THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
100 YEAR CELEBRATION IN ARGENTINA
NOVEMBER 6-15, 2022
The Old Patagonian Express has gone down in folklore history made popular by the author Paul Theroux and others over the years. But this train does exist in a remote region of the Argentine Patagonia, some 1000 miles southwest of Buenos Aires. Most railfans know this as the Esquel narrow gauge line. Locals call It “La Trochita” and railroad management calls it “El Viejo Expreso Patagonico” 2022 marks the 100th year anniversary of this historic rail line and railroad management is planning a number of special events including painting one of the Baldwin 2-8-2's back into the original two tone gray when Baldwin delivered it to Argentina in 1922. Additionally we will be having one Baldwin and one Henschel and our passenger train re lettered into the original Ferrocarriles Argentinos in celebration of 100 years of operation.
This is how the Baldwin 2-8-2's looked like when they were delivered to Argentina in 1922. The railroad is planning on repainting one of the operating Baldwin's back into this original scheme for the 100th anniversary in 2022.
Additionally we will have one Baldwin and one Henschel re-lettered back into the original Ferrocarillies Argentinos
Over the past 100 years this 251 mile 2’ 5 1/2” (75cm) gauge line has seen good and bad times, has seen several trains per day to just one train per week and during the Covid Pandemic no trains at all. One very important fact now stands out about this rail line… IT IS THE LAST AND LONGEST 100% STEAM OPERATED RAILROAD IN ALL OF SOUTH AMERICA! The Baldwin and Henschel 2-8-2’s are still being repaired in the workshops at El Maiten, Esquel and Ingeniero Jacobacci to keep the tourist trains operating. For several days in November 2022 we will turn back the clock and operate several charter trains that will look just like the way it was many years ago.
We have requested to the railroad to have the entire 251 miles open for our charter trains. At the moment some 74 miles is out-of -service needing minor repairs. Additionally another 39 miles is closed south of El Maiten because the local Mapuche Indians near the town of Leleque has put a block-aide on train operations claiming that the land belongs to the Indians. If railroad management cannot make peace with this tribe then we will step in and meet with these people seeking a “Peace Treaty” proposal to allow our charter trains to pass through. Since 1987 we have made some interesting arrangements for our tour members and we are proud to have chartered 44 trains on this line, but this is the first time that we have had to try and get a peace treaty to run our train through Indian land.
TWO INTERESTNG VIDEOS OF THE ESQUEL LINE
DAY 1 SUNDAY NOVEMBER 6:
Independent arrivals in San Carlos de Bariloche and hotel check-in at the group hotel.
DAY 2 MONDAY NOVEMBER 7: (B-L-D)
Today we have a charter two unit Spanish built railcar from San Carlos de Bariloche to Jacobacci a distance of 121 miles on broad gauge. But we also will have a charter train pulled by steam locomotive 121 a 2-8-0 North British built in 1913 for the first 25 miles out of Bariloche to the station of Perito Moreno. The railcar will depart Bariloche first with all of our luggage and then wait at the Perito Moreno station. In the 25 miles between Bariloche and Perito Moreno we will make several photo run-bys. Upon arrival at Perito Moreno the group will transfer onto the railcars and then continue eastbound to Jacobacci. Several photo run-bys will be made between Perito Moreno and Jacobacci. We will first pay a visit to the narrow gauge steam workshops before hotel check-in and dinner.
STEAM LOCOMOTIVE NO. 121, A 2-8-0 BUILT BY NORTH BRITISH IN 1913 WILL BE USED FROM
BARILOCHE TO PERITO MORENO A DISTANCE OF 25 MILES. ABOVE 121 IS SEEN AT PERITO MORENO
AND BELOW THE 2-8-0 IS PULLING A TEST TRAIN BETWEEN BARILOCHE AND PERITO MORENO.
OUR RAILCAR WILL TAKE US FROM PERITO MORENO TO JACOBACCI
DAY 3 TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8: (B-L-D)
We plan to depart Jacobacci very early with our charter pulled by one of the narrow gauge 2-8-2’s Jacobacci to Norquinco , a distance of 126 miles. The first 10 miles out of Jacobacci is a very unique dual gauge three rail line where the narrow gauge shares the rails with the broad gauge. We will stage as many photo run-bys today as possible but this is going to be a very long day so the photo stops will be somewhat limited. Back some 50 years ago “The Old Patagonian Express” could make it between Jacobacci and El Maiten in just 8 hours but not anymore. Today it will take our train a good 13 hours just to make it to Norquinco. We plan to arrive at Norquinco at sunset. Here we transfer to our charter motorcoach for El Bolson and hotel check-in.
THE JUNCTION OF THE NARROW GAUGE AND BROAD GAUGE LINES IS SIMPLY
CALLED EMPALME KILOMETER 648 IN THE EMPLOYEES TIMETABLE.
