The Train takes the direction from Santiago de Chile to the port of San Antonio on a round trip by the central coast. The Train, departing various times each month, consists of historic rail cars built between 1923 and 1966. The current traction is with two diesel-electric machines, built-in 1954 and 1962. The train journey is organized and operated by the EFE Group (Empresa de Ferrocarriles del Estado) and the Chilean Association of Railway Heritage Conservation.
History of the Tren del Recuerdo
In 1890, during the Government of President Balmaceda, an ambitious railway project was initiated. The plan was to build a railway that links Santiago de Chile with the port of San Antonio at the Pacific Ocean. San Antonio was a weekend beach destination for the population of Santiago. After a long planning and construction period, the first Train from Santiago reached the port town of San Antonio in 1912. The railroad investment was mainly possible because of the large incomes of the saltpeter boom. In 1921, the railroad extended to the spa town of Cartagena, a few km north of San Antonio.
In the 1970s, the bus started to be significant competition for the railroad. The problem for the Train was the obsolescence of the rolling stock and the poor maintenance of the tracks. The last trains ran on the Santiago-San Antonio-Cartagena branch in 1986. It was in 1989 when EFE decides to end entirely with the traffic in the area between San Antonio and the station of Cartagena. The Government declared the beautiful Cartagena station as a national monument in 1994.
The “Tren del Recuerdo” today
On the railroad from Santiago to San Antonio runs a few times a month, the historical “Tren del Recuerdo.” The Historical Train journey consists of traveling in old comfortable passenger cars of different decades. The carriages are restored thanks to the efforts of the Chilean Association of Railway Heritage Conservation, together with EFE. The Chilean countryside out of the windows surprises you because it can only be seen from the railroad. Observe from the Train how the Train crosses valleys and hills to reach the Pacific Ocean finally. The train journey gives you the feeling of traveling between the fifties and the eighties of the 20th century.
The “Tren del Recuerdo” reaches the destination in San Antonio at lunchtime. The waterfront of the city of San Antonio is called “Paseo El Mar,” and it is the place where you can taste regional cuisine with seafood, or other options. After lunch, you have about 3 hours left to Discover San Antonio. Attractions are the views of the harbor from where you closely can watch the sea lions on the rocks, do boat trips around the bay, do a visit to the San Antonio Museum, or see the fish market and craft stalls.
Additional information about the departures of the “Tren del Recuerdo” you find at this link: https://trendelrecuerdo.cl/