Ferrocarriles de Cuba

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Ferrocarriles de Cuba
Ferrocarriles de cuba map.gif
Railway map of Cuba
Reporting markFFC (also: FC, FFCC)
Dates of operation1924–
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification140 km
Length4,226 km (2,626 mi)
Passenger trains in Cuba (interactive map)
Cuban rail network for passenger transportation

Ferrocarriles de Cuba (FCC) or Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Cuba (English: National Railway Company of Cuba), the only railway operating in the Caribbean islands, provides passenger and freight services for Cuba.

Route network[edit]

Ferrocarriles de Cuba uses 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (standard gauge) that extends from Guane (province Pinar del Río) in the westernmost part of the island up to the bay of Guantánamo in the eastern part. The 835 km central railway runs from Havana to Santiago de Cuba in the eastern region. Most of the 4,226 km is diesel with 140 km electrified. The flagship Train Number 1 travels between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Other long distance passenger services link Havana to Pinar del Río (western railway), Cienfuegos (South branch), Sancti Spiritus, Bayamo-Manzanillo and Guantanamo. The network connects the six first level ports in Cuba: Havana, Mariel, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Nuevitas and Santiago de Cuba, as well as all province capital cities.

The Hershey Electric Railway is an electrified railway from Havana to Matanzas that was built by the Hershey Company in order to transport workers and products after it had bought sugar plantations in 1916. It is a commuter service running in northern Havana and Matanzas provinces using some original equipment.[1]


Colonial Cuba[edit]

In 1836 Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros established a horse-drawn railway service called Ferrocarril de Camagüey a Nuevitas in Camagüey (Puerto Príncipe).

Cuba's railway history began on October 12, 1834, when the regent queen of Spain Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies approved the building of the first line. When the Compania de Caminos de Hierro de La Habana opened the 27.5 km line from Havana to Bejucal on November 19, 1837, it was the first steam railway line in Latin America. At this point Spain did not possess any railroad lines. The 27.5 km long line from Havana was extended by an additional 17 km to Güines on 19 November 1839. By December 1843 the cities San Felipe and Batabanó were added to the rail network and further extensions were added in 1847 (17 km), 1848 (21 km), and 1849 (21 km).

Havana had its first streetcar (Ferrocarril Urbano de la Habana) when its service commenced on 3 February 1859.

Pre-Revolutionary Cuba[edit]

Boxcar used on Cuban Central Railway to transport sugar cane. ca 1913

American-born Canadian railway builder Sir William Van Horne helped expand Cuba's railway network in the early 20th century. He was an investor in the Cuba Railroad Company (founded 1900).

In 1924 Ferrocarriles Consolidados de Cuba was created from a dispute between Ferrocarriles Consolidados de Cuba and Ferrocarriles de Cuba.

Other railway companies formed and merged in the 1920s:

  • Ferrocarriles del Norte de Cuba 1916
  • Ferrocarril Espirituano Tunas de Zaza
  • Ferrocarril Guantánamo y Occidente

From 1940 to 1959 Cuba's railway system was modernized by the acquisition of train stock from Budd and Fiat. These trains provided medium speed self-propelled (diesel) four-car trains service on the main line between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Also after World War II a large network of diesel intercity buses was created with four or five major carriers competing in the east-west corridor between Havana and the provinces to the east. After the revolution with the nationalization of the transportation system, the diversion of resources to defense expenditures and the lack of competition for the service, the train stock slowly deteriorated; this coupled with the inability to obtain replacement parts from the US that had been the main supplier of the equipment for decades destroyed the once efficient system.

A few sugar factories switched over to diesel electric locomotives to haul freight. By 1958, Cuba had more railway trackage per square mile than any other country.[citation needed]

Train ferry[edit]

Post-revolutionary Cuba[edit]

Diagram of Cuban rail network length in km (1980-2007)

The destruction of President Fulgencio Batista's so-called armoured train (it seems to have been an ordinary train carrying soldiers and weapons) by the revolutionaries in the Battle of Santa Clara in December 1958 was an important stepping stone in the Cuban revolution.

After the revolution in 1959, the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Cuba was created by nationalizing the private and public railway systems. MINAZ continued to operate a separate railway system, mainly to transport sugar products.

From 1963 to 1966, British Rail helped the national railway obtain newer locomotives which were based on the Brush Type 4 locomotives (later Class 47) at the time being built at Brush Traction in Loughborough, but the final assembly of the Cuban locomotives was performed at Clayton Equipment Company Hatton, Derbyshire.[2] After the Cuban Missile Crisis, it became harder for Cuba to buy new railway equipment because of the United States embargo against Cuba. Some trains were shipped from third countries like the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For example, the British locomotive shipped from Hull using Yugoslavian ships.

Cuba's purchase of new trains and parts from the Western Bloc, stopped from the late 1960s, was replaced through trade with the Eastern Bloc, but this trade link collapsed with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Cuba was able to obtain used trains and new locomotives, from friendly nations not affected by the embargo:

  • 5 Type RSC18 locomotives were shipped from Canada
  • 9 electrical motor coaches from Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) (Catalan Government Railways) of Spain

Starting in 2000, the Cuban railway network was improved by more second-hand equipment. More used vehicles came from Canada, Mexico and Europe. In 2002 used light rubbing cars (BR771) were acquired from Germany.

Many of Cuba's trains are diesel and only a handful of steam locomotives remain for the sugar industry and tourism.

