Railfan Trip to the Peru Railways

In August 2000, we joined a group of railfans for a trip to the railroads of Peru.

We have created our Peru Photo Album to share some of the impressions from that most beautiful country.

The trip was organized by Trains Unlimited Tours, the worlds only travel agent offering trips for the railfan, in Latin America (i have no business relation to them except from beeing a customer).
The specialty of their trips is that only charter trains are used, an expensive but ideal solution.
It allows to stop trains where it is of interest, and do photo run-bys, allowing the railfan to make pictures of the train, something not possible when you just ride a train. There is no passenger service any more over this line, so this trip can only be made on a charter train.

The Lima Shops of the FCA.

In Lima, we were invited to visit the shops of the Ferrocarril Central Andino, the Peru Central Railroad, formerly called Ferro Vias Centales Andinas.
The railroad is operated (as of November 1999) by RDC, Railroad Development Corp, od Pittsburg, USA.
The shops do most of the car repair work, and also keeps the only surviving steam engine alive.

From Lima eastward, up and over the Andes, to Huancayo

... in one day. Unfortunately, there is no passenger service on this most spectacular line any more. The trip can only be made with either a freight train (which is aginst the rules) or with a charter train. We were lucky enough to be on a charter, with the FCA top manager also on board, along with his presidential car (a beautiful turn-of-the-century open platform business car).

After a slow early morning departure from Lima, the first 80 miles show nothing but fog covered landscape, a weather phenomenon that is common for the Lima winter.

At San Bartolomeo we met steam engine 206, which will bring us uphill as far as water facilities allow (the road did not keep the water facilities in usable shape over all of the network). The diesel engine acts a a helper, and partly took half of the train, to lighten the weight of the train the steamer had to pull. We were lucky, the steam engine had to be repaired, and the work just was finished a few days before we arrived in Lima.

67 switchbacks bring us up the steep climb of the Cordillere Occidental towards Ticlio Pass, the western summit station, at 4700 m (15700 ft) altitude. Needless to say, that half the passengers (including me) had to be hooked to an oxygen device, climbing from zero to 4700 msl in three hours simply knocks you out. Walking around Galera station grounds i felt like an old man (i am old, but not that old). Continuing thru the summit tunnel to Galera, then down the slope into the Andean Highlands, thru La Oroya and on (meanwhile in complete dark) to Huancayo.

We were the first passenger train coming into Huancayo for more than two months (!), we were met by a delegation of the local tourist board, with most charming 'indigena' singers and dancers.

The fascinating and scenic trip, from 6 am thru 10 pm, sent us to bed rather quickly, as the wake-up call for next morning was scheduled for 5 am.

The Huancayo & Huancavelica Railroad

The ride on the narrow gauge railroad (out and return on the same day) turned out to be pretty stressy, but offered incredible sights of railroad action. Photographs were easy andd rewarding.

The Yauricocha Railroad

The Yauricocha Railway branches off at Chaucha, between Huancayo and La Oroya, westward into a side valley and slowly uphill over a plain in mor than 4000 msl altitude. The line serves the Yauricocha mine, which will be closed soon. Our train seemed to be the last train on that line, as it will soon be scrapped.

From Huancayo back over the Cordillere Occidental to Lima

The ride back offered day views of the altiplano between Hoancayo and La Oroya, and spectacular railroad action at the switchbacks up to Galera. I treated myself by sitting on the front drawbar of the engine thru the summit tunnel, quite a unique and very wet experience.
On the way down to Lima, the steam engine waited for us at San Bartolomeo, unfortuneately it was already a bit dark for photographs.


A short trip by air brought us into Cusco, a very beautiful city situated in most scenic landscape

The Machu Picchu Railroad

Machu Picchu can only be reached by helicopter or by the narrow gauge train. We had a railcar chartered, and therefore were able to make several stops for photos.

The PeruRail Line from Cusco to Puno

An early morning departure from Cusco on the PeruRail line to Puno on Lake Titicaca makes us spend the whole day on a train whose cars make the wildest oscillations i have ever experienced. That track urgently needs relaying. The line goes thru a relatively boring landscape, the altiplano, an finally arrives at Puno.

Lake Titicaca and the Steamship 'SS Ollanta'

A 1930 steamship was heated up for us on Lake Titicaca. We enjoyed a day's cruise on the lake and the first class service on board. The ship has a twin 3-cylinder engine, and four steam boilers. Also this was a trip that can normally not be booked, as the ship is not in regular service any more (maybe PeruRail changes this)

PeruRail Line from Puno to Juliaca and over the Cordillere Occidetnal again to Arequipa

The Railway line from Puno to Juliaca and over the Cordilliera Oriente to Arequipa is something not to be missed. Here, PeruRail has reestablished passenger service during the day from Arequipa.