Re-nationalized December 1, 2013

Ferrovías Guatemala

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Traffic moving through industrial Zone 12 in Guatemala City

moving containers and steel at Zone 12

TUT operating railroad tour in Guatemala

About FVG    |    Case Study    |    Statistics    |    System Map

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In October 1997, a 50-year concession to restore and operate the Guatemalan rail system was awarded to RDC. The concession also included port facilities and the right to develop alternative uses for the right of way, such as pipelines and fiber optics.

Ferrovías Guatemala ("FVG"), formed by RDC and Guatemalan investors, was a 497-mile (narrow gauge) (800 km) railroad connecting Guatemala City with Mexico, El Salvador, and ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. After years of little maintenance, loss of traffic, invasion by squatters, the abandonment of operations in 1996, and the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in late 1998, commercial service was resumed on April 15, 1999 with a short-haul (60 km.) cement movement to El Chile. In December 1999 commercial service was restored to the Atlantic ports of Puerto Barrios and Puerto Santo Tomas. Subsequent phases of the rehabilitation project would involve restoration of service to Mexico and El Salvador.

After the successful revival and operation of the railway for seven years, the Government of Guatemala issued a Presidential decree in August 2006 which declared the rolling stock contract of FVG's concession "lesivo" or "harmful to the interests of the State". The decree was issued by the Government after RDC refused to give into the Government's extortionate demands to renegotiate and surrender its key economic rights under the concession contracts. The lesivo decree caused FVG's railway business to collapse due to the environment of commercial uncertainty and political maneuvering. Ultimately, RDC was forced to shut down FVG's operations. The last train ran in September 2007 and since then the railway has literally disappeared, with even steel bridges being stolen for scrap in broad daylight. 

After five years of arbitration, on June 29, 2012, a Tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) unanimously ruled that Guatemala had violated the minimum standard of treatment set forth in Article 10.5 of CAFTA by engaging in conduct that was "arbitrary, grossly unfair, [and] unjust" towards RDC and awarded RDC full reparations. RDC's ICSID claim was the first to use the investor-state dispute resolution mechanism under Chapter 10 of CAFTA.

As of December 1, 2013, the majority shareholder of FVG is the Government of Guatemala after RDC received full payment of the award and surrendered its 82% interest.

RDC and FVG Chairman Henry Posner III comments, "The loss of the railway for a second time was a national tragedy, and it can truly be said that there were no winners in this case. But this now offers Guatemala the opportunity to once again look to the international railway investment community to develop the urban train, dry canal, Mexican rail link and other projects that the country aspires to. In this regard we pledge our full cooperation and support."

click here to view a Case Study of Ferrovias Guatemala
Case Study
Review as a Case Study how the abandoned national railway system had commercial service restored between Guatemala City and the Atlantic.

Operating Statistics
Statistics as of September 2007
(end of freight movements)

Major Traffic Flows
in Km.
in Miles
Annual Tonnage Locomotives Wagons Containers
200 (a) 39,604 6 130

(a) An additional 350 miles (563 km) of the system to be reopened as market conditions warrant.

System Map

printer-friendly map  (631k PDF)

click to view system map of Ferrovias Guatemala

Click on thumbnail to view larger image of the Guatemala railroad system.

(Map design provided by Bill Metzger)

Photo Gallery
More photos of Ferrovias Guatemala's former operations can be found in our Photo Gallery.

Rail Tours
Ferrovias Guatemala has two working steam locomotives that operated rail tour charters on the Guatemala City-Atlantic corridor in the past. View our photo gallery from previous steam charters.

Recommended Links

  Piotr Kumelowski's "Postcard" from Guatemala
  DVDs by Revelation Video
  • "Ferrovias Guatemala: A Farewell Look" (92 minutes)
  • "Central Doubles: Guatemala & El Salvador" (108 minutes)
  • "Ferrovias Guatemala: A Second Look" (60-minute freight ride)
  • "Guatemala: Winter Journey" (120 minutes)
  DVD: "Estrellas de La Línea" (The Railroad All-Stars)
  A 93-minute Spanish documentary (with English subtitles) about a group of Guatemalan prostitutes from the railway ghetto La Línea who form a soccer team to champion women's rights. FILM TRAILER>>  |  FILM REVIEW IN ENGLISH>>


Rob Dickinson's International Steam Page



Guatemala's Last Railway

John West's photo album RE:  FEGUA
John West's photo album RE:  FVG
  Heinz Buehler's Guatemala railroad photo album

Articles written by Sammy King:


News and Press Clips
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Contact Information

Ferrovias Guatemala
24 Avenida 35-91, Zona 12
01012 Guatemala City



+502 2412 7200
+502 2412 7205

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