THREE NEW RAILWAYS totalling around 1300 km may be built to open up the potentially prosperous interior of northeast Peru, between the Andes Cordillera and Brazil’s Amazon basin. A multi-sector committee has been formed under the chairmanship of the prime minister to look at the practicality of building the lines for both civilian and military use.

The longest route is also the most northerly, close to the Ecuador border. Starting from the port of Paita, the line would run via Piura and Olmos to Bagua, from where it would follow an oil pipeline to Barranca on the River Marañon. Total length would be almost 650 km.

The central line would start from Tambo del Sol, on the Cerro de Pasco mineral railway north of Lake Junin, and run northeast to Pucallpa on the River Ucayali. This 350 km corridor has been planned several times this century, and civil engineering work started under the auspices of former President Odria. All the tunnels were holed through and 11 km of metre-gauge track was laid, but later lifted.

The southern route is intended to branch off Enafer’s Ferrocarril del Sur at Urcos, near Cuzco, and run east to Madre de Dios, following the river of that name to Puerto Maldonado close to the Bolivian border. This line would total around 300 km.

HEnafer has appealed for a government grant of US$30m to restore the 185 km narrow-gauge Ferrocarril Sur-Oriente between Cuzco and Quillabamba, which has been extensively damaged by El Niño-related flooding. Much of the track has been washed away, and a passenger train was buried by a mud slide in March. o