Photographing the Same Train on Two Continents

Over the years I’ve managed some neat feats in terms of fleets and/or vehicles that I’ve photographed.  At one time, I had a photo of every vehicle in the active TCAT fleet in Ithaca, NY.  I have photos of most (but not all) of the 46 Jerusalem Light Rail Alstom Citadis 302s.  However, back in January, I accomplished a feat that I don’t think I ever expected to do: photographing the same train car on two different continents.  And just to be clear, this wasn’t accomplished in Istanbul.

In 1998, the Madrid Metro accepted delivery of its 6000 Series cars from CAF for operation on that system’s Line 9.  The 6000 Series were the first Madrid subway cars to feature exterior destination signs and an articulated joint between each pair of cars, and were designed with the needs of Line 9 in mind.  I rode and photographed these cars in Madrid each time that I was in that city, first in 2005 and then again in 2008.

In 2013, most of the 6000 Series cars were sold to the Buenos Aires Underground for about 32.6 million Euro, a purchase that has since been derided as the worst rolling stock acquisition in the hundred-plus year history of the Buenos Aires system.  Buenos Aires purchased these cars to operate on their Line B, despite some significant differences between the specifications of Buenos Aires Line B and the wide profile Madrid Metro lines.  Most notably, the Madrid Metro powers its trains using overhead catenary, as does Buenos Aires for five of its six subway lines, but Line B is the lone Buenos Aires Subte line that uses third rail power.  In other words, Buenos Aires officials ordered a fleet of subway cars with the intention of using them on the one line in their network where there was no way to power the cars without significant modifications being made to both the tunnels and the 6000 Series cars themselves.  The 6000 Series cars were also narrower the other cars that had historically operated on Line B, requiring “skirts” to be added to the cars in order to close the gap between the train and the station platforms.  The 6000 Series trains ultimately entered service in Buenos Aires starting in 2014.

I traveled to Buenos Aires in January 2018 and explored the city’s subway network, so naturally, I re-encountered the 6000 Series cars in their new home.  I don’t have logs of which cars I rode in Madrid and which cars I rode in Buenos Aires, but after my trip, I compared the unit numbers in the photos I took in Madrid with those I took in Buenos Aires.  Through that process, I discovered that I photographed car 6006 at the Avenida de America station in Madrid on June 11, 2008, and photographed the same car at Carlos Pellegrini, station in Buenos Aires on January 10, 2018.

Here are the aforementioned photos:

Riding to the Southernmost Subway Station in the World

Many are familiar with some of the world’s geographic extremes.  The lowest point on earth is the Dead Sea.  The highest point is Mount Everest.  The geographic center of the lower 48 United States is about four miles west of Lebanon, Kansas.  But have you ever wondered where the world’s southernmost subway station is located?  Wonder no more and keep reading!

Located at 34.643028 degrees south58.461611 degrees west, the Plaza de los Virreyes – Eva Perón station of the Buenos Aires Underground holds the distinction of being the southernmost subway station in the world.  As is the case with many things of this nature, there is some dispute as to whether Plaza de los Virreyes should get the title.  The Parliament Station in Melbourne, Australia is further south.  However, that station serves “suburban railway” trains, not subway trains.  What is the difference between a suburban railway and a subway?  Now we’re getting into some subjective details, but I don’t think many people would consider SEPTA’s Suburban Station or New York Penn Station, even though both of them are underground, to be “subway” or “Metro” stations.  The trains serving Parliament Station in Melbourne are akin to commuter rail trains that one might find in North America, and therefore, I don’t personally consider Parliament to be a subway station.

There isn’t a whole lot that is particularly noteworthy about the Plaza de los Virreyes station once you get there, other than the feeling that the tracks at the southern end of the station mark the “end of the world” so to speak and that no subway train anywhere can take you further south.  The tilework is unremarkable.  The station’s mezzanine feels a lot like just about any other “end of the line” terminal station mezzanine, with a number of onward connections available at the street level.  The lighting for photos of trains in the station itself isn’t all that great.  But despite the lack of noteworthiness in other ways, Plaza de los Virreyes gets to be the southernmost subway station in the world and no one can take that distinction away from it (for now).  

Even if Plaza de los Virreyes itself is perhaps a bit underwhelming, the journey to get there is not.  Following the 2013 retirement of the 100 year old “La Brugeoise” cars that operated on Line A, Line E of the Buenos Aires Underground has the distinction of operating the city’s oldest subway cars, the CAF-GEE cars, that were manufactured in 1968.  Some of these cars have not been refurbished and still feature wooden seats and incandescent lighting, and some aren’t even painted in the standard yellow livery that most Buenos Aires Underground trains feature.  The artwork at some of the stations along the journey to Plaza de los Virreyes is in fact eye-grabbing and worth closer examination if you have time.  Line E may not be the busiest or fastest line in Buenos Aires, but it certainly has a certain “blue collar” charm to it, and knowing no train in the world takes you further south definitely gets the line some extra brownie points.  It is definitely worth exploring if you find yourself in Buenos Aires!

The following is a selection of images from Plaza de los Virreyes – Eva Perón Station and the rest of Line E of the Buenos Aires Underground.  

For additional photos from Buenos Aires, please click here and stay tuned for future Travelogue posts!