The train that runs along the tracks between the historic cities of São João del-Rei and Tiradentes, in Minas Gerais, will have its activities suspended from this Friday (11). The steam engine that runs the route, inaugurated 140 years ago by Dom Pedro 2º amid rivers, mountains and stations that preserve the 19th century architecture, will be brought to a standstill due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The stoppage will take place just 41 days after the route was reopened by the VLI concessionaire, responsible for maintaining the route. Before, it had been interrupted another 48 days.
Inaugurated in 1881, the route between the cities of Minas Gerais was one of those that had the presence of the emperor on his initial journeys, as happened in other places, such as in the interior of São Paulo..
“The objective is to protect the health of the community and of the company’s employees, due to the risk of dissemination of the coronavirus. The measure meets the Minas Consciente Program, of the state government, which made the red wave more restrictive”, says an excerpt from the concessionaire’s statement on the suspension of activities.
The itinerary includes 12 kilometers of crossing through landscapes that present ecological diversity, buildings that preserve the 19th century architecture and were part of the old Railroad Oeste de Minas.
The steam engine, which operates with a gauge (distance between the inner part of the tracks) of 76 centimeters, runs through the mountains of the São José complex and has attractions such as the roundabout, equipment that in the past used to rotate the locomotive at the stations so that she could return to the station of origin.
The journey between cities takes 45 minutes.
There is still no forecast for the return of operations on the route. Passengers who had purchased tickets in advance will be able to ask for the trip to be rescheduled or refunded.
In São João del-Rei there is a museum inaugurated 40 years ago, and which was already temporarily closed, which tells the story of the extinct Railroad Oeste de Minas.
The railroad was short-lived. With debts and many difficulties to operate, it was liquidated in 1900, 19 years after its creation, and acquired by the federal government three years later.
In 1931, it was leased by the government of Minas Gerais and became part of the RMV (Rede Mineira de Viação).
The museum’s collection houses the first locomotive used on the railway.
Until the interruption, trips were available from Friday to Sunday, with departures at 10:00 am from São João del-Rei and at 11:15 am from Tiradentes.
The tour costs R$70 (one way) and R$80 (round trip). Admission is free for children up to 5 years old. Children aged 6 to 12, students and people over 60 pay half price.