Last weekend, the provincial RR association organized a two-day trip over the Ferrocarril de La Robla line, and we cannot miss this opportunity to patronize this interesting narrow gauge, coal-dragger RR. I will post a few pics and info about the La Robla, and I hope you will enjoy them (and forgive my bad english, too). First, a bit of history. The Ferrocarril de La Robla was built between 1890 and 1894, from the coal mines around La Robla (León province) to Bilbao (Vizcaya province capital city). Soon it was extended to serve also León, the capital city of the same name province. Its purpose was to carry the cheap and quality León coal to the Bilbao industries (when the english coal ship-carried to Bilbao turned expensive), running West-East in northern Spain. With the progressive abandonment of the coal use, the line decayed and, eventually, was taken under state management by FEVE (Ferrocarriles Españoles de Via Estrecha). The coal mining, as in other Europe sites, were left in "maintenance explotation", that is, the minimal explotation to satisfy the needs (usually, only powerplants) and to assure the facilities maintenance. In 1991 FEVE dropped the passenger service between Bilbao and León, but it was resumed the past month, to big joy of railfans. With 340 kilometers (212 miles) of main line, this is the longest metric gauge line in explotation in Western Europe. As said, the RR was built to move coal, and the coal didn't need to travel fast and comfy, so the line have lots of turns (between 100-140 meters of radius) and ramps of 2% (this in the main line, in the branches can be still more windy and slopier). It runs across very mountainous areas, and for reduce building costs, it turned around the mountains, avoiding expensive tunneling when possible. That all makes it a very scenic line (in fact, a branch of the "Transcantabrico" luxury train run over La Robla line!). We are in Cistierna station. These are two of ten General Electric U10B locomotives purchased by La Robla in 1964 (now, FEVE #1508 and #1502). Nicknamed "Gecos", this sturdy locos marked the end of steam in La Robla, replacing the compound Garrats and other powerful steamers needed to drag the coal. La Robla had lots of different steam locomotives, ranging from the 100-tons Garrats to the 26-tons 0-3-1 "Belgas pequeñas" ("Tiny belgians"), with Decapods, Pacifics..., in between, but regretably only a few have survived.