Belgrano Norte Line
Belgrano Norte Line
A train leaving Retiro Belgrano railway station.
|Service type||Urban rail|
|Locale||Buenos Aires Province|
|Predecessor||Córdoba Central Railway|
|Annual ridership||29,877,000 (2014)|
|Distance travelled||55 km (34 mi)|
|Average journey time||80'|
|Class(es)||Standard class only|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead racks|
|Track gauge||1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)|
|Belgrano Norte Line|
The Belgrano Norte line is a commuter rail service in Buenos Aires, Argentina run by the private company Ferrovías since 1 April 1994. This service had previously been run by the state-owned General Belgrano Railway since nationalisation of the railways in 1948. Ferrovías also formed part of the consortium UGOFE which operated other commuter rail services in Buenos Aires.
The Belgrano Norte line service operates from Retiro station, in the centre of Buenos Aires, through the northern Buenos Aires suburbs to the town of Villa Rosa in Pilar Partido. The metre gauge line was built by the British-owned Córdoba Central Railway which was bought by the State in 1939 and was later integrated into Ferrocarril General Manuel Belgrano in 1948 when the entire Argentine railway network was nationalised.
There are a total of 22 stations along the 54 55 km (34 mi) long railway line and the journey along the entire length of the line takes roughly one hour and twenty minutes. During peak hours, trains run approximately every 8 minutes and an estimated 42 million passengers are transported each year.
First steps and development
The line was part of the Córdoba Central Railway, specifically the branch from the city of Rosario to Retiro, Buenos Aires. The CCR would become part of General Belgrano Railway network when the Government of Argentina nationalised French and British companies in 1948.
In 1903 the company was authorized to extend rails to Boulogne Sur Mer in Greater Buenos Aires and the works began three years later. In 1909 the line was finally opened. The train departed from Rosario, finishing the journey in Villa Adelina, named in honour of Adelina Munro Drysdale, the General Manager's granddaughter. The train stopped in the other four stations in existence at the time; Villa Rosa, Del Viso, Los Polvorines and Don Torcuato.
In 1912, the line reached Retiro. Other stations were opened, such as Munro (named in memory of Duncan McKay Munro) and "Kilómetro 14", then named "Juan B. Justo" in commemoration of the former president of Argentina.
Between Juan B. Justo and Retiro tracks crossed over the Maipú Avenue in Vicente López Partido, so a bridge was built. This bridge was named "Puente Saavedra". A short time after that, a new station, "Km. 12" was built near the bridge. In the 1920s, this station was renamed "Aristóbulo del Valle".
The current Florida station was initially opened as a simple stop along the way. In 1913, when the San Martín Avenue was paved, a storage property of the Narciso Agüero & Cía company was established there. Due to that, the stop was named "Parada Agüero" for a time.
In 1931, the Juan B. Justo station changed its name to M.M. Padilla to avoid being confused with the station of the same name that belongs to the Mitre Line, only a few blocks from there. During the 1930s, the "Km. 18" station was established. Many names were proposed (Ader, Drysdale, La Tahona, amongst others) until the National Academy of History suggested "Carapachay", which was chosen in 1946.
While the line was operated by the State-owned company Argentine State Railway, in 1938 brand new Ganz Works railcars were acquired to serve Retiro-Villa Rosa and Don Torcuato-Campo de Mayo lines. Between 1947 and 1948, 50 coaches made at Tafí Viejo workshops and 70 Whitcomb diesel locomotives were added to the Belgrano Norte's fleet, sharing duties with the Ganz railcars.
Due to Córdoba Central Railway's financial problems, the Government of Argentina took over the company and began operating the trains. In 1949 the line was merged into the then-recently created General Belgrano Railway, which is made up of all the country's 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) rail lines. Local services were operated by Ferrocarriles Argentinos under the name "Belgrano Norte" to distinguish it from the Belgrano Sur Line. In 1955, 30 Werkspoor locomotives were acquired. As a result, Ferrocarriles Argentinos put the Ganz vehicles out of service in the Belgrano Norte line, sending them to Córdoba to serve local railways there.
