HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s first new prepare passenger automobiles in additional than 4 a long time set off on their maiden journey throughout the island on Saturday in what the federal government hopes will show a complete revamp of its decrepit railway system with assist from allies Russia and China.
Cuba’s Chinese language-made first new prepare passenger automobiles transfer after departing from La Coubre prepare station in Havana, Cuba, July 13, 2019. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Cuba’s railway system is without doubt one of the oldest on the planet; its first stretch was launched within the 1830s. Nevertheless it has suffered from a scarcity of upkeep and new tools in an inefficient state-run economic system below a crippling U.S. commerce embargo that lacks money.
Trains have for years been one of many most cost-effective but additionally least environment friendly methods to journey lengthy distances on the Caribbean’s largest island, sometimes taking 24 hours to cross the almost 900 km (600 miles) from Havana within the west to Santiago within the east – twice so long as by automobile.
Tickets are sometimes elusive, with the ramshackle infrastructure unable to deal with the demand, and trains don’t run on schedule. Passengers, in the meantime, should deal with lacking home windows and doorways, and cracked seats. Accidents have turn into more and more frequent lately.
However Cuba’s authorities is planning to vary all that by 2030, beginning with upgrading its tools, earlier than shifting onto the extra daunting process of restoring the railroads.
In Might it obtained 80 Chinese language-made, gleaming blue rail automobiles, together with those who set off eastwards from Havana on Saturday, and expects to obtain 80 extra subsequent 12 months, based on state-run web site Cubadebate.
“This is step one of the transformation of the Cuban railway system,” mentioned Eduardo Hernandez, head of the Nationwide Railway Co of Cuba.
Reflecting market reforms of the centrally deliberate economic system within the socialist nation, the brand new rail automobiles are cut up into first and second class, with the previous boasting air-con.
“Cuba has not obtained new rail-cars because the 1970s,” Transport Minister Eduardo Rodriguez was quoted as saying by Cubadebate final month. “We had solely obtained second hand automobiles.”
Whereas the brand new trains are anticipated to shave off some touring time, they’ll require new or restored observe to run at their full velocity.
Cuba has signed a deal value virtually $1 billion with Russia to modernize its railways, based on Interfax information company, though particulars haven’t but been launched.
In 2017, state-owned monopoly Russian Railways (RZD) informed Reuters it was additionally negotiating to put in a high-speed hyperlink between Havana and the seaside resort of Varadero.
Trains carried 6.1 million passengers in 2018, down from 10 million passengers in 2013, based on the statistics workplace.
Reporting by Sarah Marsh; enhancing by Jonathan Oatis