Buenos Aires Midland Railway

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Buenos Aires Midland Railway
Comienzamidland02.JPG
A train in the Puente Alsina-Puente de la Noria section, 1908.
Overview
Native name Ferrocarril Midland
Type Regional rail
Status Company defunct; railway line currently operated by Argentren.[a]
Locale Buenos Aires Province
Termini Puente Alsina
Carhué
Services 1
Operation
Opening 1909
Closed 1948; 67 years ago (1948)
Owner Government of Argentina
Technical
Track length 517 km (321 mi)
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
Route map
Mapa fcmidland.jpg

The Buenos Aires Midland Railway (BAM) was a British-owned railway company which operated in Argentina where it was known as Ferrocarril Midland de Buenos Aires. The company built and operated the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) (metre gauge) line between Puente Alsina and Carhué in Buenos Aires Province.

Although the company was closed in 1948, nowadays the line is part of Línea Belgrano Sur, being private company Argentren the concessionary of Puente Alsina-Marinos del Crucero General Belgrano branch since 2014.[1][2][3][4]

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Eduardo Casey, ideologue.
Lunch held at Puente Alsina to celebrate the opening of passenger train service, 1908.
Andant station, c. 1900
Henderson station, 1920.
Workshops at Libertad, Buenos Aires Province, 1926.
Sentinel-Cammell locomotive in Puente Alsina, 1932.
Level crossing barriers near Isidro Casanova, 1939.

In 1904 the Buenos Aires Province granted entrepreneur Enrique Lavalle a concession to built a metre gauge railway line Puente Alsina to Carhué. The company and line were named "Buenos Aires Midland Railway" so the Lacroze Brothers had registered the Spanish form "Ferrocarril Central de Buenos Aires". Works were led by ideologue Eduardo Casey, who had founded the city of Venado Tuerto some time before.

Development[edit]

Construction of the line began in 1907, with works carried out by Argentine company Hume Hnos., hired by Lavalle. By November that year the line had extended to Puente de la Noria (current Ingeniero Budge station). The service was given with a Koppel steam locomotive and a unique coach.

The BAM soon entered into conflict with the French-owned company, Ferrocarril Compañía General de Buenos Aires, which was also building railways in the same part of the Province. That would be detrimental for both companies, so the competition could end with BAM and CGBA into bankruptcy. There was also another conflict due to National Law 2.793 that gave priority to the company that had been granted concession first, which was BA Midland in that case. Nevertheless, the concession granted to BAM had been given by a Province therefore the CGBA had also rights to claim.

Meanwhile, both companies continued expanding their lines over the Province and the conflict reached such a stage that BA Midland requested the CGBA to stop works while the other part threatened to take the case to Supreme Court of Justice. Eventually an understanding was reached between the two companies, establishing the common use of Plomer station, among other issues. The BA Midland lost several embankment because of the deal, so the company requested financial compensation for that, alleging that they had invested too much money in the construction.

At the middle of 1908 works had to be interrupted so the company was unable to raise capital from Europe. Other companies such as Great Southern and Western Railways took over BA Midland and committed to finish the line. Some of the changes made by the consortium were the replacement of constructor Hume Hnos. by Clarke, Bradbury and Co. (owned by Great Southern manager's brother). Finally the Puente Alsina - San Sebastián section was opened on June 15, 1909 and the totally of the line to Carhué, on July 1, 1911.

As BA Midland had Puente Alsina as terminus, the company could not reach the main city of Buenos Aires, which was part of its strategy to increase its business. Extending rail tracks to the capital city was not legally possible due to the concession had been granted by a Provincial organism and the capital city was under jurisdiction of the National Government. The solution came in 1912 from an agreement signed with the Western Railway, opening a station (named "Intercambio Midland"), that allowed Midland railway passengers to take Western Railway's trains to the city of Buenos Aires, carrying them to Sola station in Parque Patricios district. Nevertheless, that particular train was put out of service soon after, establishing Puente Alsina as terminus again.

Steam locomotives[edit]

The first locomotive was a 21-ton class A by Vulcan Iron Works. The second one was a Orenstein & Koppel that made the first tripo from Puente Alsina to Puenta La Noria. That locomotive was sold in 1913 and some versions state that the machine is currently exhibited at a Brazilian museum. Another machine was a Kerr Stuart manufactured in 1901 for the Government of Argentina exclusively. That locomotive remained until 1935 when it was sold to a company in Buenos Aires Province. Another Kerr Stuart machine made short trips until the 1930s.

Once the entire line was inaugurated, the company acquired 6 class E Kerr Stuart that served until 1948 when British and English companies were nationalised and the machines sold. The company also bought 20 class F by the same company, which served until the 1970s (with the line being operated by Ferrocarriles Argentinos).

The BA Midland also used class G locomotives by Hunslet Engine until they were replaced by Birmingham Gardner railcars in 1939, being destinated to other services.

The company also acquired H class (by Beyer Peacock, which were too big for the line and were subsecquently rented to Ferrocarril Santa Fe and other companies. The Sentinel Waggon Works and Metro Cammell served on the main line for suburban services.

Modernization: railcars[edit]

At the beginning of 1936, railway in Argentina had to face competition from road transport so some British companies committed (such as Great Southern Railway) acquired railcars to Drewry Car Co..

By those years the Midland railway transported very few passengers, which made it a loss-making company. In order to increase the number of passengers carried and to compete against Southern, Western and GCBA railways, the Midland acquired 10 railcars by British Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company, powered with Gardner engines.

Finally, on January 1, 1939, the diesel railcars ran on the Midland rail tracks for the first time, replacing old steam locomotives for all services. After the railcars were put into operation, the journey time to Carhué was substantially reduced to 8 hours, while Great Southern Railway took 14 hours.

Final[edit]

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, a division of State-owned company Ferrocarril General Belgrano.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • British Railways in Argentina 1857-1914: A Case Study of Foreign Investment by Colin M. Lewis, Athlone Press (for the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London, 1983)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Although the company was defunct in 1948, the railway line were acquired by the Government of Argentina through the railway nationalisation remaining active. Nowadays, only the Puente Alsina-Marinos del Crucero General Belgrano branch is to use, being currently operated by private company Argentren.[1][2][3][4]

References[edit]