Railroad related web content provided as an educational volunteer effort of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. To help preserve passenger rail heritage click here to join today! Support APRHF by shopping at Amazon Smile!
Custom Search
HOME APRHF TRAINWEB.COM .NET .ORG .US FORUM FACEBOOK NEWS LINKS TRAVEL RAILFAN MODEL JOBS PARTY
TrainWeb Reports & Web Sites: Featured Today! Previously Featured Slideshows Highlighted Past The Big Stories Directory

Continuer en FrançaisSteam Trains in Paraguay


You will find here some pictures of what may be the last days of steam in Paraguay. Some were taken in the year 2000 and 2001, when the trains were still running out of the San Francisco Central Station in Asunción.

The engines pictured were all wood fired; some of them were up to 1996 in daily use for passengers and goods trains, some of them running all the way to the Argentinian frontier and through to Buenos Aires.

After 1996 a tourist service was run at week-ends between Asunción and Ypacarai.

The following refers only to the Ferrocarril Don Carlos Antonio Lopez (FCPAL), that runs (ran ?) from Asunción to Encarnación;. There are other unconnected lines in the North of the country, usually running inland from a port on the river, (Puerto Pinasco, Puerto Casado) but I have little information on those, apart from the fact that they seem to have all ceased to operate.

History

The building of this railway began in 1858, under the presidency of Don Carlos Antonio Lopez. Like so many others on the continent, it is claimed to have been the first in South America. ;-3)
(for the record, Guyana: Georgetown - Rosignol 1848, Peru: Lima - Callao 1851, Chile: Copiapó - Caldera, 1854)

It was built by British engineers and technicians contracted in Europe by the Paraguayan government of President Don Carlos Antonio Lopez. The first section of the line was opened in 1861.

Interrupted by the War of the Triple Alliance, the construction resumed after peace was signed, but then under the private ownership of a British company. The line now extends as far as Encarnation, 440 kilometres away on the Argentine border, where it connects to the Argentine North Eastern Railway.

It had one spur branching off at San Salvador to Abai, that would if completely built have extended to Ciudad del Este and connected to the Brazilian system; but this has already been closed, and the track lifted.

Technical Stuff

The track was originally laid at 5'6" (1.65 m) gauge, like many of those built in Argentina and Brazil; but when the rails finally reached Encarnación, the North Western Railway that ran from Buenos Aires to Posadas, on the other side of the Parana River, used the standard 4'8'1/2 gauge, and so the whole track had to be regauged to allow through-running all the way to Buenos Aires.

It is interesting to notice that, apart from two engines built in 1953, all the engines on the railway were built between 1910 and 1914 by British builders straight after the re-gauging of the line, and so does a lot of the heavy equipment used on the railway (see the picture loco30 for the builders plate on the turntable in Asunción).

The track was laid following usual British practice of the time, using bullhead rails held in chairs spiked to hardwood sleepers.

Up to 1991 the only "signalling" used on the railway was a gong on the platform in Asunción, to warn passengers of the impending departure of the train. An electric telegraph was used to let stations communicate together and for many years the Railway Company ran the country's telegraph system.

In 1991 with the building of the international rail-road bridge between Concepción and Posadas the railway became physically linked to the Argentinian rail system, and this compelled the FCPCAL to install signals and a ground-frame at the entrance of the international station in Concepción.

A 5-levers frame controls a couple of very British-looking Saxby-Farmer lower-quadrant semaphores and two sets of points. All other points on the system are controlled by local trackside levers, and there is not one facing-point lock to be seen in the whole country.

One of the original engines "Sapukai", still in 5'6" gauge, is exposed on a plinth in the San Francisco Central Station, with a plaque recording it pulled the inaugural train to Trinidad on the 21st of October 1861. It was run again in 1961 for the centenary celebrations, running on compressed air and on a third rail hastily provided for the last 300 m of track into the station.

