Steam in South America, November 2012
Richard Wallace joined the RTC trip to Argentina and Chile and reports:
Route confirmed open from:
a) Cerro Mesa to El Maiten and thence to Ing. (or Desvio) Thomae
Allegedly the first section CM - EM had only been made fit a few days before arrival. Some tour participants with Civils experience expressed concern at erosion of one the bridge abutments on the major girder bridge south of Cerro Mesa and wondered how long this has to go if we have further major storms.
Baldwins 4 and 16 were in service on these sections and the works at El Maiten were clean, functioning with an unidentified loco being rebuilt.
The first two pitctures are on the bridge just south of Cerro Mesa whilst the third is approaching
b) Esquel to Nahuel Pan
This section was also open and used with Henschel 101 the only active loco on this leg. Henschel 107 was in static display in the station with another Henschel (unidentified) in an advanced state of repair in the shed.
The tour went a little way south of Ing Thomae (to a level crossing about 1 - 2 km on) and also reversed north of Nahuel Pan (about 1 km) to a picturesque photo location.
The line manager stated that the route between El Maiten and Esquel would be "fully open within a year".
Ing Jacobaci was not visited but a report on a 'Central and South America' forum following a Farail charter earlier in 2012 stated that 3, 19 and 104 were all in operable condition there.
The 2-8-0 used on a earlier tourist service from Bariloche was locked in a shed with the track torn up in front of it following a dispute over unpaid bills between 'Argentinian Railways' (i.e. the state or whoever owns the track) and the owner of the locomotive.
Subte Line A is still running 1913-vintage stock (generally about 60 - 70% of the service). This will only last until a new extension of two stations opens (but this was due to happen in 2011!).
The Neilson 0-6-0 woodburner (No. 27) was in extremely good condition and working. It could not go on a lengthy main-line trip as the assisting diesel had failed!
Their steam crane was also active.
Shunter no. 2 (0-6-0) was in steam as was another steam crane. No other broad gauge steam locomotives were serviceable but the ng tourist railway was operating.
Beyer-Peacock 2-6-0 No 620 (type 57 ?) was used on the tourist train between Valdivia and
Baldwin 4-8-2 820 was used for 2 days from Antilhue to Temuco and then from Temuco to Los Lajas. Shortage of licensed drivers (due to a sudden illness by the rostered driver) nearly caused problems but flexibility on behalf of one of the remaining drivers saw the trip run.
The Colchagua 'Wine Train' was still not operating following the earthquake