New train offers great wine and spectacular views


By Harriet Alexander-Orr

(April 23, 2004) There has always been something fairy tale-like about steam trains: the noise of the engine, the trail of smoke, the lazy winding through picturesque countryside. Add fantastic wines or a fine lunch, and you have all the ingredients for a perfect day out.

The Colchagua valley, two hours south of Santiago, is the ideal setting for the fairytale. As the steam train puffs its way from San Fernando to Peralillo, stopping at Santa Cruz for a lunch and a tour of the vineyards and wine museum, you pass through endless rows of vines set against the snow-capped backdrop of the Andes Mountains.

The wine train was officially opened by President Ricardo Lagos last week. After three years of work that cost US $5 million, the project has created more than 800 jobs. It is hoped that the train will encourage more people to explore the region. The line runs along the old San Fernando to Pichilemu route, which was operational from 1872 until 1989, and declared a National Monument. The 1913 steam train has been restored to its former glory and passengers enjoy guided tours, Chilean wine and fine cuisine throughout the journey.

The train runs on Saturdays and Sundays, with transport from Santiago leaving at 8am, returning 8:30pm the same day. Tickets can be purchased through travel agents, tourist operators and “EFE boleterias.” For more information email: