The first railway in Uruguay opened in 1868 between Bella Vista and the La Paz river, a distance of about 12km. The line was extended across the river and into Las Piedras later in the year, being officially inaugurated on 1st January, 1869. It was built to standard (1435mm) gauge, also used for the greater part of the subsequent expansion into most parts of the country. A number of important narrow gauge lines, of various gauges, were also built but these have all closed, except for a short section of one line
Passenger and freight services had declined considerably by the start of the 21st century and many lines had closed. A program of rehabilitation and reopening is being undertaken for freight traffic, but revival of passenger traffic has been less successful. A twice daily service on the line betweeen Montevideo Nueva Terminal and 25 de Agosto was introduced in 2012. Extra trains operate within the urban area.
There is an international connection with Argentina at Salto. An international connection with Brazil takes the form of a line across the border to Santana do Livramento, where the standard gauge tracks of AFE interchange traffic with the metre gauge tracks of Rumo ALL in Brazil.