The International Steam Pages

The Esquel Railway

Chris Schoff visited Esquel in November 2004 with the Trains Unlimited Tours group and they covered the whole line (just...) over several days. You can read his account. (15th February 2005).

Chris Lewis tells me (31st August 2003) he saw the following in a Branch Line Society Newsletter: "After restoration work on the line the first train left El Maiten at 10:30 and arrived in Esquel at 18:30 on 27 May 2003". Following this up, he has had a communication from the railway stating (after translation): "In reply to your communication I inform you that we have already taken a locomotive to Esquel. We hope that for the months of October/November 2003 we will be able to operate a full service between Esquel & El Maiten."

Marcel Benoit tells me (10th June 2003) that the El Maiten - Esquel service has been restored - "Trochita: el pasado martes 27-5 arribó a Esquel el primer tren procedente de El Maitén, dejando así rehabilitado el tramo antedicho. La formación, estuvo a cargo de la Baldwin N° 6, y partió de El Maitén a las 10:30, para llegar a Esquel a las 18:30. Los servicios estaban suspendidos desde marzo del año 2000, efectuándose sólo los viajes turísticos, en pequeños tramos. " The source is "Novedades en la vía" of Guillermo Figini (Argentina),  better you translate it yourself but I think the meaning is clear. Just what the service comprises will no doubt become clear in due course.

Previously, I reported that the Esquel branch despite the perennial closure threats still staggers on, at least in part. Latin Tracks digest reports (1st September 2001): "The Municipality of Ingeniero Jacobacci has decreed that all the narrow gauge railway infrastructure and rolling stock in Jacobacci is now a "Municipal Heritage" site. The decree comes at a time when Patagonian Railway Services (Sefepa) staff are trying to steam one of the three locos stored at Jacobacci. In spite of budgetary cutbacks, Sefepa wants to have at least one loco in steam by September 14, to celebrate the town's anniversary." 

Later news comes from Roger Joanes (22nd March 2002): 

Esquel: Locos 105 and 114 were available to run the tourist train to Nahuel Pan. During February, the train ran daily except Thursday and Sunday, departing from Esquel at 10.00. At Nahuel Pan, the loco turns on a triangle, so runs chimney-first both ways. The nearby road and slow speed of the train make for good photo opportunities. El Maiten: Contrary to information given out by Esquel tourist office, a tourist train was also operating here. On 20th. February the loco was no. 6, and the train ran southwards (towards Esquel) for about an hour, stopped for a few minutes in the middle of the thorn desert, and then propelled all the way back. During the holiday months of January and February, departure from El Maiten had been every Wednesday and Saturday at 14.00. Loco no. 16 was also available for use, and loco no. 1 in the workshops on overhaul. El Maiten also has a great many derelict locomotives. There is now no through traffic on this line between Esquel and El Maiten, nor north of El Maiten, though the track may be complete.
Carmen de Patagones: Plinthed outside the town’s (disused) station is F. del Sud 2-6-0 no. 3096 (Beyer Peacock of 1901).
Bahia Blanca: 4-6-0 no. 3814 is stored in a compound just by the main station entrance.

Chris Lewis visited Esquel with the Railway Touring Company in November 2002, also the Ferroclub preserved operation in Buenos Aires (8th December 2002).

Rob Dickinson