The opening of the Transandine Railway throughout in 1910 made it possible to travel by
train all the way from Buenos Aires on the Atlantic Ocean to Valparaiso on the Pacific.
Whereas Buenos Aires to Mendoza and Los Andes to Valparaiso were 5ft 6in gauge lines, the
Transandino was metre gauge which was cheaper to build over the extremely difficult terrain
that it had to traverse in crossing the Andes. With gradients as steep as 1 in 12 there were
Abt rack sections on both sides of the border which combined with severe weather conditions
made the line difficult and expensive to operate. The line crossed the border in Cumbre
tunnel at the summit, so in operational terms the changeover from FCTC to FCTA operation was
at Las Cuevas on the Argentine side of the tunnel, 73.5km from Los Andes and 170km west of
On the Argentine section there were seven separate Abt rack sections totalling some 8.7 miles (14km) in length in the 37km between Puente de Vacas and Las Cuevas, the remaining 133km from Mendoza being adhesion worked with a reversal at Rio Blanco. There is a total rise of 2468 metres (8100ft) between Mendoza and Las Cuevas.
By the 1970s the railways. particularly on the Argentinian side of the border were running with very large deficits and with declining traffic, the Transandine was closed to through passenger trains in 1979. At this time a person could travel by air from Mendoza to Santiago in 45 minutes at a cost of $74.8, by bus between the same points in 8 hours at a cost of $26; and by train from Mendoza to Los Andes in 7.5 hours at a cost of $40. Through freight traffic ceased in 1984 following a landslip in Chile near Portillo.
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