The International Steam Pages

Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino - The Train at the end of the World

This document dates from 2000, similar updated information appears on the FCAF website. Click here for a brief pictorial view of the railway.


Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino (translated into English this reads as Southern Fuegan Railway and hence the name Train at the end of the World is normally used) was reopened to passenger traffic on 11th October 1994. The railway was originally opened in 1896 and operated to serve the Prison of Ushuaia. Closure came in 1947 and thereafter it lay derelict until an Argentine entrepreneur (the same person was responsible for the vast expansion of the port of Ushuaia during the late 1980s) had the idea of reopening the line as a tourist railway in order to provide an environmentally efficient and friendly way of conveying people to within the boundary of the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

The proprietary company of Tranex Turismo S.A. remain the owners and operators of Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino. The base station of the railway is situated 8 kilometres West of the city of Ushuaia and can be reached by National Road No. 3 - this is affectionately known as Estacion Fin Del Mundo (Station at the end of the World - though the majority of FCAF staff are fluent in both the Spanish and English languages Spanish terminology is used throughout the railways operation) The railway provides an all year daily passenger service, though not strictly seasonal there exists a low and high season; the latter falling between mid November and mid March when 2 train sets are in operation along the line thus the more railway minded visitor has an opportunity to witness a variation in motive power. The core-timetabled departures from Estacion Fin Del Mundo are mid morning, mid day and mid afternoon, an expansion of this service is provided at peak times. Tickets can be booked and purchased from either the Muelle Turistico in the city of Ushuaia itself (transport from this point is available to FCAF at 45-minute intervals) or Estacion fin del Mundo booking office.

Tourist and First Class accommodation is available on board all trains, the latter offers individual seating with accompanying tables and a buffet service. Prior to departure a brief guided tour of the workshops and other points of historic and technical interest is given to passengers (inclusive of an extensive photographic exhibition depicting the railway in its original and modern day form).

The railway also provides a 'Wine and Dine' service. A maximum number of 8 people can be accommodated and it is preferable to book such well in advance. This service normally has dedicated motive power. Dinner is served aboard the railways Presidential coach.


Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino is a steam-operated narrow gauge, passenger-carrying railway; hence the primary motive power is steam traction. Diesel traction is used on standby duties, engineering trains and low season off peak services. Weights relating to locomotives and rolling stock given in this section are close estimations as no accurate records of such exist. The company is in the process of purchasing weighing equipment and such records will be amended. In the future it is intended that this section of the WebPage will be updated on a regular basis so as to keep visitors to the site up to date with technical advancements taking place with respect to the locomotive fleet rolling stock and other items of interest that fall under engineering and locomotive operating. For a more detailed account of steam locomotive developments that have taken place at FCAF since March 1999, viewers should visit the following websites - 'International Working Steam' and 'The Ultimate Steam Page'. All FCAF locomotives are single manned thus introducing a great labour saving as far as locomotive operation is concerned. Due the environmental requirement of zero fire risk inside and outside of the National Park, all FCAF steam locomotives burn oil rather than coal or wood. As readers of this page will see FCAF's policy is to continue the advancement of modern steam technology, the engineering department of Tranex Turismo S.A. are working in conjunction with YPF in order to improve the combustion of this company's gas oil. Likewise in conjunction with the technical section of the YPF lubricants division, Tranex is working on the development of improved lubricating oils that will stand up the higher steam temperatures, and differing gaseous properties of such, that are experienced as a result of using a high degree of superheat in its steam locomotive fleet.


Rodrigo is an Orenstein & Koppel built 0 - 6 - 0 diesel locomotive. The locomotive first saw service on the Ferrocarril Economico Correntino, which was laid to 600 mm. It was transfered to a cement factory, CORCEMAR, where it was regauged to 750 mm.