Other Lines

There are a number of other railway lines in the North of the country, both in standard and narrow (1 metre and 60 cm) gauges totalling over 600 kilometres of track, that connect various places to ports on the the Paraguay river.

They were all steam-hauled, and were technically goods-only lines. I do not have any information on their use for carrying passengers, but I have read that they were used to transport troops during the Chaco War and that one (Puerto Casado) was used to carry immigrants in the fifties when the Mennonite colons came to settle in the Chaco region.

The information I have received is that they appear to have all stopped operating, although there were plans to revive the Puerto Casado line as a steam-hauled tourist attraction.

The Future

Following a derailment in 2000 in which a young girl passenger was killed, the last tourist passenger service that ran at week-ends between Asunción and Ypacaray has been suppressed and the line is now completely closed.

The prospects for a return of trains to the San Francisco station now look impossible, since the formation has now been taken over by a street building scheme.

Still there are talks of restoring a touristic train from a station outside the city centre to Ypacaray, if the towns involved can bring together the means and the political will to do it.

Should this scheme work out, the plan would be to move the engine shed, water tank and turntable from their present location outside the San Francisco Station to the Estación Botanico on the fringe of the town; the railway owns enough land there to make this move possible.

The use of the railway for goods transport from Asunción, including through to Argentina and the Atlantic coast, has now stopped and its future is under grave threat since the construction of the Yacyreta hydro-electric dam. The formation will be drowned under the waters of the lake for over 40 kilometres, and there is little hope of seing it rebuilt since the indemnities already paid by the Yacyreta project for reinstating the railway track seem to have mysteriously "disappeared".
This is regretable, since there is a demand in the South for exporting to Argentina and beyond the produce of the cultivation of soy and cotton, which are the two main exports of the country, and are now transported by road at a much higher cost.

I hope to visit the engine sheds in Sapukai this summer, and will post more pictures then.

Late News (07/2006)

As a result of the posting of the above, I have received the following email from the FCPDCAL:

"I´m writing you in representation of Paraguayan Railways Inc., former Ferrocarril Central Carlos Antonio López.

We would like to clarify some points about the information that was published on the web page, Steams Trains in Paraguay.

In first place, the Tourist Lake Train is currently running, since february 2004, from Asunción to Areguá. It departs from the Botánico Station up to the Areguá Station.

In second place, we would like to stand out, that all locomotives currently running are wood fired.

A section of six kilometers was restored in the city of Encarnación for the goods and soybeans transport to the Argentinian border. This trade is made with the city of Posadas, and is one of the main incomes of the company.

The wood-fired steam tourist train is now (2006) running again to Aregua every Saturday and Sunday, with plans to extend the working to Ypacaray and Sapukai later.


But sadly, the above link to the official site seldom seems to work.....

The whole of Puerto Casado has now been expropriated by the State, which put in dire jeopardy any plans to revive that line for tourists.

The Pictures

You can see (or download) the full pictures in another frame / tab by clicking (or shift-clicking) on the links on the right. Beware, some of the files are big.

Except for pictures loco39.jpg and loco40.jpg all the other pictures on this page are ©Renaud OLGIATI 1999-2004.

You are hereby given the licence to use those pictures for non-commercial purposes, on the condition that you acknowledge the rights of the copyright holder. For commercial use, contact me by email

Pictures loco39.jpg and loco40.jpg are stills from Robert Adley's 1991 film "Paraguay Steam", and are used by kind permission of the holders of the copyright, Dashwood Productions of 8 South Street, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3NQ; UK (Tel: 01308 423164). The DVD of the film is available from Camden Miniature Steam Services.

If needed, I have the pictures loco30 and higher in 1600x1200; just ask.

