The Montserrat Rack Railway
Montserrat Rack Railway: a spectacular journey
Montserrat Rack Railway is the only mode of transport that will take you to the centre of the Monastery complex in Montserrat. During the 15-minute journey, the train winds its way through the mountain’s unique skyline, offering spectacular views. Through the panoramic windows you can admire the great beauty of the landscape that surrounds you on the journey from Monistrol to Montserrat.
The Rack Railway is designed to optimise passenger comfort, and both the train and the platforms are fully adapted for those with reduced mobility. Additionally, Monistrol-Vila station has a large and free car park with space for up to 1,000 cars and 70 coaches, a restaurant, and all of the services that visitors might need.
Trains on the Rack Railway usually depart every 20 minutes. At peak times, there are trains that provide a direct connection between Monistrol-Vila station and the Monastery.
If you travel by public transport to Monistrol de Montserrat station, from there you can take the Rack Railway directly up to Montserrat.
Whether travelling by train or car, it is important to check the timetable in order to plan your visit to Montserrat.
We also recommend that you visit the Montserrat Rack Railway exhibition, housed in a location of great cultural and historical importance.
History of Montserrat Rack Railway
The origins of Montserrat Rack Railway go back to the late nineteenth century and the need to improve access to the Monastery for worshippers and pilgrims.
Traditionally, the mountain was accessed via the road known as the Camí de Collbató. It was not until the second half of the century that a faster route was established as the result of the Ferrocarrils del Nord broad-gauge railway, which brought trains to Monistrol-Montserrat station. The opening of the railway made it possible to introduce a mail service, which took 3.5 hours to complete the route.
However, the lack of permanent transport links and the increased number of visitors led the engineer Joaquim Carrera, a devotee of both Montserrat and the Swiss mountain railways, to convince the businessman Josep M. González to build a rack railway connecting Monistrol station to the Monastery. Thus, in 1881, the Ferrocarrils de Muntanya a Grans Pendents was created.
Montserrat Rack Railway was opened on 6 October 1892 and within a short space of time it became the most popular railway in Catalonia. The journey from Monistrol station to the Monastery took 65 minutes.
The Rack Railway was such a revolutionary development because, by linking up with the Ferrocarrils del Nord, it enabled visitors to travel from Barcelona to Montserrat and back in a single day. Thus, it became an economic driver for its area of influence.
The dream of new rack railway
Montserrat’s old Rack Railway train made its last journey in 1957; however, the dream of seeing the railway return to operation never died. This desire, allied to the increase in visitor numbers and the consequent traffic congestion in the Natural Park, meant that during the 1980s the Government of Catalonia’s General Directorate of Transport and the FGC carried out several studies and looked at various options to resolve this transport issue.
The route of the Rack Railway
The Rack Railway’s route follows the track of the old railway for around five kilometres, four of which utilise the rack system. Between the stations of Monistrol-Vila and Montserrat, it ascends by nearly 550 metres.
The route starts at Monistrol de Montserrat station, which links to the R5 service on the FGC’s Llobregat-Anoia line. After leaving this station, the train reaches the Foradada Tunnel, where it also crosses the Centenari Bridge and the C-55 motorway before reaching the second station, Monistrol-Vila, where the rack section begins.
The route continues upwards through the Àngel Tunnel, which the old trains also used to pass through, and crosses the new bridge at the location of the old level crossing. Further on, the train crosses Guilleumes Bridge, from where you can admire the jagged profile of the mountain before going into the Apòstols Tunnel, which is the last tunnel on the line. The train then completes the final ascent up to the terminus, Montserrat station, which is located below Plaça de la Creu.
Route of the Rack Railway
Enjoy the best experiences