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The Secondary Railway Huelva Ayamonte: Its Origin and Construction

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Document pages: 22 pages

Abstract: A few years before the loss of Spain’s last colonies overseas civil society and political powers in the province of Huelva made a joint bid for the construction of a secondary railway between the capital and Ayamonte. They were well aware of both their peripheral location and their laggard situation within the country and aimed at improving their chances with a means of transport that epitomized both modernity and advancement. At this time, the standard-gauge (1,668 mm) [5’ 52 ⁄3”] rail network in Spain had already acquired a tree-like shape. Now it was the time for the construction of secondary lines to bring the benefits of modernity to the countryside and feed the main lines. A bit out of the frame, this railway would ultimately be a standard-gauge one; so strong was the willing of their promoters to do not jeopardize its continuity with the main network. The railway Huelva Ayamonte via Gibraleón, despite its inception in the late 19th century was an enterprise of the 20th century; subjected to the same circumstances and upheavals of this period in Europe. The First World War would bring a huge blow to the coastal line then in construction. The French industrialists undertaking its construction halted the works in face of their government ban on capital exports. Also, the European hostilities made the financial environment deeply unrestful and this railway was clearly marginal for them: their priority was the complete freeze on investments. As a result, the construction – scheduled for three years – would last almost 20 years. Incidentally, the line was finished in the eave on the Spanish Civil War; it was seized by the rebels in August 1936 who put it to military use. In a context of extreme hardship and widespread shortages, at the onset of the second European war, the line was opened for civilian use, both passengers and freight, in early 1940.

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