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Historical review of Railways


The first Chilean railway was opened on 25 December 1851, our country will address the early construction of railway lines, a purely economic at first and social later, they succeed installing an extensive network, which extended from Iquique to Puerto Montt, including Chiloe Island and some international railways as Arica to La Paz from Juncal or Transandean.
The railway, provide, together with the development of productive activities and mobilization of passengers, the "effective state control" incorporation of the northern regions and the area of ​​the border, in the south. The train will generate around stations or stops normal steam locomotives, emerging human settlements, which subsequently proliferate to become, some in cities. In turn, around the railway activities, a major industry will be developed, and therefore, the emergence of the first workers' organizations at the national level.
The railway, as most economical means, enabled, territorial mobility, either by necessity or pleasure. Little is known of the importance of the State Railways played in the promotion of tourism in the thirties, or its contribution to the process of industrialization.
The Chilean system of state railways until the early 70's, played an important role. Born as a company with high social content, call to transport products at cost to be a factor of integration through unprofitable branches, to encourage domestic industry and help develop the country. It was of such importance, that actually set up in 1912 in the Ministry of Railways.
Such was the euphoria in the early years, many did not hesitate to believe that the train should extend longitudinally from Iquique to Punta Arenas.


The creation of the State Railways, on January 4, 1884, came to unify criteria for the rolling stock used in the three administrations that existed to date. The state company born from the merger of the railways from Valparaiso to Santiago, Santiago "south" and the Chillan-Talcahuano-La Frontera.
The state company will start searching for steam engines, which give the growing needs they faced. The intention was to normalize both passenger equipment such as load and tractive.
In the early years, the purchase of rolling stock was generally "two sides". The machines were American or English origin. Only in the early twentieth century, the Germans enter the competition for the supply of locomotives, which will start with Borsig situation and more companies expand in later years.
As noted, at various times he tried to find "an" answer engine that expectations for the freight and other passenger to do so. This idea was crossed by the social function assigned to FF. CC. State, in order that these machines should be partly built in Chile, and even the company itself. Added to this, the geographic diversity of Chile and therefore conditions that operate these locomotives made ​​the election was always difficult.
From 1905, the company Borsig "became" the national market, not without opposition from the "domestic producers" and sabotage the rolling stock, which occurred at least in the Maestranza de Baron. According to Ian Thomson, his agent in Santiago: "... seems to have adopted not fully transparent methods to allow the Department of Fuel and EFE Maestranza prefer their products. In 1907, there was a change of personnel at a high level in ERA, and railways never again buy a new machine broad gauge of Borsig brand ", although it was re-done.
Around 1910 a locomotive standardization process starts in state-owned railways. This should have brought a better optimization performance and responsiveness, rolling stock company owned; situation that was not verified in reality, since no criteria correspond to the type remained, equal power. A locomotive broad gauge (1,676 mm.) Were assigned types with numbers, locomotives meter gauge (1,000 mm.) Was assigned a type with a capital letter and a four-digit number, as for locomotives 60 inches gauge, railways assigned to type a lowercase letter, also with a four digit number. "Concerning gauge locomotives of 1,435 mm., FF.CC. E. gave the Ferro-Carril de Copiapó new numbers (on two separate occasions) and classified by assigning each different type, a number, as applied to a different locomotives broad gauge of 1,676 mm scheme. On the other hand, acquired the Nitrate Railway, did not even receive the serial numbers of the State Railways. "
The oldest in service by the early 60', machines were type 22, which began its work in the year 1884 Types 38 and 39 were inducted into service in 1894 and in 1902 joined 68 types, 69 and 46, reaching the type 110 in the early 40 '. Since the types 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110 there were ten locomotives between these series.
The types of locomotives were assigned to specific tasks to train, although it was not unusual freight locomotives with passenger and vice versa, especially at the end of the days of steam.
The work of the steam locomotives were the following trains:
Ordinary passenger
Mixed (freight and passenger)
Carmakers train
In turn, the network is physically divided in the following units:
Northern Red: Calera to Sunken Village
Red South
2.1 First Zone: Mapocho Station to Valparaiso
2.2 Second Area: Alameda Station to Talca
2.3 Third District: Talca Temuco up
2.4 Fourth District: Temuco south
In general, each area had its arsenals, a situation that changed over time. While, in the early twentieth century construction of Central Maestranza de San Bernardo, where the steam locomotives come to be appropriate to their general repairs (major maintenance) will start.
