Reduction of Relations.
The national long-distance trains from Habana to Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo and Guantánamo are operating new ever fourth daily and no longer every third day.
(Source: Volta o Trem 20-7)
Cowork with Russia
Russia and Cuba signed a cooperation agreement on 26 September 2016 which will have an impact on railway matters. Cuban railway employees are already in Russia to be inducted in the common projects. As a first step, 75 diesel locomotives of the TGM class will be overhauled in Cuba, whereby key parts will be replaced, leading to almost new locomotives. The existing locomotives of the TEM class will be similarly refurbished at Camagüey, and a number of locomotives of that same class will be supplied by Russia. Second-hand diesel railcars and passenger carriages will also be supplied by Russia after their conversion to standard gauge. Production of the cuban-made Taino passenger carriages will resume at Caibarien, under Russian supervision.
It is planned to upgrade the suburban lines of La Habana to a proper suburban system; several railway companies offered their services and wish to participate in that endeavour. Apart of the Russian RZD, the French SNCF, Spanish Renfe and the British West Coast Railway have been mentioned as interested parties.
The supply of brand-new Chinese passenger carriages for long-distance trains is a matter of fact; production of that fleet seems to have started in China.
(Source: Sputnik (Russia))
Guantánamo and Bayamo got each some new CB-10 railcars and they could improve regional passenger services over some of their respective lines.
(Source: Volta o Trem 20-3)
After many decades, Guantánamo province received new railcars at the beginning of March. These are four railcars of the CB-10 class two of them with a matching carriage each, all built under russian licence at Cárdenas. So far, identical vehicles have only been brought to the surrounding areas of La Habana. The new railcars came in operation on 15 March 2016, operating on the routes to Caimanera and Cuneira with a carriage while running solo to Boquerón. In addition, local traffic within the city of Guantánamo has resumed after it was halted during a year due to lack of vehicles. There is also a run on noon time to El Salvador. The lines to Caimanera, Cuneira and Boquerón see at least two pairs of trains daily each.
The last serviceable Taino Ligero railcars are operating on the routes to Honduras, Manuel Tames and Maquey as they are better suited to run on the weak infrastructure of these branch lines. All these trains, along with the every-two-days train Guantánamo – Holguín and the every-three-days national long-distance train Guantánamo – La Habana, make Guantánamo province being one of the more densely served provinces of Cuba in terms of rail traffic.
In mid-March, three 2-piece railcars of the CB-10 class were delivered to Granma province, while a fourth single rail car to follow in the coming weeks. Two of the 2-piece units will cover the services Bayamo – Guamo – Rio Cauto (once daily) and run several times per day between Bayamo and Manzanillo. At this time it is still unclear whether the third unit will take over on the Bayamo – Bartolomé Maso route or whether the existing Taino Ligero railcar will keep operating there. The fourth railcar which is still due to arrive will cover the suburban services in the Mabay – Bayamo – Jiguani corridor. An open question is whether the loco-hauled local trains between Bayamo and Manzanillo will keep running after the introduction of the railcars; the railway company hasn't pronounced itself about the matter.
(Source: La Demajagua)
Tramway Santiago de Cuba
The city of Santiago de Cuba will get its tramway back for the 500th anniversary. The original system was closed in 1952, however, even after 63 years most of the track is still in situ and many poles of the overhead lines still stand. Tracks are currently being cleared and the overhead line restored on the 2 km-long section from La Alameda to the Avenida Juan Gualberto Gómez-Flor Crombet (near Universidad Oriente). The line will be rehabilitated in 3 stages. As no old tramcars exist anymore, the state railway UFC has transferred a Brill car (Nr 3008) in renovated condition from the electric Hershey railway (División Camilo Cienfuegos) to Santiago. Two trailers are to follow; they are currently under repair at the Matanzas workshops. The new tramway line will be a tourist attraction to carry visitors through restored parts of the historic city centre.
