The International Steam Pages

Portuguese Mallets - The Sabor Line

This page illustrates examples of articulated steam locomotives - click here for the introduction to Mallet locomotives.

Part 3 - The Sabor Line

James Waite was a regular visitor to Portugal in the late 1970s, much as I was doing with Indonesian Mallets at the same time. He writes:

These are on the Sabor line, the farthest east of the Douro ng lines and much the most difficult for gricing. It's also the only one which has completely disappeared. The line began at Pocinho not far short of Barca d'Alva, where the main main Douro line crossed into Spain. Pocinho was a bleak place in the 1970's. There was no proper village there and it must originally have been just a station and junction for the ng in the middle of nowhere. By the 1970's it had become the centre of a comstruction site for workers on new dams in the Douro to produce hydroelectricity. They were housed in temporary huts on the hillside around the station. There was still nowhere proper to eat. The nearest town was Torre de Moncorvo, ten miles or so away by narrow, winding mountain road and several hundred feet higher up and we stayed in a small hotel there. Only the daily mixed train was steam, the others being worked by the CP's tiny 4-wheeled railcars.

The line left Pocinho and immediately crossed the Douro by a huge 2-level girder bridge, the main north-south road being on the lower level. There followed a long, winding and steep bank to Moncorvo station, about half an hour's run on the steam train. Here the line levelled out somewhat but it was still very curvy, even on stretches where there seemed to be no reason for the curves. Clearly it was liine built on the cheap. Further east it entered a very barren stretch of countryside which continued through Mogadouro, the main intermediate station which was so far from the town after which it was named that a separate settlement grew up there. This is probably the poorest and least densely populated part of the country - a really bleak area. The terminus was at a place called Duas Igrejas, in the middle of nowhere and about 6 or 7 miles of flat, level road from Miranda do Douro which is the largest town in that part of Portugal. There never seemed to be any reason why it didn't go all the way there - presumably its builders just never quite finished it.

The mixed train left Pocinho very early in the morning, before sunrise even in mid-summer. The train was booked to take most of the day to reach Duas Igrejas though on at least one occasion when some friends of ours travelled it in the early 1980's it took some 24 hours.

The star attraction at Pocinho was E182, one of two 2-4-6-0 Mallet tanks with a quite different history from the rest of them and several design differences as well. It was built as Porto-Povoa e Famalicao no. 17 (Henschel 19827/1923) and is now preserved at Valencia. 

These photos are from June 1978. They start with the outbound mixed worked by E204 (Henschel 10344/1911), two views on the winding stretch approaching Moncorvo.

and then on the more level stretch east of there. 

We moved on from there to the the Tua line to catch the morning train on the Romeu viaduct, the middle bit of which was more easily approached in those days from Pocinho than from anywhere else, and returned to the Sabor line in the afternoon at Mogadouro to see the westbound mixed with E206 (Henschel 10344/1914), pic 873. 

These are between Mogadouro and Moncorvo, 


This is at Moncorvo station 

These are of the train approaching Pocinho. 

There E182 was brewing up to work the mixed train the following morning (899 and 900). 

E182 setting off the following morning well before sunrise, not an easy photo to take!

Rob Dickinson