Premetro (Buenos Aires)

The Premetro is a 7.4-kilometer long (4.6 mi) light rail line[1] that runs in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, connecting with the Buenos Aires Underground line E, at Plaza de los Virreyes station and runs to General Savio, with a short branch to Centro Cívico. It opened in 1987 and is operated by Metrovías. Originally, the Premetro was to include many more lines, but shortly after the privatisation of the railways the projects were postponed and never materialised and only "Premetro E2" was built.[4]

Materfer tram at General Savio station.
TypeLight rail[1][2]
TerminiIntendente Saguier
General Savio and Centro Cívico
Daily ridership2,300[3]
Opened28 April 1987[1]
CharacterSurface level
Line length7.4 km (4.6 mi)[3]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
ElectrificationCatenary, 750 V DC[1]
Route diagram
Intendente Saguier
Mariano Acosta
Ana María Janer
Fernández de la Cruz
Presidente Illia
Parque de la Ciudad
Cecilia Grierson
Ana Díaz
Centro Cívico
Nicolás Descalzi
Gabino Ezeiza
General Savio


Line E2

The line opened in stages. The first section was opened for service on 28 April 1987; this was the 2-km section between the metro station (Plaza de los Virreyes) and Ana Maria Janer,[1] near the line's carhouse. Service was extended to Villa Soldati in June and to General Savio on 25 August. A formal inauguration ceremony was held two days later.[1]

The cost of constructing the line was US$5.4 million, and an additional $4.6 million was allocated to the acquisition of a fleet of 25 trams. A contract for the latter was awarded around the end of 1985 to a consortium led by the Argentine company Materfer (Fábrica de Material Ferroviario),[5] of Córdoba, some of which were for a planned second line that was to be built later.[1]

Delivery of the Materfer cars was originally due to begin in mid-1987,[5] but it soon became apparent that they would not be ready until mid-1988 or later, which would be well after construction of the line was completed. In order to avoid a long delay in the opening of the line, officials decided to create a temporary fleet by converting some 1913 metro cars into trams. They were double-truck (four-axle), non-articulated, double-ended (bidirectional) trams. A total of eight such cars were built, using new metal bodies manufactured in Buenos Aires by EMEPA S.A., mounted on the original 1913 Belgian-built La Brugeoise underframes. They were painted in a livery of all-over green.[1] The first three of these inaugurated service on the first section of line E2 in April 1987.

The Materfer trams began to arrive in mid-1988, with six delivered by the end of the year.[2] Their electrical equipment was supplied by Siemens. Like the temporary cars rebuilt from metro cars, the Materfer/Siemens trams are double-truck, double-ended cars.[2] They have seating for 24 passengers and room for around 115 standees.[1][2] They have three doors on each side. The low-platform stops along the line are long enough to accommodate only one car at a time, and multiple-unit operation is not planned, so the tramcars are not equipped with couplers.

The first cars entered service on 14 October 1988.[1] In 1989, both types of car were still in service,[2] but eventually the Materfer cars displaced all of the rebodied metro cars. By April 1991, 20 of the 25 cars had been delivered (fleet numbers PM 1–20), and the last five were reported as being completed but still at the factory in Córdoba.[6] However, the scheduled service needed only six cars.[6] As of 2001, normal peak service still required only six to eight cars.[1]Metrovías became the line's operator on 1 July 1993, under a franchise agreement.[7]

Other planned lines

In the original PreMetro project in the late 1980s was to include the building of two or three more additional lines, however due to the timing of these projects having coincided with railway privatisation in Argentina, only PreMetro E2 materialised before the Buenos Aires Underground network was privatised and investment ground to a halt for the following two decades. Much like PreMetro E2, the naming of the PreMetro lines would have shared the letter of their corresponding Underground line along with a number depending on how many PreMetro lines corresponded to that Underground line.

