Andean Railway

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Andean Railway
Fc andino locomot.jpg
Passenger train in Mendoza, with the Andes at background.
Native name Ferrocarril Andino
Type Inter-city
Status Defunct company; some lines active
Locale Córdoba, San Luis, Mendoza, San Juan
Termini Villa María
San Juan
Opened 1867
Closed 1909; 106 years ago (1909)
Owner Government of Argentina
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
Route map
Andean railway arg map.jpg

The Andean Railway (native name: Ferrocarril Andino) was a state-owned railway company in Argentina which, towards the end of the 19th century, built and operated a line connecting Villa María in Córdoba Province with the cities of Mendoza, San Luis and San Juan. The 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge network was later sold to a number of British-owned railway companies.


Passenger train at Mendoza in 1907.

The first plan to reach the Andes through railway had been carried out with a concession granted to Central Argentine Railway (CAR) and later with the project to make Buenos Aires Western Railway a trans-andean line. The aim of the railway was linking the three provinces of the Cuyo region, San Juan, San Luis and Mendoza with the city of Rosario, via the CAR.

The AR was the first state-owned railway in Argentina and was founded on 15 November 1867 by decree promulgated in November 1867, from Villa María to Villa Nueva, then extending to Río Cuarto.

At the beginning of 1870 the Government signed an agreement to British entrepreneur John Simmons who committed to finish the railway within 3 years at a cost of A$ 26,200 per mile. In November that same years works began.

On October 24, 1873, the Villa María–Río Cuarto section was finished. That same the company started works to extend the line to Villa Mercedes, San Luis, opening the line two years later, totalizing 254 km. President of Argentina Nicolás Avellaneda attended the ceremony.

Once the works finished, the National Government hired J. E. Rogers (whose company had been one of the constructors) to operate the line. The Government required Rogers his employees had to be Argentina-born.

Details of the building of the line are as follows:

Section Length, km Date Opened
Villa María – Río Cuarto 135 24 October 1873
Río Cuarto – Villa Mercedes 120 4 October 1875
Villa Mercedes – Fraga 40 1 August 1881
Fraga – Chorrillos 29 April 1882
Chorrillos – San Luis 8 July 1882
San Luis –La Paz 120 11 August 1883
La Paz – Maipú 135 9 October 1884
Maipú – Mendoza 10 25 April 1885
Mendoza – San Juan 160 6 May 1885

In 1886 the AR bought the branch line from Villa Mercedes to La Toma from the ex-Ferrocarril Noroeste a La Rioja and extended it to Villa Dolores to give a branch line with a total length of 226 km.

The construction costs and tariffs of the AR were the lowest of any railway company in Argentina at that time, and when it began to make a profit, the network was sold off to British-owned companies as detailed in Table 2.

Section Length, km Date Sold Buyer
Villa Mercedes – Mendoza 326 1887 Argentine Great Western
Mendoza – San Juan 160 1887
Villa Mercedes - Villa Dolores 226 1909 BA & Pacific
Río Cuarto - Villa Mercedes 120 1909
Villa María - Río Cuarto 135 1909 Central Argentine


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