Two Who Trek likes all forms of transportation, with railroads being a favorite. So when we had an opportunity to ride an Ecuadorian train, we jumped at the chance.
Ecuador has a national railroad system called “Ferrocarriles de Ecuador”. There are ten train routes in Ecuador, primarily from Quito, and running up and down the western coastal area. The longest route is 98 kilometers long (about 60 miles). Two Who Trek had the opportunity to ride the shortest one roundtrip (3.5 kilometers or about 2.2 miles each way) from El Tambo to the pre-Incan ruins at Coyoctor. We will be posting more on the ruins later, but because Joe likes trains, this post is focusing on the rail travel part.
The motive power or engine on this train isn’t what most of us would think a train would look like. Instead, this journey was aboard a powered rail car. It felt more like a bus on rails:
Rail cars were once prevalent in the US. Interurban routes in the eastern US were often called “doodlebugs”. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad once ran a version called the “Galloping Goose.” Rail cars were used in areas with light passenger or freight traffic. More economical than operating a regular locomotive, these vehicles enabled access to remote areas. They were often powered by gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel.
The Coyoctor rail car was diesel-powered. Inside, the seating was spacious and comfortable for the brief ride:
When the train reached the end of the line at Coyoctor, there was a flimsy turn table to rotate the rail car around for the return trip. The train was turned by the three person crew:
The rail car apparently runs on an “on-demand” schedule. That is, it runs when there are passengers. Our group were the only passengers on board. The official itinerary calls for it to run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with one departure in the morning and another in the afternoon. We were there on a Sunday, so perhaps special arrangements can be made.
Of course, with a train that travels so infrequently, the tracks are often used by the locals without regard to train movement. Here are a couple of obstacles that the train encountered:
This journey was a fun ride and fit well into our Ecuadorian journeys! We leave you with a couple of the views from the train: