A symbol for the abysmal failure of Alan Garcia’s first government, it was rubbed in the faces of those who suffered his incompetence and its affects day in and day out for years afterwards. Before being kicked out of office for the second time in 2011, Alan García and his second government are hoping to finally get this comically stalled project completed.
The original spark of an idea to implement some form of mass transport system, other than a bus network, in the increasing chaotic capital occurred in the early 70s in the form of an underground metro system. It didn’t get very far for a number of reasons – the complex make up of Lima’s soil, a political crisis and a global economic crisis – to name but a few.
In the 80s, young populist president Alan Garcia revived the idea and held a contest for potential contractors to submit ideas. An Italian funded group won with their idea of a cheap and quick to build elevated electric train system, the first line of which to run from Villa El Salvador to Lima. It got under way quickly with 9.2km being built. Unfortunately, Alan Garcia was even quicker to destroy the country’s economy, holding on to power through the support of his traditionally corrupt political party, before finally fleeing his mess, with his pockets filled, to self imposed opulent exile in Colombia and France. Lima was stuck with a pointlessly short railway line in addition to economic chaos that saw rationed food and bloodstained streets.
Returning after the expired statute of limitations saw him free from prosecution for his crimes, Alan Garcia again managed to assume the presidency after taking advantage of a situation that meant many saw him as the least worst choice. With the transport system in Lima worse than ever, the Tren Urbano as it is officially called, or the Tren Eléctrico as it is commonly called, project was revived. A new contest was held in 2009, amidst chuckles from Lima’s residents who couldn’t quite believe it would go anywhere, and a new contractor was selected.
A year passed and no-one gave the train any more thought until to everyone’s surprise, work was announced to be beginning and roads started being closed off. Unsurprising, work is scheduled to be completed just before the next election.
Work is now under way on what will be Line 1, continuing from the Atocongo station where work stopped last time, to the station Intermodal Grau, before sometime after continuing up into the district/valley of S. J. de Lurigancho.
Seven lines are also on the drawing board:
Line 1: Villa El Salvador to San Juan de Lurigancho
Line 2: Chosica to Callao
Line 3: Ate Vitarte to Callao
Line 4: San Miguel to Carabayllo
Line 5: San Juan de Miraflores to Ancón
Line 6: Ate Vitarte to Bellavista
Line 7: Comas to Chorrillos
Photographic evidence that work is really under way