Cuba to Develop Railroad System with Venezuelan Assistance
Havana, Sept 25 (acn) Cuba and Venezuela took another step in the area of bilateral cooperation with the approval of a Venezuelan credit to finance the recovery of the railroad infrastructure on the island.
According to Granma news daily, representatives from the Venezuelan Bank for Socio-Economic Development (BANDES) sealed the accord that will grant Cuba $100 million to improve railways, railroad signposting and communications.
The Cuban Transportation Minister, Jose Luis Sierra Blanco, noted that this agreement will allow Cuba to increase the speed of trains from 40 to 100 km/h. The capacity of transportation as well as the Cuban rail fleet will also increase as a result of this initiative, he added.
Sierra recalled that the Cuban railroad system suffered a significant deterioration during the harsh economic crisis of the 1990s and stressed that, with the recovery of the national economy, it is necessary to revert that status of deterioration.
He also explained that Cuban experts work in Venezuela to restore and to expand the railroad system in the South American nation.
Cuba Modernizes Railway System
Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Jan 29 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Minister of Transportation Jorge Luis Sierra announced on Tuesday the purchase from Iran of 550 freight cars and 200 top-comfort railway coaches for passengers.
The fleet, scheduled to arrive in Cuba gradually, will contribute to renew daily train service linking the capital with other provinces, Sierra said during a brief stay in Pinar del Rio.
With an investment of over $500 million, the railway modernization program also envisages acquisition of 100 Chinese-made locomotives, similar to the twelve already in operation in Cuba.
In Sierra's opinion, the program figures among priorities of his portfolio for 2008, when a railway personnel training plan will be implemented.
Don Townshend peers into Cuba's prosperous past on a trip through the country's agricultural heartland.
We mill impatiently outside the railway station in Trinidad, central Cuba, glancing at our watches and peering towards the train shed. The train is already 20 minutes late and nowhere in sight. "Some days," remarked a Cuban tour guide to his group, "the train it cannot come because it is very old."
Fortunately it isn't one of those days. Ten minutes later, preceded by cantankerous snorting and a pall of black smoke, veteran locomotive 1432 shuffles out of the train shed like an arthritic old stallion.
As it wheezes towards the rustic station, two middle-aged male passengers suddenly sprawl beside the railway tracks. For a moment it looks like suicide. But no, they just peer up into the locomotive's steamy entrails as it rolls past. They are, I discover, "puffer-nutters" - railway enthusiasts who scour the world to seek and ride old trains. "Hey," one yells excitedly in a British accent, "this is an early 1900s Baldwin from Philadelphia. Wow."
Up close it appeared the old boy needed some serious TLC. Steam hissed from yawning cracks, metal plates and pipes were rusted and nuts and bolts were absent. Worse, it sounded positively unwilling to haul its two old carriages into the once-prosperous Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills).
Nevertheless, about 15 minutes later the ageing loco groaned out of Trinidad with a cargo comprising two carriages, diverse tourists, a local guitarist and three train staff. Listed as a World Heritage site in 1983, Trinidad dates back to 1514 when it was settled by Spaniard Diego Velasquez de Cuellar. Notorious in the 1600s as a rowdy piracy and slave-trading hub, it later became a booming sugar centre. Fronted by the Caribbean and fine beaches, with the Sierra del Escambray mountains as a backdrop, Trinidad's colourful, narrow cobbled streets, centuries-old buildings, charming courtyards and museums ensure it is one of Cuba's most visited destinations.
As the town faded we steamed slowly into the lush valley hemmed in by distant, undulating hills. Fresh air gushed through the sides of the open carriage and the valley's vistas opened unimpeded. We could even observe the railway tracks through rust holes in the metal floor.
Suddenly, after toiling up an incline, our breathless loco refused to proceed without a long drink of water. Then, while it was watered, the talented guitarist serenaded us while the train driver and his offsiders wander through the carriages and meet the passengers - particularly unattached girls. One of the staff also tried to flog boxes of Cuban cigars to augment his monthly wage of $US15 ($16.50).
After half an hour we continued, steaming into the lush, widening valley towards the former sugar estate of Manaca Iznaga, one of the valley's key attractions. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, this picturesque valley - or rather three interconnecting valleys - rustled with canefields and ranked as one of the world's major producers of sugar.
However, the vast trading wealth that flowed into Trinidad, making estate owner Pedro Iznaga the richest man in Cuba, was founded on the sweat of thousands of African slaves. Astonishingly, when slavery ended in Cuba in the 1880s, the island supported an estimated 400,000 slaves.
For the Valle de los Ingenios and Manaca Iznaga in particular, a series of slave rebellions plus Cuba's devastating wars of independence in the late 1800s heralded the end of this bitter-sweet era.
Following widespread damage to the canefields, destruction of mills, the liberation of slaves and development of plantations elsewhere in Cuba, the valley fell into decline.
Today, from the train, you see vestiges of derelict mills silhouetted against the mountains. Puffing through the valley we crossed bridges, passed small farms, waved to Cuban cowboys and dropped locals off at tiny stations. Later, when we huffed into the small station at Manaca Iznaga, a large posse of female vendors selling hand-embroidered cotton goods eagerly awaited our 45-minute stopover.
We took the short walk to the canary-coloured plantation house from which slaver Iznaga ruled his empire. Now renovated as a tourism centre and bar-restaurant, the house also has a superb exhibition of paintings depicting the brutalities of plantation life in the days of slavery.
When the 1432 tooted us back on board we left some passengers behind and picked up others for the ride to Guachinango, a former hacienda-cum-station and our final destination.
The railway line, incidentally, continues on through the valley.
It wasn't far to little Guachinango where a few horsemen and three riderless, saddled steeds watched our arrival. Suddenly three Japanese leaped off the train, communicated with the cowboys in sign language and then hopped into the empty saddles. As they cantered off towards the undulating mountains someone on the train yelled "Sayonara". We never saw them again.
The restored hacienda of Guachinango is set in leafy grounds about 100-metres from the tiny station and dates back to the late 1700s. It was acquired by the state in the 1980s in a quest to boost tourism into the valley. Apart from serving excellent fried chicken to railway day-trippers it's also a base for horseriding tours.
After a long lunch I was about to get back on board when the driver sidled up and suggested I might like to ride in the locomotive. I figured this would surely entail a small donation to his super fund. "Un peso?" I said. He smiled. "Gracias senor."
But when I climbed the ladder into the 1432's fiery cabin I wasn't alone. The two "puffer-nutters" had preceded me. One was sitting on a seat with a huge grin on his face and his hand on a rusty lever. The other was gripping a soiled chain with obvious delight. They looked like two little kids who'd just been introduced to Thomas the Tank Engine.
"OK", the driver called to the buffs. "Ahora! (now)." One buff pulled the lever while the other jerked the cord. There was a loud toot and then, obediently, poor old 1432 puffed slowly out of Guachinango and headed back through the Valle de los Ingenios towards Trinidad.
I wanted to ask the train buffs their impressions of the trip but words were clearly redundant. They were in heaven.
Getting there: Air-conditioned first class buses depart daily for Trinidad from Habana City. The trip takes about five hours and costs $31. The train to Valle de los Ingenios departs 9.30am daily (unless ailing). It returns at about 3pm. The cost is $13. Buy tickets at the station.
Staying there: There are many good casa particulars (family-run B&Bs) around the bus station. Of excellent value is Casa Fernandez, Simon Bolivar 113, Phone: + 537 993 226. From $32 for a double with ensuite bathroom.
Excursions: Trinidad's Caribbean beach resort Playa Ancon is a 10-minute cab ride away. It has a fine beach, hotels, fishing, sailing and diving. Also horse riding and mountain walking tours. Contact Cubanacan tour agencies in Trinidad. For more information, see http://www.netssa.com or http://www.gocuba.ca.
Slow train across Cuba
The Hershey line was built in 1917 by the chocolate company to transport workers. Now anyone can jump aboard for a fascinating - if somewhat unreliable - insight into the country, reports Ed Ewing
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday February 21 2008. It was last updated at 11:28 on February 21 2008.
Slow train ... Casablanca at least has a timetable, but don't expect the train to arrive on time - if at all. Photograph: Ed Ewing
The Hershey Train seemed like the most interesting way to leave Havana. Built in 1917 by the Hershey Chocolate Company, it still rattles 60 miles east to the port town of Matanzas every day, stopping at tiny stations and villages along the way. The journey should take three hours, or maybe four, or maybe you won't get there at all.
