The International Steam Pages

Preserved Narrow Gauge Steam in Mexico 2012, Part 1

Thomas Kautzor reports on some preserved items recorded during his November 2012 visit. Click here for the index to the other reports which include stationary steam, 'modern traction' and railway cranes.

This report is in two parts, click here for part 2.

Late news - 279 is scheduled to run on 13th April 2013 on an anniversary charter sponsored by Club Amigos del Ferrocarril.

This page covers the NdeM NG steam locomotives.

The FC Interoceanico (FCI) came into being in the 1880s, taking over some earlier-built narrow gauge lines south of Mexico City. In 1888 its interests were sold to a British company. In 1892 direct service from Veracruz via Jalapa (Xalapa) and Puebla to Mexico City was inaugurated, generally following the old Camino Real. By the turn of the century the FCI was also operating the Mexico City to Puebla via Cuautla line (running south of Popocatepetl volcano), as well as the Cuautla to Puente de Ixtla branch. In 1903, the Oriental de Mexico (OM) between Oriental and San Nicholas was leased, shortening the Mexico City-Veracruz route by 46 miles bypassing Puebla. By 1903 14 separate narrow gauge railways had been integrated into the FCI. That year, the Mexican Governement took over control of the FCI, allowing it and the leased OM to be administrated by the Mexican Nacional. However, due to British minority ownership it was integrated into NdeM in 1908. In 1910 the Mexicano del Sur (MdelS, Puebla – Oaxaca plus branches Tehuacan – Esparanza, Oaxaca – Tlacolula an Oaxaca – Taviche) was leased by the FCI, also putting it under NdeM administration. In 1926 the narrow gauge Vera Cruz to Alvarado railway along the coast was added to the FCI. Finally in 1946 the remaining foreign-held shares of the FCI and the leased OM and MdelS were purchased by the Mexican Government, allowing full integration into NdeM. The following year NdeM converted most of the system to standard gauge, leaving only Mexico City (San Lázaro) to Cuautla (136.0 km), Cuautla to Puente de Ixtla (217.3 km), Puebla to Cuautla (173.7 km), Atencingo to Tlancualpicán (19.1 km) and the isolated Oriental to Teziutlan branch (89.9 km) narrow gauge. Steam on the narrow gauge ended in 1967. The Mexico to Puebla via Cuautla line was replaced by a standard gauge line and the branches closed in 1973, while the Teziutlan branch was closed on 30.05.1993.

FCI 2-8-0 67 (G-023 class, ALCO 5210/09-1899) on display at the Museo de los Ferrocarrileros (open Tu-Su 10.00-17.00) in the old La Villa station (Calle Alberto Herrera, north of town) in Mexico City, DF. It was moved here recently (by 08-2011) from Monumento a la Revolución when this was restored. It one of a class of 13 engines (N°. 60-72) delivered to the FCI in 1898/99, with 67 the last of the class to be withdrawn in 06-1968. N°. 60 was sold to the Edaville RR in Massachusetts in 1963, but I don’t think it survives. Two others do survive in Mexico however, N°. 69 (disguised as N°. 501) in Nacozari de Garcia, SONORA, and N°. 70 in Empalme, SONORA.

OM 2-8-0 143 (G-024 class, Kerr Stuart 823/05-1904, pre-1930 OM 2) plinthed next to one branch of the wye (11 Sur & 19 Pte.) in Oriental, PUEBLA. Five of these locos were built by Kerr Stuart in 1904, the first three becoming FCI 73-75 and the following two OM-predecessor FC San Marcos y Tecolutla (SMyT) 76-77. Baldwin built identical two identical locos numbered 78-79 in 1902. SMyT, until c1898 FC San Marcos y Nautla (SMyN), operated the line from San Marcos via Oriental to Teziutlan opened in 1895. In 1902 it became OM and 76-79 became OM 1-4, then 142-145 after renumbering in 1930. All OM stock retained the OM initials until retirement. N°. 143 was withdrawn at the end of the steam era in 1968.

