Metropolitan Region (part 1)
30 km northwest of Santiago
an tw 1940s-1975?; 1676 mm; 1 km
The Metropolitan Region is the smallest in Chile in area, but is the most populous as it includes the federal capital and its suburbs. It also had Chile's largest number and variety of tramway systems.
Until the 1970s the Chilean Army operated a home-made horsecar along a spur of the Santiago-Valparaíso railroad, between Batuco station and an ammunition factory 30 km northwest of the capital. Although the branch had overhead wire, horse power was used, it was said, in fear that a spark from an electric vehicle might set off the factory's explosives. The author was unable to obtain additional information.
When railroad travel between Santiago and Valparaíso declined in the 1970s horsecar service became less frequent and was discontinued about 1975. The spur track at Batuco station remains today, but, like the main line railroad, no longer sees regular passenger service.
Although designed for Army
personnel and their families, visitors were allowed occasionally to
ride the primitive car. The Batuco line was undoubtedly one of the
last horse tram services in the world.
pop. 1858, 100,000; 1900, 300,000; 1940, 1 million; 1990, 5.2 million
an tw 1858-1942; 600, 750, 1000 & 1676 mm; 75 km
gas tw 1922-1940; 762 & 1000 mm
el tw 1900-1978; 500, 600, 762, 1000 & 1435 mm; 215 km; 395 pm, 165 pt
Chile's capital is the fifth most populous city in South America, after São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Bogotá. The present city includes several comunas that were considered separate towns in the tramway era, but are now counted part of the capital. This chapter considers tramways that operated in the original city of Santiago (the rectangular area between the Mapocho River and the railroad lines on the west, south and east) and in the nearby comunas of Recoleta, Renca, Quinta Normal, Ñuñoa, Providencia and Las Condes. Tramways that ran outside this area, i.e., in or around the comunas of Pudahuel, Maipú, La Cisterna, San Bernardo and Puente Alto, are discussed in the chapters that follow.
Most of Gran Santiago is flat. But the Andes begin on Santa Lucía Hill on the eastern edge of downtown, and snow-capped peaks were once visible from all parts of town year round. The surrounding mountains unfortunately block winds and have produced air pollution in recent years, in the same way as the hills of Los Angeles and Mexico City. Santiago's eastern suburbs are only 30 kilometers (by air) from the Argentine border.
Chile's capital had the first known passenger-carrying, animal-powered, street-running railway on the South American continent. The horsecar line on Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins, which opened in 1858, was probably also the first such railway in the southern hemisphere and was one of the first such lines in the world [see note 2 in GENERAL HISTORY]. The tramway network that developed in Santiago in the succeeding 101 years was the nation's largest. In the electric era there were 10 separate tramway systems of six gauges, including a rack railway, a funicular and three private lines in public parks. Chile's last tram also ran in Santiago.
The 1858 tramway was built by a steam railroad company to bring passengers to its station at the (then) edge of town. The company's stockholders were Chilean, but most of the engineers were North American, and the line was modeled after street railways that were running at that time in the United States. Its construction and early development are documented in the memoirs of two of these engineers, Walton Evans and Charles Hillman [see BIBLIOGRAPHY]. The company's Informes Anuales (Annual Reports) have also survived.
The Ferro Carril del Sur, Chile's third steam railroad, was chartered in 1855 to build a line from Santiago to Talca, 250 km south. Its chief engineer, a Frenchman named Émile Chevalier, resigned after seven months and was replaced by Walton Evans, an American who had worked on the New York & Harlem Railroad in the United States. Evans had come to Chile in 1850 to help Allan Campbell build Chile's first railroad at Copiapó [see GENERAL HISTORY and chapters on COPIAPÓ and PABELLÓN-CHAÑARCILLO], and had then supervised construction of the Arica-Tacna railroad in Peru. In 1856 Evans returned to New York, ordered equipment for his new line and brought a new assistant, Charles Hillman, back to Chile. The first 16 kilometers of the steam railroad, between Santiago's Central station and San Bernardo, were inaugurated on 16 September 1857. Track gauge was 1676 mm, the same used by the Valparaíso-Santiago railroad, which had opened its first segment in 1855.
