Old Belgians (Oude Belgen)

Whenever Argentina makes it to the Belgian news, I hear about it. All my friends think about me when they read it and a copy of the article is mailed of tweeted to me. Mostly its about something Kristina has done, but then once in while it is quite interesting news. Like the news of the old train wagons about to be send to the dump. This even made it to the 7 clock evening news on the national Flemish TV! What a pity that is! And how scandalously outrageous that the almost 100 year old Belgian trains will be exchanged for Chinese ones.


Linea A is the oldest subway in Latin America, and the 90 trains were build between 1911 and 1919 in Bruges Belgium, by La Brugeoise, Nicaise et Delcuve  (now Bombardier). Some Argentines call the trains ‘Brujas’ (Spanish for Bruges -and Witches -) or Belgas. Today, these trains are the oldest trains in the world that are still in use. Next year, in 2013, they will be 100 years old, but it seems like they will be celebrating their birthday in a museum instead of on the tracks.

In 1926 they were refurbished but La Brugeoise, when the A line was extended  and the trains drove underground only. Up to that moment they had low entrances at the ends for boearding from the streets, and high doors in the middle to board from off a platform.


There seems to be a lot of protest against the coming renovations, and I must admit, they do have a romantic side. I only took this train once -Linea A is not on my daily track- and although I was enchanted by its interior, it was dreadfully hot inside, all the windows were open to make heat bearable, but the noise of the train driving with open windows made it completely impossible to have a conversation with your neighbor. Although it might be great on a touristic track, as daily means of transportation I absolutely prefer a modern air conditioned -even it were a Chinese- one…

The trains are in a terrible state, as maintenance has been very low or even inexistent, partly for economic and political reasons, but partly because spare parts are no longer available or have to be custom made. Unfortunately there is no way, or no money, to clean them up and let them ride again.

For everyone wanting to have a last ride, you should hurry, as tomorrow will be their last day!

Here are a few pics taken today -I didn’t venture myself inside with my camera, the subte isn’t exactly known for its safety.train1 train2 train3

5 responses to “Old Belgians (Oude Belgen)”

  1. That’s Belgian industry for you PRO folks…100 years and still operational…go buy crap in China, I bet they’ll break down in 3 years or less.
    I will always remember the old Line A…travelling in it I felt like I was in 1913, pre-war Europe; such a beautiful nostalgia.
    Requiescat in Pace.

  2. There is a club in Buenos Aires whose members restore old streetcars and operate them on weekends in Caballitos. Providing the track gauge is compatible, perhaps one or two of the old Belgians will get a facelift and run once more.

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