Built by the Hershey chocolate company in 1917, the train is still going strong. Photograph: Ed Ewing The line was built when sugar was king, trade with the US was brisk and Cuba was on a high. Milton S Hershey, an enlightened industrialist of the time, built the line to shuttle workers to the company's sugarcane refinery about 40 miles east of Havana, and to send refined sugar back to the port. From there it was shipped to the company's chocolate factory in Pennsylvania.
The train leaves from Casablanca, a suburb of Havana across the harbour from the capital's Old Town. The easiest way to get there is the ferry across the bay. However, whether or not the ferry is in service is another thing. Local public transport might be cheap in Cuba, but it certainly isn't reliable, or in most cases even timetabled. (Tourist buses, on the other hand, are efficient, but no fun and certainly no way to meet Cubans.)
Finding the boat out of service, we joined the queue for a bus, and took a tour of the city as it rolled around town, finally making its way under the harbour tunnel. It took us past the statue of Christ, a smaller version of Rio's Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks the city and its harbour, and dropped us near the station.
We joined half a dozen people waiting for the 12.30 pm train. Our little group had swelled to about 20 by 1 pm, all of whom checked watches, tutted occasionally to each other, and shrugged their shoulders. Even the ticket office didn't know if or when it would arrive.
The only electric train in Cuba. Photograph: Ed Ewing Finally it announced itself with a blast of its whistle, forcing lazy dogs to move from the rails and scratching chickens to look up. We waited a little longer as an engineer wielded his spanner on the engine and were finally allowed to buy a ticket – 1.5 pesos for locals, 1.5 convertible pesos for us, about 25 times as much. (Cuba operates a confusing dual-currency economy of hard and local currencies. One convertible peso is roughly the same as one US dollar).
The train is electric, a marvel of its time and the only one of its type in Cuba. It is made up of three dusty green carriages, built in Spain in 1945, with a driver´s cabin at each end, and is more like an old city tram than a train.
It is a farm train really, and as we rattled away from Havana into the countryside we passed through fields worked by solitary farmers and occasional Brahman cows, each one with an ever-present white egret standing elegantly beside it. Not even half full, we trundled from stop to stop – each one no bigger than a bus stop - letting on groups of women on their way to the next village, or a few men making their way from field to field. The biggest event was a man calling for an unscheduled stop, jumping from the carriage and running to collect two-dozen tomatoes from a straw-hatted farmer in a field. He leapt back on, handed some to the driver, and we continued, hooting thanks.
The idea was to take the Hershey Train to Matanzas and then a second train to Santa Clara, a university town famous as Che Guevara's final resting place and, 50 years ago this December, scene of one of his most epic battles. In the battle, Guevara and a band of revolutionaries derailed a train carrying 350 government troops. The victory set the scene for the overthrow of the dictator General Batista and the triumph of the Cuban revolution. Guevara, of course, is long gone, killed in Bolivia in 1967, while Castro has resigned.
If the train doesn't show, it's time to thumb a lift. Photograph: Ed Ewing But it didn't work like that. The train wouldn´t go to Matanzas today we were told. Instead, we stopped after an hour and a half at the village of Hershey, where the sugar refinery still looms large on a hill nearby. A long afternoon of public transport - truck-travel, hitchhiking and walking - got us all of 15 km further on to Playa Jibacoa, a local beach resort. A night in an empty holiday camp was the only accommodation open to foreigners, so we took it. We set off again in the morning in the rain, first walking then flagging down an air-conditioned tourist bus to Matanzas – in the end only a 45-minute journey.
At Matanzas, a collapsing colonial town, we tried to get back on track. A hot walk to the station, hidden two kilometres from the bus station, found us in the world of "real" railways. Cuba was the sixth country in the world to get a railway – even before Spain – and as a result has an extensive, although slowly declining, network. Matanzas to Santa Clara, 276 km from Havana, is on the main 861 km cross-country route from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. It should be relatively easy to jump on board a proper locomotive.
¨Four o' clock¨ we were told at midday. We couldn't buy a ticket. We went for peso pizza, the staple food of lunchtime Cuba. Sold from people's windows and doorways, it is one of the few examples of private enterprise you see in the country. Then we took in the sights – a square, church and port.
Back at the train station, we waited. Every half an hour we asked about tickets, but nobody knew when or if a train would arrive. Again, a waiting room full of, this time, 100 or so people, sat unknowing, at the mercy of the antiquated transport system.
At 7 pm we - by now four Europeans were trying to take the train - were escorted across the rails to the end of the platform, away from the Cuban passengers. We never found out why.
Darkness falls and still the 4 pm Matanzas train hasn't arrived. Photograph: Ed Ewing It was dark when the train finally arrived at 8 pm. We clambered into an unlit carriage by the light of someone's torch, struggling to climb over piles of boxes and luggage packed in the aisles and seats. In the half-light, it seemed more cargo train than passenger train.
However, when the lights finally came on, it was in fact revealed to be a pleasant enough old European-style carriage, with comfortable leather double seats and lots of leg room. We settled in. The air rushed past the open windows like it should, Cuba swept by in the darkness, Santa Clara was a steady four hours away and we'd be there by midnight.
Transport Minister Jorge Luis Serra has announced that 100 locomotives are to be purchased from China under a US$500m rolling stock investment programme. Deliveries scheduled for 2009-10 will also include 200 passenger cars and 550 wagons from Iran.
Cuban diesels shipped from China
20 Jun 2008
CUBA: The first 11 of 40 type DF7G-C diesel-electric locomotives ordered from China Northern's February 7th Locomotive Works in Beijing were shipped from the Chinese port of Tianjin on June 12.
The rest are due to be despatched from China during August, along with five DF7K-C Bo-Bo shunting locomotives.
CNR said a previous batch of 12 type DF7G-C locomotives are 'running well' in the hot and humid conditions in Cuba, where they had been 'warmly welcomed by Cuban people.'
Earlier this year Cuban Transport Minister Jorge Luis Serra announced plans to buy 100 locomotives from China under a US$500m rolling stock investment programme. They will be delivered in 2009-10, along with 200 passenger vehicles. 550 wagons are also to be supplied from Iran.
The first 11 of 40 type DF7G-C diesel-electric locomotives ordered from China Northern's February 7th Locomotive Works were shipped from Tianjin on June 12. The rest are due to be shipped next month, along with five DF7K-C Bo-Bo shunting locomotives. In 2005 CNR delivered 12 DF7G-C locos, which are 'running well' under hot and humid conditions on the line from Habana to Santiago.
Guantánamo: Railroad Workers vs. US Blockade
By Oreste Rios
Guantanamo, Jul 28 (Solvision) The railroad repair workshop in Guantanamo, Vanguardia Proletaria, the easternmost province of the island, has a talented staff of workers who are always enthusiastic at work, seeking solutions for the several difficulties and restrictions they have to endure at work due to the hardships caused by the US blockade on the nation.
Many small trains for the transportation of local passengers in the territory are being recovered at this repair railroad workshop after long years of exploitation. Many of the spare parts are repaired here with the talent and effort of the railroad workers; Cuba is not able to buy these spare parts in the international market due to the US economic blockade on the island for the past 50 years.
Oscar Macías, one of the most relevant repair workers of Vanguardia Proletaria said that in up to the present the staff of workers have repaired six small trains for the local transportation of passengers in some of the localities of the eastern province, the staff of workers is among the best of the country and are taken as reference in the national movement of innovators of the country.
The total repair of a German passenger train with more of 30 years in use is one of the achievements that make these workers very proud of these abnegate workers.
Macías also noted that to buy a new train for passengers in the international market is about $ USD 200,000, a very high figure impossible to afford, nevertheless, the repairment in Guantnamao of the same means of transportation is about $ 50,000 Cuban pesos, 10,000 of them in Cuban convertible pesos.
The railroad repair workers of Vanguardia Proletaria are a true example of the talent and effort of Cubans with their own creative initiatives, that only hard work finds the way forward, in spite of the US economic blockade on the Caribbean nation for the last 50 years.
Treasures on rails
(Updated April 15, 2009, 9:30 am)
Like the mythical Phoenix bird, that rose in youthful freshness from its own ashes, the steam locomotives have returned to life
By Héctor E. Paz Alomar
The exhausting steam literally filled the platform of the city of Ciego de Ávila railway terminal. With one voice, bell and whistle announced the accomplishment of an old yearning not only of the sugar railwaymen and of the zealous patrimony keepers, but of the people as well.
