It is the only way to get to Montserrat that leaves you right in the middle of the monastery, a 15-minute journey with a privileged and spectacular view of the mountain. The train has panoramic windows, which make the actual journey an interesting attraction. The trains are air-conditioned and they are completely wheelchair-friendly. The platforms are at the same level as the trains.
Monistrol-Vila train station has free parking for 1,000 cars and 70 coaches, with restaurant service allowing you to eat before going up or have your supper after the visit, with a shop, cash machine, public phone and toilets, all designed to make you feel welcome and give a great start to your Montserrat experience.
With departures every 20 minutes at peak times, the rack railway is at your disposal to carry you straight to the very heart of the monastery.
Don’t forget to visit the Montserrat Rack Railway exhibition, housed in the building of the old Monistrol-Vila station, now refurbished, and discover its history through documents, interesting objects and audiovisual shows.
The Tren de Montserrat, as the rack railway between Monistrol and Montserrat was known, has been in existence since the 19th century. It was originally built to meet the need for improved access for worshippers and pilgrims to the Montserrat sanctuary.
The traditional way up Montserrat mountain had been on foot or horseback along the Collbató. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that an alternative and much quicker access way was inaugurated. This was the wide gauge line operated by Ferrocarrils del Nord to Monistrol-Montserrat station. This made it possible for a stagecoach service to do the journey in three and a half hours.
The lack of a permanent means of transport and an increase in the number of visitors led Joaquim Carrera, engineer and admirer of both Montserrat and Swiss mountain trains, to persuade local businessman Josep M. González to build a rack railway that would link Monistrol station with the monastery. In 1881 the company Ferrocarriles de Montaña a Grandes Pendientes was constituted for the purpose. The rack railway was inaugurated on 6 October 1892, and it soon became the most popular railway in Catalonia. It cut the journey time between Monistrol station and the monastery to one hour ‑and five minutes.
But the greatest novelty for the time was that the rack railway and its link with the Ferrocarrils del Nord meant that the return journey between Barcelona and Montserrat could be accomplished in a single day. The railway also gave a boost to the economy of the surrounding area.
The dream of the new rack railway
The old Montserrat rack railway made its last journey in 1957, but the dream of seeing it back in action one day was never lost. During the 1980s this desire, coupled with the increase in visitors and consequent congestion of vehicles in the natural park area, led the Generalitat's Transport Authority and the FGC to commission various studies and alternatives with a view to resolving the problem.
This culminated in 1991 with the drawing up of a project that would form the basis of the current railway. The project was presented in 1999 and then updated and adapted in 2000.
In July 2001 work began on the new rack railway. Finally, on 11 June 2003, the new rack railway was opened.
For most of its five kilometres the rack railway follows the route of the original railway. Of these, four kilometres are in rack traction to cover a dif‑erence in height of almost 550 metres between Monistrol-Vila and Montserrat stations.
The route starts at Monistrol de Montserrat station, which connects with the R5 service of the FGC Llobregat-Anoia line. Setting of‑ from this first station, the rack railway enters the 160 m long newly-constructed La Foradada tunnel. At the end of this tunnel the railway crosses the Pont del Centenari bridge, the railway's most important and spectacular work of engineering, crossing the River Llobregat and the C-55 road and running along the right bank of the River Tortuguer to reach the second station, Monistrol-Vila. This newly-built station is where the rack railway section starts.
The railway continues its upwards journey through the Tunnel of Àngel, already in place on the original rack railway route, and crosses the new bridge built to replace a level crossing. It then goes across another bridge, Guilleumes Bridge, from which the craggy outline of the mountain can be admired before plunging into the last tunnel on the line, the Tunnel of Apòstols. Past this point the rack railway makes its final upwards thrust to the last station, Montserrat, underneath the Plaça de la Creu.
Rack Railway Route