Sunday, July 30, 2017

San Sebastián, Hendaye, Bordeaux

Today I'm leaving Bilbao and Spain for my next destination - France. My initial plan was to take Renfe train from Bilbao to Hendaye, but due to railway works it would not be possible to take the train I had planned from Hendaye to Bordeaux. The railway works is between Irun and Astigarraga, where Adif is installing a third rail allowing the standard gauge operations between France and Spain. Unfortunately, the work will continue until summer next year.
 So, I had no other choice than to head to Euskotren station in Bilbao. The company is managed by Basque Government, and the Interrail ticket is not valid on the train.
 If I would take Renfe train I would have to change trains at Miranda del Ebro, the trip from Bilbao would take 1h 28min and the trip from Miranda to San Sebastian would take 1h 56min (both trips with Alvia trains), so in total 3,5h. With Euskotren the trip takes 2h 40min.
 The station of Zazpikaleak opened in April 2017, however it was very difficult to find information from where to take the train to San Sebastian, I was informed that it would be from Atxuri station, but found out by accident one day before that it would be from this station instead.
 The trains to Donostia operates once per hour. Donistia is the Basque name for San Sebastian.
 Since 2011 Euskotren operates with these EMU900 trains from CAF

 The train is of type Cercanias (local commuter train), but here it is used on a longer route. On the other hand the trip is cheap, the cost is just some euros.
 During the trip, I was able to view the new high speed line between Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria, which is called Basque Y. After competition, the trip from Bilbao to San Sebastian will take only 38min, but that will happen earliest 2020. The line is built with standard gauge, as all new high speed lines in Spain, thus it will be possible to travel between Madrid and Paris without changing gauge and trains.
 The railway operated by Euskotren is a narrow gauge and services started in 1982.

 Euskotren Kargo trains

 Euskotren TD 2006 BB "Urola" locomotive

 River Deba
 Bay of Biscay

 After 2h of journey I found out that the train is missing WC. At the same time, the other train passing by indicated that WC should be available, which did not make any sense.
 It turned out that same trains are equipped differently, so our train did not had WC. Fortunately, there was a toilet at the end station.
 Final stop in San Sebastian

To the left is the older EMU200 from 1985
From Amara station it is easy to get to France by taking the line to Hendaia.
Old train labels at the station
Amara station
La Concha Bay
Don Quijote y Sancho

France is very close to San Sebastian
De Bilbao Plaza
Puente Maria Cristina bridge
Not far from Amara station is the Iberian gauge Renfe station.
Long distance trains are departing from this station. I will take Cercanias train to Irun.

Until 10th of July 2018 all long distance trains will terminate here. The normal operation is all the way until Hendaye in France, but due to installation of standard gauge tracks the trains are suspended and limited to Cercanias only.
Here it is, Renfe Class 447
Railway to Irun was built in 1863
Here is the railroad construction, the reason for limited train services.
For some part of the route, the Iberian gauge railway runs in parallel with narrow gauge Euskotren line. The stations are however not synchronised.
Here is the line with 3 tracks

Renfe Class 253
Inside Cercanias train
The train has arrived to last stop - Irun.

The line from Irun to France
Euskotren line in Irun
Since neither Renfe nor SNCF trains are currently operated between Irun and Hendaye, I'm taking Euskotren between the towns.

The trip from Irun to Hendaye takes only 4 minutes

6000 Euros penalty for crossing the line.
Railway bridge over Bidasoa river is also the border between Spain and France
Last stop is in France
TGV Atlantique train will take me further from Hendaye to Bordeaux.

TGV Atlantique trains belongs to the 2nd generation of TGV trains
Inside 1st class coach
The train was manufactured in 1988 in La Rochelle

Hendaye station has both standard and Iberian gauge tracks, just like the other two border stations: Latour-De-Carol and Cerbère.
SNCF Class BB 7200 locomotive
TRAXX F140 MS from Euro Cargo Rail

2nd class coach

Later I found out that the was a electrical fault at Montparnasse station in Paris, which caused massive train delays and cancellation for most part of western France. The few trains that still operated were full with passengers sitting on the floor. During my next days in France I will experience some of that problem.

From Bayonne to Bordeaux, the train was filled with passengers standing in and sitting on the floor, so I did not take much photos along this route.
Finally I'm in Bordeaux, the train is continuing to Paris.
Bordeaux Saint-Jean station opened in 1898 and was renovated until July 2017 just in time for opening of the new LGV Sud Europe Atlantique high speed line.
The station is very beautiful. Here are some journalists reporting about the chaos of the train services.

I'm staying in a hotel just next the station, here is the view from the hotel
Map of the chemins de fer du Midi railway network in a Bordeaux station.

TGV Duplex

SNCF X 72500 TER train
I'm leaving the train station and heading to the central Bordeaux
Citadis tram
"By demand of the Municipality of Bordeaux (CUB), part of the system uses ground-level power supply (APS). There is no overhead wire, and electric power to the tram is supplied by a center rail with only the portion directly under the tram electrically live. This prevents electrocution of pedestrians and animals" (Wikipedia)
Le Miroir d'eau
Place de la Bourse
Pont de Pierre bridge and Garonne river
Anti terrorist stop blocks
It's very unusual to see the tram line without overhead wire.
Monument aux Girondins

Porte Dijeaux
The Grosse Cloche

I'm back at the station since it's close to my hotel

Ouigo low cost services are now expanded to include Bordeaux

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