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.
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.
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