Documents from during the railway's construction, and whilst initial operations were taking place.
As time goes on it becomes clear that all is not well with the railway. It seems likely that all concerned - surveyors, contractor, and the DOP - had under-estimated the problems of building a railway through an area of unstable geology, peat soils, deep valley sediments and very humid climate.
Report of the Minister of Industry and Public Works presented to the Congreso Nacional in 1909
Ancud to Castro – Gauge 0.60 metres. Length 88.805 kilometres.
The preliminary studies for this railway were undertaken by the engineer, don Jorge Heuisler, and the detailed design by the Belgian Syndicate.
Of the two designs made by the Sindicato Belga the part involved between the station at Ancud port to Kilometre 0.755, the junction of the branch to Lechagua, which was designed by the engineer, Señor Alberto Decombe, has been superseded.
Tenders for the construction were invited on 30 May 1908 and by Supreme Decree number 2,838 of 17 December 1908 the offer of señores Lezaeta i Duran Hermanos, in the sum of two million and ninety five thousand gold pesos including a bonus of $229,600 gold which will be paid in the form and subject to the conditions noted further down. In addition the construction of the branch to Lechagua is included in this sum.
The formal budget amounts to $2,294,700 gold including the bonus of $229,600 gold of which 50% will be paid if the engine runs between Ancud and Castro within two years and 50% if the whole railway is completed within three years.
Report of the Minister of Industry and Public Works corresponding to the year 1910
ANCUD TO CASTRO RAILWAY
Length 90.277 kilometres. Gauge 0.60 metres
During the year of 1910, the works have progressed more or less continuously. The follow data give an idea of the present state of the works.
Kilómetro to 14.219 – On the whole carried out, lacking only the rounding off of some cuttings, ditches, berms etc.
The majority of the earth moving still to be done is in the central zone between Kilómetro 14.200 and 70 where almost the whole of the Belgium design has been altered by the diversions at Mechaico(Kilómetro 14.219 to 27.245) and at El Túnel(Kilómetro 32.000to 69.000). It is as a result a notional amount, the final amount will not be half of the original, even more so if it is taken into account that the second diversion has resulted in economies in earth works and engineering works.
These works may be completed in next April or May.
In the final portion of the works (Kilómetros 70 to 90) of the Belgian design, near to Castro, it was possible to study alternatives, which had the effect of eliminating a great deal of the earthworks proposed, and equally the number and size of the viaducts and other engineering works.
In the first part of the line from Ancud to Kilómetro 14.200, a length which is, for the most part along the banks of the Pudeto river, the ground is made up almost wholly of fluvial deposits: sands, mud etc, where it has been necessary to place piles of up to 20, 25, 30 and more, up to 40 metres in length. It could have been diverted to leave a line which was easier to operate and to maintain.
Given the poor stability of these lands, the embankments sink into them considerably, and the rolling stock greatly distorts the track.
The inevitable subsidences, which are created, make the cants on the curves and the levelness of straights completely illusory. Completely unexpectedly, horizontal blows by the locomotives on the rails also cause horizontal deformation.
It is compelling to think that another type of more stable track for this island would be sensible.
The type of track for this gauge of 60 cm usual specified by the Direccion de Obras Públicas,and adopted by the Belgian design, does not appear to be what should be used in these regions.
It would have been more appropriate to adopt the type specified by the Inspeccion Jeneralfor extraordinary conditions of very wet ground, augmenting the number and length of the sleepers, and even the weight of the rail, in order to obtain a more rigid track, which would more uniformly transmit the rolling loads on to the formation.
It would be appropriate to fix the number of sleepers per kilometre at 2,000 and their length as 1.60 m. Also increasing the minimum distance in the standard sections of ditches and berms at the foot of the embankments and the sides of cuttings. The instability of the ground appears in some places to be due to the closeness of the line to these ditches and borrow-pits.
In relation to the standards of the line it appears necessary to increase the minimum radius of 40 m fixed for the curves, to 60 or even 80 m, and not to exceed, if at all possible, a gradient of 3.5% [1 in 28½].
In reality, if these ideas are justified, the cost per kilometre will rise bearing no relation to the gauge.
Engineering work – Will possibly be completed in the month of April or May; the largest part still to be done is in the El Túnel diversion and in the section at Castro.
