Vall de Núria Rack Railway

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

The Vall de Núria Rack Railway is a mountain railway line in the Pyrenees mountains in the north of the Catalonia region of Spain. The line connects Ribes de Freser with Queralbs and Núria. As Queralbs is the highest point in the valley reachable by road, the rack railway is – besides the old footpath resp. mule track – the only way to reach the shrine and ski resort at Núria.

The line opened on the 22nd of March 1931, and has been electrically operated from the start. It became part of the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) on the 2nd of January 1984 and remains in their ownership.

The line is 12.5 km (7.8 miles) long and has a rail gauge of 1 m (3 ft 338 in). The first 5.5 km (3.4 miles) of the line is operated by conventional rail adhesion. The remainder of the line is operated as a rack railway, using the Abt system and with a maximum gradient of 15%. In total the line overcomes a height difference of 1062 m (3484 ft). The line is electrified with an overhead supply at 1500 volts dc.

Three generations of rolling stock still exist on the line. The original stock consisted of passenger cars hauled by four six wheeled electric locomotives, built by SLM and BBC in 1930-1, numbered E1-E4. These were supplemented by four two-car electric trains, built by SLM and BBC in 1985, and numbered A5-A8. The final generation is represented by two low-floor electric motor coaches of type Stadler GTW, built by Stadler Rail in Switzerland in 2003, and numbered A10-A11. The line also owns a diesel rack locomotive, D9, used on works trains and to push the snow plough.

Cars A10 and A11 are identical to the rolling stock of the Montserrat Rack Railway. The Montserrat line is also owned by the FGC and there is some sharing of stock between the two lines, with locomotive E4 transferred to that line for use on work trains.

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