Chinchilla inaugurates new train to Belén; service begins Tuesday

April 3, 2011

The new train route from San José to Belén was inaugurated Friday. The train won’t officially begin service until Tuesday. When it begins, it will reopen an existing rail line that connects the capital with the southwest town in the Heredia province. According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), the  is expected to take passengers from San José to Belén in 35 minutes. In rush hour traffic, travel time between the two locations can range between 60-90 minutes.

President Laura Chinchilla rode along on the the inaugural ride to Belén from the western San José district of Pavas. Chinchilla briefly sat in the conductor’s chair and was instructed on how to operate the train’s switchboard. The inauguration of the train capped off a busy week of ceremonies for the president, who also inaugurated a new Coast Guard station in Puntarenas on Thursday and attended several inaugural events at the new National Stadium, which opened March 26 in La Sabana.

Prior to boarding the train, Chinchilla touted her government’s planned contribution to the transportation sector, which she said would be the “largest investment in the history of the country.”

“In less than a year this government has already begun work on preliminary plans which would result in the biggest investment in the history of the country,” she said. “We are talking about $1.3 billion that will be invested into logistical routes that will allow us to improve transportation on all national highways.”

Chinchilla also said that in the years to come, she hoped Costa Rica would have “a true system of public transportation” that would be constructed with “first world infrastructure.”

“For a long time we have been demanding (better infrastructure),” she said. “It is something the country deserves.”

The train that connects San José to Belén will run every 15 minutes during rush-hour traffic at a rate of ¢350 (70 cents). The purchase of the six-car trains from Spain and construction on the rail cost an estimated $3 million. MOPT anticipates that 200,000 residents will take the train each month.   

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