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RAILWAYS OF THE WORLD

AUSTRALIA RAILWAYS: CAIRNS KURANDA SCENIC RAILWAY - COUNTRY LINK CANBERRA HERITAGE RAILWAY - NORTH WILLIAMSTOWN RAILWAY MUSEUM PUFFING BILLY - QUEENSLAND RAILWAYS - SEYMOUR TO BENALLA RAILWAY SKYRAIL - VICTORIAN GOLDFIELDS RAILWAY - ZIG ZAG RAILWAY - 707 GROUP - 3801
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NEW ZEALAND RAILWAYS: ARTHURS PASS - AUCKLAND MUSEUM OF TRANSPORT (MOTAT) FERRYMEAD MUSEUM OF TRANSPORT - GLENBROOK RAILWAY - KINGSTON FLYER
MAINLINE STEAM AUCKLAND TO WELLINGTON AND PICTON TO INVERCARGILL - PLAINS RAILWAY PLEASANT POINT RAILWAY - TAIERI GORGE RAILWAY - WEKA PASS RAILWAY
NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL ARTICLES - MILFORD SOUND - T.S.S. EARNSLAW - ROTORUA

PERU RAILWAYS - PERURAIL - F.C.C.A. - CENTRAL RAILWAY - SOUTHERN RAILWAY
CUSCO AND SANTA ANA RAILWAY - HUANCAYO AND HUANCAVELICA RAILWAY YAURICOCHA RAILWAY - CERRO DE PASCO - ENAFER

ECUADOR RAILWAYS - FERROCARRILL ECUATORIANA
E.F.E. - E.N.F.E. - GUAYAQUIL & QUITO - QUITO & SAN LORENZO
DURAN - YAGUACHI - BUCAY - HUIGRA - SIBAMBE - ALAUSI - RIOBAMBA - URBINA - EL BOLICHE - TAMBILLO - QUITO
IBARRA - PRIMER PASO - LITA - EL PROGRESO - SAN LORENZO

IRISH RAIL - NORTHERN IRELAND RAILWAYS - TRALEE AND BLENNERVILLE STEAM RAILWAY
ENGLAND - FFESTINIOG RAILWAY - GREAT ORME TRAMWAY - SCOTLAND

EUROPEAN RAILWAYS : HARZER-SCHMALSPUR-BAHNEN-RASENDER ROLAND - MOLLI GERMAN STEAM RAILWAYS - CZECH RAILWAYS - MAJORCAN RAILWAYS
MOROCCO RAILWAYS - NORWAY RAILWAYS - POLISH RAILWAYS
ROMANIAN RAILWAYS - SPANISH RAILWAYS - SLOVAK RAILWAYS

Updated : 12th. April 2008

This article covers the Central Railway of Peru now known as the FCCA. The Yauricocha and Cerro Des Pasco Railways, originally railways in their own right, and now part of FCCA have their own pages accessed by clicking on the menu on the left.

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The Peru Central or the FCCA as it is now known is one of the great, if not the greatest railways in the world. It is a marvel of engineering with absolutely superb scenery and operates up to 17,000 feet, the highest adhesion, standard gauage passenger railway anywhere in the world.

The Central Railway of Peru has had a number of name changes.  Originally it was “The Peruvian Corporation” which built it in the British style and many of the stations look exactly like their counterparts on the GSR in Ireland or British Branch Lines.  The main original offices in Desemparados Station were british colonial style and magnificent as was the station building itself.

Lima, the capital city of Peru, and the nearby port of Callao contain over 20 per cent of the country's population and half of the town dwellers of Peru now live in Lima and Callao. Part of this is due to the young people becoming disillusioned with the country and lack of facilities and migrating to the city where they find no work causing an even bigger social problem.

 

The Lima-Callao Railway a short suburban line opened in 1851 connecting  the city and the port. This terminated at Desemparados station where one of the most famous of all South American railways started, the Central of Peru.  While owned by the Peruvian Corporation it was always – and for that matter, still is – known as the Central of Peru.  Henry Meiggs built it and it made him famous and he started work on it on 20th January 1870.  Meiggs did not live to see it completed in 1878 as he died the year before

 

In 1870 the  Lima-Callao line was already in existence, but Meiggs got round its exclusive concession by building a private line between the capital and the docks. Later, the original railway was taken over by the Central, but by then tramway competition had made redundant the local passenger service, once worked half-hourly by 2-6-2Ts. At Callao is Guadalupe depot and works where even today one or two steam locomotives survive, including the last Andes 2-8-0 No. 206 and two tank engines. From here it is but a short run over the now single track main line to station, Lima.

