Monday, May 9, 2016

The train to Tucuman

The train to Tucuman

One of the surprising things about the trains in Argentina is just how few locals know that long distance trains still exist and those that do know about them are very quick to tell you just how awful the trains are. Everyone I spoke to tried to discourage train travel for the more expensive bus.

However, I had heard that since the government had taken over the train system the trains had been upgraded and were a much more comfortable (and cheaper) option for the very long 26 hour journey from Buenos Aires to San Miguel de Tucuman.

Unfortunately, actually obtaining a ticket is unnecessarily complicated. You can only purchase tickets in the month of your departure despite the fact that if you want to book a private room, you must book very early and you can only purchase a ticket at one of the train stations in person and in cash.

Despite these difficulties I was able to obtain a ticket. I booked a camarote (private room) for $ARS1295 (around $A117). These are exceptional value for two people, however, for one they're around the same price as the bus.

A camarote

The cabin is fairly spacious (the top bunk folds away) and the bed is surprisingly comfortable.

There is also a dining car available for purchasing food.

The comedor (dining car)

The food is not really gourmet but it's cheap and fills a space.

Roast chicken - it was pretty tasty

 If I were to do it again, I'd bring my own food.

The train leaves Retiro Station in Buenos Aires on Fridays and Mondays and heads North to its first stop at the city of Rosario.

Leaving Retiro

Travelling out of the city is slow, but once free of Buenos Aires' suburbs the train speeds up through scenic farmland and several wetland areas.

The wetland

Andean Condor in a tree


Cows near the river

The train also passes through several fairly ugly industrial towns.

San Antonio de Arroyos

But generally the scenery is pretty nice

Farmland

Cows grazing

Especially as the sun sets.

Sunset

Sun behind trees


Almost dark

And after a very comfortable sleep, sunrise over the North.

Sunrise

The train passes through many small towns and rural settlements that had obviously sprung up around the train line in the past, but now are just remote settlements as they are far from the highway and the train doesn't stop there anymore.

Passing where the station used to be

The train makes one further stop at La Banda before finally arriving at Tucuman.

San Miguel de Tucuman station