Famous Railroad Stretched To Oblivion

What Happened To The Huancavelica Line!

High in the Andes, where the Condors soar, there lived a 3’6″ railway line that reached heights only permitted for Gods.

With amazing quaint Baldwin 2-6-0s from the Wild West for motive power, plus numerous gorges and tunnels all at high altitude, it was a real treat to travel on.

Baldwin 101 awaiting departure. Photo: Lindsay Rickard

This line had a mixture of Henschel 2-8-0s and the Baldwins with their classic stovepipe stack. It was not easy to get to. The trip from Lima involved riding on the Central of Peru with its numerous switchbacks.

The line runs from Huancayo to Huancavelica high in the Peruvian Andes.

There is a great video of the Huancavelica branch at the end of this post.

101 on train

Photo Lindsay Rickard

We rode this train in 1976, and I spent much of the time on the roof of the front passenger car, ducking as we entered unlined tunnels and occasionally coming back to the platform when the conductor appeared. With Baldwin 101 in charge, it was a great trip.

Huge diesels hauled passenger trains up the hill.

Photo Lindsay Rickard

Passengers would leave the standard gauge train at Huancayo and change onto the narrow gauge steam train. Regrettably by the time I arrived all my camera gear had been stolen or I would have spent a few days chasing this amazing railway.

Regrettably a few years ago the authorities decided to stretch the track out and covert it to standard gauge. That means no more steam trains ever, unless they cart one of the Central of Peru locos up the hill.

It is a real shame and a regret I never got back there.

While I was in Peru, there was one other narrow gauge loco I photographed. That was in Cuzco.

Henschel Narrow Gauge 2-6-0 shunting Cuzco. Note dual gauge track. Photo John Gaydon

After some searching I found an excellent video showing some of the beauty of this great railway line.


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