Buenos Aires Metro’s Historic Line A

Posted by // December 11th, 2012 // Product Design No Comments »

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is home to almost thirteen million people within the metropolitan area who all require an efficient way to travel around the city. This is achieved with the Buenos Aires Metro, known locally as the Subte, which first opened in 1913 as the first underground system in the Southern Hemisphere. The network expanded rapidly in the early twentieth century and again in the 1990s with seventy-eight stations currently in operation. It now has approximately four hundred million passenger rides annually.

The oldest route, Line A, has retained its original rolling stock which was built by Belgian manufacturer La Brugeoise, et Nicaise et Delcuve between 1911 and 1919. This makes them the oldest metro railway cars still in commercial use. 125 cars were built with one hundred still in use today and the line is now a popular tourist attraction, similar to in San Francisco where visitors enjoy travelling via the streetcars.

Source: Luis Argerich

Despite their age (and the fact that replacement parts need to be custom-made), they are remarkably reliable with only nineteen mechanical failures every one-hundred thousand kilometres. They can reach a top speed of fifty kilometres per hour with capacity for forty-two seats and 120 standing passengers. Made from wood, the cars are lit with incandescent-bulbs and doors must be manually opened. They have been refurbished on several occasions to help preserve the traditional appearance of the line but make it safe to modern standards.

Source: Galio

The line starts in the east of the city at the Plaza de Mayo station in the Monserrat barrio (neighbourhood) and stretches west to Nazca station in Flores, a middle-class district in central Buenos Aires. The two most westerly stations of Line A both opened in December of this year and there are no further plans to extend the route. The fourteen original stations of Line A that opened between 1913 and 1914 are covered in white tiles and decorated friezes of one colour for each station. This would enable illiterate passengers of the time to recognise the different locations. In 1997 these were declared National Historic Landmarks.

Source: Roberto Luis

It remains one of the most popular lines on the network with over two-hundred thousand daily passengers. With the line having been lengthened, there are plans to introduce new Chinese-built cars onto the line although many of the original cars will remain.

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