The International Steam Pages

Steam in South America, November 2008

Bill Longley-Cross was also on the RTC “Old Patagonian Express” 14th November to 1st December 2008, he presents a slightly different perspective to Robin Patrick.

Day 1 - Friday 14th

A very early (04h20) start from the Comfort Inn in time to check in for the 07h25 flight to Madrid. Flight finally arrived Buenos Aires (10,100 km) at 22h50 (one hour late) and we made it into the hotel just before midnight. Total travel time about twenty two hours.

Day 2 – Saturday 15th

In Buenos Aires. In the afternoon visited the tram museum. Rode Line A from Primera Junta, near the tram museum, to Plaza de Mayo. Line A has wooden rolling stock built in Preston in 1913. The line surfaces beyond Primera Junta and leads, via a triangle, to a maintenance facility by the vintage tram depot. The trams run around the second leg of the triangle. From Plaza-de-Mayo returned to Lima and then took Line C to San Martin.

Day 3 – Sunday 16th

Wood burning locomotive (0-6-0, built by Neilson 3870, 1890 – No 27) from Pilar to Capilla (25 km) on the standard gauge line, which leads from Lacroze Sta to Pasadas on the Paraguay border. This is the route of the TEA “El Gran Capitan”.

From Pilar south the train was diesel hauled (5554) and the locomotive was dragged at the rear. Changed trains at San Miguel and took the broad gauge Linea San Martin train to Retiro Station. Pilar to Retiro = 55.4 km. 

Day 4 – Monday 17th

Visit to Ferroclub Escalada. Also managed to visit the adjacent Escalade depot; various diesel locomotives (GT22 and old English Electrics in shed, G22 at fuelling point) and a huge rail crane. Outside on the line we saw a Metrovias SA ballast train and a light engine. This is shark nose Baldwin 5037

Visit to Ferroclub Lynch in the afternoon, followed by a ride on a standard gauge train to Lacroze Station. At Lacroze we saw a Fiat DMU (two cars). Had another ride on Line A from Castro Barros to Lima and then Line C to San Martin.

Day 5 – Tuesday 18th

Breakfast in the Retiro Station café. Rode the metre gauge Ferrovias (formerly Belgrano Norte) line from Retiro Station to Boulogne-Sur-Mer (but nowhere near the sea) and back.

Sleeper train from Bariloche to Ing Jacobacci, but the locomotive (GT22CW) expired after 126 km (68 km from Ing Jacobacci).

Day 6 – Wednesday 19th

After an early morning evacuation from the train and a walk across the veldt we reached Ing Jacobacci (S 41o 19’ 45” W 69o 32’ 49”) by bus. Here we found Baldwin 2-8-2 No 3 in steam ready to transport us into Patagonia.

The run ended at the tunnel beyond Cerro Mesa 133 km from Ing Jacobacci (104 km from El Maiten). Return to Rio Chico and a long bus ride to Lago Puelo.

Day 7 – Thursday 20th

“La Trochita” – Baldwin No 1 - from El Maiten to Esquel

Day 8 – Friday 21st

“La Trochita” from Esquel to a road crossing near El Maiten. We were double headed up the mountain from Esquel to Nahuel Pan (19 km) . No 16 came off at Nehuel Pan and we continued with No 1.

We had a magnificent braaivleis at Lepa (S 42° 36’ 18” W 71° 00’ 25”) and then a select few rode the train on north to a road crossing near El Maiten. Detrained in a rising storm. Farewell “La Trochita”.

Day 9 – Saturday 22nd

In and around Bariloche

Day 10 – Sunday 23rd

Steam train (North British 2-8-0 No 121) to Perito Moreno. Turned the locomotive on the triangle at Perito Moreno and crossed the east bound train to Viedma; same loco which had failed for us, two car transporters and eight coaches (one sleeper).

Day 11 – Monday 24th

The journey to Chile; four buses, three lakes and a baggage search at the Chilean border. Muddle with the bus on the last leg so a late arrival at the hotel in Porto Montt.

Day 12 – Tuesday 25th 

Orsono station visit, a brand new building, a tamper and some track maintenance equipment but no sign of any traffic. Lunch on the train (Tipo 57, 2-6-0 No 620) at Valvidia but then the poor old locomotive burst a tube.

Day 13 – Wednesday 26th

Brief visit to the railway museum at Temuco. Various steam locos, E32 Co-Co and an O&K railcar. The overhead appears to start at a yard just south of Temuco. Concrete poles dated 1986.

Steam train (Tipo 80, Baldwin 4-8-2 No 820) from Temuco to San Rosendo (192 km). Crossed a southbound passenger DMU at Lautaro and a southbound FEPASA freight (General Motors SDL39,ex USA Milwaukee Road, 2346 and 2345 with wagon cut in between, curtain-siders, caustic and diesel tanks and hoppers) at Pua. Victoria has a modern shed for the DMUs (three in residence) for the Chillian – Temuco service. There were also many log trucks at various locations.

At Mininco there was a new yard, grain wagons in one loop, curtain-siders in the second and an E-17 electric shunter. We did a “run past” on the bridge over Mapocho River.

Laja is a base for the Transap freight company. There was also a large pulp plant(?) with exchange sidings and a shunter. At San Rosendo the whole town appeared to have turned out to see “their” train. We walked back across the bridge over the River Laja – an “interesting” experience.

Day 14 – Thursday 27th

“Service train” from Chillian to Santiago. In the yard at Chillian was an E-30, No 3020, and an E-17 shunter. At Maule we crossed a four car Kawaski unit. At Talca we saw the metre gauge DMU which runs down to Constitucion. Turntable in front of shed containing DMU. Metre gauge line comes in about 2km south of Talca and runs parallel with broad gauge. E-30 No 3017 at Lonte, near Curico, on a works train. E-32 No 3223 at Curico and No 3234 at Rancagua. Double track starts at San Fernando and there is a stopping service from that point to Santiago.

Day 15 – Friday 28th

“Wine Train” from San Fernando to Santa Cruz (37km).

Day 16 – Saturday 29th

Ride on Linea 1 from Los Leones to Alameda. Visit to Fepasa depot. E-32, E-29 “Golden Snake” (2903) and various diesels. Return to Les Leones for lunch in revolving restaurant and then visit to the Trein de Sur maintenance facility. Three ex-Spanish locomotives, train sets and car transporters for the Santiago – Temuco service.

Finally a visit to the railway museum to see the Kitson-Meyer 0-8-6-0T rack locomotive. This locomotive was built in Leeds in 1909 and modified (front rack unit and cylinders removed) at Los Andes in 1914. Front bogie is adhesion (balance weights on axles) whilst rear unit is the rack (balance weights on the rack axles and not the wheel ones).

Tipo 100, Henschel No 1009, 4-8-4, Railway Museum, Santiago

Day 17 – Sunday 30th and Day 18 – Monday 1st

Depart the hotel at 10h00 (13h00 UK time) for the airport. Arrived to find the flight (11,000 km) had been delayed by six hours so departure was 18h15. Caught connection at Madrid 13h45 (14h45 UK time). Luggage came swiftly at Heathrow (some did not get theirs until Thursday). Home by 21h30, feeling very dirty and tired – a long, long day!

Rob Dickinson