The Lucainena to Agua Amarga line

Part two, the Railway Line and the Ship Loading Bay

The main line to Agua Amarga

Bridge Bridge Looking towards Agua Amarga

Starting at Lucainena station the line passed over a road via a level crossing. This, like many of the time, used chains but later had them replaced by counterweighted barriers. The line started by following the Alias Rambla (AKA the Lucainenea Rambla) on the right hand side. There were a number of small rivers which were crossed by bridges. The three pictures above show the trackway and two bridges a short way from Lucainena.The bridge on the left is next to the house of Frank and Sheena Selkirk, who kindly took me round.


In 2008 some 5km of the trackway from Lucainena station was converted into a "Via Verde" (green way). It has been very well done, with both a cycle track and a footpath. There are maps, signs and rest areas along the way. A minor road was even diverted to make way for the via. The pictures show A map of the route and my companions Catherine and Frank when we walked the route in November 2009.

Bridge 1 Tunnel Bridge 2

The pictures above show the remains of two bridges and a tunnel along the next section which follows the newly surfaced road to Polopos. The first is near the hamlet of Los Olvillos and is called, I believe, the Rafael Bridge. In about a kilometre is a 100m tunnel, the only one on the line. The second bridge was where the road turns left to Polopos (I know it doesn't look like it from the picture, but it does!) and the line turned right towards Venta del Pobre.In a couple of kilometres the line crossed the main road to Almeria (now the motorway) near to Venta del Pobre. The next station was here, called Camarillas (now destroyed and covered by a factory).

At this point the gradient became very gentle as it crossed the Nijar Plain. There was one more station before Agua Amarga, at the hamlet of La Palmerosa.

Bridge over La P La P towards Luc

I haven't yet found the exact location of La Palmerosa station, but this must be near as it is opposite La Palmerosa farm. A bridge crosses the Rambla La Palmerosa here. The view from the bridge leads back towards Lucainena.

La P La P towards Agua Towards Agua Towards Luc

Four views of the trackway from La Palmerosa towards Agua Amarga. The line crosses several embankments and cuttings here.

Towards Agua 2 Towards Mesa Roldan Via Verde

Nearer to Agua Amarga the line took a wide sweep to keep the gradient slight. On the left, Agua Amarga is in the distance. In the centre, the sweep of the track is seen, with the flat top of Mesa Roldan in the distance.

For the final approach (right) to Agua Amarga the line was flat as can be seen from this picture of the trackway just before it reaches the Cargadero (behind). The distant view is of the Sierra Alhamilla where Lucainena is situated some 30 km away (by rail).

Agua Amarga

These were built by taking advantage of the Calareno barranco which sloped down from the Nijar Plain to the sea. Enormous deposits were built in its interior. They were conical and had a capacity of 45,000 tons. There were also auxiliary deposits built underground on the right-hand slopes, see picture below.

In the upper part of the workings, some 80m above sea level, the main line finished. At the top, the line split. One branch continued on the level along the edge of the barranco. Its purpose was to fill the auxiliary underground hoppers via the small branches to the train's left. It also connected with an inclined plane that went down to Agua Amarga (Shown as "oil store" in the picture). This plane brought coal for the ovens, wood for heating, machinery, foodstuff and other essential goods for the miners. It was all brought from ships moored near to the coast. At the bottom were fuel oil stores for the Lucainena generator.

Plan of Amarga Cargadero

The second branch continued down the barranco by means of a 231m inclined plane. It dropped 40m and operated in successive sets of six wagons, three loaded going down and three empty going up.

At the foot of the plane, lines branched out, some linked with the underground deposit, while others fed, via metal bridges, the main hoppers. Mineral was taken from the auxiliary hoppers to the main ones by wagons pushed by six or seven men, since there were no engines at the bottom of the inclined plane.

Under the main hoppers were access tunnels, in which were 600mm lines. Wagons were filled with ore, then moved, again by hand, to the pier. The distance was 166m. Four arms went to the main hopper and one to the exterior.

The last part of the journey by land was across a great metal bridge. This was an inverted (rails on top) cantilever bridge that extended 70m over the sea and 14m above it. It was built by Miravalles who constructed cantilever bridges all over Spain (see the Bedar and Almagrera lines). The bridge carried four lines, two out and two back. At the end were chutes, which discharged the ore directly into the hold of the ship.

Along the top are the ruins of the harbour-master’s house, the telephone exchange and various offices.

Inclined plane

This is a view of showing the path of the inclined plane leading to the main hoppers. Above is the side of the barranco along which the track to the auxiliary hoppers and the Agua Amarga ran. Some of the ruined buildings can be seen as can the wall of one of the auxiliary hoppers.

Main_hopper1 Main_hopper2 Main_hopper3 Main_hopper4

Various views of the main hoppers.

Auxilliary hoppers Track to aux. hopper Exit from main hopper Cantilever support

Left two pictures. Entrance to one of the Auxiliary hoppers and the trackway leading to it.

