The International Steam Pages

Background to the Wine Train Operation in Chile

The Colchagua Valley Wine Train was a long time coming, this page covers reports prior to its official inauguration.

Ian Thomson reported (1st April 2004) "The Tren del Vino had a trial run on 24th March, 2004. The type 57 2-6-0 No. 607 was steamed and placed at the head of the train, emitting a lot of smoke but producing little more steam than that required to blow the whistle. The steam locomotive was pushed, and the train pulled, by a D71XX Bo-Bo diesel, No. D7135. This might have been for the better (although it was not planned that way) since the 2-6-0 has still not been converted to oil fuel, and were it to have generated enough steam to have provided some pulling power, in this the driest part of the year, there might have been a lot of charred ex-grapes dangling from the vines. However, I stress, the Wine Train is a very well run professional set-up. Where else in the world has an abandoned 60km branch line been reopened for steam hauled tourist trains? The carriages are very well fitted out, there are bilingual guides, souvenirs had been made for sale, etc.. The official inauguration is set for mid-April, although there are still some unfinished tasks, such as installing a way (turntable or triangle) to turn the locomotive at Peralillo. This may cause some delay to the launching of services for the public."

The Latin Tracks Newsletter contains the following (22nd September 2000) "Wine train launched  - In a ceremony held on Platform 3 of Santiago's Central Station, at midday, Thursday 14th September, a non profit organization called the "Corporación cultural y ferro turistica de Colchagua" (Colchagua Cultural and Rail Tour Corporation) was formally launched. The principal aim of the Corporation is to run regular steam hauled trains along approximately half of the abandoned branch line from San Fernando to Pichilemu. The train will be marketed as the "Tren del Vino", or wine train, since the Colchagua valley is famed for its wines. San Fernando is 130 km south of Santiago, on the main line. The track is already being put back into shape, using sleepers recently displaced from the main line by new ones. The carriages will be a set restored by the "Asociación Chilena de Conservación del Patrimonio Ferroviario" (Chilean Rail Heritage Preservation Association), and the locomotive a 1913 vintage Chilean built 2-6-0, currently being overhauled at San Fernando." Ian Thomson adds (12th September 2001): "Re. the "Tren del Vino", the program envisions that trial operations start in June 2002, but I think we are getting behind schedule. Sleepers are being stocked ready to be placed on the branch, but this is going to take several months to do. Type 57 2-6-0 No. 607, already in San Fernando for several years, is to be overhauled to power the train. President and prime mover of the non-profit making organization behind the project, Mr. Carlos Cardoen, prefers the locomotive to be converted to oil fuel for environmental reasons. (I interpret him as not wanting to set the vineyards on fire). Helping with the conversion and the repair of the locomotive in general is Shaun McMahon, Chief Engineer of the Ushuaia narrow gauge railway. Shaun will be here in a couple of weeks, and we are going to San Fernando to inspect the locomotive. We need a second type 57 locomotive as back up, and several alternatives are being looked into. The project involves having trains running over the San Fernando - Peralillo section, i.e. around 60 km. A turntable from the old San Bernardo workshops is to be installed at Peralillo. The "Tren del Vino" is definitely going to happen, even if the June 2002 inauguration slips a bit from the initially projected date."

Rob Dickinson