Buenos Aires Underground
|Owner||Subterráneos de Buenos Aires S.E. (government corporation)|
|Transit type||Rapid transit|
|Number of lines||6|
|Number of stations||83
100 including Premetro
|Daily ridership||1 million|
|Began operation||1 December 1913|
|Number of vehicles||633|
|System length||51.4 km (31.9 mi)
58.8 km (36.5 mi) including Premetro
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
|Electrification|| = 1500V overhead line
= 550V third rail
= 750V overhead line
The Buenos Aires Underground (Spanish: Subterráneo de Buenos Aires), locally known as Subte (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsubte], from subterráneo – 'underground' or 'subterranean') is a mass transit metro system that serves the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first section of this network (Plaza de Mayo-Plaza Miserere) opened in 1913, making it the first underground railway in Latin America, the Southern Hemisphere and the Spanish speaking world, with the Madrid Metro opening five years later in 1919.
The network expanded rapidly during the early decades of the 20th century, but the pace of expansion fell sharply after the Second World War. In the late 1990s expansion resumed at a quicker pace, and four new lines were planned for the network. Despite this, the rate of expansion has still been largely exceeded by the transportation needs of the city and once again the network has become overcrowded. Currently, the underground network's six lines comprise 51.4 kilometers (31.9 mi) of route, serving 83 stations.
At present, Buenos Aires is the only Argentine city with a metro system, but there is a proposal to build a metro in the city of Córdoba (the Córdoba Metro), while a proposal to build a metro in Rosario was shelved in favour of a tramway network.
- 1 History
- 2 Current network
- 3 Stations and connections
- 4 Expansion plans
- 5 Cultural heritage
- 6 Rolling stock
- 7 Ghost stations
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Discussions on the need to build an underground transportation system in Buenos Aires began in the late nineteenth century, alongside the tramway system, which was one of the most extensive in the world at the time. The first trams appeared in 1870 and in about 1900 were in a crisis exacerbated by the monopolization of the companies, a process initiated against the electrification of the system.
In this context, the first proposals for the building of an underground system were made, along with requests for government grants: first, in 1886, and several more in 1889, but the Ministry of Interior (Ministerio del Interior, in Spanish) denied the city administration the power to license building in the subsoil of the City. For this reason, subsequent drafts were submitted directly to this ministry.
When in 1894 it was decided to construct the Congress building in its present location, the underground idea was revived, as it might shorten the travel time between the Casa Rosada and the Congress (with the same purpose there were also plans to build an electric aerial tramway to go down the Avenida de Mayo). Miguel Cané, former Mayor of Buenos Aires (1892–1893), also expressed in 1896 the need to build an underground railway similar to the one in London.
The first Underground line was opened on 1 December 1913 and was built by the Anglo-Argentine Tramways Company (Compañía de Tranvías Anglo-Argentina (CTAA), in Spanish), which had been given permission to build in 1909. That line was made up of one of the existing sections of line A, linking the stations of Plaza de Mayo and Plaza Miserere. On 1 April 1914 the line was expand to Río de Janeiro station and on 1 July was extended to Primera Junta Station.
In 1912 the company Lacroze Hermanos won a concession to build another Underground line. This line is the current Line B and was inaugurated on 17 October 1930. The line was originally intended to continue above ground, with the current Federico Lacroze station to be the central terminal of the Buenos Aires Central Railway (today the General Urquiza Railway), however nowadays the overground service forms part of the Urquiza Line instead. In 1933 the Hispano-Argentina Society of Public Works and Finance (Hispano–Argentina de Obras Públicas y Finanzas (CHADOPYF), in Spanish) began construction of the other Underground lines.
Line D was opened in 1939, with Line E following later in 1944. The entire network was centralised and nationalised during the late 1930s under the management of the Transport Corporation of Buenos Aires (CTBA), which in 1952 was absorbed by the Buenos Aires Transport General Administration (AGTBA).
In 1963, the administration was dissolved and the Underground network became the property of the Subterráneos de Buenos Aires company (later SBASE). In 1994 the service was privatised and is now managed by Metrovías S.A. with the stations remaining the property of SBASE. Privatisation has proved unpopular, with a survey carried out in 2015 indicating that 82% of passengers would like the Underground to be operated by the state instead of a private company.
