We ensure that each annual edition of Europe by Rail is bang up-to-date and correct at the moment it is sent off to the printers. But train schedules change and sometimes we are caught out. And that is what has just happened with Route 9 in the book. This route is a fabulous transect across the Iberian peninsula from Barcelona to Lisbon. It takes in some of Spain's finest cities along the way: Madrid, Toledo, Cáceres, Trujillo, Mérida and more.
The route as published in the 2011 edition of the book was facilitated by the reopening in December 2009 of the cross-border rail link from Badajoz in Spain to Elvas in Portugal. And we thought that link was secure and so Route 9 also features, in much the same form, in the 2012 edition of Europe by Rail, which is now at the printers.
We have just heard that the rail service from Badajoz across the border to Elvas and beyond was withdrawn last week. A pity, but this is not a catastrophe for travellers following Route 9 in Europe by Rail. True, you will now need to take a bus to complete the journey. A local bus company in Badajoz operates about six buses a day from Badajoz to Elvas on Mondays to Fridays only. That company is called Empresa Ruiz SA. From Elvas, Portuguese bus operator Rede Expressos has a good onward bus service to Lisbon (several times daily).
And two other companies, Avanta and ALSA, both operate limited stop express services across the border at Badajoz. These services are best pre-booked. What we really like about these Avanta and ALSA bus links is that they nicely tie together several cities in the Madrid to Lisbon section of Route 9, in some cases giving better journey options than were ever possible by train. Trujillo in our route always required a bus anyway (for it is not on any rail route). And now the bus comes to the rescue to bridge the gap left in route 9 by the closure of the cross-border rail link at Badajoz.
Actually, using the bus creates some new opportunities that were never available by train. We would have loved to include Évora in Route 9. It is a wonderful Portuguese city half way between Badajoz and Lisbon, though not on or near the rail route described in the book. But there is a regular bus from Badajoz to Lisbon via Évora, as shown in the timetable below. If you are tempted to stop off at Évora, there are plentiful local buses from Évora on to Lisbon. There are about hourly, and the journey takes 90 minutes. You will find schedules for the Évora to Lisbon route (and indeed many other journeys between Portuguese cities) at www.rede-expressos.pt.
We have checked the timetable details below with the relevant operators. They are correct at 12 January 2012. But of course bus schedules change (just as rail timetables do). We cannot guarantee that this timetable of cross-border bus links will be valid throughout 2012. If you do find it has changed, please let us know and we shall gladly update the information provided here.
Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner
Editors: Europe by Rail
|From Spain to Portugal via Badajoz|
|Madrid Estación Sur||SP||1000||1200||2100||2300|
|Montemor o Novo||PT||1800||0300||0445|
|Lisboa Sete Rios||PT||1800||0630|
Correct at 12 January 2012
|From Portugal to Spain via Badajoz|
|Lisboa Sete Rios||PT||0900||2130|
|Montemor o Novo||PT||1200||2140||2300|
|Madrid Estación Sur||SP||1930||2010||0515||0630|
Correct at 12 January 2012
* The Avanza overnight bus from Lisboa to Madrid does not stop at Merida on Sunday mornings. SP = Spain PT = Portugal. All times shown are local. Spanish time is one hour later than Portuguese time
Avanza Services: See www.avanzabus.com for more information, including details of fares and the pick-up and drop-off points in each town.
ALSA services: see www.alsa.es for more information, including details of fares and the pick-up and drop-off points in each town.
|A||Runs daily. Operated by Avanza.|
|B||Runs daily. Operated by ALSA.|
|C||Runs Mondays to Fridays only. Operated by Avanza.|
|D||Runs Mondays to Fridays only. In the months of July and August runs one hour earlier and operates Mondays to Saturdays. Operated by Avanza.|
|E||Runs Mondays to Fridays. Also runs Sundays except in the months of July and August. Operated by Avanza.|
|F||Runs Mondays to Saturdays except in the months of July and August when operates only on Saturdays. Operated by Avanza.|
The bus operator Empresa Ruiz SA operates up to six journeys on Mondays to Fridays only from Badajoz to Elvas and vice versa. The journey time is 30 minutes and the one-way fare €1.50. Telephone (in Badajoz): 924 23 73 03.
The bus operator Rede Expressos operates seven journeys daily from Elvas to Lisbon and vice versa. The journey time varies between 2h 45m and 3h 20m. Times and fares are on www.rede-expressos.pt.