The International Steam Pages

Steam in Colombia 2015/6

Mark Enderby reports on the first part of a Railway Touring Company trip to Colombia (and Ecuador). I have appended some notes from Clive Hepworth who was here more recently, Mark's original report follows.

Clive Hepworth writes of his February 2016 visit:


The Turistren operation in Bogota continues to thrive under the amazing Eduardo Rodriguez and his steam engineer, Federico. The 5 operational locos Nos 8, 72 (shown in photo1), 75, 76 and 85 were on the shed recovering from an intensive Christmas and Turistren period. Work was in progress on a series of railcar and coach conversions to increase the number of available coaches as the daily student train operation to the Military University just south of Zipaquira was likely to increase to 2/3 services per day. Sabana station yard still holds the line of 5 derelicts Nos 16, 44, 114, 48 and 109. Though in poor condition Eduardo couldn't even bring himself to thinking about scrapping them! The station also holds a 4 wheel steam crane bearing the inscription 1905 Thomas Smith & Sons Rodley.

The workshops are self sufficient with Eduardo rescuing an astonishing amount of machinery, equipment and spares from the Flandes works when the national railways ceased to operate in 1991. Together with Federico and a highly skilled workforce, they are able to rebuild the most derelict looking diesels, railcars, coaches as well as maintaining the steam fleet. I've never met anyone more dedicated to maintaining the railway heritage of a country than Eduardo despite the almost total lack of interest from city, regional and national governments....a complete contrast with the situation in neighbouring Ecuador. If you get the chance, go to Bogota and support this wonderful operation.


No 125 4-8-2 (HK Porter 8132/1948) is positioned with 3 coaches outside the attractive but seemingly unused station.

Tourist trains still run as per usual supplemented by a student "commuter" service (diesel hauled) as was the case by 2011. Eduardo continues with plans for expansion of the tourist service on the branch to Gachancipá and beyond. RTC ran a charter to the latter on Sunday 20th September 2015 much to amazement of locals as this was the first steam since 2007. 76 did the honours while 72 was on the tourist train.

On the Monday, 72, 76 and 85 were all in steam along with 8 which took the RTC charter to Usaquen where 85 took over to Zipaquira. It wasn't long before the rear pony suffered a hotbox but liberal greasing ensured the return trip to Usaquen was completed (despite a minor derailment at Zipaquira). Indeed 85 managed a storming non-stop leg from Cajica-Usaquen, keeping ahead of the "commuter" service. Long sections clearly impact the ability to run extras especially when incidents occur.

Other locos present were 75 under repair in the depot and 44, 48, 109, 114 and 16 in the line of derelict locos awaiting attention. 16 also carries the number 54 and a painted notice saying 'Schwarzkopf 9551/1915'. (TK points out that Centrales 16 should be 9547, Centrales 15, now scrapped, should have been 9551, the building date is actually 1929).  There was no sign of 65 and 112, pictures of which were shown to us by Eduardo (TK adds that 65 was reported in Cali in 2001 but not since, 112 was reported at the El Corzo works in Facatativa but not there when he visited in 2011.)

There was plenty of evidence of track refurbishment especially on the Zipaquira branch.

The picture shows 76 after arrival at Gachancipá.

More pictures from the trip:



Rob Dickinson