ALICANTE TO DENIA - FGV
Compania de los Ferrocarriles Estrategicos y Secundarios de Alicante (ESA)
Alicante (Marina) - El Campello - Villajoyosa - Benidorm - Altea - Garganes - Calpe - Teulada - Gata - Denia
This line is by far and away the best known in the area to the foreign tourists who flock every year to the Costa Blanca, running, as it does, through the major resort of Benidorm. For this reason, its history, both recent and past, has been well documented. However, for the railway enthusiast such as myself, the line is a comparatively uninteresting one, having had a particularly stable and event free life. . . . .
. . . . Until now!! Just recently, a small Tranvia (modern tram) extension has opened in Alicante, and there are proposals to double and electrify the section between Alicante and Garganes, with the Garganes to Denia extension enjoying an improved service of modern diesel multiple units. As of 2010 this has more or less been completed.
ESA was formed as late as 1910 to construct a cheap railway from Villajoyosa to Denia, and a secondary line from Villajoyosa to Alicante. What the difference is, I'm not sure, but the lines have always operated as a single entity with a combined length of 94km. A branch from Gata to Javea was frequently mooted but never built.
The line opened from Alicante (Estacisn de la Marina) to Altea on 28th October 1914, and from Altea to Denia on 11th July 1915. An extension, both short and short lived, for freight only, from Alicante Marina to Alicante Puerto opened in 1939.
At Denia, ESA had its own station, separate from that of the Carcagente to Denia line, although there was a freight only connecting curve between the two lines. However, from October 1959, the curve started to be used for through trains between Alicante and Carcagente, and the ESA station finally closed in 1975. Ironically, by this time the CD had closed, leaving ESA as the only user of the old station until 1988, when it was closed and a splendid new terminal built on the site of the original ESA station, opening in 1995.
ESA was taken over by the state on 1st August 1964, passing to FEVE in the following year, and to FGV on 1-1-1988. FGV have relaid the track and refurbished the reliable but elderly M.A.N. railcars which work the line, and have improved punctuality, but the timetable remained essentially unchanged since FEVE days, with an hourly service between Alicante and Garganes (north of Altea), and seven trains daily going on to Denia, until very recently.
In recent years, the line has been diverted away from the coast at the Alicante end, the abandoned section being served by the new Tranvia, and several new halts opened, most significantly for the Terra Mitica theme park. Traffic levels are reaching saturation point, such is the success of the line with tourists.
Talking of tourists, mention must be made of the "Limon Expres". This was a train for (mainly foreign) tourists, running daily between Benidorm and Gata (where participants were shown round local industries), and formed of a former shunting locomotive built in 1959 for the CD coupled to replica coaches reminiscent of an earlier era but actually the newest stock on the line, having been constructed during the early 1990s using completely new bodies on a motley assortment of refurbished bogie chassis. Not that this m
For fares, maps and timetables, visit the
FGV Alicante Web site