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Deltrain Tourist Trains- July 2016

Adding a Spark of Splendid Theming to Tourist Transports

by Keith Miller

Deltrain of Sesimbra, Portugal, decided to go beyond the purely functional and add a creative artistic flair to its guest shuttles.

Deltrain refers to its vehicles as “trackless tourist trains,” or just “trains” for short, because they are stylized replicas of the classic trains that once operated on tracks and rails. The company was founded in 1997 by Humberto Delgado, who was impressed by a similarly themed tourist train while on a family trip to Lourdes, France, in 1992. The following year he returned to France and purchased his first tourist train and operated it as a regular transport between beaches and a tourist village in southern Portugal. In 1995, he went from operator to manufacturer and built trains in a small workshop in Sesimbra that has since grown into a full-blown factory.

Deltrain has now produced a hundred tourist trains operating in more than 20 countries around the world in amusement parks, water parks, zoos and wildlife centers, city centers, and resorts. The trains have traditionally been diesel-powered, but in 2016, the company will deliver its first new urban model—marking its production of electric trains.

“The price of an electric is higher than the diesel version,” says Humberto Lopes, managing director of Deltrain. “But the great benefit is that it does not pollute. The initial investment is more, but [that] dilutes itself in time.” He notes the trains are also available in gas-powered versions, though this is not commonly requested.

Lopes says the design and theming of these tourist trains is based on client requests and also on where they will operate. One of the most popular models, the Delga locomotive, is more suitable for beaches and parks, whereas the more heavily themed and detailed Tagus is appropriate for old historic centers. The trains can be configured with one locomotive and one to six coaches. Each coach can transport 20 passengers. Notably, the trains are all accessible via electric, manual, or portable ramps. 

Of course, what matters most is what the riders think of the trains, and to that, Lopes says, “The feedback from customers is important and very positive. Customers are really happy with the beauty of the trains.”