Rail transport in Costa Rica

Rail transport in Costa Rica

Railroads in Costa Rica are owned by Incofer (Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles), and are of narrow gauge (1067 mm). In 2006, Incofer operated suburban commuter trains from San José to San Pedro, Universidad Latina (4 km East) and to Pavas (6 km West), plus freight trains San José - Caldera (Pacific port, 91 km). A private company - AmericaTravel - organizes occasional weekend tourist trains (The Tico Train Tour) from San José to Caldera.


In 1871, a contract was given for construction of a railroad from Alajuela to Puerto Limón on the Caribbean coast passing through San José, under the government of General Tomás Guardia Gutiérrez. The construction from Alajuela to San José was finished in the beginning of 1873 and later continued until Cartago. Necessary materials and equipment were brought in from Puntarenas to Alajuela by oxen pulled carts. Due to shortage of finance and natural difficulties (especially around Río Sucio), the completion of the following sections was delayed. The whole line to Limón started operations on December 7, 1890.

A contract for building the Pacific railroad was signed in 1897. Again, the enterprise faced natural, financial, and political difficulties. The Pacific Railroad was officially inaugurated on July 23rd, 1910 when the first engine Maria Cecilia departed from Puntarenas to San José with passengers and cargo. (from [http://www.americatravelcr.com/trainhistory.htm Tico Train history] )

According to [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Costa_Rica Encyclopedia Britannica 1911] , the transcontinental railway from Limon to Puntarenas was begun in 1871, and formed the nucleus of a system intended ultimately to connect all the fertile parts of the country, and to join the railways of Nicaragua and Panama. It skirted the Atlantic coast as far as the small port of Matina; thence it passed inland to Reventazón River, and bifurcated to cross the northern mountains; one branch going north of Irazú, while the other traversed the Ochomogo Pass. At San José these lines reunited, and the railway continued to Alajuela, the small Pacific port of Tivives, and Puntarenas. The railways were owned partly by the state, partly by the Costa Rica railway company, which, in 1904, arranged to build several branch lines through the banana districts of the Atlantic littoral.

In 1926, a decision was made to electrify the lines. First electric train ran from San José to Puntarenas on April 8, 1930. (from [http://www.americatravelcr.com/historiatren.htm Tico Train Spanish] )

The railroad network was damaged during an earthquake in 1991 ( [http://nisee.berkeley.edu/costarica/] ) and operation suspended in 1995. After 2000, the state railroad authority (Incofer) works to resume and popularize rail transport again.


In 2008, the FERISTSA Railway would connect Mexico with Panama with 1435mm gauge via Central America. [ [http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/FERISTSA Reference.com/Encyclopedia/FERISTSA ] ]

Current situation

In 2006, the following trains ran in Costa Rica:
* Tico Train Tour San José - Caldera (91 km), weekend tourist trains, privately managed using infrastructure of Incofer
* Commuter trains San José - San Pedro, Universidad Latina (4 km, Incofer)
* Commuter trains San José - Pavas (6 km along the same line as Tico Train Tour, Incofer)
* Freight trains San José - Caldera (Incofer)
* No connections to Panama or Nicaragua.

As of August 2008:
* The commuter trains are no longer running.
* The Tico Train Tour is not running to Caldera due to track issues but plans to be operational in November.
* The Tico Train Tour runs an abridged trip to Atenas on irregular weekends.

Swiss railroad

It operates at Hotel Los Héroes in Nuevo Arenal, Tilarán (Guanacaste Province). A Swiss farmer from Chéseaux built a 600 mm field railroad but never got a permission to run it. Costa Rican hotellier bought it in 1999 and put in operation in 2000 as a tourist attraction. In 2004, it was 3.5 km long, with elevation 200 m and two tunnels [http://www.ferrolatino.ch/FLBCostaRHeroesEng.htm Ferrolatino] .

See also

* Costa Rica
* Transportation in Costa Rica
* Rail transport by country


External links

* [http://www.americatravelcr.com/ AmericaTravel] , operator of Tico Train Tour (history, stations, pictures)
* [http://www.mideplan.go.cr/Modernizacion/instituciones/incofer.htm Incofer] (basic info, contact)
* [http://www.fahrplancenter.com/AIFFLACentroamerica03.html Unofficial timetables of Central American railroads]

Central America topic|Rail transport in

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