BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s government on Wednesday unveiled new Chinese-made trains for this capital’s Sarmiento commuter-rail line, where a series of accidents over the past two years have left more than 50 people dead.
“It’s a 21st century generation. Imagine that a half-century has gone by without a new fleet being brought in,” Interior and Transportation Minister Florencio Randazzo, who presented the new rail vehicles along with Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich, said.
Although President Cristina Fernandez was originally slated to head up the ceremony, she was unable to attend due to “scheduling problems.”
“The incorporation of these trains is clearly indicative of extraordinary service quality,” Capitanich said.
“It’s very good that the Argentine people know how money is being invested” in road renovation, rail infrastructure and trains, he added.
Randazzo said the new trains were equipped with safety and braking systems featuring German, Japanese and Swedish technology.
The goal is to avoid a repeat of accidents such as the February 2012 tragedy, when 52 people died and 700 others were injured when a train on the Sarmiento line slammed through the buffers at Buenos Aires’ busy Once station.
Sixteen months later, a passenger train collided with another train, which was empty at the time, on the capital’s western outskirts. That accident, also on the Sarmiento line, left three dead and more than 300 injured.
The most recent accident occurred in November and left 80 people injured.
After the different accidents, Fernandez’s administration opted to briefly assume control of the commuter-rail lines and announced plans to invest in rail safety and improvements.
Nevertheless, commuter-rail service in Greater Buenos Aires continues to be a target of harsh criticism from its 2.7 million users.