Belgrano Sur Line

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This article is about the commuter rail line. For the national railway company, see General Manuel Belgrano Railway.
Trenes Argentinos Operadora Ferroviaria.png
Belgrano Sur Line
Belgrano Sur Line G22.jpg
A Belgrano Sur Line EMD G22 locomotive carrying passenger cars.
Overview
Service type Commuter rail
Status Active
Locale Greater Buenos Aires
Predecessor
First service 1948; 67 years ago (1948)
Current operator(s) Trenes Argentinos
Former operator(s) Argentren
Annual ridership 10,975,000 (2014) [1]
Website sofse.gob.ar
Route
Start Buenos Aires
Tapiales
Puente Alsina
Stops 29
End González Catán
M. del Belgrano
Aldo Bonzi
Average journey time 60'
45
60'
Service frequency 20'
On-board services
Class(es) Unique
Technical
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
Track owner(s) Government of Argentina

The Belgrano Sur line is an Argentine 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge commuter rail service in the Greater Buenos Aires area, currently operated by State-owned company Operadora Ferroviaria Sociedad del Estado (SOFSE). The Belgrano sur runs over tracks and stations built by the Franco-Belgian-owned Compañía General de Buenos Aires and British Midland companies at the beginning of the 20th century.

Terminus are Puente Alsina in Lanús Partido and Buenos Aires station in the Parque Patricios district of the Buenos Aires autonomous city. Carrying just under 11 million passengers per year, the line is the least used of the Buenos Aires commuter rail network.[1]

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Train at Dr. Antonio Saenz station.
González Catán station's platforms.

The railway line was originally built and operated by two companies, British-owned Buenos Aires Midland Railway that made its inaugural trip in 1909 joining Puente Alsina and Carhué, and Franco-Belgian-owned Compañía General de Buenos Aires (established in 1908), that built and operated a large network reaching cities in the west of Buenos Aires Province and branches to cities such as La Plata and Rosario, although most of the line was closed and only a few services are active nowadays.

When the entire Argentine railway network was nationalised in 1948 during Juan Perón's presidency, the BA Midland became part of the Belgrano Sur line division of the General Belgrano Railway. Furthermore, the now nationalised companies added to Ferrocarril Belgrano network had been renamed, being known as "G" (Cía. Gral. de Buenos Aires), M (Midland) and P (Province of Buenos Aires Railway).

Ferrocarriles Argentinos[edit]

After the nationalisation, several improvements were carried out in the line, such as the addition of a rail track between Aldo Bonzi and Libertad to increase the frequency of the services. The modernisation included the purchase of brand-new diesel locomotives by American company Whitcomb in 1951 (with the addition of 15 new ones by Werkspoor in 1955) and the construction of a junction in the Tapiales and Aldo Bonzi stations that allowed the ex-Midland line to connect with the Sarmiento Railway railway near Haedo in Greater Buenos Aires.

During the 1950s, the increasing population in Greater Buenos Aires made the company add more services. By December 1955, the Belgrano Railway ran more than 40 services per day in the Puente Alsina−Aldo Bonzi section. Nevertheless, although the rolling stock had not been renewed since the 1930s. As a result, some railcars that had been crashed or destroyed in accidents were put out of service and never replaced due to the lack of investment to acquire brand new material.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s railcars by Hungarian company Ganz Works were sent to the Belgrano Sur. They had been acquired by the Argentine State Railway decades earlier and had been running in Northern Argentine railways since 1936. Some of them were used for local services to Libertad and the rest for the long distance service to Carhué, departing from Buenos Aires station, the former Compañía Gral. de Buenos Aires terminus. The Ganz railcars ran services until 1977 when the line was definitively closed.

When the Libertad−Plomer section was closed, Buenos Aires station of ex-CGBA was set as the terminus. Trains ran without passengers from Puente Alsina to Aldo Bonzi, running back to Tapiales junction where they departed to Buenos Aires station. Passengers waited and took the train in Buenos Aires, being carried to Carhué via Plomer. The lack of maintenance caused a progressive deterioration in the rolling stock and stations of the line, therefore the line was closed in September 1977 and workshops at Libertad were demolished.

On 2 March, 1977, Decree N° 547 by de facto President of Argentina, Jorge Rafael Videla ordered the closure and dismantlement of more than 4,000 km of rail tracks. Several General Belgrano Railway lines were closed on 1 May, although long distance services to Carhué continued operating until August when the last train ran to that city. Nevertheless, the closure of the region did not make a negative impact on the economy of the Province since the rail tracks crossed along low-populated regions. Furthermore, most of that region was already served by other railway lines with better access to the city of Buenos Aires.

Privatisation: Metropolitano[edit]

With the railway privatisation in Argentina in the early 1990s, the Belgrano Sur line had been granted in concession to private company Metropolitano starting operations in 1994.[2] Nevertheless, the Government of Argentina revoked the contract of concession in 2007 due to the poor conditions of the service and increasing complaints from users. Until then, the concessionary had been receiving near $ 30 million of subsidies per month.[3]

In spite of the large government subsidies received by TMB (the Metropolitano's division that operated the line) a serious decline[4] in the standard of their rail services led to the original concession being revoked. In 2007, the service was given in concession to the consortium UGOFE.

Transition and new concession[edit]

The UGOFE took over the service until February 12, 2014, when it was announced that the Belgrano Sur and Roca lines would be granted to Argentren S.A., a company part of the Emepa Group and the UGOFE was immediately dissolved.[5][6][7][8][9]

Renationalisation and planned improvements[edit]

State-owned company Trenes Argentinos took over Belgrano Sur line (operated by Argentren) after the Government of Argentina rescinded the contracts signed with the company on 2 March, 2015. The contract terms specified that the concession could be cancelled with no right to claim compensation.[10] The agreements had been signed in February 2014, committing Argentren and Corredores Ferroviarios to operate the lines.[11][12][13]

In September 2013, the Government of Argentina announced that 23 brand-new railcars were acquired from Chinese company CNR Dalian.[14] New rolling stock is expected to be run from May, 2015.[15] It was also announced that all the stations of the line would be remodelled. The cost of the investment was estimated in A$ 1,200 million.[16]

Similarly, there are also plans to bring the line further into the city, moving the terminus from Buenos Aires station to Constitucion railway station where it will connect with the Roca Line and Line C of the Buenos Aires Underground. The construction will use viaducts to avoid level crossings in the city and is being carried out in cooperation between the National Government and the Government of Buenos Aires.[17]

Services[edit]

The Belgrano Sur line operates the following diesel-engined services:

Start End Dist./Km. Former company
Buenos Aires González Catán 33 Compañía General
Tapiales Marinos del Belgrano 15 BA Midland
Puente Alsina Aldo Bonzi 17 BA Midland

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]