To the top of the world by locomotive: Part 2

The following were taken with full permission of the Ferrocarril Central Andino. Thank you to the FCCA and its employees for their incredible hospitality! Special thanks to Francisco Carrion for making all the arrangements and being a amazing host! 

This entry takes place May 24th 2017, entries from the previous and following days will be posted at a later date. 

For the previous report click here: To the top of the world by locomotive: Part 1

Video of this segment is below, there will be links throughout the page to go to specific points within the video. 



After the southbound train cleared it was back up the mountain, the combination of an hour of idling and the high altitude led to a spectacular show as our GE shot black clouds of smoke and fire into the sky as we struggled to get moving up the steep grades again. While the section from San Bartolome was very scenic the terrain becomes even more rugged as leave Matucana behind, The arid desert scenery transforms in to rugged mountains with sheer rock walls lining the track as we climb along the Rimac River.

Leaving Matucana behind and climbing into the hills, the Rimac river can be seen below.
In Peru track speeders are still a common site and a work gang has theirs in the clear for us to pass.
The rough cut portal of tunnel #12  frames the rugged landscape ahead.
The line continues its steady climb while the Carr Central does a switchback of it own to gain elevation.
Both rail and road emerge from a tunnel, we would photograph a train from this location a day later.
At KM 110 we stop for a redboard, up ahead a work crew is repainting a bridge and we have to halt till they can get in the clear.
The FCCA is in the process of repainting their bridges from silver to bridge orange and the crew takes a short break to let us pass.

Shortly after crossing the bridge we stopped at Lastre Viso siding for an unexpected crew change, rather surprising that it would happen at this remote spot rather than at the yard in Matucana.














Viso Switchback

With the new crew on board we continue up the hill a short distance to the first switchback at Viso. Viso is the first true switchback on the line and is probably the most photographed as it is right along the Carr Central and with some hiking it is possible to get all 3 levels in one shot. We were amazed with how quickly the 3 person crew completed the tricky switchback maneuver, the only delay being for the brakero and hefe to get back to the head end at the top of the switchback. As we pulled away we were treated to some signature C39-8 flaming exhaust, the altitude and grades no doubt bringing out this natural characteristic in full. Video

The view from the top level of Viso switchback, the lower two levels the Carr Central and the Rimac River can be seen below.
Approaching tunnel 21 flanked by the steep and beautiful rock walls of the Rimac Canyon.


3 for 1! We are inside tunnel 21 and about to duck into 22 after just feet outside. Ahead is the Chaupichaca bridge and tunnel 23. Video
Crossing the Chaupichaca bridge at KM 117.2, the tall steel bridge crosses the Rimac River and the Carr Central has been wedged in underneath as well. There is only one lane under the bridge which is a major source of congestion on this part of the highway. 

Tamboraque Switchback

After the short but scenic ## kilometer run from Viso we arrived at the next switchback, Tamboraque. We pulled to a stop infront of the old station and our engineer got out to check the fuel levels, an old tankcar now serves as a remote refueling station for trains ascending the mountain. With the small 1300 gallon fuel tanks the crew must be careful not to run out of fuel as there are few places to refuel on the road. Our train was too long for the tail track at Tamboraque so we spent a few extra minutes here doubling the train before shoving the the steep switchback. Video

Our Maquenista checks the small fuel tank of our locomotive, looks like plenty of fuel left so no need to wait here.
Two old wooden coaches sit tarped up at the end of the siding, hopefully oneday they will be restored.













The train has been reassembled on the middle level of the switchback and will shove up the steep grade once the crew has walked to the rear of the train.
At 10,000 the effects of the altitude start to impact the locomotives too as evidenced by the rich black cloud of smoke, heavy for the even the normally smoky C39-8s.

At the top of the switchback both the middle and upper sections pass through a outcropping in parallel tunnels making for a very interesting scene. As as Viso the brakero and hefe had to walk back to the front of the train giving us some time for photos. 











After traversing the switchback we pass high above the town of San Mateo where we will spend the night a few hours later. The railroad has a short siding here that is often used for meets.











Thats it for Part 2! In the next segment we will cross the famous Inferillo bridge and traverse two more switchbacks before ending up in the mining town of Casapalanca. 


5 Responses

  1. bill gordon

    Thanks for sharing your excellent images! Thoroughly enjoyable.

  2. Railroads had an incredible effect on the world in every way from transportation and engineering through industry and economics.

  3. Running along one of the world’s highest rail routes, traversing the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa, the new luxury train will explore natural wonders and ancient kingdoms on one- and two-night journeys.

  4. Michael Lewis

    I live in Tampa Florida and a work mate is from Peru and he has told me all about the train ride over the Andes mountains and I can’t wait to take an excursion to see it myself.