Chepe express train to Divisadero, December 6, 2017.

(Robert FERREOL, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Chepe herald.


The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico (Chihuahua-Pacific Railway), also known as El Chepe from its reporting mark CHP, is a major rail line in northwest Mexico, linking Chihuahua City, to Los Mochis and its port, Topolobampo. It crosses the Sierra Madre Occidental, part of the range that in the United States is called the Rocky Mountains. There is no road covering the trajectory.

It runs 673 km (418 mi), traversing the Copper Canyon, a rugged series of canyons that have led some to call this the most scenic railroad trip on the continent. It is both an important transportation system for locals and a draw for tourists.

The tracks pass over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels, rising as high as 2,400 m (7,900 ft) above sea level near Divisadero (the continental divide), a popular lookout spot over the canyons. Each one-way trip takes roughly 16 hours. The track also crosses over itself to gain elevation.

The headquarters were in turn located in Mexico City, Chihuahua and Los Mochis.


El Chepe Map.

(ValeryH, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Bridge across the Río Fuerte at El Fuerte.

(panza.rayada, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The goal was to build the shortest (1,600 miles) transcontinental railroad from Pacific coast to the Midwest.

The concept of the railroad was officially recognized in 1880, when the president of Mexico, General Manuel González, granted a rail concession to Albert Kinsey Owen of the Utopia Socialist Colony of New Harmony, Indiana, United States, who was seeking to develop a socialist colony in Mexico. The railroad was actually built by Arthur Stilwell as the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway, starting about 1900.

From 1910 to 1914, Mexico North Western Railway (Ferrocarril del Noroeste) completed the Temosachic-Casas-Grandes line. Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway completed the Chihuahua-Ojinaga section. Enrique Creel's Chihuahua al Pacífico railroad completed the Chihuahua-Creel section.

In 1940, the Mexico acquired rights from Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway. In May 1952, Mexico took possession of a line operated by Mexican Northwestern Railway. In 1955, Mexico merged them as Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico, S.A. de C.V.

Financial difficulties caused by the cost of building a railroad through rugged terrain delayed the project, and the ChP was not completed until 1961.

The private rail franchise Ferromex took over the railroad from the Mexican government in 1998.


The Chepe train station in Cuauhtémoc, apparently the oldest building in the entire city, with the Coca-Cola silos in the background.

(Ahabvader, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Divisadero, the intermediate station on the Chepe tour of the Copper Canyon.

(Cocojorgemedina, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



In general, two different passenger trains run daily: Chepe Regional, a slower service with more stops for locals, with 15 official stops and more than 50 flag stops at which boardings or disembarkations can be made at passenger request, and the other a luxury, Chepe Express, direct service for tourists, which is faster and more expensive. First-class trains are composed of two to three cars, each holding 64 passengers. Second-class trains have three or four cars, each holding 68 passengers.

There is also regular cargo service running between Topolobampo and Chihuahua that might be further increased and extended so as to connect with the Texas Pacifico Transportation Railroad at the Ojinaga Presidio Crossing into the United States as a part of the La Entrada al Pacifico.

On its way from Los Mochis to Chihuahua it runs through El Fuerte, Temoris, Bahuichivo, Posada Barrancas, Divisadero, and Creel, among others.


This majestic tunnel was drilled in the heart of the mountain and the the steel bridge was embedded.

It is known as "the potato". See it on the route of the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico.

Photo by Roberto Lopez Diaz.

(Roberto Studio, Ciudad Jaurez, Chih., Mexico, via W. Lenheim Collection)


In popular culture

The American funk group Vulfpeck named a song off their 2016 album (The Beautiful Game) "El Chepe" which features sounds of a train on a track.


Copper Canyon railroad, Creel, Mexico, October 3, 2011.

(David Broad, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Service type: Tourist train
Status: Operating
Locale: Northwestern Mexico
Predecessor: Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway
First service: November 22, 1961
Current operator: Ferromex (since 1998)
Route Termini: Chihuahua City / Los Mochis
Stops: 20
Distance traveled: 415 miles (668 km)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge


A Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico Gallery


Chihuahua al Pacifico EMD GP28 804 at Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, August 10, 1974. Photographer: William Costley II. (, CC0)

Chihuahua al Pacifico Alco C628 903 at La Junta, Chihuahua, Mexico, March 10, 1974. Photographer: Keith Ardiinger. (, CC0)


Chihuahua al Pacifico EMD GP38-2 910 at Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, January 22, 1983. Photographer: Dick Campbell. (, CC0)

Chihuahua al Pacifico EMD GP40 1001 at Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, February, 1974. Photographer unknown. (, CC0)

Chihuahua al Pacifico EMD GP40-2 1014 at Heavener, Oklahoma, on the Kansas City Southern being delivered, July 4, 1975. (, CC0)


Chihuahua al Pacfico FM H12-44 301 at Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, Septermber 5, 1973. Photographer: Peter Arnold. (, CC0)

Chihuahua al Pacifico FM H16-44 510 at Surfragio, Sinaloa, March 15, 1975. Photographer: Bob Wily. This is one of the very few locomotives that carried this round herald. It reads Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico. (, CC0)

Chihuahua al Pacifico FM H16-44 511 at Santa Fe's Corwith Yard in Chicago, Illinois, April 14, 1973. Photographer: Paul Hunnell. (, CC0)

Chihuahua al Pacifico FM H16-44 531 at Los Mochis, Sinaloa, February 20, 1974. Photographer: Keith Ardinger. This unit was built as Delaware Lackawanna & Western 935 in December, 1952. It became Erie Lackawanna 1935 in the 1960 merger. In 1966, EL retired all six of their H16-44's and sold them to Striegel, a scrap dealer in Baltimore, Maryland. With FM out of business, CHP was still trying to add more, and bought all of them in 1967, plus two ex-EL Train Masters. (, CC0)