eThe International Steam Pages

Another Resurrection - Ecuador Railway Rebuilt at Last, 2013/4/5

The original posting by Dr. Michael Grimes originally appeared on,214124. A further update from Dale Brown appears on the Railway Preservation News website which indicates that steam will not return until late 2013 at the earliest (6th June 2012), but see below.

Gerald Peacock advises that #14 has been restored to action, see (16th May 2015)..

Gerald Peacock advises that #18 has been restored to action for use on the San Lorenzo line between Ibarra and Otavalo (15th Jan 2015).

Dale Brown adds (23rd May 2014):

2-6-0 #11 is used from Duran to Yaguachi. #53 2-8-0 is used from Colta to Riobamba. Both on north bound runs and southbound reverse direction to each city.

#14 a 2-6-0 is assigned to Ibarra for use on San Lorenzo line. This is part of Quito and San Lorenzo line that is not connected to the G&Q in Quito at this time. The locomotive was moved 15 years ago from Duran by truck to Ibarra.

Several of the stations include ticket offices, lunch counters and sales areas for handcrafted items.

The railway had a comprehensive website - link broken 5th April 2019 (31st October 2013, link found broken on 27th October 2017) - unfortunately by October 2014 it was stripped of any news items.

As of late 2013 it listed (at least) 53 and 11 as runners. 14 was taken to Duran for overhaul in October 2013. A good YouTube channel to keep up with the steam fleet is (14th January 2013).

The tourist train has been launched with some steam haulage, Anthony Lambert was on the first departure from Guayaquil (3rd July 2013)..

Matt Green adds (9th May 2013):

"The restoration of locomotive #53 was done completely by an Ecuadorian Company named THERMOCON. Wasatch helped on some parts of the boiler but the boiler was welded in Ecuador, the tubes were inserted in Ecuador and the steam dome was welded in Ecuador all done by THERMOCON."

Michael Grimes adds (6th April 2013):

On and from 4th June 2013 scheduled steam will once again operate on the G & Q.

The basic train schedule for the through service will be operated by two sets as follows:


Monday Quito - Lasso 78 km 
Tuesday Lasso - Riobamba 139 km 
Wednesday Riobamba - Bucay 143 km 
Thursday Bucay - Duran 88 km 

Steam is scheduled from Duran to at least Yaguachi and probably Bucay and also probably Riobamba to Colta but possibly the Devils Nose as well. 

Current planning is for No. 53 to work the Riobamba leg and No. 17 from Duran.


Sunday Duran - Bucay 88 km 
Monday Bucay - Riobamba 143 km 
Tuesday Riobamba - Lasso 139 km 
Wednesday Lasso - Quito 77 km

The finer details are still being worked on but what is certain is that there will be steam on two days per week in each direction.

The trips will leave each morning at or around 0800 and days' end will be about 1750. During the day there will be sightseeing trips and night stops will be in hotels.

David Witt was in Ecuador for 53's unveiling and has uploaded a video clip:

Michael Grimes writes (26th March 2013)

“No. 53 has returned to service.

On March 6, 2013 she was out on the Devils Nose.

On March 21, 2013 it made its first test run from Duran to Yaguachi.

She went into the workshops in May 2012 and has emerged a new locomotive. It is a fantastic tribute to the General manager Jorge Carrera and his staff. Most of us thought when she was withdrawn in 2007 we would never see her out on the rails again.

This loco is a modern loco and as far as I know was built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton as late as 1953. However, I do believe she incorporated parts from earlier locos and would welcome clarification on her origin. I thought she was original but at the back of my mind is hearing differently some years ago. I am sure our experts reading this will set the record straight.

The steam locomotive will be part of the Tren Crucero traffic equipment, which will travel the route Quito-Duran, which will start operating in June. It is expected that she will be involved from Riobamba although this has not been confirmed. Probably No. 11 will do the Duran to Yaguachi section but this has not been decided yet.

It is expected that Nos. 11, 14, 17, 18, 53 and 58 will be the steam fleet. It is expected to have them all fully overhauled by 2014 with probably No. 14 going to Ibarra. “

To which Gerald Peacock adds (26th March 2013):

Since last May loco no 53 has had an overhaul and a new all welded boiler made and fitted by Wasatch Steam Restorations (Gerald now says this was wrong, the work being done by Thermocon, 31st October 2013). Pic attached shows it on test run last week .No 11 is also being repaired and another three locos are supposed to be overhauled. Amazingly the whole route from Quito to Duran is relaid even track in Milagro again!

The picture below is taken from the Ferrocarriles del Ecuador website (link found broken on 27th October 2017).

Michael Grimes writes (6th January 2013)

The first train to traverse the line from Quito through to Guamote has finally happened.

Ferrocarriles del Ecuador Empresa Pública (FEEP) - this is the new name - has spent four years rebuilding the national railway system. Last week the President, Rafael Correa, opened with the Ministra de Patrimonio, Maria Belén Moncayo, and FEEP General Manager, Jorge Eduardo Carrera, the first stage of the route Quito-Durán with the stretch Quito-Guamote.

The inaugural event was held over two days, 27 and 28 December,2012. The first day left Chimbacalle station at 0800 and stopped in Tambillo, Machachi, Lasso and Latacunga with receptions in each place. The day ended with an event in Ambato.

The second day the train ride had receptions in in Cevallos, Riobamba, Colta and Guamote and also stopped briefly at Mocha, Urbina, Riobamba. I think I was on the last train from Riobamba to Mocha on September 11, 2007 when we took autoferro No. 97. We also took steam engine No. 53 from Riobamba to Urbina and turned her there and continued on the autoferro to mocha.

At that time Urbina was the end of the line and the problem was that 97 had to reverse back all the way to Urbina so it could turn on the wye. I attach some photos of that trip. Those were the days! I did have the privilege of being on the last train from Latacunga to Quito as well and photos are on my website when all the passengers pushed!

The whole line to Duran starts service in June 2013 when there will be through trains once again.

Approximately 500 miles of track had to be rebuilt. Also 32 stations and 5 workshops. In addition, 8 Alstom electrodiesels 2401-2408 have been rebuilt or reconditioned, 7 steam engines are under rebuilding and 24 new passenger cars have been got.

It is nothing short of a miracle and the General Manager, Jorge Eduardo Carrera, deserves the lions share of the credit. Everyone said it could not be done. He has actually done it.

Michael Grimes further updates (20th December 2012) - the original is here,231575.

Duran - Yaguachi - operational.

Yaguachi - Bucay. Possibly April to June 2013.

Bucay - Huigra - Ready.

Huigra - Sibambe - Probably April to June 2013.

Sibambe - Alausi - Operational 

Alausi - Palmira - April to June 2013.

Palmira - Colta - Ready

Colta - Riobamba - Urbina - Operational

Urbina - Mocha - Ready.

Mocha - Ambato - Latacunga - June 2013.

Latacunga - Quito - operational.

The Palmira to Colta section was only ready this week but no trains have been announced yet. However, it is expected there will be a daily Riobamba to Palmira and back autoferro for the moment starting January 1st 2013.

Assuming that no further delays are encountered it is more than possible that the first through train from Quito to Duran will be in June 2013 and while it may be late, it is coming and that really is all that matters.

As for the steam program that is definitely back to 2014 as all effort is concentrated on getting the line operational with normal trains first, which is fair enough.

Michael Grimes further updates (30th September 2012) - the original is here,226422.

Progress is excellent and is more or less on schedule for the December 2012 grand re-opening. However there are some potential trouble points not to mention the weather.

Here is a run down.

1. Riobamba to Colta has re-opened. 
Riobamba – Colta - Riobamba 
Days: Thursday to Sunday and Holidays 
Departure: 12h00 
Roundtrip $ 15 

The trip has a dining car and at the lagoon of Colta there is either a guided visit to Jatun Yachay University or a boat tour at the lake of Colta.

Even though I have gone by the lake at Colta many times on the train I have never seen the area close up and this promises to be very interesting. Colta station has been refurbished.

2. Riobamba to Urbina. 
Route: Riobamba - Urbina - Riobamba 
Days: Thursday to Sunday and Holidays 
Departure: 08h00 
Roundtrip $ 11

  • Autoferro Trip
  • Bilingual guidance
  • The price includes admission to the Interpretive Center

Urbina is as near as you get by train to the highest volcano of Ecuador, Chimborazo. Urbina station has been totally rebuilt as an interpretative centre.

This should be a good day and I have always enjoyed my trips to Urbina.

3. Duran to Yaguachi. I understand 2405 has not been very well and this service has been suspended for a few weeks to fix her. Any reports from the ground would be welcome, I am sure. Three weeks is the estimated repair time.

4. Yaguachi to Bucay. Progressing well although Milagro could cause a delay. The people of Milagro did not want the train again so a compromise has been reached in that a new station on the west of the town is being built avoiding the town centre station. This, in my view, is stupid as this town gets no tourists otherwise and the train can bring them. My guess is that this could be March 2013 before it is ready although everyone says still December 2012 and I hope they are right.

5. Bucay to Huigra. Should be definitely ready for December 2012.

6. Huigra to Sibambe. On schedule for December 2012.

7. Sibamabe to Alausi (Devils Nose) . Currently fully operational.

8. Alausi to Colta. Should be ready for December 2012.

9. Colta to Riobamba. Operational.

10. Riobamba to Urbina. Operational.

11. Urbina to Mocha. Operational but not used.

12. Mocha to Ambato to Latacunga. Pretty well on schedule for December 2012 but might slip a month.

13. Latacunga to Quito. Fully operational.

So all in all the deadline of December 2012, if not fully met will be close enough and certainly by 2013 tourist season the entire line from Quito to Guayaquil (Duran) will be operational. It is anticipated that there will be a daily service from Quito to Riobamba and Riobamba to Guayaquil, each taking about 8 hours. It is unlikely there will be a through service in one day initially.

The hotel train will take four days and three nights with stopovers in Riobamba, Huigra and Bucay.

The exact dates for the return of steam are uncertain but my guess is late 2013. Work on the engines is progressing but slower than anticipated but it will be done which is all that matters. It is anticipated to have one steam engine based in Quito, two in Riobamba and one in Duran.

So by and large it is excellent news and it will happen.

A further update from Michael Grimes (12th June 2012)

Riobamba - Palmira 64.5 km relaying is complete.

The line from Riobamba (km 230) to Palmira has now been totally relaid using modern machinery. This is a major part of the Riobamba to Sibambe via Devils Nose section.

The fact that is has been completed on schedule bodes well for the opening of the through services from Quito to Guayaquil (Duran) in December 2012.

The rapid progress has been due to the use of heavy machinery. Everything has changed because in the old days everything was done by hand and the sleepers were put in a trailer behind an autoferro! This time a full works train consisting of loco, five hoppers and three other wagons was used. In addition a tamping machine is available and hence the amazing progress.

190 workers, including technicians and labourers did the work and used approximately 100,000 concrete sleepers and 18,000 wood sleepers.

In this section they built 54 level crossings for the residents access to communities. They rebuilt ditches, culverts, underdrains and on bridges put new steel beams. 

On May 31 work commenced on the line crossing of the Panamericana Suir at Km 218 which was a source of accidents. Formal level crossings are a novelty as up to this trains relied on the principal of Train 1, Cars nil! 

At the same time and almost complete is the restoration of the stations and particularly Colta and Guamote, located between Riobamba and Palmira.

I never, in my wildest dreams, believed I would be writing the following. A miracle is happening. Ecuador’s main line from Quito to Guayaquil is nearing completion. The line from Ibarra to Salinas is already taking heavy diesels as is Duran to Yaguachi and Alausi to Sibambe. Trains are expected to run the entire line by January 2013, if not sooner. The following is a summary of the current situation. 

In general there is a new General Manager Jorge Eduardo Carrera, who is a miracle worker. He will shortly have turned a decrepit partially non-existent remains of a rundown railway into a relatively modern railway with modern trains. The use of modern tracklaying machinery has transformed the track laying process. All the nine Alstom diesels have either been overhauled or will be shortly. New trains have been built. The autoferros have been rebuilt. New trains either have arrived or are arriving. And the lions share of the credit must go to this man and his main backer President Rafael Correa whose dream it is to see the line from Quito to Guayaquil running once again. The dead have truly risen from their graves. 


