The Venezuelan network includes 682 km (424 mi) of rail in standard gauge. The network covers the populated and production areas in the country, and is managed by IFE under various Regional Development Plans. There are also connections between Colombia and Brazil that link to the other countries of South America, although traffic in the border areas are affected by foreign policy and defence strategy.
IFE is the sole operator of trains in Venezuela, however, they have created various railway names assigned to different regions throughout the country.
Historically, much of the original Venezuelan network was designed in the 19th century in the Federalist period and under the administration of Antonio Guzmán Blanco, in order to open up the country for trade and earn foreign revenues. However, the first licenses were signed and revoked nine times before the first stretch was operating. The first lines connected Caracas to its port of La Guaira and then Valencia in the 1870s–80s. Notable engineers associated with its original development include: John Grover and Robert Fairlie. Some of the later lines were designed by William A. Welch and Thomas Kavanagh (Caracas subway).
Rail transport in Venezuela was neglected and went into a major decline from the 1950s, with bus and road transport taking its place, just Caracas maintaining its 51 km (32 mi) of subway system and local railway.
The 1999 Constitution was a signal for a major reinvestment in the infrastructure of the state. Much of the renovation of the current Venezuelan railway network is still at the planning stage, with some already constructed and the rest to be built over a period of about 30 years