 

The first part of the journey from Lima towards the mountains is relatively easy, 40km up the Rimac valley to Chosica where there is a locomotive depot formerly inhabited by the mountain section Garretts.  Climbing commences immediately after Chosica and soon the first reversing section is reached at Tornamesa. The line ascends steadily, with tunnels, bridges, viaducts and further zig-zag reversals until at Chicla (141 km) an altitude of 3,734m has been reached. This is where work stopped in 1878, a few months after Meiggs' death, and was not restarted until after the formation of the Peruvian Corporation in 1890. Beyond Chicla are further double zig-zags, with superb views, and Casapalca (160km altitude 4,360m) is near the summit of the main line, which is in the Galera tunnel at 4,782m above sea level.  Until 1955 the highest point on the railway was on the Morococha branch at La Cima, near Ticlio, where the track reaches 4,818m. In 1955 a short 1km branch was built from La Cima to the new Volcan mine, and this reaches 4,829m. This is the highest point reached by rail in the world.

 

The original Morococha branch which continues by way of a zig-zag from Ticlio appears to offer an alternative through route to the current Central main line but in fact with three zig-zags and a terminal station at Morococha, it is a slow journey. The line got to Morococha (14km) in 1902. but the link between there and Cut-Off (18km), although now part of the Central Railway, was built by the Cerro de Pasco Corporation in 1921. This Railway, one of the most remote in the world, yet a  heavy mountain railroad with trains of 2,000 tons  is covered on a  separate page on this site and has its own photographs. Owing to the “Shining Path” very few outsiders have been on it and the author was the first to take a passenger train there in sixteen years.

 

This concern was American owned, and from La Oroya on the Central Railway (222km, altitude 3,726m) their main line runs past Lake Junin to Cerro de Pasco and  Goyllarisquisga. 

 

They also work the Pachacayo-Chaucha line (80km), which separated from the rest of their system by 40km of Central track. This branch is known as the Yauricocha Railway, and was built during 1942-8. Chaucha is the highest point on the C de P (4,724m) on this branch and from there an aerial cableway extends to the once a  heavy mountain railroad with trains of 2,000 tons, now disused,  is covered on a  separate page on this site and has its own photographs.

 

 

The final section of the Central from La Oroya to Huancayo was built between 1905 and 1908 and was straightforward railway building over relatively level ground following as it does the Mantaro River Valley.   There used to be a  local passenger service over the Jauja-Huancayo section once worked by a  Sentinel-Cammell steam railcar and later by railcars.

 

Main   line dieselisation did not commence until 1963 when three Alco diesel electrics of 1.200hp.type DL535. were received. They were followed by a total of 15 Co-Co   DL  560s   of  2,400hp. supplied  in   1964-6.  The Central and Southern shared later orders and the Alcos were used on both standard gauge and narrow gauge lines with bogie changes.   Subsequently some Brazilian built EMD Type 645 diesels were got and have been followed in the last few years by four 3200 HP secondhand General Electrics from the U.S.

 

Only one active steam engine survives, stored at Guadalupe depot, Lima, an "Andes" type 2-8-0 no. 206, built by Beyer Peacock in 1937. It is used on tours and charters and many of the photos on this page were taken by the author with it.

 

The Central is very vulnerable to landslides, washouts and other disasters caused by the violent weather conditions in the mountains at certain times of the year. The railway closes regularly and superb repair crews normally have it reopened within days. Despite the great expense of keeping such a railway open there is no other alternative means of transport capable of handling the bulk traffic carries, and the future seems secure as long as the mines stay open.

 

The railway was nationalized in 1961  and traded as ENAFER which was a disaster as it was then run into the ground until, 1999 when a consortium led by RDC of America with local partners obtained the concession.  They have revitalized the railway but alas there is little scheduled passenger service left  consisting of a monthly train to Huancayo and Cerro de Pasco between April and October as well as a local train to San Bartolome once a week. It now trades as FCCA although some stock carries FVCA.

 

The original livery was a green very similar to CEI and as it also used Cravens stock on a  British GWR type railway one could be forgiven for thinking one was in Ireland or the UK. The author first started on the Central in 1964 and hopes to put a series of this era on this page in the near future. The locos had yellow bands.

 

The livery then changed to the standard very smart looking ENAFER livery of orange and yellow, used for all diesel locomotives, railcars and passenger stock. The EMD’s then adopted a dull, hideous maroon livery which was noted by the management as when the GE’s came they were painted very smartly in relieved red as can be seen from the photos and look superb. Peruvian Railways are particularly noted for keeping the exterior of their stock in excellent condition.