While in New York Evans observed the four new street railway systems that had opened since his departure in 1850. [In addition to the 4th Avenue line which New York & Harlem Railroad had opened in 1832, new companies began operating trams on 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue in 1852, and on 3rd Avenue and 2nd Avenue in 1853. A streetcar system opened across the East River in Brooklyn in 1854.] He decided to build an animal-powered railway down Santiago's main street, La Cañada, to connect the station with the commercial center 20 blocks east. La Cañada was later renamed Alameda de las Delicias and is known officially today as Avenida del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins (or familiarly as, still, the Alameda). The 1858 Informe states that permission for construction of a railway on La Cañada was obtained "de la autoridad competente" - but no record of such permission could be found. In his memoirs Charles Hillman states that the line was built "on simple suffrance," without a franchise, and because of this was subject to litigation in later years [see below].
Evans imported redwood ties from California and laid 2.5 km of 1676 mm gauge double track down the south side of La Cañada from the railroad station to San Diego Church, corner of Calle Arturo Prat. Ten trams - five First Class cars and five Second - arrived from the United States in late 1857 and South America's first animal-powered street railway was formally inaugurated on Thursday 10 June 1858. [The inauguration date has been reported as 10 June 1857 in Chilean engineering texts, tramway surveys and newspaper articles for the last 120 years. The error can probably be traced to Recaredo S. Tornero's well-known book, Chile Ilustrado, published in Paris and Valparaíso in 1872, which reports the 1857 date - but does not state its source. Since Tornero noted the precise day apparently no one ever questioned the year. The Ferro Carril del Sur's Informes describe the tramway's construction in detail and leave no doubt that operation began in 1858. The year is also confirmed by Evans and Hillman and in the 1862 Anuario of Chile's Oficina Central de Estadística (see BIBLIOGRAPHY). Strangely, no mention of the tramway inauguration could be found in Chilean newspapers of either 1857 or 1858.]
The tram cars were built by Eaton, Gilbert & Co. in Troy, New York - which seems to have supplied most of the vehicles then running in New York City, Brooklyn and Boston. [No clear record exists of the builder of hundreds of cars of this type that appeared in U.S. cities in the 1850s. In his earlier Brazil book the author guessed that the Santiago cars, like those in the U.S., were built by John Stephenson in New York (see notes in the GENERAL HISTORY). But later research has produced histories of Eaton, Gilbert & Co. stating that it built trams during this period for New York, Brooklyn and Boston. In his History of The First Locomotives in America (New York, 1874), William H. Brown states, p. 231: "In the early beginning of the streetcar . . . Eaton & Gilbert . . . furnished the new instrument of conveyance used in Boston for many years and nearly monopolized the patronage of the leading lines in New York City"; he adds, p. 234: "The cars from this company are extensively ordered from Chili and Peru, and no car factory in the world is better known to projectors of railroads in South America than that of Gilbert, Bush & Co." Eaton, Gilbert & Co. was renamed Gilbert, Bush & Co. in 1864; it became Gilbert Car Manufacturing Co. in 1882. In 1860 Walton Evans contracted yellow fever and returned permanently to the United States. During the long sea voyage home he wrote a 40-page article on Chile in which he imagined himself a tourist enjoying the railways that he had built. The article was never published and remains in (very) rough draft form: ". . . Proceeding along the principal street I came . . . to the 'Cañada,' a grand 'Alameda' two miles long and lined on each side by triple rows of trees. Among the trees on one side runs a City Railway vigorously at work carrying passengers through the city, and to and from the Central Station of the Southern Railway. Fond memories of home and a 6th Avenue ride up town feeling [sic] came stealing over me as I heard the jingling of sleigh bells and saw the well-known names of Eaton Gilbert & Co. Troy, N.Y. on the cars. This delusion vanished as I stepped in and the car started and the elegantly dressed señoritas commenced chattering in Castellano" (pp. 13-15). Evans was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, which preserves his papers today, and maintained a life-long allegiance to that city and its manufacturers.] They were similar, except in length, to the passenger cars preserved today at the Univesidad de Atacama in Copiapó, which are believed to have inaugurated the horsedrawn Pabellón-Chañarcillo railway in 1859 [see PABELLÓN-CHAÑARCILLO chapter under 2nd Region].
The tramway was a great success. Unlike similar lines constructed in the 1860s by steam railroad companies in Argentina, the FCS accepted all passengers, not just those who were arriving or continuing on its long-distance trains. Ridership increased each day and headways were reduced to 15 minutes. Five more cars were ordered later in 1858, another five in 1859. The 1859 Informe reports a fleet of 20. The 1862 Anuario reports that the line carried 195,740 passengers that year.
