Amador Bernat and Soller's train. Presented by TUI. (Video lasts 6 min 30 sec.) | Video by Nova Producciones

All aboard, please! The Soller train station in Palma is bustling. Families, young couples and groups queue up to get the best seats by the window. For many tourists, the ride on the historic ‘Tren de Sóller’ train is truly a highlight during their holiday in Mallorca.

Amador Bernat Poquet has been working as an engine driver on the Soller railway for eleven years. “My work makes people happy,” he says. Photos: Sibylle Tiessen

Amador Bernat Poquet is at the wheel. The Mallorcan has been working as an engine driver on the ‘Red Lightning’, as the train is also called, for eleven years. “My work makes people happy,” he says. As part of the video series “The Mallorcans” by the TV journalist Sibylle Tiessen, which is supported by the tourism group Tui and the initiative Tui Care Foundation, the film team accompanies Amador Bernat while he works.

Passengers waiting at the train station in Palma. A ride on the ‘Red Lightning’ is very popular.

If you are on holiday in the northwest of Mallorca, you won’t want to miss a ride on the traditional wooden railway. The 28-kilometre route from Palma to Soller takes an hour, passing orange and lemon groves, olive trees and flocks of sheep. The journey through the almost three-kilometre-long Alfàbia tunnel is also an experience. The passenger gets an insight into authentic Mallorcan village life in the village of Bunyola. For the construction of the Soller railway in 1912, various tunnels had to be made. One of them is just behind the station. There is also a stop with a bar, older trees and a view of the Tramuntana Mountains. Incidentally, because of the tunnel near the station, a local resident named his herbal liqueur distillery ‘Túnel’. It is today a very famous company in Mallorca, but the production facility is no longer in Bunyola; it was relocated to an industrial estate.

The highest point of the train route is in the 2876-metre-long crest tunnel. Immediately afterwards, the train stops at the Mirador del Pujol d’en Banya viewpoint above Soller. But the Soller railway is not only a popular tourist attraction, it also had an important economic significance early on.

Soller was mainly known for its numerous textile factories,” explains Armador Bernat. In the beginning, the train was mainly used to transport goods and food to the island’s capital. It was not until 1930 that the first tourist trip took place.

In 1912, the train started operations. At that time it had an important economic role.

The railway company was founded in 1905 as a private railway. The concession ran until 2011, and in 2005 it was extended by 50 years until 2055.

Related news

The railway line started operations in 1912 with steam locomotives pulling the trains. One year later, the ‘Tranvía’ tram between Soller and Puerto Soller came into being. Nowadays, the Soller railway has four main trains and three convoys. Each convoy consists of a total of six carriages. The historic tramway, which connects the port with the Soller valley, has six trains with eight carriages each.

Over the past decades, Soller has changed, says Amador Bernat. “When we were children, there weren’t so many cars here and not much public transport. Now the train rolls along the line daily several times a day. There are also buses, and the large tunnel connects Soller with the capital.”

The company has also grown significantly in recent years due to high demand. The Ferrocarril de Sóller SA railway company employs around 100 people. As well as train drivers, train attendants and maintenance workers, they are employed in departments such as accounting.

The train route passes right through the Tramuntana Mountains. One of the stops on the route is the village of Bunyola.

Between six and eight times a day during the high season, the train runs between Palma and the Tramuntana Mountains. The journey from Palma to Soller costs 18 euros, and seven euros is charged for the journey from Soller to the port. Alternatively, a combined ticket Palma- Soller-Palma can be purchased for a total of 25 euros. If you travel all the way to the harbour and also use the ‘Tranvía’ tram, you pay 32 euros.

Even though there are fewer tourists on the island during the winter, there is still a demand for trips on the Soller train in the cooler months of the year. Between November and February, however, the ‘Red Lightning’ takes a break as the tracks, switches and overhead power lines need to be maintained. Then it is not only quieter on the island, but also on the tracks.

And this is a time when Amador Bernat can take a holiday.

Cooperation with TUI

Support from the tourism industry: The project is sponsored by Europe's leading tourism group TUI. The company focuses on the potential of the tourism sector as an engine for social development, education and prosperity. The company promotes sustainable tourism in cooperation with local people.