September 22 - SDV Industrial Projects and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) have worked together to transport 14 Alstom trams from France to Ecuador, for use in the Cuenca UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The trams, each of which measure nearly 33 m long, are manufactured at Alstom's factory in La Rochelle, France in two sections, measuring 18.6 m and 14.7 m long respectively, in order to facilitate transport.

The first tram shipment took place in May, with the units transported first from La Rochelle to Zeebrugge by road, before being shipped to Ecuador's Port of Guayaquil onboard a WWL ro-ro vessel.

From Guayaquil, the trams are transported overland across the El Cajas National Park, which WWL explained has at an altitude of 4,000 m and contains treacherous and foggy roads. Subsequent tram shipments are being carried out up until December 2015.

Freight forwarder SDV is responsible for securing logistics suppliers for the road transport from the factory in La Rochelle to Zeebrugge and the ocean transport to Ecuador.

"Shipping trams is far from straightforward," said Elisabeth Nicolas from the project sales department at SDV Projets Industriels Paris. "The trams cannot be lifted. Instead, they have to be kept horizontal at all times. This means that all transfers have to be done by rail, using specialised equipment for both road transport and sea freight."

Patrick Mead from WWL France added: "We have designed roll trailers equipped with rails and we also created a special tool - like a bridge - to link the rails on the truck with the rails on the roll trailer, thereby ensuring that the trams are handled safely at all times."

This is not Alstom's first time working with WWL. The two companies have partnered on several occasions in the past, including for rail and metro shipments to Australia and Peru. 

The Citadis cable-free model tramways will be installed in the historic centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca. Cuenca's entire tramway system, which spans 10 km and 27 stations, will have the capacity to carry up to 120,000 people a day.

"The city is located in the Cordillera of the Andes, 2,500 m above sea level, making this the highest tramway in the world," added Alice Brasse, out-of-gauge transport lead buyer and coordinator for Alstom Transport.


Photo credit: Arnaud Siquet.