It appears that many of these works will have a poor performance, above all those that are on the banks of the Pudeto river. There it has been necessary to drive piles to 20 and 25 metres, in places to 30, and even 40 metres.
The hammers used have been of 600, 700 and 1,000 kilos with a maximum drop of 3, to 4.2 and 1.2 metres respectively.
Given also the almost insuperable difficulties of getting cut wood at the right time, it is possible that this work has no been always completed in a satisfactory manner, and has resulted in premature failure and rotting.
With the aim of avoiding accidents, it would be prudent to use check rails and solid balustrades. The employment of the latter will be even more recommendable if it is taken into account that there is no road near the railway and that the bridges will also serve for pedestrian traffic.
Permanent way – Although this year started as badly, or more badly, than the previous one, it appears that the Contractor will be able to complete these works in the new time of two years, six months and eighteen days, which has lately been asked for, and has been favourable reported on by the Inspeccion Técnica de la línea[Resident Engineer].
Some 20.15 kilometres of line have been provided with rails at the Ancud end, and five at the Castro end. The majority of this track has been ballasted.
Stations and halts – During this last year the station at Ancud has been almost finished and the one at Castro started.
The nine halts between Ancud and Castro, which had been proposed, seem unduly excessive for the traffic that this railway is likely to have, at least for a long time. This would increase the cost of operation without any benefit to the locality.
Using the powers which the Inspeccion Técnica has to vary the location of the halts, according to [site] note 688 of 6 April of the year just passed , Pudeto halt, proposed for Kilómetro 5.700, has been moved to 9.100, as there are access roads here, it is farther from Ancud and has an ample supply of water.
The works at Castro station are progressing in accordance with the latest alterations agreed by the Direccion de Obras Públicas. The breakwater has been built with the sections specified which are in accordance with the calculations undertaken by the Inspeccion Técnica[Resident Engineer] dated 4 November 1910.
Lechagua Branch – The works on this line are nearly complete. At present the passenger building at Lechagua, and other minor works, are being built.
The value of the works during 1910 amounts to $783,385.80 gold and since the start to date to $1,149,533.17 gold.
The Inspeccion Técnica has cost in 1910 the sum of $73,533.37 moneda corriente and since the start of work to date $140,086.51 moneda corriente.
The Head of the InspeccionTécnica [Resident Engineer] for the railway is the engineer señor Alfredo Manzi.
Report of the Minister of Railways corresponding to the year 1911
ANCUD TO CASTRO AND LECHAGUA RAILWAY
Length 98,277 kilometres – Gauge 0.60 m.
Generalities – According to Supreme Decree number 2,833 of 17 December 1908, the contract for the construction of this railway was signed in the sum of $2,095,000 of which the sum of $229,600 was reserved to be paid as a bonus in two equal amounts for two stipulated events, the closure of the rails, and the handing over on completion.
By Supreme Decree number 2,279 of 2 November 1910, the contract was divested of the cost of the two wharfs at Castro and part of the breakwater, amounting to $4,000, a total reduction of $25,050, thus the value of the contract was reduced to $2,069,950.
Because of the agreements relating to the approval of the variations and compensation, the costs which appear in this report are notional, as their evaluation has been on the basis of the original estimate, which on the completion of the works appears to be completely expended, without having to consider the new works to be carried out.
What has not been carried has been deducted, with 25% retention, from the corresponding item, when that corresponding item could bear it. In other cases, what could be deducted was deducted in the corresponding item, and the rest was allocated to other works not carried out.
Earth movement – In this area there remains very little to do. There is still a little to do in the final raising of embankments and trimming cuttings. These are generally reserved for ballast.
During the year there has been the following movement of funds
Fencing of line and stations – With the modifications introduced to the type of fencing used for the line, the cost per kilometre has increased to $333 instead of the $321.89 within the contract. During the year there remained paid for materials on site 75% of the wire, and 60% of the timber. Fencing which has not reached the standard required by the contract has been condemned.
In the year there was the following movement:
Minor engineering works – Almost all the small bridges and proposed culverts have been completed, with the exception of some where the contractor had used wooden ones, which were not accepted by the Inspeccion [Resident Engineer].
These will be replaced by concrete pipes, or by standard bridges of appropriate span, according to the importance of the thalweg [water course].
During the year the following was spent:
Excavations.................... $ 160,83 Not done $ 23,68 25% retention
Major engineering works – This type of work is largely complete. All that is lacking is some minor reinforcement, planks, handrails and ironwork.
During the year the following was spent:
Tunnel – The diversions left this work eliminated, but by the method of measurement established for the evaluation of the variations and compensation, this item has been paid for to the amount of $34,488.81, leaving retained $6,711.19.
Retaining walls – wall at Kilómetro 46 – Also eliminated by the variations, but the same considerations apply as in the previous item, and the whole of its $383.88 has been paid.
Castro breakwater – Has been completed and paid for totally.
Consolidation of embankments – Paid and constructed wholly within the year.
Diversion of gullies and ditches – This class of work is farthest behind, especially the berms, cleaning the beds of watercourses and access ditches leading to aqueducts.
During the year the following has been paid
Diverting roads and level crossings – Little of this work has been done.
Level crossings – A little has been paid for in excavation amounting to $199.88 and 25% retention amounting to $1,000.00
Imported material for embankments, rough-hewn wood, piles driven by hand and by machine – Nothing has been paid for.
Cattle grids – None have been made,their value has been kept with 25% retention.
Road bridges – Were paid for in 1910.
Permanent way – The meeting of the rails was achieved at the specified time. For the present year all that remains is the completion of the sidings in the stations. The ballasting is progressing rapidly, with all five engines engaged in this work. More than half the ballast has been placed.
In the present year the following has been paid:
Telegraph – It was almost all completed in the present year. A small section is lacking between Puntra and Kilómetro 80.
In the present year the following has been paid.
Gradient posts – Were superseded by compensation for carrying out new works.
They were paid for completely in the current year in conformity with the method of measurement for the new works and variations.
Mile posts – Have not yet been started. Their value remains with 25% retention.
Indicator posts at stations – Have not yet been started, but two in relation to stations eliminated have been paid for through the compensation. The remaining sum remains with a 25% retention.
Buildings at stations and halts, stores, surfacemen's houses, etc – All the buildings have been started and are being worked on actively.
The buildings superseded by diversions and compensations, as those at Quichitué, Quildica and Chanau and the barracks for materials were paid for in full. Those at Mocopulli and Pidpid, the vehicle shed at Castro, houses for surfacemen, have only just been started, and so no payment has been made, their value remains with 25% retention.
The office, store and vehicle shed at Ancud were totally paid for in 1910.
The remaining buildings have had the following expenditure
Platforms [for passengers] – The platform at Ancud station was paid for in 1910. The four superseded at Quildica and Chañau were totally paid for by the application of the formula for compensation and variations. The remainder have not been started, but their value remains, subject to 25% retention.
Buffer stops, scotch blocks and loading gauges – They have not been started. Their value remains, subject to 25% retention.
Water supply [for engines] – Almost all the tanks have been placed, with the exception of the last four, and the erection of the towers for the windmills has been started. All the work under this heading has been carried out in the year. In total $10,645.54 has been paid and there remains $11,554.46, with 25% retention.
Track material and turn-table – This section was totally paid for in 1910. In March 1911, a further payment for washers to the specified detail was made in the sum of $44.72, which give a total expenditure for this section of $360,240.99, but as in the Decree which approved the contract a round sum of $360,200 is assigned, giving the item is over expenditure by $40.99.
In order to avoid the introduction of negative quantities we allocate this difference to one of the items above on which have no payments made.
Branch to Lechagua – This section is almost completely finished. A few items remain in the material-for-use store, doors for the station, cement for foundations, stucco and wood for engineering works, diversions of roads and level crossing gates, to deal with the small imperfections which will arise before the formal hand-over of the work.
Also deducted was a bit of railing, sleepers, turn-outs and ballast due to snags in this work, and a small siding which is missing at Lechchagua.
The telegraph item has been reduced by the amount of the telegraph apparatus not installed.
Minor deductions have been made in the buildings for defects in construction and 80% of the value of the water supply facilities which were incomplete.
All the other works were paid in full.
First bonus – The sum of $114,800 was paid for having completed the installation of the rails along the whole length to Castro in the time allowed, by 28 September of last year , in Supreme Decree number 696 of 15 March 1911.
The head of this railway is the engineer señor Uldarico Espina.
