Ecuador - 2.4 Railway Assessment

Railways are limited in scope and are mainly used for tourist purposes. There are 965 km (600 mi) long railways in the country (all of them narrow gauge). In 2020, the Ecuadorian government announced plans to liquidate Ferrocarriles del Ecuador. The decision is aimed at substantially reducing expenses at a time when government revenues, especially from oil, have been severely reduced. The assets of the company Ferrocarriles del Ecuador, which is in the process of liquidation, will be transferred to the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works (MTOP). The liquidation is due to the fact that the public company was not profitable, since between 2012 and September 2020 recorded losses of USD 144 million, especially in tourism promotion. The MTOP assumes the administration of the railways, trains, locomotives, wagons and intangibles such as brands, intellectual property rights, registrations, patents, rolling stock, equipment and machinery, tools, useful spare parts, stocks, appliances, among others, maintained. by the Ferrocarriles del Ecuador company.

According to records prior to the announcement of the definitive closure, the public company had 10 electrodiesel locomotives; 7 steam locomotives; 7 autoferros; 36 modern, air-conditioned and wooden carriages; 3 vans, 4 workshops and 459 kilometers of tracks.


Project Relaunch Efforts.

The State, through its ministry and competent agencies, continues to make efforts to relaunch the Ecuadorian Railway Network, observing current feasibility laws and the real opportunities of the project would be three services: Social Train, Tourism Train and Freight Train, each one with its challenges and opportunities.

The great challenge involved in estimating costs in the context of Ecuador is given by the strong geographical differences that the country presents, in particular, the fact that a large part of its territory is mountainous. The economic profitability of the railway is due to the abundant amount of cargo, non-perishable and long distance. The geographical characteristics in the mountains, mainly with so many inter-Andean curves, do not allow more wagons to be hooked up and the main objective of the project is distorted. In the mineral concentrate loading sector, there is also strong competition since the activity is already served by a fleet of specially dedicated trucks and interference of this type would create unemployment.

Long-distance passenger traffic discontinued 30 years ago is not feasible in the face of road competition.


Condition of the Ecuadorian Railway Network as of 2021


The total extension of the country's railway network currently reaches 956.50 kilometres. About the basis of the track inspection tours carried out by the company in liquidation, and separating the 459.40 kilometres “out of service or abandoned”, it is concluded that there are currently 118.92 operational kilometres (requiring primary maintenance), and 387.28 non-operational kilometres (requiring major intervention), totalling 506.2 km. Besides, 81 assets and 95 stations, of which only 35 are enabled.

The aforementioned 459.4 kilometres that are out of service are those that at the time were not taken into account within the so-called Project of Rehabilitation of the Railway System of the years 2010 and 2013 or that for a long time were abandoned: they are those affected by the winter season that has caused collapses and undermining of the platform mainly in areas where the road is developed

next to the river. These sectors are also affected by excess weeds and the theft of track elements.

railway such as rails and fastenings. Passing Bucay (before Sibambe), in Milagro asphalt has been placed over the intersections. Reactivation is expected but it is difficult to completely recover the railway.


Ref: Subsecretaría de Transporte y Ferroviario, 2021.



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