Between 1922 and 1924, made ​​their appearance the first electric locomotives in state hands, the E-20 types, E-21, E-23 and E-28, 1,680 HP, 1,500 HP, 560 HP and 2,250 HP with a total of 39 machine. In this time had electrified the 1st District (Mapocho-port of Valparaiso), while the remaining network continued mostly with steam traction until 1964, during which the 2nd District was electrified.
In 1962, he had acquired electric locomotives called E-30 and E-32, while between 1952 and 1953, had made ​​the last purchase of steam locomotives (30 units of type 80, 1,666 HP).
A late 40 'the company was already moving towards diesel-electric material for non-electrified lines. Indeed, the first diesel locomotives were acquired in 1945, namely Dt-4000 (400 HP) types of meter gauge for the Northern Network. These would be used to cross the tunnel Cavilolén. However, already in 1942, had acquired three German automotive, diesel known in his time as "South Arrows". Since 1950, the company purchased diesel and electric locomotives only, except the purchase of 80 locomotives type steam above.
Electric traction remained stable between 1924 and 1964, because the extension projects of the network, should be postponed until the decade of the 60 '. Meanwhile, in the north there was a change to the diesel from 1945, which, steam locomotives stopped running, which concluded by 1963.
"The phenomenon described is normal and appeared in all railway companies for a period equal to or greater than that of the State Railways. It is logical that the team steam gradually replaced by diesel and electric equipment, for operational reasons, from a business point of view. "
From the decade of the 50 ', the (general) major repair of steam locomotives began to decline, in perfect agreement with the acquisitions of modern material, which replaced steam traction. Recovery, especially in the production of large locomotives from 64' year, explained by the delay of electrification, forcing a "bump" which had virtually been written off. There was also a rail recovery from 1961, so the need to drive further intensified.
At the beginning of electrification and diesel-1st, 2nd and 3rd Zone, steam locomotives started automatically considered as obsolete, especially with regard to drivers and maintenance staff. This was a situation that proved unmanageable for staff in middle and high level, which previously could be awarded, up to one month of salary for the care of your machine, from these, was inapplicable.
As a result, there was an oversight in the maintenance of steam engines, because "low would soon". In addition there was a mishandling on the part of many young drivers, this lack of personnel for the maintenance of houses joined machines.
"The conclusion we can make the operator against failure of materials, tools and media in general is:" If the company does not care about steam locomotives, Why will he do? "
These facts, lack of means, and further electrification dieselización the 2nd and 3rd zone, plotted against the maintenance of steam locomotives and the subsequent disappearance of these.
Due to the multitude and variety of existing rates until the 60's, some of them in very small amounts; it was necessary to normalize the models remain in use.
Considered the types of machines were three: 57; 70, 80 and W (to the north).
This policy made ​​the rest of the models (types for EFE) of the steam engines were written off and stored mainly in the Central Maestranza de San Bernardo, where they arrived for general repairs, which in most cases you would be withdrawn service, waiting their turn to be dismantled. Withdrawal process which was postponed in part, on the ninth and tenth region.
Some of them stopped working and were relegated, at stations, roundhouses or armories, which luckier of which went to the Central Maestranza de San Bernardo to be disassembled and sold "the kilo", some of them were preserved in the same as the icon of an era of dominance of steam.


By the early 40 'Company State Railways continued its policy of replacing steam power for electric traction, a process that had already begun in the 20s, from Valparaiso to Santiago as we pointed out (1st area).
This development was based on the large investments made ​​to achieve electrify CORFO rough areas. These investments allow the railways to become one of the major customers, ensuring the state, minimum consumption, which would allow justify investments to be undertaken to build hydroelectric plants.
The intention of the State Railways, was to form a single power line from Alameda to Chillán (zone 2), including the branch to Cartagena, since according to studies conducted by the company, this system would be a number of advantages, both economic and operational.
To do this, the Railways commissioned (apparently final) studies in late 1941 to "engineer Fernando Palma Rogers, head of the department of electrical section maestranzas traction" to estudiare and make the relevant scope of this project.
To feed this run, the installation eleven substations were considered to Chillán between Alameda and three in the branch to Cartagena.
As for the surplus steam locomotives, these would be redistributed in the third and fourth zone of railways. By the mid-thirties had begun buying more steam locomotives pulling power for both passenger and cargo already noted (types 90, 100 and 110).
Although these machines had managed to improve the efficiency of steam traction from Alameda to the south. The operation of steam engines, had become a very profitable business, due to the different types, antiques averages and power of locomotives that were available, which are more expensive envelope so the operation and maintenance of these.

The electrification of this branch already had seen in 1937, "having been purchased for that purpose, the firm Siemens Schuckert three locomotives and four cars, with four sub-station transformers, material that was built, tested and received in Germany" which was unable entirely to Chile, due to the outbreak of the Second World War.
This plan service improvement, bring a series of operating economies, improvements in journey times; ability to absorb a possible increased demand for services; due to the use of heavier and faster machines; implementation of motor, for short and medium distances traveled; homogenization of traffic equipment and significant carbon savings.
They were also requested in the United States four electric locomotives, known in the country as a "Golden Snake", made in 1949, whose weight reached 210 tonnes, to run from Alameda to Chillan, however, these machines are mostly made ​​features route to Valparaiso.
The equipment requested in Germany, attending the service ended in the fifth region and the operation of diesel-electric motor, called "Arrow South" were limited in their actions due to fuel shortages.
Despite the efforts and made ​​investments, it was not possible to achieve electrify the expected sections due to global conflict and only in the late fifties was again consider electrify from Alameda to Chillan, leaving postponed as indefinitely the ramp to Cartagena.
In the sixties the company implement its Renovation and Modernization Plan, which will seek to achieve an improvement in services and a decrease in operating costs. This plan was for the macroeconomic policies of major plans for the future, in which the National Transportation Plan CORFO included 1961-1970. Railways ministry OO: To this end the Central Transportation Commission, which was headed by Undersecretary of Transportation, and was composed of different actors, among which were included was created. PP., Maritime Company of Chile, National Airline, The Collective Transport Company, among others.
As we noted above, and since the mid-40 'had begun the process of energy substitution of the State Railways, for that I know bought diesel-electric machinery (locomotives Dt Dt 4001 and 4002) for the Northern Red partially coinciding this date with the maximum number of steam locomotives owned railways.
As for the electrification of the South Network, the Directorate General of Railways issued in August 1957 Ordinance No 5121, for which a contract is established by the "supply of the main elements to execute works of such magnitude with the Group Aziende Italiane (GAI), which should deliver 34 electric locomotives from a 3600 hp power unit. ; 22 locomotives of 2,400 hp. ; 8 trainsets; 16 fixed and mobile substations. "Along with this major contract with the Italian company, the purchase of rails, diesel-electric locomotives, rolling stock, signaling, communications and elements necessary to initiate the welding of rails in the country was considered. This will be installed on Chena (near San Bernardo), a welding plant.
With these new locomotives, "Arrow South train that runs between Alameda and Puerto Montt, currently takes between Santiago and Chillan 6 hours 2 minutes ... take about 4 hours 46 minutes, thus shortening the route in 1 hour and 16 minutes. "These times were estimated on the basis of a maximum speed of locomotives 120 miles per hour.

1.-Chillán Electrification Santiago
2. more diesel part of the North and South Networks
3. Renewal of nearly 1,000 kilometers of track with heavier rails and soldiers from Valparaiso to Puerto Montt and the replacement of some sections in the Northern Red
4. Renewal of passenger and cargo equipment
5.-Renewal Signaling and Communication
Acquisition of various equipment 6.-
Source: Report of the State Railways, 1962.
As for the number of workers, the State Railways came to have in this period more than 27,000 people number also achieved in this decade, its maximum extent, due to both the construction of new branches, such as the incorporation of private lines transferred the State.
This modernization process was a sustained effort to address overcrowding and road transport which they considered an imminent danger to the development and maintenance of the rail system, marking the director of FF. CC. "Entrepreneurs truck freight charge to a value below the true" cost "of transport, difference, obviously, have to pay the whole country ... Among the measures to take more actual tax conditions should be consulted on road users. "
In the early seventies the last motor was commissioned in both Argentina (AES) and Japan (AEL).

