Always popular with British enthusiasts, the Douro Valley in Portugal has been without any working steam for some years. Lionel Price reports on the return of steam to this scenic route.
Working steam has returned to the CP (Comboios de Portugal) main line system this summer with the return to service of 1925-built Henschel 2-8-4T No. 0186 (works number 19895).
This follows completion of its major overhaul, which has kept it out of service for several years, and which has included the provision of a new boiler built in Barcelona.
The locomotive had previously been fired with coal, the use of which gave rise to claims from landowners arising from alleged lineside fires caused by spark emission, but as the locomotive is now oil-fired, and its rebuild has included provision of improved spark arresting equipment, it is hoped that the problem of lineside fires will cease.
Still having the distinction of being the only operational steam locomotive in Portugal, No. 0186 is one of a batch of 10 originally built for mixed traffic use.
This summer season has seen the locomotive once again powering the ‘Douro Historical Train’, with the locomotive reunited a rake of five nicely restored vintage four-wheel coaches, which are used for the established tourist train operation on the 36km stretch of the Douro valley main line between Regua and Tua.
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