Tranex purchased this locomotive during 1993 and it was sent to the Carupa works in the Province of Buenos Aires for heavy overhaul and regauging to the FCAF's gauge of 500 mm. Weighing an estimated 8 tons, this locomotive is out of service awaiting major overhaul which will include the renewal of its intermediate driving axle which failed in service at the end of 1999, re-turning of driving wheels and motor overhaul. There is no set date as to when this locomotive will return to traffic as Tierra del Fuego has basically replaced it in the fleet. Upon opening of FCAF on 11th October 1994, Rodrigo was the only locomotive available capable of hauling passenger trains and for the first few weeks was in daily passenger service. Upon the arrival of the 2 steamers it saw standby passenger service and engineering train duties at FCAF. Apart from what is written above, technical history of this particular locomotive is very scant hence if any visitor to this site has more accurate information concerning Rodrigo, then please contact the railways Technical Manager via email as he would be very grateful to improve upon the existing records of Rodrigo.


This is a Beyer Garratt type locomotive, designed and manufactured in Argentina during 1994. The design is based upon the first Garratt type locomotive to be built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester during 1909. The original, K1 (along with its sister locomotive K2) saw service on a 2-foot gauge railway in Tasmania before returning to Manchester for storage. When the Gorton Works of Beyer Garrat closed in 1965 the locomotive was transferred to the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales where it was in storage, outdoors, until being transported to the National Railway Museum in York in 1976, K1 is now under restoration and will see service on the new Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales.

Nora is believed to be the first steam locomotive to be manufactured in Argentina, such work being carried out in the Carupa workshops, Province of Buenos Aires. Previous to this all steamers that had seen service in Argentina were manufactured outside the country by French, North American, British, German and Japanese builders. The Garratt type locomotive is an advancement upon the original articulated type of locomotive, the Fairlie. The famous double Fairlies were pioneered by the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales. The Garratt type of locomotive was mainly used in Africa due to its wide single boiler allied with double power units which allows it to work forwards or backwards on gradients whilst maintaining a higher power than that of a 'conventional' engine and at the same time retaining the advantages of a conventional boiler as opposed to that of a double Fairlie type. In relative terms, FCAF is very much a scaled down version of what can be found in Africa with fierce gradients in both directions of travel.

Nora, having an estimated weight of 9 tons in working order and a 0 - 4 - 0 + 0 - 4 - 0 wheel arrangement, is at present in daily service at FCAF. It is due to be withdrawn from service early in 2002 for a major overhaul which will include extensive improvements and modifications to existing components in order to raise drawbar horsepower and overall efficiency, whilst at the same time reducing costly repetitive maintenance and increasing ease of operation. Such a rebuild of Nora is now essential for the ever expanding volume of passengers filling FCAF trains and in conjunction with the proposed extension of the line to the city of Ushuaia. Though very crude in its design and manufacture, this locomotive has been the mainstay of the locomotive fleet since the line was reopened as a commercial tourist venture in 1994. During January 2000, Nora's original Winson Engineering built air compressor was replaced by a brand new design, manufactured and supplied by the Tal Y Llyn Railway in Wales. Air braking, as opposed to a vacuum brake system, is used at FCAF therefore the reliance upon equipment that maintains a constant supply of compressed air is second to none. Unlike the old air compressor which was fitted to the left-hand side of the locomotive (note that the 'side' of a locomotive is taken as left or right hand when in line with the locomotive facing forward i.e. from the cab looking at the chimney) the new compressor is fitted to the right hand side of Nora, this making life a wee bit easier for operation and maintenance. The exhaust of the old type was fitted directly to the exhaust steam pipe thus exhausting straight through the blastpipe, in keeping with modern locomotive practice the exhaust steam of the new compressor is arranged so as to exhaust directly to atmosphere outside the smokebox (thus clear of front end arrangements) via an expansion box. A steam trap is fitted to the live steam supply so as to reduce the likelihood of condensation with respect to the steam side of the air compressor. Test instrumentation has been recently fitted to this locomotive so to accurately evaluate its present performance in traffic, such will quantify planned modification work and also act as good indicator towards the design and manufacture of the FCAF 3rd steam locomotive (see proposed locomotives for details).


This locomotive was designed and built by Winson Engineering of the UK in 1995. It is of a 2 - 6 - 2 T arrangement and weighs an estimated 7,5 tons in all up condition. The original design was based upon the famous steam locomotives of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, England. Camila ran with few problems until 1998 when it became apparent to railway management that it was simply not capable of hauling trains effectively and efficiently, which were becoming increasingly heavier as passenger figures gradually rose over the first 4 years of operation. A careful in service study of the locomotive was made during August 1998 in order to assess what could be done to improve upon the original design. As a result of these investigations, a 2-stage modification plan was drawn up and put before Tranex management. In essence, the proposed work to Camilla was drawn up with a view to raising power at the drawbar whilst at the same time vastly reducing operating and maintenance costs. Such was accepted by the company and has subsequently formed the basis of the FCAF locomotive policy.

