The Trolleybuses of


Allen Morrison

Part B: 1990 to present

The late 1980s and early 1990s were years of great trolleybus activity in Chile. Twenty-five of Valparaíso's 37 Pullman trolleybuses were rebuilt (some of them twice), 39 additional trolleybuses were purchased abroad, and a new line was constructed and placed in service in Santiago. The pictures below show some of the highlights of these events. For scenes of earlier trolleybus development in Valparaíso, see Part A (1952-1989).

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(01) The Empresa de Transportes Colectivos Eléctricos began remodeling its Pullman trolleybuses in 1986 and announced plans for a new line in Santiago. News of the project spread worldwide and North China Industries in Shenyang sent a trolleybus for demonstration. It tested in Valparaíso on 2 January 1990. [El Mercurio, Valparaíso, 3/1/1990]
(02) ETCE ordered eight "Shenfeng" trolleybuses from China in 1990 and thereafter rebuilt its 43-year-old Pullmans to match. Number 822, completed in December 1990 and shown here, had a wrap-around windshield, a large radiator grill and double rectangular headlights similar to those on the Shenfeng model – and unlike anything that ETCE had built before. [Michael Roschlau]

(03) The 18 newly reconstructed Pullmans, repainted and renumbered 101-118, were destined for the new line in Santiago and carried the "ETS" logo of ETCE's new subsidiary, Empresa de Trolebuses Santiago. Pullman 817, now numbered 104, was photographed in Valparaíso in December 1991. [AM]

(04) Pullman trolleybuses 814 and 850 were not remodeled and retained their original 1947 design. Here is 814 at Plaza Sotomayor in December 1991 [see map]. The author implored ETCE president Pedro Massai to preserve the classic features of these two vehicles. He complied. [AM]

(05) Nine of the 700 series Pullmans, built for Valparaíso in 1952, also kept their original shape. Here is 726 passing the Biblioteca Severín on Calle Edwards [see map] in December 1991. [AM]
(06) In 1991 ETCE also purchased 31 used trolleybuses from transport systems in Zürich, Genève, St. Gallen and Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The first six 3-axle articulated trolleybuses from Zürich arrived at the Valparaíso docks on 22 September 1991. [Sergio González]
(07) Ex-Zürich 105 was photographed on Calle Edwards three months later [see map]. The six Zürich vehicles had been built in Switzerland between 1959 and 1964. [AM]
(08) Zürich trolleybuses 105 and 111 kept their original blue livery and still carry passengers in Valparaíso today. Here is 111 at Plaza Victoria [see map] in December 1991. [AM]
(09) Number 111, again, at the Arco Británico on Av. Brasil [see map]. Date is December 1991. [AM]
(10) Zürich trolleybuses 107, 109, 129 and 132, on the other hand, received the ETS livery and new fleet numbers for operation in Santiago. This photograph, taken in December 1991, shows ETS 502 (ex-109) in service on Av. Brasil in Valparaíso, shortly before it was transferred to the capital. [AM]
(11) Number 504 (ex-132) on Calle Edwards in December 1991 [see map]. [AM]
(12) The same vehicle seconds later, turning from Calle Edwards onto Av. Brasil [see map]. Note the Arco Británico in the distance. December 1991. [AM]

(13) ETS trolleybus 502 (ex-Zürich 109) turning from Av. Brasil onto Calle Blanco in December 1991 [see map]. [AM]

