I love riding trains. Although we have a pretty good train system here in the U.S., I never ride trains here because when I’m traveling stateside, I’m usually in a hurry to get where I’m going and back. But whenever I’m exploring the rest of the world, I always somehow seem to make time to squeeze in a train ride.
I haven’t been on a train since our debacle in Avignon – you know, that one time when we were on the lam. So when I realized that the Panama Canal Railway Company offers rides to Panama’s Atlantic coast to Colón, the capital of the Colón Province which sits on Limón Bay, I thought a train ride would be a great way to traverse the nearly 50 miles that run across the isthmus.
The railway route runs parallel to the Panama Canal along the swampy Chagres River which spills into Gatún Lake. Like the canal whose construction was completed after the railway, the railway was built to offer an ocean-to-ocean shortcut for transporting people and supplies. The train ran its first trip in January 1855. But over the years, the government-run railroad fell into disrepair until 1998 when the government privatized it and granted the Panama Canal Railway Company the exclusive right to develop and operate it. Passenger service between the two coasts didn’t begin until 2001 which makes sense since my parents couldn’t recall even having the option to ride the train when we lived in Panama in the ‘80s.
I’ll share more about our time in the port city of Portobelo in Colón in a future post, but for now, kick back and enjoy the views from my window seat on the Panama Canal Railway…
PLAN YOUR RIDE
- Visit the Panama Canal Railway Company’s website for rates and schedule info.
- When you disembark from the train in Colón, be sure you have a ride waiting for you as the immediate area surrounding the train station and the city itself aren’t safe.