TMiR – February 2023 

Andrzej Krych

Peruvian railway construction (1850 – 1880). History, determinants and engineering environment

Abstract: The construction of the Trans-Andean Central Railway and the role of Ernest Adam Malinowski in this project have been overshadowed in our historical perception by the circumstances surrounding the creation and implementation of this project. The article illuminates the broad background, circumstances and process of the maturation and launch of the project – the Great Railway Project – paying particular attention to the formation of the engineering community in a specific geopolitical situation. In certain spheres, the Project was at the same time an engine for the modernization of the Peruvian state in a laissez-faire spirit. The project’s objective was the result of a clear diagnosis with a rather calculating and yet highly risky engineering of its financing. The macroeconomic situation, the financial crisis and the war have resulted with the collapse of the state and the interruption of the Project. As a result, economic results were recorded only after the business reconstruction of the Project, the political stabilization of the state and the confluence of favorable external conditions, which took several decades. It is left to the readers’ judgement how useful the historical matter of the article is in discussing our contemporary reality. All this history is an elementary part of the material heritage associated with the Central Trans-Andean Railway.

Key words: railway history, great engineering projects, Central Trans-Andean Railway, Ernest A. Malinowski