Four years later, a fleet of 21 English Electric locomotives arrived to replace Whitcomb and Werkspoor machines. In 1961 the Government led by President Arturo Frondizi closed several railway lines, with the Don Torcuato-Campo de Mayo among them. In 1964, 27 coaches built by Aerfer, a subsidiary of FIAT Ferroviaria, were added to the line. Four years later, the fleet size was increased with the addition of 20 coaches built by local company Materfer, which replaced the old ones made in Tafí Viejo. Therefore, the English Electric locomotives worked with the Aerfer and Werkspoor coaches from then on.
In 1965 a group of residents collected the money to build a new stop, named "Km. 42", then changed to "Manuel Alberti". In 1975 Materfer supplied more coaches (named "FIAT III") for the line. That same year, some stations (such as Padilla, Florida and Aristóbulo del Valle) were completely remodelled. One year later, the first grade crossing signals and gates by General Railway Signal (GRS) were installed in the main level crossings of the line.
In 1972, the first G22 diesel locomotives manufactured by General Motors' Electro Motive Division were delivered to the Belgrano Norte line. These were the CU version, adapted to run on Metre gauge railways. The machines then would be built by local licensee Astarsa in its factory at San Fernando.
To strengthen local services to Villa Rosa, 20 brand new G22 were purchased in 1980. Those locomotives were built by Astarsa, replacing English Electric locomotives that would be sent to the Belgrano Sur Line. The last stationto be inaugurates was Tierras Altas in 1990.
In 1991, the state-owned company FEMESA temporarily took over the Belgrano Norte line (along with all the other suburban railway lines) until it was given in concession to private company Ferrovías in 1994, as part of the privatisation process carried out by President Carlos Menem.
Some improvements made by Ferrovías include the acquisition of 17 railcars (made by Alstom in 1977, Buenos Aires|Vicente López]] and Avellaneda, crossing the Puerto Madero and La Boca neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, with a 24 km. length. However, the project was never carried out and the Alstom vehicles were sent to the Tren de las Sierras.
In 2014 the national government began building the "Ciudad Universitaria" station. The new station will replace current Scalabrini Ortiz (which will be closed) and is being constructed 700 metres to the North of it. It will connect the University of Buenos Aires's campus (known as "Ciudad Universitaria") through a bridge which will allow students to reach University facilities without risk of traffic accidents. It was announced to be concluded in March 2015 at a cost of AR$ 41 million.
In March 2015, the Ministry of Transport announced the purchase of "Alerce" trains manufactured by the Emepa Group, the first train completely built in Argentina that will run on the Belgrano Norte Line. A fleet of 20 DMUs will be put into operation for an express service covering the Retiro-Boulogne section, with only two intermediate stops, Ciudad Universitaria and Aristóbulo del Valle. For a second phase of the project, the service will be extended to Pilar. The first train was manufactured in the Grupo Emepa's workshops at Chascomús. 
- Historia del Ferrocarril al Norte del Gran Buenos Aires: Ferrocarriles Mitre y Belgrano by Ariel Bernasconi - Dunken Editorial (2012) - ISBN 978-9870257691
- Estadísticas del transporte ferroviario - Total 2014, CNRT website - Ministry of Transport
- "Las incansables GT-22" by Andrés Blinstein, Portal de Trenes, 8 Jun 2014
- "Tren del Este: El proyecto que no fue", Crónica Ferroviaria, 26 Dec 2012
- "Una estación de tren a medida de los universitarios", Rieles, 19 Mar 2015
- "Avanza la obra de la estación que acercará el tren a Ciudad Univeristaria", Clarín, 25 Jan 2015
- "Construcción de nueva estación Aeroparque: Licitación Pública ADIF 31-14" on ADIF website
- "", La Nación, 31 Aug 2014
- "Anuncian que el Belgrano Norte llegará hasta Aeroparque a fin de año" GiraBsAs, 31 Aug 2014
- "Randazzo presentó un nuevo tren de fabricación nacional", Télam, 25 Mar 2015
- "Randazzo presentó "Alerce", el primer tren 0 km nacional", Diario Popular, 25 Mar 2015