Home Asides In Latin America, the everyday Nostalgia Train hangs it up

In Latin America, the everyday Nostalgia Train hangs it up

by Benjamin Kabak

Every year for special occasions — baseball playoffs, the holiday season — the MTA dusts off its old rolling stock and sends the Nostalgia Train out for a ride. It’s quite a trip to journey on these subway cars, some as old as 100 years, with their wicker seats, ceiling fans and deafeningly loud clanking. But what if these trains ran everyday? The charm would wear off pretty quickly.

Well, down in Argentina, the Subte sill runs original 1913 rolling stock on its A line, but those cars are set to be retired today, finally. These 90 Belgian-made cars still carry over 150,000 passengers a day, but Subte and Buenos Aires officials have finally decided that these trains cost too much to maintain and repair. Somehow, though, the decision is not without controversy as Buenos Aires politicians have called upon Subte to keep the cars rolling past the Underground’s 100th anniversary. And to think New Yorkers complain about the R32s still in service on the C train.

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Ken Ehrsam January 11, 2013 - 5:03 pm

If the trains are in good shape and the weather is OK, this could be lots of fun. As a cost savings strategy, probably not such a good idea. Maybe they could run them periodically, like in New York.

The Phantom January 11, 2013 - 5:47 pm

I went to Buenos Aires a few years ago, and I took a ride on those magnificent old trains.

They were magnificent.

Someone January 11, 2013 - 6:48 pm

I went to Buenos Aires a while back and the trains were great. (Well, except for line A’s trains, they were exciting at first but got boring after a while.)

Bruce M January 11, 2013 - 7:11 pm

As far as I know they are still running the red cars of the Tokyo Subway’s Marunouchi Line which were shipped to B.A. when they were retired in the 90’s, so for me there’s plenty of nostalgia left. Although I don’t know what condition they’re in now.

Victoria January 11, 2013 - 10:33 pm

Oh no! These cars are great and work just like new. I loved them, so sad

Phantom January 12, 2013 - 8:38 am


Yes. They were in perfect working order.

You wonder where they found replacement parts.

But it shows that with much love and competence, you really can make something run forever.

Someone January 12, 2013 - 5:27 pm

With love, competence and a bit of total refurbishment in the 1980’s.

Or was it reconstruction?

Larry Littlefield January 12, 2013 - 8:09 am

The fact that the Subte continues to run despite all that Argentina has been through gives me hope for the NYC subway. Someday I might want to travel there to get a glimpse of our future in the wake of Generation Greed. It just shows how inherently functional a metro system is.

Larry Littlefield January 12, 2013 - 8:12 am

Just keep kicking the can, and here is where we end up…

“In January, the federal government said it was turning over the management of the metro to the city. But Macri has resisted taking it on, saying federal authorities must first turn over the funds necessary to improve the system. The dispute ultimately led to a paralysing strike from metro workers demanding a pay raise, but unable to negotiate as neither the federal or city government would come to the table. The Buenos Aires metro system, built in 1913 and the oldest in Latin America, spans 56.7 kilometers (35 miles) and typically attracts about a million riders a day.”

Funny that 1913 is the year the dual contracts were signed.

Someone January 12, 2013 - 5:28 pm

And what’s the new stock for that line, then?

Alon Levy January 13, 2013 - 3:12 am

The article says they want to import trains from China.

Someone January 12, 2013 - 5:34 pm

And to think New Yorkers complain about the R32s still in service on the C train.

Um, actually, the R32s have seen worse than the Line A stock in Buenos Aires. And to think of it, all the vandalism that happened to the rolling stock of the NYCTA in the 70s and 80s had really done a number on the rolling stocks’ Mean Distance between Failure, which was really low then.

Since the delivery of the R68, R142, R143, and R160 stocks in the late 80s/early 21st century, the average MDBF of the NYCTA rolling stock has increased 24-fold.

In contrast, Buenos Aires keeps its rolling stock well maintained for a hundred years. NYCTA couldn’t even keep its R46 stock maintained for 10 years, so they had to toally refurbish the R46s in 1988. Little wonder that NYC straphangers complain about the old technology rolling stock.

Larry Littlefield January 13, 2013 - 3:15 pm

“NYCTA couldn’t even keep its R46 stock maintained for 10 years, so they had to toally refurbish the R46s in 1988.”

Of course the LIRR’s record with the M1s is far worse.

Matthias January 14, 2013 - 11:39 am

Dammit! I really wanted to take a ride on these. Guess that’s not going to happen unless I really high-tail it down there. I hope they are at least preserved for nostalgia runs. Does Buenos Aires have a transit museum?


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