Report of the Minister of Railways corresponding to the year 1912
ANCUD TO CASTRO RAILWAY
The working of this railway started on 1 August of the year just past , at the point at which it was handed over by the Direccion de Obras Públicas, along with its temporary bridges, and the resultant difficulties of working on the Lechagua branch, whose line has steep gradients and curves as it passes through the town of Ancud, in which there have been frequent fires with sparks thrown from the engines.
Unfortunately, it appears that this railway cannot cover the cost of its operation, and this happens regularly. It is essential to invest large sums in replacing the temporary structures with permanent ones.
The income for this railway for five months of 1912 amounted to $23,456.15 and its outgoings in the same time to $54,926.80.
Report of the Manager of the Ancud to Castro and Lechagua Railway
Ancud, 12 February 1913
The Ancud to Castro and Lechagua Railway of 97 kilometres length started operation on 1 August of the past year , operating regularly the passenger service without accidents, except for a derailment of one of the vehicles in the first months of operation.
The section to Lechagua has not had timetabled traffic, as the wharf is not yet completed, and because of the dangers of fire, which the train traffic causes in the streets of Ancud, due to sparks thrown forcefully from the engine's chimney when climbing the gradient of three percent, which starts in calle José Andrade. With care, light goods trains are sent to Lechagua when there is a demand for transport.
The working has been undertaken up till now with engines acquired from the contractors. These engines had worked long and hard on the construction, and it was not possible to keep the two American Devonport 18-ton engines in good running order, as there is no foundry within the province. In each case it was necessary to send to Valdivia and, moreover, the workshop did not have the necessary tools.
For the passenger service there is a composite coach and a third class one. The transport of luggage and mail was started towards the end of November, making use of a four-wheel van. It was replaced by an eight-wheel wagon with stakes which came from señores W. R. Grace i C.°.
The working is threatened by constant danger from the bridges and viaducts, which were constructed as temporary structures as the Inspeccion Técnica de la Direccion Jeneral de Obras Públicas had reported. The piling of the San Antonio bridge, of nearly thirty metres span, is one of the first items which it is essential to replace with a permanent structure. The lesser bridges should be replaced with concrete beams. The viaducts on the Pid Pid to Castro section should be displaced by a diversion which would replace them, and at the same time avoid the rising gradients on the descent into Castro. The Management has undertaken preliminary studies, and has opened paths for survey work, which will shortly allow the completion of the pegging-out of the said section.
The Ancud to Lechagua section needs to have the three percent gradient in calle José Andrade eliminated to reduce the dangers of fire arising from the trains passing along the streets of Ancud town. To improve the line the Management have presented the scheme to the Minister with an estimate of $7,002.07, excluding the land costs.
By Supreme Decree of 14 May , some $115,600.00 was put at the disposal of the Director Jeneral de Obras Públicas to deal with the costs of building and operation for the year 1912.
Of this sum the Inspeccion Fiscal up till the end of July invested $9,933.40.
Expended by the Administracion 80,636.56
The ordinary expenses since 1 August amount to $54,926.80, divided up among the various services as follows;
Administration 11.24% $6,173.10
For the acquisition of tools for the machine shop, workshops, materials for repairs, erection of wagons, locomotives in the first months of the present year, enlarging buildings, expenses of installation of and furnishings for offices the expenditure has been $31,826.42
The income or results of working amount to $23,456.15 under the following headings:
To date the working leaves only losses due to the lack of sufficient wagons for carrying goods.
Along the route a number of saw mill have been established, which send only small amounts of wood, having found that the rates for goods approved by Supreme Decree Number 814 of 10 October of the past year  and in effect from 15 December are very high.
The timber merchants, and parties interested in transport, have sent a petition to the Supremo Gobierno requesting that they reduce the charges for goods.
The Manager's office, and that of the Accountant, have been established in Ancud station, which at the same time acts as the Station Master's office and the Storekeeper's. This building has a floor space of 14 metres by 7 metres in width.
To supervise the station area, the Station Master needs to live there, meaning that the Manager has to rent a house for his offices, or extend the station building in accordance with the project presented to the Minister on 30 August .
In all [ie Ancud and Castro] stations there is a need for sheds to store firewood in order to have dry fuel for the winter months; the lack of these sheds makes the preparation of the trains more difficult, as it is more time consuming raising steam with damp wood.
