Fifteen years ago i was trying to choose a place to live more or less long-term in the Sierra de Guadarrama. I chose Cercedilla. And probably the principal reason for that choice was the mountain train.
This very special train leaves the town of Cercedilla – located in the NorthWest of Madrid province at 1160m above sea level – and climbs thru the central Sierra de Guadarrama area to reach the station of Cotos at 1820m. On the way it stops at Puerto de Navacerrada station (1770m) before passing thru a kilometre-long tunnel beneath “el Puerto” to come out on the Segovia side and continue to its final destination. Total distance covered is just over 18 kilometres with 660m of ascent, all in about 40 minutes.
The line from Cercedilla to Puerto de Navacerrada was inaugurated in 1923. José Aguinaga was the driving force behind its construction, thru the Sociedad Anónima del Ferrocarril Eléctrico del Guadarrama..the train was – and indeed to some still is – known as el Eléctrico (the Electric train) due to the fact that it was powered by electricity from an overhead cable or catenary. In the 1950s it was taken over by Renfe (Spain’s national rail company) and the extension of the line to Puerto de Cotos was carried out, opening in 1964.
A ride on this train any day is undoubtedly a different experience and when there is fresh snow in the mountains it can be quite amazing. Some might even say awesome! However it can be very crowded on Winter weekends and in recent times appears to be suffering from neglect..within the greater scheme of Renfe’s plans for global domination. Prices are ridiculously high, intermediate stops on the line have been suppressed, the rolling stock is getting old and inserviceable..all this within the context of the National Park where the train should make more sense than ever from a conservation point of view. There’s even a campaign to press Renfe to make improvements. Tough one!
I should add that it’s a train of many names, apart from el Eléctrico it’s also sometimes rather quaintly referred to as el tranvía (the tram)..and some even speak of “el funicular” which is just plain wrong, it is not and never was a funicular train. Recently it has been marketed as el tren de la naturaleza (the nature train), but I prefer to call it simply “the mountain train”..
More on the train and its history (in Spanish)..