The G-030 class of 2-8-0s was NdeM’s most prolific narrow gauge class with 28 engines (N°. 262-289) built by Baldwin in 1921 and 24:

NdeM 269 (G-030 class, Baldwin 55053/09-1921, pre-1930 N°. 194) plinthed in the center of Av. I. Fabela in Toluca, MEXICO. It was withdrawn in 1968/69:

NdeM 272 (G-030 class, Baldwin 55056/09-1921, pre-1930 N°. 197) plinthed outside the SE gate of Parque del Pueblo (Linda Vista & Glorieta Colón), Nezahualcoyotl, MEXICO. It was withdrawn in 1968/69:

NdeM 275 (G-030 class, Baldwin 55059/09-1921, pre-1930 N°. 200) plinthed in a garden at the Ferrosur station entrance (Calle 9 Norte & 80 Poniente) in Puebla, PUE. It was withdrawn in 1968/69:

NdeM 279 (G-030 class, Baldwin 55110/11-1921, pre-1930 N°. 204) at Cuautla, MORELOS. Between 1959 and 1963 it was in use on the (CyZ) in northern Mexico until that railway was dieselized. After closure of the Mexico City to Puebla via Cuautla narrow gauge in 1973, N°. 279 was kept operational and operated by the ‘Club Amigos del Ferrocarril’ between Cuautla (km 136.0), Cuautlixco (km 133, the branch off to Puente de Ixtla) and Yecapixtla (km 199.3 on the line from Mexico City). Operations have been suspended at different times and the line curtailed to only 800 meters of track west of Cuautla (at the base of a lifted wye), with the rest having been sold off to keep the operation going. In theory the train is programmed to operate on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month, but in recent years the operation has been taken over by the local municipality and only operated on major holidays (half-hourly from 16.00 to 21.00). N°. 279 was last overhauled at Aguascalientes shops in 09-1989 and was sold to the municipality a few years ago. When we visited it was due to run on November 18, 2012, for the Day of the Revolution, but that was cancelled at the last minute for lack of funds after the incumbent municipal administration had been voted out in recent elections. What operated was a Yamaha rail-quad (the 1st I ever saw) with two small trailers which went up and down the track as well as to the three-road shed. Cuautla station, thought to be the oldest active railway station building in the world because when built it incorporated the Spanish colonial Convento de San Diego, is the place where in 1911 presidential candidate Francisco Madero embraced revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. It now houses Cuautla’s tourist office and a cultural center. There are four 2nd class wooden coaches available for use with 279 (N°. 967, 969, 992, 993), and a few freight wagons are on display (tank cars 10055, 10057, 10749) or used as souvenir and art shops (box cars 70156, 70410, 70504, 70628).

NdeM 281 (G-030 class, Baldwin 55112/11-1921, pre-1930 N°. 206) plinthed at outside the Centro Deportivo Ferrocarrilero (Calle Mora Beristain, SW of town) in Xalapa, VERACRUZ. It was withdrawn in 1968/69 and formerly on display at Xalapa station;

NdeM 286 (G-030 class, Baldwin 57926/07-1924, pre-1930 N°. 213) on display next to a viaduct of the Mexico City to Cuautla line outside the Centro Cultural Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in Nepantla, MEXICO. It was sold to the San Rafael Paper Co. in 06-1965 for use on their branch to Amacameca station on the Mexico City to Cuautla line and ended up at NdeM’s Huehuetoca scrap yard in c1974 after closure of the narrow gauge.

The last G-030 was withdrawn by 1969 with the end of NdeM narrow gauge steam. Two more survive, 262 in Monterrey, NUEVO LEON, and 265, which was sold to Cia. Industrial y Azucarera (CIASA) in 1965 for use on their sugar cane railway and is now privately-owned in Jojutla, MORELOS.

Click here for 'Preserved Narrow Gauge Steam in Mexico 2012, Part 2'

Rob Dickinson