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Railways in


El Tren del Fin del Mundo
El Tren del Fin del Mundo on Tierra de Fuego

The first railway in Argentina opened in 1857, between El Parque and La Floresta, both places today being within the city of Buenos Aires (The original terminus at El Parque is now the site of the Teatro Colón). It was built to a gauge of 5ft 6in (1676mm). This gauge was used extensively on the central plains of Argentina; although metre gauge was used in the mountainous north, and a network to the east of the river Paraná (linking the capital with Paraguay) was built to standard (1435mm) gauge. In the south of the country, railway development was limited to a few isolated lines, mostly narrow gauge.

Railway coverage today remains extensive, and freight lines are well used, but passenger services outside the major cities are patchy.

There is a metre gauge international connection with Bolivia and a standard gauge connection with Uruguay. There were formerly two metre gauge international links with Chile, but only one of these remains in use. An international connection with Brazil takes the form of a bridge over the Uruguay river to Uruguiana, where the standard gauge lines of Trenes Argentinos in Argentina interchange traffic with the metre gauge Rumo in Brazil. A former standard gauge international link with Paraguay reopened in 2002; this link was diverted in 2012 around the site of a lake to be formed over the original alignment by the construction of a new dam.

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Tierra del Fuego

Towards the close of the 19th Century, the Argentine government decided to construct a prison at Ushuaia, at the southern extremity of Tierra del Fuego. A xilorail (wooden railway) was installed to aid during the construction, using oxen to haul wagons. By 1909, this had been replaced by a steam hauled, 600mm gauge, conventional railway. The railway brought supplies to the prison from the wharf, and building materials (stone and wood) from the hinterland. Over the years it grew to a sizeable network. The jail closed in 1947, and closure of the railway followed in 1952. However, in 1994, a part of the line was reopened as a tourist operation. It runs from a station located a few km to the west of the town of Ushuaia, into the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Not quite the most southerly railway in the world (see Antarctica), but certainly the most southerly to offer a regular service for fare paying passengers.

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Photo image from the Tren del Fin del Mundo website