Rails Across the Altiplano
Cusco Travel Blog› entry 12 of 22 › view all entries
It was time again to be up and at the station early to catch the train to Puno. The triweekly trip across the Altiplano was scheduled to leave Cusco at 6:55 in the morning. This was a different station and railway than the one for the line to Macchu Picchu. This line had been conceived as part of a trans-Andean transportation sytem involving railways in Bolivia and Peru and a steamer across Lake Titicaca to connect them. The equipment reflected the multi-national heritage of the line. The railway car in which we rode was English. The interior was arranged like a dining car, with fixed wooden tables and seats facing one another across the tables. The Alco diesel locomotive was of a modern American design that had been supplied to Peru and FESP as part of a US aid program.
It was an experience to ride this high-altitude railway line. The train ran through open country, passing farms, settlements, and villages, but always with the high mountains as a backdrop. It made a station stop at La Raya, the highest point on the line. The altitude was noted on the station in feet as well as in metric. The line had been built by British and American interests in the 1890s. I wondered if the altitude designation in English units of measure was a vestige of that heritage.