get a sleeper, but nothing convenient during the day.

Lisbon is one of my favourite cities and you can spend days riding their vintage trams.

Note that they are cashless and let’s hope that they run for a few more decades.

A Home Run From Oporto

I haven’t done a home run for some time, but Oporto is the one, that I want to do.

  • I would fly to Oporto.
  • I would travel back via Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris.
  • I will probably stop off for a few hours in other interesting cities.
  • I would return from Paris by Eurostar.

The Railway Gazette article says that trains may be running at reduced speeds in 2023.

 

April 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

From Madrid To London

As the hotel at Chamartin didn’t have a restaurant and there wasn’t any tea or coffee making facilities in the room, I went for an explore at about four and found the station opened at 04:30.

So as I didn’t have any soap or shampoo with me and my luxurious four-star hotel didn’t provide any, I went back to the station as soon as it opened, after a breakfast of an EatNakd bar.

As I was hungry, in the most strange of hotels, I decided that the best thing to do, was take a train to Barcelona, then a TGV to Paris, followed by a Eurostar home.

At least the train companies seem to have systems that men you can get a keenly priced ticket from a machine without an ego or communication problem.

I found out by a roundabout way, that contrary to my informant from Spanish Railways at the airport, there were no trains to Barcelona from Chamartin, but one left at 05:50 from Atocha.

So it was a taxi to Atocha station at a cost of twenty euros, which I could have done the previous night for nothing on my ticket from the airport. Talk about the airport information guy, being a Spaniard in the Works.

To add insult to injury, there were several hotels in the area of Atocha, one of which was a brand I trust!

I bought the ticket to Barcelona with ease for €59 and after going through a full airline style security check, I just made the AVE high speed train to Barcelona. It was a Siemens train and like it seems all of their products had been designed without litter bins, although it did have an ash tray.  The latter was unneeded as the train was non-smoking. I did get a reasonable drink in the buffet, but of course nothing to eat was gluten-free.

The change of train at VBarcelona was pretty quick, but I did need to buy another ticket from the ticket office, rather than an intelligent machine.  I also had to go through security again to get back on the platform, where I arrived to get the TGV Duplex to Paris. Just 25 mins after arriving at 08:55, I was on my way to Paris. There are four trains a day for Paris and I paid a full fare of €170. Seat61.com has a full description of the journey.

This railway line up the Spanish and French coasts to the Rhone valley, is one of the best train rides in Europe. I didn’t chose to be on the top deck of the train, but that is where I was allocated a seat.

The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees

This picture shows the snow-capped mountains just before Perpignan and this shows the Etang de Thau before Sete.

Etang de Thau

Etang de Thau

They don’t show in the picture, but there were lots of greater flamingoes in the lakes. I never realised that these birds were so common in France, until a holiday in the area in about 1975.

Once in Paris at 15:53, I didn’t hang about but just jumped on the RER at Gare de Lyon for Paris Nord and the Eurostar. An hour and twenty minutes after arriving in Paris, I was leaving.

I finally arrived in London at 18:30 or just thirteen hours forty minutes after leaving Madrid.

This journey will get quicker, as for quite a way along the south coast of France, the trains don’t run on high speed lines. I can’t find any references to the distances on the journey, although Madrid to Barcelona and Paris to London are given as 621 and 495 kilometres respectively. Map Crow gives the Barcelona to Paris distance at 831 kilometres. I know this isn’t accurate and is probably a bit short, but that gives a total of 1947 kilometres, so my journey was at an average speed of 142 kmh. This compares with an average speed of 200 and 220 kmh on the first and last legs from Madrid to Barcelona and Paris to London respectively.

If the centre section was capable of an end-to-end average of 200 kmh, then a time from Madrid to London of under ten hours should be possible, especially if it was one train all the way.

 

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Strange Hotel

According to the guy at the airport, Chamartin station was the place to go to get a hotel and onward travel.

I had three options.

  1. I could travel on to Barcelona, as I knew it was only three hours away by high speed train.
  2. I could stay in a hotel and go round the Prado, before getting a flight home on the 13th.
  3. I could stay in a hotel and get trains home the next day, via Barcelona and Paris.

I queued up for information and as ever in Spanish rail information offices, you got no help whatsover.  The ticket machines didn’t help either, so that eliminated option one.

So I had to find a hotel. There was actually a four star hotel by the station.

It was the strangest hotel, where I’ve stayed in recent years.

I walked straight in past a security guard and approached the desk and asked if they had a room.  They did and said it was sixty euros.

I asked about wi-fi, so I could plan my escape to London, but the receptionist said it wasn’t working.

The bed was comfortable, but as to the soap, shampoo and other things you expect in a four star hotel, there was none.

I did get a snack in the bar of Iberian ham, but I was still very hungry as I not eaten since a runny omelette in the morning, except for a couple of EatNakd bars.

Some of the reviews in Trip Advisor are not very complimentary. Under a heading of Never Again, there is this one.

 I booked a surprise weekend away for me and my girlfriend and I came across the so called 4 star Husa Charmartin Hotel and I was very astonished, not just by the poor service and the presentation of the hotel but also at the lack of good facilities. There were no tea or coffee making facility, no extra pillows and NO DUVET (yes Duvet). The Bathroom had mould and cracks.

But at least my room was clean, had a duvet and it didn’t have little furry friends running about!

If you read the Wikipedia entry for the station, you’ll see that it was built for the 1982 World Cup and it is now suffering from a rebuilt Atocha station. This probably explains why the hotel was at it was. It’s a bit like having a four-star hotel at Willesden Junction. Would anybody stay there?

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Leaving Marrakech

I got to the airport in a rather scruffy Fiat taxi and then had the problem of buying a ticket.

There appeared to be only one place to buy a ticket and I spent about two hundred pounds getting a ticket to Madrid, where I hoped I could sort the mess of this holiday out. There were no easyJet or British Airways desks, as I suppose everybody buys their tickets over the web these days.  And there were no Internet terminals like you get in most big UK airports.The ticket desk didn’t take credit cards either, but at least the cash machine worked well. I can’t remember when I last paid cash for an airline ticket. If I ever have!

But it all worked and at 14:00 I was on my way in a smart Iberia RCJ-1000 to Madrid. I hadn’t flown in one of these before and it was certainly more comfortable, than the British Airways 737, I’d taken on the way to Marrakech.

I looked at the menu and noted that they had some gluten free snacks, so I thought I’d have some with some water.  But unfortunately, they weren’t carrying any gluten-free snacks and I couldn’t buy any water, as I didn’t have any Euro and they didn’t take any other currency.  They wouldn’t take a credit card for two euros either. However, the stewardess did bring me a free glass of water, with which to take my Warfarin.

I had thought that once in Madrid airport, some sanity would prevail, but the only ticket to London would cost me eight hundred euros.  They did say I could buy one cheaper from an Internet terminal. But the design of the terminal was totally for Spanish and must rate as one of the worst pieces of design, that I’ve ever seen.

So if nothing, I learnt that unlike with trains, don’t ever turn up at an airport without a ticket. I have done this before from Greece. But that was a couple of years ago and I did pay about two hundred odd euros for an easyJet ticket to London.

So I thought the best thing to do, was go to the centre of Madrid and find a hotel. The helpful guy at Spanish Railways advised me to go to Chamartin and sold me a ticket for a couple of euros.

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment