Train Excursions

In the middle of the 19th century, international trade, and particularly cacao exportation, became increasingly important to the Ecuadorian economy, necessitating a power shift from regional oligarchies to a central oligarchy capable of developing a nation-wide infrastructure. Garcí­a Moreno, a traditional elite and landholder from Ecuador’s highlands, consolidated power by espousing a program favoring centralization and modernization. A central railroad connecting Guayaquil, the country’s largest port, and Quito was the backbone of Moreno’s plan. This stretch of the rail system became known as the “Southern Railway”, being in 1902 a very challenging work of engineering built alongside “Condor Punuña” cliff, also called “Devil’s nose” led the designation of the “Most difficult railway in the World” due to its zigzag shape.

The completion of the Southern Railway did not accelerate the building of the rest of the railroad as many had hoped. In fact, the construction of the 373-kilometer Northern Railway between Quito and San Lorenzo and the 110-kilometers of track from Sibambe to Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, took almost twice as long to build, 57 years, as the 464-kilometer line from Guayaquil to Quito. Continued political rancor and a mounting external debt were the principal causes of the construction delays. The Sibambe-Cuenca section was the last to be inaugurated in 1965.

The complete rail system survived less than 10 years. Throughout the 1970’s the government discontinued most of the secondary lines because it lacked the funds necessary for repairing them. Flooding and mudslides regularly consumed many branches of the railroad and, eventually, even closed the main southern and northern lines. Trains ran the Guayaquil-Quito and Quito-San Lorenzo routes until 1998, when El Niño destroyed large sections of the tracks.

The National Institute of Cultural Heritage officially declares our Railway Network as property belonging to the State Cultural Heritage and begins an intensive refurbishment program until 2012 when most of the route was done.

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In the middle of the 19th century, international trade, and particularly cacao exportation, became increasingly important to the Ecuadorian economy, necessitating a power shift from regional oligarchies to a central oligarchy capable of developing a nation-wide infrastructure. Garcí­a Moreno, a traditional elite and landholder from Ecuador’s highlands, consolidated power by espousing a program favoring centralization and modernization. A central railroad connecting Guayaquil, the country’s largest port, and Quito was the backbone of Moreno’s plan. This stretch of the rail system became known as the “Southern Railway”, being in 1902 a very challenging work of engineering built alongside “Condor Punuña” cliff, also called “Devil’s nose” led the designation of the “Most difficult railway in the World” due to its zigzag shape.

The completion of the Southern Railway did not accelerate the building of the rest of the railroad as many had hoped. In fact, the construction of the 373-kilometer Northern Railway between Quito and San Lorenzo and the 110-kilometers of track from Sibambe to Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, took almost twice as long to build, 57 years, as the 464-kilometer line from Guayaquil to Quito. Continued political rancor and a mounting external debt were the principal causes of the construction delays. The Sibambe-Cuenca section was the last to be inaugurated in 1965.

The complete rail system survived less than 10 years. Throughout the 1970’s the government discontinued most of the secondary lines because it lacked the funds necessary for repairing them. Flooding and mudslides regularly consumed many branches of the railroad and, eventually, even closed the main southern and northern lines. Trains ran the Guayaquil-Quito and Quito-San Lorenzo routes until 1998, when El Niño destroyed large sections of the tracks.

The National Institute of Cultural Heritage officially declares our Railway Network as property belonging to the State Cultural Heritage and begins an intensive refurbishment program until 2012 when most of the route was done.

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