Right two pictures. Exit from the main hopper showing path of 600mm trackway and the end of the 600mm line where the support for the cantilever bridge can still be seen.


Like the GSSR, water was a big problem due to impurities causing blockages in the boiler tubes. However the CMSA had the advantage that it had more engines than operationally required, so it could afford to have half the fleet undergoing maintenance and half in operation.

The line had two types of steam engine, 040s for mine work and 064 or 062s for the main line.

The four 040 engines.

The first two were built by Sachsische Maschinenfabrik of Chemnitz. They were called Gracia and Visto respectively and were sent to the CMSA at Lucainena. They seem to have disappeared without trace early on.

The other 040s were constructed by Sharp-Stewart of Glasgow. In 1895/6 they were given the names Manuela and El Negro. They later were sent to Setares mine (Cantabria).

The three 064 and two 062s

The British firm Nasmyth Wilson built the first three engines, called Lucainena, Nijar and Agua Amarga in 1895. The construction numbers were 464-466. They had two large side tanks that extended right to the front of the engine. The cabin was large and contained a coal bunker at the rear. Since there were no turntables on the line, the engines always operated the same way – pointing towards Lucainena. So when travelling with loaded wagons by travelling backwards they acted like 460’s or 260’s.

In 1896 the fleet was augmented by a new engine from Hasslet, works number 659. It was of type 062T and given the name Carboneras (a nearby fishing town).

The history of this engine did not finish with the closure of the Lucainena line. It went to the Hulleras de Riosa Society of Asturia. Here it towed coal from the mines near to La Foz to the washing area of La Pereda. It was scrapped before the closure of this line in 1970.

I found reference to the Hunslet engine’s final destination in a document on the web by R S Fraser.



(During the course of two weeks’ wanderings in Northern Spain during June 1962 the writer and his two friends, Geoff Hooper and Peter Pearce, discovered many industrial railways of varying gauges previously unknown to British enthusiasts.)

“Standing out of use in a siding we found a Henschel 0-4-0 side tank and an outside-framed Hunslet 0-6-2 side tank (659 of 1896), the latter being supplied originally to the Sierra Alhamilla line in Southern Spain.”

The following is a translation from part of a Spanish site on the Riosa mine in Northern Spain. It also deals with the Hunslet machine.

“This locomotive, of type 062 T, was built by Hunslet Engines in 1896 for the mining railroad of Lucainena de las Torres, to Agua Amarga, in Almería. It arrived at La Pereda at the end of the fifties, although is unknown if it saw service on another line between the closure of the Lucainena line and then. It was a very large locomotive, weighed 27 tons in service, and the last one to arrive at this line. In its initial operations it was called Carboneras but in Riosa it was known as Mariona. It used Walschaerts gearing.

It was a machine too wide for 750 mm gauge, which caused it to overturn frequently; however, its size permitted it to develop a great power. It had an exterior frame and the wheels were stable with exterior counterweights. Its original cabin was modified to allow for the tunnels that had reduced clearance.

When it arrived it underwent a complete overhaul. The cab was rebuilt to take account of the height of the tunnels. However it had adhesion problems because the wheel bands had worn with use the use and the wheels slipped. The problem was solved with new bands. It was an older machine than the others and looked it.”

An additional 062 was added in 1902. This was built in Scotland by Sharp-Stewart, who built the 040’s. This was bought because of the increase in traffic caused by the exploitation of new seams.

The works number of the Sharp was 4,924. It was bigger and more powerful than the rest of the fleet. In fact this extra size caused problems because it tended to widen the tracks on bends. It was named Perelejos after the second station on the line. Later the name was changed to Rivas after one of the directors of the company. During the final years of the line it was used infrequently due to its weight. However it was known to have pulled a 40 wagon train, twice that of normal trains. It was painted in the same colours as the 064’s (red and black). The driving wheels had a diameter of just under 0.8m.

Rolling stock

As might be expected most of the stock comprised ore wagons. They were fairly basic, box shaped, with openings at the end rather than the side, thus they always had to face the same way for discharging at Agua Amarga. They were painted red and carried the CMSA emblem on the side. The company had over 150 of them. Because the main line, the loading bay lines and the mining lines were all the same gauge (750 mm), the wagons could be used almost anywhere.

There were a couple of passenger coaches. One was for staff, the other was used to go to bullfights.

All the rolling stock had a single central buffer.

The railway also had a platform wagon that was used on occasions for special merchandise.

The final stretch of line from the Agua Amarga hoppers to the cantilever pier was, however, different. The gauge was 600 mm and the trucks, manually operated, all had hand brakes.

Select here to go back to part 1 Lucainena.


Trenes cables y minas de Almería. In Spanish by José Antonio Gómes Martinez and José Vicente Coves Navarro.

Nasmyth Wilson and Co by John Cantrell gives the history of the company that built three of the engines.

©Copyright Don Gaunt

Click here to go to the Home Page