This Tuesday, the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, headed a ceremony to formally begin work on the Santiago-Melipilla rail service.
“This project will provide an effective, concrete contribution to connecting all the residents of the Metropolitan Region’s south-western zone and to supporting greater urban and social integration. This will translate into fairer and more inclusive cities and a better quality of life for everyone,” the President declared at the event, where he was accompanied by Transport and Telecommunications Minister Gloria Hutt and the President of Chile’s State Railways Company (EFE), Pedro Pablo Errázuriz.
The new rail service will involve a total investment of US$1.5 billion. It will come into operation in 2026 and will benefit more than 50 million passengers per year. The service will reduce journey times for the inhabitants of eight of the Metropolitan Region’s municipalities by more than two hours.
This means that passengers traveling the entire Santiago-Melipilla stretch every day will recover up to 22 days per year.
The eight municipalities that will benefit from the service will be Estación Central, Cerrillos, Maipú, Padre Hurtado, Peñflor, Talagante, El Monte and Melipilla, an area with a total 1.1 million inhabitants. Five of these municipalities are not currently part of the transport system, which means the project will be their gateway to the Metropolitan Region’s RED transport system.
The project will consist of 11 stations along a total track length of 61 kilometers. Three lines will be laid as far as Malloco (two passenger and one freight line) and two to Melipilla (one passenger and one freight), as well as connections to Metro lines 1 and 6.
The service will be provided with 22 next generation electric trains, 15 vehicle underpasses, 49 pedestrian underpasses, 12 automated level crossings, a workshop and sheds, and the installation of new signaling, communications and electric power systems. The whole length of the track will be fully fenced to prevent unauthorized access.
The project is a response to the needs of the Metropolitan Region’s south-western zone, offering residents an alternative form of public transport to reduce journey times and costs, as well as providing better service. It will also decongest roads, as one passenger train has the capacity to replace eight buses or 480 light motor vehicles.
Furthermore, the new service will be EFE’s biggest to date and will allow the company to double the number of passengers it transports per year.
President Piñera explained that the project will form part of the Chile sobre Rieles (Chile on Rails) Plan, which seeks to recover rail services to support Chile’s development and improve the Chilean population’s quality of life, through a long-term investment plan of more than US$5.5 billion focusing mainly on commuter trains.
The objectives of Plan Chile sobre Rieles are to triple the number of passengers transported by 2027, reaching 150 million; to renew the entire train fleet; to double freight transport to more than 21 million tons per year; and to consolidate EFE’s position as a healthy and sustainable company.“Plan Chile sobre Rieles will be an enormous and valuable contribution to our country’s development and our population’s quality of life,” the President concluded.