Dressed up in festive colours, steam locomotive No. 1564 is admired by Park visitors
The redemption of a group of old “iron horses” is a genuine result of the love for the pennant, of the will, the effort and the desires to keep alive the memory on which the historical development of this fertile region is based and that, for many years, had the Holy Sugar Cane as its basic economic item.
For the well being of all, the recovery of several steam locomotives has come true. They can be admired in all their magnificence in the City Park area, where they delight minors and adults.
A PRAISE TO “MADNESS”
He is restless as a squirrel. You can find him at the boulevard caring for the smallest detail, visiting monuments however distant, or taking different tasks that have to do with the safeguard of patrimonial values.
Tall, thin, with little hair in his head and a lot in his beard, always attentive, gentile and smiling, historian Adrián Lebroc García, director of the Office of Monuments, Historical Centres and Sites, ascribed to the Provincial Patrimony Centre, is one of the two “lunatics” that take part in this remarkable rescue.
The other one is Antonio Chacon Hernandez, technician in railway operations and director of the Venezuela Municipality Enterprise, from the MINAZ Technical Services Enterprise. With many pounds above his standard weight, the blue of the sky tints his eyes; his speech is gentle. He amasses four decades of experience in the sugar railway world. “It is the only thing I have done in my life”, he strongly asserts.
Both make up an exceptional “couple”: they know where to find an object that supplements their interests and if not, they are able to dig in heaven and earth till they find the proper solution to any problem. They look at me, smile and joyfully look at each other. It is as if they needed no words to say: “But the locomotives are here”
DIALOGUE ON WHEELS
Chacon and Adrian, two men in love: the former with the steam locomotive; the latter with patrimonial values
Right at work and before the wind, I invite them to dialogue. Adrián takes the initiative: “The most important thing is the recovery of the industrial patrimony. Second, that these machines can be exhibited, so that the younger generations can appreciate, in all their magnitude, these real treasures.
We cannot forget that, according to the elderly, this region was founded upon grains of sugar and railways.
"They are pieces that would have been lost, like many of those that were here and nationwide, which ended in the foundry ovens, except for honourable exceptions. If these actions had not been taken, the locomotives, now regarded as cultural assets of patrimonial value, would have vanished and only yearning would have remained.
Chacón adds that when he knew about the idea he was left without words. He could not believe his ears: " To recover steam locomotives? But fortunately it was true. Then we began to locate the locomotives that could be saved in every enterprise: we also knocked at the door of many old railwaymen seeking for support and their response could not have been better or faster.
"This way, once part of the inventory had been cleared, we began to work in different places, determined to recover to their best three locomotives for exhibition (to restore their image) and two others to be fixed and endowed with technical readiness.
"Of the initial trio, two are from 1916, Vulcan and American trade marks, belonging to the Ecuador Sugar Mill and to the old Venezuela Sugar Mill, respectively; and the other one, a 1912 American, coming from the Ciro Redondo Sugar Mill. They look like brand new.
"But the 1742 (number given to identify the locomotive), made in 1920 is already running: It is a Baldwin Locomotive used to carry sugar cane for the Venezuela Sugar Mill, which did not require a full repairing - the one that ran from Ciego deAvila City railway station to the restored kilometre of the Trail from Jucaro to Moron (array of forts along the current railway from Jucaro to Moron), with Chacón operating it -, and we are now enrolled in the total repairing of locomotive 1829, from Ciro Redondo Sugar Mill.
Adrian and Chacon acknowledge the work carried out by all the working teams that participated in the restoration of these machines, including the personnel in charge of repairing railways and bridges from the municipality of Moron, and the support from the Party leaders, the Government of the province, the MINAZ Enterprise Group for Agriculture and Industry and other organizations and institutions.
“ There are many ideas –Adrian says- and one of them is already a fact: the excursion to the restored kilometre of the Jucaro-Moron Trail; we are seriously considering the idea of turning the Steam Locomotive Park into a true museum and in the setting up of an association of locomotive fans. Besides, the Park is already playing an important role in the people’s recreation”.
“What has been done is great. We have taken the lead in the country regarding the recovery of the industrial heritage. This experience should be expanded to other provinces, as an example of goodwill and political and institutional support.