With Line E of the Underground, PreMetro E2 was the first phase of the project with the construction of PreMetro E1 being the second phase. This line would have extended out from the end of Line E eastwards to the limits of the city proper with Greater Buenos Aires.[4] However, this never materialised following privatisation and the building of the Metrobus Sur in 2013 rendered the building of the line obsolete since it covers the same area and route, with the added benefit of going directly to the city centre without needing to transfer to Line E.[8]

While the Metrobus Sur was still in the planning stages, it had been proposed in 2012 to create a Premetro H1 line extending from the terminus of Underground Line H to the edge of the city proper, connecting with Premetro E2 at its General Savio terminus, giving the benefit over the originally planned E1 line in that it would create a loop between Underground lines E and H.[9] In the end though, the Metrobus was constructed instead of Premetro H.

Plans for other lines included PreMetro D1 in the 1980s, which would have departed from the final station of Line D to the limits of the city proper. In 2015, this will also become a reality, but with the opening of Metrobus Cabildo rather than a tram service.[10]

There would also have been a PreMetro C1 which would have connected with Line C and the Roca Line at Constitución railway station and headed northwards to Retiro railway station (parallel to Line C, but further east) and eastwards to Puerto Madero.[10] The current extension of Line E northwards to Retiro will substitute this,[11] but not the Puerto Madero section, which was briefly covered by the experimental Tranvia del Este.

Recent developments

In 2015 SBASE, along with the City of Buenos Aires, began making plans to refurbish and rebuild many of the Line E2 stations, including a brand new terminal at Plaza de los Virreyes, as part of a plan to modernise the network which also intends to increase the amount of rolling stock in circulation.[12][13] In October 2015 the refurbishment of the Intendente Saguier terminal was completed, followed by the refurbishment of Fátima station in April 2016.[14][15]

Description and service

Line E2 passes through many poorer areas, but travel on the line is generally safe. As of 2001, service was being provided from 7:00 to 22:00, matching the hours of the line E underground service, on a headway varying between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the time of day.[1] Most of the line is double-track, but the short branch to Centro Cívico is single-track.[1] The line includes sections of private right-of-way, sections of reserved track (in the median of streets, but separated from other traffic) and street-running in mixed traffic.[1] The carhouse (maintenance facility) for the line is located along Avenida Mariano Acosta, adjacent to the Somellera stop.

See also


  1. Cross, Barry (April 2001). "Buenos Aires: Brand new pre-Metro line". Tramways & Urban Transit, pp. 136–137. UK: Light Rail Transit Association/Ian Allan Publishing.
  2. Van Hattum, C. (August 1989). "Developments in Buenos Aires". Modern Tramway, pp. 271–273. UK: Ian Allan Ltd.
  3. "Nuestra compañía - ¿Qué hacemos?" [Our Company - What We Do] (in Spanish). Metrovias. Retrieved 2015-01-18.
  4. Premetro a Puente de la Noria, en el olvido por el Metrobus del Sur - EnElSubte, 16 August 2013
  5. Modern Tramway, March 1986, p. 97. UK: Ian Allan Ltd.
  6. Modern Tramway, August 1991, p. 280. UK: Ian Allan Ltd.
  7. Light Rail and Modern Tramway, August 1993, p. 219. UK: Ian Allan Ltd.
  8. Metrobus Sur - Buenos Aires Ciudad
  9. Proponen que el Premetro absorba el recorrido del Metrobus del Sur -
  10. ¿Por qué la línea D no llega hasta Puente Saavedra? - EnElSubte, 25 June 2013.
  11. Línea E - Buenos Aires Ciudad.
  12. Realizan contratación directa para renovar la terminal del Premetro - EnElSubte, March 2015
  13. El plan de SBASE para el Premetro - EnElSubte, September 2014
  14. Renovamos el Centro de Transferencia Intendente Saguier - Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 14 October 2015
  15. "Mañana reabriremos la estación Fátima del Premetro". Buenos Aires Ciudad - Gobierno de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
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