Definitions

vistadome

PeruRail

PeruRail is one of the highest railways of the world delivering passengers to Machu Picchu.

It operates extensive tourist, freight, and charter services in southern Peru. It is widely used for transporting freight between the port of Matarani and Peru's second city, Arequipa. Formerly this was known as the Ferrocarril del Sur (Peruvian Southern Railway), owned and operated by the ENAFER state company.

It operates in a 50-50 venture with Orient Express Hotels Ltd. and Peruvian partners nameley Lorenzo Sousa Debarbieri.

Routes

The tracks start at Matarani port, goes through Arequipa city and enters Puno state, where it splits in two at Juliaca. The eastern branch goes to Puno city; the western branch runs into Cuzco, through Cuzco city, passing through Machu Picchu and ending at the Quillabamba Valley. Originally the railroad was built for the purpose of transporting the valley's agricultural products toward the coast.

Currently, as of September 2008, there are four routes:

  • Cusco-Machu Picchu
  • Poroy-Machu Picchu (Hiram Bingham)
  • Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu
  • Cusco-Puno

The following routes are no longer operated:

  • Arequipa-Juliaca
  • Cusco-Arequipa (via Juliaca)

Trains

On the route from Cusco to Machu Picchu, PeruRail operates four different class trains.

The Hiram Bingham is a luxury train service named for Machu Picchu's American discoverer, Hiram Bingham, that departs Poroy Station (20 minutes drive from the center of Cusco) at 9 a.m., later than other departures. Meals, guides, bus service and entrance to the ruins are included. ($588 round trip for 2008)

Vistadome service is provided in cars with large side and overhead windows, allowing views of the mountainous terrain. Simple snacks and refreshments are included. ($142 round trip for 2008)

Backpacker trains offer basic service in upholstered seats at a lower price. Snacks are served and space is provided for backpacks, particularly of Inca Trail hikers. ($96 round trip for 2008)

Although not advertised, PeruRail also offers Local trains with wooden seats that are only available to Peruvian nationals for a fraction of the price charged for tourists. Conversely, Peruvians are not allowed to travel with the tourists, even if the national is willing to pay the more expensive ticket. PeruRail has been appointed many times as one the most racist[] services in Cusco

First class service is also offered on the Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno at Lake Titicaca in refurbished coaches that include dining cars and an open air observation bar car. Lunch is included. ($143 one-way for 2008)

Timetables

Cuzco-Macchu Picchu:

Train Destination Departs Arrives
Hiram Bingham Cuzco (Poroy)
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Cuzco (Poroy)
9.00
-

18.00
-
-
12.30

-
21.25
Vistadome 1 Cuzco
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Cuzco
6.00
-

15.30
-
-
9.40

-
19.20
Vistadome 2 Cuzco
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Cuzco
7.00
-

17.00
-
-
11.00

-
21.25
Backpacker Cuzco
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Cuzco
6.15
-

15.55
-
-
10.10

-
20.20

Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu:

Train Destination Departs Arrives
Vistadome 1
Urubamba
Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu
9.00
-

18.00
-
-
12.30

-
21.25
Vistadome 2 Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo
6.00
-

15.30
-
-
9.40

-
19.20
Vistadome 3 Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu
7.00
-

17.00
-
-
11.00

-
21.25
Vistadome 4 Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo
6.15
-

15.55
-
-
10.10

-
20.20
Vistadome 5 Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu
6.15
-

15.55
-
-
10.10

-
20.20
Vistadome 6 Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo
Urubamba
6.15
-

15.55
-
-
10.10

-
20.20
Backpacker Shuttle 1 Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu
6.15
-

15.55
-
-
10.10

-
20.20
Backpacker 2 Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo
6.15
-
15.55
-
-
10.10

-
20.20

Cuzco-Lake Titicaca

Departs Arrives
Cuzco-Lake Titicaca
Cuzco (Cuzco)
La Raya (Scenic stop)
Juliaca
Puno (Lake Titicaca)

8.00
-
16.35
-
-
-
16.30
17.30
Lake Titicaca-Cuzco
Cuzco (Cuzco)
La Raya (Scenic stop)
Juliaca
Puno (Lake Titicaca)

8.00
9.15
-
-

9.00
-
18.00
-

Freight

PeruRail runs daily freight services between the port of Matarani, the city of Arequipa, and the Andean cities of Juliaca, Puno, and Cusco. Under PeruRail's administration the tonnage transported increased from 460,000 tons during 1999, 573,000 tons in 2000 to 639,000 tons during 2001.

The main products transported by PeruRail are fuel, wheat (for Peruvian and Bolivian consumption), coal, cement, soya flour from Bolivia, coffee, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.

Interesting facts

  • The line between Cuzco and Machu Picchu is a narrow gauge line, while the lines on all the other routes are standard gauge .
  • Currently the only way to get from Machu Picchu back to Cuzco is by train. There are no roads and helicopter services have been suspended indefinitely. In addition to the train, visitors can reach Machu Picchu via several hiking trails including the Classic Trail (four-day trek) from Cuzco but there is no hiking back the other way.
  • The Cuzco to Machu Picchu route boasts a series of 5 switchbacks called locally 'El Zig-Zag', which enable the train to climb up the steep incline out of Cuzco before it can begin its descent to the Sacred Valley and then continue on down to Machu Picchu. 'El Zig-Zag' allows stunning views over all of Cuzco right down into the Plaza de Armas and this view is particularly spectacular at night when the whole city is illuminated, as seen on the return journey from Machu Picchu.
  • The interior of the First Class coaches on the Cuzco to Lake Titicaca route were designed by James Park & Associates, the same company who designed the elegant First Class cabins for Singapore Airlines. The actual work, however, was done in Cuzco by Cusquenian workers.
  • After the construction of the new coaches was completed, a traditional ceremony 'Pago a la Tierra' (payment to Mother Earth), an Andean tradition, was organised to 'bless' the train. A local shaman presided over the ceremony, which involves many traditional rites.
  • At its highest point, La Raya, the altitude is 4313 metres. The train makes a stop in La Raya where there is an exquisite view over all the plains to the snowcapped mountains, and a beautiful old chapel, standing all alone in the middle of the Andean plateau.

References

External links

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