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International Railroad Discussion > Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat


Date: 01/15/14 20:13
Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: africansteam

My wife decided a Panama Canal cruise would make for a good family holiday outing, so this past December we boarded the MS Amsterdam and headed south with my stepdaughter and her husband. One of the shore excursions in Costa Rica included a ride on a portion of the former Pacific Railroad now operated by INCOFER (Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles). While the kids went off to zipline through the jungle, Sharon and I chose the rail line.

The journey began with a bus ride from Puerto Caldera to Sanchez where we boarded the train, and concluded at the rural community of Ceiba, where we re-boarded our bus for the balance of of the excursion which included a visit to a coffee plantation and a mangrove cruise. The photos document rail journey, which took about 45 minutes.

1. Leaving the ship on the bus we encountered these derelict locos at the shops just outside the port.

2. A bit closer for the critter fans.

3. Our train consisted of a GE 747BB, two passenger cars and a caboose.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/14 09:01 by africansteam.








Date: 01/15/14 20:16
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: africansteam

4. Another view of the train at Sanchez.

5. The caboose.

6. Caboose interior.








Date: 01/15/14 20:19
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: africansteam

7. Interior of the wooden coach. No zipliners in this group!

8. Cut.

9. River scene.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/14 20:30 by africansteam.








Date: 01/15/14 20:23
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: africansteam

10. Through the jungle.

11. Local station/shelter.

12. Local color. "THE MAN, THE LEGEND".








Date: 01/15/14 20:27
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: africansteam

13. More jungle. The engineer is waiting for me to fall out of the caboose.

14. Station at Ceiba.

15. Our conductor prepares to board the caboose for the deadhead trip back.

"That's All Folks!"

Cheers,
Jack



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/14 20:31 by africansteam.








Date: 01/16/14 03:57
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: jeffgeldner

Muchas gracias por las fotos! A few years ago, I enjoyed riding INCOFER on a shore excursion featured by Carnival Cruise Lines from Puerto Limon to Bananito. Very similar consist although the caboose on the train you rode appears to be in better condition. Rough track but a fun ride...

Jeff Geldner
Yosemite National Park
California



Date: 01/16/14 16:00
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: jbwest

Jack, thanks for a trip down memory lane. I remember riding the FEalP in the 70's when it was electric….a wild ride at way too high a speed for the rough track. It is so sad to its current state. Like you, my wife and I revisited some years ago on a trans-Canal cruise. We did not have an option for a train ride, but on a bus tour elsewhere I did see a diesel pulling some freight cars. Did you see any evidence of freight traffic on your more recent visit?

JBWX



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/14 16:26 by jbwest.



Date: 01/16/14 18:51
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: engine3420

africansteam Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 13. More jungle. The engineer is waiting for me to
> fall out of the caboose.
>
>Hope you didn't oblige him…………….
Chris



Date: 01/16/14 19:33
What was your route?
Author: jbwest

Jack, your posts motivated me to go back and look as some of my FEalP slides from 1972, as well as check Google views of the current situation. I can't figure out where your train ran. The original Puntarenas line and yard seems to be completely obliterated. I seem to remember a non-electified branch that ran down to the new container port. I could not find any remnants of the electrification in your pictures, but what I believe was the non-electrified branch does not look long enough to have been the whole ride you took. Back in the day the FEalP was quite an impressive operation for narrow gauge. I scanned a few slides and posted them here: http://www.lifewastedchasingtrains.com/main.php?g2_itemId=949. They provide a bit of context for the "remains" in your views. A sad fate for an interesting line.

JBWX



Date: 01/16/14 19:53
Re: What was your route?
Author: africansteam

John, From what I have been able to discern there is some limited freight traffic on the Atlantic side out of Puerto Limon, mostly banana traffic. Our guide mentioned that the government is looking at the possibility of reviving the railroad for container service as the trucks are destroying the two lane highways. Lets hope that is the case.

As to our route, type Ceiba, Costa Rica into Google maps and you can then enlarge the map enough to follow our route back to Puerto Caldera. Under maximum enlargement you should be able to locate all of the photo spots as they are visible including the river crossing with the plank bridge! Let me know how it goes!


Cheers,
Jack



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/14 20:00 by africansteam.