Elegant and young looking, Baldwin Locomotive No. 1742, made in 1920, which carried sugar cane for the old Venezuela Sugar Mill, delighted the XIX History National Congress participants
In these men’s agenda, time is gold. They look at the vast meadow, now crossed by railroads; fix their eyes in the sign that identifies the Locomotive Park, as people have begun to call it. They joyfully smile, however long is still the way to go. And just as if they had agreed to give a pleasant See you later!, said in one voice: Long live the steam!
Iran sells Cuba $60M worth of freight cars
Iran's Wagon Pars Co. has sold 550 railroad cars to the Cuba Railroad Co. "for carrying containers, fuel and cement," according to a brief announcement Monday in The Tehran Times. The company is based in Arak, southwest of Tehran.
"The wagons were designed and built domestically at the cost of $60 million," Gholam-Reza Razzasi, Wagon Pars' managing director, was quoted as saying. He did not say how much Cuba was paying for the cars or the payment terms; neither did the newspaper Juventud Rebelde, which reported the news in Cuba.
Wagon Pars annually produces 1,500 freight train cars, 40 locomotives and 250 passenger cars, according to The Times.
---Renato Pérez Pizarro.
Iranian firm Wagon Pars has supplied 100 covered vans to Cuba under a 60bn rial contract, completing an order for 550 wagons.
Official Daily: 90% of Cuba’s Railways Deteriorated
HAVANA – Some 90 percent of Cuba’s 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) of railways are deteriorated and that is the cause of frequent train accidents and delays, a situation that will require a large investment to address, the official daily Granma reported.
Between January 2008 and September 2009, there have been 19 serious accidents and 320 minor ones due to the “critical” state of many points along the country’s railways and the poor condition of 286 of the system’s 1,839 bridges, the Cuban Communist Party’s official newspaper said.
Granma denounced “lack of discipline” and “negligence” among the train crews and station operators, as well as the lack of supervision and control by some managers who are not demanding compliance with existing regulations.
The main cause for the increase in accidents is, without doubt, the “accumulated deterioration” of the railways over recent decades, the head of the rail sector for the Transportation Ministry, Ricardo Aguiar, told Granma.
A machinist and an operator quoted by the daily confirmed that there is “big” deterioration of the railways and added that there are also deficiencies in the signal system.
Granma noted that the poor condition of the railway system “hurts the country’s economy” and adds considerably to the consumption of fuel.
Without providing figures, the daily said that there is an investment process “under way” with loans from Venezuela and China that will become available in 2010.
In 2006, the Cuban government announced contracts values at more than $2 billion, with purchases being made mainly from China, to improve automotive and railway transport on the communist island.
Cuba is suffering the effects of a serious recession that has reduced its foreign trade by 36 percent since last September, causing an acute lack of liquidity, and authorities have reduced from 6 percent to 1.7 percent their growth objective for this year.
Cuba to repair national network?
Thursday, May 13, 2010
THE CUBAN government has announced plans to repair its entire national railway network as well as acquire new equipment. Vice-president Mr Antonio Enrique Lusson, an 80-year-old veteran of the 1959 Cuban revolution, outlined the government's strategy during a re-inauguration ceremony of a railway bridge in the province of Guantanamo.
The plans include accelerating the rehabilitation of the island's central railroad line from five to three years as well as re-establishing four technological centres in 2011 to train new railway workers. Lusson said that the country is determined to repair its railway, but that it will take "an enormous effort."
According to official figures, the Cuban government spent $US 595 million on rail infrastructure and equipment in 2009 including the procurement of 28 locomotives from Russia; it also purchased 100 locomotives from China in 2008.
Criticism of the network, however, remains extensive with the state media describing it as "destitute" due to its irregular services, over use of equipment, shortage of vehicles, and a lack of trained workers.
The ? on the title is really incorrect, a ! must be placed.
UFC (Union of Cuban Railways) has already rehabilitated some lines, like as Habana - Pinar del Rio, Santa Clara - Morón - Nuevitas (via the North Coast), Santa Clara - Cienfuegos is about to be completed, several sections of the Habana - Santiago de Cuba main line are already completed, the whole over 6000 km network will be completed until about 2013 or 2014. For this the concrete sleeper plant was reopenend and is again producing. New rails have been imported. Several track laying and maintenance machines have been acquired.
The 102 Chinese locomotives have already been delivered, the new Russian locomotives will follow this year. A great quantity of new Iranian and Chinese built freight wagons have been put into service since 2008.
