The International Steam Pages

Metre Gauge Steam in Portugal 2019

James Waite attended the Vouga line event on 14th December 2019, the first of two, the second scheduled one on 21st December was cancelled because of stormy weather and a new date is expected for early 2020.

The locomotive is 2-4-6-0 Mallet tank no E214 built by Henschel (19877/1923). Considering the generally disappointing weather I'm pleased with many of the results. Continuous rain was forecast but in fact it was only intermittent and there was even a little hazy sunshine from time to time.

The public train ran from Aveiro to Sernada and, as the locoshed is at Sernada, this involved an empty stock working to Aveiro which left at 05.25. Our hotel was about 15 minutes away from Sernada. In view of the dire weather forecast which suggested most daytime shots would be useless I decided to get up at 03.30 to try my luck with night shots of the locomotive being prepared. This turned out to be more successful than I had expected. Although most of the lights in the yard are yellow sodium ones the locomotive was positioned beside a white one just outside the shed and there were more white lights shining out of the shed. Nowadays even the remotest spot on the CP seems to have its security guard but happily the Sernada one didn't show up until after 05.00 by which time I had pretty well finished.

There are two 2-6-0T's, E97 and E113, in store at Sernada shed. They were both active on heritage trains until at least about 1990 and possibly later. They've been there for many years and generally are almost unphotographable as they are hemmed in by the historic coaches but once they had left it was possible to look at them properly. Probably I missed E122 which had been in a different part of the complex when I visited before.

The next picture is of the train leaving Aveiro where the lines climbs up a steep gradient - you can get an idea of how steep it is from the stepped fencing base on the right.

This shows the train crossing the River Vouga viaduct just before Sernada, there is a tile showing it in the picture at the top of James' previous report from Portugal.

Aveiro station, a very modern place, tilting trains (on the broad gauge) run through it, we saw one on its way from Braga to Faro, running almost the whole length of Portugal.

I was rather pleased with the tunnel shots, I've never before managed to photograph a train entering a tunnel from the other end! We came upon this tunnel, at Eirol quite by chance while driving along a cross-country lane after leaving Aveiro on the wrong road on the Sunday.

The only advertised train was on the Saturday and we didn't know about this one on the Sunday morning until the last minute. It was a special for CP workers, pensioners and their families. The next picture shows the train entering Agueda station, the principal stop on the line. Note Santa preparing to make a quick getaway! On the original you can see that he has the CP logo embroidered on his coat. Is he the only Santa on the payroll of a state railway?

The event attracted a lot of attention in the Portuguese press. One Sunday paper gave over most of its front page to a photo of it along with an article emphasising how many people had come from Spain to see it and what a long journey they had. They clearly hadn't encountered any of us from further afield! It was the first steam working on the CP narrow gauge for quite a number of years. The locomotive and train were restored in 2017 but there seems to be quite a strong anti-steam bias amongst some of CP's senior management and it has taken since then to run these trains. The two surviving sections of the Vouga line are now the only remaining narrow (metre) gauge railways anywhere on the CP apart from a short section of the Tua line at Mirandela which now operates as a metro railway.

At the third time of asking, I got inside the museum at Macinhata. 

The first picture is of VV 2-8-2T no 22 (CP E132), Henschel 19834/1924.

The second is another 2-4-6-0 Mallet tank CP181 (Henschel 19826/1923). It's quite interesting as it was one of two built as 900mm gauge locomotives for the Porto, Povoa and Famalicao line which had a more restricted loading gauge than the E201 class engines for the Estado lines and has a different cab (note the round spectacle plates) and what I can only describe as a squashed dome. They were too heavy for the PPF and were converted to run as tender engines for a while. After CP took over the narrow gauge lines they were gradually brought into line with the E201's but the cab was never altered while this one still has its lower dome. It worked out of Sernada for a while. 

There are three other locomotives inside the museum, two 2-6-0T's and one 0-6-0T.

For some more pictures of the Macinhata exhibits see Paul Bryson's Flickr account -

Finally, in a busy weekend James managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Railway Museum at Entroncamento, I (RD this time!) was surprised to discover it was some 10 years since he supplied a report on his visit there. The picture shows shows four broad gauge locomotives. The nearest is 2-8-2 no 855, built by Alco in 1945. It was one of 22 from a series being built to help the war effort in India which were diverted to Portugal, reportedly as the price which the Salazar government demanded for allowing the US Air Force to stop and refuel in the Azores while they were on their way between the US and Europe during the Second World War.

Rob Dickinson