Since early July, more and more local railway services are being reactivated as the pandemic-related travel restrictions are now lifted region by region. Only Habana and Matanzas remain in Phase 1 until mid-July which means journeys outside the place of residence remain prohibited. Nationwide train service can, therefore, only resume once those two provinces also reopen.
In the already open provinces, the lockdown period was generally used to repair vehicles for the regional services as well as for repair work on the infrastructure.
(Source: Fahrplancenter/Volta o Trem)
The railways commenced to recover from the big fuel crisis and in this moment they had to suspend all national and regional train services from midnight 25 March 2020, even with less than 50 affected people in the country. Local services be-tween rural communities, mostly the Carahatas, have the auth-orization to run, unless local health services decide otherwise.
(Source: Volta o Trem 24-2)
Habana - Cuenfuegos
Rehabilitation works have recently been terminated and through passenger services Habana – Cienfuegos over the Southern line many resume soon.
(Source: Volta o Trem 24-1)
Habana - Cienfuegos
After completion of track works, through traffic on the south line between La Habana and Cienfuegos is expected to resume shortly.
(Source: Fahrplancenter/Volta o Trem)
Improvement of the Railway Situation
The new long-distance passenger trains commenced running July 13, 2019. Since this date UFC offers a train every 2 days Habana – Santiago de Cuba. Habana – Guantánamo, Habana – Holguín and Habana – Bayamo – Manzanillo are operating every third day. Of the old long-distance trains the Habana – Sancti Spiritus every 2 days and Santa Clara – Santiago de Cuba every third day are still running. All other Rolling-stock has been immediatley retired and the best coaches are passing repairs to reintroduce several other relations. The Habana – Pinar del Rio will run again from September 2019 every second day.The new trains are generally operating with two locomotives to avoid cancellations due to loco faillures. Some trackwork is still causing delays, but it is far better than before. The food service is criticized because the meal must be reserved and paid in advance and there is little choice offered.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-4)
Coaches ready for operation
The first batch of 80 new passenger carriages from China are now entering service. Successful test runs took place from Habana to Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Bayamo and Guantánamo. New fares were released at the end of June 2019. There is a fare for air conditioned stock and one for non-airconditioned stock. The new services will be introduced on a staged basis with old trains to be withdrawn immediately from operations. Only the Santa Clara to Santiago de Cuba local train and Habana to Sancti Spiritus will continue to be operated by old carriages, probably those from Mexico.
(Source: Cubanrailways, Transportministerium der Republik Kuba)
Timetable and prices
According to news circulating in cuban media, the trains formed of chinese carriages will be introduced from mid-July as follows:
From 13 July 2019 Habana – Santiago de Cuba every second day
From 14 July 2019 Habana – Holguín every third day
From 15 July 2019 Habana – Guantánamo every third day
From 16 July 2019 Habana – Bayamo every third day
New terms and conditions will apply for the new trains: ticket purchase and reservations are available up to 30 days before travel, return tickets are now also on sale. Children between 5 and 12 years of age pay half fare. Cancellation of trains by the railway company for which tickets have already been issued entitle to a full refund. A smoking ban applies in the new trains. Baggage allowance is 2 pieces per passenger (children up to 12 years one piece). Each train consists of 7 non-air conditioned coaches and 4 air conditioned coaches, with a seating capacity of 72 per coach, a cafeteria carriage with 56 seats and a luggage/generator van. The cafeteria sells beverages and sandwiches at a unitary price of CUP 20.00 with coupons available for purchase along with the ticket/reservation. New fares are 100% above those for the old trains, but are still considerably cheaper than the national long-distance buses. Tickets can be purchased at all Viajeros travel agencies, and the number of those sales outlets is to be increased substantially across the country.
(Source: Granma and Cuban television)
Testrun with Chinese Coaches
June 6, 2019 was the first departure of a new Chinese-built 12 coach train from Habana. Its first journey went to Holguín. The next day the train was running to Guantánamo and Santiago de Cuba and on the third day it continued to Bayamo and Manzanillo, followed by its journey back to Habana the fourth day. While on the out trip from Habana it was accompanied by technicians and official guests, the trip Bayamo – Habana was opened to regular passengers. The train was well received at every place it passed by. Regular services with the new trains may start at the end of July 2019.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-3)
In a whirlwind move, the state railway UFC is currently rehabilitating some sections of the Habana to Santiago de Cuba main line in order to have the track in condition for the operation of the new chinese coaches due to start in mid-2019. The deviation of freight trains over branch lines in Matanzas province proved to be difficult as these alternative routes are not prepared for this. Two derailments occurred at a short sequence on those routes at the end of March, thankfully causing only material damage.
At Luyano near Habana, refurbishment of the workshops is nearing completion. The new fleet of chinese coaches will be serviced and maintained there.
