Via Verde del Valle del Almanzora
The Great Southern of Spain Railway Company Limited (GSSR) was formed to build a railway here in Spain from Lorca to Baza. They were a British company. The line connected the provinces of Murcia, Almeria and Granada via the Almanzora Valley, and were responsible for the burst of iron, lead, and talcum (clay mineral) mining in the area. Sadly, those days are long gone, leaving vast unused railway lines in their wake. There are almost three thousand kilometres of Vía Verde (disused railways) all over Spain, with some becoming Greenways. With some tender loving care, and a lot of money, they make fantastic safe areas for walkers like me, and with many having compacted earth and gravel, they make an excellent cycle path too.
Where is Via Verde del Valle del Almanzora?
This Greenway winds its way from Zurgena through to Baza. Here are the municipalities that it passes through, and some history and current information on those stations now.
Going the other way, the line went from Zurgena to Huércal-Overa Historically Zurgena to Huércal Overa was a steep incline for locomotives, therefore two locos were required at the front and one at the rear to navigate. Then Huércal-Overa on to Almendricos in Murcia, where the line continues up north, towards Lorca, where it linked with other networks. I haven’t walked this route, and I can’t find much online about this. So, if you know if this part is walkable, I would love for you to comment below.
- Zurgena They had a turntable, workshops, warehouses, and sheds with overnight facilities for railway staff, so it was an ideal stopping and maintenance point. In the future, there are plans for a railway museum, which will be the only railway museum in southern Spain that will be running live trains. The plan of the Zurgena Railway Association is to re-lay the track from Zurgena to Arboleas (5.16 km / 3.2miles) and run locomotives backwards and forwards. How cool would that be! If you want to be kept up to date with their progress, you can read their blog
- Arboleas Along with Almanzora this station helped to serve the town of Albox
- Albox (Almanzora) - The station was refurbished into a bar-restaurant, but isn't open currently
- Cantoria It once helped with the agricultural, marble and coffin distribution locally
- Oula del Río
- Purchena The station is now a bar-restaurant
- Tíjola The station is now a bar-restaurant, the old warehouse is now a workshop school. There’s also a children's playground
- Los Canos
- Serón - This station has become a bar-restaurant, and the warehouse has become the Story Station Museum. There is also a Valle del Almanzora Interpretation Centre and a planetarium
- El Hijate This is the highest point of GSSR
- Baza ending at the El Baúl bridge. Like Zurgena, this was a centre for locos to use the turntable and receive minor repairs. It was also a resting place for railway workers
What did the Almanzora Railway line transport?
The main goods transported were esparto grass, iron ore, lead, talcum, marble, mail, and fruit. With the fruit trains also carrying third class carriages with wooden seating.
What is the Valle del Almanzora railways timeline?
From multiple sources I have tried to put this timeline together, it is correct to my knowledge. If any amendments are required, please message me in the comments section.
GSSR started work building a railway from Murcia to Granada
Land was purchased in Zurgena
A woman died at a cutting which was later made into The Las Cañadicas tunnel
Almendricos to Hurcal Overa section completed
Scaffolding failure at a bridge in Arboleas resulted in a death
Huercal Overa and Zurgena section completed
The Valcabra Bridge near to Caniles was built
The Albox bridge (Almanzora) opened
Zurgena to Albox (Almanzora) section completed
The opening of Almanzora station
A derailment at Almanzora station – no casualties
Albox (Almanzora) to Cantoria section completed
Albox to Purchena section completed
Purchena to Seron section completed
Seron to Baza section completed
The bridge crossing the river at Albox collapsed due to a storm and flood water
Just past Cantoria there was a collision between Engine 253 and another train
Engine 253 came into Almanzora station with cargo on fire
Five days later Engine 253 caught fire again coming into Cantoria station
There was a boiler explosion of Engine No 51 near Cantoria station
Civil war started and GSSR was taken over by the Spanish 'Railway Workers Council
All railways in Spain incorporated into RENFE
The Valcabra Bridge near to Caniles was washed away during a storm
Modernisation of the railways began
The railway stopped functioning under the state railway operator Renfe. Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles
This line stopped running
The track began to be removed
Vía Verdes Program started to coordinate and promote the network of disused railways
"VÍA VERDE" is trademark registered by the FFE. Legally restricted to routes that run over old railway infrastructures.
This map shows the network of Greenways, natural parks, trails, reserves and cultural routes here in Spain