Friday, 28 February 2014

Directions to "Foller" to get you to Sóller [3]

... talking of sons?
This article appeared in yesterday's on-line "Times."
Son has been promoted to a professorship, much to his surprise! Sadly, only by the "Times" reporter and not Oxford Uni!
That's m' boy!
taronges, llimones i olives
naranjas, limones y aceitunas
fbb will eat an olive, if pressed (fbb pressed, not the olives) but does not really find the subtle taste of old socks particularly attractive. But the sharp tang of any citrus, bring it on! (as they say). And the railway beween Palma and Sóller (on Majorca) was built on the profits of Mediterranan orchards.

Pre-railway, in order to travel to the capital (Palma de Mallorca), it was necessary to take a stagecoach and cross a high mountain via the Sóller pass, or Coll de Sóller, a steep, narrow dirt track which was exhausting for the draft animals.
It was a citizen of Sóller, Sr. Jerónimo Estades, a provincial parliamentary representative and businessman ...
... who echoed the inhabitants of Sóller’s desire to set up a Palma-Sóller railway that would pass through Valldemossa and Deyá, a near equivalent to todays coastal bus route 210. But this as rejected  being too expensive.

Later, in 1903, the industrialist Juan Morell proposed the building of a direct Palma-Sóller railway which would pass under the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains in a tunnel.
The official inauguration took place on 16th April 1912, with locomotives no. 1 "Sóller" and no. 2 "Palma" pushing and pulling the inaugural convoy ...
... whilst no. 3 "Buñola", awaited the arrival of its counterparts in Sóller.

The line was electrified in 1929.
A glance at this map ...

click to enlarge map : the line runs roughly north-south

... shows that the main intermediate station is Bunyola ...
... but there are several halts (Apeadero) and a Mirador ("gazebo" in Spanish, but, more helpfully "viewpoint" in Catalan, the local lingo, according to Google Translate).
The viewing point has been an obligatory stop for the ‘Panoramic’ trains since 1912 and offers passengers unbeatable views of the Sóller valley and the Sierra de Tramontana mountains. It lies on the stretch of line between the ’Túnel Major’ ...

... (the major, i.e. big, tunnel) and the “Cinc-ponts” viaduct.
Whatever the original reasons for building the line, it is now sustained almost entirely by tourism. And it was as a common (or garden) tourist that fbb's No. 3 son travelled on this "facsinating" train a few weeks ago. But (shame on him) he didn't ride the associated tram route!

The railway terminated at Sóller, situated about 3 miles inland from the sea and from the port from where the fruit was exported. So having built the railway, the company added a tram link from town to port, which service opened in 1913.
We look at some of No 3 son's piccies tomorrow and try to gauge the atmosphere of the line before "virtially" taking the tram forward to the harbour side.
Buses of Somerset Update Upset
 Siguiente tren blog: Sábado 1 de marzo 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Directions to "Foller" to get you to Sóller [2]

Ir en autobús
Anar amb autobús
Go by bus
fbb's No 3 on has been on a short holiday to Majorca. fbb's No 3 son doesn't share his father's passion for public transport. fbb's No 3 son occasionally finds himself  "fascinated" or "infuriated" by some aspects of bus or rail travel and, much to his surprise, feels sufficiently "fascinated" or "infuriated" to share his emotions with the old man.

Thus he has inspired fbb to explore travel possibilities between Palma and Sóller, specifically by train and tram. Before reviewing tracked transport, fbb will look at buses.

Palma, the biggest town on the Island has its own "municipal" network of blue and silver buses.
They are run by EMT ...
... and most of them stop at the Plaça d'Espanya / Plaza de Espana but ...
... they do not descend into the depths of the Estació Intermodal. Notice the label "Park de les Estacions." Here a clutch of railway appurtenances and the former station has been turned into a park. Everything else, trains, metro and rural buses have been buried. Here is the entrance for the buses ...
... whilst on the other side of the park is the former above-ground bus station (shown, inset, when in use).
Underground is a massive interchange plus car park whence we could catch our bus to Sóller; here from stand 7 ...
... or next to it on Stand 8 (or is it Stand 6?). The operator is TIB.
Route 210 follows the classic route via mountain and coast using lots of spectacular wiggly roads, particularly the Ma10.
Services are not frequent at this time of year but the ride must be truly glorious.
The alternative, route 211, offers different kind of excitement.