In 1863 the Valparaíso-Santiago steam railroad finally reached Santiago, under the auspices of another American engineer, Henry Meiggs. Meiggs acquired a franchise in 1864 to build a street railway in Santiago, but was blocked by the FCS. The city claimed that FCS had built its line illegally and ordered it to remove its tracks. FCS declined. Meiggs left Chile to build the Oroya railroad in Peru and sold his tramway franchise to FCS on 16 November 1871.
Hillman, who had become FCS's chief engineer in 1869, constructed the tramway's first extension: new 1676 mm gauge track went north on Calle Estado to the Plaza de Armas and the markeplace on the Mapocho River, returning south via Calle Ahumada. Service on the new route began 17 September 1872.
On 5 September 1873 the FCS stockholders sold their steam railroad to the Chilean government and reorganized their tramway division as the Ferrocarril Urbano de Santiago. The new company laid track west on San Pablo and Catedral, south on San Diego and Prat, east on Av. Providencia, and north across the river to the cemetery and racetrack. New double-deck trams were acquired from the John Stephenson Co. in New York - which, unlike the double-deck trams in Valparaíso, had stairs at both ends. By 1880,500 horses were pulling 100 trams on Santiago streets.
In 1883 a new company, the Ferrocarril de Santiago a Ñuñoa, opened the first suburban tram line, along Avenida Irarrázaval to Plaza Ñuñoa. Gauge of its tracks was 1000 mm. A few years later two more small independent tram operations began within the city. The Ferrocarril de Santiago a San Eugenio built a 600 mm gauge line from the railroad station down Calle Bascuñan Guerrero. And the Tranvía San Alfonso opened a parallel 750 mm gauge line from the same point down Calle San Alfonso.
Records of the J. G. Brill Co. of Philadelphia show orders dated 27 December 1887 for two single-deck cross-bench trams for the Ferrocarril Urbano de Santiago.
In October 1891 a new railroad station opened on the east side of town at Plaza Italia - renamed Plaza Baquedano in 1928. A new company, the Ferrocarril del Llano de Maipo, inaugurated the first segment of its planned route over the Andes. This meter-gauge steam railroad never went farther than Puente Alto, 22 km south of the city; it would later play an interesting role in the city's tramway history.
Santiago's first park railway was inaugurated in 1894. A small Decauville steam locomotive and coaches transported visitors on a 3 km circuit at the Exposición de Minería y Metalurgia in Quinta Normal Park. [The origin of the locomotive is uncertain. Roger Bailly's book, Decauville (Le Mée-sur-Seine, 1986), notes an order, p. 118, for the "Ecole d'Agriculture au Chili," which was the principal tenant of Quinta Normal Park. But Alfonso Calderón's Memorial del Viejo Santiago (S, 1984) states, p. 176, that the locomotive, coaches and rails came second-hand from the Exposition Universelle de 1889 in Paris. The little 600 mm gauge railway remained in operation after the exposition closed, until at least the First War. (The park acquired another, completely different, railway after the Second War; see below.) The electricity exhibit at that fair included an electric locomotive built by Schuckert & Co. in Nürnberg - which two years later would inaugurate Chile's first electric railway in a mine at Lota [see chapter on that city in the 8th Region].
On 9 March 1896 the Ferrocarril Urbano Pedro de Valdivia opened another horse tramway along Av. Pedro de Valdivia between Providencia and Irarrázaval.
At the end of the century, as the city's population approached 300,000, the Ferrocarril Urbano de Santiago owned 2,000 horses that pulled 200 trams on 100 km of 1676 mm gauge track on the capital's streets. About 40 million passengers were carried each year. The first incandescent street lights appeared and in August 1896 - shortly after the electric mining line opened in Lota - the city government invited proposals to electrify the city's tramway system.
The contract went to Alfred Parish & Co. of England, which formed the Chilean Electric Tramway & Light Company in London on 3 May 1898. The new tramway company was registered in England, but its chairman, several of its directors and most of its capital came from Germany, and the financial journals of the era considered it a German organization. The firm was called Compañía de Tranvías i Alumbrado Eléctricos in Chile. A week after incorporation, on 9 May 1898, CET&L purchased the Ferrocarril Urbano and Ñuñoa horsecar systems and hired Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft of Berlin for electrification. A new tramway era in Chile had begun.
AEG erected a power plant on the Maipo River near Puente Alto, built a tram depot on Calle Mapocho west of downtown, laid new 1435 mm gauge track in the central area of Santiago and ordered a large assortment of electric tram cars from Waggonfabrik AG vorm. P. Herbrand in Köln. All were 4-wheelers and had AEG motors and electrical equipment: 40 8-bench open cars numbered #1-40, 115 double-deckers numbered #101-215, 40 single-deck closed cars #401-440, 40 open 7-bench trail cars #501-540, and 10 work cars #901-910. It rebuilt, regauged and renumbered 50 horsecars #51-100 for use as trailers.
