The International Steam Pages

The Paraguay Railway 2012 

Asunción resident Renaud Olgiati has sent the following notes  (22nd October 2012) on actual and proposed developments, necessarily not 100% steam related.

For an update on the situation at Encarnacion from April 2013, see Frank Ludwig's first hand account (28th April 2013).

The Ministry of public works (MOPC) has stated building a dual carriageway that will roughly follow (and take over part of) the trackbed of the railway line between the Estacion Botanico and the approaches of Luque. The last of the tourist trains that has been running on weekends since September have now stopped - for pictures of the last train see (Link requires a log in by May 2023) (added 30th April 2013). The engine and rolling stock presently at Jardin Botanico will be transported by road to the station at Luque, and a tourist service between Luque and Aregua is being prepared with a possible extension later to Ypacarai and, even later, to Sapucai where the workshops have been opened as a museum.

The motorway will run on both sides of the track from Asuncion to Luque, with railway company crews lifting of the track which will be reinstated later; the MOPC has now agreed to leave in the central reservation of the new motorway a wayleave sufficient for a double track; they will also cover the costs of transporting engine and rolling stock to Luque.

MOPC will afterwards reinstate the track to Botanico, having rebuilt the collapsed bridge which has interrupted service these last few years, and has undertaken to free the necessary wayleave if the track needsw doubling, should a suburban passenger service be restarted between Asuncion and Ypacarai.

There are rumblings at the highest level. The Swiss firm that will fund the work of rebuilding the line all the way from Asuncion to General Artigas had been contracted by the previous president of FEPASA, before the last change of government in Paraguay, and the present president of FEPASA claims the contract is illegal and void, and threatens to resign. But since those Swiss have the backing of the present Paraguayan government, there seems little doubt the work will go ahead, which promises a completely refurbished line all the way to Encarnacion, with the building of the new line from General Artigas 
to Encarnacion being done under the auspices of the Yacyreta dam company, responsible for flooding the old line.

The railway workshops in Sapucai have been turned into a museum, complete with rope barriers to keep the crowds in order, little signs telling what each machine tool is, and a rack of hard hats so we dont hurt ourselves; all the small stuff has been rehoused in a refurbished building, all this making it both easier and - to me - less interesting to look at.

At the same time, the railway is now in deep trouble at the other end. Goods traffic to Argentina had been suspended for many months while the line, flooded by the waters of the hydro dam, was rebuilt on the Argentinian side; the municipal authorities of Encarnacion took advantage to install a commercial zone next to the grain terminal, and now that the line is rebuilt, and traffic restarted for the last few weeks, the new neignbours have been complaining of the noise and dust, and the municipality has obtained a court injunction that forbids the operation of the grain terminal. Looking at Encarnacion on Google Earth, you can see at -27.364012° -55.851557° that they were still using steam for shunting in the grain terminal earlier this year. Sadly, this may be over.

Rob Dickinson