Hispanic South America’s forgotten first-ever train turns 170
Lima, 17 May (EFE).- It has been 170 years since Hispanic South America’s first ever train line was opened in Peru, in what was at the time a major leap forward into modernity but which today has been largely forgotten.
The train line, connecting the capital Lima with the coastal city of Callao, was launched 30 years after the country had won its independence from Spain thanks to English private investments.
“It was definitely a turning point in public transport because it introduced the rail service in Peru; other lines followed, but this was the first,” researcher Elio Galessio tells Efe.
The train was a huge step towards modernizing public transportation as it connected the then-walled city of Lima with the Callao port in just 28 minutes, much faster than through the Lima’s chaotic road traffic.
When trams were introduced, the line was relegated to cargo before being put out of service in the late 1930s.
Scholars pay little attention to it despite its role in the beginning of the second industrial revolution, as there is scant remaining evidence of its existence in Lima, Galessio laments.
What little is left can be found in an industrial area, where part of the rails of the old tracks are still visible.
“All that historical railway background put Peru in another stage of public transport. But unfortunately the railway grew until the 30s, only to sharply decline afterwards,” the researcher said.
Given the limited railway service that his country currently has, Galessio believes that “development necessarily involves having a good public transport network”.
This network should include “trains made for the times, for fast transport for both passengers and cargo,” he says.