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The Great Railway Journey You Never Knew Existed: The Raiano

It is one of the most scenic rail trips in southern Europe, running along the banks of the largest river on the Iberian Peninsula, the Tejo. CP’s Raiano train runs twice a day between Entroncamento and Badajoz in Spain, two departures in either direction. It follows the Tejo past castles, charming towns, rapids, then follows the cork forests for a 4 hour trip that costs less than 13 euros. 

The Raiano train connects Portugal's railway hub of Entroncamento to Badajoz, a provincial capital set right on the border. This breathtaking and  unique rail journey travels through the cork forest landscape of the Alto Alentejo, along the banks of the Tejo, passing by the massive fortifications of Elvas, to the Spanish Extremadura Provence.

The Raiano offers two daily departures. The Raiano starts at Entroncamento at 9:28 a.m. and 1:36 p.m., and arrives in Badajoz at 12:13 p.m. and 4:26 p.m., Portuguese time. From Entroncamento there are connections to and from Lisbon, and from Badajoz, to and from Madrid.

The Raiano uses an Allan railcar that was acquired by CP in the 1950s. The 0350 Series, a single carriage diesel railcar, was built by Allan in the Netherlands in 1955. These 70 years old vintage railcars have been modernized and updated.

The route:

The Raia is the nickname for a 180-mile border strip of land from Marvão to Mértola,  called "A Raia" in Portuguese (the stripe), the borderlands have remained mostly unchanged since the 13th Century under the Treaty of Alcanizes. 

The Raiano departs Entroncamento, a town born in middle of the 19th century as a hub to the new railway network. Entroncamento literally means junction, as it is the junction of the two railway lines - the Linha do Norte (Northern Line) and the Linha do Leste (Eastern Line). Soon it reaches Vila Nova da Barquinha, set  right next to the River Tejo, a very picturesque riverside town. 

Next, the train offers an amazing view of one of the most famous Portuguese castles - the Castle of Almourol, built by the Knights Templars in 1171.
This castle sits on a tiny island in the middle of the river. The Raiano follows the Tejo past the charming town of Praia do Ribatejo on route to the castle town of Abrantes. From here the train rolls through the cork forests and olive groves south to the town of Ponte de Sor, then along the Montados, horse farms and wineries to the historic town of Crato, a picturesque place and full of history in its winding streets, squares and castle. Along the way you glimpse dolmens, the medieval bridges and Roman ruins.

Next the train goes southbound towards Arronches through the wild countryside. The São Mamede mountains are visible to the North. The fortified town of Arronches sits above the plains, and the Raiano now rolls on to the World Heritage city of Elvas.  Guarding the key border crossing between Lisbon and Spain’s capital Madrid,  the Garrison Town of Elvas was fortified extensively from the 17th to the 19th centuries. From there, the Raiano crosses the Caia River into Spain, and the vibrant city of Badajoz.

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