In 1948, during President Juan Perón's first term of office, the seven British- and three French-owned railway companies then operating in Argentina, were purchased by the state. These companies, together with those that were already state-owned, where grouped, according to their track gauge and locality, into a total of six state-owned companies which later became divisions of the state-owned holding company Ferrocarriles Argentinos.
In the latter half of the 19th century British and French-owned railway companies had played an important role in the economic development of Argentina. Between 1856 and 1914 the nation's railway network grew to become the largest in Latin America. The foreign investment provided by these companies had helped to transform Argentina from a relatively underdeveloped, rural country, with many isolated communities, into one which was becoming an increasingly prosperous agricultural producer and exporter.
The foreign-owned railway companies had developed under the protection of the Argentine's strong property rights of the time.
The rail networks of the various companies generally radiated inland from the major ports of Buenos Aires and Rosario and were primarily designed to speed the export of agricultural products from the provinces to European markets. The lack of interlinking between the many radial lines meant that the integration of the country’s interior was probably slower than it would have been had domestic needs been a priority.
During World War II it had not been possible to import railway equipment or materials which meant that there was an urgent need for track, locomotive and rolling stock renewal by the time nationalisation took place in 1948. Also railways were beginning to face stiff competition from road transport as improvements in the national road network were made.
By the time the railways were nationalised in 1948, during President Perón's first term in office, the growth in economic nationalism in the country had reached a point where, for many Argentines in search of self-determination, the foreign-owned railways had become symbols of the control of the country's economy by foreign powers.
Between 1936 and 1939 the once British-owned metre gauge Córdoba Central, Transandine and Central Chubut had already been nationalised. As from 1 March 1948 the remaining British-owned railway companies in Argentina also became the property of the government. These were the four broad gauge companies: BA Great Southern, Central Argentine, BA & Pacific and the BA Western; the