The first stage of overhaul and modification work, which represents some 25% of the total to be completed, was carried out between May and November 1999 in the small workshop/running shed at Estacion fin del Mundo and included the following -

1. Replacement of all 3 driving axles so as to correct original design faults, attention was brought to this matter following an in service failure of the main driving axle on March 7th 1999.

2. Replacement of all motion bushes due to wear in service between 1995 and 1999.

3. Replacement of valve gear pins and bushes as for 2.

4. First stage alterations to the combustion system, such involving addition of superheat to the oil burner atomisation steam. In addition to this, alterations were made to the degree of primary air intake (67% increase over previous value of primary air admitted to the fire - not to be confused with the total primary air intake taken as a percentage of flue tube cross sectional area), at the same time the form of the air intake was changed by extending the intake mouths downwards by 25 mm in the form of a bellmouth, the entrance diameter of these being enlarged during this process to 140 mm from an original diameter of 100 mm at the entrance proper. Camilla now has 5 intakes of this specific shape and in service such has shown an improvement in combustion allied with improved front-end arrangements.

5. Alterations to cab interior, in the main this involved repositioning of drivers control valves in an attempt to raise ergonomic efficiency. So far in service this particular modification has made life easier for the drivers.

6. Re turning of worn down main driving wheel tyre profiles. At the same time Camilas drivers were turned to a high adhesion profile rather than conventional profile.

7. Application of proportionally fed mechanical lubrication to pistons, valves and slidebars.

8. Improved all round boiler insulation.

9. Repairs to boiler flue tubes so as to arrest leakage at firebox tubeplate.

10. Redesign and manufacture of sanding gear.

11. Steam operated flange lubricator covering all main driving wheelsets, front and rear bogies.

12. Alterations to the live and exhaust steam circuit so as to improve the breathing capacity of the locomotive.

13. Overhaul of all boiler fittings.

14. Major modifications carried out to front-end arrangements. This work involved the design and manufacture of a totally new Lempor exhaust system including new larger cross sectional area exhaust steam pipes, Kordina, exhaust manifold, mixing chamber and chimney. The result of this modification is a far higher smokebox draught for a given total backpressure, thus (allied with combustion system alterations) giving an overall increase in operating and maintenance efficiency. At the same time a De Laval Blower was designed, manufactured and fitted to Camila. This particular type of blower consists of 4 convergent/divergent nozzles spaced equally on the blower ring; their spacing coinciding with the space provided between the Lempor nozzles of the exhaust manifold.

15. Renewal of piston and valve rings.

16. Redesign of front and rear bogie side control gear, manufacture and fitting of components to corrected design.

17. Replacement of air compressor with brand new (scaled down Westinghouse type) version supplied by the Tal Y Llyn Railway in Wales. At present the air compressor supplies air to the braking system only, however it is intended to extend the locomotives air circuit so as to provide other auxiliary services such as air sanding. At the same time as fitting the compressor, the opportunity was taken to alter the steam supply by making such more direct and drier so as to avoid pump failure due to condensation. This was achieved by fitting a larger diameter steam supply pipe positioned inside a thick walled insulating tube. A steam trap is also fitted to the live steam side. On the exhaust side the circuit was altered by positioning the exhaust outlet external to the smokebox, this feature is very important as all the work that went into producing a near perfect exhaust for the locomotive could be greatly diminished by shooting the air compressor exhaust steam across it, thus destroying the critical mixing stage of the Lempor system.

18. Live steam pipe, cylinder, valve chest, exhaust steam pipe and frame insulation has been dramatically increased so as to reduce thermal losses and hence raise Camila's efficiency.