After the 1990s, China became the new supplier of railway cars for Cuba. In 2006, 12 new locomotives (Type DF7G-C at 2,500 hp or 1,900 kW) were shipped to Cuba. China Railway also sold some of its retired cars.

Recent developments[edit]

On September 25, 2007, investors from the Venezuelan Bank for Socio-Economic Development (BANDES) reached an agreement with transportation officials in Cuba to invest US$100 million for infrastructure improvements and repairs to Cuba's rail network. The work was expected to help increase the average speed of trains on Cuba's railways from 40 km/h (25 mph) to 100 km/h (62 mph). As part of the agreement, Cuban engineers will also work on similar projects on Venezuela's rail network.[3]

In October 2007, the Cuban railways ordered 200 passenger cars and 550 freight wagons from Iranian manufacturer Wagon Pars.[4]

In May 2010, the Cuban government announced wide-ranging plans to repair the railway network, buy new rolling stock, and open four centres to train railway workers.[5]

Improved Relations between Cuba and the United States has increased interest in Cuban rail travel.[6]

As of February 2018, Sinara Transport Machines had delivered 15 diesel locomotives of the ТГМ8КМ (TGM8KM) series to Cuba, in two batches, as part of a contract to supply 75 locomotives to the country by the end of 2021.[7] The TGM8KM has been designed especially to work in the humid tropical climate conditions of Cuba.[8] A third batch is expected by May or June 2018.[7]

Rolling stock[edit]

Model Manufacturer Numbers Notes Image
TE114K diesel Voroshilovgrad Locomotive Factory, USSR 108
TEM2TK diesel Bryansk Engineering Works, USSR 79
DVM-9 diesel electric GanzMÁVAG, Hungary 70
MX624 diesel MLW, Canada 50 imported in 1976[9]
G8 diesel General Motors Electro-Motive Division, USA 51 Part of order from 1954 to 1965.
TEM4 diesel Bryansk Engineering Works, USSR 40
040-DE diesel electric Brissonneau et Lotz, France 42 Similar to French BB 63000
TEM15 diesel Voroshilovgrad Locomotive Factory, USSR 25
M62K diesel Voroshilovgrad Locomotive Factory, USSR 20
C30-7 diesel GE Transportation Systems, USA 19 Acquired via Mexico
BR 771 railbuses VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 17 all sold after 2000[10] Siguaney Ferkeltaxi.jpg
BR 971 railbuses VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 3
BR 772 railbuses VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 15
BR 972 railbuses VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 22
DF7G-C diesel electric CNR Beijing February 7 Locomotive Works,[11] China 47/112 again supplied 2005/2006/2008–2009–2010
DF7K-C diesel electric CNR, China 5 First 5 arrived in 2008
GMD1 diesel General Motors Electro-Motive Division, Canada 20 From Canadian National Railway to Cuba in 1999
TGM8 diesel Lyudinovsky Locomotive Plant, Russia 60 On order from Sinara, Russia (July 2016).[12]
TGM4 diesel Lyudinovsky Locomotive Plant, Russia 15 On order from Sinara, Russia (July 2016).[12]
Tempo Passenger coaches Hawker Siddeley Canada, Canada assorted From Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México
TEE Mistral 69 From SNCF TEE L'Étoile du Nord Cuba.jpg
NSB Y1 diesel multiple unit Kalmar Verkstad 6[citation needed] From Norwegian State Railways[citation needed] Inlandsbanan Röjan Mars 2013.jpg

Freight cars were mainly acquired from former Eastern Bloc countries and the then USSR, whereas passenger cars from other countries friendly to Cuba (Mexico, Norway, Canada and France).[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morrison, Allen (2008). "The Hershey Cuban Railway". Retrieved February 16, 2008.
  2. ^ Ram, Thunderbuck. "Cuba". Class47.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Cuba to Develop Railroad System with Venezuelan Assistance". Cuban News Agency (ACN). September 25, 2007. Retrieved September 25, 2007.
  4. ^ "Iran to build 300 wagons for Cuba". Iran Khodro Industrial Group. October 30, 2007. Retrieved November 29, 2007.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Cuba to repair national network?". IRJ. 2010. Archived from the original on May 21, 2010. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Marsh, Rene (September 30, 2016). "Waiting for the train in Cuba". CNN.
  7. ^ a b "Russian diesel locomotives arrive in Cuba". RT. 2018-02-23. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  8. ^ Verzhbolovich, Anna (2017-03-19). "Новости АО "ЛТЗ": Тепловоз нового поколения (JSC "LTZ" News: Locomotive of new generation)". Official website. АО «ЛТЗ». Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  9. ^ "Alco Export Lists". Toll alles Muss Raus – tamr.org. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  10. ^ "Statistik 771/ 772". August 26, 2009.
  11. ^ https://archive.is/20081204085029/http://www.27rail.com.cn/_mainpage/eindex1/eindex1.aspx. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ a b Reidinger, Erwin (July 25, 2016). "Cuban Railways orders 75 locomotives from Sinara". International Railway Journal.
  13. ^ "Train travel in Cuba - a beginner's guide". Seat 61.
  14. ^ Steamlocomotive.info - Cuba
  • Zanetti Lecuona, Oscar; García Álvarez, Alejandro (1987). Caminos para el azúcar (in Spanish). Havana: OD. de Ciencias Sociales.
  • Zanetti Lecuona; García Álvarez (1998). Sugar and Railroads. A Cuban History; 1837–1959. Chapel Hill & London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Cuban 'Class 47' still in existence". RAIL. No. 327. EMAP Apex Publications. March 25 – April 7, 1998. p. 60. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.

External links[edit]