Vice president Victorino de la Plaza opening Line A (1913)
Sáenz Peña station (1915)
Entrance to Diagonal Norte station (1936)
Retiro station (1940)
Opening of Line E (1944)
The current network comprises six underground lines, labelled "A" to "E" and "H" and which are further identified by different colours, covering a total route length of 51.4 kilometers (31.9 mi) and serving 83 stations. There is also one surface 7.4-kilometer (4.6 mi) PreMetro E2 tram line. Daily ridership was approximately 980,000 in 2013. With the current usage patterns, the entire system is overstretched, and during weekdays overcrowded and with insufficient services. An expansion programme is underway, and it is expected to enlarge the network to 97 kilometers (60 mi) in the future.
Fares are ARS 5.00 (around US$0.59) per trip. While tokens have been used in the past, at present, riders purchase either single-use or multi-use cards (called SubtePass) with a magnetic strip or use contactless cards called SUBE which are rechargeable with cash. Trains run from 05:00 until 23:00, every 3–4 minutes, for all lines except Line H which has a frequency of around 6 minutes. Trains originally ran until 01:00, but following the privatisation of the service through concession to Metrovías, the company temporarily moved the closing time back two hours in 1994 to carry out works on the lines, a change which was never reverted even after the works were completed.
|Line||Colour||Year of opening||Original path||Current termini||Length
|Light Blue||1913||Plaza de Mayo - Plaza Miserere||Plaza de Mayo - San Pedrito||9.4||18||144,000|
|Red||1930||Federico Lacroze - Callao||L. N. Alem - Juan Manuel de Rosas||11.8||17||300,000|
|Blue||1934||Constitución - Diagonal Norte||Constitución - Retiro||4.5||9||162,000|
|Green||1937||Catedral - Tribunales||Catedral - Congreso de Tucumán||10.5||16||279,000|
|Purple||1944||Constitución - Gral. Urquiza||Bolívar - Plaza de los Virreyes||9.7||15||68,000|
|Yellow||2007||Once - Caseros||Corrientes - Hospitales||5.5||8||27,000|
PreMetro light rail
The PreMetro line E2 is a 7.4-kilometer (4.6 mi) tramway feeding line E of the Buenos Aires Underground. The Premetro line opened in 1987. It carries approximately 2,300 passengers daily and is also run by Metrovías. In 2015, SBASE began making plans to refurbish and rebuild many of the stations, including a brand new central terminal, as part of a plan to modernise the network, which also intends to increase the amount of rolling stock in circulation.
The Premetro was originally intended to include a number of feeder lines to the Underground network, including a second one to Line E and ones on lines C and D. The Premetro project was largely abandoned since it occurred in Argentina's transition to democracy from the military junta and then the privatisation of the railways, which was a difficult time economically for the country, and only Line E2 was built. New Premetro feeder lines have been proposed in recent years, however the role of the network has given way to the new Metrobus network which covers many of the same routes originally intended for the Premetro.
Línea Urquiza (in English: Urquiza Line) is a 26-kilometer (16 mi) suburban electric commuter rail line originally designed to be part of the Underground system as part of Line B, and operated by the Underground operator Metrovías. As a result, it has similar characteristics to Line B, using third rail electrification and standard gauge as opposed to the broad gauge used in the Buenos Aires commuter rail network. It runs from the Federico Lacroze terminus in the barrio of Chacarita, to General Lemos terminus, Campo de Mayo in Greater Buenos Aires. The line is completely at grade (ground-level) and uses third rail current collection. It operates 20 hours a day, 7 days a week at 8-to-30-minute intervals. The Urquiza Line transported 15 million passengers in 2013.
In earlier times the line was planned to run into the centre of Buenos Aires through a long tunnel. But when the tunnel was finally built in 1930, it ended up as the Line B. The access ramp still exists and is in use today, but for maintenance and storage purposes rather than for passenger services. The Urquiza Line itself opened in 1948, so suburban passengers travelling on the Underground's Line B have to transfer to the Urquiza Line at Federico Lacroze station, named after its builder, about 6 km (3.7 mi) from the city centre.
