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Portola CA 96122

chris@traintrips.biz (Rail Tour Manager)

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south america - Argentina

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

RAILFAN/TOURIST TOUR

MARCH 16-31, 2023

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

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. We will have all of the locomotives that pull our trains re lettered into the original Ferrocarriles Argentinos in honor of 100 years of operation.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

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 to keep the tourist trains operating. For several days in March 2023 we will turn back the clock and operate several charter trains that will look just like the way it was many years ago. Since 1987 we have now chartered 44 trains on this line.

TWO INTERESTNG VIDEOS OF THE ESQUEL LINE

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er3zE5SP6uc

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8mhIdZoVow

 

During our tour additional time will be spent enjoying other steam locomotive operations in the Buenos Aires and Bariloche areas plus a planned charter pulled by Baldwin/ Westinghouse electric No. 953 which is being restored to operating condition by the Ferroclub Argentino near Buenos Aires. This classic box cab electric was built in 1927 for the Red River Lumber Company out of Westwood, California and later operated on the Pacific Electric before being sold to Argentina in the mid 1950's. We have requested that this box cab pull our charter train out of Buenos Aires to the Ferroclub Argentino museum at Lynch on the standard gauge Urquiza Railroad. Additionally the last operating Baldwin Shark Nose diesel in the world will pull our train out of Buenos Aires and we also are planning to visit the stored passenger cars that were built by Budd for the C&O's Chessie which never went into service and ended up being sold to Argentina.

 

DAY 1 THURSDAY MARCH 16: (D)

Independent arrivals in Buenos Aires and independent hotel check-in. Afternoon tour of the major passenger train stations in Buenos Aires. We will begin this tour at our hotel lobby at 2:00pm and walk to the near-by subway station. This afternoon excursion will be fully escorted by not only our American guide but our local railfan guides that live in Buenos Aires. We will introduce you to how most of the local folks get around the city. You will be amazed how all of the major train stations can be accessed by subway. In fact a person can visit just about all areas of the city by rail. We plan to visit these train stations: Plaza Constitucion (largest station in BA) has 16 platforms and hundreds of trains a day. Retiro Mitre, Retiro San Martin and Retiro Belgrano. These three stations are next to each other with easy access. Back to our downtown hotel to relax for the evening.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

RIDING ON BUENOS AIRES VAST SUBWAY SYSTEM TO VISIT THE MAJOR RAILROAD STATIONS

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

WE WILL VISIT PLAZA CONSTITUCION-RETIRO MITRE-RETIRO SAN MARTIN AND RETIRO

BELGRANO DOWNTOWN TRAIN STATIONS WHERE HUNDREDS OF TRAINS ARRIVE AND DEPART

 

DAY 2 FRIDAY MARCH 17: (B-L-D)

Today we have a morning flight on Aerolineas Argentineas to San Carlos de Bariloche. (Air Tickets Included) We depart Buenos Aires at 9:30am and arrive in Bariloche at 11:50am. We will first have lunch overlooking the Andes and spectacular Lakes District. After lunch we go on a tour of the Lake District region and a city tour of Bariloche which was settled by Swiss and Germans and so this delightful town gives you the feel of being in the Swiss Alps. After our town tour we will go out to the train station and small shops which is on the Ferroviarios Patagonico (Railroad) . Then hotel check in and the evening will will have our “Welcome to Argentina Dinner”.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

DAY 3 SATURDAY MARCH 18: (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.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

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.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

OUR CHARTER RAILCAR WILL TAKE US FROM PERITO MORENO TO JACOBACCI

 

DAY 4 SUNDAY MARCH 19: (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 around sunset. Here we transfer to our charter motorcoach for the small town of El Bolson and hotel check-in.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

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.

