May 24, 2011
HAVANA TIMES, May 24 — Cuba became the first country in Latin America to
have a railroad when on November 19, 1837 the first 17-mile line of
tracts was inaugurated running from Havana to Bejucal.
Prior to Cuba, only six countries in the world possessed that means of
transportation: England, the United States, France, Germany, Belgium and
Two years later, that iron pathway expanded 11 more miles to reach the
town of Guines. Gradually more tracks were added and 15 years after the
inauguration, over 60 miles of railroad lines in Cuba was celebrated.
The railroad continued to expand island-wide with numerous train
stations of subdued beauty constructed. Though some of these have
suffered the effects of time and deferred maintenance, others continue
to constitute true architectural monuments, ones like the central
station in Havana.
Currently, the Cuban railroad company operates over 2,600 miles of rail
stretching from Guane (in the western province of Pinar del Rio) to
Guantanamo (on the far east of the island). Numerous branches also
project out from the center to the principal cities in the north and south.
The locomotives and passenger cars have been undergoing modernization
and the old steam engines now constitute museum pieces because they've
been replaced by powerful and modern diesel-fueled locomotives.
The Cuban railroad system is now involved in a process of major repairs
because it had deteriorated considerably over the past couple of decades
following the disappearance of the European socialist camp, with which
Cuba had maintained almost all of its trade.
Likewise, the system has been negatively affected by the economic,
commercial and financial blockade that the United States government has
maintained against the island for more than 50 years.