The Rus­sian-Cuban Rail­road Goes on All Iron Wheels

IT'S A LONG-TERM PRO­JECT AIMED AT REKINDLING CU­BA'S RAIL­ROAD SYS­TEM. IT WILL PROVIDE THE IS­LAND NATION WITH NEW EQUIPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY FROM THE RUS­SIAN FEDERATION

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Pin­ce­la­da / A Little Touch -

Long and narrow, Cu­ba, the Big Is­land of the Ar­chi­pe­la­go, was ma­de for the rail­road. It is the most ef­fi­cient means of trans­port in its eco­nomy sin­ce "im­me­mo­rial" ti­mes. It be­ca­me the se­venth te­rri­tory in the world to ma­ke "iron roads". It was back in 1837, at the hands of the su­gar­ca­ne in­dustry.

Its in­fras­truc­tu­re and rail­roads, ho­we­ver, ha­ve de­cli­ned in the last 30 years, when lack of fi­nan­cing led to a lack of main­te­nan­ce of tracks and fa­ci­li­ties, and to ma­jor li­mi­ta­tions in ac­qui­ring new parts and ro­lling stock.

The short­fall was partly off­set by agree­ments with Chi­na and to a les­ser ex­tent with Fran­ce. But it has not been un­til now, with the strengt­he­ning of re­la­tions with the Rus­sian Federation, that the Cuban rail­way seems to be re­born.

It is a long term pro­ject aimed at both reha­bi­li­ta­ting the is­land's rail­way in­fras­truc­tu­re and pro­vi­ding it with le­gen­dary Rus­sian equipment, now with the tech­no­lo­gi­cal in­no­va­tions of glo­bal so­ciety.

FROM THE DRA­WING BOARD TO THE RAILWAYS

The pro­ject for the reha­bi­li­ta­tion and mo­der­ni­za­tion of Cu­ba's rail­way in­fras­truc­tu­re with the co­lla­bo­ra­tion of the Rus­sian Federation en­vi­sa­ges al­most dou­bling the ca­pa­city of freight trans­port and al­most tri­pling the num­ber of passengers, as well as in­crea­sing the sa­fety and speed of trains.

The con­tract bet­ween the sta­te com­pany Rus­sian Railways and the Cuban Union of Railways provides for the reha­bi­li­ta­tion of mo­re than 1,000 km of tracks and the sig­na­lling and le­vel cros­sing pro­tec­tion sys­tems on the Cen­tral Li­ne.

It in­clu­des, among other ac­tions, works on bran­ches such as tho­se of San­ta Cla­raCien­fue­gos and the Ha­va­na rail­way jun­ction; re­cons­truc­tion of fa­ci­li­ties lin­ked to the rail­way; trai­ning of per­son­nel and re­pair of brid­ges.

With Rus­sian production tech­ni­ques, ma­te­rials, technology and equipment, and through cre­dits from the Eu­ra­sian country, the con­tract va­lue ex­ceeds one bi­llion eu­ros and has an im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod of ten years.

The works will be led by the sub­si­diary com­pany of Rus­sian Railways, RZD In­ter­na­tio­nal, and Cuban cons­truc­tion and rail­way companies will par­ti­ci­pa­te.

AT FULL STEAM

The "Rus­sian-Cuban train", ho­we­ver, loads mo­re. The agree­ments in­clu­de the ac­qui­si­tion of 75 me­dium-si­ze lo­co­mo­ti­ves ma­nu­fac­tu­red by the ico­nic com­pany SINARA. At the be­gin­ning of 2020 the­re were al­ready mo­re than 40 TGM-8 and TGM-4 die­sel units on the is­land, which are mostly used he­re for car­go trans­port.

With a cost of clo­se to one mi­llion eu­ros per ma­chi­ne, the last ones agreed upon should arri­ve in 2021. The agree­ment in­clu­des technical assistance, trai­ning and main­te­nan­ce of the equipment, as well as the re­pair of ma­chi­nes that ha­ve wor­ked for many years on the Cuban rail tracks, which will be greatly hel­ped by the mo­der­ni­za­tion of several works­hops.

It doesn't stop the­re. Al­ready chug­ging along on the is­land tracks the­re is a batch of Rus­sian-de­sig­ned rail­roads ba­sed on the tech­ni­que de­ve­lo­ped by the Cuban Union of Railways on the ba­sis of its le­gen­dary "ca­raha­tas", quaint little pas­sen­ger ma­chi­nes that ha­ve tra­ve­led for al­most a hun­dred years through the Cuban country­si­de, es­pe­cially in the cen­ter of the country.

They ha­ve al­so been ac­qui­red from Rus­sian ma­nu­fac­tu­rers of si­lo ce­ment, com­mer­cial pla­tes and other ro­lling stock. In the next few years, it is es­ti­ma­ted that Trans­mash­hol­ding will pur­cha­se lo­co­mo­ti­ves for pas­sen­ger and freight trans­port. The­re are al­so plans for hop­pers, cars, wa­gons ...

As the Cu­bans say, Rus­sian-Cuban co­lla­bo­ra­tion in the field of railways - and much mo­re - "goes full steam ahead".

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