Produced by Alpha Grid. Executive producer Natalie Whittle.
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There's a train journey in Mexico that takes you past some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. It's a trip I've wanted to make for a very long time. It's 5:00am. I haven't even had my tea yet. But I'm here at El Chepe, Mexico's last passenger train, and I'm so excited.
El Chepe is the nickname for the Chihuahua Pacifica railroad, which runs between Chihuahua city and Los Mochis on the Gulf of California in Sinaloa state.
Mexico's railways were nationalised in 1937 and state run for six decades.
But privatisation combined with highway and air route expansion essentially killed off passenger train travel by the late 1990s. El Chepe was privatised in 1998, and it's the sole surviving route. Jose Contreras started working on the train when he was 16 selling drinks.
There are 17 scheduled stops on this journey. Although unofficially, it can stop over 50 times.
At one of the stops while Jose wrangles the crowd I'm allowed access to the engine to talk to engineer Victor Gomez.
Construction of the line began in 1898, but delays due to engineering limitations, funding difficulties, and the Mexican Revolution meant the railway was only completed in 1961. It was definitely worth the effort. This is exactly why I wanted to get the El Chepe train! It's absolutely stunning, and these aren't even the best bits yet. Through its journey, the line climbs to over 2,400 metres. High up in Mexico's legendary Sierra Madre mountains we stop at Divisadero. Here, passengers can take a close look at the Copper Canyon, which is actually larger than America's Grand Canyon.
This is what I've come to see. It stretches as far as you can see, as deep as you can see. There's supposed to be a river down there. Who knows where? It's just magnificent. It's green. It's rugged. And it goes on, and on, and on. Sadly, I've only got 15 minutes to take it all in before we're off again. Parts of this area are only accessible via the El Chepe train, so it's an important transport system for locals. For, others the motivation to ride the train is different.
These grandmothers go on holiday every year without their husbands.
Even though the atmosphere is lighthearted, there's still the odd and slightly surreal reminder that the state of Sinaloa, where notorious drug lord El Chapo Guzmán was captured, isn't far away. Not that it seems to bother anyone here.
It was hard to leave the party, but there's still plenty to see outside. As the light fades, we gradually wind our way down to Los Mochis, and hours later reach our final destination. It's 2:00am. We've been on the train since 6:00am. But we're finally here in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. It's been an unforgettable ride, but now it's time for bed.