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

Route Network

Ferrocarriles de Cuba uses (standard gauge) that extends from Guanemarker (province Pinar del Río) in the westernmost part of the island up to the bay of Guantánamomarker in the East part.

Most of the 4,226 km is diesel with 140 km electrified. The branch to Trinidadmarker in the south coast is damaged at a bridge and the rail service there is no longer connected to the rest of the national rail network. Local railcars run from the damaged bridge through Trinidad to the coast daily plus a steam locomotive and two home-built coaches on tourist tours through the sugar cane valleysmarker of the Escambray Mountainsmarker.

The flagship Tren Francés ("French train") travels between Havanamarker and Santiago de Cubamarker and is operated by coaches originally used in Europe between Parismarker and Amsterdammarker on the ex-TEE service. The train is formed by 12 coaches and a Chinesemarker-built diesel locomotive.

The Hershey train is an electrified train from Havana to Matanzasmarker that was built by the Hershey Company in order to facilitate transport of workers and products after it had bought sugar plantations in 1916. It is a commuter service running in northern Havana and Matanzas provinces, some original equipment still exists.


Colonial Cuba

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

Cuba's railway history began on October 12, 1834 when the king of Spainmarker Ferdinand VII 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 possessed any railroad lines. The 27.5 km long line from Havanamarker was extended by an additional 17 km to Guines on 19 November 1839. By December 1843 the cities San Felipe and Batabano were added to the rail network and further extensions were added in 1847 (17 km), 1848 (21 km), and 1849 (21 km).

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

Pre-Revolutionary Cuba

Americanmarker born Canadian railway builder Sir William Van Horne helped expanded Cuba's railway network in the early 20th Century. He was an investor in the Cuba Railroad Company (founded 1902).

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

Other railway companies would form and merge together 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 interrupted by fuel shortage during and after World War II. They were replaced by buses, which transported both passengers and freight

A few sugar factories switched over to diesel electric locomotives to haul freight.

Train ferry

Post-Revolutionary Cuba

The destruction of Batista's armoured train 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 . 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 delivered via shipment with ships from third countries like Yugoslaviamarker.

Purchase of new trains and parts to Cubamarker with the Western Bloc, stopped from the late 1960s, was replaced through trade with the Eastern Bloc. This trade link collapsed with the fall of the Soviet Unionmarker.

Cuba was able to obtain used trains, and even 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) (Catalonian Government Railways) of Spain

Starting from 2000, the Cuban railway network was improved by more second hand equipment. Larger number now used vehicles were coming from Canada, Mexico and Europe. In 2002 used light rubbing cars (BR771) from Germany.

Much of Cubamarker's trains are diesel and only a handful are steam locomotives remain for the sugar industry and the tourism industries.

After the 1990s, China became the new supplier of railway cars for Cuba. In 2006, 12 new locomotives (Type DF7G-C at ) were shipped to Cuba. China Railways also sold some of their retired cars.

Recent developments

On September 25, 2007, investors from the Venezuelanmarker Bank for Socio-Economic Development (BANDES) reached an agreement with transportation officials in Cuba to invest $100 million for infrastructure improvements and repairs to Cuba's rail network. The work is 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.

In October 2007, the Cuban railways ordered two hundred passenger cars and 550 freight wagons from Iranianmarker manufacturer Wagon Pars.


Model Manufacturer Numbers Notes
TE-114K diesel locomotive Lokomotivfabrik Luhansk, USSR 108
TEM-2TK diesel locomotive Lokomotivfabrik Luhansk, USSR 79
DVM-9 Ganz, Hungarymarker 70
diesel locomotives MLW, Canadamarker 50
GM-900 General Motors Electro-Motive Division, USA 51
TEM-4 diesel locomotive Lokomotivfabrik Luhansk, USSR 40
040-DE Brissonneau et Lotz, France 42 Similar to french BB 63000 (fr) [612994]
TEM-15 diesel locomotives Lokomotivfabrik Luhansk, USSR 25
General Motors Electro-Motive Division, USA 21
M62-K diesel locomotives Lokomotivfabrik Luhansk, USSR 20
C30-7 GE Transportation Systems, USA 19
BR 771 VEB VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 16
BR 971 VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 3 side cars
BR 772 VEB VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR
BR 14972 VEB Waggonbau Bautzen, GDR 3
DF7G-C Beijing February 7th Locomotive Works-CNR , Chinamarker 47/112 again supplied 2005/2006/2008-2009-2010
DF7K-C CNR, China 5 First 5 arrived in 2008
GMD GMD1 (A1A-A1A) General Motors Electro-Motive Division, Canadamarker 12 From Canadian National Railway to Cuba in 1999

See also


  1. Info about the Hershey train, accessed 2/16/2008
  3. [1]

  • Zanetti Lecuona, OSCAR; García Álvarez, Alejandro: Caminos para el azúcar, La Habana: OD. de Ciencias Sociales, 1987.
  • Zanetti Lecuona; García Álvarez: Sugar and Railroads. A Cuban History; 1837-1959, Chapel Hill & London: The University OF North Carolina press, 1998.

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