In addition it is noted that there is a lack of latrines and cooking stoves.
In Ancud station there is a shed made of a roof and two walls for keeping the passenger equipment. It is inadequate, both because of its short length, and for being open on two sides.
The building or shed for four engines at Ancud station needed an inspection pit for the repair of engines and wagons. A machine shop has been set up in a lean-to building some 25 metres by 3½ metres attached to the workshop, in which are also provided two rooms for the steam-raiser and the pointsmen.
With the construction of this lean-to, the stores have been located there, and there are rooms for an office and living quarters for the store-keeper and fitter who need to live within the station grounds in order to carry out their duties properly.
It is also essential to construct a house with living quarters for two engine drivers, and the project is merely awaiting the approval of the Minister of having been submitted on 12 January of the present year  before work may be started.
Ancud station is too narrow to store the rolling stock, so it is difficult to make up trains.
Because the money intended to the work the service was not received in time, it was only possible to lengthen a house for the PW squad, placing a wood floor and providing it with a kitchen, in which additionally, an oven was provided. There is sufficient space for the PW squad to dry their clothes during winter.
For the traction service there is the following material purchased from the contractor after 18 months of use: two18-ton engines [Davenport], two Koppel engines, and one small Henschell which had been owned by the Direccion de Obras Públicas.
For the material purchased from the contractor the following discounts were applied:
The amount of six thousand nine hundred and fifty six pesos which was discounted for repairs was requested by the Management to acquire materials and employ sufficient staff to repair the engines quickly, a sum which has not been received up till now.
To deal with the traffic it is essential to acquire at least one 15 to 18 ton locomotives.
For a complete overhaul of the two Koppel engines, the Management felt obliged to order a great many spares from the makers through the agents señores Saavedra Benard i C.a.
The railcar, which the Management have available for track service, has been broken down from the opening of the railway, as may be attested by the Engineer don Fernado Cabrera, who took over responsibility of the line from the Direccion Jeneral de Obras Públicas. For its repair, wheels and other essential items have been ordered.
Until mid December, the goods service used small ballast wagons of two cubic metres capacity, which were replaced by two flat wagons with stakes, which have been left without the stakes to carry timber and firewood. These are insufficient to carry the goods.
For the passenger service there is a composite coach and one of third class, too heavy for the long gradients of three and a half percent. It will this be necessary to design a lighter type of coach for third class passengers.
The maintenance of the line has been difficult due to the need to widen embankments, and ballast significant lengths, which had not been dealt with, due to a lack of engines which could be deployed on this work. One of the 18-ton engines is used on the passenger service, having on occasions to undertake special runs with goods trains, and one small Koppel, which is in repair, and is deployed on the haulage of wood and the transport of goods, being able to take a maximum of 20 cubic metres of firewood per journey.
The other 18-ton engine has been able to undertake a few trips during the time when the present passenger engine was under repair. This engine is lacking castings to maintain the boiler and the cylinder lubricator; items which have been ordered, and are expected shortly.
Report of the Minister of Railways corresponding to the year 1913
By decree number 997 of 10 September  extensions were ordered to the Arica to La Paz, Chillan a Pinto and Ancud to Castro railways the requirements of decree number 89 of 22 February 1912 which regulated the contract and promotion of personnel in the Ferrocarriles de Estado.
Ferrocarril de Ancud a Castro – This railway carried in 1913 15,926 passengers, 226,633 kilos of luggage and 4,132 tons of goods, all of which generated an income of $75,025.16
The working expenses for the same period amounted to $145,849.86 leaving as a result a loss of $70,824.70. [(Coefficient = 1.94, compared to Chillan-Recinto line coefficient 1.25)]
Maintenance of the line represented 44.53% of expenses. This is due to the bad ground conditions in which the line is located, and the wooden bridges.
To reduce this coefficient it will be necessary to re-ballast the line, change most of the sleepers, and replace the said bridges with permanent ones, which will secure the safety of the traffic.
With the funds in the budget for the current year, it is hoped to deal with these necessities.
Report of the Manager of the Ancud to Castro Railway
Ancud, 23 March 1914
The operation of the Ancud to Castro railway was undertaken during 1913 by two Davenport 18-ton locomotives and one Koppel of 12 tons in working order acquired from the construction of the line. One dealt with the passenger trains, and the other two the goods trains, and the works trains occupied in the widening of embankments.