In fact the railway is suffering from a heavy shortage of skilled rolling-stock maintenance staff, for example only 10% of the railcars can be refurbished per year, just because no specialized staff is there. The situation with passenger coaches is similar, reducing their availability too.
Despite all this there is now some regularity on the passenger services. Long-distance trains do run every three days, some even every two days, several local services are now back in operation. There are no more services cancelled over several weeks or even months.
Eurosib-Logistics has delivered 50 Russian-built ballast wagons.
Railway Transport Began a Stable Recovery in Cuba’s Largest Province
By Pablo Cabero Viamontes / Radio Cadena Agramonte
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The new urban train that runs in the city of Camaguey is definitively the most visible part of the beginning of a recovery of the railway transport underway in the Cuban province of Camagüey.
The recovery, which started in 2010, is also noticeable in millions of pesos invested in this sector as part of repairs of every railway tracks and the modernization of Palo Seco quarry, in the municipality of Guaimaro, in the hope to guarantee the gravel to be used in the repairing of these tracks.
Another important move is the renovation of the smelting, a center specialized in manufacturing implements for rail equipment.
Likewise, the workshops are getting ready so that, when the island nation can purchase new locomotives and freight cars, the conditions are created to provide them maintenance and repair.
As part of the important recovery in the railway transport, the province of Camaguey has been working in a comprehensive training programme for young people interested in joining the sector.
Railway in Camaguey dramatically deteriorated in the 1990s, when the Socialist system in Europe collapsed, Cuba lost her main trade partners and the United States strengthened the economic blockade on the island country.
Now, the first recovery symptoms are visible with the rise of transfer of passengers and good through this mode of transport.
Cuba is concentrating efforts in restoring the national railroad system, and aims for recuperating the sector with effectiveness. The statement was made by Cesar Ignacio Arocha, Cuban Transport Minister, when he submitted a report before the plenary of the National Assembly.
The statement was made by Cesar Ignacio Arocha, Cuban Transport Minister, when he submitted a report before the plenary of the National Assembly on the work of Cuban transport during the first six months of 2011.
Arocha told the legislators that the Cuban railroad system deteriorated in the past years, due to deficient management, the poor state of the railroad tracks, engines and wagons, and neglect in workshops.
The recovery process was concentrated in 2010 on minor and medium repairs on the lines to guarantee safety.
The work projection for the 2011-2015 period includes the repair of the central line and other main branch lines, the technological upgrade of the workshops, wagon repairs, purchase of wagons, repair of train stations and a new organizing structure. The plan for repairs, said Arocha, is being fulfilled at 97.1 percent by means of the reopening of lines and branch lines, bridges, and guaranteeing sugar harvest transportation.
Recuperating the railroad system is the ministry's main working task in the next years, but it will require strict discipline, the enforcement of high standards and a great deal of managerial control, he concluded.
HAVANA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Cuban leader Raul Castro Sunday supervised the ongoing expansion program of the Mariel port, a main port of Cuba with Brazil's investment, local media reported.
"The expansion work has an extraordinary economic importance," said Castro after inspecting the port, some 50 km west of Havana.
Castro said the investment on Mariel, besides upgrading the operation levels of the port, will provide Cuba with an important facility for a long time in the special development zone which covers more than 400 square km.
The Brazilian investment, about 500 million U.S. dollars, is from an international association formed by companies from Brazil and Cuba, to guarantee a project which includes the building of a 700-meter-long dock for deepwater ships with some 15 meters draft, as well as a large system of highways and modern railways that lead to the port.
The expansion work of Mariel port started in February 2010 as the current port of Havana is not deep enough to allow the entry of large vessels, and will be finished in 2014.
COLLISION IN CUBA: 33 HURT
on November 8, 2011 in Mishaps South America
Thirty three people were injured, three seriously, when a train carrying 110 passengers collided with a freight train near the Ciudad Universitaria Jose Antonio Echeverria in Havana, Cuba. The driver and three crew members of the freight train, bound for the province of Pinar del RÃ¬o, were arrested shortly after the accident.
A visit on December 18 2011 found 35 steam locomotives are in Havana on four different sites.
A workshop/graveyard beside the Capitol has - at least parts of - 27 locomotives.The supervisor is extremely helpful and can provide a full schedule and location of each engine. For non Spanish speakers he speaks moderate French - I fear I may have set a fee rate for helpful information!
