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Spain – August/September 2011

The final country for the European leg of the world-tour was Spain. I'd previously purchased high-speed rail tickets from RENFE and was looking forward to using them.

Time in Spain was to be shared between Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid. Valencia was visited briefly; the goal there was to head out of town to 'La Tomatina'... I can only recommend that NOBODY bother doing this... ever. Barcelona then received the most time and Madrid got one night.

We landed in Barcelona from Athens and headed straight for Barcelona Sants. We had a connecting train from there to Valencia in 'Preferente Class'. This happened to be first class and was purchased very cheaply!

High-speed at Barcelona Sants Headphones in Renfe First Class Lunch on Renfe First Class

Before we knew it we were speeding south to Valencia.

Not moving yet... En-route to Valencia First class cabin on Renfe


The rail system around Valencia was quite nice, it seems they had recently extended the high-speed there and built a new station (or were in the progress of converting an old one.) The old Valencia Nord station was also very impressive.

Valencia Station Renfe at Valencia Renfe at Valencia

As the main goal was a daytrip to La Tomatina in Bunol, there wasn't much time to check out the freight yards in the south.


I'd seen a lot of freight action near Tarragona from the train to Valencia and wanted to check it out. A day was spent on the rail around Barcelona and, due to a late start, I decided that Tarragona was a little too far. Instead I made it half way south through to Sitges and Cunit.

Track machine at Sitges Track machine at Sitges Track machine at Sitges
EMU at Cunit Cunit Station, Spain EMU approaching Cunit

There wasn't a freight train to be seen and hardly any high-speed stock, mainly just standard EMUs floating around. I therefore decided to go to Martorell in the north of Barcelona where, via google maps, I'd seen that freight, passenger and high-speed converged.

Fortunately I chose to stop through Garraf on the way through. This town is on the coast just above Sitges and has a beautiful old station building. There is a tunnel to the south and it all provides a great backdrop for shots.

Garraf Station EMU approaching Garraf Station EMU departing Garraf Station

Especially when a high-speed consist comes through...

High-speed passing Garraf High-speed passing Garraf High-speed passing Garraf

At Martorell I was instantly greeted by a freighter heading west.

Freight at Martorell

I then wandered from the station to the high-speed line around one kilometre north. I only had to wait 5 minutes to see a train bolt past.

High-speed near Martorell High-speed near Martorell High-speed near Martorell

I then returned to Martorell station and was greeted by a SEAT Car Carrier.

Martorell Station SEAT Car Carrier at Martorell SEAT Car Consist at Martorell
SEAT Car Carrier at Martorell FGC on SEAT Car Consist at Martorell

I'd also seen via google maps that there was a nice tunnel/castle/vineyard area one stop east of Martorell. The station was known as Castellbisbal and was easy to get to. I caught the next service east and wandered up to the road overpass of the high-speed.

High-speed line near Castellbisbal High-speed passing Castellbisbal High-speed passing Castellbisbal
High-speed passing Castellbisbal EMU passing Castellbisbal

I then wandered back to the station.

Shunter at Castellbisbal Shunter at Castellbisbal EMU at Castellbisbal
EMU approaching Castellbisbal EMU approaching Castellbisbal

When I last expected it a freight came through heading west.

Freight passing Castellbisbal Freight passing Castellbisbal

And that was it for the daytrip...


The final trip was 'Touriste Class' to Madrid. This was on the ICE-3'looking rolling stock from Barcelona Sants to Madrid Atocha. The service was non-existent compared to First Class, but the train was great. Unfortunately the track condition along the way lead to a few rollercoaster-like experiences. At one point we even had to hold on to our drinks! I couldn't believe they were running the train at 300km/h over the rough patches.

High-speed to Madrid High-speed cabin control panel High-speed cabin

The final stop was Madrid Atocha. This was a newly rebuilt station, full of concrete. At least it was quite clean.

Madrid Station

We stayed near a station called 'Principe Pio'. It seems to have two sides, one which they have rebuilt with the other falling into disrepair.

Principe Pio Station Príncipe Pío‎ Station

And that was it... the next day saw a flight to Hong Kong. They've since stopped freight to Hung Hom and so there was no real advantage to chasing trains. I vowed to do more upon returning to Oz.

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  1. You missed Valencia on purpose? You missed a great city sir!

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