Date: 01/16/14 20:40
Re: What was your route?
Author: jbwest

Thanks Jack. It is really interesting that virtually none of all that electrification infrastructure has survived. It was quite a railway in its day.

JBWX



Date: 01/17/14 05:04
Re: What was your route?
Author: GPutz

On Google maps, Satellite View, you can see a train at the Ceiba station. Gerry



Date: 01/18/14 12:04
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: LTCerny

In Costa Rica, the part of the transcontinental (Pacific to Atlantic) line over the continental divide between San Jose (the capitol city) and Cartago was restore in 2013 after being out of service since 1991. It has weekdays-only commuter service in the mornings and evenings, some with DMU's and some locomotive hauled. Grades are steep and there is even a runaway track on the Pacific side of the summit. Gauge is 3 foot 6 inch. Fare is about one dollar.

Louis Cerny



Date: 01/18/14 18:50
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: railstiesballast

I rode a shorter excursion a few years ago. They did not have working air brakes (the hoses were not connected) and they relied on real brakemen to tie 'em down for stops.
I thought it was kind of pathetic, quite a bit of running through groves of trees that were sheltering migrant workers camping under primitive conditions. The contrast between the modern luxury motor coach and the little train made me cringe, is this the perception of trains formed in the minds of these generally well-off American tourists?




Date: 01/19/14 07:22
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: icancmp193

#7 looks more geriatric than an Alaska trip!

Tom Y



Date: 01/19/14 11:17
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: jbwest

There were two very separate "public" railways in Costa Rica, the FEalP from San Jose to Puntarenas on the Pacific, and the Northern Railway from San Jose to Puerto Limon on the Carribean. They had separate stations in San Jose. I believe the Northern Railway was the one that crossed the continental divide (with San Jose on the Pacific side of the divide). Both had various branches (and there were some "banana" lines as well). And both were 42 inch gauge. When I visited in the 70's we found a connection between the two lines in San Jose, but it appeared to be little used, so there did not appear to much if any "transcontinental" service. If I remember correctly in the 70's the line to Limon had already suffered major earthquake and landslide damage and was more or less "permanently" out of service. Apparently it was eventually restored to service, but continued to be plagued by landslides. I was told it was a spectacularly scenic line, but I was never able to ride it. Looking at a Google view of San Jose today, it appears that the "commute" train service is being run on parts of both the former FEalP and Northern Railway, using the old middle of the street "interchange" line and the FEalP station and maintenance shed. Since the FEalP was electric for the most part, I'm guessing the diesel unit in Jack's picture is a former Northern Railway unit.

JBWX

LTCerny Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In Costa Rica, the part of the transcontinental
> (Pacific to Atlantic) line over the continental
> divide between San Jose (the capitol city) and
> Cartago was restore in 2013 after being out of
> service since 1991. It has weekdays-only commuter
> service in the mornings and evenings, some with
> DMU's and some locomotive hauled. Grades are
> steep and there is even a runaway track on the
> Pacific side of the summit. Gauge is 3 foot 6
> inch. Fare is about one dollar.
>
> Louis Cerny



Date: 01/19/14 11:47
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: usmc1401

Looks like the 39 is a former Northern lines unit GE 2.57 build. The 15 a Deutz from 1960 from Pacific Railway.



Date: 01/19/14 11:55
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: africansteam

icancmp193 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> #7 looks more geriatric than an Alaska trip!
>
> Tom Y

While old, the Alaska cruisers have yet to age to the point where they become sun seekers!

Cheers,
Jack



Date: 01/26/14 18:51
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: randymac

Talk about being surprised to see there pictures, and this particular train! On January 12, while on the Pacific leg of a Panama Canal Cruise about the "Norwegian Star," We docked in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and took much the same shore tour, including the boat ride (lots of birds and crocodiles) followed by a few miles above this leisurely paced train rockin' and rollin' along 3-foot-6 track that has obviously not seen much use in years. It was an interesting perspective on out of the way places in Central America.

I've attached a picture of the train at our brief journey's end, along with a second photo giving a good perspective of the "mainline" conditions passing by a station.

Randy McFarland
Kingsburg, California






Date: 01/27/14 18:09
Re: Riding Trains in Costa Rica - Via Boat
Author: skeezix91

Costa Rica used to three 47-tonners and three 70-tonners from Newfoundland. I wonder if anyone has any pictures?


Brian H.



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