Sunday, February 6, 2011

France - Spain rail gauge change stations at Cerbère and Port Bou

Two photos from April 2007 showing another European rail gauge change from standard to broad. The first photo shows the tracks leading into the border tunnel at the French station of Cerbère on the Mediterranean coast, the second the Spanish side station of Port Bou. 

Not only the gauges don't connect, neither do the trains, or at least they didn't then.  The Catalan Talgo - which utilises a mechanical device to change the gauge of the (spring loaded) axles of the cars on this train - ran through, but other trains on either side through the tunnel didn't, and lengthy waits on both sides were involved.
The first photo shows a Spanish train at Cerbère returning to the Spanish side station of Port Bou empty.  To get there a wait for a French train to come along was involved - and then another wait at Port Bou for a Spanish train to go further! Crazy or what?  The Cerbère station was built by Gustav Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame but its glory days were decades ago and it is now shabby.  The Port Bou station, however, has retained its grandeur.  The standard gauge tracks with a French passenger train on them are on the left.

This whole section has since last December been bypassed with a new line which takes standard gauge high speed trains as far as Figueres in Spain (Salvador Dali's hometown).

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