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I'm trying to plan a trip from Northern Portugal to Southern France in the summer, I have 4-5 days to make the journey, so I'm not in a rush, and instead want to enjoy/explore along the way.

I have found there is a narrow gauge railway running along the northern coast of Spain. This was formerly the Renfe Feve, but now seems to be called Cercanias AM.

I've found this map https://www.renfe.com/content/dam/renfe/es/Viajeros/Secciones/Cercanias/Mapas/feve/map_ferrol_oviedo_gijon.png which shows regional routes along the line.

But when I search for a timetable, I can only find the commuter routes, so for instance I can only find trains between Ferrol and Ortigueira and not any trains going further east along the line. https://www.renfe.com/es/en/suburban/cercanias-am/horarios (This is the page that is linked for timetables).

I also can't seem to find them in other search engines (deutsche bahn doesn't give me any trains, and thetrainline suggests a bus). Googlemaps does seem to suggest trains on this route, but I'd rather have another, more authorative source, for timings before I book accommodation en route that might not be possible.

Any ideas on how to plan ahead and work out what is feasible on this trip?

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    Have you contacted Cercanias AM directly to ask them your questions?
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 14 at 16:40

4 Answers 4

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Partial answer.

  1. "Cercanías" ("commuter trains") may be a misleading search key here (even if that is the name of the train operator), "Media Distancia" might give more results.

  2. Good news: The Spanish north coast lines do not appear to have been closed down silently (or to be "temporarily out of service"), at least not now (May 2024).

    The public infrastructure company Adif provides arrival & departure timetables for all of their train stations, including Ferrol, Oviedo, Santander, and Bilbao Concordia. Make sure to select "AV / Media distancia / Larga distancia" ("AV / Medium distance / Long distance", and not "Cercanías"), and you will find train schedules spanning the entire trip Ferrol–Oviedo–Santander–Bilbao in two or three days.

    While appearing quite authoritative (and including both scheduled and actual times), the Adif timetables unfortunately seem to refer to "today" (or to the next 24 hours) only, so there is no information about next week or next summer. Google finds official RENFE leaflets 1, 2 from 2022 presenting the same train schedules — and a phone number.

  3. Train information east of Bilbao (Matiko or Zazpikaleak stations – Euskotren, thanks @DavidRecallsMonica, then SNCF) is easily accessible, e.g. through Deutsche Bahn.

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RENFE appears to have a not-very-maintained website with schedules and fares still available for all meter-gauge lines, including the ones not on the main RENFE journey planner. Combined with the resources mentioned in Jan Blumschein's answer, you should be able to use this to make a high-level plan for your journey, and then follow up at the train stations for any information still missing.

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  • It does not seem to like routes that are too long or have too many changes. Try it with Ferrol to Oviedo, then Oviedo to Santander, then Santander to Bilbao.
    – Henry
    Commented May 16 at 1:35
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The Man in Seat 61 says that Euskotren runs narrow-gauge local trains from Hendaye & Irun on the French border to San Sebastian & Bilbao.

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  • Unless I'm missing something, this is a different line than the one being asked about in the question.
    – mlc
    Commented May 15 at 6:52
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    The OP asked about narrow-gauge RR along Spain's north coast from the Portuguese to the French border. Euskotren runs the NE part of that coast. Commented May 15 at 21:42
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Wow, this is really surprisingly hard to find! The metre gauge services are not listed in the main Renfe journey planner and not listed in European timetables either!

Some useful links:

Spanish language Wikipedia provides an overview of the metre gauge lines. Not an actual timetable, but you can see the lines and frequencies of services.

There is also a special Renfe timetable lookup tool for their metre gauge trains, but (surprise!) many services are not listed there. Of all north coast trains, only the commuter trains between Ferrol and Ortigueira are listed. The long-distance metre-gauge trains (lines R1f, R2f, R3f and R4f) are also not listed at all.

Practical solution:

Well, I'd recommend Google Maps. It's without guarantee, but it worked for me in Ukraine when everything else failed (Ukrainian commuter train timetables are also impossible to find online). In any case, you can cross-check the suggested timetables with the information from the Renfe lookup tool. Here's an example timetable for the Ortigueira station:

enter image description here

This station is serviced by trains of two different lines. The Ortigueira to Ferrol trains are also listed on the Renfe website and their departures do match, which gives me a reasonable level of confidence.

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  • Better than to have nothing, but – OP explicitly asks for something more authoritative than Google Maps. Commented May 15 at 13:21
  • @JanBlumschein I understand. I've added some more information regarding that. Commented May 15 at 14:23

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