Ecuador enjoying rail renaissance

THE reconstruction of Ecuador’s 1,067mm gauge rail network is now largely complete and much of it is now regularly visited by the new ‘Tren Crucero’ (‘Train Cruise’) tourist train.

FEEP Tren Ecuador-branded Bo-Bo 2003 at Salinas, the northern limit of the rebuilt section of the Quito to San Lorenzo line, with the tourist train from Otavalo on March 5. This diesel loco is one of three bought by FEEP from Euskotren Kargo in Spain. The loco is one of 12 built (as metre-gauge electro-diesels) for Euskotren by Spanish rail engineering firm Ingeteam from 2010-2012. The freight services planned for these locos in Spain never actually materialised, and seven of the locos were stored after delivery. DR IAIN SCOTCHMAN
FEEP Tren Ecuador-branded Bo-Bo 2003 at Salinas, the northern limit of the rebuilt section of the Quito to San Lorenzo line, with the tourist train from Otavalo on March 5. This diesel loco is one of three bought by FEEP from Euskotren Kargo in Spain. The loco is one of 12 built (as metre-gauge electro-diesels) for Euskotren by Spanish rail engineering firm Ingeteam from 2010-2012. The freight services planned for these locos in Spain never actually materialised, and seven of the locos were stored after delivery. DR IAIN SCOTCHMAN

Following years of decline, exacerbated by damage from bad weather, most of the network was out of use only a decade ago, with tourist trains operating just once a week between Riobamba and the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) switchback at Sibambe, plus occasional charter services.

The network (as built) comprised three routes: the 447km main line from Duran (serving the port city of Guayaquil) to the capital Quito (completed in 1908 with its summit of 3,609 metres on the Andean plateau, near Alausí); the 373km Quito to San Lorenzo ‘Northern’ line, which opened in 1957; and the 145km Sibambe to Cuenca ‘Southern’ line, finally completed eight years later in 1965.

Read more in September’s issue of The RM

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