Stations and connections
Stations are listed from East to West or North to South. Stations in gray have yet to open. Stations in bold are the current termini.
There are several projects to improve connections and expand the Underground system as a whole.
Works in progress
Line E extension from Bolívar to Retiro (with two intermediate stations: Correo Central and Catalinas) started mid-2007. In 2014, the tunnels and stations were complete and the four-station segment needed only the placement of rails and electrical equipment to be ready for service, however the transfer of these works from the National Government to the Government of Buenos Aires has slowed down its opening.
Line H extensions to the north from Corrientes to Plaza Francia, serving intermediate stations at Córdoba, Santa Fe and Las Heras, and south from Hospitales with stations at Nueva Pompeya and Sáenz, were initiated with ground-breaking ceremonies on 17 January 2012. Since then, following concerns that the construction of Plaza Francia station would damage the natural beauty of the area surrounding the Recoleta Cemetery, the station was relocated to Facultad de Derecho next to the University of Buenos Aires's faculty of law, with the change delaying the opening of the station until 2017. Cordoba and Santa Fe are expected to open in July 2015, while Las Heras will open some time in the following year. The 20 new Alstom trains to serve the expected increase in passenger numbers as a result of the connection with Line D began arriving in the country in 2015.
New lines planned
The future expansion is based on the programme Plan of New Lines: , and . These lines' routes have already been approved by the Legislature of the City. 39.3 km will be added to the network, expanding it to about 97 km in total length and providing several stations with various interchanges. This will also create new north-south routes, resulting in an appropriate network to avoid the city centre. The new lines will mean that more than two million inhabitants of Buenos Aires (accounting for about 70% of the city centre's population) will live within 400 metres of a metro station. The new lines will run between 56 new stations.
Line F will run from Barracas to Plaza Italia in Palermo and will include 16 new stations. The planned route length of this line is 10.8 km. Construction is due to begin in 2016, once the northern extension of Line H is complete, and as originally planned, the line will have automatic trains and platform screen doors.
Line G will connect Retiro and Caballito/Villa Crespo; 12.5 km long with 15 new stations. Originally, construction was due to start in 2012-2013, however city legislators opposed the turnkey construction proposed by Chinese firms since the total cost would have been 30% higher than if it was done with local companies. After this, it was decided to prioritise the other construction projects in the network.
Line I will run Parque Chacabuco to Ciudad Universitaria with 18 new stations. The route length is 12.6 km. The future of this line (which had the lowest priority in the expansion plans) is currently uncertain since it has been proposed that a Metrobus line be built instead, which would follow the same trajectory as the line.
The Buenos Aires Underground has historically been characterised by murals and other artistic works in its stations, making it a kind of museum throughout the system. These works, and a number of complete stations, are considered part of the cultural heritage of the city and several of them were declared National Historic Landmarks in 1997.
Line A is renowned for having kept its original 1913 rolling stock running on the line up until 2013, making them the oldest underground carriages in commercial service in the world at the time. They were built by La Brugeoise, et Nicaise et Delcuve, a Belgian rolling stock manufacturer established in the city of Bruges, between 1913 and 1919. Entirely made of wood, they were originally designed to run as underground as well as tramway cars, but they were adapted in 1927 to their current style for underground service only.
Since the 1940s, several plans were made to replace them with newer rolling stock, but none of them had succeeded. In March 2013, La Brugeoise subway corriages were replaced by new Chinese 200 Series rolling stock, just 11 months prior to their 100-year anniversary on the line. The original rolling stock has since been maintained, some in exhibition and some being converted to 1500v to run tourist services on the line.
During the festivities of the 100-year anniversary of the underground on 1 December 2013, many restored La Brugeoise trains circulated Line A and there was a symphonic orchestra at Plaza de Mayo station as well as free rides for the entire city in order to mark the event. Throughout the week that followed, there were also numerous displays and events across the different lines of the Underground.
Many stations are decorated with intricate ceramic tile work, some of which date back to 1913 when the Underground first opened its doors. Featured artists include painters and reproductions by Quino, Molina Campos, Raúl Soldi, Rodolfo Medina and Jorge Schwarz. In addition they provide spaces for music and theater events.
- Line B
- Tronador: In this station there are 18 stained glasses that refer to the history of the Villa Ortúzar neighbourhood, were the station is located.
- De los Incas – Parque Chas: In this station there are 16 murals related with different Pre-Columbian era civilizations are exhibited.
- Line C
- San Juan:
- Diagonal Norte: Landscapes of Spain. Ceramic murals that correspond to Burgos, Madrid, Aranjuez, El Escorial and Madrid (Alcalá Door) on South platform, and Avila, Toledo, Soria and Segovia on the North Platform. The drafts were made by Martín S. Noel and Manuel Escasany in 1934.
- General San Martín: Photographic reproductions of the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) activities, photographic reproductions and images of the Plaza San Martín (San Martín Park) and photographic reproductions of streets and building of the South zone of the City.
- Line D
- Juramento: There are a series of murals exposed in this station that had been reproduced in ceramic by Raúl and Daniel De Francisco.
- José Hernández: This station has ceramic reproductions of 4 murals made by Raúl Soldi.
- Olleros: In this station there are showcases exposing works made in the Ceramic School No. 1
- Line H
The Buenos Aires Underground has had among the longest serving and most varied rolling stock in the world, in part due to the network having been originally built and operated by three different companies in its early years, causing incompatibilities between the lines. In more recent years, there have been moves towards greater modernisation and standardisation, with large purchases of new rolling stock from companies like Alstom and China CNR Corporation, as well as smaller orders of second hand rolling stock, which the city government claims are temporary measures while those lines are modernised to be able to incorporate more modern rolling stock.
The network's oldest serving La Brugeoise cars were retired in 2013, while its most widely used cars - the Siemens-Schuckert Orenstein & Koppel cars - will be retired in 2015. While there has been much movement of rolling stock, often in a "hand-me-down" manner from higher frequency lines to less used lines (the primary recipient being Line E), the transition to newer models has gone fairly smoothly, despite shortfalls in some lines following extensions. The Fiat-Materfer cars have been the primary stan-ins while the new trains arrive, though this role has also been filled by the Siemens O&K cars, delaying their retirement.
Though Line A ran on a different voltage to the rest of the network, it was converted to the 1500v used on the rest of the network when the 200 Series trains began to arrive. On the other hand, Line B has traditionally been the most troublesome of the network given its different voltage and the fact that that it uses third rail electrification as opposed to the overhead lines used on the rest of the network, making it in effect a separate entity not capable of sharing its stock with other lines.
There are four ghost stations on the Buenos Aires Underground, two on Line A and two on Line E. The Line A stations - Pasco Sur and Alberti Norte - were closed in 1953 since stations in that part of the line were grouped very closely together and having fewer stops would improve the line's frequency. Pasco Sur remains in very good condition, while Alberti Norte was converted into an electrical substation. 
The Line E stations were closed in 1966, after the line's trajectory was re-routed from Constitución railway station (where it connected with Line C) closer towards the center of the city, leaving the San José vieja and Constitución stations out of the network, a move which tripled traffic on the line. The two stations have been used as workshops and storage areas in the past. At one point it was considered that the two stations and tunnels should be used for Line F since the line's southern terminus would be there and that part of the trajectory would be roughly similar to the old Line E route.
In popular culture
The Buenos Aires Underground is featured in the 1996 science fiction film Moebius directed by Gustavo Mosquera. In the film, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of an underground train are investigated by a topologist. The film is based upon the short story, "A Subway Named Möbius" that takes place in the Boston Subway.
- List of Buenos Aires Underground stations
- Transport in Argentina
- Rail transport in Argentina
- Trams in Buenos Aires
- List of Latin American rail transit systems by ridership
- List of metro systems
- "Nuestra compañía - ¿Qué hacemos?" [Our Company - What We Do] (in Spanish). Metrovias. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Aumentó un 12% la cantidad de usuarios que usan el subte a diario, La Nacion, 7 May 2015.
- Se cumplieron 100 años del primer viaje en subte - Ambito, 1 December, 2013.
- La historia de 100 años del primer subte de América del Sur - Perfil, 1 December 2013.
- Background and Inauguration in 1919 - Metro de Madrid]
- Diario La Voz Del Interior
- Retoman el proyecto para licitar un tranvía metropolitano - 21 July 2015.
- APUNTES SOBRE LA HISTORIA DEL TRANVÍA EN BUENOS AIRES - AAT
- L. Contreras y N. Tkach (2007), Buenos Aires y el Transporte, p.72, Colección cuadernos educativos, Ministerio de Cultura de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.
- Tejera, Domingo (1993). Subterráneos de Buenos Aires. (Spanish), p. 11.
- Justo Solsona y Carlos Hunter (1990). La Avenida de Mayo: un proyecto inconcluso (Avenida de Mayo: an unfinished project) – (Spanish) – Solsona - Hunter Librería Técnica – (pps. 254 - 256) - ISBN 950-9575-34-8
- El primer subte - La Nacion, 22 December 2010.
- Un paseo por la historia del subte - Publicable, 22 November 2014.
- Antecedentes, Inicios, Desarrollo de la red y Líneas (in Spanish). Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- El 82% de los usuarios cree que el Subte debería ser estatal - EnElSubte, 26 May 2015.
- "Buenos Aires Metro, Argentina". Railway-Technology.com. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Subtes: en hora pico circulan en promedio tres trenes menos que hace 14 años - InfoBAE, 24 November 2014.
- Presentan proyecto para que el Subte funcione durante la noche - EnElSubte, 16 November 2010.
- Realizan contratación directa para renovar la terminal del Premetro - EnElSubte, March 2015
- El plan de SBASE para el Premetro - EnElSubte, September 2014
- ¿Por qué la línea D no llega hasta Puente Saavedra? - EnElSubte, 25 June 2013.
- Línea E - Buenos Aires Ciudad.
- Un paseo por la historia del subte - Diario Publicable, 21 November 2014.
- Reporte de obra: extensión línea E - EnElSubte, 17 May 2014.
- "Buenos Aires Line H extension groundbreaking". Railway Gazette International. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Comienza la construcción de Facultad de Derecho - EnElSubte, 29 September 2014.
- Nuevos retrasos en la extensión de la línea H - EnElSubte, 6 February 2015.
- Subterráneos - Buenos Aires Ciudad
- Así son los nuevos trenes Alstom para la línea H - EnElSubte, 25 March 2015.
- Confirman proyecto para desviar la línea F a Facultad de Derecho - EnElSubte, 25 November 2014.
- "Urban rail news in brief". Railway Gazette International. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Cancelaron las negociaciones con los chinos por la línea G - 24 January 2012
- Bodart: El Metrobús como reemplazo de la línea I es “una estafa transversal” - EnElSubte, 16 April 2015.
- Historical National Monuments (Spanish)
- BusARG.ar (Spanish)
- Preadjudican 105 coches a CNR para la línea A - EnElSubte, May 2013
- Realizan pruebas con Brugeoise reconvertidos a 1500 V en la línea A - EnElSubte, July 2014
- El subte porteño celebra hoy sus 100 años - InfoBAE, 1 December, 2013.
- Se cumplieron 100 años del primer viaje en subte - Ambito, 1 December, 2013.
- Aprueban protección para todos los coches La Brugeoise - EnElSubte, 6 December 2013.
- Llegaron al país seis coches nuevos con aire acondicionado para la línea H - La Nacion, 27 August 2015.
- Ferrofilatelia - EnElSubte, 6 June 2010.
- Metrovías oficializa quita de formaciones - EnElSubte, 4 June 2013.
- Subtes: el gobierno porteño planea renovar la mitad de la flota para el 2015 - InfoBAE, 23 January 2013
- La línea A de subte estará cerrada desde el 12 de enero al 8 de marzo - La Nacion, 4 January 2013.
- Denuncia contra la compra de nuevos coches para los subtes - Perfil, 20 July 2014.
- Las estaciones clausuradas de la línea A - EnElSubte, 24 April, 2014.
- Línea E: 70 años buscando pasajeros - EnElSubte, 20 June, 2014.
- Realizarán estudios en Constitución para ubicar la cabecera de la línea F - EnElSubte, 1 August, 2011.
- "A subway named Möbius"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Buenos Aires Underground.|
- Interactive Buenos Aires Metro Map
- Buenos Aires Cuidad Subte – Official Page (Spanish)
- Metrovías – Official Page (Spanish)