Once upon a time Peru had the best railway network for passengers and cargo in South America. These times are long gone and today only 3 passenger railways mainly for tourism purposes are left – the famous train ride from Ollantaytambo, Urubamba or Poroy near Cusco to Machu Picchu, the spectacular journey between Cusco and Puno and the picturesque ride from Lima to the highest railway station in the Americas and further on to Huancayo - leaving the country with a huge deficit in mass transit systems.
This gap in connectivity and integration not only affects the Lima-Callao-Metropolitan area and bordering regions but as well other Peruvian cities.
When former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took office in July 2016 he planned to remedy that pushing for an expansion of Peru’s rail infrastructure and - even though there have been debates and proposals before - presenting the first blueprints for different railway projects throughout the country.
With him resigning over corruption allegations less than two years in office in March 2018 and Peru trying to conquer other problems, it seemed that most of these projects might be put on ice to never be heard of again.
Now however something seems to be happening; the Peruvian government invited companies to present their proposals for one of Kuczynski’s key rail infrastructure projects: the coastal train connecting Lima and Ica. Even though shortened – before Barranca / Huacho north of Lima were part of the route – the Lima-Ica passenger and cargo railway will connect the Peruvian capital with economic hubs and tourist destinations in the south.
Featuring 44 km (27 miles) of tunnels and 50 km (31 miles) of bridges and viaducts, the coastal train which will require an investment of more than US$ 3.2bn is now planned to have 323.7 km (201 miles) connecting Callao, Lima, Lurín, Chilca, Asia, Cañete, Chincha, Pisco and Ica. The train line as well will link up with Lima’s Metro, Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao and the Capitan FAP Renán Elías Olivera Airport in Pisco as well as the ports of Callao and Pisco.
Even though the economically and socially important project is one little step further, nothing is set in stone yet. So, as so often we have to wait and see if the project can be realized. As Bruno Bueno, Latin America head of the investment bank Fieldstone, told BNamericas: “The railway is a very long-term project that will see several governments come and go. It will require political will to keep it going and overcome issues such as social conflicts and permitting."