Two rail companies operate trains along the line from Cusco to Machu Picchu Station in Aguas Calientes: PeruRail and Inca Rail (a third, Machu Picchu Train, merged with Inca Rail at the beginning of 2013). Combined, they offer various options in terms of price, departure points and scheduling.
PeruRail Trains to Machu Picchu
PeruRail has a number of departure points running to Machu Picchu Station in Aguas Calientes:
- Cusco to Machu Picchu (three to four hours): this service leaves from Poroy Station, about 20 minutes outside Cusco itself. Note: From January 02 through April 30, 2016, the Vistadome and Expedition train services to Machu Picchu Station will begin at the temporary Pachar Station, located one hour and 50 minutes drive from the center of Cusco. Transportation from Cusco to Pachar Station is not included in the temporary ticket fares listed on the PeruRail website.
- Urubamba to Machu Picchu (three hours): leaving from Urubamba Station.
- Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu (one and a half hours): leaving from Ollantaytambo, located about half way along the line from Poroy (Cusco).
PeruRail also offers three different train classes along the Machu Picchu route (a fourth exists, but it’s a subsidized option for residents only -- great if you happen to have a foreign resident card):
- Hiram Bingham: The Hiram Bingham train -- named in honor of the man who rediscovered Machu Picchu -- is PeruRail’s luxury option, but it doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay more than US$300 for a one-way trip from Poroy to Machu Picchu.
- Vistadome: The Vistadome offers a significantly cheaper alternative to the luxury Hiram Bingham. This is PeruRail’s midrange option: comfortable, air conditioned and fitted with panoramic windows.
- Expedition: The Expedition class is PeruRail’s budget option. It’s a comfortable train and a perfectly reasonable option if you just want to get to Machu Picchu. There’s not a great difference between the Expedition and the slightly more expensive Vistadome.
Inca Rail to Machu Picchu
Inca Rail runs from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Station in Aguas Calientes (some Urubamba departures are available depending on train class). Inca Rail has three train/carriage classes: the economy-class Machu Picchu Train; the executive- and first-class Inca Train; and the Inca Princess, which provides a "presidential" service.
- Machu Picchu Train (economy): One departure daily from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and vice versa.
- Inca Train (executive/first class): A more comfortable option with four departures each day from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and vice versa. A one-way executive class ticket is currently the same price as a ticket on the Machu Picchu Train. The first class service runs in high season only, between April 1 and October 31, and from December 21 to 31.
- Presidential: The luxury Presidential service is available on the Inca Princess carriage, which also runs between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Station. Bookings need to be made in advance; prices vary depending upon exact schedules. The ticket includes a welcome bottle of champagne, a five-course tasting menu and an open bar.