Report - - Canfranc International Railway Station, Spain, August 2016 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Canfranc International Railway Station, Spain, August 2016


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Located just over the border from France I had read about this place on the web and when it turned out to be an hour-and-a-half’s drive from where we were staying it was a no-brainer. Until 2006 it was a free-for-all but since then it has been fenced-off and re-roofed. Now more money has become available and the place is now slowly getting restored. The only way in is via a private small group tour. We pre-booked on to the tour and saw all the work they were doing on the booking hall. We wandered off to the more derelict bits of the station when we got the chance. In some ways the tour was a bit disappointing. Far more interesting were the extensive other buildings which were just abandoned and free to access so we just wandered round. These are going to go in a separate report next as there is too much to fit in one report.

The history:

Canfranc International Railway is a former international railway station in the village of Canfranc in the Spanish Pyrenees, at one end of the Somport railway tunnel. It was the border station for the Pau–Canfranc railway which went under the Pyrenees. It opened in 1928 and the main building was 240 metres long with has 300 windows and 156 doors. The origins of the line go back to a decade before then the construction of the Somport railway tunnel (no slouch at 7,875 meters in length) was inaugurated in July 1912. After delays in its construction due to World War I, it was finally completed in 1915.

The Spanish project engineer Ramírez de Dampierre began construction of the station in 1923. It was formally opened five years later on 18th July, 1928, in the presence of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and French president Republic Gaston Doumergue making it the largest train station in Europe. The size of the station necessitated the transfer of all transiting passengers, baggage and freight between Spanish and French trains due to the incompatibly of the French rail standard gauge with the Spanish gauge thus preventing through-traffic. Aside from the impressive passenger hall there were a luxurious international hotel, custom offices, an infirmary, bars and restaurants, as well as SNCF and RENFE offices. The greater site also included a large engine depot, two sheds for the trans-shipment of freight between French and Spanish trains and a variety of other outbuildings. The line was never profitable thanks to the 1929's Great Depression, a large fire in 1931 and 1936's Spanish civil war. During World War II the Spanish authorities came to an agreement with the Nazi German Wehrmacht authorities that passenger train services should continue. The Resistance would even dynamite some of the railway bridges on the French side in 1944. Non-military traffic returned in 1948. However the station's purpose ended in 1970 when a derailment demolished a bridge on the French side. The brakes of a loaded freight train failed, destroying a bridge before coming to rest in a mountain stream without killing anyone. The SNCF were under financial pressure and decided not to rebuild the bridge resulting in the cross-border line closing abruptly. Despite this, RENFE continued to run a handful of trains a day including two to Zaragoza. Additionally in 1985, the abundant space below the earth, lead to Spanish physicists opening the Canfranc Underground Astroparticle Laboratory, with an entrance beneath the station and movable labs setup on the old railway tunnels.

The site the greets the visitor:

img6306 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6288 by HughieDW, on Flickr

There’s a fort on the hill too (more on that in a later report):

img6307 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The booking hall is being painstakingly restored:

img6291 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6310 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This bit has been restored:

img6311 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This bit hasn’t:

img6314 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The impressive wooden ticket booths:

img6322 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the marble-faced fuse box:

img6312 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Out back is a vandalised railway carrage:

img6315 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6325 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Forget the internals – it’s the externals that make this place:

img6323 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6340 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the impossibly long canopy’s iron-work:

img6335 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6292 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6341 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6346 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6305 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The contrast between the restored and the derelict is a fascinating vertical juxtaposition:

img6303 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This little building on the end is also quite interesting:

img6302 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6352 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6290 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6304 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And this little shed too:

img6293 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6349 by HughieDW, on Flickr

These goods platforms are equally photogenic:

img6295 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6297 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img6299 by HughieDW, on Flickr

More on where these tracks lead to in the next report…

img6300 by HughieDW, on Flickr


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Really liking the look of this place, looking forward to your next report. No pics of the hall in it's entirety?
I was wondering the same about your lens, cheers for clearing it up :thumb


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Quality pics :thumb A wide angle zoom is great for this game but the telephoto end of yours (216mm in real money) certainly was very useful and produced very nice results.