(Source: Ciencia de Cuba, Radio Mambi)
Due to big problems on the railway’s catering sector, this has now been transferred from Uniíon de Ferrocarriles de Cuba UFC to Cuba Catering SA, which is also responsible for airline catering. All buffet-coaches and station restaurants and bars will now be transferred to the new operator and modernized by Cuba Catering.
(Source: Volta o Trem 19-8)
Chinese-built locomotives non-useable
The number of non-useable Chinese-built locomotives is steadly increasing and has reached such a level that at Cienfuegos only one locomotive is serviceable for shunting and the daily local train to Santo Domingo. All other services from Cienfuegos have been withdrawn until further notice.
(Source: Volta o Trem 19-7)
Russian wagons for UFC
RM-Rail of Russia is producing 363 freight wagons for Cuban Railways UFC.
(Source: Volta o Trem 19-7)
Of the CB-10 railcars built at Cardenas the first two have been delivered to Santa Clara for local services to Vega Alta and Sagua.
(Source: Volta o Trem 19-7)
Camarones – Cumanayagua
The transport ministry announced the reconstruction of the dismantled branch line from Camarones to Cumanayagua, including its lengthening to La Campana where the army is building a base.
(Source: Volta o Trem 19-4)
Opening Habana - Puerto de Mariel
On 01 July 2014, the new railway line linking Habana with Puerto de Mariel was opened. In fact, the new line uses the existing track from Habana to Almendares. From that point, the line was mostly built on an old railway alignment and only between Almendares and Punta Brava the line was built on a new trackbed along the motorway. An entirely new line is the section from Guanajay to Mariel, crossing a mountain range to reach the port located at a natural bay. The line is mostly double-track (not completely as yet), for example from Bauta until east of Caimito and again after the passage of Caimito until Guanajay. Trackwork is still incomplete within the Port of Mariel and currently, only a container terminal with 4 sidings is in operation. Apart of the Guanajay station, intermediate stations are still under construction with working progressing at fast pace. Signalling and interlockings are also under construction. Some branch lines will also be built. Top of the list is a connection from Guanajay to Artemisa for the traffic Mariel – Pinar del Rio, but at the moment it is still unclear whether the line via Lavandero or Puerta de Guira will be reconstructed. Then, at a future stage the existing line to San Antonio de los Banos should again continue via Ceiba del Agua to the Guanajay – Artemisa line in order to create a direct route for freight from the new Mariel port to the south line in the Cienfuegos direction. Both the railway line and the port were mainly built by the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, the rails were sourced from China while the concrete sleepers were fabricated in Cuba itself.
Just a few days after the opening, a limited passenger service from Habana to Puerto de Mariel was introduced for the harbour workers. These services were covered by the new SV-10 railcars from Muromteplovoz, assembled at Cardenas. One month later, the state railway UFC also introduced a modest passenger service by railcars between Habana and Guanajay.
(Source: Granma and private sources)
Steam Locomotive No 1 “La Mabisita” refurbished
The former sugar cane railway at Rafael Freyre near the tourist town of Guardalavaca has totally refurbished their steam locomotive No 1 “La Mabisita”, built by Baldwin in 1882, and brought back in service. It is the oldest operational steam locomotive of Cuba and it is planned to offer special trains to the tourists staying at Guardalavaca.
The narrow gauge network around Rafael Freyre is currently used by passenger trains only to connect the numerous small villages of the region. To that purpose, the railcar No 50, built in 1938, has been completely refurbished and brought back to service in September 2014. At this time, railcar No 12 is in process of thoroughly being repaired. The Rafael Freyre network has a total of three railcars in their park which serve the lines to Progreso, Altuna and La Sierra from Santa Lucia several times per week.
Ferrocarriles de CUBA UFC
Management of the state railway Unión de los Ferrocarriles de Cuba (UFC) has been taken over by the army, because the civil administration was more and more involved in corruption, insufficient production and bad planning.