On July 8, 2010 Ecuador Railways General Manager Jorge Eduardo Carrera signed two contracts worth a total of US$30m with FEVE President Ángel Villalba, the Spanish metre-gauge operator. 

A US$25m contract covers the supply of equipment and services for rolling stock maintenance and refurbishment, managed by Fenit Rail SA in which FEVE has a 37•5% stake. 

Worth US$5m, the second contract covers the supply of an additional four-car tourist train for delivery by December 31 2012 as well as the overhaul of nine Alstom Class 2400 diesel locomotives, three having already been sent to Spain. 

The workshops of FEVE in El Berrón (Asturias), are rebuilding the bodywork and updating the engines, the electrical systems and brakes, as well as painting the unit. A group of four mechanics sent by Ecuador railways is also working and training with the Spanish FEVE technicians 

Ecuador Railways rolling stock maintenance personnel are to be trained at El Berrón, and FEVE has also provided a five-week driving course for seven staff which has included practical experience on Alstom Class 1600 locomotives hauling freight trains. 

On Sunday, 19 February, 2012 the m.v. Aida unloaded diesel electric locos 2403, 2408 and 2409 at Guayaquil just back from overhaul in Spain. They also unloaded two generator vans and three panoramic coaches, The units were loaded at Raos in Santander, Spain on January 21, 2012 for the port of Manzanillo in Panama where the transhipment of the equipment to the m.v. Aida took place. 

The panoramic coaches are intended for use on the Devils Nose route and have a capacity for 150 people. These cars offer comfort and convenience to tourists, and have primary and secondary suspension, air conditioning, and an integrated audio system, 

Next to come are nine coaches with a bar lounge, café and generator van for the new tourist train. This train which will operate between Quito and Duran is all first class and has air conditioning, panoramic windows, dining car, bar, lounge and toilets.

Current Vehicle Allocation

Obviously, with so much construction going on, sections being re-opened, new trains being commissioned it is impossible to give an exact list. Of the Alstom diesels 2402 is operational in Ibarra, 2404 in Alausi and 2403, 2408 and 2409 are believed to be split between Riobamba and Quito. 2401 may not go to Spain until last, if at all, as it was the last operational loco. All Alstom diesels should be fully overhauled by September 2012. Many had sat unused for over fifteen years as they could not run on the decrepit track, being too heavy. It was not unknown for a 12 ton autoferro to have five derailments in a day so the 92 ton diesels had no chance. 

Where the term operational is used, it does not mean that it is actually being used, or likely to be used, but could be used as until the new services start it has little meaning. It would appear that the Autoferros will take a back seat, with the new trains doing the work being diesel hauled. Where a steam engine is shown as being overhauled and is listed for a location it is entirely possible that it is undergoing part or all of the overhaul at that or at another depot. As to where the engine – or for that matter anything else - will end up when service resumes nobody knows at this time. 

Once through running is established and equipment can move freely anywhere on the line It is thought likely that maintenance will revert to three main workshops, Quito, Riobamba and Duran. Bucay has an excellent unused workshop but it may stay that way. 

Allocation of vehicles is believed to be currently as follows: 

Durán: Steam loco No. 11 operational. Autoferro 3 totally rebuilt and operational. The operating diesel here is thought to be 2403. New passenger train in service. 

Bucay: Nothing believed operational here at moment. 

Riobamba: Steam locos Nos. 17 and 53 being overhauled. Autoferros 61, 97, 111 and 112 operational. New five coach train under construction. Returned from Spain 2403, 2408 and 2409 which are fully operational. 2406 is awaiting overhaul. 

Alausi : Autoferro 95 operational. Diesel 2404 operational. One other autoferro from Riobamba group believed operational here, possibly 111 or 112. . 

Quito: Autoferros 98 and 110 operational, 93 under refurbishment; new five coach passenger train in service. 2401 and 2405 believed operational. Steam locos No. 18 and 58 under repair. 

Ibarra: Autoferros 10 and 86 (new) operational, No. 36 under repair; Steam loco No. 14 operational; Alstom diesel locos 2402 (operational) and 2407 (awaiting overhaul); New train in service. 

San Lorenzo: 1 Ferrocamión 

New Concrete Sleeper Factory Commences Production

A new sleeper factory has been built and commissioned. It will build the concrete sleepers to be used in the rehabilitation of the railway line and is located at the premises of the Chimborazo cement. 

It will produce 245,000 sleepers, each weighing approximately 250 kg, and measuring 2 metres x 0.25 metres. The advantages of using concrete include the preservation of the environment, as well as durability of 50 years. 

Other Problems - Railway Recovers Stolen Rails

On Friday, 27 November, 2011, members of the national police carried out a raid on the scrap merchants "Peralmo", located in the sector of Guamaní, where they found a considerable number of stolen rails. They found 24 tracks of nine meters long, as well as cut rails that varied between a meter and a half and two meters. The scrap merchant said he purchased the Rails from different companies and private companies six years ago. "They are scraps and twisted pieces that already serve no purpose", he said.. 

The raid followed an incident on Tuesday, November 25, when in the province of Chimborazo, at around 01 00, in Cumandá sector, police identified and arrested a truck carrying eighty rails. The driver said he came from the scrap merchant "Peralmo". The Rails belonged to the company of Ecuadorian railways (EFE). 

The large amount of scrap that was stacked on top of the rails made it impossible to remove them and taken back to the railway. Given this fact the Prosecutor of Pichincha, carried out a physical and visual inventory of the stolen rails which were all over different parts of the scrapyard and subsequently removed them . 

The railway and the different elements that compose the rail system have been declared a Cultural Heritage of State, and its theft, purchase or sale are punishable by law as a criminal offence. 

Can we ride on the Roof? Health and Safety reach Ecuador

José Antonio Sebastian, responsible for international relations of Ferrocarriles Españoles of via close (FEVE) and Enrique Díaz, owner of the train at the end of the world of Argentina and member of the Latin American Association of railroads, expressed the technical and operational reasons why trains cannot operate in this way. 

The representative of FEVE finally added that there is a law issued by the International Union of railways (FIU) which prohibits travelling on the roof of the train. Patrick Costales, President of the Association of hoteliers of Chimborazo, requested a copy of the said laws which prohibited travel on the roof of the train but without success. The end result to date is a ban on roof riding, which is a pity, as it was the essence of Ecuadorian rail travel and attracted many tourists. 

The Permanent Way

Quito to Latacunga

This section having been totally rebuilt is fully operational with the following services: 

Quito – Latacunga 08:00 Thursdays to Sundays & holidays. Return 14:30. Arrive Quito 18:00. 

Quito – Machachi – Boliche 08:15 Thursdays to Sundays & holidays. Return 13:30. Arrive Quito 16:30. 

Machachi – Boliche 09:15 11:45 Saturdays Sundays & holidays. Return 12:30. 14:30. 

The Eloy Alfaro station buildings in Quito have been totally rebuilt. As part of the work the wooden structures were reinforced and both beams and channels have been refurbished. Doors and Windows were also rebuilt. 

The Chimbacalle train museum opened its doors on Friday, July 1, 2011. This museum is designed to recreate the history of the railway, its construction and operation since it was built . It also tells the history of the elements that make up the railway. There are samples of the ballast, rails, sleepers and a hand car. In addition there is a scale model showing the entire route of the train from Quito to Durán and what were the North and South branches. They also tell the history of the difficulties of the construction of the railway, and the economic and political problems of the time, but above all, natural and geographical disadvantages that had to be overcome in its building. 

The Chimbacalle train museum also has an interactive space, games and learning areas. as well as essential communications equipment at the beginning of the last century e.g. the telegraph,. The museum is open Monday to Friday, from 08:00 to 16:30, and weekends on weekends and holidays during the hours of departure of the train. 

Latacunga to Urbina

The 76 Km of track that comprises the section Urbina to Ambato to Latacunga is 75% complete. Urbina to Mocha is fully operational. The restored railway line now extends from the city to the station in Urbina which is the highest in the country at 3,609 metres a.s.l. . 

Some 75,000 concrete sleepers, 15,000 wooden sleepers and 48,000 linear feet of rails have been replaced. In Ambato the level crossings in the Av. The Condor, Amable Ortiz and Julio Jaramillo have been refurbished as has the work in Av. Victor Hugo. All work is expected to be complete on this section by July 2012. This was one of the worst sections of the railway and was literally abandoned and had to be rebuilt from scratch. Over one meter depth of rubbish was dumped over the tracks in the town of Ambato alone. The construction company Comsa-Ripconciv worked in the section Riobamba and Ambato ,and is performing the work of rebuilding the track. 

Urbina to Riobamba

There has been a comprehensive rehabilitation of the station of Urbina, the Canton Guano, Chimborazo province. The work was awarded to engineer Raúl Yépez Chacón. The amount of the contract is USD 192.997,91. Urbina is the highest station in the country, being located at 3,609 m.a.s.l. This section has been totally relaid and is now fully operational. 

As it has never been able to support a local passenger service, train operation will have to wait the until the through trains start running hopefully in January 2013. 

Riobamba to Alausi

The rehabilitation of the station of Riobamba dating from the year 1925 is almost complete. The project has three main locations. First, 18 workers are working in the space where the new building will be built. The second group is clearing vegetation on the site in which the Arts Plaza will be located. The third group of workers is in charge of the preparation of the physical area, where the Arena theater will be built. 

The project consists of the rehabilitation of the original structure of the railway station which will not be altered. The architect is César Donoso and EDECONSA-INGERAL is the contractor and the work will cost USD 842,535. The station yard has had its tracks totally rebuilt as is the track up to the depot. It is expected to be ready by June 2012. 

The 66 km of railway work between Riobamba and Palmira is now almost complete and services here may start as early as May 2012. The contractor has imported and is using the latest technology in track laying machinery which places the rails and sleepers on the ballast. A progress rate of between 500 and 700 meters per day is being achieved Palmira to Alausi is making good progress but the terrain on the mountainside is very difficult and there have been numerous landslides thus making for considerable work but it is hoped to run through from Riobamba to Alausi by July 2012. 

Alausi to Sibambe via Devils Nose

This has been totally rebuilt and is fully operational. Diesel loco hauled trains leave Alausi at 08:00, 11:00 and 15:00 Tuesdays to Sundays and holidays. . An express autoferro service operates Friday to Sunday and Holidays at 0900. 

This is arguably the most spectacular railway journey in the world and now is fully operational in all its glory. The diesel train with three colonial cars, will make special points stops at Chiripungo, Piedra Grande, Zigzag high and the Devil's nose. The final visit will be to the station of Sibambe, place where passengers can enjoy the view and the train "Condor Puñuna" coffee. 

Sibambe to Huigra

This was easily the worst section and had been totally unusable since 1998 when El Nino destroyed it. It was necessary to construct a tunnel of 840 metres at 124 Km, in the sector of the River Chan Chan, which is now complete. It also entailed the building of a bridge 30m above River Chan Chan and the restoration of an existing 22m tunnel. 

The line runs inside the spectacular Chan Chan River gorge where there is no road access. Huigra is the site of the old headquarters of the G&Q and also where John Harman is buried. Ripconciv is the contractor for the project, and the cost of the work, which started in April 2010, amounts to $4,967,836. Completion is planned for July 2012. 

Fantastic progress has been made thanks to the machinery used for the drilling of the tunnel from the two portals. Both sides met, in the heart of the mountain on Saturday, 11 June, 2011. The railway will once again reach populations of Ochoa, Naranjapata, Ventura, Bucay and Huigra. 

Huigra to Bucay

This needed relatively little work as it had been in use fairly recently and is now operational but has no service. 

Bucay to Yaguachi

This has been a major headache as a lot of the track, particularly through Milagro had been torn up. However, work is progressing well and expected to be complete by October 2012. 