19. A new chemical water treatment was implemented. This treatment makes use of Polyamide antifoam which works at its best when the level of totally dissolved solids (TDS) in the boiler water is at its highest. In order to maintain a high TDS value it is essential to keep boiler (and overall) steam tightness at a high level, if not the leaks appear as a constant blowdown. Scale deposits are broken down into sludge and are easy to remove at periodic boiler washouts. Likewise the locomotive boiler is not blown down as normal practice thus a saving in fuel and water is gained, due to the treatment effectively forming a self cleaning action in service it is possible to extend the interval between boiler washouts - with respect to FCAF steamers a washout means one man day and thus is another saving gained by adopting modern steam practices. As opposed to the practice of many railway administrations, the boiler water appears as a dark brown colour in the gaugeglass - in effect the locomotives carry a thick soup in the boiler rather than what was (wrongly) thought to be the correct in the past; that being a very clear boiler water. Treatment is applied by the driver in the form of a measured cup of powder each time he fills the water tanks, thus ensuring good mixing of the chemical with the feedwater before it is injected to the boiler. Analysis of water samples is carried out in a laboratory at Buenos Aires. This is done at regular intervals with the Technical Manager of FCAF being informed on the current state of the boiler water and in turn if any adjustment is needed to the quantity of treatment that is added to the feedwater in the locomotives water tanks. Camilla was used as the pilot engine for the new treatment and was considered to be successful the same was applied to locomotive Nora.

20. Fitting of test instrumentation so as to accurately record measurements of total backprsessure, smokebox vacuum and firebox vacuum.

21. Implementation of improved commercially available gland packing for piston rods and valve spindles. The same type covers all live steam control valves, such has improved steam tightness over a longer period of time and hence reduced repetitive maintenance associated with these valves.

22. Re machining of all driving axlebox guides. These were found to be badly worn due to lubrication starvation and frame misalignment during manufacture. Bronze shims have been provided to correct dimensional errors and give nominal clearances for all 6 driving axleboxes. The Poissonnier method was used to achieve accuracy in relation to this work and a special instrument of the same name was designed and manufactured in Buenos Aires for FCAF. All guide faces are now lubricated using a 90%/10% mixture of valve oil and grease respectively.

Upon completion of the above work, Camilla re entered daily passenger service and underwent rigorous testing during the 1999/2000 high Summer season so as to evaluate the modification work carried out so far. As a direct result of limited modification Camilas maximum load was raised from 5 to 7 (40% increase in haulage capacity with respect to previous maximum loading) full passenger coaches on the outward journey, during which the ruling gradient is in the region of 1 in 28 at the approach to La Macarena Station. On the return journey Camilla can now work up to 10 loaded passenger coaches (67% increase in haulage capacity with respect to previous maximum loading). At the time of writing this locomotive is temporarily out of service whilst attention is being paid to an unrelated problem with the inner firebox. At the same time the opportunity is being taken to install this boiler with a foam height meter and steam purity monitor, this being in conjunction with the further development of boiler water treatment at FCAF. Upon completion of this particular boiler work, which is being carried out at a much larger workshop that has special boiler making facilities in Buenos Aires, it is planned that Camilla will remain in traffic until March 2001. At that point in time it is planned to withdraw this locomotive for a 7-month period and carry out stage 2 modifications. Meanwhile, design work for such is in hand with production of new components to follow shortly. The work, which is of a major scale, will include the following -

1. The radical redesign and rebuild of this locomotives boiler, or the design and manufacture of a brand new boiler for this locomotive. Whichever the case (decision to be taken on the basis of given economy during the next year), the boiler will receive a high degree of superheating along with the fitting of a superheater booster. Likewise it will include provision for the use of a hot water circulator which will be attached at night-time when the locomotive fire is turned off and it is parked in the shed. The boiler will also be equipped with a very high degree of thermal insulation. Hence, allied with the circulator, it is proposed to do away with the traditional steam raising that normally takes place in a running shed thus eliminating a large proportion of locomotive preparation time and consequent labour cost. Likewise the availability of the locomotive is also vastly increased. Boiler fittings will be renewed (inclusive of safety valves) as necessary using the latest commercially available steam valves, at the same time boiler water level gauges will be replaced by 'Klinger' type gaugeglasses.

2. Further improvements to the steam circuit (including full streamlining) that were not possible to complete during stage 1 of modification.

3. Further improvements to the exhaust system. Such will incorporate the redesign of the existing Lempor nozzle exhaust exit areas so as to allow for the conditions of superheated steam (this being as a result of 1.). Many readers of this page will realise that the state of superheated steam is much nearer to that of a perfect gas, rather than conditions obtained when using saturated steam. Continual research and development is being carried out in this particular field of steam locomotive engineering and to date has produced the development of the Lemprex ejector, the Lemprex being an evolutionary successor to the Lempor exhaust system (the Lempor itself being an advancement on the Kylpor ejector, and such being a development of the Kylchap exhaust). The Lemprex has yet to be tested in a working locomotive, however it is likely that Camilla will be the recipient of such as system once final design work for this type of ejector is complete. Essentially the Lemprex gives an equivalent draughting capacity to the Lempor (or multiple of such) however using a shorter mixing chamber and diffuser, hence it is great advancement for larger locomotives that require such high draughting within a limited loading gauge. The convergent/divergent nozzles, which give supersonic flow to the exhaust steam at exit, are also angled with respect to the Lemprex ejector. The positioning of Camilas chimney will also be altered in order to give adequate clearance in relation to the new superheater header to be installed in conjunction with 1. The new exhaust manifold will incorporate an integral blower ring with 4 stainless steel, hexagon headed De Laval nozzles with thread attachment for ease of inspection, repair or replacement.

4. Increase the water carrying capacity. This will be achieved by extending both side tanks upwards and forwards. The capacity will be approximately doubled and coupled with the benefits of a high level of superheat the working range of Camilla will be extended considerably, the extension to the city of Ushuaia making this a vital characteristic of all FCAF steam locomotives due to limited watering facilities and tight turn round schedules during peak season. The modified water tanks will incorporate larger fillers than those presently fitted so as to avoid 'spotting' of the locomotive at water columns. The extra water carried by Camila will increase its adhesive weight, which is a convenient design change in conjunction with the increase in power that will be gained at this stage.

5. Increase of fuel capacity. As for the increase in water capacity, an increase in fuel capacity is required so as to extend the maximum working range of Camilla without having to take on board fuel at frequent intervals during the working day. Likewise the extra fuel serves to provide ballast hence aiding the required increase in adhesive weight. In practice this will be achieved by extending the left hand side oil tank upwards to a height just below the level of the front cab window, and forward to a position that will allow it to butt up to the enlarged water tank. The tank in turn will extend horizontally in front of the cab to form a saddle fuel tank thus bridging the existing left and right hand fuel tanks. In turn, the upwards extension of the right hand side fuel tank will extend into the cab to a point immediately forward of the screw reverser; the intention being not to alter the position of the reversing screw and rod. Fillers will be enlarged so as to aid rapid filling of the tanks when required. In order to in order to give adequate clearance so as to achieve this design alteration, the safety valves and whistle will be mounted on top of the new dome rather than in their present position in front of the cab frontsheet.

6. Improve cab comfort by further improvements to cab layout, mainly in relation to the oil firing control system. It is intended to fit Camilla with a variable position seat for the driver.

7. Design, manufacture and installation of a new oil firing system. This system will replace the current one, which was designed, and installed by the manufacturer (such has since been improved upon by various modifications as outlined in stage 1). The original burner is of the flat trough type. The new system will incorporate a modified rotary burner allied with angled primary air inlets so as to aid swirl of the flame within the combustion chamber. If the decision is taken to go ahead and replace Camilas boiler rather than modify the existing boiler, the opportunity will be taken to introduce a circular (thus permitting full cyclonic combustion) firebox so as to minimise heat losses associated with the square corner areas of rectangular and square shaped fireboxes when using rotary burners. As for the existing flat burner, superheated steam will be used for the atomisation, which will in turn be greatly improved with respect to the rotary burner. The burner itself divides finely the oil flow into droplets which should be as small as possible. In the case of locomotives extremely small droplets are aimed for as the time available for their combustion is about one tenth of the time available for oil droplet combustion in a stationary boiler. This condition of the locomotive is a consequence of the high heat liberation rate, increased nowadays due to modern exhaust ejectors (such as the Lempor type used in our case) being able to create a very intense turbulence. In order to further improve combustion it is important to form a combustion chamber of adequate volume within the confines of the upper section of the firebox. In Camilas case this can be achieved by lowering the panplate (oil firing equivalent of a grate that is used in conjunction with coal, wood, biomass or bagasse burning engines) to an optimum level so as to achieve this aim. As Camila is well within the confines of the FCAF loading gauge and the present positioning of the panplate in relation to the rail head is at its lowest possible position, the most practical way of achieving this design feature is to raise the centreline of the boiler barrel by a height of 350 mm. As it happens, from an aesthetic point of view this particular modification coincides nicely with the upward extension of the water and fuel tanks. The combustion chamber will be physically formed by the use of a stainless steel arch within the firebox.

