Once the primary mode of interurban transportation, domestic rail service is now limited to a handful of long-distance domestic services, mostly to the Atlantic beach resorts of southern Buenos Aires Province but also to Rosario, Tucumán, and Posadas. There is also service between the Río Negro provincial capital of Viedma and the resort city of Bariloche.
Schedules, though, are infrequent, the trains are mostly slow, and high demand from impoverished Argentines makes reservations essential, often far in advance. Fares are low—only US$15–24 pp for the 404 kilometers from Constitución to Mar del Plata, for instance, and just US$12–34 pp for the 1,200 kilometers from Retiro (Buenos Aires) to Tucumán.
The best long-distance line is the one between Constitución (Buenos Aires) and Mar del Plata. This route, perhaps the only line in the country that could be justified on economic grounds, may see a high-speed upgrade, though there has been talk of building one to Córdoba.
In addition to regular passenger trains, there are also tourist excursions, including Salta’s popular Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) and the narrow-gauge La Trochita, in Río Negro and Chubut Provinces; the latter was immortalized in Paul Theroux’s overrated opus The Old Patagonian Express.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition