CHILEAN President Ricardo Lagos was on board EFE’s inaugural Victoria - Puerto Montt service on December 6, marking the completion of a $44m upgrade that has restored passenger services on the 388·8 km Temuco - Puerto Montt route (RG 9.05 p520).

The service frequency was due to be increased to three trains a day each way from December 19. These are operated by four two-car Class 596 DMUs, converted from Renfe’s Class 593 at Valladolid in Spain at a cost of $12·5m.

In preparation for the restoration of passenger services, track renewal was undertaken between San José de la Mariquina and Puerto Montt at a cost of 9·6bn pesos, involving the supply of 30000m3 of new ballast, replacement of 108000 sleepers and the laying of 3000 tonnes of new rail. A total of 2·7bn pesos was spent on refurbishment works at 16 stations, including the construction of a new station at Puerto Montt for 500m pesos.