Dave Manders' Report and Photos

So far Dave has sent me just these two photos but promises more when he gets the hang of his scanner - they can be real bu**ers as you will have realised if you've been following the progress of these newsletters. He knows that the Sóller Railway is my own true love - I'd be more interested in the Palma - Inca - Sa Pobla line if they still had those lovely Nasmyth-Wilson steam locos !! There are many of us who believe that SFM could generate a lot more tourist traffic if they'd import one or two of those lovely Portuguese metre-gauge Mallet locomotives which the Portuguese seem so anxious to put out to pasture - join the campaign, write to somebody about it !!!

Dave also sent me a scan of the new timetable for the Palma - Inca - Sa Pobla service. If any body wants a copy (its a bit big for a webpage) please e-mail me and I'll try to send you a copy. Now comes Dave's report, verbatim from his e-mails:-

"I flew from by British Midland from Heathrow on Monday 8th and stayed at the Hotel Saratoga near the seafront in central Palma.

Tuesday 9th January.

After taking the motorway from Palma to Inca, I drove to the former (and future) junction of Empalme, where I took some 'before-and-after' shots as near as possible the same as those I took in 1995. All the old track had been removed, and a single plain track to very 'main-line' standards laid. A little surprisingly to me, no points had been incorporated at the junction in preparation for the Manacor line rebuilding. I doubt very much if there is any likelihood of this station reopening, unless, like Dovey Junction, the future timetable is so arranged as to make it a connection point for trains from the two lines.

I then returned to Inca and continued to Sa Pobla, where the new terminus is located by the Manacor road at the south east of the town. The original station is now surrounded by a car park cum town square, and the trackbed is a footpath. As the new terminus is at a somewhat higher level than the surrounding roads, but not high enough for a bridge, I do not see how it is going to be incorporated into an extension to Alcudia when (if) built.

The station has one platform, which would possibly just hold the longest likely train of 6 coaches, and a siding whish would probably take a 3 car unit. The station building was still in the early stages of construction, with the 'redcap' being housed in a portable cabin. Tickets were issued on the train, but he did have a supply of timetables. There were no station nameboards visible on any of the new platforms, although the old station buildings retained their door-lintel namestones. The 11.43 to Palma had a 3-car unit, 61-09, 62-02, and 61-10 at the Sa Pobla end, and left with about a dozen passengers aboard. Only one or two more were picked up at the intermediate stations of Muro and Llubi, but from Inca the train was well filled, with few empty seats by Palma.

Outside the new depot on the outskirts of Palma, between Pont d'Inca and Verge de Lluc stations, was quite a large diesel loco and the p-way equipment, including what I assume to be the last steam era coach (other than the one on display at Palma). We stopped here on the main line for a few minutes while coolant water was added to the engine of the rear coach. On arrival at Palma a few minutes late, I crossed the road and watched the 1300 to Soller depart behind car no. 4, before returning to Sa Pobla on the 1320, consisting of 61-11/12 + 61-xx/xx. By the time we arrived at Sa Pobla, there were very few passengers remaining on board, and only 4 appeared to join the 1423 back to Palma.

I then decided to trace the line from Arta back to Manacor and Inca. The large station building at Arta appears to be disused but in reasonable condition considering that it closed in 1977, and little changed from my 1995 visit. The track layout seems to be intact.

At Son Servera (Son Cervera in the Catalan now re-adopted), the building is now a music school, and the track has been lifted through the station area and a small park landscaped on the formation.
I then found a station I had not seen on my previous visit, San Miguel, which I have not found on any map. This is near now what is shown as Son Carrio. Doors and windows have been blocked up with breeze blocks, but the structure still looks basically sound. Again, track is still intact. The same comments apply to San Lorenzo ( Sant Llorenç des Cardassar).

Having failed to find Manacor station last time, I had another search and this time found it quite easily. What had thrown me was that at the east end of the town, the track emerges from uinder a dual carriageway inner ring road and there are some points at that location. These were seemingly nothing to do with the station. I think that the line probably ran along what is now one carriageway, or possibly down the centre. The station is at the West end of this road, and a little way beyond. The trackbed can be seen going away at an angle. If there is any track in the station, it has been buried, but does reappear about a hundred metres away. The large station building is set back from, and at an angle to, the trackbed alignment, the result of the Arta line being a much later extension from the original terminus. Again, the lower doors and windows are blocked up and the building seems disused.

As it was by now getting dark, I returned to Palma.

Wednesday 10th January.

Today, I resumed my searches for the old lines after returning to Empalme for a couple of video shots of trains passing the old station.

I did not stop at Sineu as the area round the station, which is now an art centre, was very busy, but there appeared to be no change from 1995. The other station likely to be reopened with the Manacor line is Petra, and here the station looked as if it is in use, but was all shut up. The track layout is still intact.

As yet, I could see no sign of any work starting on the Manacor line.

The second unit for the return (shown as 61-xx/xx) was 61-03/04 at the Sa Pobla end of the train. There appear to be 3 diagrams, with one 2-car, one 3-car and one 2 x 2-car turn. The return fare from Sa Pobla to Palma on 9th Jan was 870ptas... This was, I think, after the increase.

A thought: Is Palma - Inca the longest stretch of double track metre gauge in Europe?"

Thanks,Dave, for your report and for your very welcome photos.

© Barry Emmott 2001