FETRANSA, the company in charge of repairing the train tracks from Pisacucho to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), issued a very positive statement this morning that the repair work is going very well, and the work could be completed BEFORE April 1!
This report comes from our Peru partners Andean Adventures, Inkanatura Travel, and Metropolitan Touring. Inkanatura points out that although work is ahead of schedule, it is still dependent on weather, and delays could occur. They suggest not planning to visit Machu Picchu until after April 7. I feel even that is cutting it a bit close, and suggest postponing your trip until May or later to be safe.
The train track has already been repaired from kilometer 82, in Piscacucho, to kilometer 90. The track was moved several meters towards the hill in some stretches and the embankment has been repaired and gabion and stone walls are being built. Only 10 kilometers of track still need to be repaired so that the stretch Aguas Calientes (kilometer 110) – Piscacucho (kilometer 82) is ready. If good weather continues, this could be completed sooner than expected.
Once this section is repaired, tourists will once again be able to travel to Machu Picchu from Pisacucho. This would involve traveling by bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, then by bus to Pisacucho (50 minutes), before boarding the train for the 70-80 minute train ride to the town below Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will not reopen until the train service is operational again, so the Inca Trail is closed for now and permits are not being sold for March trek dates.
Metropolitan Touring also reports that Peru Rail is having trouble structuring the Hiram Bingham – Vistadome hybrid service, and this service is now unlikely to operate. The Hiram Bingham cars are stuck in Cusco, and can’t get to Pisacucho to operate on the route to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). Peru Rail had said they might be able to offer the Hiram Bingham service to Machu Picchu using the Vistadome cars, but this now seems unlikely. The Hiram Bingham train won’t be able to operate until the tracks between Pisacucho and Ollantaytambo are repaired, sometime around the first of June. So, travelers should instead plan to use the Vistadome or Backpacker trains until June.