The first electric tram was tested 1 April 1900 and five decorated open cars officially inaugurated Chile's first electric street railway system, 1435 mm gauge, on Sunday 2 September 1900. The parade ran from the Mapocho shops down Calles Brasil, Rosas and Bandera to Av. Bernardo O'Higgins. By the end of that year, 56 electric trams were running on 43 km of new electric tram track.
Independent animal- and steam-powered lines continued to open in the suburbs, often using equipment discarded by CET&L. The Ferrocarril de San Miguel built an animal-powered tramway down Calle San Diego to San Miguel in 1901 [see SAN MIGUEL chapter below]. The Ferrocarril Avenida Manual Montt opened a horse tramway down that street in Providencia in 1903. In the same year a French company, the Ferrocarril de Santiago al Resbalón, built a line along Calle Mapocho to Resbalón, and in 1904 an Italian company, the Tranvías de San Pablo a Barrancas, opened a 3 km line west along Calle San Pablo. The last two lines began west of the railroad tracks on Av. Matucana, which separated them from the central part of the city. Cars on the Resbalón line were pulled alternately by horses and small steam locomotives.
In addition to the large standard-gauge tramway system operated by CET&L, AEG also built a tiny meter-gauge electric line on Santa Lucía Hill just east of downtown. The Ferrocarril Eléctrico del Cerro Santa Lucía used a 2-prong Abt rack to climb to a theater and restaurant on a bluff overlooking the city. Two miniscule open cars with trolley poles pulled trailers on the half-kilometer route, which had a switchback midway! This unique railway, which was the first rack line in Chile and the second of the city's eight park tramways, operated between 11 January 1902 and 30 April 1910.
The CET&L system expanded rapidly and by 1903 had all the trams in operation that it had ordered in 1898: 205 motor cars and 40 passenger trailers were running on 97 km of track. In 1904 it ordered 60 more trams from Van der Zypen & Charlier in Köln (which also supplied 60 cars that year to the new electric tramway in Valparaíso): ten double-deck motor cars #216-225 and 50 trailers #601-650 (both single- and double-deck). On 30 May 1905 it ordered its first electric trams from the United States: ten 4-wheel double-deck passenger cars, #226-235, built by J. G. Brill in Philadelphia (o.n. 14446). CET&L now had a fleet of 225 motor cars and 90 trailers, a total of 315 electrified trams. Two-thirds had two floors. Livery was light blue.
Later in 1905 the CET&L was acquired by Deutsch-Überseeische Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft of Berlin, the German consortium that was known in South America as Compañía Alemana Transatlántica de Electricidad [see GENERAL HISTORY]. DÜEG already controlled tramway and power systems in Argentina and would later also acquire the tramway in Valparaíso.
Santiago's tramway company was now totally German, but kept its English name. On 30 December 1906 it inaugurated the city's first suburban electric tram route, along Av. Irarrázaval through Ñuñoa to a picnic grove at Tobalaba. According to a description of the festive event in the picture magazine Zig-Zag, Santiago's first electric suburban line was inspired by the route that had recently been constructed between Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.
In the 1907-1908 period CET&L ordered 35 trams from Waggonfabrik Falkenried in Hamburg, which had built the salon cars for the Viña del Mar line. Not to be outdone by the rival tramway in the port, the new Santiago order was for 20 double-truck double-deck passenger trams, #236-255, and 15 single-truck double-deckers #256-270. The 8-wheel double-deckers were the largest trams in Chile and were assigned to the "Parque" route, the city's third park tramway, on the south side of town.
However, not all the electric trams and tramway companies in Santiago were to be German. A new and independent company, the Ferrocarril Eléctrico de Santiago a San Bernardo, was founded in Chile in 1905. FESSB purchased the San Miguel horsecar line and hired W. R. Grace & Co., Chilean agent for the General Electric Co. of New York, to build an electric tram line down Calle San Diego toward the town of San Bernardo, 17 km south of the city. On 1 May 1906 Grace ordered ten 8-wheel single-deck passenger trams from St. Louis Car Co. (o.n. 666) in the U.S.A.
