On August 30, 1857, the first Argentine railway was inaugurated, the base of the current Western company; the first stretch measured just over 10 kilometers and starting from the Parque square (now Lavalle) it reached the Floresta (now Vélez Sarsfield); gradually it went on prolonging, despite the financial difficulties of the company that had to sell the property to the government; this first line was followed by others in different directions, with a crescendo that was rarely interrupted, until the present dense railway network was constituted, which nevertheless has not reached its maximum development. Railway progress is an excellent exponent of the general progress of the nation, of which it is cause and effect, and to a much greater extent than what happens in Europe. This is how E. Chanourdie, quoted by Rebuelto, puts it: ” At 30 August 1857 – the date of the inauguration of the Ferrocarril del Oeste – in our opinion, the third place in the chronological order of the great events in Argentine history belongs. After May 25, 1810 and July 9, 1816, no other event was, in fact, more propitious to the definitive constitution of the country and its marvelous moral and material development. If Caseros was the starting point of the national organization, the locomotive was the main factor in the unity of the Republic “. more propitious to the definitive constitution of the country and its marvelous moral and material development. If Caseros was the starting point of the national organization, the locomotive was the main factor in the unity of the Republic “. more propitious to the definitive constitution of the country and its marvelous moral and material development. If Caseros was the starting point of the national organization, the locomotive was the main factor in the unity of the Republic “.
With the inauguration of the stretch up to Moreno, which took place on April 12, 1860, the railway reached 39 km. In 1860-1870 the progress is remarkable: the branch begins around Buenos Aires, a small line is built in Entre Ríos and Rosario is united with Córdoba. In the following decade, the phenomenon increases in the sense indicated, several lines interchange in the province of Buenos Aires and Rosario is connected with Tucumán and Villa Mercedes; apart from the province of Entre Ríos, the Argentine railways are headed by two cities: Buenos Aires and Rosario without communication between them; this is obtained in the decade 1880-1890 in which a network is already drawn whose extremes are: Bahía Blanca, Mendoza and San Juan, Catamarca, Santiago and Salta. The first steps were taken when there were still vast regions still missing to the definitive conquest of the national territory, because the savage tribes still encamped as masters in the Chaco, in Patagonia and in most of the Pampa; but towards 1880 the conquest was completed and splendid regions opened up for valorisation, especially the Pampean one; this fact also had a notable influence on the development of the railway network.
In the decade 1890-1900, despite the political turmoil of the first years, the buildings progressed; even a small line is built in the Chubut, and from Bahía Blanca one arrives at the confluence of the Limay with the Neuquén, crossing northern Patagonia. Despite the world war that caused a stop, from 1900 to today the buildings increased in several places. The network became dense and more extensive and new lines were built in hitherto almost uninhabited areas; now every province is crossed by the rails and the same happens with the national territories, albeit to a lesser extent; Los Andes and Tierra del Fuego have no railway; some lines are isolated (Chubut and Santa Cruz), but they tend to join the general network.
Despite the extraordinary length of the Argentine border, international railways are in short supply; this is due to various causes: mountainous terrain, uninhabited regions, rivers that allow navigation and almost always prevent railway construction. The Central Norte line, after reaching Jujuy, by the Quebrada di Humahuaca extended up to the Puna (the highest point, which exceeds 3700 m.) And on 25 May 1908 the stretch up to La Quiaca was inaugurated, on the border; in recent years the Argentine line joined the Bolivian one and now from Buenos Aires you can go directly to La Paz. Another international line is under construction and will take place by extending the Embarcación-Yacuiba line.
For the famous Uspallata pass, between Mendoza and Santiago del Chile, the railway called Transandino has been operating since April 16, 1910. Several other lines have been planned across the Cordillera to unite Argentina with Chile (for example: Bariloche, Pino Hachado, San Rafael-Rancagua) and in the north the construction of the audacious line has begun which, after reaching the Puna, it will cross the border through the Socompa pass (previously it was planned for Huaitiquina).
Since 24 December 1912 Buenos Aires has been linked with a railway line to Paraguay by means of the Argentine Nordoste, which crosses Paraná twice with Jerry – boat: Zárate-Ibicuy and Posadas-Pacu Cua. For Argentina 2003, please check computerannals.com.
The densest network, the most active and productive lines are found in the most densely populated area, that is, in the pampeana; to a lesser degree it follows the Mesopotamian region and in some other areas an important network is already drawn up, as in Tucumán for the economic activity that derives from sugar cane, and in Mendoza for vineyards and orchards. The other lines, more or less long, are rarely branched, and rather have the appearance of long-distance communications, through regions with little population and reduced economic activity.
From the observation of the Argentine railway map it is easy to deduce that the railways are built largely taking into account the needs of the import and export trade. The railway lines that can be seen in the map as fan-shaped are in fact the means to reach the ports from the places of production and to penetrate from the ports to the consumption area. The greater the activity of the port corresponds to a more extensive and denser railway network, and several companies try to reach the river or the sea where, sometimes, they build or administer important port works. The first fan is that of Buenos Aires, towards which almost all the Argentine railways converge; do not forget, alongside the economic influence, the political one. Then follow, with greater or lesser importance,
The action of private companies was particularly evident in the pampeana area, and this is explained by the possibility of obtaining rapid and important gains. Instead, a very large region of the country escaped this action; Whole provinces or almost and most of the national territories, due to natural economic poverty or the lack of economic and demographic development, would have remained without railways if the government had not intervened. They are almost always called fomento railways, which do not have the immediate benefit as their goal, but rather that of facilitating and stimulating the population of sparsely inhabited regions and production; an attempt is made to enhance the region they pass through; and yet with it a true function of far-sighted government is fulfilled. The same happens for the various lines of Patagonia which, through the poor area of the east, try to reach the humid, fertile and future-oriented one of the Cordillera.
The railways have three gauges: a wide gauge of 1,676 m; a medium one, of 1,435 m., and a reduced one of 1 meter. The following statistical data, administered by the Dirección General de Ferrocarriles, give the general and particular length to 31 December 1927 and the movement of passengers and cargo for the 1927 financial year:
There are also 1986 kilometers of railways which do not depend on the Dirección General de Ferrocarriles but are of provincial jurisdiction and of a secondary nature; therefore the total extension of the railway network for the whole country reaches 38,281 kilometers; considerable figure, compared to that of many states (it occupies the first place in South America), but limited when compared to the extension of the national territory.
English capital occupies the first place in private companies – in 1924 it was estimated at 233,000,000 pounds – to it belong the largest companies.
Air communications are beginning to develop and various commercial lines are planned.