Tren de las Nubes
The Tren de las Nubes or Tren a las Nubes (Train of/to the Clouds) is a train service in Salta Province of Argentina, that connects the Argentine Northwest with the border with Chile in the Andes mountain range, over 4,220metres metres above mean sea level, the third highest railway in the world. Originally built for economic and social reasons, it is now of primarily touristic value as a heritage railway.
The train leaves once a week from General Belgrano station in the city of Salta for the 15 hour, 434 kilometre round trip to the viaduct La Polvorilla, located meters above sea level. The curved viaduct is 224 metres long and 70 metres high. From Salta, the train enters first the Valle de Lerma and then the Quebrada del Toro before reaching the Puna. It is known as the Train of the Clouds because clouds can be often be seen around and under the bridges and slopes of the landscape through which the railway passes.
An average of 30,000 tourists visit the train each year, which is also the only public transport for some of the small towns on its path, and is thus used by their local inhabitants.The train runs from April to November and leaves at 07:00, returning to Salta around 22:00. During the summer, from December to March, the Tren al Sol (Train to the Sun) travels from Salta to the Diego de Almagro station, at an altitude of 3,500 metres.
The railway line has 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, 2 spirals and 2 zigzags. Because of the design decision of not using a rack-and-pinion for traction, the route had to be designed to avoid steep grades. The zigzags allow the train to climb up driving back and forth parallel to the slope of the mountain.
The convoy of 10 wagons can carry 640 passengers at an average speed of 35 km/h. The C-C diesel-electric General Electric (GE) locomotive with 2,475 hp has two triple-sets of powered axles for traction, weights of over 100 tonnes, and consumes around six litres of fuel for every kilometre. The train, which stops in each station for tourists to get off, see the town and buy local handicrafts, has a restaurant, folkloric events, and an on-board medic.
The construction of the railway started in 1921, to connect the North of Argentina with Chile across the Andes, and to serve the borax mines of the area. The La Polvorilla viaduct, the highest of the line, was finished on November 7, 1932. The complete railway was inaugurated on February 20, 1948, but it was not until the late 1970s that it started being visited by tourists. The route was designed by US engineer Richard Fontaine Maury, after whom one of the stations has been named.
The train service is currently (since July 2005) suspended due to flood damage to the track and problems with the service providers.
A promotional journey along parts of the line was made in October 2007 and normal service is said to resume in March 2008.
These are the stations of the route starting from Salta, with their height in metres above mean sea level.
Rosario de Lerna
El Alisal ,
Puerta De Tastil
Diego de Almagro
San Antonio de los Cobres
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Tren de las Nubes