FESSB opened the first 7 km of its electric suburban line, as far as Cisterna, on 9 February 1907. The following 28 June it ordered five 4-wheel double-deck cars from St. Louis (o.n. 716) and on 25 February 1908 placed in service the remaining 10 km of the line. The double-deck trams ran only to Cisterna. The long 8-wheel suburban-type single-deckers ran all the way to San Bernardo. The tramway crossed the EFE steam railroad at grade at San Miguel and again upon entering San Bernardo, but at the latter point the tram tracks were later rerouted through an underpass.
In 1911 a new French company, the Ferrocarril de Yungay a Pudahuel, acquired the Resbalón steam tramway at the west end of Calle Mapocho and extended the line along Av. José Joaquín Pérez to the village of Pudahuel, near the city's present international airport. Its track gauge was 750 mm.
CET&L inaugurated a peculiar new tram service on the north side in March 1911. A single open car ran from Plaza Chacabuco, in the Palma district, to Negrete. Since no fare was charged on the very short route passengers nicknamed this tram "el carro comunista".
Horsecars still ran in various corners of the city, especially in the comunas outside the central Santiago area. The Empresa de Tranvías de Santiago a Renca ran 10 horsecars on a 560 mm gauge line on the north side of the Mapocho River. The Ferrocarril Población Morandé ran 12 cars on a 750 mm gauge system on the west side of the city, beginning at Calle Los Andes and Av. Matucana. And the Ferrocarril Población Santa Elena operated horsecars on a 600 mm gauge line on the south side, that connected the Ferrocarril del Llano de Maipo steam railroad with the Matadero (stockyards).
The horsecar line that had been operating on Av. Pedro de Valdivia in Providencia since 1896 was finally electrified in 1912. The 3 km tramway was rebuilt, operated and maintained by CET&L, but since it ran entirely within the comuna of Providencia ownership remained with a local firm, the Sociedad de Tranvías Eléctricos Pedro de Valdivia.
In the years preceding the First War CET&L bought its last new passenger equipment: 55 trams, #316-370, from Falkenried in Hamburg. The last group from this order, 31 double-deckers #340-370, arrived in 1914.
In the decade and a half since its founding the German tramway company had accumulated an impressive fleet of 550 passenger trams: 360 motor cars #1-50, 101-370 & 401-440; and 190 trail cars #51-100, #501-540, 601-650 and 701-750. (The nature, and origin, of 45 trams numbered 271-315 could not be determined.) CET&L trams carried 103 million passengers in 1915, 118 million in 1916, 128 million in 1917, and 132 million in 1918.
During the war, when new trams were not available, CET&L shared its experience and equipment with other cities in Chile that wanted to build electric railway systems. A Herbrand car of its 400 series inaugurated a new electric tramway in Villa Alegre, in the 7th Region, in 1915. Additional cars of that series opened an electric tramway in Talca in 1916. And several Herbrand double-deckers began running on the Rancagua electric tramway in 1918. Second-hand Santiago cars are also ran in Chillán. [See chapters on those cities.]
The end of the war saw the end of the DUEG empire in South America - and, with it, German control of the tramway systems in Santiago, Valparaíso and several cities in Argentina and Uruguay [see GENERAL HISTORY]. CET&L was reformed as a new multinational organization, whose stockholders included S. Pearson & Sons of London, the Compañía Hispano-Americana de Electricidad of Madrid, and the Société Financière de Transports et d'Entreprises Industrielles of Bruxelles.
The participation of the Belgian group may explain the fate of six single-truck passenger trailers that CET&L allegedly ordered from Van der Zypen & Charlier. Although they resemble trams that were running at that time in Santiago, they seem never to have gone to Chile but were sent instead to the SNCV in Belgium, where they were called "les voitures Santiago" and ran until 1954. Conversely, CET&L archives reveal a group of trams that it called "los carros belgas" which seem to have had nothing to do with Belgium. . .
The 1920 edition of the Anuario, the last that lists tramway companies in Santiago, notes two new horsecar operations: a meter-gauge line run by the Ferrocarril de Avenida Ecuador on the street of that name near Central station; and the 600 mm gauge Carrito de la Chacarilla which started at the end of the Macul electric line [see CHACARILLA chapter]. Commercial guidebooks of the era, such as the Guía Noticiosa and Guía Veritas, still list seven horsecar operations within the city (not counting the animal-powered lines in the southern suburbs.) The steam tramway to Pudahuel was sold to an Italian, Emilio Cintolesi, who converted it to gasoline operation [see below].
On 14 September 1921 CET&L and the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza Eléctrica, which supplied electric power to northern Chile, were merged and reorganized as the Compañía Chilena de Electricidad. CCE was a Chilean organization registered in Chile, but 86% of its stock was owned by Whitehall Electric Investments Ltd. of England. Santiago's electric tramway company, which had begun in England, was finally English.
