Trenes de Buenos Aires

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Trenes de Buenos Aires
Sociedad Anónima
Industry Public transport
Fate Dissolved
Predecessor FEMESA
Successor UGOMS
Founded 1995
Founder Claudio and Mario Cirigliano
Defunct 2012; 3 years ago (2012)
Headquarters Argentina
Area served
City of Buenos Aires
Greater Buenos Aires
Services Rail transport
USD 135,1 million (1998)
Owner Grupo Plaza
Number of employees
Divisions Mitre

Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA) (In English: Trains of Buenos Aires) was a private company that operated commuter rail services over 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) broad gauge Sarmiento and Mitre lines of Buenos Aires. The company, owned by Claudio and Mario Cirigliano, also operated long-distance services on the General Mitre Railway to central-western Argentina and on the General Urquiza Railway to northern Argentina and Uruguay on the international Tren de los Pueblos Libres.

From 2004 to 2012 TBA - a company part of the Plaza Group, controlled by the Cirigliano family-[1] also formed part of the consortium Unidad de Gestión Operativa Ferroviaria de Emergencia (UGOFE) which operated other commuter rail services in Buenos Aires. In more recent years, the company has become synonymous with the collapse of the railways in Argentina under privatisation and the company is under numerous investigations and legal proceedings.


Double decker carriages made by Emfer for TBA.

TBA was established in 1995 after the Carlos Menem's administration privatised all the railway network, giving the company concession to operate the metropolitan Mitre and Sarmiento railway lines by Decree N° 730/95. The company took over both lines on 27 May.

During the first two years of concession, TBA met the requirements specified on the contract, about the frequency of the service, with an average of 98%. By February 1999 the consortium had invested USD 200 million, which included the reconstruction of 220 Toshiba carriages and the remodelling of 13 stations and workshops. In addition, a new ticket selling system was introduced with the installation of automated counters.

One of the most notable improvements was the introduction of "Puma" coaches in the Retiro-Tigre branch. Those coaches had been built by local factory Emprendimientos Ferroviarios S.A. (EMFER) and featured air conditioning, ABS brakes and computer-supervising systems.[2]

In 1997 the Government decided to modify the contracts of concession with a plan of modernisation for USD 2.5 billion. The future investments required the acquisition of 492 brand-new electric multiple units, refurbishing of more than 100 km of existing tracks, and the installation of new signalling, among other improvements.

Nevertheless, the Government of Fernando De la Rúa (who had come to power in 1999) made changes to the original project, reducing the amount of the budget to USD 1.3 billion. As compensation to the companies, the State granted subsidies to TBA (and the rest of the private operators) as a way to compensate losses.

In addition to the commuter rail services on Sarmiento and Mitre Lines, TBA also operated the long-distance passenger trains on the General Mitre Railway from Retiro to the cities of Rosario, Santa Fe, and points between, in northern Argentina. Including all its commuter and long-distance services, the company ran approximately 1,000 trains per day and carried about 147.7 million passengers annually, or 500,000 daily.

From 2004 the company also formed part of Unidad de Gestión Operativa Ferroviaria de Emergencia (UGOFE), a consortium with railway companies Metrovías and Ferrovías, which took over the running of commuter rail services on Belgrano Sur, Roca and San Martín lines in Buenos Aires after concessions granted to Metropolitano S.A. for the operation of these services were revoked.

Revocation of concession[edit]

Puma train in Trenes Argentinos livery, being retired from service (2014).

Following a commuter train accident on February 22, 2012, at Once Station, Buenos Aires, in which 51 people died and at least 703 people were injured,[3] TBA was placed under federal intervention on February 28; its concessions to operate the Mitre and Sarmiento lines were ultimately revoked on May 24.[4] After the cancellation of the contact, both lines were taken over by the consortium Unidad de Gestión Operativa Mitre Sarmiento (UGOMS) and later Trenes Argentinos, putting them back in state hands.

In October 2015, an Exposé in the conservative daily newspaper La Nación highlighted the firm's apparent mismanagement while in charge of the commuter rail lines. The article revealed large expenditures by the private company on luxury items like jewellery and champagne, as well as trips to Doha and Dubai. At the same time, the company is still under investigation due to the Once Tragedy and still has AR$ 70 million worth of unpaid fines as a result of its business practices.[5] It has also been revealed that the company had bribed the former transport minister Ricardo Jaime, who is also under investigation.[6]


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