 

Smart operation was a feature of the Central in steam days. Superb co-operation between dispatchers and crews, combined with locomotives in tip-lop condition, reduced crossing delays on this heavily trafficked single track to a minimum which would have been the envy of any sea-level railway. There are very few railways which run such a slick operation on the level, never mind up and down 17,000 feet and their operating crew are fantastic.

 

When the diesels came, with their unvarying power and braking characteristics  it enabled a very precise railway to be run and this continues to the present day when the railway is run by the timetable and does run to time – Irish Rail please note! In steam days, all freight ran as "extras" with crossings ordered by the dispatchers as expedient. Interestingly the Central was a British-owned railway, operating under the North American system of train orders, but using the Spanish language.

 

Uphill, the diesels climb at an unvarying 25km per hour and the pauses at the reversing points are no longer than the time it lakes the engineer to put his lever from "forward" to "reverse". Downhill, speed is 35-40km per hour, which the engineer maintains by sensitive adjustments of the dynamic brake. He keeps a steady 30lb on the straight air brake, just enough to keep the brake shoes warm, and has the automatic air brake ready, although it is spar­ingly used in normal running.

 

It is an interesting experience to drive a heavily loaded train downhill and one has to be very careful as they would just love to runaway.  A zigzag takes about the same time uphill or downhill.  The points are set for uphill and the brakeman has to sit on the spring loaded points until the train has passed and then he jumps aboard the loco as it passes. Reversing stops are just as short as on the uphill trip, although downhill a brakeman has to drop off the end of the train and hold down the spring safety switch by sitting on it as the train sets off downhill, then leap aboard the front of the locomotive as it passes..

 

Obviously the length of the ziz-zag severely governs the length of the train so there are no cabooses.  The conductor and his two brake men ride on the car tops in the tradi­tional U.S. and it can be bloody awful cold up there on a  freezing Andean night. Taking a walk along the top on a swaying, bucking boxcar is one of lifes interesting experiences.

 

Huancayo, inland terminus of the Central Railway, is capital of the Junin province, and has a population of about 120,000. It is situated at an altitude of 3,621m above sea level. It is famous for its markets but going to guerilla activity has been off limits for years and is only now open to tourists again.

 

From Huanacayo a government owned 3ft gauge railway, still part of ENAFER. extends for 128km to Huancavelica. Construction commenced in 1908 but progress was slow and by 1926 only about 35km had been laid. At first the line follows the valley of the river Mantero but then it leaves the road to Ayacucho (originally intended to be its destination), and crosses the mountain.  This is another railroad with superb scenery.

 

This Railway, totally banned to outsiders for year’s is also one of the most remote in the world.  It  is covered on a  separate page on this site and has its own photographs. Owing to the “Shining Path” very few outsiders have been on it.

 

Today the Central is a thriving railroad and looks set to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  If only they would pack the daily passenger service!

These pictures were taken by the webmaster spread over a number of trips in recent times. It is hoped to have soon photos from the 1960's but these are currently on slides and have to be converted and this will take time.

Desemparados Station, Lima is the starting point.

Webmaster with latest GE loco 1001 at station prior to departure.

Train getting ready for departure to Huancayo and Cerro De Pasco.
It will split at La Oroya.

Lima is generally in perpetual fog so sun is rare.
The last rain was about twenty years ago.
The line runs along the road out of Lima.
Track fencing expenditure is minimal.

Many people live in squalor.

Old coaches appear like ghosts from the past.
These probably came from the Cerro De Pasco Railway.

Administrative HQ of the FCCA is now in modern buildings in Chosica.

The climb starts from San Bartolome where the entire train is reversed.

1001 looks resplendent in the new loco livery.

This is from another trip where Alco 609 provided power.
This is the old ENAFER livery.

Backing up is a more much more reliable engine.
206 is also coming.

206 gets closer.

Parlor Car "PAQUITA" on the turntable.

Coach 1023 in the new coach livery and very smart it is.

Dining Car 1355 in intermediate livery.

The railway goes from here straight up the mountain.
If you look carefully half way up you will see the line.

We have started climbing and you can
barely see the line coming across 800 feet higher.

Taken from the upper level you can see the lowest level
outside San Bartolome station below.
Note the diesel in the distance.

The diesel is coming closer.

Alco 609 on the viaduct.

Smoke coming. Must be 206.

This could have been taken 50 years ago.

Approaching the viaduct.

Closeup of 206. A magnificent piece of machinery.

Engineer.

Firebox and area.

The webmaster had to get in somewhere!

Automatic decoupler - well sort of!
Do not pull the rod when the train is in motion!

Tunnels are fun! Don't choke!

It's called the light at the end of the tunnel!

Full steam ahead.

609 now takes over the entire train.

We are going three times as high as the top of the mountains you can see.

The Andes gives the illusion that the top is clearly visible whereas
you end up around a corner and a new top appears.
It is never ending. In places there are fertile valleys and
of course right at the top a vast plain - the altiplano.

Here is a typical valley.

Yet another small plain. Every inch is cultivated.
We are at about 4,000 feet.

It is nice to know we have an escort seen here waving to us.

Families wash by the river.

The local graveyard.

A Closer View.

Closer.

A Low Cost - Low Fares Taxi!

Welcome to the town of Chicla.

Shops.

Corrugated iroon roofs are still in fashion here.

You decide if you would like to live there.

A family rests.

The kids watch in awe at the rich tourists. They are very well dressed.

This is an interesting shot.
The train came into the town below and this picture
is also taken from the train which has literally climbed
up the mountainside. This is an adhesion standard gauge railway.

Back on the train the entertainment starts....

Complete with clowns.

At times the valleys narrow making it difficult to build the railway.

Mine tailings make a right mess.

Mining towns are not exactly the most desirable places in the world to live.

We still have to climb over the top up at the snow level. We are about 10,500 feet now.

It was some feat to build a railway up here!

The next series of photographs speak for themselves
and need no captions. They give a flavour fo taking a
train in the Andes and the place is fascinatingly beautiful.
Enjoy them.

We now arrive at the large mining town of Casapalca which is arguably not one of the most desirable places in the world to live.

The daily passenger trains are no more but the station remains. Notice the British style as it was built by a British Railway.

A general view of Casapalca Station. Even though we are at 13,632 feet there is 4,000 more to go and the railway climbs all the way up to the top of the mountain in the photograph.

Webmaster has to get in every so often! What is interestiugn is that Webmaster has a similar photo taken in 1964 and nothing in the town seems to have changed and for that matter the station does not seem to have been painted. The only visible change is TV.

Locals are hardy and tough and used to the altitude.

Schoolboys are well dressed in uniform and cheerful.

Likewise the girls.

. We are now about 14,000 feet and the landscape is desolate and bare.
If you look carefully you will the line of the railway at two levels
literally climbing up the mountain from Casapalca.

. The scenery is breathtaking.

Here is a view looking down from the train.

How the built a railway here is amazing.

Casapalca is now below us.

Another view looking down.

The mine tailing lake at Ticlio. We still have to climb over the top.

. Ticlio is the high point on the Lima side of the tunnel.
The old Morococha main line took off on the right.

The entrance to the tunnel.

Ticlio is desolate.

The abandoned buildings at Ticlio.

Galera on the other side is 15,610 feet. The highest point is in the middle of the tunnel.

The sign says it all.

An interesting shot showing six levels of railway!

The following scenes are on the original Morococho line bertween Ticlio and Cutoff.







We are now headed downhill to La Oroya.

The train is dwarfed by the mineral covered mountains.

The following scenes are on this downhill run.









Approaching La Oroya the mountains go white.

A very typical mining town.

Pollution controls have yet to be invented.

Our train stops at La Oroya for a loco change. This is the junction for the Cerro De Pasco Railway. See separate page.

Shunter 24 an EMD delivered new to the Cerro De Pasco railway doing its job.

Some of the mining wagons at La Oroya.

FCCA Mnagement.

At Pachacayo the Chaucha branch otherwise the Yauricocha Railway leaves us. See separate page for this railway.

A meet with EMD 705 and a freight

Special Coach Paquita.

Henry Posner III, centre, Chairman FCCA with two Management colleagues. Henry has done more for reviving the passenger service not alone in Peru but throughout Latin America than anyone else. He does a superb job and deserves every kudo possible. He is also Chairman of RDC, a U.S. Corporatioon which manages a number of railways in South America.

Kitchen on Paquita.

Stove.

A sample meal.

Another tasty meal.

Bathroom.

Light Fitting detail.

Bedroom.

Wayside station between La Oroya and Huancayo. This line is used infrequently now.

Shining Path destroyed Huancayos economy and many roads need to be built..

Another example.

Living is not exactly comfortable.

Local Transport.

Cleaning the Roads.

Typical Shop.

Another Shop.

Yet another shop.

Going to market.

Alco 436 with our train ready to depart in ......

Huancayo

Huancayo.

Once upon a time it was 112 would do the run.

End of a magnificent trip. Try it. You will never regret it. It is one fo the wonders of the world.