Set in the Andean foothills of Ecuador, Quito – the country’s colourful capital – is undergoing something of an economic revival, thanks in part to one of the biggest infrastructure projects the city has ever seen: a new metro project that will span 22km and 15 stations.

In creating more than 5,000 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs, the Metro de Quito (MDR) looks set to provide a much-needed boost to the country’s economy. The hope is that the project, which is currently 75% complete, will not only help gentrify the city, but also reduce both congestion and pollution.

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But it hasn’t been plain sailing. With the metro due to open at the end of 2019, getting it up and running – and, crucially, transporting equipment and machinery to the elevated Ecuadorian capital – hasn’t been without its challenges.

From the mountains of Spain to the foothills of Ecuador

In August this year, six metro cars needed to be shipped from Spain to Ecuador – the first train shipment ever to be received by the port of Manta in Ecuador. With the MDQ comprising 18 trains (with six wagons per train), this singular shipment accounted for half a metro train.

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RoRo vessel Toledo was chosen for transportation because of reliable scheduling as well as WW Ocean’s commitment to quality cargo handling. Added to this, the vessel’s journey would take just 31 days: ideal because one of the main challenges facing the logistics team was timing. The customer needed the units by 10 September for an unveiling with the Ecuadorian President in Quito.

The next challenge was around delivery and discharge. To ensure the units arrived in perfect condition, representatives from WW Ocean Panama flew to the port of Manta to ensure the safe and efficient discharge of the cargo.

As Javier Carrasco, WW Ocean Commercial Manager in South America, points out, successful unloading relied heavily upon experienced port stevedores as well as the port authorities themselves, who were able to advise on how to tow the metro car from the roll trailer to the truck.

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The second leg of the cargo’s journey – from the vessel in Manta to Quito – came with its own specific challenges. Crossing 400km of mountains wasn’t easy, but the experienced logistics operator ensured it took place without a hitch. The trains arrived at their destination with four days to spare before the grand unveiling in the capital.

A successful delivery all round

Feedback from every side has been resoundingly positive. As Raoul Vega, WW Ocean Senior Sales Manager for Spain & Portugal, says: “It’s amazing that this rolling equipment, built in the mountains of Basque country, has been transported by truck and vessel to one of the highest capital cities in the world.

“The population of Quito is waiting for this major change in their lives and it’s amazing that WW Ocean and its RoRo vessel Toldeo have been part of the supply chain, transporting these railcars across the Atlantic, the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean to the port of Manta.”

It’s been said by many – including the city’s mayor – that the new metro will mark a historic moment for the city. Transporting 400,000 people across Quito every day, it looks set to not only boost the economy and reduce pollution, but also make life easier for the city’s 1.6 million inhabitants. We look forward to the grand opening in 2019!