8. Fitting of air sanders, compressed air being provided by the locomotives air compressor. Standard diesel type air sanders will be used, such being operated by a foot pedal in the cab. In conjunction it is planned to use steam rail washers so as to aid adhesion and reduce frictional rolling resistance incurred by locomotive sand coming into contact with the wheels of the train.

9. Brakegear will be altered so as to provide an independent engine steam brake. At the same time the present position of the handbrake screw will be altered so as to make operation of such easier and allow space so as to position the left-hand fuel tank extension. Due to the enlargement of the water tanks the air pump position will alter slightly along with the positioning of the main air reservoir.

10. Improved sealing of the smokebox door.

11. Alterations to mainframes in the region of the axleboxes so as to provide adjustment for wear in service. Franklin type wedges will be designed, manufactured and fitted.

12. Modifications to frame stretchers in order to provide better rigidity and guarantee correct alignment of the chassis.

13. Modifications to the locomotives suspension. The new design will incorporate a compensated spring arrangement and it is aimed to improve accessibility to the driving axle springs at the same time.

14. Redesign of the front and trailing bogies in order to achieve improved steering on curves. Bogie suspension will be improved along with side control gear.

15. Replacement of present piston valves by new lightweight, multi - ring articulated type.

16. Improved, metallic valve spindle packing.

17. Modified piston heads and rings.

18. Improved valve and cylinder liner material.

19. Further improvements to valve and cylinder lubrication.

20. Enlarged steam chests.

21. Alterations to valve gear in order to give correct motion to the new valves. At the same time valve gear components will be overhauled, modified or replaced as necessary so as to eliminate the existing 'weak links' that have been discovered in this particular area.

22. Improved, metallic piston rod packing.

23. Further improvements to the already adopted proportionally fed mechanical lubrication system. This will be achieved by fitting a larger capacity mechanical lubricator and extending the mechanical lubrication so as to reduce the amount of manual oiling by the driver.

24. A new design of multi - note whistle will replace the existing 3-chime type fitted to Camilla.

25. Fitting of steps and handrails to the front footplating and side tanks so as to make accessibility to the top of the locomotive easier and safer.

26. In general, elimination of causes of unreliability (i.e. items requiring frequent running repairs).

As can be seen from the above description of the work to be carried out the shape of some parts of Camilla are going to change, however it is not intended to alter the 'form' of this engine as it is that in itself which essentially makes steam traction emotionally appealing - there is no other human invention that has this type of attraction!

The modification of our locomotive Camila is being recognised as significant in conjunction with the continued advancement of the steam locomotive as applied to the tourist industry which, unfortunately, is the main role of steam traction on our planet today. The continued use of steam on tourist railways proves to be a major crowd puller and in our ever increasingly regulated and environmentally conscious world, Tranex Turismo S.A. as the responsible owners and operators of FCAF, see it as our duty to safeguard the future use of this wonderful type of machine not only in Argentina but on a world wide basis!


Tierra del Fuego is an 0 - 6 - 0, diesel locomotive. It was designed and manufactured in Port Shepstone, South Africa by the locomotive engineering company 'Girdlestone Rail', entering service on November 5th 1999. This locomotive weighs in at 12 tons and is by far the heaviest locomotive of the fleet. Tierra del Fuego is powered by a 140 HP Caterpillar 3304.T. motor. A twin disc single stage torque converter transmits the power to final drive unit mounted below the footplate, from here the power is transmitted to the wheels via connecting and coupling rods. Wheel diameter is 60 cm with a wheelbase of 1,8 M. Width is 2,05 M, length over buffer beams is 5 M with a height of 3,05 M. The locomotives fuel tank holds a total of 236 litres of gas oil and such can be filled from either side of the engine unit. A fully enclosed cab is provided along with cab heating so as to keep drivers comfortable when working trains in minus 15 degrees C. A rear door entrance is provided for cab access.

