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The Spanish-American Financier of April 1, 1893, says:
Whatever may be the position of the Government's and State's finances in the Argentine Republic, there is clear evidence that the railways are doing a much better business than for two or three years past. Some of the improvement in results when expressed in sterling arises from the lower quotation of gold, but the actual traffics are just now extremely pleasant reading, and a few figures with respect to the results shown recently will be worth giving.
The Buenos Aires Great Southern Company, in thirty-five weeks and three days, from July 1 last to March 6 this year, has secured £727,669, against £,629,942 in thirty-five weeks and five days for 1891-'92, or an increase of £97,727 with at present 1,388 miles worked, against 1,145 miles a year ago.
The Buenos Aires and Rosario Company, with 903 miles in operation, against 843 last year, is getting an enormous increase per mile per week, and in nine weeks, its aggregate results have this year been £114,272, against £89,414 for the same period last
year. The most marked results are shown in the case of the Buenos Aires Western Railway, which, with the same mileage throughout of 338 miles, has, in thirtyfive weeks and three days, secured £378,118, against £275,019 in thirty-five weeks and five days in 1891-'92, an increase of £103,099, or over 27 per cent.
In nine weeks, the Central Argentine Company's receipts, with at present 746 miles, against 711, have risen to £111,565, in contrast with £87,789 in the same period of 1892.
The South American Journal, of London, of April 29, 1893, gives the following statement of the Argentine railway workings for the second half of 1892:
The Transandine line, destined to connect Buenos Aires with Valparaiso, Chile, is approaching compiction. A portion of the Andes alone remains to be tunnelled, when the line will be in
operation throughout its entire course. This work, which has attracted the attention of the engineering world, was begun in 1887, from the Argentine side, and in 1889, from the Chilean side. The Argentine section to be built extended a distance of 110 miles, from the city of Mendoza to the summit of the Andes. The Chilean part covered only 40 miles. Six and one-fifth miles of tunnelling yet remain to be finished before a train can run over the entire line. Construction cars, small locomotives, and rails in sufficient quantity to complete the road, are all ready. Bridge materials, some twenty dynamos, turbine wheels, cables for transmission of electric power, air compressors, rock drills, and a variety of other machinery are within reach. With an estimated expenditure of $3,000,000, the line can be equipped for traffic and entirely finished. In many places, the descent of the Andes is sudden and steep, and to overcome the heavy grades, considerable labor has been necessary. The introduction of the Abt system of placing a racked rail in the center of the track, operated by locomotives built especially for the purpose, has, however, conquered the difficulty, and a gradient of 1 in 12% has been adopted wherever the ground requires it. Some 6 miles of the line will be operated by this system, its use having proved satisfactory in Europe. In order to avoid avalanches and snow-drifts, galleries are being cut in the solid rocks along the slopes of the mountains, and this avoids the building of expensive snow sheds. It is beneath the summit of the Andes (10,642 feet above the level of the sea) that the road will pass through the tunnel; and this tunnel, together with three smaller ones, will, it is calculated, require for completion at least two years more.
In September, 1891, a correspondent of La Prensa of Buenos Aires, gave the following details regarding the section of the road already opened for traffic from Mendoza in the Argentine Republic to Uspallata in the Andes : The first four sections of the road which have been open to traffic since Feb
last from Mendoza to Uspallata have rendered valuable service to Chilean
travelers. The troops under the command of Col. Camus and Col. Stephens, who returned to Chile last May, were transported in perfect order by the Transandine line as far as possible, enabling them to cross the Andes before the snows of winter had rendered their passage impracticable. Although this line is the one which traverses the most mountainous region crossed by any line in the country, no accident whatsoever has occurred during the seven months in which it has been opened to the public. This is due to the solid rock bed on which the rails are laid. This rock bed will also reduce the expense of keeping the line in good condition.
The monthly revenues of the line are in excess of the expenses incurred, and even during the winter months this line earns more relatively than some of the lines in the interior. During the coming summer, it is hoped with reason that traffic will increase, especially in the number of passengers carried. Some have already begun to cross the Andes, and in a few days more, traffic will be reopened. Agents of several carrier companies are always found waiting in the city of Mendoza for the trains from Buenos Aires which may bring them passengers for Chile.
Several steamship companies have made arrangements to sell tickets from Europe to Valparaiso via Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and the Andes. To-day, the trip from Europe to Valparaiso, by the old route of the Straits of Magellan, takes thirty-seven days. In combination with the Argentine railways, the trip may be reduced to twenty-three days, thus : From Europe to Buenos Aires, twenty days; from Buenos Ayres to Mendoza, thirty-six hours; to Rio Blanco, seven hours; to Punta de Vaca, three hours; to Juncal (Chile), eight hours; to Guardia Vieja eight hours, and Valparaiso eight hours, making in all sixty-four hours, or less than three days from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso. Now, it is necessary to ride only ten hours on mules across that part of the Andes which is not yet crossed by rail.
The time occupied at present in transit from New York to Valparaiso is, on an average, from thirty-five to thirty-eight days via Panama. Cargo has to be discharged at Colon and again at Panama into lighters, thus causing packages to be delayed and damaged. It will be seen, that when the Transandine line is completed, the service via Buenos Aires will be much more expeditious (saving altogether about eight or ten days), and only one unloading from ship to train will be necessary.
All the cattle and products: exported from the Argentine Republic to Chile will be carried by the Transandine line, which is also destined to benefit the mining industry. The passenger and freight traffic to Europe from the countries bounded by the Pacific Ocean, and vice versa, will also use this line. Buenos Aires will thus be to Valparaiso what New York is to San Francisco.
The Argentine Republic is in direct steamship communication with almost every important European port.
Between the United States and Argentina, also ply some freight and passenger steamers. The following statement shows the number of steamers and sailing vessels which arrived in Argentine ports in 1890:
The number of steamers that left the ports of the Republic for the above countries was 6,033, with a total tonnage of 4,527,646.
In the same year, 6,826 sailing vessels entered the ports of the Republic, distributed as follows:
I 61 235
359 32, 051 148, 165
The total number of sailing vessels leaving the ports of the Republic for the ports of the above countries was 3,676, with a total tonnage of 978,823 tons.
These figures show in 1890 an average per day of nineteen steamers and eighteen sailing vessels entering the ports of the Republic.
In 1889, the average per day of steamers entering was only seventeen, while the average of sailing vessels was twenty-two, which shows an increase in the steamship traffic for 1890, with a marked decrease in the traffic of sailing vessels.
The increase in foreign traffic within the last ten years (1881-90) may be judged by the fact that in 1881, only 5,954 ships (steamers and sailing vessels) entered the ports of the Republic, with a total tonnage of only 1,318,700 tons, while in 1890, the corresponding figures were 13,873 ships and 6,340,955 tons.
Regarding the importance of domestic traffic, the following figures referring to the year 1890 are of interest:
The number of sailing vessels entering the different ports of the country was 15,857 and the number of steamers 6,637, with a total tonnage of 3,324,849 tons. Leaving the ports, were 18,182 sailing vessels and 5,847 steamers, with a total tonnage of 2,878,600 tons. This shows that 46,423 trips were made from port to port, and that 6,203,449 tons of cargo were transported. In 1881, only 45,341 trips were made and only 3,573,404 tons of cargo transported.