Havana Central railway station
La Habana Central
Ferrocarriles de Cuba
(Inter-city & Commuter)
Exterior facade of the station building
|Address||401 Avenida de Bélgica
Omnibús Metropolitanos (OM),
|Owned by||National Government|
|Passengers (2009)||7.5 million|
Havana Central (Spanish: La Habana Central; the "Central Railway Station", Estación Central de Ferrocarriles), is the main railway terminal in Havana and the largest railway station in Cuba, is the hub of the rail system in the country. Today, the Central Station serves for the arrival and departure of national and divisional commuter trains, and is home to the national railway company, Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Cuba (FFCC), the only intercity passenger rail transport operating in the Caribbean.
The main architect was the American Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison, who was inspired by a decorative style Spanish planteresque, which are clearly visible in the elements of the shields and shells of the facade. The station's platforms are nearly one kilometer long and a total area of 14,000 square meters.
By 1910, the 71 year-old Villanueva Railway Station (currently the Capitolio grounds), the first of Havana, had exceeded its capacity due to increasing urban development and population of the city. On July 20, 1910, the Congress of Cuba authorized to build the new railway station on the Arsenal public grounds instead of the Villanueva Station private grounds. The value of the old arsenal grounds and buildings was about US$3.7 million at the time, while the Villanueva grounds were about $2.3 million. This transaction caused heated debates within the political community and in general throughout the population of the city, because the value of Arsenal land was more than a million dollars to Villanueva, so it was unknown where that amount would go. This resulted in heated debates in the Congress. The Chamber representative Silverio Sánchez Figueras, commander of the liberation army, denounced the trade as a "dirty business", and the action was contradicted by congressman Colonel Severo Moleón Guerra. The confrontation culminated in a duel to death on December 9, 1910, where Congressman Moleón died. Two years later, on November 30, 1912, the new Central Railway Station was opened on the former arsenal grounds.
Central Railway Station has a network of suburban, interurban and long-distance rail lines. The railways are nationalised and run by the FFCC (Ferrocarriles de Cuba – Railways of Cuba). Rail service connects the Central Rail Station to various Cuban provinces. In 2009, the annual passenger volume was roughly 7.5 million, almost 400,000 less from the previous year, and 3.5 million less than 2004, mainly after the government upgraded ASTRO's long-distance inter-city buses fleet with brand new air conditioned Yutong buses. Santiago de Cuba is the busiest route from the Central Station, some 836 kilometres (519 mi) apart by rail. In 2000 the Union de Ferrocarriles de Cuba bought French first class airconditioned coaches.
Fast trains line 1 and 2, between (Central Station) and Santiago de Cuba, use comfortable stainless-steel air-conditioned coaches bought from French Railways and now known as the "Tren Francés" (the French train). It runs daily at peak periods of the year (Summer season, Christmas & Easter), and on every second day at other times of the year. These coaches were originally used on the premier Trans Europ Express service between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam before being replaced with high speed Thalys trains. They were shipped to the Cuban Railways System in 2001. It offers two classes of seating, basic leatherette "especial" and quite luxurious "primera especial".
|Annual passengers transported 2004-09|
|(?) 11.0 million||11.0 million||10.5 million||10.3 million||7.9 million||7.5 million|
|Long-distance intercity rail lines|
|Train Route #||Destination||Notes|
|1||Santiago de Cuba|
|3||Ciego de Ávila||Final destination is the city of Morón|
|11||Santiago de Cuba||
|11/30||Guantánamo||via Santiago de Cuba|
|23||Pinar del Río||-|
Media related to Havana Central train station at Wikimedia Commons