Peru reopens train service to Machu Picchu following anti-government protests

Residents and visitors arrive at Machu Picchu on the first train after the service from Ollantaytambo was renewed on Feb 8, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

MACHU PICCHU - Train services to Peru’s historic Machu Picchu partially resumed on Wednesday following nearly three weeks of suspension caused by anti-government protests.

The service to the jewel in Peru’s vital tourism industry resumed with locals looking to return to the small town at the foot of the ancient Inca site.

The Machu Picchu citadel itself remains closed.

Peru has been shaken by two months of protests by supporters of former president Pedro Castillo, who was impeached and arrested on Dec 7 after attempting to dissolve parliament and rule by decree.

At least 48 people have been killed since then in clashes between security forces and demonstrators.

Protesters have blocked dozens of roads and placed rocks on the train tracks serving Machu Picchu.

The first train arrived at the small town just after dawn Wednesday with around 80 people on board, including a handful of tourists, AFP reporters saw.

The train left again with about 280 passengers.

The town had been suffering from shortages after it was cut off for 18 days.

The train is the only way to reach the town other than by foot and takes an hour and a half from the tourist town of Ollantaytambo.

On Tuesday, the Machu Picchu municipality said there was “a shortage of food, medicines, health personnel and emergency supplies.”

For now the train will make two journeys a day on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Tourism is crucial to the Peruvian economy with the country attracting 4.5 million visitors a year.

Some 4,000 visitors a day pass through the Andean city of Cusco, a Unesco World Heritage site and gateway for exploring Machu Picchu and other surrounding Inca ruins.

The tourism ministry estimated in late January that the sector had lost $6.2 million due to the political crisis.

There is still no fixed plan for the reopening of Machu Picchu. AFP

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