(14) Three more articulated Swiss trolleybuses arrived in Valparaíso in January 1992: numbers 32 and 96 from Genève and 73 from Zürich. Genève 32, built in 1965, was photographed at the depot on Calle Independencia [see map] on 2 March 1992. The "TPG" logo over the wheel stands for Transports Publics Genevois. [Sergio González]
(15) Zürich trolleybus 73, built in 1974, was unusually long, 19 meters (most articulated trolleybuses measure about 17 meters). It was photographed on 2 March 1992. [Sergio González]
(16) Five two-axle trolleybuses from St. Gallen, Switzerland – numbers 142, 143, 144, 146 and 147, built between 1970 and 1975 – arrived on 9 April 1992. Number 142 was photographed on its first day in Chile. [Sergio González]
(17) Genève 32 proceeds south on Av. Argentina, not far from Barón terminus [see map], in August 1992. [Sergio González]
(18) Eight more articulated trolleybuses arrived from Genève on 25 November 1992 – numbers 602, 603, 604, 605, 611, 612, 613 and 621. This newspaper illustration shows 602 at the docks. [El Mercurio, Santiago, 27/11/1992]
(19) Nine more Swiss trolleybuses arrived on 6 December: Genève 99, 615, 616, 617, 643 and 644, and Schaffhausen 102, 103 and 203. Numbers 203, 617, 99 and 643 posed at the depot on 27 December 1992. [Sergio González]
(20) This photograph, also taken on 27 December 1992 at the Calle Independencia shops [see map], shows front views of Genève 616 and 643. [Sergio González]

(21) Shortly after its arrival, Genève 643 received a special "ECOTROL" livery – Ecológico Trole – for operation in Santiago. It later ran that way in Valparaíso. Pullman 729 (renumbered 107) also ran in Santiago with those colors. Photo taken in April 1994. [AM]

(22) St. Gallen 142 was painted red in May 1992, shortly after its arrival in Chile. The picture was taken in the depot [see map] in April 1994. [AM]
(23) Ex-Zürich 111, which did not run in Santiago, continued to operate with its original Swiss livery in Valparaíso. Calle Blanco [see map], April 1994. [AM]
(24) Ex-Genève 617 also kept its original paint scheme. Street unidentified. April 1994. [AM]
(25) Pullman 802, built in 1946, received a new larger windshield in the late 1980s, but otherwise still had its original shape in April 1994. It will be painted yellow in 1998. [AM]
(26) Pullman 801 inaugurated the Santiago system in 1947 and is Chile's oldest trolleybus. It received new large windows on front, back and sides in the 1980s. The picture was taken in April 1994. [AM]
(27) Schaffhausen articulated trolleybus 102, still in its Schaffhausen livery and still signed "Fahrschule" (Driving School), was photographed on Calle Edwards [see map] in April 1994. [AM]
(28) Schaffhausen 203, signed for the "Bahnhof" (Railroad Station), was traveling south on Calle Buenos Aires on 22 October 1996 [see map]. Note cobblestones. [Steve Morgan]
(29) Schaffhausen 203 near Plaza Sotomayor [see map] in April 1994. 203 and the five St. Gallen trolleybuses were the only 2-axle (4-wheel) vehicles that ETCE acquired from Switzerland. All the others were 3-axle, articulated models. [AM]
(30) Genève trolleybus 99 and – in the distance – Pullman 859 were traveling north on Av. Argentina on 21 October 1996 [see map]. 99 still carries the "387" route number from its Santiago days. Even more extraordinary, it also still has its "TPG" logo near the front door! See picture 14 above. [Steve Morgan]
(31) Pullman trolleybus 715, built for Valparaíso in 1952 and still in its 1952 livery, was turning west from Calle Edwards onto Av. Brasil [see map] on 21 October 1996. [Steve Morgan]
(32) Pullman trolleybuses 802 and 814 were painted yellow and blue in 1998. Except for the livery and advertising scars, 814 was still in its original 1947 condition when photographed on Plaza Wheelwright [see map] on 20 March 2000. See fourth picture, with comments, near the top of this page. [Tony Belton]

The Valparaíso trolleybus system continued to operate without major changes in the next decade. Plans for a line to Playa Ancha, first announced in 1953 [see Part A and map], never materialized. ETCE's plan to build trolleybus lines in other cities – Viña del Mar, Rancagua, Concepción, Iquique – did not develop. Plans to replace the trolleybus depot with new government buildings, however, were carried out and ETCE had to move storage and maintenance to a vacant lot on Av. España in July 2000 [see map]. Active trolleybuses parked along the route at night. Others, without a wire connection, were towed back and forth. ETCE lost this site also in 2006, and the vehicles are presently sheltered and serviced in Placilla, a small town 10 km south of the city.

