According to TMB, the 10-month study will look at options for a link between the mines of southeastern Ecuador with the port of Puerto BolĂ­var. TMB will also examine the feasibility of establishing passenger services between major cities such as Guayaquil and the capital Quito.

INP says the study will develop a conceptual model for the network, including the best technological, economic, financial, and environmental options for the project.

At present the only railway in Ecuador is the 965km 1067mm-gauge line from San Lorenzo in the north the Cuenca and Guayaquil in the south, although most of the route is in a poor state of repair with little or no regular traffic.