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Linea Urquiza (Buenos Aires)
The Linea Urquiza , known as Line U, is a 25.5 km (15-mile) suburban electric commuter line operated by the subway operator Metrovias, that runs from the Federico Lacroze terminus in barrio Chacarita, Buenos Aires to General Lemos terminus, Campo de Mayo in Greater Buenos Aires, a total journey time of 46 min. The line uses third rail for current collection. At present, it is used by an average of 75,400 passengers every day and operates 20 hours a day, 7 days a week at 8 to 30 minute intervals.
In earlier times the line was planned to run into the centre of Buenos Aires, through a long tunnel. But when the tunnel was finally built in 1930, it was taken over by the subway system, so that suburban passengers had to change at Federico Lacroze, named after its builder, about 6 km (4 miles) from the centre. Today Federico Lacroze has a direct connection to the Line B subway station of the same name.
Like the Buenos Aires Metro system, the Urquiza line uses the standard 1,435 mm gauge rather than the broad gauge used in other interurban railways of Buenos Aires.
The brothers Federico and Teofilo Lacroze were pioneers opening several horse-drawn tramway lines in Buenos Aires city, first in 1868 from Plaza de Mayo to Plaza Once and in 1870 the "Tramway Central of Lacroze".
On 2 October 1884 they were granted a concession to build a 47 km railway also pulled by horses from Buenos Aires through open country southwest to Pilar. On 6 April 1888 the line was opened with the name of "Tramway Rural", (rural tramway) to Pilar with a branch to San Martin thereafter.
Three years later, in 1891, it was converted to steam and as the capital expanded, business to the suburbs was so good that a new branch to Campo de Mayo was inaugurated in 1904 using electric power supply, and the whole section between Federico Lacroze and San Martin was electrified in 1908. Electricity came from the Lacroze tramways of Buenos Aires and overhead wires delivered 600 volt DC current to a fleet of wooden US-style interurban coaches from Brill.
In 1897 the line was renamed Ferrocarril Rural de la Provincia de Buenos Aires and in 1906 it was renamed again to Ferrocarril Central de Buenos Aires. However, since it was still operated by its owners, it continued to be known unofficially as the "Federico Lacroze Rural Tramway".
The original cars were still running by the end of the 1940s and had become too unsafe to permit continued private operation, and the line was nationalized by the Peronist government in 1948 and became part of Ferrocarril General Urquiza, one of the several divisions of the state-owned Ferrocarriles Argentinos.
By 1951 it was completely rebuilt, new substations were set up, new modern cantilever roofed stations of reinforced concrete were built and 28 used 1700 series interurban coaches, manufactured by Pacific Electric Railroad between 1925 and 1928, were bought. These were used until the early 1970s when they were replaced by 100 new Japanese subway coaches, third rail current collectors were installed and the station platforms were raised at the same time to match the new coaches.
One interesting point is that in 1959, Ferrocarril General Urquiza acquired 30 PCC coaches, built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1940. These were modified at the ends to operate in two, three or four-sectioned articulated formations like most modern LRVs. They were all retired by the mid-60's, because they were too lightly-built to handle the heavy passenger loads.
The Urquiza Today
The number of passengers carried by the Urquiza Line has increased steadily in recent years and several improvements have been made, including adapting stations for the disabled, grade crossings improvements, new concrete sleepers and welded rail joints for the entire line and up-dated electrical components.
In the meantime, it is possible that the rebuilding of the existing ramp at Federico Lacroze will allow connection to Line B, enabling trains to run through to the centre of Buenos Aires, a dilemma witch is uncertain at this moment.
Federico Lacroze Subte Line B
Villa Lynch (Ferroclub ArgentinoRailway Museum Association)
Martin Coronado (Ciudad Jardin)
Jorge Newberry (Hurlingham)
Ejercito Los Andes
Sargento Barrufaldi (San Miguel)
Campo de Mayo
Buenos Aires Metro
Metrovias English website: www.metrovias.com.ar
Subterraneos de Buenos Aires (Spanish)
Buenos Aires at UrbanRail.Net
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Linea Urquiza (Buenos Aires)