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
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".