The Repair of Trains in Cuba With French Help Advances at a Snail’s Pace

The situation has been “affected by breakdowns and delays at the time of operation,” the authorities admit.

The Railway Workshops of San Luis have begun the repair of 16 locomotives / ACN

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 8 June 2024 — The improvement of the railways repeatedly promised by the Cuban Government is slow to arrive. According to Sierra Maestra, in an article published this Thursday, the “general repair of 16 large-sized locomotives in the Railway Workshops of San Luis, with the collaboration of French personnel,” has begun. Marcia Sierra Gómez, director of that unit of the Railway Equipment Repair Company, told the official state newspaper, “it will gradually improve the situation of the transport of cargo and passengers, marked by breakdowns and delays at the time of operation of the machines.”

What Sierra Maestra does not say is that the project of these repairs, which receives the support of the French Agency for Development (AFD), began in March 2022, and so far has borne little fruit.

The organization, present in Cuba since 2016, has five projects in the country – related to the promotion of rural development, the improvement of water and sanitation services, the promotion of renewable energies, and the modernization of public health and transport infrastructures – with a total investment so far of 133 million euros.

In 2023, the Union of Railways of Cuba (UFC) recognized that it had 81 Chinese locomotives, but only 25 of them could be used.

In 2023, the Union of Railways of Cuba recognized that it had 81 Chinese locomotives, but only 25 of them could be used.

The information about the repair of the 16 locomotives appears at the end of an article that reports the East Railway Company (EFO) announcement of the restoration, again, of several routes that are suspended due to lack of fuel and trains.

Thus, as Yasnay Sánchez Robert, director of State operations, told Sierra Maestra, they foresee the commissioning of the Santiago-Manzanillo locomotive, the Bayamo-Manzanillo, and the Holguín-Antilla, “as well as an evaluation to reinstate the Guantánamo-Holguín.”

The official said that they are repairing “mainly the Santiago-Manzanillo, as well as the large and medium-sized locomotives and securing the fuel for the fulfillment of the itineraries.” Similarly, he reported that the rates will continue to be subsidized.

The current train services in that part of the Island detailed by the official press and the officials are: Guantánamo and Santiago, Monday and Friday; between Holguín and Las Tunas, Monday to Saturday; “the urban Bayamo-Mabay; the Santiago-Contramaestre; as well as the motor vehicles that cover four daily routes between the City of Guaso and several localities of the easternmost territory of the country.” These services only go to show the precariousness and crisis of the rail services that have existed for decades.

Another example, between the provincial capitals of the East – among them the second most populous city, Santiago de Cuba – and the capital, is the existence of only one train “every four days.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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