The International Steam Pages

The G and Q in 2007

Adolf Hungrywolf dropped in on the G & Q in early 2007, away from the tour groups who are being milked to stop the system collapsing completely. Here is his unexpurgated report - not for the squeamish. I think I will stick to riding local buses in Burma....

I was down in the Andes for 6 weeks earlier this year, to meet and visit with native people up in the mountains. Took one day off from that in order to check the G&Q while I was in Ecuador. Rode the Devilís Nose and was amazed by the operationóa cross between Cuba and Disneyland. We had a French diesel, three boxcars and a modern coach. Most everyone was on the boxcars, of course, even though weather went from cold rain to mild sleet to real hot sunshine. Iím guessing no one else had ever ridden the top of a train, but had been on roller coasters and other hair-raising entertainment and assumed this was another of the same. People stood up, climbed up and down, etc., as though the whole thing was just a lot of fun. Dangers continually. I quit counting our derailments when we reached one dozen! Mostly on the Devilís Nose part, and mostly one or two trucks, but on three occasions every wheel of the train came off, including the locomotive. People jumped right down, got into the midst of the rerailing, hung onto dangerous spots for photos, and so on. Two 2-8-0ís were in working condition in the shops at Riobamba, where the friendly crews said if the government doesnít give them back some of the tourist ticket money, the tracks will soon be too dangerous for any kind of train service at all. They showed me the latest railbus, parked by police orders inside the shops with blood streaked all over the sides, from where two Japanese tourists were decapitated in Feburary 2007 by a low-hanging wire. They were in the front seats up on the railbus. The month before, a German tourist was killed with broken neck from a fall from a boxcar, while standing up to take a photo just as the train moved. So, a Disneyland it is not! And future? Looks grim at this point.

Rob Dickinson