Let the train . . .

October 22nd, 2009 | Written by Simon Rice|


Access to the Catalan Pyrenees is improving all the time, with new roads, high speed trains and, as of this winter, a new airport at Alguaire near Lleida. But perhaps the best way to get there is to take the Tren Dels Llacs, which runs from Lleida to La Pobla de Segur on Saturdays from May to October*. The train itself is composed of a rake of carriages dating from the 1950′s, restored in every detail, even down to the sepia tinted photographs of Spain’s major cathedrals!  The train also has a buffet car so it is very commodious!

Foreign passengers, especially the British, will perhaps be more interested in the locomotive aspects of the run, however, and will not be disappointed by the splendid Beyer-Garret type locomotive, nicknamed La Garrafeta by the original drivers, that hauls the train as far as the town of Balaguer. From here a pair of historic diesel locomotives take over, leaving La Garrafeta to wait for the return of the train that evening. The driver, laconic as befits his station (ouch!), told me that the diesels were used to save money, plus the smoke and fumes that accumulate in the long tunnels as the train penetrates the Sierra de Montsec, make the carriages virtually uninhabitable!

* the train doesn’t run in high summer due to the heat!