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Appendix 22

Automatic Couplings

The law noted below was passed by the Argentine Legislature in 1909. It has yet to be implemented on the broad gauge!

The law quite simply called for all railways to convert to automatic couplings, which would engage on mere contact, of a type or types specified by the Ministry of Public Works. While it was implemented on the narrow gauge lines, ultimately in their entirety, it was effectively resisted by the British-owned railways, no doubt on the grounds of excessive costs.

When visiting the wagon repair shops at Ingeniero White operated by Ferro Expreso Pampeano in 2014, it was noted that a number of wagons were provided with a slot for a knuckle coupling. Apparently when a great deal of new goods stock was being ordered in the 1970s the opportunity was taken to make use of cast steel bogies with roller bearings more suitable for higher speeds, continuous air, in place of vacuum, brakes and provision for the easy fitting of automatic couplings. A number of rakes of wagons were put into service with buffers at each end, but automatic couplings within the rakes. These did not stay in service long, as it was found that the automatic coupling had a propensity to uncouple itself when the train was running, and so there was a reversion to buffers and screw couplings for all goods vehicles despite the greater time taken and more dangerous operations for coupling and uncoupling.


Law No 6509 – Use of automatic couplings on the railways of the Republic.

Buenos Aires, 7 October 1909


The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Nation met in Congress, etc sanction with the force of Law:


Clause 1 Declare that the use of automatic couplings [working] by simple contact is obligatory on all the railways of the Republic.

Clause 2 The General Directorate of Ways and Communication of the Ministry of Public Works shall, within the space of three years, determine the type or types of automatic couplings which the undertakings must use.

The type or types adopted shall be such that for each gauge coupling shall be by simple contact.

Clause 3 Six years from the determination of the type or types by the Executive Power, the operation of locomotives, coaches and wagons which are not provided with couplings referred to in Clause 1 shall be prohibited.

Clause 4 The expenses which the compliance of Clause 2 requires shall be from general income with reference to this law.

Clause 5 Communicate this to the Executive Power.

Given in the Session Hall of the Argentine Congress in Buenos Aires, the twenty seventh day of September of one thousand and nine.


Adolfo J. Labougle,

Secretary of the Senate


Alejandro Sorondo,

Secretary of the Chamber of Deputies


(Registered under N° 6509)


Comply with this, communicate this, publish this and insert it into the National Registry.



[* President
§ Minister of Public Works and Agriculture]



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