November 29, 2016 |

Peru’s capital backs metro to beat congestion

Following a few false starts, Lima’s metro network is gradually taking shape. Ian Thomson-Newman visits the Peruvian capital where he traces the Lima metro story.

UNTIL the start of operations on its metro Line 1 in January 2012, Lima was the largest city in the world with no passenger train service of any kind.

With a population currently soaring beyond 8.5 million, by the turn of the century metropolitan Lima’s roads had become clogged with unregulated buses and minibuses, and imported second-hand cars sold at knocked-down prices.

During the 2000s, Peru’s average GDP growth rate was 6% annually which, in spite of the steady reorganisation and regulation of bus services and restrictions on used car imports, meant that determined action was needed to keep journey times at acceptable levels. At the same time, Lima’s international airport, which was by then managed privately and brought up to international standards, had become a bludgeoning regional hub, enabling the city to compete with Santiago, Buenos Aires and São Paulo as a business centre for South America.

Yet with each of these cities boasting several metro lines, the time had come for Lima to install its own rail-based mass transit services on high demand corridors.

Plans for a Lima metro network had been around since the mid-1960s, and construction of the south-to-north Line 1 started in 1986, during Mr Alan García´s first spell as the country´s president.

The Autonomous Authority for Electric Mass Transport for Lima and El Callao (AATE) was created to administer the metro project, and five six-car AnsaldoBreda trains were delivered and, under the aegis of AATE, they commenced trial running. This was over a 9km stretch, starting from the southerly, low-income, suburb of Villa El Salvador to Atocongo which was nearer but not absolutely close to the city centre, or any other area of attraction. Hence, the stretch was of little use to the travelling public and was not placed into normal commercial service.

With the available financing used up, and succeeding governments more laissez-faire orientated, the operable stretch of line remained stuck at Atocongo. Only in 2010 did construction restart and by January 2012, the line was opened as far as Miguel Grau, a station within easy reach of the city centre. By July 2014, the complete 35km line was in service, running from its northern terminus at Bayóvar in San Juan de Lurigancho, another low-income suburb.

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