davThe Ferrocarril del Norte (Northern Railway) puts Zumarraga in a strategic position

The Madrid-Irun line was officially opened in 1864. To do this the river Urola had to be diverted. There were expropriations, the Zubi-berria bridge, the medicinal water spring at Loidi, a popular Basque pelota court and the Jauregi mill were demolished. Despite this, Zumarraga contributed money to it through municipal and popular fundraising.

The broad-gauge Northern railway reached Zumarraga with an activity basically devoted to farming and livestock.

The first Spanish international railway was inaugurated on 15 August 1864 attended by Queen Isabel II.

Zumarraga acts as a bridge between Bilbao and France

The Durango-Zumarraga railway, previously known as the Deba Railway, linked Bilbao with San Sebastian and France and connected with the Northern Railway. People changed trains in Zumarraga.

In 1906 it merged with the railway lines of other companies and the Compañía de los Ferrocarriles Vascongados, known as Los Vascos (The Basques), was formed.

It was officially opened on 26 August 1889. It was the first “metre gauge line” in Gipuzkoa because its rails were a metre wide.

The Vascongados was originally steam-driven until it was electrified in 1929.

The station of Los Vascos was demolished in 1988.

Roads overtake the train

The roads led to a fall in the number of passengers, so in 1972 they began to close stretches of the Ferrocarriles Vascongados.

Since 1982, these metre-gauge lines of Gipuzkoa have been accountable to the Basque Government under the name of Sociedad Pública Eusko Trenbideak.

The Urola Train, "our" train, linked the Goierri district with the coast

Set up on the initiative of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa after various attempts with private companies, it was the last railway to be built and the last to be closed down.

Officially opened by King Alfonso XIII on 22 February, 1926, it was welcomed by Basque dancers, Basque flute players and the Municipal Brass Band.

It was an electric railway from the moment it was opened.

The stations were all designed by the same architect: Ramón Cortazar.

On sweltering summer days Zumarraga town council launched a rocket. It was the way of announcing that "our" train was departing for Zumaia, the beach destination. For the price of a return fare one could go and have a dip in the sea.

The agreement between the Town Council and "our" train meant that many inhabitants of Zumarraga learnt to swim.

It ran five return train services a day.

It ran for the last time on 16 July 1986.

Now it is possible to travel along a short stretch as it has been rehabilitated as a tourist train.

The Zumarraga-Zumaia train was called the Urola Railway because it wove along the valley of the river bearing the same name.

The first tickets were bilingual ones. On one side the ticket was written in Spanish and on the back in Basque. This was done because the area crossed was one where the most Basque was spoken, so much so that there were many farmers who did not speak Spanish because of the topographical conditions of the country, which meant that they lived isolated in the mountains. In 1938 during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) these tickets were substituted for ones printed in Spanish only.

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