The pictures loco01 to 14 were taken in September 2001, loco21 to 28 in October 2002 during one of the last runs to Ypacaray, and loco31 to 38 in January 2004, just after the San Francisco station was cut off from the rail network.
Loco99 is in the empty South, at a level crossing near Maciel

Index to the pictures
loco01.jpg Two pictures of "Sapukai", a 4-2-2 built in 1860
loco02.jpg
loco11.jpg 151, one of the 4-6-0 built in 1953, ready to be fired if needed.
loco12.jpg
loco13.jpg 226 and 228, two of the 4-6-0 built in 1910, in a sorry state of neglect.
loco14.jpg
loco21.jpg The approaches to San Francisco Station in Asunción, with 226 and 228 not looking much better than they did last year.
loco22.jpg
loco23.jpg 152, the other 1953 4-6-0, loading wood and water before the start of the trip.
loco24.jpg 152 hitched-up at the front of the train.
loco25.jpg At a stop, somewhere on the way.
loco26.jpg Picking-up water for the return trip.
loco27.jpg Coming back to Asunción, from the footplate.
loco30.jpg The engine shed and repair shop, in Asunción; inset, the maker's plate of the turn-table.
loco31.jpg 228 and 226 again, the one tarted-up on a plinth at the side of the road, the other still in the same sorry state in a siding.
loco32.jpg
loco33.jpg 521, another 4-6-0 built in 1912, being painted inside the engine shed.
loco34.jpg
loco35.jpg 53, yet another 4-6-0 built in 1912, all brightly painted up inside the San Francisco Station in Asunción.
loco36.jpg
loco37.jpg
loco38.jpg Some old carriages parked on what used to be the platform. The white paint is because they were for a time used as a travelling dental surgery.
The blue and grey carriages at the back of the rake were bought on 1971 from Argentina in an effort to modernize rail travel.
loco99.jpg The Future ?
All the engines built in the 1910's were built by North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow. The two 1953 engines were built by Yorkshire Engine Company in Sheffield.

loco01.jpg
loco01.jpg

loco02.jpg
loco02.jpg

loco11.jpg
Loco11.jpg

loco12.jpg
loco12.jpg

loco13.jpg
loco13.jpg

loco14.jpg
Loco14.jpg

loco21.jpg
loco21.jpg

loco22.jpg
loco22.jpg

loco23.jpg
loco23.jpg

loco24.jpg
loco24.jpg

loco25.jpg
loco25.jpg

loco26.jpg
loco26.jpg

loco27.jpg
loco27.jpg

loco30.jpg
loco30.jpg)

loco31.jpg
loco31.jpg

loco32.jpg
loco32.jpg

loco33.jpg
loco33.jpg

loco34.jpg
loco34.jpg

loco35.jpg
loco35.jpg

loco36.jpg
loco36.jpg

loco37.jpg
loco37.jpg

loco38.jpg
loco38.jpg

loco99.jpg
loco99.jpg

If you are interested in steam, you may care to visit the sites of the two pioneers of steam railway preservation in Wales, theTalyllwyn Railway and the Festiniog Railway.

Go Back to the Olgiati Web-Site
Back to the Olgiati Family in Paraguay web-site

TRENZE 22/06/2007 ©Renaud OLGIATI
Published with : Kompozer Linux
 


View TrainWeb.US Stats

Click below for pages in the directory of TrainWeb sites:
0-9 A B C D E
F G H I J K
L M N O P Q
R S T U V W
X Y Z
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CATEGORY DIRECTORY

Visit our Rail Magazine promotion trading partners:      (Click here to add your print rail magazine.)


Custom Search
TrainWeb Reports & Web Sites: Featured Today! Previously Featured Slideshows Highlighted Past The Big Stories Directory
HOME APRHF TRAINWEB.COM .NET .ORG .US FORUM FACEBOOK NEWS LINKS TRAVEL RAILFAN MODEL JOBS PARTY
Newsletter | About Us | Contact Us | Advertise With Us | Silver Rails Country for Train Enthusiasts
View Stats  | Page updated:02/08/2016  | Version 2016b08c  | Links  | ©2015-2017 NordiLusta, LLC