The operation has one composite carriage and two third class carriages for the passenger service, a 12-ton wagon with stakes and two flat wagons of 10 tons. To improve the equipment you had to hire an 18-ton locomotive and four 12-ton flat wagons from don Walter Bade which should be received in the middle of this year.
Because of the insufficiency of the rolling stock, and the undue weight of the wagons for the gradients of the line. In the workshops, 4-ton flat wagons are being built for the carriage of wood. These wagons weigh 1,200 kilos, and use the wheels from the ballast wagons. Through lack of staff, the building of these wagons is very slow, as only the time left over after the repair of locomotives, coaches and wagons in service is available.
During 1913 as already mentioned the traffic gave rise to the following figures
The working expenses amounted to $145,849.86 which gives an expenditure of $1,652.13 per kilometre of line and is made up of the following items:
During 1912 the average monthly operating expenses amounted to $156.10.
Maintenance of the line took 44.53% of the expenses, and to reduce them it will be necessary to re-ballast the line, change most of the sleepers, and replace the wooden bridges with permanent structures, which the engineer don Fernando Cabrera, appointed by you, went into in minute detail.
In order to guarantee the safety of the traffic and to repair them, it is necessary to construct concrete beams and for bridges to be piled with iron using the funds in the budget for the current year
Of the funds allocated in the Law of Budgets for the working expenses there was a surplus of $27,427.93 of which you allocated $24,356.93 which corresponds to the surplus in the bill of quantities which you put at the disposition of the management to pay for the rolling stock ordered.
During the year it is necessary to lament an accident on 26 February  between a goods train headed by an 18-ton locomotive, and one of 7-tons occupied in ballasting. It was caused by lack of care on the part of the Station Master. The accident only resulted in some contusions to three surfacemen, and some damage to the tank of the ballast engine, which was repaired in the machine shop of the workshops.
Permit me to state that Ancud station is narrow, making it necessary to acquire for its widening, a strip of the adjoining lands.
The station buildings are small, lacking in the facilities necessary for offices, stores and dwellings for their heads. To provide accommodation it is necessary to lengthen them to provide an annexe.
The Manager's office operates in a private building for which $60 a month is paid, as the railway does not have its own, and it is not possible to build one within the station site because of the small size of the site available, which is already insufficient for the service.
Finally it is gratifying for me to record that the passenger train service is operated with total regularity complying exactly with the times of departure and arrival fixed in the timetables.
May God keep you
J. A. KOCH.
TABLE DEMONSTRATING THE TRAFFIC RECEIPTS AND COSTS OF THE RAILWAY FROM ANCUD TO CASTRO DURING 1913.
Per kilometre of line
Per kilometre of line
YEAR 1912 (5 months)
Per kilometre of line
Per kilometre of line
Per kilometre of line
Per kilometre of line
Category 1912 1913 Increase Decrease
Operations began on the 1st August 1912.
The budgeted investment $ 2 600 paid by order of the Minister of Railways to the Inspector of Works of the jetties at Lechagua and Castro, don Félix Schmidt, has been included.
TABLE DETAILLING THE AMOUNTS SET ASIDE IN THE NATIONAL BUDGET FOR THE RAILWAY FROM ANCUD TO CASTRO, COSTS AND SAVINGS CORRESPONDING TO THE YEAR 1913.
National budget categories Budget. Actual expenditure. Savings.
In item 647 was included the amount of $ 2 600, paid by order of the Minister to don Felix Schmidt, inspector of works and which daria a surplus of $ 27 427,00.
From the funds allocated in the budget, those for items 645, 646, 647 and 648 have been received, and any surplus remains available to pay for the rolling stock hired in.
TABLE DETAILING THE MOVEMENT OF FUNDS AUTHORISED FOR THE OPERATION OF THE RAILWAY FROM ANCUD TO CASTRO, FOR THE YEAR 1913.
National budget received from the Fiscal Treasury in Ancud::
Total income........................... $163 683,94
Savings from 1912..................................... $ 4 965,06
Invertido del Presupuesto Fiscal:
A number of documents relevant to later years in the railway's life are set out in appendix 7.
The Chiloe Island 60cm gauge railway