29 November 2013 by Alex Stewart
The British Guild of Travel Writers, the UK's leading organisation for travel media professionals, has awarded its 'Wider World' prize to the development and relaunch of the Tren Crucero in Ecuador.
The Tren Crucero (Cruise train) operates from Guyaquil, Ecuador's largest city, and ascends gradually over four days and 275 miles to the capital Quito, passing from the plains into the mountains and pausing at sites such as the Avenue of Volcanoes, which contains ten active craters. There's also the option to travel in the opposite direction. It is considered one of the great feats of railway engineering.
Renovated as part of a $245 million rebuild, which generated 5,000 jobs, the 105 year old railway line has been transformed and returned to its former glory, with every station along the line attractively restored. The train itself comprises a reconditioned, authentic steam engine and four carefully restored carriages, built in Spanish Baroque style, and capable of carrying up to 54 passengers, who stay overnight in hacienda style hotels along the route.
The service offers two- to four-day itineraries that transport passengers along the route. Highlights along the line include the world's tallest active volcano, Cotopaxi, the Avenue of the Volcanoes and the Devil's Nose. Prices start at £620 per person for four days and three nights, based on two people sharing.
Organisers noted that the train service won due to its tourism potential and the benefit it had on local communities. Jorge Eduardo Carrera, the General Manager of Ferrocarriles del Ecuador, Ecuador's national railway company, accepted the award saying, 'Tren Crucero represents the fulfilment of our company's mission to improve and recover Ecuador's world-famous railway infrastructure.'