Class 58s Reign in Spain

Class 58s Reign in Spain

Updated news from Spain written by Tony Sayer following a visit to the country in April 2009. Photos by Gavin Lake.
Work continues apace on the AVE high speed lines in Spain, with British locomotives contributing significantly to the rail laying and track ballasting activities. Twelve DB Schenker Class 58s are operating on the Madrid to Valencia/Alicante lines, based at Requena and Albacete. When opened, high speed trains from Madrid will diverge at Gabaldon Junction, with trains for Valencia heading eastwards via Requena, whilst trains for Alicante will travel south eastwards via Albacete. In addition, there are six Class 37s operating on the Barcelona to Figueres line. Their current base is Sant Feliu de Buixalleu.

Albacete Class 58s.

My visit to the Albacete/Requena area spanned 27th-29th April. Immediately on arrival at the Albacete base on the 27th, a double-headed rail train (hauled by L44 (58029) and L46(58030) departed from the depot destined for the limit of current construction work between Gabaldon and Almodovar del Pinar, about 65km north of Albacete. Several photos of this train were possible given the relatively slow speed limits, and also a locomotive run-round at Gabaldon Junction. From this point the train was propelled to the end of the trace.
During the day four other Class 58s were noted undertaking ballast work, 58024 and 58043 operating from Castellejo/El Peral (on the line between Gabaldon Jct and Valencia), 58020 from Gabaldon, and 58041 from Casisimarro (about 35km north of Albacete).
Photo right: 58030, still in the Continental Rail livery, in action at Gabaldon Junction on the 27 April 2009. 
On 28th April a more extensive visit was made to the Albacete base with L41 (58025) stabled and 58031 undergoing maintenance. 

Requena Class 58s.

Although the Albacete-based Class 58s are now working down the line from Gabaldon Junction towards Requena and Valencia, they have still to meet up with the four operating from the Requena base. This is due to a significant gap in the line adjacent to the Embalse de Contreras reservoirs. This area represents a very severe civil engineering challenge necessitating partial drainage of the local reservoirs and it will be several months before the gap is bridged. Once bridged this will presumably allow the Class 58s to be operated as a flexible pool of 12 locomotives.
Photo right: 58027 at the Requena base on the 28th April 2009. 
The Requena (San Antonio) base was visited during the afternoon of 28th April, and 58027 was undertaking ballasting duties. Mid-afternoon and 58015 arrived from the east with some empty rail wagons.
On 29th April, the outstanding two Class 58s, 58047 and 58050, were tracked down at Chiva, 30km west of Valencia. These two locomotives were carrying out intensive ballasting duties with one train out discharging and the other reloading at the Chiva ballast dump. Siesta time over lunch allowed the opportunity to photograph both Class 58s side by side! Further east of Chiva two Romanian COMSA locomotives were noted on rail train duties.

Class 58 – Details.

Eight Class 58s operate off Albacete, these having moved north from Bobadilla. An opportunity is being taken to replace the faded two-tone blue GIF livery with a new version i.e. dark blue with a yellow stripe. At the time of my visit 5 of the 8 locomotives had received the new Continental Rail livery (58020/4/31/41/3), although 58031 had still to receive numbers, and 58043 only had numbers on one side. Interestingly all of the repainted locos have still to have their Lxx numbers re-applied. 58025/9/30 retain the original GIF livery together with their Lxx numbers (L41/44/46 respectively). All 8 locomotives carry wing mirrors and additional spotlights.
The four Class 58s based at Requena carry the new Continental Rail livery as applied in the UK prior to departure to Spain in September 2008. 58027, 58047 and 58050 have received Lxx numbers (L52, L51, and L53 respectively), although 58015 has still to receive its allocated L54 number. L51-53 have also received yellow/red warning stripes along the base of the cabs, applied since arrival in Spain. Interestingly, whilst 58015 has yet to receive the numbering and livery "upgrades", it is the only one of the "Requena 4" to have received additional spotlights. None of the four Requena locomotives have received wing mirrors to date.
Utilisation of the 12 Class 58s is very intensive at present and this undoubtedly explains the varying state of play with respect to wing mirror/spotlight fitment and new livery application.
Photo left: 58030 working a rail train between Gabaldon and Almodovar on the 28th April 2009. 
Class 58 TOPS no. Class 58 ‘L’ number
58015 L54
58020 L43
58024 L42
58025 L41
58027 L52
58029 L44
58030 L46
58031 L45
58041 L36
58043 L37
58047 L51
58050 L53




Sant Feliu de Buixalleu Class 37s.

My visit to Sant Feliu, 60km north-east of Barcelona, took place on 30th April and proved to be quite difficult in terms of quickly finding good photographic locations in the limited time available. It turned out that work finished at 1300hrs on the 30th, in advance of the full May Day holiday on 1st May. We knew about the May Day holiday but not the early finish on 30th April! C'est la vie (or whatever the Spanish equivalent is!). Matters were complicated further by the fact that there are two villages with the name Sant Feliu de Buixalleu in the local area!
Photo left: 37703 tops and tails with 37800 at Santa Maria Palautodera on the 30th April 2009. 
Despite the difficulties, 37718 (L22) and 37884 (L34) were found stabled at Sant Feliu base, and 37703 (L25) and 37800 (L33) were duly photographed working ballast shuttles off the dump at Santa Maria Palautordera. We heard that 37714 (L26) and 37716 (L23) were working a rail train west of Santa Maria towards Barcelona, but by the time we returned to Sant Feliu at 1400hrs all 6 Class 37s were back at the base, parked up for the long May Day weekend.

Vilafranca del Penedes Class 37s.

For completeness, a visit was made to Vilafranca del Penedes on the evening of 30th April. This base is no longer used for track construction purposes, but remains open for general track maintenance work. On the 30th the site was secured for the holiday weekend.
However, it was possible to see the three Class 37s currently dumped here awaiting disposal (37799 (L27), 37801 (L29), and 37883(L28)). 37799 and 37801 are already sold for scrap, whilst 37883 is currently stored out of use. All three appeared to be largely intact, although it was noted that the wing mirrors on these three locos had been removed.

Class 37 – Details.

All Class 37s retain the old style GIF two-tone blue livery, with wing mirrors still carried by the six operational locomotives at Sant Feliu.
Class 37 TOPS no. Class 37 ‘L’ number
37703 L25
37714 L26
37716 L23
37718 L22
37799 L27
37800 L33
37801 L29
37883 L28
37884 L34

Final Comments.

Whilst a considerable amount of rail laying and track ballasting work has already been undertaken by the Class 58s and Class 37s on the new AVE high-speed lines, much work still remains, particularly east of Albacete into Alicante, east of Chiva into Valencia, and east of Sant Feliu de Buixalleu towards the French border. Opportunities to see the British "ex-pats" in operation will be there for quite a few months yet, although it has to be said that the current £/Euro exchange rate does make such visits a somewhat expensive proposition!

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