Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec (FIT)

The Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec (FIT) is the current operator of Linea Z from Medias Aguas, Veracruz (and the connection to Ferrosur's Coatzacoalcos mainline) to the Pacific port city of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. In only 200 kilometers, the line crosses Mexico's isthmus from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Coast. Although the mountain pass that is crossed is low compared to the surrounding Sierras, 2.2% grades and 12 degree curves are common. At Ixtepec, Oaxaca, there is a connection to Linea K, which ran southeast along the Pacific coast to the Guatemala border.

To see the FIT timetable (including maps), follow this link:


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These lines (as well as the Coatzacoalcos-Merida lines) were concessioned to Gennessee & Wyoming during the 1997 privatization of NdeM. The American shortline company operated the lines under the Ferrocarril Chiapas Mayab until 2005, when Hurricane Stan devastated much of the line, washing out the right of way and bridges along much of the line to Guatemala. By 2007, G&W decided to back out of the 30 year concession due to the expenses of repairing the line. The federal government eventually took over operations of these lines from G&W, essentially creating FIT.

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Little was known of FIT operations in the region, and especially of the efforts to rebuild the line to the Guatemala Border. In November of 2009, I decided to explore the line and learn as much as possible about FIT's operations.

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While driving along the narrow road to the town of Medias Aguas, my scanner began to pick up the chatter of a crew switching cars. As I arrived at the wye, I found three Ferrosur B23-7 running from the Ferrosur yard to the FIT yard. The sign above warns migrant travelers of the different poisonous animals that can be found in the brush.




A view of FIT's small yard at Medias Aguas.



The NdeM shield and heritage is becoming visible on the nose of FSR 9153, a B23-7, switching at the FIT interchange yard.



After speaking briefly with the Ferrosur crew, they informed me that they were building the southbound FIT train to Ixtepec and Salina Cruz. Before returning to the Ferrosur yard, they also mentioned that the train would not run until late at night. With this in mind, I decided to continue driving southward toward Matías Romero.










A view of the right of way and bridge near Palomares, Oaxaca.


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Matías Romero

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Once a division point on Linea Z, Matías Romero's yard was once a busy place. The Passenger station is an impressive old building, and the locomotive shops were once NdeM's second largest (according to current employees around the yard - I did not verify this). It was also one of the last known places that former NdeM ALCo locomotives were stored. I wanted to visit the yard to see what was left of the historic equipment (more on that later).

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Upon arriving at the yard, the friendly employees gave me a tour of the yard and shop buildings. As it began to get dark, they mentioned that the southbound train from Medias Aguas would be arriving within about an hour. I was surprised that the train was running, especially since I was just told by the Ferrosur crew that it wouldn't leave Medias Aguas until late that night. It turns out that the train departed Medias Aguas shortly after I left there, and that I could have been following it all the way to Matías Romero. Anyway, I found a small hotel with parking in the town, then walked back to the station to photograph the southbound train.

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The peaceful quiet of Matías Romero at night is slowly broken by the awkward sound of an antiquated whistle and the throaty growl of old GE locomotives slowly approaching from the north.




The crew stopped at the depot just long enough to exchange paperwork with the dispatcher (apparently on the second floor of the building) and to briefly chat with me about their schedule before departing southward.


1 comment:

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