Ferrocarril Provincial de Buenos Aires
|Ferrocarril Provincial de Buenos Aires|
|Dates of operation||1907–1948|
|Successor||FC General Belgrano|
|Track gauge||Metre gauge|
The Ferrocarril Provincial de Buenos Aires (FCPBA) (in English: Province of Buenos Aires Railway) was a company that operated a 902 km 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge railway network in the Province of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Founded in 1907 as the Ferrocarril Provincial del Puerto de La Plata al Meridiano V, the company changed its name to FCPBA in 1924, in 1951 it was taken into state ownership and in 1953 it was absorbed by the state-owned Ferrocarril General Manuel Belgrano. The FCPBA should not confused with the similarly named French–owned Ferrocarril Compañía General en la Provincia de Buenos Aires (CGBA) which also operated in the Province.
By the end of 19th century railway lines in Buenos Aires Province were managed by two British companies, Ferrocarril del Sud and Ferrocarril del Oeste. Both companies had the monopoly of the market, apart from fixing the rates. Therefore, the Government of Buenos Aires thought of an railway transport which could work as an efficient alternative to the British-owned ones.
In 1897, the "Law of Agriculture and Economy Railway lines" was proclaimed. This Law allowed any person to built (under some legal and technical requirements) cape gauge railway lines. Governor of Buenos Aires Province, Marcelino Ugarte, encouraged the construction of a regional railway line to compete against the dominant British companies. He considered that the appearance of a more economic railroad transport would make British companies to decrease the rates to keep their position in the market.
The lines to be built were determined as following:
- A 270 km extension branch to Meridiano V, starting between a point to be determined between Monte and Saladillo stations.
- Another branch from General Alvear to Olavarría.
In August 1907 authorisation was given for the construction of the line, originally named Ferrocarril Provincial del Puerto de La Plata al Meridiano V, by the Province of Buenos Aires and the Societe Anonime Franco-Argentine de Travaux Publics (in English: Franco-Argentine Public Works Company), a Franco-Belgium company headed by Otto Bemberg.
Construction began in La Plata in June 1909 and the sections of the line were opened as follows: to Saladillo Norte (206 km) on 12 March 1912, to Blas Durañona (36 km) on 1 August 1912, to 9 de Julio (66 km) on 7 February 1913, to Km 440 (132 km) on 21 May 1913 and finally to Mira Pampa (113 km) on 7 January 1914. This completed a 553 km line with 31 stations and on 31 August 1916 the provincial government took over the operation of the railway. On 14 November 1924 the name of the company was changed to the FCPBA.
Exploitation and Expansion
The following branch lines were opened: Carlos Beguerie to Azul (169 km) and La Plata to Avellaneda (50.9 km) on 20 January 1927, Pedro Gamen to Pehuajo (20 km) on 10 May 1930, Ariel to Olavarria (56 km) on 6 October 1930, Tcnl Miñana to Sierra Chica (6.5 km). Later in the 1950s branches were opened between Olavarria and Loma Negra (17 km) and between Tcnl Miñana and Azul (30 km), making a total rail network of 902 km.
On 31 December 1951 the company was transferred to state ownership as an independent entity under the control of the Empresa Nacional de Transportes (ENT) and in 1953 was absorbed by Ferrocarril General Manuel Belgrano (FCGMB), one of the six state-owned companies formed after the nationalisation of the entire railway network in 1948.
On 1 January 1954 the Ferrocarril Nacional Provincia de Buenos Aires (FNPBA) was formed by integrating the FCPBA, the CGBA and the Buenos Aires Midland Railway and was incorporated into the FCGMB on 7 October 1957.
Decline and Closure
The lines between Etcheverry and Mira Pampa and Carlos Beguerie to Azul and Olavarria, together with their respective branch lines, were closed on 28 October 1961. The line between Olavarria and La Plata was re-opened temporarily for freight traffic only from April 1964 to 1968. The track between Carlos Beguerie and Mira Pampa was removed in October 1974 and the passenger service on the branch from Avellaneda to La Plata was discontinued in July 1977.