THE FIRST 10 MILES OUT OF JACOBACCI IS ON DUAL GAUGE. THE ONLY TUNNEL
ON THE ENTIRE LINE IS LOCATED A FEW MILES SOUTH OF CERRO MESA
DAY 4 WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 9 (B-L)
Return Norquinco via motorcoach to reboard our waiting charter train for the rail trip south to El Maiten, a distance of 23 miles. Visit what is left of the steam workshops and running shed at El Maiten. Many of the original buildings have now been torn down. There is plenty of narrow gauge locomotives and rolling stock stored here. The original roster was made up of 11 Baldwin and 11 Henschel steam locomotives of the 2-8-2 wheel arrangement plus one Henschel 0-6-0 that was used at the workshop and yard as a switcher. We then reboard our charter train and continue our journey southbound to Esquel, a distance of 103 miles. Several of photo run-bys will be staged today depending upon our time. Not too far south of El Maiten we will be running through the Indian block-aide section of track. If our efforts to come up with a peace treaty was not possible then we will bus around the block-aide and board a 2nd train south of indian land. Upon arrival in Esquel hotel check-in.
BEFORE DEPARTING EL MAITEN WE VISIT THE WORKSHOPS, RUNNING SHED AND SERVICING AREA
DAY 5 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 10: (B-L)
In the morning we will visit the running shed and stage the steam locomotives on the turntable at Esquel before boarding our charter train. Today we will have a doubleheader with one Baldwin and a Henschel and a mixed consist of freight and passenger cars for the steep climb out of the Esquel Valley and up to the Patagonian Plateau at Nahuel Pan, a distance of 12 very scenic and steep miles. After a water stop at Nahuel Pan we will continue on north for several miles to perform more photo run-bys in the rock cliffs. Also many photo run-bys will be made between Esquel and Nahuel Pan. When turning the steam locomotives on the wye track at Nahuel Pan we will also switch the locomotives around for variety.
DAY 6 FRIDAY NOVEMBER 11: (B-L)
Today our charter will run 103 miles Esquel back to El Maiten with plenty of photo-runbys. We will make a stop at the Lepa station for lunch. Arrangements have been made for a authentic “Argentine Barbecue” to be served on an open fire BBQ pit built next to the station by authentic Argentine Gauchos (Cowboys). The Gauchos will start our barbecue in plenty of time before we arrive so it will be ready for us. Included in this barbecue is Beef, Pork, Lamb and fresh home made sausages, plus salad and french bread. This is a “All you can Eat” barbecue. After lunch we reboard our train and continue north to El Maiten and then transfer by motorcoach to our hotel in El Bolson.
DAY 7 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12: (B-L-D)
Return to El Maiten where we board our charter train for the long run El Maiten to Jacobaccui a distance of 148 miles. Since today will be a very long day taking more than 16 hours to reach Jacobacci we will will have a limited number of photo run-bys as extra time permits.
A SPRINGTIME SNOW IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE IN THE PATAGONIA
DAY 8 SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13: (B-L-D)
Today we have a charter train with a different consist from Jacobacci south to Ojo de Agua and return a distance of 54 miles. We will stage photos run-bys both directions as time allows. We must have our charter train at the junction between the narrow gauge and the broad gauge mainline by 6:00pm. We are planning on having our narrow gauge charter parked next to the broad gauge “Tren Patagonico” at the junction where the mainline is dual gauge for the 9 miles into Jacobacci. Tren Patagonico is operated between Bariloche and Viedma. We will be board this train at the Kilometer 648 junction for the journey eastbound across the vast Patagonia to Viedma, a distance of 528 miles. The long distance passenger train is due at this junction at about 6:45pm. Tren Patagonico not only has first class coach service and sleeping cars but also a dining car, lounge/disco car and even a movie car if you would like to watch a movie. This option includes coach class with a upgrade available into sleeper class if available.
COLORFUL DIESELS PULLING TREN PATAGONICO INCLUDING ALCOS AND EMDS
DAY 9 MONDAY NOVEMBER 14: (B-L)
The Tren Patagonico arrives in Viedma mid afternoon. We will have a charter motorcoach waiting for us at the station. We must transfer from Viedma to Bahia Blanca to catch our next train. There is a gap of 165 miles with no passenger train service. If by change the Tren Patagonico is running late then we will have our bus meet the train at a point west of Viedma and we then head directly to Bahia Blanca. We will then depart Bahia Blanca at 7:00pm onboard “EL Bahiense” in sleeper class. Shortly after departing you can enjoy dinner in the dining car.
DAY 10 TUESDAY NOVEMBER 15:
Arrive in Buenos Aires at 8:30am at the Plaza Constitucion station and end of the tour.
all prices per person
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$4,895
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$795
DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$1,000
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT BOOK BY DECEMBER 31, 2021-$200
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY AUGUST 5, 2022
*8 CHARTER TRAINS
*9 NIGHTS OF LODGING
*PLENTY OF PHOTO RUN-BYS
TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2021 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.