Six ex sugar mills locomotives are now stuffed and mounted opposite the main station.
The museum at the old Christina station is well worth a visit - it includes historic diesels and one electric as well as six steam - including one restored Manning Wardle.
Three locomotives are now kept on the waterfront by the giant market - at least one is allegedly in working order but did not appear to have been used for some time.
HAVANA — A railroad upgrade project in Cuba has trains traveling faster and that means more danger for careless motorists and pedestrians, authorities said Monday, reporting 33 collisions involving cars and 47 pedestrians hit last year.
An article in labor union newspaper Trabajadores did not say how many of the vehicular crashes were fatal, but 30 of the people hit by trains died. That alone was about 50 percent more than the 19 deaths from all train-related accidents reported the previous year.
The trend appears to be worsening, with 27 pedestrian accidents in just the first three months of 2012, including 10 fatalities.
This Caribbean island’s state-run media are mercifully free of grisly stories about crashes and violent crime that are common in newspapers elsewhere, and accidents generally go unreported until officials give a yearly tally.
But Trabajadores carried accounts of impatient and inattentive drivers being mowed down, including a motorcyclist who tried to race across the tracks and an animal cart that failed to stop for a passenger train.
Many crossings here lack descending barriers, and not all drivers come to a full stop and look both ways as they are supposed to.
Ronald Bofil, director of rail safety and inspection for the Ministry of Transportation, said a national campaign to overhaul Cuban railroads means the trains themselves are operating more safely, but efforts to improve signaling have not resulted in motorists reforming their own bad habits.
“On the tracks today, the (safety) measures must be extreme. With the current revitalization of the railways, the trains are gradually reaching greater velocities,” Bofil told Trabajadores. “Nevertheless, many drivers and pedestrians ignore the danger inherent in crossing train tracks even when they see the locomotive approaching.”
Bofil also said collisions with free-ranging cattle is a significant problem that joint efforts with the Agriculture Ministry has yet to solve.
He did not give numbers on incidents involving livestock.
CUBAN Union Railways (UFC) has placed an order for 300 two-car dmus with Russian manufacturer Murom, the first of which has already been shipped to the island.
The 100km/h four wheel motor cars are classified type SV-10 and are equipped with a 176kW Yamz-238M5 diesel engine with mechanical transmission, while the trailer vehicles are designated VS-5. The powered vehicle weighs 22 tonnes while the weight of the unpowered car is 15 tonnes. A 2+3 seating layout provides 45 seats in the motor car and 48 in the trailer.
The 25.2m-long trains are based on track maintenance vehicles produced by Murom in large numbers for customers in the CIS region. The first 17 sets will be manufactured at Murom while the remaining 283 trains will be assembled in Cuba.
Cuban officials have stated that the first sets will be used in Artemisa province, where a new line to the port of Mariel is under construction.
While the design appears to be very basic, the trains should be much better suited to Cuban operating conditions than more advanced equipment. Apart from the ill-fated Class Dm11 single-car units built for VR Group, Finland by GEC Alsthom in Spain, which were rejected by the Finns and later sold to Cuba, Class SV-10 will be the first new dmus delivered to Cuba in decades. Class Dm11 never worked properly in Cuba due to their sophisticated engineering. Only a few are serviceable at present and some have not worked at all since arriving on the island.
HAVANA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Cuba's President Raul Castro has signed a decree on the first Special Development Zone (SDZ) in the Mariel port, 50 km west of Havana, the official daily Granma reported on Friday.
The SDZ, at a cost of over 900 million U.S. dollars, is an ambitious infrastructure project proposed by Castro since he took office seven years ago.
The zone, covering an area of about 465 square kilometers, includes several municipalities of the Artemisa province.
Besides its deep waters, the Mariel harbor was chosen because of its existing roads and railways infrastructure, and its proximity to Havana city and the Jose Marti International Airport.
Port terminals, logistical facilities, industrial parks, water and electricity supply networks, waste treatment plants, shopping centers, exhibition halls, recreation areas and accommodation facilities will be built in the area.
According to the news report, both domestic and foreign capital are welcome for the project.
According to the Ministry of Finance and Prices, the companies in the area will be under a special tax regime, including the exemption of some duties.
Castro said the SDZ is the most complex project undertaken in Cuba, with a direct impact on the increase of exports, the development of high-tech projects and job creation.
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