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Panama Canal Railway

the panama canal railway, the panama canal train tour

Despite lasting just over an hour, the Panama Canal Railway is considered, by many, to be one of the world’s great train rides, and if you experience it, you will understand why.

Spanning nearly the entire length of the Canal (47.6 miles) and dating back to the mid-1800, when construction on the Panama Canal Railway concluded in 1855, it was the world’s first transcontinental railway.

panama canal railway the panama canal

For the most part, the transit route and railway run parallel to each other the entire length of the canal. The lone exception is where the transit route steers west through Gatun Lake's deepest and most expansive part, which corresponds predominantly to section #2 on the transit map. The railway, on the other hand, maintains a relatively straight trajectory. It spends most of its time beside the channel, except where it crosses over Gatun Lake. And throughout its journey, the railway always remains east of the canal. It never crosses over to the west side.

A trip aboard the railroad gives visitors a completely different, unique perspective of the Panama Canal. Along its southern portion, the train hugs the canal between Panama City and Barro Colorado Island. It passes alongside Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks and then briefly moves inland as it winds through Gaillard Cut. Further north, after passing Barro Colorado Island, it spends most of its time out in the open as it makes its way across Gatun Lake.

The passenger cars are comfortable, well-appointed, air-conditioned, and have large windows and glass ceilings, giving you spectacular, unobstructed views of the surroundings.

Here is a picture of the train heading northbound, passing over the bridge in Gamboa. If you are heading to Monkey Island, your tour boat will pass under this bridge.

The boarding station in Colon is only 10 minutes from the cruise port, maybe less. On the Pacific, the boarding station resides in Corozal, near the Albrook Airport, Panama City’s domestic airport. If you are returning to Flamenco or Perico Island, the 20-25 minute bus ride takes you along the famous Amador Causeway and through a very scenic portion of Panama City.

The Panama Canal Railway website, while severely lacking, contains a lot of intriguing information about the railway’s history. We hear so much about the Panama Canal; people are surprised to learn that the railway was operating for 60 years before construction on the Panama Canal concluded and played an instrumental role during the canal’s initial construction period.

So if you are looking for a relaxing, joyful, and memorable ride, the Panama Canal Railway excursion is a great option. I highly recommend it.

Getting to Corozal (Pacific Coast Station)

Corozal Train Terminal

The Corozal train station is located near the Albrook Airport. Unfortunately, there are no Metro buses that stop at the station, but several Metro buses stop near it. Look for the buses that read Miraflores, Forestal, Ciudad de Saber, or Mercado de Abastos, and get off at the entrance to Albrook. From there it’s about a 3-5 minute walk.

Getting to Colon (Atlantic Coast Station)

Colon Train Terminal

The Colon train station is located near the entrance to Colon, off to your left. You pass it before entering the town, before reaching the bus terminal.

the panama canal railway, the panama canal train tour

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