The ferrocarril or railroad used to connect Quito all the way to Guayaquil is an amazing passage through the avenue of the volcanoes and just an amazing trip to be able to travel the country by train. Unfortunately throughout the years and the different presidents the railroad has been neglected and disconnected due to natural disasters. But with the new president there are plans to fix the old railway. Already sections have been restored. One of these is the Nariz del Diablo which is one of the more difficult passages. You can pick up the train in Alausi (about 3 ½ hours from Cuenca). The train ride takes you on a loop through the mountains; and the views are breathtaking.
This train almost always sells out so it is a good idea to book your tickets in advance. You can do this through a travel agency or online through email on the train website. If you are scared to take the bus to Alausi (which can be a little complicated as it doesn’t stop at a bus station) or you can’t afford a driver or rental car then I would suggest using a travel agency but the costs are high as they cover transportation, tickets and lunch usually. Otherwise you can find your own way there and just pay $20 for the train tickets if you pay in cash. But don’t forget your passports because you need them to claim your tickets at the booth. There are other sections of the railway that are open closer to Quito, but so far the Nariz del Diablo is the most renown. You used to be able to ride the train on its roof. But unfortunately someone was recently decapitated when they leaned too far over the edge so riding the rooftop is no longer permitted.
If all goes well the line from Quito to Guayaquil should be finished in 2013.