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The route in detail

Tracing the route using Google Earth
Readers who have the Google Earth program can right click (control-click on a Mac) on the following link:

FCS a Neuquen on Google

Save the file to your desktop and double-click to decompress it. Open the folder and drag the KMZ file onto Google Earth's Places palette. You will now find that you have placemarks for each of the main locations along the route, and three paths to enable you to 'fly through' the route as if in a helicopter. Select one of these and click on the start button to commence the flight.

Bahía Blanca a Choele-Choel A flight along the first half of the FCS route to Neuquen.

Choele-Choel a Neuquen The second half of the route to Neuquen

Neuquen a Zapala The extension westward to Zapala, and including the first few kilometres of the Trasandino Sud route onward towards the Chilean border, until the current spasmodic engineering works peter out.

Generally the route is clearer without the overlying vector path being checked and visible, but with the appropriate station placemarks checked. Flights or 'tours' in this website are best done with the Google Earth touring preferences set to a camera tilt angle of about 60 degrees, and a camera range of about 300m.

"Fly-throughs' on such long routes as this one can be extremely tedious unless the Google Earth preferences are set to a fairly high speed. If looking for a particular location you might be better advised to click on a named placemark. However, the monotony of following the trackbed across the bare pampa for hundreds of miles does at least give a clear impression of the problems of making such a railway pay its way.

The FC Sud line to Neuquén starts theoretically at the city of Bahia Blanca, but in operating terms the route begins at Puerto Ingeniero White, the FCS port south of the city.

Here is a panoramic view of Pto. Ing. White, with six locos lined up for the camera. Most of them are the 2-6-2Ts which would have been used in the port for shunting.


Anzoategui station. Many more views of railways in La Pampa province can be found at the website from which this came: the Fototeca Bernardo Graff which seems to be offline as at mid-2015, but which we will link to as soon as it reappears.



One of the small ferries that were used to cross the Rio Negro or to give access to islands such as that at Choele-Choel.

In 1910, the rafts were still operating but the road vehicle had changed. Note the chauffeur with his peaked cap, goggles and leather leggings. (0A)




A sheep train halts at Choel-Choel in this view from the American Geographical Society archive at: This has a wonderful collection of old South American images which are well worth browsing through. The crew of this 1930 mixed train will not have appreciated the need to stop here; Choel-Choel was on the long eastbound climb out of the Río Negro valley, and through goods trains rarely stopped there to avoid the difficult restart. The station was usally served by a shuttle service from Darwin at the foot of the bank.



The same train is seen a little further west, this time at Benjamin Zorilla. The loco seems to be a Class 12A 4-6-0, followed immediately by an auxiliary water tender and then by double-deck hacienda wagons carrying sheep.


Cipolletti station. This was the original Confluencia station, for Neuquen, on the east side of the big bridge. On the completion of the bridge it was closed but was reopened by request and renamed Cipolletti after the engineer who had... This was the junction for the brach to Cinco Saltos and the barrage.

This is the platform façade of Neuquén station. (1)


The following five photos were taken by Arthur Coleman in the course of his railway work. (2)

This is a coming together of two culture, the Argentine and the British. Señor Félix San Martín, clearly an Argentine country gentleman, stands in front of a wooden palisade fence of a type that can be found even today in many British stations and beside a name plate on a pole supporting a lamp in typically British style.


The goods yard at Zapala. It´s full of bales of wool belonging to Estancia Gente Grande. These are stacked in the open air as the good shed is already full up.


This is how the bales got to Zapala station.


Senillosa station on 2nd January 1914. The station appears to be in the middle of the desert without another building im site. Note how the earth ballast covers the sleepers.


Zapala station on the opening day. Whilst there have been many proposals for the line to continue westward and over the Chilean border, any aspiring passenger would still be waiting at Zapala!



A view of Zapala in 1915, probably from the top of a signal post, shows how small the town was at that stage - barely more than a single street bordering the railway land around the station.



Rumbo al Sud, a virtual magazine, run by Marcelo Arcas, which deals with the history of railways to the south of Buenos Aires, has an interesting multi-part article on the architecture of the railway stations of the FCS. Pictures of many of the stations along this line may be found in it. The site is located at <>

Lines not constructed
Following the construction of the line to Zapale a number of other routes were proposed towards the south, in order to join up with the FCE railway to Bariloche. A chapter of Coleman's book covers this topic in some detail (4). Click here to find an appendix page containing his text (in Spanish).

0A Found on Facebook (27/7/15, no longer available).
1 Discovered in a website dealing with the centenary of the capital of Neuquén.
2 Construcción e Inauguración . . ., Capítulo 2. Mi Vida de Ferroviario Inglés en la Argentina 1887-1948. Arturo H. Coleman. 1949 Published privately.
3 Las Estaciones del Ferrocarril Sud 1888-1900. Marcelo Arcas. Rumbo al Sud (web magazine). <>
4 Ferrocarriles que no se Construyeron . . ., Capítulo 5. Mi Vida de Ferroviario Inglés el la Argentina 1887-1948. Arturo H. Coleman. 1949 Published privately.


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Operating the line

the FCE broad gauge lines

Main pages


Along the route



Rolling stock

Over the Andes?


The potash line

Extension fom Cinco Saltos?


1 Itinerary of route

2 Loco list

3 Irrigation map

4 Rögind chapter 25

5 Rögind chapter 30

6 Rögind chapter 49

7 Rögind chapter 55

8 Rögind chapter 56A

9 Rögind chapter 56B

10 Coleman chapter 2

11 Coleman chapter 3

12 Coleman chapter 5

13 Map of FCS system

14 1955 public timetable

15 Modern photos

16 FCS rulebook extracts

17 Wagon diagrams

18 Press articles

19 Potash line decrees

20 Fruit train timetable

21 Trasandino decree

22 Automatic couplings

23 Railmotor specification

24 Southern Transandine agreement

Chapter 3

The BAGSR's route to Neuquén


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