El túnel de Sóller es un túnel carretero situado en la isla de Mallorca bajo la sierra de Alfabia. Comunica las ciudades de Palma de Mallorca y Sóller. Forma parte de la carretera Ma-11, que une la capital de la isla y el Puerto de Sóller. Fue inaugurado el 19 de febrero de 1997, el túnel es de peaje y tiene una longitud de 3.023 metros. En marzo de 2013, el precio para un turismo no residente en la zona eran 5'05€.
Yes, it runs via the Tunnel and "new" road Ma11. And it has a much better frequemcy.
Journey time here is just over 30 minute as opposed to over an hour on the "traditional" 210.

TIB vehicles are more coach than bus ...
... with plenty of room for tourists' luggage.

But there is another option. Instead of a comfortable coach with air-conditioning, the intrepid traveller might go for the third alternative; (un?)comfy bus seats ...
... or even better, slatted wooden benches ...
... and just four trips ...
... of which the 1730 has no return journey!

Of course, it's no competition - you would have to go by train.

 Següent tren blog: Divendres 28 febrer 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Directions to "Foller" to get you to Sóller [1]

Only you pronounce it more like "soya"!

  If you think you are suffering from déja vu;  
  worry not! This blog was published (briefly)  
    yesterday due to technical problems.        

We're off to the Balearic Islands - actually No. 3 son was; for a short holiday. Of course fbb has heard of Majorca and Ibiza but has never been there. He's never been to Wigan, either; but there is a difference. The old man knows where Wigan is, but is hazy about his balearics.
And there they are, in the Med, off the eastern coast of Spain. There are four that most will have heard of: Majorca (Mallorca), Minorca (Menorca), Ibiza (Eivissa) and Formentera, all of which are popular tourist destinations. Among the minor islands is Cabrera, which is the location of the Parc Nacional de l'Arxipèlag de Cabrera.

But there are lots more little ones, mostly uninhabited: Es Conills, Es Vedrà, Sa Conillera, Dragonera, S'Espalmador, S'Espardell, Ses Bledes, Santa Eulària, Plana, Foradada, Tagomago, Na Redona, Colom, L'Aire, etc.

No 3 son went to Majorca (the name means "big one"; Minorca, amazingly, means "little one") for a short holiday earlier in the month. And here are the big one's vital statistics:-
If such things baffle you, then this may help; if Majorca were a perfect square (which it isn't, it's lumpy and has a wiggly edge) it would measure 37½ miles along each side.

So number 3 son is having a great time  on Majorca and sends an email to his father posing this quuestion, "Do you know about the Sóller tram train. I found it fascinating. Sadly"

fbb knew nothing about the Sóller tram train; nothing about Sóller and very little about Majorca apart from its reputation as a holiday resort.
Ah, those quiet relaxing evenings in intimate little back-street bistros supping a bucket of sangria and tucking into a sumptuous sea-food paella ... with chips.

At first glance, fascination is a little subdued.
At the junction of Avinguda Joan March and Carrer Eusebi Estada, tucked away in the corner of  the Plaza de Espana, is an archway sign apparently leading to some parasols and cafe tables. On the archway are some helpful words in a foreign language:-
The "ferro" bit looks promising; "carril" means lane or road; so this uninspiring gateway is where it all starts.

But we rush ahead of ourselves. Where is Sóller?
"A" marks the spot. It is a little over 14 miles north(-ish) of the capital Palma. There would appear to be mountains in the way!