Despite such setbacks, the courageous little system has enjoyed several triumphs in the new millennium. In January 2002 ETCE inaugurated the Teatro Trolley Tour. Passengers paid a special fare to watch actors perform a play (which described the city's history) as the vehicle explored its streets. The novelty was a success and the production ran two years. In April 2003 UNESCO declared Valparaíso a World Heritage Site. The following September the Chilean National Monument Council awarded Monumento Nacional status to the ETCE and 16 of its trolleybuses! Special mention was made of Pullman 814, which was beautifully restored later that year. It still runs today and will be 60 years old in 2007. It is the oldest trolleybus in the world that still operates in its original condition.


Other webpages about trolleybuses in Valparaíso:
Trolebus Valparaíso
The Trolleybuses of Valparaíso in Placilla
Trolejbusy ve Valparaísu


(in order of publication)

"Trolebuses suizos para Valparaíso" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 2 X 1991. Brief text and large color photograph of a Zürich trolleybus on display.

"Incorporan trolebuses suizos en plan porteño" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 4 X 1991. Description of articulated vehicles. Large picture.

"Descargan trolebuses para Santiago" in El Mercurio (Santiago), 23 XII 1991. Large photo of Shenfeng trolleybuses debarking in San Antonio.

"Nouvelles: Valparaíso" in Mupdofer News (Bruxelles), IV 1992. News item and photos of trolleybuses 32 and 142 in Valparaíso.

"Nouvelles: Santiago et Valparaíso" in Mupdofer News (Bruxelles), VI 1992. Long article about the export of Swiss trolleybuses to Chile.

"Chili" in Trolleyberichten (Arnhem, Netherlands). Illustrated article about the Swiss trolleybuses operating in Valparaíso.

"Dice ejecutivo del sector: Trolebuses eléctricos son una solución ecológica permanente" in El Mercurio (Santiago), 2 XII 1992. Illustrated article about the advantages of trolleybuses.

"Refuerzo de trolebuses sería solución para contaminación" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 25 VII 1994. Electric transport plans in Valparaíso.

"Ante construcción de nuevo rodoviario: Piden que los trolebuses porteños no desaparezcan" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 11 I 1995. Plea to honor the city's heritage. ETCE sharing its trolleybus experiences with the trolleybus operators in Mendoza, Argentina.

"Ubicarían a trolebuses en el nuevo rodoviario" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 13 I 1995. The new intercity bus terminal may incorporate facilities for trolleybuses.

"Chile: Valparaíso" in Blickpunkt Straßenbahn (Berlin) #6/95 (11-12 XII 1995). Illustrated article about the Swiss Obusse running in Chile.

Letter from Pedro Massai Barrios to Allen Morrison, dated 15 X 1998. The ETCE president asks me to write an article for El Mercurio and assures that "el 814 se mantendrá en su estado original en homenaje a usted".

Allen Morrison. "Trolebuses para una ciudad especial" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 22 I 1999. My article about the city's trolleybuses is said to have been instrumental in earning them Monumento Nacional status in 2003.

"Sobreviven a través del tiempo" in El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 10 II 2000. Long article, with anecdotes, about trolleybus operation in Chile.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ("UNESCO"). Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso. World Heritage status, 2003.

Ministerio de Educación. Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales. Decree number 761 of 26 IX 2003 awards Monumento Nacional status to 16 Pullman trolleybuses in Valparaíso: 709, 714, 715, 721, 723, 801, 802, 806, 814, 821, 832, 850, 859, 888, 110 (ex-842) and 117 (ex-877).

Ministerio de Educación. Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales. Decree number 2139 of 31 X 2007 confirms the Monumento Nacional status of the 16 Pullman trolleybuses and declares that both the vehicles and the trolleybus system - substations, wires, etc. - must be kept in operation.



Like Part A, Part B of this website is dedicated to the memory of Sergio González Pavesio of Viña del Mar, who among many favors supplied most of the articles cited above. The author would also like to thank Álvaro Rojas Reyes in Valparaíso, Diego González Vargas and Sebastián López in Santiago, Pablo Serra in Los Andes, and Steve Morgan in Portland, Oregon, for the assistance that they provided in the creation of these pages.


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