Newsletter 12th July 2000

Pictures may take a while to download but have patience - they'll be worth waiting for !!

A very quiet month for news. Not many photos so far and Nick Robey (The Old Poblero) tells me that the opening of the Inca - Sa Pobla extension has been put back again, this time to October !! Apparently the local government has got hot under the collar about that new bridge in Inca ( see the May newsletter and Mike Kaben's report ) - they believe the balustrades are not sufficiently substantial and in the event of a torrential rainstorm, which is not unknown in Majorca, the ballast, rails and even the trains could get washed down onto the road below !!

Now here's an article lifted from the Majorca Daily Bulletin of July 11th:-

Project for airport rail link to Palma

OVER the next six months, a cross-section of the population in Majorca will be involved in an extensive study of the island's daily travel habits as a definitive project for the future of the island's railway is drawn up. The final plan is to be presented to the local government at the start of next year and two of the main ideas are to build a railway link between Sa Pobla and Alcudia and installing some form of rail link, possibly a tram-shuttle service, between Palma and the airport. By the end of this year, the stretch of new line between Inca and Sa Pobla is due to be completed and the SFM Majorca railway Company is still studying the viability of operating a train between the centre of Palma and the university. If the government decides that the Sa Pobla link and the airport connection are viable projects, then the expansion of the railway could become one of the new government's biggest and most significant transport policies. Balearic Chief Minister, Francesc Antich, called a halt to the extention of the Inca motorway to Alcudia in preference of expanding the railway.

The Majorcan Government (just like the British Government) seems to like announcing things more than once, possibly to give the impression they're doing and spending much more than they really are !!

Edith Knight and her husband have just returned from a week in Palma. They've taken lots of pictures but it will take a while for me to scan them because my main computer has failed again, quite dramatically and expensively and will take a while to fix. In fact, when returned there will be more new gubbins than old !! Meanwhile, I know Edith won't mind if I take the liberty of showing you part of her message to me on their return because they've come back with some interesting information.

"Had a blissful week in Palma enjoying the excellent food, wine,and sunshine,so we are not too excited about coming back to this drab grey weather.

Took quite a few photos, the station is still a building site and Rodney took advantage of this and wandered all over the place. We have too many photos to scan so ... can we post them to you, then you can scan any you feel might be interesting to add to the web pages and then send them back! Incidentally the Plaza Espana is going to undergo a face lift - the wide road is going to be put in a tunnel and the station park is going to be extended to meet up with the plaza - recipe for traffic chaos, I understand it will start next year.

Now the present bit - whilst browsing in a bookshop (one of my favourite hobbies) I discovered two copies of a little paperback book on the little Palma (the one between Palma Station and the port !) railway with some old photos in it (a bit mixed with Sóller) as they were suprisingly cheap (cheaper than scanning and much nicer) I bought both of them."

Edith has sent me one copy of the booklet so look out for some extracts plus copies of Edith and Rodney's photos in a future newsletter !!

I had an exchange of messages with Richard Green from the Basingstoke & District Railway Society who has recently returned from an investigative visit to Majorca's railways. He's preparing a report for his Society and has agreed that I can publish a copy in a future newsletter for you all to see, and I'm including a couple of the photos he's sent me.

The first picture is of a train headed by Sóller Railway loco no.1, about to turn into the station yard at Palma.

The second picture is also of the Sóller Railway, the sign on the platform at Sóller which welcomes travellers to the town.

Thanks, Richard - I look forward to more pictures soon !!

I've also had an e-mail from Gordon Hanson who is going on a villa holiday to Pollença this month. He had some very nice things to say about our website and has been rewarded by being given the task of visiting Sóller and bringing back some photos of the present state of the station (one of my hobby-horses !). I hope he enjoys his visit as much as I enjoyed mine in 1996 and 1998.

As I told you last month, I recently returned from a second visit to Southern France to travel on the Chemin de fer de La Mure, the Chemin de fer du Vivarais and the trams of Grenoble. I have quite a lot of photos of these lines which I think are worth posting on the net but, as I said above, my space on this site is limited and I still have LOTS of good pictures of the Soller Railway and Tramway to include. If anybody has any helpful advice please e-mail me.

Here's one of the more picturesque samples, it is of the Barrage de Monteynard-Avignonet, taken from Le Grand Balcon of the Lamure Railway. This ledge is more than a hundred metres above the level of the water in the lake behind the dam and was formed by an artillery barrage (a barrage of a different kind !) of the French army from the opposite side of the valley before the dam was built across the Drac river because the rock face was inaccessible by any other means !! Apparently 103 cannon rounds were fired on May 23rd 1885. The Lamure railway runs on 1200v DC, the same as the Soller Railway and you can find a website here .

Barrage de Monteynard_Avignonet from a train on Le Grand Balcon of the Lamure Railway May 2000

Here's something with the devoted railfan in mind, one of the Billard railcars of the Chemin de fer du Vivarais, built around 1937 and still in daily service. The body is up on the hoist for maintenance leaving the two bogies, one of which carries the diesel engine, on the rails. These railcars are beautifully ugly and I just wish the railways of Majorca had something like this !!

I shall now try to upload this newsletter from my laptop - don't forget to send us any contributions (see below) !!

I want to produce Galleries of Pictures of the Soller Railway, the Soller Tramway and the disused parts of the FCM, which will appear as soon as the pages can be coded and I can obtain more webspace.

That's all for now, folks !! Watch this site for further developments which will take place whenever new information or pictures come to hand. Any submissions of information, photos old or new, postcards, etc., will be gratefully and enthusiastically received and if used on the site will be suitably acknowledged (as above). The photos, pictures and diagrams used on this site are presented for your information and viewing pleasure only. If any of them should be in copyright violation and the copyright holder would care to notify me I will either remove them or acknowledge the copyright accordingly.

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© Barry Emmott 12th July, 2000