photo: mininterior.gov.ar

Looking to escape the Capital on a shoestring? Mar del Plata, just an easy 400km south down the coastline, is the second largest city in the province, a major fishing hub and the biggest seaside resort in Argentina (despite the bravado Punta del Este is still in fact Uruguayan). Until recently, getting there involved a five and half hour bus ride, not counting breakdowns unexpected delays and making you wish you’d never left home in the first place.

All of that is in the past now…

Late December saw the opening of a brand new high-tech train service connecting the two cities. Over 5,000 tickets were sold in its first 48 hours, so you could say this was something people had been waiting for.

Minister of the Interior and Transport, Florencio Randazzo, seems pretty pleased with his handiwork: “This demand shows the desire of all tourists and of passengers in general for the return of a quality train with new technology like that which we have set up under the instructions of the President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.”

We built a train! photo: mininterior.gov.ar

He added that he hopes the train will continue to be popular all year round: “Mar del Plata ceased to be exclusively a resort town to become a thriving centre in many ways, and this train will benefit not only the Argentines who regularly come for tourism, but to all those who for various reasons visit throughout the year.”

The train, equipped with latest technology, boasts air conditioning (and heating for the winter-time; you’ll care about that later), LED lighting, disabled toilets and is ready for people with reduced mobility and physical difficulties. It has 9 passenger coaches, a dining car and a carriage for bicycle and equipment storage. It has a capacity of 544 passengers.

Much more fun than the bus | photo: mininterior.gov.ar

Randazzo has admitted that “we still have to be careful on some parts of the track, since we are completing an integral renovation process between the Capital Federal and Mar del Plata; as these works are being finished, we will be able to complete the journey even faster.” The process saw 600 workers contracted alongside an investment of 1,300 million pesos. The Transport Minister boasted the train’s flashy ABS brakes an pneumatic suspension system, which apparently ensure a “smooth, safe and silent” journey.

The best part: they have train themed snack boxes!

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Tasty | photo: mininterior.gov.ar

So if this seems like your kind of thing, there is a daily service leaving Plaza Constitucion at 13.45 and arriving at La Plata at 20.38. The return leaves at 14.10 and arrives back in the Capital at 21.26. They’ve even got an additional service running on Fridays leaving BA at 15.10 and arriving at 22.16, while another train leaves Mar del Plata on Sunday at 11.50 and makes it back by 19.02.

At nearly half the bus fare, train tickets are selling for $240 in Primera class and $290 in Pullman. Plus, snack boxes! You can buy tickets at the stations in Constitucion, Mar del Plata, Once, Retiro Mitre, or even right here (select the ‘Roca’ line bringing you to La Plata you bum).

Or you could just take the 28 and head to BA’s Parque de los Niños for an urban beach experience… your call.

Pack the sunscreen!