Railways, Atacama: Englishwww.geovirtual2.cl
Museo Virtual, Chile
W. Griem, 2006 - 2021
|Railway routes in Atacama|
Current: In large parts
temporarily inactive. Traffic only between Vallenar and Mina Los
Data: 1000 mm gauge; construction from 1904 (excluding the incorporation of historical sections).
|Bombas - Mina Carrizalillo - (Pan de Azúcar)||Actual situation: Dismantled, only some remains of the embankment remain.|
|Chañaral - Animas, Manto Verde y Potrerillos||
Current situation: Between
Barquito and Potrerillos active with cargo traffic. Animas
branch / Manto Verde completely dismantled. Only embankments and
cuts are visible.
Data: Path at the beginning 1067 mm; then (1909) reduced to 1000 mm. Beginning of construction 1869, reactivation in 1889; extensions to Diego (1897), Inca de Oro (1904) and Potrerillos (1928).
Current situation: completely
dismantled - only remains of the embankment can be seen.
Data: Short path with track 760 mm
|Caldera - Copiapó - Chañarcillo
- San Antonio - Puquios
Contenido Copiapó-Los Loros
Copiapó - San Antonio
Pabellón - Chañarcillo
Copiapó - Caldera
Copiapó - Puquios
Current situation: Only the
Copiapó - Caldera and Copiapó - Chulo (=longitudinal) routes are
not dismantled - but without traffic, that is to say temporarily
suspended. The route to Puquios is already dismantled and only
traces of the sleepers can be seen; the same happened with the
route to Chañarcillo. The Journey to Los Loros almost completely
disappeared (used as a highway).
Data: Construction gauge: 1435 mm; then in 1914 reduced to 1000 mm. Total length of 253 km. (historical paths)
|Caldera - Mina Algarrobo (Cu)||Current situation: raised, embankment still exists.|
|Toledo - Mina Cerro Imán||Current situation: raised|
|Carrizal - Merceditas, Manganeso, Astillas, Mina Coquimbana - Yerbas Buenas||
Current situation: Completely
lifted up - only a few footprints remained in the desert.
Data: 1270 mm gauge, total length of the line 186 km. Construction from 1864 to 1895.
|Mina Los Colorados||Current situation: Working with freight traffic, iron ore.|
|Huasco - Vallenar - Pedro León Gallo||Current situation: Working between Vallenar and Huasco (load traffic). The Vallenar - Pedro León Gallo stretch almost completely disappeared.|
|Mina Algarrobo (Fe)||Current situation: Working with freight traffic, iron ore.|
Network in the Atacama Region, Chile
The distribution of the railway lines in the Atacama Region clearly indicates a decentralized regional planning of different companies and different purposes. Finally 1914/1916 all the insulated lines were connected to the longitudinal line (red line in the map).
The initial routes were extended in accordance with the axes of mining industrialization and technical feasibility. In Atacama, the following main axes can be defined:
1) Huasco Valley: Huasco - Vallenar - Pedro León Gallo
2) Carrizal Ravine: Carrizal Bajo - Merceditas / Yerbas Buenas
3) Copiapó river valley: Caldera - San Antonio, Puquios, Chañarcillo
4) Valle Chañaral: Barquito - Potrerillos - Las Animas
The often highly ramified railway systems were connected by the Longitudinal Railway until 1916.
Unfortunately, the desired economic activation of this billion-dollar infrastructure project could not be observed. The route was intended as a major activation project, but also to provide the country of Chile with a modern transport system that could act as the backbone for future economic activities.
For various reasons, the development did not proceed as desired:
The economic decline of the mining industry continued into the 40's, the competence of trucks and cars in the 60's, but also a shift of the industrial centres caused that the longitudinal track could never fulfil its real role. The planning wasn't optimal either. Cost-effective routing was often preferred, which did not permit high travel speeds.
1) It must be taken into account that infrastructural works do not necessarily have to generate profits. As a government (in this case Chile) there are several objectives that are more important than a monetary advance (social gain): social role, connectivity, competitiveness, future projection, preventing situations of dependency, showing presence, levelling out cyclical economic variations or simply subsidizing a sector or an activity indirectl.
Longitudinal La Calera
Línea Mina Tofo
Línea Carrizal - Yerbas Buenas
Línea Chañaral - Animas
Líneas Salitreras (Taltal)
Locomotora La Copiapó
Viaje en Tren
Mining history of Atacama
History of Atacama
Animals of the Atacama Desert
Climate of the Atacama Region
The Andes mountains
Virtual viewpoint Atacama
Aeródromos en Atacama
Literature and Links (more
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