In 1979, Railways failed to receive the subsidy was delivered annually by the State, which led the company to face a number of difficulties. According to Ian Thomson, road transport exerted an "unfair" competition as larger trucks which compete with rail transport caused the most damage on the road. This injury was not covered by taxes and tolls paid this guild, which to some extent caused indirectly subsidize the state road transport.
This lack of subsidy came to end the "social role" that the railroad had represented, as the company had to abandon unprofitable branches. Basically passenger trains were abandoned in the branches and railways seek to focus the massive transfer of passengers and cargo. Along with this is looking reconvert the rolling stock owned, is how the video bar, moving automobiles cars, among other shows.
This unfair competition was corrected in the 90s, as the government would give "a bonus, per ton-km and passenger-km".

Currently the Chilean railway network consists of publicly owned lines (EFE) and private. The total mileage of all lines, reached its peak in 1930, when trains were operated over 8,937 kilometers of track. But in that year, private lines were already in decline due to the nitrate crisis, reaching its maximum extent decade earlier.
In 1960, public network reached 6,925 km. In late 1983, reached 6,236 km, but this total included some sections with traffic virtually suspended or suspended.
According to Ian Thomson traffic volume on roads EFE peaked between 1965 and 1968 when more than 2,000 million tonnes / kilometers transported annually. In 1981 and 1982, approximately 1,300 million tons / kilometers were transported. But in 1983, despite the economic downturn, rose to 1,761 million tonnes / kilometers.

The fleet of steam locomotives EFE peaked around 1950, when 534 machines were operating in the Southern Red and 119 in the Northern Red. In the North, the fleet of locomotives began to fall sharply thereafter, due to the acquisition of diesel machines.
In the South, the implementation of electrification projects in the sixties repercussions on the fleet of steam locomotives, which was competing with diesel, which came from the year 1953 addition, the acquisition of motor and reduced autocarriles demand for locomotives in general, which was affected, too, by the abandonment of branch lines and decreased volumes transported.
During the 80s there any equipment purchased. However, the fall in demand led to the decommissioning of steam locomotives. Although 81 steam locomotives were included in the fleet of tractor EFE team in late 1983, none of them was in regular use. Most were withdrawn, although about 12 were rehabilitated in the 80s in the ninth region to contribute to the operation of an emergency service.
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, EFE began a process of improvement of suburban services which included the purchase of remanufactured automotive Spain (UT440), which have powered commuter services between cities such as Rancagua-Santiago (Metrotren), French new motor in the stretch-Limache Valparaíso (MERVAL), improved design-Chigwell service (Biotrén, with some changes to the original idea). In turn, enhanced the railway train to Temuco with refurbished trains in Spain today and do not circulate between Santiago to Chillan motor with reconditioned motor (UT-444).
Currently EFE has been divided into separate business units each of the other transparent to the actual costs of the operation of passenger trains. Also in the south central area, the operation of freight trains by FEPASA (company that resulted from the privatization of the burden of EFE in 1996), have joined other operators as TRANSAP. In turn, FF.CC. transferred to the State Longitudinal CORFO North Railroad (from La Calera to Iquique), which eventually became a private company. Worth mentioning is the operation of Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway, which according to Ian Thomson, has been one of the most profitable railroads in the world for several years. Railway Slope remains Arica to La Paz, which is in the bidding stage to return back to operations.
Point deserve initiatives in operating trains tourism historic team. FERRONOR example is that with the help of private has a train between Pozo Almonte and the nitrate of Humberstone and Santa Laura, and in turn, the preparation of a train in the city of Iquique. In this line the FCAB restored steam locomotive and passenger cars, or in the center of Chile currently operates the Wine Train in the Seventh Region, the Tren de la Araucanía Region IX and Valdivia in the Region Rivers, operating routes EFE.



