Train – Santiago Chile
If you find yourself in need to take the train from Santiago don´t be intimidated by it, this is definitely an easy task. However, do have in mind that is very likely staff at the train station, and on the train itself, won´t be able to communicate with you in English at a proficient level. The good thing is that, in general, they are helpful and make the effort to meet your needs.
Unfortunately in Chile the trains only travel through a very short length of the country, that being the stretch: Santiago – Chillán. Between these two destinations there are 10 stops, but these do not make the journey slower than that on the bus. In fact, in Chile, many prefer to travel by train. The list of reasons for that may begin at how different the train and bus stations are from each other; the former being a much calmer, cleaner and straight-forward environment. The train is also renowned for consistently obeying the schedule, and although the bathrooms can often be quite dirty, overall all the facilities are clean.
Whenever purchasing your train ticket online, (http://www.tmsa.cl/link.cgi/servicios/terrasureng/) the options on the departure drop down menu might be a little confusing if you are leaving from Santiago. When in this situation, the option you want is Alameda, which is the very place where the trains departure from. The final step of your purchase is to pay for your ticket via WebPay; now, if you are in luck it will work sooner than later, but this is not really the case most of the times. The best thing to do is to keep trying, it will work eventually. Otherwise, the only option left is to buy the tickets at the Alameda office at Estación Central – open every day from 08:00 to 20:00 hours, or at the Terrasur ticket booth at Universidade de Chile metro station – open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 20:00 hours, and on Saturdays from 09:00 to 14:00 hours.
Prices range from CLP7,000 to CLP24,000 depending on the season, length of the journey and or which carriage you wish to travel. They basically follow two standards: Clase Preferente (first class), where seats are considerably wider, more comfortable and far apart from one another, in addition each seat has its own electric socket; and Clase Salón (Economic), with narrower seats, which are greater in number, causing these carriages to be more crowded and often quite noisy as a consequence of all the kids on board. The train also provides a modest cafeteria service; you can either order/buy your snack as the waiter passes by with a snack trolley, or order at the carriage where they prepare the coffee and toasties.
There is a transportation fee of CLP2,000 for suitcases and boxes which will not fit in the hand-luggage compartment, and the fee for transporting mountain bikes, skies/snowboards and pets is CLP3,000.
The trains leave from Alameda, located in Estación Central (also known as Estación Alameda), this is a bustling building in a bustling neighbourhood. When walking around here be very aware of your belongings at all times, thievery thrives in this area all day long. The best way to arrive there is to take the Linea 1 (the red line) of the metro grid line and head to the station of same name, there you will also find supermarkets, ATM machines, coffee bars, souvenir shops, newsagents etc.
Travelling by train in Chile is definitely something to consider doing. The journey itself is safe and pleasant; the views of the rural areas and cities´ backdrop provide an interesting insight of how varied Chile is when it comes to nature, infrastructure and wealth. Plus, it is most likely that your destination is going to be the stunning mountains in Termas de Chillán or the beautiful vineyards at Valle Colchagua; making the decision of taking the train from Santiago all the more worth it.