(Source: Source not to be disclosed)
New Passenger Carrieages
It has been announced that the fleet of 240 new passenger carriages for national long-distance trains will be acquired from China in batches of about 50 units per year. Media reports are contradicting each other as sometimes figures of 50 units are mentioned and sometimes 60. Again, some sources speak of 2014 as earliest delivery date and others say it would be in the first six months of 2015.
All locomotive-hauled trains in the Santa Clara region had to be withdrawn at the start of June 2014. The only reason for this was that no lubricants were allocated to the province!
Habana - San Antonio de los Baños
More and more of the new russian railcars are in daily service. Press reports mention a number of currently 7 round-trips between Habana and San Antonio de los Baños, although it is being criticised that the single units which offer just 45 seats can't cope with demand during busy traffic periods. For unknown reasons, the state railway company UFC doesn't allow any standees to be carried in the new railcars (there is no such rule in older vehicles!). Before the introduction of railcars on the line to San Antonio de los Baños there were only 4 round-trips per day, but those were worked with locomotives and carriages and had a capacity of about 200 passengers per journey.
Habana – Holguin
After a number of protests in the Holguín province which called for the re-introduction of the passenger train Habana – Holguín, withdrawn some 10 years ago, the ministry of transport has announced on all available channels that yet in 2014 the first long-distance passenger carriages will be imported and that, among others, this service will be re-instated. Habana is still keeping a low profile about the origin of the new carriages. The only information that has leaked through is that a number of 240 coaches will be supplied, 40 more than originally planned. People from Holguín have, however, made clear that they will remain vigilant until the new service operates.
Construction of the new railcars started at Cárdenas workshops in February 2014, and russian technicians are currently in Cuba to train local staff. The workshops at Cárdenas were extended and upgraded for that purpose to the tune of 3,8 Mio Pesos.
(Source: TV Yumuri)
Those diesel railcars of the Dm11 class which are still extant (originally built by Alsthom for Finland) are being converted at Caibarién into coaching stock. They are fitted with bogies, sourced from ex-DB and ex-DR (FRG and GDR) coaches, and traditional shackle couplings for connection to locomotives. The windows are being converted as well so that the coaches can be used without working air-condition. There will also be new seating fitted, allowing for a higher capacity per vehicle.
On 27th January 2014, the first part of the new port at Mariel, west of Habana, became operational. This includes the container terminal, and a part of the container traffic has already been diverted to Mariel from Habana port.
At that occasion, a number of details regarding the new railway line, due to open during 2014, became known. The double-track line starts at the Enlace Gas (close to Habana Central Station), uses the existing line to Almendares and continues from there to Guanajay on the closed line which has been rebuilt for that purpose. From Guanajay to Mariel, a newly built line will bring trains to the port. Freight trains will consist of 30 wagons each, and passenger services will be worked by 3-piece railcars (Muromteplovoz, assembled in Cuba). In a second stage, the line will be fitted with a GSM-R communication system and modern signalling. The brazilian contractor Odebrecht has a key role in the construction of both the port and the railway line, reason enough for the brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to visit the construction sites in January 2014.
(Source: Granma and other cuban media)
Within the context of a railway revival in Cuba, delivery and commissioning of russian diesel railcars has started. Some 50 units will be built and delivered from the manufacturer Muromteplovoz in Russia while the remaining units will be shipped as kits; they will be assembled at Cardenas. Construction work for the new workshops at Cardenas is also under way so that the facility can assemble the units. The first three-piece unit of the class went into traffic on 9th December on the line La Habana – San José de Lajas and it is expected that they will shortly run between La Habana, Rincón and San Antonio de los Baños. Railway experts believe that with the partial opening of the new line La Habana – Guanajay – Mariel Puerto those railcars will operate there from the end of January/early February 2014.