Sóller (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈsoʎə]) is a town and municipality near the north west coast of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands of Spain. The town is some 3km inland, from the Port de Sóller, in a large, bowl-shaped valley that also includes the village of Fornalutx and the hamlets of Biniaraix and Binibassi. The combined population is around 14,000. Sóller has been inhabited by humans since Talayotic times (from 5200 BC), and remains from this era include bronze statues (two of which can be seen in the Museu de Mallorca). The location of Sóller deep in the Tramuntana mountains meant that the town was isolated from the rest of Mallorca and missed out on much of the Roman occupation.
During the 19th century, Sóller became a major exporter of olives and citrus fruits. The French Revolution had seen a great deal of French immigration to Sóller, and it was these migrants who utilised their links back in France to build trade relations. With trade came wealth and the creation of impressive manor houses and public buildings, giving Sóller an air of grandeur rarely seen in other Mallorcan towns.
Sóller, main square

Much more impressive than that iron archway and just a few yards from the "fascinating" entrance is an equally fascinating subway.
The intermodal station is an underground box of delights. From here was can catch a bus to Sóller; indeed there is are two routes available.

So far, inspired by No 3 son, we now have the choice of a train from an obscure little station; or two bus services from deep in the bowels of Palma de Mallorca. It is slowly becoming much more fascinating.

As we shall see tomorrow.

 Autobús y tren Siguiente Blog : Jueves 27 de febrero 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

69, an Odious Number [2] ...

... was allocated to a temporary bus route whilst the narrow Tinsley Bridge ...
... was rebuilt as a dual carriageway. Presumably, back in 1938 when all this was planned, the intention was to replace the tram tracks and restore through workings between Sheffield and Rotherham. But it didn't happen and the temporary 69 became permanent, routed across a much widened thoroughfare.
fbb's 1952 timetable explains all.

Trams ran at an unbelievable frequency from City to Attercliffe shopping centre where the Handsworth route (every 5 mins) turned off. Trams to Tinsley Vulcan Road, just short of the de-tracked rebuilt bridge ...
... also ran every 5 with copious short workings to Weedon Street.
On top of this, the 69 bus ran "at frequent intervals" through to Rotherham.
click on timetable for enlargement

Tinsley Bridge was something of a boundary because there was a "setting down restriction" preventing local passengers from Sheffield from alighting until Bawtry Road, first stop after the customs post! Today, Bawtry Road is a right hand turn just after the Tinsley Viaduct.
click for enlargement

A similar restriction applied from the Rotherham end. In the 50s Attercliffe remained a real community with its own shopping centre. Banners department store building still stands ...
... but the Brightside and Carbrook edifice round the corner on Staniforth Road is long gone.
There were pubs a-plenty ...
 ... with the few that remain boarded up and awaiting their fate.
Attercliffe was a town; a community in its own right. Sheffield was a place you went to for the Markets and perhaps, very occasionally, a night out.Occasionally, because there were cinemas and a theatre; with the Aldephi still standing until recently.
Even by the 1980s, there was still some of "traditional" Attercliffe and Carbrook remaining. The 69 still managed every 6 minutes at peak ...
... but with the supporting trams replaced by less frequent buses.

But the end was inevitable and now the main road between Sheffield and Rotherham is festooned with warehouses and "retail park" type sales "outlets". What few real shops that are left are in a state of terminal decay. 

Oddly, Carbrook School still stands proud ...
... but not in educational use. The school closed in the late 70s/early 80s; although, spookily, fbb taught a few lessons there when a section of his comprehensive base was closed for asbestos removal.

The label says "20:20" ...
... which is a firm of marketing and PR consultants; so still in the business of inspiring and brain washing educating?

But the 69 plods one, but a fleeting shadow of its former self;
Every twenty minutes Monday to Friday daytime ...
... every 30 Saturday daytimes ...
... and hourly evenings and Sundays. In its only significant route change since 1948, the 69 now diverts via Tinsley (Highgate) ...
... which once had its very own service 24.

But a lot has changed in the last 69 plus years ...

... as fbb will be considering (VERY briefly) today!
Perhaps not. A cup of tea and a slice of Mrs fbb's coffee cake is as close as they'll get to a party!

Tomorrow, following the elderly's propensity to discuss nothing but the weather and ailments, fbb takes a look at the balearics. The squeamish might wish to turn aside.

 Next bus/train blog : Wednesday 26th February