Brazil's Most Famous Railway: The Serra Verde Express

Written by Peter Lauffer
May 8, 2020
The "Serra Verde Express" is a famous Tourist Train in Brazil. The train runs from Curitiba to Moretes in the Parana State in south-western Brazil. The memorable and breathtaking section of this railway journey is the part when the train enters the cloud forests of the "Pico do Marumbi State Park" and descends Moretes at sea level.

History of the Serra Verde Railroad

The Belgium-French Company "Chemin de Fer Bresilien" acquired the concession of the Curitiba-Paranaguá Railway. The railroad from Curitiba facilitated access to the Atlantic port of Paranagua, which is and always was vital for the Brazilian Economy. Chef engineer Antonio Ferrucci divided the railway project into three parts: Paranaguá-Morretes, Morretes-Roça Nova, and Roça Nova-Curitiba. Work started on all three sections simultaneously in 1880.

Curitiba - Moretes Railroad - Carvalho Viaduct

In 1882, Joao Teixeira Soares took over the railway project from Antonio Ferrucci and concluded the construction work in 1884. The almost 110 km long railway line from Curitiba to Paranagua is considered an engineering masterpiece of the late 19th century.  Five thousand people are said to have died of typhoid, malaria, and accidents within the five-year construction period of this railroad.

The Railway from Curitiba to Moretes

The narrow-gauge railway is single-track and departs from the metropolis of Curitiba at 934 m.a.s.l. During the first 40km, the train ascends from 934 to 952 m a.s.l. This part of the train journey goes through forests, passing rolling hills, and traveling along rivers, and lakes.

Serra Verde Express at the Marumbi State Park

In the upper part of the descent, the train follows scaringly steep mountain slopes. During this portion of the journey, the train passes through 14 tunnels and crosses 30 bridges and viaducts. The most famous is the "Viaduto do Carvalho," where passengers get the feeling of flying while traveling on the train.  

The Tourist Train Serra Verde Express

The Federal Government inaugurated the Serra Verde Express in 1997. The idea was to offer a unique way of transport for passengers on the railroad between Curitiba and Paranaguá. Currently, the Train transports more than two-hundred thousand people per year on the stretch from Curitiba to Morretes. There are no passenger trains between Moretes and the 38km away city of Paranagua at the moment.

Serra Verde Express at the Moretes Station

🚂  Travel Tip:

The train journey from Curitiba to Moretes takes about 3 hours one way. The return journey might be long and gives you not enough time to visit the small, but interesting colonial towns of Moretes and Antonina. My suggestion is that you organize a driver in Curitiba that brings you to Moretes by car. If you like colonial towns, visit Antonia on the way. Try ordering lunch in Moretes in one of the many charming restaurants with terraces before the train passengers arrive. Travel back to Curitiba on the much less crowded Train in the afternoon, which departs from Moretes at around 3 pm.

Moretes Downtown

The train has various classes. For those who like taking photos or videos, travel in a carriage where you can open the windows. "Litorina de Luxo" is air conditioned, but you cannot open windows. In the "Litorina," you feel more sitting in a carriage of the New York Metro than on a tropical train in Brazil. When traveling from Moretes to Curitiba, sit at the window of the right-hand side. Usually, there aren't too many passengers on the way back to Curitiba, so that you can change your seat if necessary. We travel on the Serra Verde Express on our tour, "Grand Rail Tour of Brazil."