Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a massive train station underneath the Obelisco. Now whatever you’re thinking, triple it in size. That’s pretty much what President Mauricio Macri wants to build as part of a plan that has a price tag of US$14.1 billion (yes, BILLION) dollars.
So what will we get for a bill that amounts to almost half the US$31.1 billion that is in the Central Bank’s reserves? Well, by far the biggest thing is a massive underground structure in which all train lines will meet in a huge train station underneath the Obelisco. It will involve building around 16 kilometers of new tunnels, 28 meters underground. Plus the government says it will renew aging wagons, stations and creaking electrical infrastructure as part of the eight-year plan. But let’s be honest, that all sounds really boring when compared to a massive station under the Obelisco.
When Macri first unveiled the project last year, it seemed like a pipe dream. But the administration says it’s really going to happen and is planning to launch a public tender to decide who will start building the first phase by the end of the year.
For now, the government will be appraising the worth of the railway system in the Metropolitan area, which includes seven rail lines (Belgrano Norte, Mitre, San Martín, Sarmiento, Belgrano Sur, Roca and Urquiza) and 1.4 million daily users.
But this massive station won’t just be about trains. The first underground level of the new station will have a bus terminal and the second underground level (one floor above the new railway station) will provide access to the subway lines. This video below is equal parts scary and cool.
The first step will be launched this month when work will begin on the underground station of Constitution. Another important aspect of what has been dubbed the “Comprehensive Plan on Public Works for the Metropolitan Railway Network” is that an automatic braking system will be put in place in all railway lines by 2019, starting off with the Sarmiento.
“These brakes get rid of human error. They activate when the train is going faster than it should be or doesn’t stop when it should. With this system, the Once Tragedy would not have happened,” said Transport Ministry official Germán Bussi. (Bussi was referring to the 2012 Buenos Aires railway disaster, also known as the Once Tragedy, which killed 51 people in 2012.)
While we’re talking about massive new train stations, it’s worth remembering the subway still doesn’t reach the General Paz, another historic transport-related demand (seriously, the end of the D line is just 20 blocks away). Could we get on that, too?