As a family we are known for taking active sightseeing holidays, albeit at a casual pace, alternating approximately two years in the United Kingdom and one year in the United States. Whenever possible sightseeing will take in things of railway interest - always within the limitations being accompanied by a wife and two daughters of course! However in 2001, having endured indifferent weather in the UK the previous year and not having saved enough for the US, we decided for a change to go somewhere else and do something different. "Sun and sand" holidays are not our normal thing, but recalling a very good holiday in a villa in the Algarve in 1987 when the girls were much much younger we decided to give the Algarve another try. We are glad we did as it proved to be every bit as good as 14 years earlier.
However what to do about railways as Portugal is not known for its prolific railway attractions? Well a true railway enthusiast will always seek out the local action somehow...and I recalled the meandering local railway line I saw in 1987. The Algarve Railway - Linha do Algarve - is a combination of the former Ramal de Lagos and Linha do Sul, these lines opening in stages from 1899. It is broad gauge (5ft 6in) and it runs between Lagos in the west and Vila Real de Santo António (close to the border with Spain) in the east. It threads its way, mostly single track, in the countryside several kilometers in from the coast. It is connected to the rest of the Portuguese Railway network at Tunes.
At the time of our visit services were part of the CP - Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses - Regional network. This is not an in-depth study, just some delightful glimpses taken whilst on a family holiday. I hope you enjoy what you see as much as I did observing this bucolic operation. Even whilst I was there, in this hardened commercial age I wondered how long it would be allowed to remain like this?
Somewhat unusually for us we returned just two years later. Soon after leaving Faro Airport we could see signs of modernisation, with masts for electrification being erected. The station at Lagos was being rebuilt into a more compact layout, clearly to release land for re-development. As I revise these pages a further five years later, I wonder what it is like now?