After a considerable period of uncertainty regarding the question whether long-distance passenger traffic will be promoted again, some news about government plans have leaked out. It is envisaged to purchase a fleet of 240 long-distance carriages, consisting of coaches and dining cars. If sleeping cars or couchette cars will also be part of the order is still unclear. The new fleet will definitely feature air-conditioning. The name of the manufacturer has not been revealed yet, but it is assumed that chinese firms who already delivered locomotives to Cuba in the recent past will provide them. Earlier reports spoke of only 200 carriages.
Beginning of Operation of DMUs
Of the new Muromteplovoz-built railcars two single and two triple DMU’s have been put on UFC tracks early December 2013. From 9 December on a three-coach DMU has been put into operation between Habana, San José and Güines and others underwent test runs between Habana and San Antonio de los Baños.
(Source: Volta o Trem 17-8)
The state railway UFC is acquiring 300 diesel railcars of the SV-10 type for local traffic from the Russian manufacturer Muromteplovoz. The robust vehicles are based on staff transport units in use by the Russian railway RZD. Delivery of the first 17 units will take place shortly; they will run between La Habana and Artemisa and, once the new line is complete in early 2014, between La Habana and the port of Mariel. The remaining 283 units will be shipped as kits to Cuba and then assembled at Cardenas. In order to guarantee a swift assembly of the vehicles and later their proper maintenance, a number of Cuban engineers and fitters participate in the manufacturing at the Muromteplovoz factory.
The new units consist of 2 cars, the power car has a 240 PS Yamz diesel engine. Maximum speed is 100 km/h while seating capacity will be 45 in the power car and 48 in the control car, both in a 2+3 configuration with hard plastic seats. The four-wheel power car weighs 22 tons, while the control car weighs 15 tonnes. This ensures that the new units can run on all lines in Cuba.
Cuba will also purchase new carriages from China for long-distance trains, however, both parties keep a low profile in this regard. An announcement just speaks of “improvements in long-distance traffic during 2014”.
(Source: Muromteplovoz; Cubanrailways)
UFC ordered 300 type SV-10 railcars from the Russian builder Muromteplovoz for local and regional traffic. The first 17 railcars are on their way to Cuba and may first be used between Habana and Artemisa and on the new line to the Port of Mariel, which is under construction. The remaining railcars will be delivered as kits to be assembled at Cardenas.
(Source: Volta o Trem 17-5)
Heavy rainfall around the 9th of June 2012 disrupted the railway line from Trinidad to Meyer at more than 12 places, with severe damage resulting. Over 1500 m³ of material, mostly stones, had to be carried to a number of spots with difficult access in order to repair the line. Heavy plant and ballast wagons had to be sourced from other parts of the country and brought by road to this isolated line. According to the cuban newspaper Granma the cost of this operation rose to an amount of 568'000 Cuban Pesos. On 21st of August the line Meyer – Trinidad – Casilda was operated throughout by a small railcar. The traffic to Meyer is considered to be indispensable as the minor villages along the line are not connected to the road network.
The state railway UFC has resumed regional traffic between Santiago de Cuba and Antilla in mid-2012 after an interruption of 7 years. A full rebuild of a bridge between Herrera and Antilla, which had been distroyed by a hurricane, was required for this. The train runs Monday to Saturday and consists of renovated Taino carriages. Press reports (Granma and others) indicate that this re-activation is part of the strategy of the cuban railways to impulse and strengthen regional traffic.
According to the party newspaper Granma, the province of Ciego de Avila is among the most actives in the field of re-activation of regional train connections. Some of the new services run on tracks which formerly belonged to the sugar ministry MINAZ. Those lines have now been integrated into the state railway UFC. By request of the province, the following services have been added or re-activated, in addition to the existing ones: Morón – Perea, Morón – Ciego de Avila – Silveira, Ciego de Avila – Limones Palmero, Ciego de Avila – Baragua. The railcar service Morón – Punta Alegre will be converted to a train with locomotive and carriage in order to increase capacity. Currently, a locomotive is under repair for this purpose.