Cuba's BIG Railways
|This old steam loco & tender
is on permanent display at the Aguada de Pasajeros
service station on the Cuban motorway
|Cuban passenger coaches in use today||Old steam loco on the Cuban Railways|
|Old postcard view of midday train at Caimanera||Postcard view of Havana's main railway station. This was completed in 1920.|
Many visitors to Cuba probably don't realise that Cuba has a large and important, working railway network. Cuba, which built its first railway line in 1840, had one of the first railways in the world.
The system began as a collection of small, separate lines of varying gauges, for carrying sugar from the plantations to the towns and ports. Later these were all joined up into the present national network.
Today the system extends for 5,800 miles (9,300 km.) (Wikipedia says only 3442 kms, but this is wrong). They are in daily use for passengers and for freight.
In the last 40 years, primarily due to the US-led embargo, the network has deteriorated, as spare parts for machinery are not generally available. Freight trains are always very slow. The principal passenger services run faster in certain sections, but punctuality is poor; with frequent cancellations and delays. Locomotives are now almost exclusively oil-powered, instead of coal. (The coal - like many things in pre-revolution Cuba - used to come from the USA). The main services for passengers are on the line running along the spine of Cuba - from Havana eastwards to Santa Clara, Camaguey, to Bayamo, Holguin and Santiago. There are also passenger routes to Manzanillo, Cienfuegos, Pinar del Rio and Matanzas.
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