Belgrano Norte Line

The Belgrano Norte line is a commuter rail service in Buenos Aires, Argentina run by the private company Ferrovías since 1 April 1994, with some services operated by the state-owned company Trenes Argentinos from 2015. This service had previously been run by the state-owned General Belgrano Railway since nationalisation of the railways in 1948. Ferrovías also formed part of the consortium UGOFE which operated other commuter rail services in Buenos Aires.

Belgrano Norte Line
Service typeUrban rail
LocaleBuenos Aires Province
PredecessorCórdoba Central Railway
First service1948 (1948)
Current operator(s)Ferrovías and Trenes Argentinos
Former operator(s)FEMESA
Annual ridership29,877,000 (2014)[1]
WebsiteOfficial site
EndVilla Rosa
Distance travelled55 km (34 mi)
Average journey time80'
65' (differential)
Service frequency10'
On-board services
Class(es)Standard class only
Baggage facilitiesOverhead racks
Rolling stockEMD Locomotives
Emepa Alerce
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)

The Belgrano Norte line service operates from Retiro station, in the centre of Buenos Aires, through the northern Buenos Aires suburbs to the town of Villa Rosa in Pilar Partido. The metre gauge line was built by the British-owned Córdoba Central Railway which was bought by the State in 1939 and was later integrated into Ferrocarril General Manuel Belgrano in 1948 when the entire Argentine railway network was nationalised.

There are a total of 22 stations along the 55 km (34 mi) long railway line and the journey along the entire length of the line takes roughly one hour and twenty minutes for the regular service and one hour and five minutes for the differential service. During peak hours, trains run approximately every 8 minutes and an estimated 42 million passengers are transported each year.


First steps and development

The line was part of the Córdoba Central Railway (CCR), specifically the branch from the city of Rosario to Retiro, Buenos Aires. The CCR would become part of General Belgrano Railway network when the Government of Argentina nationalised French and British companies in 1948.

In 1903 the company was authorised to extend rails to Boulogne Sur Mer in Greater Buenos Aires and the works began three years later. In 1909 the line was finally opened. The train departed from Rosario, finishing the journey in Villa Adelina, named in honour of Adelina Munro Drysdale, the General Manager's granddaughter. The train stopped in the other four stations in existence at the time; Villa Rosa, Del Viso, Los Polvorines and Don Torcuato.

In 1912, the line reached Retiro in central Buenos Aires. Other stations were opened, such as Munro (named in memory of Duncan McKay Munro) and "Kilómetro 14", later renamed "Juan B. Justo" in commemoration of the founder of the Socialist Party of Argentina.

Between Juan B. Justo and Retiro, tracks crossed over the Maipú Avenue in Vicente López Partido, so a bridge was built to solve the issue. This bridge was named "Puente Saavedra". A short time after that, a new station, "Km. 12" was built near the bridge and renamed "Aristóbulo del Valle" in the 1920s.

The current Florida station was initially opened as a simple stop along the way. In 1913, when the San Martín Avenue was paved, a storage property of the Narciso Agüero & Cía company was established there. For that reason, the stop was named "Parada Agüero" for a period.

In 1931, the Juan B. Justo station changed its name to M.M. Padilla to avoid being confused with the station of the same name that belongs to the Mitre Line, only a few blocks from there. During the 1930s, the "Km. 18" station was established and many names were proposed (Ader, Drysdale, La Tahona, among others) until the National Academy of History suggested "Carapachay", which was chosen in 1946.

While the line was operated by the State-owned company Argentine State Railway, in 1938 brand new Ganz Works railcars were acquired to serve on the Retiro-Villa Rosa and Don Torcuato-Campo de Mayo lines. Between 1947 and 1948, 50 coaches made at the Tafí Viejo workshops and 70 Whitcomb diesel locomotives were added to the Belgrano Norte's fleet, sharing duties with the Ganz railcars.

Ferrocarriles Argentinos

Due to Córdoba Central Railway's financial problems, the Government of Argentina took over the company and began operating the trains. In 1949 the line was merged into the then-recently created General Belgrano Railway, which incorporated all of the country's 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) rail lines. Local services were operated by Ferrocarriles Argentinos under the name "Belgrano Norte" to distinguish it from the Belgrano Sur Line. In 1955, 30 Werkspoor locomotives were acquired and as a result, Ferrocarriles Argentinos put the Ganz vehicles out of service in the Belgrano Norte line, sending them to Córdoba to serve local railways there.

Four years later, a fleet of 21 English Electric locomotives arrived to replace Whitcomb and Werkspoor machines. In 1961 the Government led by President Arturo Frondizi closed several railway lines, with the Don Torcuato-Campo de Mayo line among them. In 1964, 27 coaches built by Aerfer, an Argentine subsidiary of FIAT Ferroviaria, were added to the line. Four years later, the fleet size was increased with the addition of 20 coaches built by local company Materfer, which replaced the old ones made in Tafí Viejo. Therefore, the English Electric locomotives functioned simultaneously with the Aerfer and Werkspoor coaches from then on.

In 1965 a group of residents collected the money to build a new stop, named "Km. 42", then changed to "Manuel Alberti". In 1975 Materfer supplied more coaches (named "FIAT III") for the line. That same year, some stations (such as Padilla, Florida and Aristóbulo del Valle) were completely remodelled. One year later, the first grade crossing signals and gates by General Railway Signal (GRS) were installed in the main level crossings of the line.

In 1972, the first G22 diesel locomotives manufactured by General Motors' Electro Motive Division were delivered to the Belgrano Norte line. These were the CU version, adapted to run on metre-gauge railways.[2] The machines then would be built by local licensee Astarsa in its factory at San Fernando.

