Machine and carriages are being made in England, but businessman promises to recover old locomotives from CP. There are already criticisms: "They are in our collective memory for the films of Indians and cowboys, but in America. Not in Trás-os-Montes. "
The tourist train that the group Douro Azul intends to circulate in the Linha do Tua raised a wave of indignation in the social networks because the locomotive, typically American, seems brought out of Disneyland. The comments refer to the "tackiness" of the machine, in the absence of a more "historical and cultural" view of this tourist project and the blog Aventar even states that "there is in Europe a single railway tourism project pulled by an amusement park train".
Despite some compliments for the entrepreneurship of Mário Ferreira (owner of the Douro Azul), his detractors accuse him of ignoring that there are several locomotives of the CP that circulated in the rails of the line of the Tua and that now lie abandoned, to rot.
Contacted by the Portuguese newspaper Público, Douro Azul explained that the locomotive bought in England is "green" because it will have gas oil and not coal as fuel. The result is the same: the water in the boiler is heated and the resulting steam will move the wheels of the locomotive. A solution that, moreover, is also used by the CP in the historic train of Douro.
Official source of the Douro Azul said that "the circulation of the coal-fueled historic train would be limited due to the safety conditions in times of high temperatures, a situation that was sought to avoid" and explains the option for this locomotive.
However, the company says it has already planned the recovery and reactivation of an old steam locomotive in partnership with the National Railway Museum to operate "in some activities that reinforce the identity of that line."
But at this stage, the Tua Express inspired by the trains of Uncle Sam will circulate from the next spring between Mirandela and Brunheda, in the 33 kilometers of the narrow road of the Tua that survived the dam. The remaining 20 are submerged.
The four carriages that will be part of the composition of this train are made of wood and also come from England.
The tourist project costs 15 million euros, divided between 10 million paid by EDP (as the counterparts for the construction of the dam) and 5 million by Mystic Invest, the holding company that owns Douro Azul.
The Tua train will run throughout the year, with an offer adapted to the seasonal peaks, and will be open regular passenger service to respond to local mobility. This was one of EDP's counterparts for the destruction of the Tua line connecting the Foz Tua station to Mirandela. Now a boat will be needed to be part of the course, which is already ordered. Público has learned that it will be a replica of a rabelo boat.
António Brancanes, president of APAC (Portuguese Association of Friends of the Railways) told Público that "it is praiseworthy for a private initiative to take advantage of a railway section that was out of service because it is a way to value the region's railway memory and of potentiating more tourist visits ". The leader waits until initiatives of this nature make school in other areas of the country, especially in the Alentejo, where there are many rail lines closed and where tourism has been increasing. But as for the locomotive, António Brancanes says that the design chosen has nothing to do with Portugal, not even with Europe. "It is a typical American machine and it would have been good if an option were made for a material that had a greater approximation to the identity of what the Portuguese locomotives were," he says.
We understand that the existing CP locomotives that could be used in the Tua are ancient and maintenance costs are very high for a regular tourist operation, but this proposal of the Douro Azul is not the best," he added.
The controversy has overtaken the circles of railroad enthusiasts who, of course, speak out against what they call the Disneyland convoy and social networks insist that an American locomotive has nothing to do with the European and Portuguese railroad culture.
Even the non-experts distinguish the old American steam engines from the European ones. The Americans have an unusually tall and wide chimney, a fairly large pavilion (booth) and boast the typical cows away. "They are part of our collective memory for Indian and cowboy movies. But in America. Not in Trás-os-Montes, "says the APAC president.