Chinese-built trains on first public run through Cuba

Latin America

Cuba has unveiled its first new passenger trains built by China. It’s part of a plan to overhaul the island’s rail system that dates back to the 1830s.

CGTN’s Luis Chirino went on a ride departing from Havana.

The new train service had been welcomed by those who travel long distances on the island.

“This is a magnificent option because it helps move a large number of passengers on its trip throughout the country,” Marielena Arias, a passenger, said.

The new trains will carry over 700 passengers each and travel across the island while making stops along the way in different cities. It was considered the cheapest form of long-distance transportation. A round trip ticket from Havana to Guantanamo starts at 200 Cuban pesos or eight dollars.

Back in May, Cuba received the first import of new equipment since the 1970s. It’s part of the government’s plan to overhaul its deteriorated rail system by the end of 2030. The new trains to be pulled by locomotives that were recently revamped at local repair plants until new ones are imported.

“This is the first impact on train passenger transportation in our country, with faster departure frequency and more comfortable wagons which will allow to move about one million passengers next year,” Eduardo Hernandez, Director of Railways Union of Cuba, said.

CGTN was invited to travel on the new train for the first stopover in the western Cuban region. A ride that was on one out of 240 passenger cars to come from China at a rate of 80 a year to boost the overhaul of the island’s railroad system.

Each 78 seat wagon offers onboard services and great comfort, with air conditioning systems or fans, reclining and rotating seats, bathrooms, cold- drinking water, and catering services.

The new service met passenger demands for rail improvements after suffering from lack of maintenance and new equipment.

“This is something outstanding, which we’ve expected for a long time, since this really improves transportation,” Gleysa Videaux, another passenger, said.

The new train arrived at the western province of Matanzas to pick up more passengers during a brief stop-over and kept going on its route towards an improved Cuban railroad system future.