Many stations between Habana and Santiago are being refurbished (new roofs, platforms and public amenities).
Passenger Coaches from China
The first 80 new passenger coaches are currently under way from China to Cuba and may arrive in May.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-2)
Línea Central is under repair on some sections tob e fit for the new Chinese coches.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-2)
Diesel Locomotives from Russia
The first 43 new diesel-locomotives of the TGM8KM type from Russia have now entered into operation in Cuba. There is also one new light-weight diesel-railcar built in Russia currently under trials on Cuban tracks.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-2)
The Hershey electric Railway will no longer operate all the length of the line and on the Habana Casa Blanca end, as on the Eastern section Margot-Matanzas poles and catenary have been dismantled. The number of employees on this line was sharply reduced.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-2)
Regional trains in good conditions
While long-distance trains are suffering of shortages of coaches and locomotives, some regions can maintain regular service, see list below:
Morón – Ciego de Avila 4x/tägl., Ciego de Avila – Jucaro 3x/tägl., Morón – Camagüey 1x/day, Morón – Perea 1x/day, Morón – Esmeralda 1x/day, Morón – Punta Alta 2x/day; Ciego – Baragua 2x/day, Ciego – Limones Palmero 1x/day, Ciego – Venezuela 2x/day.
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-1)
Long distance trains
Of the long-distance services those which are running every second day are the most reliable, so Santa Clara – Nuevitas along the North coast and Santa Clara – Santiago (this one with refurbished former German coaches).
(Source: Volta o Trem 23-1)
Coaches will be delivered
During May and June 2019 the first batch of 80 new passenger coaches manufactured in China will be delivered to the cuban state railway UFC. Further batches of 80 long-distance coaches each will be added in 2020 and 2021. These vehicles will modernise the existing routes Habana – Santiago de Cuba, Habana – Guantánamo and Habana – Bayamo, but the timetable will remain unchanged for the time being (one train every three days) until further coaches are delivered. With this batch, traffic on the Habana – Holguín line will resume, also with one train every third day. Once the second batch of coaches arrives in 2020, the timetable will be increased to one train every second day.
(Source: Radio Angulo)
The railway lines which repeatedly suffered severe damage from thunderstorms – on the south coast between Habana and Cienfuegos and on the north coast from Santa Clara to Nuevitas – reopened integrally in December 2018. A passenger train is operating on the north coast every second day. On the route to Cienfuegos, however, regular traffic is limited to either end of the line as no vehicles are available for a through train.
Delivery of russian TGM-8Km diesel locomotives
At the start of January 2019, the sixth batch of russian TGM-8Km diesel locomotives arrived at Habana, which brings this fleet to 42 new locomotives available for traffic. A further 18 engines will follow until the end of 2019.
Heavy rainfall interrupted several railways in Central Cuba, in-cluding the Habana – Santiago main line for some days. Near Zaza del Medio a bridge collapsed which interrupts all traffic to Sancti Spiritus for a longer time. For this reason the Habana – Sancti Spiritus trains will end at Guayos until further notice.
(Source: Volta o Trem 22-6)
Habana Casablanca – Matanzas
April 20, 2018 reconstruction works of the bridge in Km 77.244 of the electric Railway Habana Casablanca – Matanzas (the Hershey Railway) commenced. The 1917 built bridge collap-sed in 2017 when a train derailed because of a broken beam of the bridge. All steel parts of the bridge are now replaced and a new roadway for the placement of the rails will be put on top. The works may allow the reopening of the line towards the end of the year.
Currently the entire Hershey Railway network is out of service with the exception of the Jaruco branch which has services as usual.
(Source: Volta o Trem 22-5)
Santiago – Holguin
The regional train Santiago – Holguin is back after several years with-out service, it runs now daily. Holguin station was completely repaired.
(Source: Volta o Trem 21-8)
Russian Diesel Locomotives
A first batch of new diesel locomotives for Cuba left St. Peterburg Harbour October 13, 2017. There are 7 locos of the TGM8KM class, more will follow until the end of 2017.
(Source: Volta o Trem 21-8)
Rehabilitation of Cuban Railway Lines
Russian Railways RZD commenced with the rehabilitation of Cuban railway lines, the lines Habana – Santiago, Habana – Cienfuegos and Cienfuegos – Santa Clara are the first lines to be rehabilitated.
(Source: Volta o Trem 21-8)
he Hershey Railway of state Railways UFC is facing more and more problems. The Eastern part between Canasi and Matanzas has train traffic withdrawn due to a damaged bridge which will not be rebuilt before 2018. On the Western part the line is out of service between Casablanca and Guanabo because of several damaged sections of the overhead-wire. Passenger trains operate currently only from Playas del Este to Guanabo – Hershey – Canasi and on the branches to Jaruco and Caraballo.
(Source: Volta o Trem 21-6)
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.