Rail enthusiasts train their sights on Ecuador

7th Aug 2013

With its Galapagos Islands, Andes mountains, tropical valleys, ancient caves, cultural sites and bustling metropolises, Ecuador has been blessed with everything to tempt the global tourist … including rail holidays.

The Ecuadorean government is investing 250 million dollars (£163 million) to restore the country's long-neglected rail network.

The scheme includes relaunching train routes aimed at tourists with new stations, railcar facelifts and guided narration onboard.

The project features:

- a restored train station for tourists on city breaks to the northern mountainous conurbation of Ibarra, returning a long-abandoned route to Salinas, a town whose people includes descendants of Jamaican railway workers. The Ibarra route runs across myriad landscapes, from mountains to lush subtropics with sugarcane fields

- a restoration of the Devil's Nose, Ecuador's best loved rail line, a 19th century engineering marvel in the mountains. It became famous among backpackers on trekking holidays who wanted a breathtaking experience. The route runs from Alausi through switchbacks around hilly farms run by indigenous people and a rock wall called the Devil's Nose. Sibambe station has a museum where guides give train talks. Locals in colourful costumes serve lunch and entertain with music and dance.

- the opening of the a 277-mile (445km) rail line between the country's capital, Quito, and Duran, a town near Guayaquil's coastal city.

Ecuador tourism spokeswoman Katherine Plua said trains offer a "unique opportunity" to get to know Ecuador in a different way.

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