ARGENTINIAN Trains reinstated long-distance passenger services between Buenos Aires and Mendoza province on June 2, three decades after they had been withdrawn.

The state-owned passenger operator has extended its 654km Buenos Aires - Justo Daract service relaunched in mid-2022 for another 374km to Palmira, 30km east of the city of Mendoza.

The service uses the 1676mm-gauge San Martín main line between Buenos Aires and Palmira, which carried passenger services until 1993 when they were restricted to the 254km Buenos Aires - Junín section. Services were restored to Laboulaye in 2021, but the line west of Junín was closed for several years during this time due to the poor condition of the infrastructure.

In the long term, the service from Buenos Aires is expected to be extended by a further 22km from Palmira to Gutiérrez, the eastern terminus of the Mendoza light rail system. This would require the line to be upgraded, as around 12km of the line to Mendoza station was converted to 1435mm gauge for light rail services in 2012.

An inaugural run between Buenos Aires and Palmira took place on March 22 with Argentina’s president, Mr Alberto Fernández, welcoming the service in Palmira. Services are initially operating once a fortnight on the Justo Daract - Palmira section while passenger numbers grow.

Since through rail services services ended in 1993, coaches and domestic flights have grown their market share alongside the private car, ownership of which has increased since the 1990s.

Rail services between Buenos Aires and Palmira currently take 28 hours to complete the journey, much longer than in the 1930s when the express service between Buenos Aires and Mendoza took just 15 hours, the journey time on this route by coach today. The extended service serves 22 stations en route including four refurbished stations west of Justo Daract at Beazley, La Paz, Libertador General San Martín and Palmira.

The Argentinian Trains services are formed of both coaches and sleeping cars and can accommodate around 400 passengers, with fares ranging from $US 22 for a seat to $US 80 for a sleeper cabin.