 

DAY 5 MONDAY MARCH 20: (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 and a small railroad museum. 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 a the station of Thomae where the Mapuche Indian Blockaide is located. Our charter bus will be waiting and we will ride back to El Bolson for the 2nd night. Everyone will get to keep their same hotel rooms. Between Norquinco and Thomae is less than 50 miles so we will pack in the photo run-bys today.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

BEFORE DEPARTING EL MAITEN WE VISIT THE WORKSHOPS, RUNNING SHED AND SERVICING AREA

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

DAY 6 TUESDAY MARCH 21: (B-L)

We return to Thomae where are train had tied up for the night. This morning we will be able to follow our train by highway through the 13 mile blockaide taking pictues at a couple of the scenic locations. At the station of Leleque we will reboard our train and continue south to the end of the line at Esquel. Transfer to a local hotel.

 

DAY 7 WEDNESDAY MARCH 22: (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. Same hotel and rooms tonight in Esquel.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

DAY 8 THURSDAY MARCH 23: (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 Leleque where we will transdfer to our waiting bus for the short ride to El Bolson and hotel check-in. Meanwhile our train will run the 13 miles through the indian reservation to Thomae and then tie up for the night.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

DAY 9 FRIDAY MARCH 24: (B-L)

We return by bus to Thomae and reboard our waiting train for the journey north to El Maiten. Here our engine will be serviced before we depart northbound for the 23 miles to Norquinco. Plenty of photo run-bys today. Again we transfer to our waiting bus for the trip back to El Bolson. Everyone will have the same room.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

DAY 10 SATURDAY MARCH 25: (B-L-D)

Return to Norquinco to board our waiting train and head northbound to Jacobacci, a distance of 125 miles. This will be a very long day so we will only run a few photo run-bys today. We estimate between departure from the hotel in El Bolson until you check in at the hotel in Jocobacci will be at least 17 hours. This is why we are giving you dinner on the train today. Upon arrival in Jacobacci hotel check-in.

 

DAY 11 SUNDAY MARCH 26: (B-L)

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 back in Jacobacci by sunset which will be around 7:30pm. For those interested you can take some night photos at the workshops as the crews put our steam locomotive away for the night. The Tren Patagonico is operated between Bariloche and Viedma and is due into Jacobacci at 9:44pm. Everyone is in sleeper class for the 518 mile journey across Argentina to Viedma. Tren Patagonico has three classes of tickets. Sleeper class, First Class, and Coach Class. This train also has a dining car, lounge/disco car and even a movie car if you would like to watch a movie tonight. Upon boarding and after you get settled in your room we suggest you go to the dinning car and get dinner.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

COLORFUL DIESELS PULLING TREN PATAGONICO INCLUDING ALCOS AND EMDS

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

 

DAY 12 MONDAY MARCH 27:

Tren Patagonico is due in Viedma at 11:34am but is rarely on-time. Reports tell us that most of the time this train gets into Viedma in the mid afternoon. Upon arrival we will transfer to our waiting bus which then will take us to our hotel for check-in. After check-in anyone that is interested we will take you to the railroad workshops of the Ferroviarios Patagonico for a shop tour.

 

DAY 13 TUESDAY MARCH 28: (B-L)

Today we must have our charter bus take us from Viedma to Bahia Blanca, a distance of 165 miles to catch our next train. We will then depart Bahia Blanca at 7:00pm onboard “EL Bahiense” in sleeper class. Since we have all day to travel 165 miles on a good paved highway we are in no hurry to get up and check-out. So as we travel north on the highway to Bahia Blanca if we see any trains we will stop and take picturees. In Bahia Blance we will take you on a workshop tour before going to the train station and boarding “El Bahiense” Shortly after departing you can enjoy dinner in the dining car.

 

DAY 14 WEDNESDAY MARCH 29: (L)

Arrive in Buenos Aires at 8:30am at the Plaza Constitucion station. We have arranged to have our charter train waiting for our arrival at the Plaza Constitucion station pulled by the only operating Baldwin Shark Nose diesel in the world. Our train will be made up of classic wooden coaches including a dining car from the Ferroclub's collection. We will be served lunch on this wooden dining car. Once at the museum at Escalada you can enjoy the large collection of motive power and rolling stock. One or two broad gauge steam locomotives will be in operation for our visit. Mid afternoon we return to downtown Buenos Aires on our bus and hotel check-in. Rest of the day and evening on your own leisure.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

FERROCLUB ARGENTINO'S MUSEUM AT ESCALADA

 

DAY 15 THURSDAY MARCH 30: (B-L-D)

In the morning we visit the Ferroclub Argentino’s railroad museum at Lynch which is on standard gauge. We will first go to the Federico Lacroze Station on the Urquiza Railroad which is located within the city limits of Buenos Aires. Here we will board our private charter train for the run to Lynch. Former Pacific Electric box cab 953 built by Baldwin/Westinghouse will pull our train. This classic box cab was built for the Red River Lumber Company in 1927 as No. 204. In 1944 it was sold to the Central California traction and renumbered to 24. Then in 1947 it went to the Pacific Electric as No. 1593. Finally in 1952 this motor was sold to Argentina. At the Lynch museum one or two of the club's steam locomotives will be in operation. Also sister electric box cab 952 will be at the museum and the Ferroclub has agreed to repaint her in the original Pacific Electric scheme just for our visit. You will have plenty of time to explore the Ferroclub's museum at Lynch including the deadline of former Pacific Electric motors just outside of the museum including a classic Hollywood car. All of this former PE equipment was sold to Argentina in 1952. We then return to downtown Buenos Aires on our bus. In the evening we will host our “Farewell to Argentina Dinner”

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

BALDWIN/WESTINGHOUSE BOX CAB 203 LEADING A RED RIVER LUMBER COMPANY LOG

TRAIN COMING OFF OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC'S HIGHLINE AND ARRIVING WESTWOOD,

CALIFORNIA. (LEFT PHOTO) MANY YEARS LATER IN 1971 FORMER RED RIVER LUMBER 203 IS

SEEN ARRIVING AT LYNCH, ARGENTINA WITH AN EMPTY SET OF MU PASSENGER EQUIPMENT

LETTERED 953 FOR FERROCARRILLIES ARGENTINOS. (RIGHT PHOTO) THIS WONDERING

ELECTRIC WAS SOLD TO THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA TRACTION AND THEN PACIFIC ELECTRIC

BEFORE BEING SOLD TO ARGENTINA IN 1952. THANKS TO THE FERROCLUB ARGENTINO SHE

WILL RUN AGAIN.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

DOWNTOWN BUENOS AIRES

 

DAY 16 FRIDAY MARCH 31: (B)

Morning we will visit the Budd built passenger cars then the National Railway Museum which is located at the Retiro Station. The Chessie was a proposed streamlined passenger train developed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in the late 1940's. This new train would have operated on a daylight schedule between Washington DC and Cincinnati, Ohio. The train's luxury lightweight equipment was built new by the Budd Company but never put intro service. Out of 48 cars built for this train 12 were sold to the FC Roca Railway and shipped to Argentina. They were eight 36 seat coaches, two 28 seat baggage-coach, and 2 lunch counter/tavern/lounge cars. Once fitted to broad gauge and link & pin couplings this train went into service between Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, a distance of 250 miles, as an extra fare luxury vacation train and was called “El Marplatense”. This train was finally retired a few years ago and four cars were not scrapped and are stored in Buenos Aires. We will be back at the hotel in enough time before check-out and end of our tour.

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

THE BUDD BUILT CHESSIE CARS NOW STORED IN BUENOS AIRES

 

THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS

THE NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM IN BUENOS AIRES

 

ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON 

 

DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY $7,095 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT $1,095 

DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$2,000 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 16, 2022

 

TOUR INCLUDES:

*32 MEALS

*CAB RIDES

*8 WORKSHOPS

*FULLY ESCORTED

*12 CHARTER TRAINS

*15 NIGHTS OF LODGING

*PLENTY OF PHOTO RUN-BYS

*PHOTOGRAPH THE PE MOTORS

*EL BAHIENSE IN SLEEPER CLASS

*ONE ARGENTINE DOMESTIC FLIGHT

*TREN PATAGONICO IN SLEEPER CLASS

TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2022 **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.