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MARCH 9, 2023

Santiago-Chillán train: first two trains arrive that will be the most modern in South America

They are part of a plan to offer 12 daily services (six in each direction), at a speed of 160 km/h. The number of passengers transported will increase from just over 315,000 in 2022 to nearly 800,000 once fully operational. 

The Trains for Chile plan continues to offer good news, this time about the Santiago-Chillán service. Yesterday, the first two trains that will renew the service were unloaded; they will transform it into the most modern in South America. 

The Santiago-Chillán section is currently the only regular long-distance service available (400 kilometers). Along with the renewal of the trains, the project includes the improvement and rehabilitation of the Rancagua, San Fernando, Curicó, Molina, San Javier, Linares, Parral, San Carlos and Chillán stations. 

It also includes the construction of a maintenance workshop and the incorporation of new trains, which will enable express services of 3 hours 40 minutes (reducing journeys by 1 hour 20 minutes) and 4 hours 5 minutes for the regular service (reducing journeys by more than 50 minutes). 

New trains 

With an investment of US$70 million, the six trains for the Santiago-Chillán service were made in China by CRRC Sifang. The recently-arrived lot contained the first two. 

The remaining four are expected to be here by mid-2023. Once they arrive in Chile, they will be subjected to calibration and testing that will last an estimated six months. The trains are therefore expected to come into use during the third and fourth quarters of 2023. 

The trains are a type of bi-mode multiple unit (BMU), with bimodal feeding systems, which means they can work both with electrical power through overhead wires and with diesel fuel. They each have four cars, with a total capacity of 238 seated passengers per train. They are the most modern in South America and will be able to move at a speed of 160 kilometers per hour. 

They also offer better benefits when circulating and lower maintenance costs, which will allow 12 daily services to be provided (six in each direction). Three services are currently provided in each direction, and four in summer. The number of passengers transported will increase from just over 315,000 in 2022 to nearly 800,000 once fully operational.

Main characteristics 
  • Capacity for 238 seated passengers in a high-standard class. 
  • Maximum operating speed of 160 km/hour. 
  • Automatic access and level doors. This is different from current trains, which use stairs for passenger entry. 
  • Bathrooms with universal accessibility. Current trains do not operate to these standards. 
  • Spaces conditioned for wheelchairs for persons with reduced mobility (PRM), improving accessibility. 
  • Cafeteria space and self-service machines on board. 
  • Space for bags, suitcases and other packages (racks above seats, at the end of cars, etc.), thus increasing available space. 
  • Reclining seats. The cheapest seats on current trains do not recline. 
  • Passenger information systems using LED screens and a sound system that provide information on travel conditions in real-time, similar to air services. 
  • Change of power supply for train traction. Automatically switches between electric and diesel mode (bimodal or BMU) in the event of failures in the electric power system, which increases reliability.