Via Verde del Valle del Almanzora

The Great Southern of Spain Railway Company Limited (GSSR)

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.

Vía Verde Network

Via Verde del Valle del Almanzora
  • Zurgena: This station had a turntable, workshops, warehouses, and overnight facilities for railway staff, making it an ideal maintenance point. There are plans to establish a railway museum here, the only one in southern Spain to run live trains. The Zurgena Railway Association aims to re-lay the track from Zurgena to Arboleas (5.16 km) and operate locomotives on this stretch.
  • Arboleas: This station, along with Almanzora, served the town of Albox.
  • Albox (Almanzora): The station was converted into a bar-restaurant
  • Cantoria: This station facilitated the local distribution of agricultural products, marble, and coffins.
  • Fines: Known for its connection to the local marble industry.
  • Olula del Río: Another significant stop along the route.
  • Purchena: The station had been transformed into a bar-restaurant *at time of writing this was closed down
  • Tíjola: This station is now a bar-restaurant, with the old warehouse repurposed as a workshop school and a children's playground on site.
  • Los Canos: A smaller, yet notable stop.
  • Serón: The station has been converted into a bar-restaurant, with the warehouse now housing the Story Station Museum, a Valle del Almanzora Interpretation Centre, and a planetarium.
  • Alcontar: A scenic spot along the route.
  • El Hijate: The highest point on the GSSR line.
  • Zújar: A picturesque location.
  • Freila: Another notable stop.
  • Caniles: A smaller stop along the way.
  • Baza: The line ends at the El Baúl bridge. Baza was a central hub for locomotives to use the turntable and undergo minor repairs, and it also served as a resting place for railway workers.
Extending Beyond Zurgena

  • Zurgena: As mentioned above
  • Huércal-Overa: This station was part of a steep incline, requiring additional locomotives. It has historical buildings and a notable market.
  • Santa María de Nieva: A small village offering a peaceful stop along the route.
  • Pulpi: Known for its stunning geode, one of the largest accessible geodes in the world.
  • Vera: A historic town with a beautiful old quarter and several beaches nearby.
  • Garrucha: A coastal town known for its fishing port and seafood cuisine.
  • Mojácar: A picturesque town on a hill with stunning views and a blend of traditional and modern attractions.
  • Almendricos: Located in Murcia, this station was an important junction where the line connected with other railway networks.
  • Lorca: A significant hub where the line linked with other networks, facilitating further travel across the region.

Historical Timeline of the Valle del Almanzora Railway

  • 1885: GSSR began constructing the railway from Murcia to Granada.
  • 1888: Land purchased in Zurgena.
  • 1890: Fatal accident during the construction of The Las Cañadicas tunnel.
  • 1891: Completion of Almendricos to Huércal-Overa section.
  • 1892: Completion of Huércal-Overa to Zurgena section and the Valcabra Bridge near Caniles.
  • 1893: Opening of the Albox (Almanzora) bridge and station.
  • 1894: Completion of sections from Albox (Almanzora) to Cantoria, Albox to Purchena, and Purchena to Serón.
  • 1900: Bridge collapse in Albox due to storm and floodwater.
  • 1906: Train collision near Cantoria.
  • 1918: Multiple incidents involving Engine 253 catching fire.
  • 1936: GSSR taken over by the Spanish 'Railway Workers Council during the Civil War.
  • 1941: All railways in Spain incorporated into RENFE.
  • 1955: Valcabra Bridge washed away during a storm.
  • 1975: Modernization of the railways began.
  • 1984: Railway operations under RENFE ceased.
  • 1985: Line stopped running.
  • 1990: Track removal began.
  • 1993: Vías Verdes Program initiated.
  • 1994: "VÍA VERDE" trademark registered by FFE, restricted to routes over old railway infrastructures.

The railway was crucial for the booming industries of iron, lead, and talcum mining in the area. Today, the railway is no longer operational, leaving behind vast stretches of unused tracks, much of which is now offering safe and scenic routes for walkers and cyclists. These paths, often featuring compacted earth and gravel, provide excellent cycling tracks as well. The Via Verde del Valle del Almanzora offers a unique way to explore the historical and scenic landscapes of the Almanzora Valley, preserving the legacy of the old railway while providing a valuable recreational resource.

This information is considered correct at time of publish, if you have anything to add, or any suggested amendments, please let me know in the comments. Thank you

Previous comments

Rob Hallam
"Very interesting and informative read, look forward to walking parts of the line. Would love to see engines run on those lines again in the future. "


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