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The first railway in Colombia was in fact the Panama Railroad which crossed the isthmus of Panama in 1855. However, in 1903, Panama became a country in ins own right; as a result, the first railway in present day Colombia was the line opened in 1871 between Barranquilla and Sabanilla (present day Puerto Salgar), a distance of about 22km. The gauge is variously reported as 1080mm or 1067mm; however, subsequent railway development in the country was mainly to a gauge of 3ft (914mm).

The much run down and near bankrupt national railway system all but closed down in the late 20th century. Passenger services ceased and an international link with Venezuela was severed. Freight services were franchised to two companies, operating separate groups of lines on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the country.

The Pacific group was a single route, about 196km from the port of Buenaventura to Palmira, just north of Cali. The line was reported to have ceased operations in early 2016.

The Atlantic group was a single route, about 250km from the port of Santa Marta to Chiriguaná. A 767km abandoned section of line continuing from Chiriguaná to La Dorada was restored to traffic in 2016. A separate section of the same abandoned line, 318km from Facatativá via Bogotá to Belencito with a branch from La Caro to Zipaquirá, was reopened to freight traffic in 2018. Part of this line had previously been used to carry a tourist train service from Bogotá to Zipaquira, and continues to serve that purpose.

Apart from the former main lines, there is an independent (1435mm standard gauge) mineral railway opened in the 1980s, and the Medellin Metro opened in 1995.

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Flag image from CIA World Factbook