Tierra del Fuego is a very straightforward locomotive and the design has taken into account ease of operation and maintenance in a geographically remote location allied with extremely low temperatures. This locomotive is used for engineering trains, standby and off peak passenger duties.


This locomotive is a 4-wheeled Ruston Hornsby tractor. It was purchased during the reconstruction of the line in 1993. Very little technical history is available on this locomotive, though research on the subject is underway so as to provide readers of this page with more accurate information.


0 - 4 - 0 + 0 - 4 - 0 Super Garratt locomotive. This proposed new steamer for FCAF is to be manufactured in part using existing spare components that arrived in Ushuaia at the same time as Nora. From the start it was decided to incorporate modern steam technology into this locomotive; in keeping with Tranexs' locomotive policy. Whilst being a modern locomotive the new design is somewhat limited by the original general design defects experienced with Nora, however a number of detail alterations will be made to components were they already exist, whilst new components will be manufactured to the latest technology available. Design work for this locomotive is already well underway with manufacture due to begin in the near future. Principal features of such include:

(Note - when it is stated 'modified' this is with respect to the present design of Nora)

State of the art oil firing system.
Lempor exhaust.
Lightweight, multi - ring, articulated piston valves.
Modified valve gear in order to operate new design of valve.
Improved, equalised suspension.
Modified boiler to include: superheat, high thermal insulation, hot water circulator.
Proportional feed, extended mechanical lubrication.
Modified cab including improved control layout so as to aid single manning of engine.
Streamlined steam circuit.
Enlarged steam chests.
Maximum capacity water and fuel tanks.


It is proposed that this locomotive will be of brand new construction. The locomotive represents a second generation, 2-cylinder compound, 0 - 6 - 0 T. 150 HP machine specifically aimed at the tourist railway industry. Initial design work has been underway for some time regarding this locomotive, with detail design work to complete before final drawings can be produced. There is no set date for manufacture to begin, however it is likely that completion will coincide with FCAFs 10-kilometre extension to the city of Ushuaia.

FCAFs passenger coach fleet consists of 16 vehicles. Due consideration has been given towards passenger comfort in relation to the design of the present coach fleet. The underframe is of standard type with cross bracing. The coach bogies consist of 2 types, the first being of an American freight car design whilst the second type of bogie was designed and manufactured by Winson Engineering of the UK. It is intended to replace all of the FCAFs coach bogies with a new design that will incorporate the tread steering tread steering principle. This design was developed by 3 mechanical engineers in South Africa and applied in practice to the harsh daily requirements of the timber hauling industry and the sugar cane industry in Australia. In a conventional bogie (such as we use at FCAF at the moment) the wheel flanges guide the coach around the curves. The new design of bogie incorporates tread steer wheelsets with rubber chevron suspension and roller bearings. The wheels have a steeper cone on the treads and this, together with the rubber chevron suspension allows the wheelset to yaw. The flanges no longer guide the wheels, which enter a curve virtually true to its radius. This gives dramatically lower wear rates to the wheels and rail and greatly reduces derailment tendencies if the condition for these arises. This is because the flange, if it does contact the rail, is moving away from it rather than trying to climb the rail as in a conventional bogie. The tread also work hardens and exhibits minimal wear. Rolling resistance is much lower and these features allow for train loads to be increased substantially for the same locomotive and driver. Further design work is in hand to produce an experimental 4-wheel coach so as to further reduce rolling resistance for the same payload.

The present coach fleet bodies have been manufactured from timber and are varnished on the inside and painted and varnished on the outside. All coaches feature brass fittings, cushioned seats, full heating and stereo audio system. A continuos air braking system is used and it is planned to upgrade this system at the same time as carriage bogie replacement takes place.

The coach numbering series takes the following form: Special Vehicles - 1000 series, First Class coaches - 1100 series and Tourist Class coaches - 1200 series.

