Fri. Oct 18th, 2019

The new Cuban trains with wagons bought from China begin to operate

The new trains with wagons purchased from China by the Cuban government through a millionaire credit to restore the country's rail network operate from this Saturday, with the first route between Havana and Santiago de Cuba (east).

The first train transports more than 700 passengers and is expected to cover this route of more than 800 kilometers in an estimated time of between 12 and 14 hours, which is an advance since up to now the journey could take up to a whole day or more due to the damages in the vehicles and the bad state of the roads.

The price of a ticket from Havana to Santiago de Cuba is 95 Cuban pesos or CUP (3.8 dollars) in a first class car (with air conditioning) and 70 CUP (2.8 dollars) in second class. The train also has a cafeteria.

The new wagons are part of a batch of 240 cars that Cuba has bought from China worth more than 150 million dollars, as an essential part of a recovery program for the deteriorated rail sector on the island.

The acquisition is financed with a loan of 150 million dollars granted by the Government of China to Cuba under the modality of "buyer's preferential credit" (PBC for its acronym in English), according to CRRC, the largest manufacturer of material world's rolling and contractor company of this initiative.

The PBCs are loans from the Chinese Government aimed at economic cooperation with its trading partners, in US dollars and with a fixed interest rate of around 2 percent per year, financing up to 85% of the total value of the project.

Cuba is immersed in a plan to recover its deteriorated rail transport network, for which it is estimated a total investment of about 3,000 million dollars.

While China contributes the wagons, Russia commercializes the locomotives and already sent to Cuba 43 of these machines and the first experimental prototype of ferrobús (ultralight train).

The critical state of passenger transport by rail was addressed in a parliamentary report of December 2018, which reported breaks in railways, bridges and level crossings, as well as low availability of locomotives, freight cars, motor cars and passengers, among other deficiencies.

The rail system of the Caribbean country has 8,194 kilometers of railways, 1,839 bridges, 4,567 level crossings, more than 21,000 workers in the sector, 252 stations, more than 500 locomotives, 13,468 freight cars, 20 motor cars and more than 230 passenger cars, according to data from the Ministry of Transport.

The state program to modernize national rail transportation includes the eastern destinations of Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Guantánamo and Granma.

This plan also provides for the rehabilitation of its main roads through a joint project with Russia in which an investment of about 1,000 million euros (equivalent to about 1,123 million dollars) is foreseen until 2030.

. (tagsToTranslate) Begin (t) Cubans (t) wagons (t) bought (t) China

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