Bolivia’s railways in the 21st century

BOLIVIA’S remaining metre gauge lines are operated by two different private owners.

The former state operator Empresa Nacional de Ferrocarriles del Estado (ENFE) was privatised in the mid-1990s with two companies created, initially both owned by the same Chilean investors.

Hitachi Bo-Bo-Bo diesel 1022, built in 1978, waiting to leave Oruro with the ‘Expreso Del Sur’ service to Villazon on October 18, 2016. KEVIN HOGGETT

In the east of the country, Ferroviaria Oriental – now owned by Genesee and Wyoming (which also owns Freightliner) – operates a 1,244km network linking Yacuiba, on the border with Argentina, and Puerto Quijarro, on the border with Brazil.

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In the south and west of the country, Ferroviaria Andina – now owned by Chilean conglomerate Grupo Luksic – runs the network south of the capital La Paz, although no trains have served the capital itself since the
mid-1990s. The main station in La Paz is well preserved and is now the terminus for the Red Line of the new gondola cable car network being built in the city.

In 1997 there were 3,692km of railways in Bolivia nominally in use; by 2012 that figure had dropped to 1,954km.

Unusually in Latin America both private concessionaires still run some passenger services.

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