Polish-born Trans-Andean Railway constructor born 200 years ago

January 5 marks the 200th birth anniversary of Polish engineer Ernest Malinowski, known as the constructor of South America's Trans-Andean Railway, one of the highest-located rail routes in the world and a masterpiece of 19th-century engineering.

Born on January 5, 1818, to a landowning family in the eastern Polish province of Volhynia (today's Ukraine), Malinowski studied engineering at the Paris Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees. After graduating, he was sent by the French government to work in Algeria, which had recently become a French colony. Subsequently, he worked on canal projects in France's Meuse district, and in 1850 left for Peru on an engineering contract.

In Peru he worked on infrastructure and road construction projects, and in 1870 took over the construction of the Trans-Andean Railway. The route, whose construction involved complicated and often pioneering tunneling work on stretches passing through the Andean Mountains, opened in 1893.

With its highest point at 4,784 metres above sea level, the Trans-Andean Railway was the world's highest-altitude rail route until 2006, when it was deposed by the Qinghai–Tibet railway.

Malinowski died in the Peruvian capital Lima on March 2, 1899, and was buried in the city's Presbiterio Maestro cemetery.