Actas del Consejo, Ministerio de Ferrocarriles, desde 1922 a 1924.
Características de Locomotoras de Vapor y Eléctricas, Ferrocarriles del Estado, Departamento de Tracción y Maestranzas, 1944.  
“Catástrofes en Chile”, Rosa Urrutia de Hazbún, Carlos Lanza Lazcano, Editorial La Noria, Santiago de Chile, 1993. 
Decretos, Ministerio de Ferrocarriles, varios años.
“Efectos Sociales y a Nivel de la Empresa de un Sistema de Mantenimiento Preventivo de Locomotoras a Vapor en la Empresa de Ferrocarriles del Estado”, Memoria para optar al Título de Ingeniero Civil Industrial de Hans M. Wolf, Santiago de Chile, 1969.
“El Debate entre las Bondades de la Tecnología “Americana” e “Inglesa” en los Ferrocarriles Estatales Chilenos de la Década de 1870” Ian Thomson, Ediciones Historia, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, 2002.
“El Ferrocarril Trasandino, 1872-1984”, Pablo Lacoste, Dirección de Bibliotecas Archivos y Museos, Santiago de Chile, 2000.
“En Nuestra Tierra Huasa de Colchagua: Energía y Motores”, Víctor León Vargas, Ediciones Museo de Colchagua, San Fernando, Chile, 1996.
 “Ferrocarriles de Chile, Historia y Organización”, Emilio Vasallo y Carlos Matus, editores, Editorial Rumbo, Santiago de Chile, 1943.
Ferrocarriles de Chile, Santiago Marín Vicuña, IV Edición, Imprenta Cervantes, Santiago de Chile, 1916.
Historia del Ferrocarril en Chile, Ian Thomson y Dietrich Angerstein, del Centro de Investigaciones Barros Arana, Dirección Bibliotecas Archivos y Museos, Santiago de Chile, 1997.
“Historia Social de los Ferroviarios”, Armando Sepúlveda, Imprenta Siglo XX, Santiago de Chile, 1959. 
 “La Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado, Su Actual Situación, Técnica, Financiera y Sus Necesidades”, Alejandro Iriarte, (Director General), Talleres Gráficos de los Ferrocarriles del Estado, Santiago de Chile, 1946. 
 “Los Ferrocarriles Chilenos: Pasado Presente”, Ian Thomson, Museo Ferroviario de Santiago, Santiago de Chile, marzo de 1994.
“Los Hermanos Clark”, Santiago Marín Vicuña, Establecimientos Gráficos Balcells & Co., Santiago de Chile, 1929.
“Memoria de los Ferrocarriles del Estado”, varios años.
 “Planos de Locomotoras, Ferrocarriles del Estado, Oficina Técnica de la Maestranza Central de San Bernardo, 1984.
“Refuerzo de Puentes Metálicos”, Julio Tapia Cabezas, Talleres Gráficos de los Ferrocarriles del Estado, Santiago de Chile, 1945.
“Reseña Histórica del Ferrocarril entre Santiago y Valparaíso”, Ramón Rivera Jofré, Santiago de Chile, reedición 1963 (1ª edición 1863).
“Vapor al Norte, Tren al Sur, El Viaje Presidencial como Práctica Política en Chile. Siglo XIX”, Rafael Sagredo Baeza, Colección Sociedad y Cultura, Dirección de Bibliotecas Archivos y Museos, Santiago de Chile, 2001.





"La Interesante Historia del Desarrollo de sus Ferrocarriles", Pág. 68-70, publicado en el "Boletín de la Asociación Internacional Permanente", del Congreso Sudamericano de Ferrocarriles, año XXV, julio-agosto de 1941, Nº 67, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“59, Su Historia”, Ian Thomson, en la revista En Tren, Nº 3, mayo de 1993. 
“Catálogo de Locomotoras a Vapor Existente en Chile”, enero de 1998, coordinador Ian Thomson. 
“La Era de los Coches Metálicos en Chile”, Marco Sandoval Ormazabal, en revista En Tren Nº 8, diciembre de 2000.
“La Muerte Rápida de la Tracción a Vapor en el Sur”, Ian Thomson, en revista En Tren Nº 8, diciembre de 2000. 
“Las North British de Carga”, Ian Thomson, en revista “En Tren” Nº 9, págs.16-20, noviembre de 2001.
“Locomotoras a Vapor: Historia y Evolución de la Tracción a Vapor”, Pablo Moraga, revista En Tren Nº 10, septiembre de 2002. 
Locomotoras del Museo Ferroviario de Santiago: entrevista a Ian Thomson, Marco Sandoval, Museo Ferroviario, Documentos de Trabajo Nº 3, Agosto 1996.
“Mikado, Las Locomotoras Tipo 70”, Marco Sandoval Ormazabal, en revista En Tren, Nº 11, Noviembre de 2003. 
“Trenes de Ciudad, Los Primeros Ferrocarriles Urbanos de Santiago”, Marco Sandoval, en revista En Tren Nº 9, noviembre de 2001.