passenger train completed a 35-kilometer ( 21.7-mile) journey through the
capital city of Lima, Peru in July 2014. From the southeastern area of Villa El
Salvador to the northeastern neighborhood of San Juan de Lurigancho, the first
one-way trip for Line 1 of the Metro of Lima and Callao (Lima Metro) lasted
about 45 minutes. By another measure, however, the journey took 28 years.
A mass-transit initiative that began in 1986, the Lima Metro project was
slowed in 1990—with just 9. 8 kilometers ( 6. 1 miles) of track completed by
1995—amidst economic woes, political crises and accusations of project mismanagement. For nearly two decades, the idled track’s concrete pillars did
nothing but collect graffiti. They became monuments to Lima’s inability to
modernize—even as the city grew into one of South America’s most important
economic and cultural hubs.
Lima Metro’s resurrection in 2009 came in the form of a two-phase, US$1.4-
billion project to complete the remaining 24. 7 kilometers ( 15. 3 miles) of viaduct
for Line 1. Phase one extended the existing line by 12. 3 kilometers ( 7. 6 miles)
to the center of the city. Phase two revolved around a 12.4-kilometer ( 7.7-mile)
extension through one of South America’s most densely populated neighborhoods. The project spawned new stakeholders at every bend in the track, including local residents who had to be relocated. To keep all stakeholders on board
“This was the first
metro project in Peru.
The learning curve
was very steep.”
—José Zárate, Ministry of Transport and
Communications, Lima, Peru
For nearly two decades,
unfinished tracks did nothing
but collect graffiti.