Train at the End of the World

Written by Peter Lauffer
November 16, 2020

The Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino (FCAF) is a narrow-gauge railway near Ushuaia, Argentina. It is the southernmost railway in the world and is for this reason also known as “El Tren del Fin del Mundo” ("The Train at the End of the World"). 

Route Map of the Train at the End of the World

Between 1909 and 1952, a 25km-long railroad with a track width of 600 mm was used to transport materials to a prison in Ushuaia and also to carry out the timber felled by the inmates there. In 1947 the prison was replaced by a naval base, and just two years later a major earthquake made sections of the railroad impassable. The railway was rebuilt but eventually closed in 1952 due to unprofitability.

In 1994 the railway was reopened for tourists, this time with a gauge of only 500 mm. The starting station is no longer in Ushuaia, but about 8 km west on the national road No. 3 that leads to the Terra del Fuego National Park. The train runs from there via two intermediate stops to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The terminus is similarly located on the national highway, and many tourists who take the train use buses for the return journey.

History of the “Tren del Fin del Mundo”

In 1902 construction of the Ushuaia prison began. When the first railway was inaugurated, it consisted of wooden tracks and a steam locomotive with flat cars pushed by oxen, horses, and sometimes even prisoners.

In 1910, the railway was replaced by a narrow metal railroad and became the most important means of transport to and from Ushuaia. There were two locomotives to transport prisoners to the timber felling sites and also to transport the harvested wood to the city for shipping. 

Maritime & Prison Museum Ushuaia

The “End of the World Train” departed in the morning from the prison, bound for Mount Susana. The train would return with the prisoners riding on the load. In some cases, the prisoners had to help to push the train back to the city. 

In 1947, President Juan Domingo Perón requested the prison’s closure for humanitarian reasons. During the following years, the train continued to operate for the production of the local sawmills. In 1949, a strong earthquake caused a landslide that destroyed a large portion of the train tracks. The train was rebuilt but shut down indefinitely in 1952 due to lack of demand.

Tren del Fin del Mundo today

In 1994, the company Tranex Turismo S.A. He decided to revive this legend and founded the famous "End of the World Train," as it is known today. The new train is for tourist purposes only and includes both tourist class and first class carriages. Currently, it features replicas of the old steam locomotives that were used to pull the train in its early days. 

The tour begins at the "End of the World Station,” located just 8 km from the city of Ushuaia, sparing the last 7 kilometers of the original route. The train stops at "La Macarena Station," where passengers can enjoy a splendid panoramic view of the Terra del Fuego National Park. The train journey then continues to the National Park Railway Station, where the journey ends.

There are three steam locomotives available for the steam-hauled trains. All locomotives are relatively new, having been built since 1994. Diesel locomotives are used for work trains and trips in the off-season. The inventory of carriages consists of 15 passenger cars in second class, four cars in first class, and a “presidential car.” All the carriages are closed and can be heated.

The train journey between Estacion fin del Mundo and Parque Nacional takes about an hour, including the stop in Cascada la Macarena, from which you can enjoy views of the National Park.