The extraordinary new


  that runs between

  Puebla and Cholula 


Text and map by Allen Morrison

This page is a supplement to The Tramways of Puebla, uploaded in 2003. That earlier page noted the horse car operation that the Ferrocarril de Puebla a Matamoros – later part of the Ferrocarril Interoceánico – inaugurated between Puebla and Cholula in 1880; and another horse car operation that the Ferrocarril Industrial de Puebla inaugurated between the same places, by a different route, in 1890. Horse cars on the first line were replaced by steam trains in 1895 and on the second by electric trams in 1924. Part of the former Interoceánico line has been reconstructed for use by the new TREN TURÍSTICO [see map].

Cholula is a city of about 100,000 immediately west of Puebla. It attracted worldwide attention in the 1930s when it was discovered that one of its hills, which has a church on top, is not a hill but a 5,000-year-old pyramid called Tlachihualtepetl hidden under multiple layers of vegetation [see picture]. The Cholula pyramid is four times the size of the Giza pyramid in Egypt and may in fact be the largest monument ever constructed anywhere. Conquistador Hernán Cortés massacred thousands of Aztecs there in 1519. Cholula is one of Mexico's principal tourist destinations.

In 2012 the city of León in northern Spain placed an order with the German carbuilder Vossloh for two double-articulated diesel-electric rail cars for a planned "tram train" line. Vossloh built the vehicles at its factory in Albuíxech, near Valencia, but never delivered them. León changed its mind and the vehicles were sold instead to Puebla in 2015. After wheel gauge was altered from 1000 to 1435 mm, the cars were displayed at Mexico's National Railway Museum on Calle 11 Norte (North 11th Street) in Puebla, where the new TREN TURÍSTICO service begins [see map]:

Each 3-section high/low-floor vehicle is 38 m long and can carry 284 passengers, 80 seated. On 25 January 2017 Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Puebla Governor Rafael Moreno Valle inaugurated the new 17.2 km light rail line between Puebla and Cholula, using Vossloh cars 001 and 002. "AQT" = Acciones Que Transforman, a local slogan:

Upon leaving the station, the tracks cross Calle 11 Norte (on the left) and turn onto Avenida Héroe de Nacozari, the path of the former Ferrocarril Mexicano's main line to Mexico City [see map]:

The following 20 photographs show scenes along the new route, arranged approximately from east to west [see map]. Unless otherwise noted, the names of the photographers and the precise locations of the pictures are unknown. Some are Google Street Views. Others came from TREN TURÍSTICO pages on Facebook, SkyscraperCity and Wikipedia. The author wants to present the exceptional work of these photographers to English readers – and also to introduce the latter to the fascinating line:

Between 1924 and 1941 Ferrocarril Industrial's electric tram line ran on Bulevar Forjadores de Puebla, shown below on the right:

Popocatépetl volcano is about 40 km west of Cholula, at the border between Puebla and Mexico states. Mexico City is on the other side. In 1909 the Mexican capital planned to connect its Tulyehualco tram line with Puebla's Cholula line, to form a spectacular 147 km excursion line around the volcano. But the 1910 Revolution intervened and the two lines were never joined. The volcano's altitude is 5,426 m / 17,802 ft.

The Cholula terminus of the TREN TURÍSTICO line [see map]:

Tlachihualtepetl Pyramid, with church on top, and the Cholula terminus of the TREN TURÍSTICO. View is south. Between 1924 and 1941 electric trams ran on Cholula's Calle 6 Norte, the diagonal street in the lower right corner of the picture, then turned west onto Av. Morelos [see map]:


The Tramways of Puebla

The Tramways of Mexico City: Part 2

"Puebla tram-train inaugurated"

 3:25-minute TREN TURÍSICO video

Wikipedia: The Great Pyramid of Cholula

La Gran Pirámide de Cholula
5-minute YouTube video

"The World's Largest Pyramid is Hidden Under a Mountain in Mexico"

index to Electric Transport in Latin America

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Allen Morrison

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