1001 - Presidential Coach, used for VIP visitors to the railway and 'wine and dine' service. Seating capacity - 8, 1st Class, bar, kitchen and toilet facilities.

1002 - Buffet Car, used for serving on board refreshments and sale of railway souvenirs. Used in formation or stabled at selected station. Seating capacity - 8, Tourist Class.

1003 - Toilet Car, used for on board passenger toilet facilities. No passengers are carried in this vehicle.

1004 - Generator van, used for providing electrical energy for night time train services or for engineering work. Also provides standby electrical generation capacity for Estacion fin del Mundo.

1101 to 1103 - First Class coaches, individual seating with tables for on board refreshment services. Central entrance and exit with central gangway. Seating capacity - 16, 1st Class.

1201 to 1207 - Tourist Class coaches, compartment seating arrangement of three alongside and facing. Entrance and exit via compartment. Coaches 1201 to 1206 were designed and built by Tranex in Argentina whilst 1207 was manufactured by Winson Engineering of the UK.

1208 to 1210 - Tourist Class coaches as for 1201 to 1207, however this batch was built at the Ushuaia workshops in Estacion fin del Mundo. These coaches are named 'Ushuaia', 'Rio Grande' and 'Tolhuin' respectively.

Coaches 1201, 1206 and 1210 incorporate Guide/Guard compartments.

The wagon fleet of FCAF was originally designed and manufactured at the time of the railways reconstruction in order to provide engineering trains in conjunction with such. Plans are afoot to design and manufacture more vehicles of this type for the purpose of engineering maintenance and construction of the extension to the city of Ushuaia.

2002 - Flat bogie wagon with removable wooden side panels.

2006 - 4 wheeled skip truck.

2006 - 4 wheeled skip truck.

2009 - Flat bogie wagon with removable wooden side panels.


For most of its length FCAF in its present form follows the trackbed of the original Prison Railway. In order to complete the railway 2 new iron overbridges were constructed so as to cross the Rio Pipo at 2 points along the line, the first being at a point outside the National Park whilst the second is with in the Park boundaries. Bridge No.1 is of single span construction whilst bridge No. 2 is of a double span type.

In locations where the trackbed runs relatively close to the river, shoring has been carried out as during the springtime thaw the river level can rise dramatically causing wash aways in some areas. FCAF is typical of many narrow gauge railways originally built as minimum cost railways at the turn of the last century. In order to avoid major civil engineering works the line follows closely the contour of the shallow hills at the bottom of the valley floor and as a result of this has fierce gradients in each direction. Gradients are at present estimated as no survey has yet been carried out in order to determine accurately the exact grade along the 5,25 Km line. The steepest gradient is to be found approaching La Macarena Station on the outward journey, this being estimated at 1 in 29. After almost 6 years of trackbed consolidation a plan of track rectification and maintenance is in hand with an estimated completion target date of March 2002.

Tranex chose the gauge of 500 mm for FCAF and though rare, railways of this gauge are to be found in different parts of the World. Rail weight is 17,2 Kg per Metre; standard rail length being 10 M. With a sleeper spacing of 800 mm between centres this is adequate to withstand present axle loadings. The rails saw original service at the Red Ferro Industrial Rio Turbio Railway, a coal carrying railway with its base at Rio Gallegos which was for many years the southernmost railway in the World until Tranex re opened FCAF in 1994. The Rio Turbio Railway is more well known for its famous fleet of 'Santa Fe' 2 - 10 - 2 steamers. Sleepers are of the hardwood type and are ex broad gauge cut in half so as to suit the narrow gauge of our railway.

The first batch of turnouts were acquired from Tecnifer in Buenos Aires, whilst the second batch, which have a sharper radius in order to gain maximum siding and loop length in a given distance, were acquired from Girdlestone Rail in South Africa.

The next civil engineering challenge for us Tranex is the design and construction of the 10-kilometre extension to the city of Ushuaia. Planning work is underway for this project and the construction will be of a major nature as unlike the existing section of FCAF, it is only possible to use a very limited section of the original trackbed. Work on this section is planned to commence within the next 2 years.

S. McMahon, Technical Manager, Tranex Turismo S.A., 6th May 2000.

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Rob Dickinson