To strengthen local services to Villa Rosa, 20 brand new G22 were purchased in 1980. Those locomotives were built by the Argentine company Astarsa, replacing English Electric locomotives which were sent to the Belgrano Sur Line. The last station to be inaugurated was Tierras Altas in 1990.

Privatisation: Ferrovías

In 1991, the state-owned company FEMESA temporarily took over the Belgrano Norte line (along with all the other suburban railway lines) until it was given in concession to the private company Ferrovías in 1994, as part of the privatisation process carried out by President Carlos Menem.

Some improvements made by Ferrovías include the acquisition of 17 railcars (built by Alstom in 1977) to serve from Vicente López and Avellaneda, crossing the Puerto Madero and La Boca neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, with a 24 km. length. However, the project was never carried out and the Alstom vehicles were sent to the Tren de las Sierras instead.[3]

In 2014 the national government began building the Ciudad Universitaria station. The new station, opened in August 2015, replaced Scalabrini Ortiz (located 700 metres to the south of it). Ciudad Universitaria connects the University of Buenos Aires's campus (known as "Ciudad Universitaria" which it took the name from) through a bridge which allow students to reach University facilities without risk of traffic accidents.[4] It was announced to be concluded by March 2015 at a cost of AR$ 48 million, however by June 2015 it was announced as "completed and awaiting its opening" by the Ministry.[5][6] Finally, the station was opened at the end of August 2015,[7] after a longo claim by the 40,000 people that attend the UBA campus each day.[8]

Another proposed station was "Aeroparque", which would join the railway station with Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport. The original project saw the addition of a pedestrian tunnel built between the station and the airport.[9][10][11] However, in 2015 it was announced that this station's construction was cancelled with the Ministry of the Interior and Transport citing a possible increase in security concerns at the airport with the inclusion of a station.[12]

State-run services

In March 2015, the Ministry of Transport announced the purchase of Alerce trains manufactured by the Emepa Group, the first train completely built in Argentina to run on the Belgrano Norte Line. A fleet of 20 diesel multiple units were bought to be put into operation for an express service covering the Retiro-Boulogne Sur Mer section, with only two intermediate stops, Ciudad Universitaria and Aristóbulo del Valle. For a second phase of the project, the service would be extended to Pilar. The first train was manufactured in the Grupo Emepa's workshops at Chascomús in March 2015.[13][14]

The new service with Alerce DMUs started operations on 13 July 2015 with three Alerce trains, with the other 17 trains to be added to the line at a rate of one per month as they are produced by Emepa.[15] Trains run from Del Viso to Retiro with a journey time of 65' to connect both terminals.[16] The Alerce DMUs' comfort features include HVAC and Wi-Fi.[17] Unlike the rest of the line, the service is operated by the state-owned Trenes Argentinos rather than Ferrovías.[18]

The service begins at Retiro Belgrano railway station and stops at the University of Buenos Aires' Ciudad Universitaria campus, Aristóbulo del Valle and terminates at Del Viso in Pilar Partido with prices ranging from AR$ 1.50-17 with a SUBE card and AR$3–34 without a SUBE card.[19] The service's route was altered from its original plans, skipping the Boulogne Sur Mer station and the new station at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport which was cancelled.[20]

Rolling stock

See also


  • Historia del Ferrocarril al Norte del Gran Buenos Aires: Ferrocarriles Mitre y Belgrano by Ariel Bernasconi - Dunken Editorial (2012) - ISBN 978-9870257691


  1. Estadísticas del transporte ferroviario - Total 2014 Archived 2015-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, CNRT website - Ministry of Transport
  2. "Las incansables GT-22" by Andrés Blinstein Archived 2015-03-14 at the Wayback Machine, Portal de Trenes, 8 Jun 2014
  3. "Tren del Este: El proyecto que no fue", Crónica Ferroviaria, 26 Dec 2012
  4. "Una estación de tren a medida de los universitarios", Rieles, 19 Mar 2015
  5. "Avanza la obra de la estación que acercará el tren a Ciudad Universitaria", Clarín, 25 Jan 2015
  6. Randazzo visitó la nueva estación Ciudad Universitaria y anunció: "ya está lista y será inaugurada por la presidenta" - Ministerio del Interior y Transporte, 16 June 2015.
  7. "Cristina inaugura hoy en Ciudad Universitaria la primera estación de trenes hecha en 30 años en el área metropolitana" Archived 2015-10-03 at the Wayback Machine, Prensa Argentina, 29 Aug 2015
  8. "Inauguran hoy la estación de tren de Ciudad Universitaria", Clarín, 29 Ago 2015
  9. "Construcción de nueva estación Aeroparque: Licitación Pública ADIF 31-14" on ADIF website
  10. "", La Nación, 31 Aug 2014
  11. "Anuncian que el Belgrano Norte llegará hasta Aeroparque a fin de año" GiraBsAs Archived 2015-05-18 at the Wayback Machine, 31 Aug 2014
  12. Cancelaron estación Aeroparque por recomendación de ANAC y AUSA - EnElSubte, 10 July 2015
  13. "Randazzo presentó un nuevo tren de fabricación nacional", Télam, 25 Mar 2015
  14. "Randazzo presentó "Alerce", el primer tren 0 km nacional", Diario Popular, 25 Mar 2015
  15. "Servicio diferencial en el Belgrano Norte", Rieles, 13 Jul 2015
  16. "Ferrovías: nuevo servicio", MDV, 13 Jul 2015
  17. Servicio diferencial on Ferrovías website, 13 Jul 2015
  18. Diferencial del Belgrano Norte: será operado por el Estado - EnElSubte, 8 July 2015.
  19. "Ferrovías: nuevo servicio", MDV, 13 Jul 2015
  20. Cancelaron estación Aeroparque por recomendación de ANAC y AUSA - EnElSubte, 10 July 2015
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