What Is La Galera?
La Galera is a tunnel in Peru and has a significant importance in engineering history. Once the highest railway station in the world, Galera now ranks third in the Western Hemisphere with an elevation of 4,777 m (15,681 ft). It is situated in the Andes in Peru at km 172.7 on the Ferrocarril Central Andino (FCCA) line from Lima to Huancayo, immediately east of the 1.2 km (6860 ft) Galera summit tunnel (4,783 m (15,694 ft) above sea level).
All the railway lines in Peru belonging to the Central Railway of Peru are of standard gauge (4 feet 81/2 inches), like most railways in Europe and North America. Henry Deiggs was the engineer for this extraordinary railway line, which was completed many years ago. Galera feels like a set from a Cold War spy novel: the grainy lights of the empty station, idle mining gear on the hill, railway workers moving deliberately through the shadows.
Work continues on the line today: The rail company is expanding the gauge of the tracks to handle higher speeds and is considering a far more drastic plan to blast a 13-mile tunnel through a mountain to reduce the one-way ride time to four hours. The standard gauge line through the station was opened in 1893. In the years 1992-2003 it was out of use as was the whole line through this point because of the terrorist threat by the group Sendero Luminoso. There are now no regular passenger services on the FCCA.
Its place in the league table of the world’s highest stations was surpassed by the opening in 2006 of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway’s Tanggula railway station in the Tanggula Mountains, Tibet, which at 5,068 m is the world’s highest railway station. (The Qingzang railway, between Qinghai, China, and Lhasa, Tibet, is the world’s highest railway, reaching 16,640 feet above sea level).