Yaguachi to Guayacil (Duran)

This 20.6 km stretch took 11,500 wood sleepers, of a total of 45,000. Autoferro 3 was completely rebuilt in the workshops in Duran. The autoferro which has a capacity of 40 people got new wheels, axles and a central lubrication system The engine and body were also overhauled. It is now fully operational. It is unusual in that it is the only autoferro with a Detroit Diesel “Greyhound” engine bringing back the wonderful sound of those engines. The others are either Cummins or Mercedes engined with 63, 110, 111 and 112, in particular, being Mercedes. 

Scheduled Service commenced on August 13, 2011 with the following timetable: 

Duran – Yaguachi Thursday to Sunday and Holidays. 

Depart Duran 09:00 13:15 

Depart Yaguachi 11:45 16:15 

The new station of Yaguachi has an area of 350 square meters and is located where the previous station was, which was built some 100 years ago. The building retains its original design and the work cost USD 180,000. The number of units used on the Durán - Yaguachi route will depend on the flow of passengers who travel this route. At the moment a diesel train and an autoferro operate the service. 

Ibarra to Salinas

This 30 km route, which runs along the landscape linking the cities of Ibarra and Salinas, in the province of Imbabura, was opened by the President of the Republic, Rafael Correa on January 18, 2012 with Alstom 2402 on the first train. It is arguably just as scenic as the Devils Nose but not very well known. 

The construction of the Northern Railway began in 1917 and became essential to the economy of the region. The railway first came to Salinas station as late as 1945 and is gauged to carry container traffic. Quito-Ibarra was inaugurated in July 1929. From Ibarra, at an altitude of 2,202 metres, the train crosses bridges and waterfalls, seven tunnels, one of them called the baptism by water and which liberally washes roof train passengers with water from the tunnel roof. 

Trains operated in this section until 2010, with an autoferro service and carried between 8,000 and 10,000 tourists a year. With the restoration of the service, it is projected this will rise to 30,000 tourists per year. Since 2000 there has been no locomotive down this route. The investment exceeds two million dollars and the work includes cleaning, reballasting and total relaying of the track to take the heavier Alstom locomotives, which weight 92 tons. 

The loco hauled freedom train commenced on January 18, 2012 and leaves Ibarra at 10:30, Wednesday to Sunday arriving at 12:00. The return leaves at 16:30 arriving back at 18:00 and the train carries first and second class coaches. The trip will depart the station of Ibarra and crosses the famous bridge over the River Ambi and the tunnel of the christening. Arriving at Salinas travellers can make a tour of the community, visit the Museo de la Sal, and learn about the Ethnographic Centre and enjoy the presentation of the dance group Afro-Ecuatoriana of Salinas. These attractions are included in the price of the ticket. 

The autoferro or community express ride will operate Friday through Sunday at 0900 and 0730 on Wednesdays returning at 12:30 on Wednesday and 13:00 Fridays through Sundays. .50% Discount for older adults, disabled people and persons under 18 years applies . Ana Villarreal has been appointed as the new Chief of the Northern region in Ibarra. 

Salinas to San Lorenzo

No work will commence until all the line from Quito to Guayaquil is fully operational. The line exists from Salinas to Primer Paso which had service until last year and is passable from Lita to El Progresso and operates from El Progresso to San Lorenzo once a day leaving San Lorenzo at 06:30 returning from El Progresso at 10:00. The trip takes two hours. 

El Tambo - Coyoctor

In conclusion, a tourist train operates Wednesday, Thursday and Friday over 3.5 km of the old Sibambe to Cuenca branch with 1 morning and 1 afternoon departure with extra services on Saturday and Sunday as required by demand, generally from El Tambo at 09:30 / 11:00 / 12:30 / 14:30 / 16:00. The trip takes 20 minutes. 

NOTE TO TOUR OPERATORS: You can plan again for 2013. 

USUAL : In a report of this length inaccuracies are bound to arise. If any errors are detected I would appreciate knowing by e-mail at michael.grimes at or call me at 00353-86-0444-017.

Rob Dickinson