ARGENTINA's Transport Secretary Ricardo Jaime visited the city of Córdoba on August 12 to formally open the first stage of a project to restore passenger services over the 144 km metre-gauge route to Cruz del Eje.

Aimed primarily at the tourist market, the Tren de las Sierras (Train of the Mountains) was due to begin operating two return trips each day as far as La Calera, 16 km from Córdoba. The Ferrocentral consortium of Buenos Aires suburban operator Ferrovías and freight concessionaire Nuevo Central Argentino hopes to extend operations by a further 22·8 km to San Roque within three months, adding 62·6 km to Capilla del Monte in January and the final 42·6 km to Cruz del Eje during the first half of 2008.

Work to upgrade track and stations for the first phase and rolling stock has cost a total of 10m pesos. Three ex-Portuguese Railways Class 9600 two-car DMUs have been refurbished by Emepa for the Tren de las Sierras.