CCE inherited a fleet of 500 passenger trams and 153 km of track, all in very worn condition. The city would not permit CCE to raise a 10 centavo fare that had been established 11 years before and the tramway workers staged frequent strikes. A private bus company began operation in 1922.
However, its power business was lucrative: CCE sold electricity to the EFE which electrified its Santiago-Valparaíso railroad in 1924, and to the Transandine Railway which electrified the Chilean part of its line in 1927. The CCE began an aggressive program of tramway reconstruction. Track was relaid, routes were extended, double-deck cars were rebuilt single, trail cars were motorized, new trams were constructed in the company's shops on Calle Mapocho and all equipment was repainted yellow. In 1925 CCE purchased the shuttle line operated by Tranvías Eléctricos Pedro de Valdivia and formed a subsidiary, Compañía de Tracción y Alumbrado de Santiago, to run its tramway division.
There was an interesting development that year on the little steam railroad to Puente Alto operated by the Ferrocarril del Llano de Maipo. The 22 km meter-gauge line was purchased and electrified by Siemens-Schuckert of Germany: ten of its old passenger coaches, motorized and fitted with pantographs, began service in 1925 on a sort of suburban tramway. In Puente Alto a smaller car, which had a bow collector (and in later years was numbered #4), provided local service within that town for workers at the Compañía Manufacturera de Papel y Cartón paper mill [see PUENTE ALTO chapter]. The FLM was popular with vacationers who changed at Puente Alto to the steam trains of the Ferrocarril Puente Alto al Volcán, 600 mm gauge, which climbed another 61 km into the Andes.
On 25 April 1925 a funicular railway was inaugurated on San Cristóbal Hill north of the Mapocho River. The 1050 mm gauge Ferrocarril Funicular del Cerro San Cristóbal was constructed by Emilio Cintolesi, who also owned the Ferrocarril de Yungay a Pudahuel. It was Santiago's fourth park railway.
The following year, on 16 February 1926, the English tramway company opened a new era when it placed the first of three large orders for new trams from the United States. Through its agent Carr Brothers in New York, CCE purchased 30 double-truck 42 ft passenger cars with 177E1 trucks from J. G. Brill Co. in Philadelphia (o.n. 22366). The new single-deck cars, which had arch roofs and 11 side windows, were numbered #51-80 in Santiago.
Three years later, on 1 January 1929, CCE and its subsidiaries were acquired by the U.S. holding company Electric Bond & Share [see GENERAL HISTORY]. And soon after, on 12 June 1930, the new American owners ordered 30 more double-truck cars from Brill (o.n. 22888): these were of a "Master Unit" design, had 9 side windows and were numbered #701-730. CCE ordered 30 more Brill cars a year later, on 22 June 1931 (o.n. 22938): #756-785 were similar to the previous lot but had only 7 windows. One car of this group, #765, was sent to the American company's Valparaíso system.
In early 1929 - the exact date could not be found - a new company called Ferrocarril Eléctrico Santiago Oeste purchased and electrified the private horsecar line that Tranvías de San Pablo a Barrancas had constructed in 1904 on the west end of Calle San Pablo. Like other tramways in the comuna of Quinta Normal, the little 3 km line was cut off from Santiago's main tramway system by EFE's railroad tracks on Av. Matucana (which were later placed underground). The new electric tramway kept the horsecar line's 1435 mm gauge, but other details of its construction and rolling stock are sparse. The grandchildren of Carlo Magno Coggiola, who built and owned the line, say that service began with three cars from a local firm, Copetta y Robín. More equipment was later acquired from both CCE and other tramway systems as they abandoned in the 1940s. Open car #6 came from the Ferrocarril de Yungay a Pudahuel [see below]; three cars, #5, 10 and 12, are said to have originated in Concepción; double-truck trams #2 and 3 were 152 and 153 in Valparaíso, and #11 was Valparaíso ex-Santiago #765.
Another private electric line opened west of those railroad tracks soon after. In 1934 the Ferrocarril de Yungay a Pudahuel [see below] rebuilt the first 3.7 km of its gasoline tramway, between Av. Matucana and Calle Vicentini, as a 750 mm gauge electric line. This was the only electric railway of that gauge in Chile. Huidobro Díaz reports six cars in 1939 - five open and one closed - which the heirs of Emilio Cintolesi, the line's owner, claims were also built by Copetta y Robín. FYP's gasoline cars continued to run for a short time to Pudahuel and down Calle Vicentini to Cerro Navia. The Resbalón branch was closed. [See RESBALÓN, BARRANCAS, PUDAHUEL chapter below.]
Tramways in the comunas around Santiago are difficult to research today: few traces remain, local authorities have no records or interest, and the lines were ignored by historians and the news media of the capital. Except for the Copetta & Robín advertisement shown, the author was unable to find any illustration of the electric trams that ran on the Yungay-Pudahuel line. Nor have any photos of early Santiago Oeste equipment survived. Fortunately there are the photos which visiting tramway enthusiasts took in the 1950s and 60s, reproduced on the following pages, which show a tramway fleet unlike any other in the world.
A new gasoline tramway opened on the east side of town in 1934. Santiago's eastern suburbs were the last to develop; Providencia and Las Condes are the rich residential areas today. The Ferrocarril Avenida Cristóbal Colón built a meter-gauge gasoline-powered tramway, 4.3 km long, connecting that thoroughfare with the terminus of CCE's electric tram line at Los Leones. Service began with one open and two closed passenger cars on 6 June 1934, and the line reportedly carried 180,473 passengers in 1937. It was later extended to Plaza Atenas. It is not known how long this gasoline tramway stayed in operation, and, of course, no photographs showing it could be found.
The 1937 Supplement of the World Survey of Foreign Railways says that the following kilometers of track and number of passenger motor cars were operated that year by the city's principal tramway companies: CCE 165 km, 514 cars; FESSB (San Bernardo line) 18 km, 17 cars; FLM (Llano de Maipo) 22 km, 10 cars; FESO (Santiago Oeste) 3 km, 3 cars; FYP (Yungay a Pudahuel) 15 km, 9 cars (electric and gasoline). In that year the city's trams carried 210 million passengers.
In 1937 CCE finally purchased the FESSB suburban line to San Bernardo and rebuilt its St. Louis cars. A short time later it built a new tram line down Av.Viel to the Fábrica de Cartuchos (Munitions Factory).
In the early 1940s the railroad tracks on Av. Matucana were finally put underground, and the electric tramways operated by the FYP and FESO on Calles Mapocho and San Pablo were no longer cut off from the city. But they were never annexed by CCE. FESO ran an experimental homemade trolleybus along Calle Catedral. . .
Electric Bond & Share's power and tramway companies - the CCE in Santiago and the CEV in Valparaíso - were taken over by the Chilean government on 15 September 1945. The new Empresa Nacional de Transportes, which officially began operation on 22 September, inherited a fleet of 488 passenger trams in the capital: the 90 Brill cars built in 1926-1931, 40 vehicles rebuilt in the 1930s numbered #225-239 and #731-755, 17 4-axle German cars, 175 German 4-wheelers, and 166 wooden trailers - the latter all constructed before the First War. ENT vowed to revitalize the nation's urban transport systems and began with a program of tramway replacement. It removed rails from most of the streets in the central area and closed the San Bernardo line beyond the city limits.
Frustrated by the prospect by armies of diesel buses, a local tramway enthusiast named Sergio Ríos Lavín decided to build a tramway of his own. He formed a corporation with a group of friends and on 6 October 1945 acquired permission from the city to build a new miniature railway in Quinta Normal Park. (The steam line of 1894 had disappeared during the First War; the new line would follow a different route and use a different gauge.) An extraordinary new chapter in Chilean tramway history had begun.
In January 1946 the Ferrocarril de Turismo Quinta Normal inaugurated the first 2 km of a 500 mm gauge railway that started at the park's entrance at the west end of Calle Catedral. The miniature locomotives were gasoline-powered at first. Santiago's fifth park railway was a total success.
The next year Ríos bought more equipment, extended his railway to form a 3 km loop, strung overhead wire and placed electric motors in the locomotives. Power was at first collected by pantographs, but these were soon replaced with trolley poles. Everybody in Santiago went to ride the little train around Quinta Normal Park.
ENT announced that it would not close the tramway system entirely, in fact would buy new trams. In 1946 it purchased 16 double-truck cars second-hand from Schenectady Railway in the U.S.A. Built by Brill in 1924-25, the Schenectady cars (from its 200-221 series) were rebuilt with four doors to resemble Santiago's #51-80 series and numbered #685-700.
The Schenectady trams created a scandal in Chile. A press report confused Schenectady, New York, with the city of New York, New York, and a political foe of the government's transportation board claimed that not only were the new trams not new, but were castoffs from the tramway system in NewYork's Harlem district. ENT exposed the lie, but the Schenectady cars were always called "los carros Harlem" in Santiago.
On 31 October 1947 ENT opened its first trolleybus route, with 100 units (#801-900) built by the Pullman Standard Co. in the U.S.A. ENT later also acquired 100 Vétra trolleybuses (#901-1000) from France.
Trolleybuses and diesel buses replaced trams throughout the city. In 1949 ENT closed the lines in Providencia and Ñuñoa, removing all trams east of the FLM.
Buoyed by the success of his railway in Quinta Normal Park, Ríos decided to build another, more ambitious line on the other side of town, along the north shore of the Mapocho River. He formed a new company, Ferrocarril de Turismo Oriente, and opened a 3 km 600 mm gauge diesel-powered line in January 1951 between the bottom of San Cristóbal Hill and a place upstream called La Pirámide. Passengers reached the new railway, the city's sixth park line, over a bridge from Los Leones.
This line also proved popular with the public and Ríos projected a 15 km extension to a park at Barnechea in the foothills of the Andes. He electrified the railway as far as La Pirámide in May 1952, but three months later it was washed away by a flood. Because of its proximity to the Mapocho River, FTO's stockholders declined to rebuild.
The Ferrocarril de Yungay a Pudahuel - both the electric and gasoline divisions - closed in 1951. In 1953 the ENT was reformed as a new government agency, the Empresa de Transportes Colectivos del Estado, which renewed its efforts to remove all trams from Chile's capital city. By 1955 trams no longer ran along Av. Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins ("the Alameda").
ETCE operated the last tram on Santiago's main tramway system on Saturday night 21 February 1959. The last car ran on route 33 across Avenidas Matta and Blanco Encalada, then up Calle García Reyes to the tram depot.
Trams continued to operate after that date on the FLM railway to Puente Alto, on the FESO at the west end of Calle San Pablo, and of course on Sergio Ríos's miniature railway in Quinta Normal Park.
Undaunted by the disaster on his riverside line, Ríos built yet another railway, in yet another place, using yet another gauge. He reassembled the stockholders of the Ferrocarril de Turismo Oriente, signed another contract with the city and built a third line, 762 mm gauge, from the same spot on Av. El Cerro up the side of San Cristóbal Hill. This twisting railway was 3.8 km long, climbed 200 m above the river on a 2.8% grade and used four homemade double-truck cars with trolley poles. Revenue service for the public began 2 October 1960. It was the city's seventh park railway and Ríos's obra maestra.
His Quinta Normal line closed with the military coup of 11 September 1973. Its locomotives, cars and rails were sold to the city and reinstalled in the Parque Intercomunal at the east end of Av. Francisco Bilbao in Las Condes, where they still run today. The locomotives were restored to their original form with gasoline motors.
As of the deadline for publication of this book the author has been unable to determine the dates of abandonment of the FLM and the FESO. The inner end of the Puente Alto railway was cut back to Ñuñoa in the 1950s and the line was gone altogether by 1963. The Santiago Oeste line ran until at least 1965, when it acquired new owners. Its cars were observed in a scrapyard in 1977.
On 19 February 1978 Ríos's electric tramway on San Cristóbal Hill finally ceased operation after 17 1/2 years. His Quinta Normal line had run almost 28 years. An aerial cableway opened on San Cristóbal Hill in 1980 that retraced part of Ríos' route; its lower station on Av. El Cerro is only a few blocks from the former terminal of the tramway line.
All trams have disappeared from Santiago today. None was preserved. However, the rails are intact on many streets, the line poles hold street lamps, and the tram depot at Calles Mapocho and Brasil has survived. The right-of-way of the rack railway on Cerro Santa Lucía - which closed in 1910 - is a pedestrian path called Camino del Ferrocarril, a name that baffles many residents. Santiago's rubber-tired metro system, which opened in September 1976, follows the route of the San Bernardo tramway as far as La Cisterna, and a new line is planned along the route of the Puente Alto railway. Since the 1970s automobile and bus traffic has increased exponentially and created a serious problem of contaminación. The trolleybus system closed in 1978, but a new trolleybus network was inaugurated 24 December 1991.
In 1983 the national
railroad system - the Empresa de los Ferrocarrilles del Estado - was
decentralized and split into three divisions. The new Ferrocarril del
Norte ran the last train from Mapocho station to Valparaíso on
17 February 1986. The line that runs south from Central Station
toward Talca, the railroad that gave South America its first tramway
a century-and-a-third before, has been renamed the Ferrocarril del
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