The International Steam Pages

The G&Q, Ecuador 2015 

Mark Enderby reports on the second part of a Railway Touring Company trip to (Colombia and) Ecuador. 

The whole line was open apart from Ambato to Machachi ... ostensibly due to ash deposited by Cotopaxi (though we saw no sign of any). The cruise train currently starts at Ambato with passengers bussed from Quito. Where we saw the closed stretch it wasn't in good shape and the Machachi to Quito section was easily the worst section we travelled on. However, there were extensive renewal works proceeding from a base between Tambillo and Quito.

Saying that, the station infrastructure throughout was sparkling and new (especially the toilets!) and well staffed for our visits. However, given the investment and staffing levels, it is difficult to see how they will make it pay! 11 and 53 at Duran with a 41 on display by the river with many parts missing during its move there from up country. 53 worked our charter to Yaguachi.

Bucay depot (no longer rail connected) contained 44 and 46 both derelict. Identities assumed as there appeared to have been some part swapping. At Riobamba, 15 remains plinthed close to the depot. 58 was available for our charter back to Guamote. 58 also took the next leg to Urbana which appeared to be an infrequent occurrence.

We picked up the trail again at Machachi with a diesel to be greeted by a sparkling 14, freshly repainted in red, at Tambillo for the remaining journey to Quito. We had been promised steam on the northern section out of Ibarra but told that it had failed. However, 18 was seen in the depot and staff seemed to be saying that it was a runner. There was no evidence that it had operated since the opening ceremony earlier this year. The line from Ibarra to Otavalo has been completely refurbished and a new turntable installed at the latter. Focus is on the diesel-hauled tourist train.

There was no sign of 17 ... assumed to be at Quito depot.

Rob Dickinson