Tendering is already underway on the initial phase of the project and preliminary construction is due to start in November. Construction of the 22km tunnel should start in August 2013 and the 15-station line will be commissioned in 2016.

The line will be operated by a fleet of 18 trains and is expected to carry around 400,000 passengers per day, with a journey time of around 30 minutes between the two termini.

Half of the $US 1.38bn budget is being financed by international institutions including the European Investment Bank, the Latin American Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. The remaining funds will come from the municipality and from loans provided by the Ecuadorian Social Security Bank, as well as from suppliers.