The International Steam Pages

Zafra 2002 Summary

This page is a distillation of the individual reports (latest update 7th May 2002) which have been posted for the season, don't complain if you saw a loco working which is not included here, why didn't you send in a report? My thanks to the many people who contributed, every little bit helped and I look forward to the same kind of response next year! 

The loading point names will be found on the maps in World Steam and on our CD-ROM 'Zafra'. The images concentrate heavily on the 'news' items. Photographers are acknowledged below, thanks to them.

See also the earlier Zafra reports. Zafra 2001, Zafra 2000, Zafra 1999, Zafra 1998 and Zafra 1997.

As regular readers of these pages probably know, I decided (rightly in hindsight) that the logging lines in China had a higher priority than the Zafra this year. So my personal comments on the activity are a bit risky.... On the other hand if you don't like my comments (and I have toned them down considerably from what I was tempted to write) you don't have to visit my pages and you can always run your own instead.

Overall, it seems to have been a less interesting season, perhaps because both Espartaco and Pepito Tey were not working and I am biased towards the narrow gauge - I find it difficult to get excited about Rafael Freyre these days. There were virtually no locomotive transfers and less in the way of 'new activity' than normal (intermills from Venezuela and Luis Arcos Bergnes were honourable exceptions). Again it was not a high yielding season following the hurricane and informed sources in early June 2002 suggested as low as 3,610,000 tonnes. It was noticeable that reports were biased towards the later part of the season, I believe that many people now wait to see what 'news' is available in the early part of the season and plan their trip accordingly. Of course, if everyone goes late.... And this year some of the more interesting activity did not last the season out.

I received one vitriolic email in defence of the 'enterprise' shown by train crews at many mills, but mostly independent travellers continue to complain about the way that the Zafra is becoming more and more like a circus. I can understand chartering trains at mills where steam is not a regular performer (I do it on my own tours in Java), but why 'hijack' trains at mills where there is 'real' activity albeit not always at exactly the right time for a group on a tight schedule? I have seen copies of reports (not included on my pages) which I consider to be so much electronic waste paper as it is almost impossible to discern anything other than charters. By all means do this once the real steam is over, but is it more satisfying to see 'wild' animals in zoos or safari parks rather than living free on the plains of Africa? Actually these complaints are directed not so much at the tour companies (who after all have to make a living and do pay me to advertise their trips) but their rather sad punters who seem to prefer the certainty of aiming at 'sitting ducks' rather than the thrill of tracking down the 'real thing' and maybe going home with a few less pictures. So perhaps it is no wonder that the operators follow where the market is leading them. Well, it will all be plastic in a couple of years time and meanwhile I, for one, will continue to hunt out places like the Shanhetun Forestry Railway in China where I can indulge myself safe in the knowledge that the uneducated crowds will be elsewhere.

There are always two sides to every story and you can read Ron Lingley's response on behalf of Steam in Paradise on certain issues surrounding the chartering of trains in Cuba. 

103 Eduardo García Lavendero

Mill closed again and with 1816 under repair, there was nothing to attract visitors.

105 Augusto César Sandino

1373 and 1667 from Hermanos Ameijeiras seem to be permanent. 1350 was the only other loco reported active. Operation normal. 1405 is rumoured to be bound for Parque Lenin.

107 Pablo de la Torriente Brau

Mill open again and locos reported 'filthy'. 1103, 1401, 1662, 1703 variously seen though usually two at a time.

201 Amistad con los Pueblos

Mill closed as usual (probably permanently). 1302, 1707, 1803 and 1805 variously active with 1701 from Mill 210 seen active here too. Intermills to Hector Moliña as usual but not all the way often returning with empties from just east of San Nicholas, a diesel doing the final leg.

Picture by Yoshi Matsuo:


203 Hector Moliña

With Amistad intermills not reaching here, no steam activity and no reports.

206 Manuel Isla Perez

No reports of active steam with the mill closed. Only 1708 believed serviceable.

207 Gregorio Arlee Mañalich

1306, 1307, 1308, 1338, 1351 and 1365 all active (in turn) on the narrow gauge and 1402 on the standard gauge. 1403 had reappeared painted '1897' but not seen to work. No reports to suggest significant variation on 2001 activity.

Picture by Bernd Seiler

1307 + 1308

210 Osvaldo Sánchez

Mill closed as usual with fewer visitors compared to 2001 owing to 1816 not working inter-mills (which I assume from lack of comment were diesel hauled). 1204 (once), 1507 (twice) and 1701 (twice) reported active,of course the latter was also seen at Mill 201. No sightings of 1205 or 1681 working. Narrow gauge 1309, 1310 and 1347 are still here.

Picture by Alan Murray-Rust:


211 Rubén Martínez Villena

If you have $$$ to burn you can still get 1112 steamed (one of the oldest steamable locos in the world), but definitely not 'working steam'. 1502 and 1702 regular power. The mill was closed and regular workings to Roble on intermills to 212 and for the Hershey system.

212 Boris Luis Santa Coloma

1711 serviceable and seen in steam a couple of times. 1606 presumed serviceable. Few visits here any more.

302 Reynold García

Mill closed again. 1518 stored/under repair early in the season but then to Mill 303 Australia, principally for tourist traffic. 1517 on holiday in Trinidad for occasional tourist trains.

303 Australia

No diesel here early in the season but three present on April 10th.... Not a wonderful season with hurricane damage and the empties going out tender first. 1513 was wrecked in a fatal boiler explosion mid-season. Very popular with tour groups and less so with independent travellers for the usual reasons. 1515 (under repair) and 1716 (out of use) did not appear to have worked but 1593, 1607 and 1620 reported working as usual. 1518 from Mill 302 Reynold Garcia was here later in the season, mainly for tourist trains, but also cane trains when required, especially after 1513's demise. Centro Limpieza near the mill did not get a mention in reports - I have asked one or two visitors directly and it did see some use with trains pushed form it to the mill.

Picture of 1513 by Roland Beier:


Picture of 1593 by Bernd Seiler:


304 Granma

No line diesel and no working to Carlos Rojas. 1713, 1714 and 1812 active around the mill and some way towards Jovellanos. Locomotives tend to be kept/maintained at nearby closed Mill 318, Victoria de Yaguejay.

Picture by Bernd Seiler:


305 Puerto Rico Libre

Mill closed and no reports.

306 Cuba Libre

Terminal (?) decline here. 1610 reported in steam for working to the nearest loading point and Ciego (both north-east of the mill). 1410 and 1611 apparently active, 1612 having a new tube plate and 1808 under repair. Theoretically steam could have worked in the Navajas direction and there was one report of steam from Pedroso.

308 Humberto Alvarez

No news of the tourist project beyond the fact that the locomotive is still at Julio Reyes Cairo.

311 Esteban Hernadez

2 with plate Baldwin 42479 is preserved here (but 42479 is 1523 which is dumped so what loco is this?).

314 Jesus Rabi

Again one of the highlights of the Zafra, with 1216 (Rogers of 1895) and 1413 (Cooke of 1891) in action with 1414. Regular trips to Cirineo and Demetrio although not all visitors were lucky, with days when nothing happened. You need patience here, hence groups have started to charter trains. We all know what will happen next.....

315 Jose Smith Comas

As in 2002, working normally, 1415, 1530 and 1531 confirmed active, with significant 'free enterprise' initiatives. 1614 from Mill 321 reported cold here at the end of the season. Picture of 1531/1614 by Yoshi Matsuo:


319 Rene Fraga

Only 1820 working around the mill and again facing the wrong way for photography.

320 Juan Avila

Only three reports with 1720/1721/1807 in steam in the mill yard and on the line. But not as busy as this might imply....

321 Julio Reyes Cairo

No reports, mill closed.

403 Mal Tiempo

1320/1321/1345/1355 working. 1322 said to be serviceable but not seen working. Business as usual with the usual mixture of action, charters and extortion.

404 Ciudad Caracas

1538 and 1621 regularly busy. Several reports of Lajas workings, more than 2001, possibly less than 2000.

Picture of 1621 at Lajas by Roland Beier:


Picture by Alan Murray-Rust


405 Luis Arcos Bergnes

Mill closed, but 1539, 1622, 1755 and 1823 reported (in turn) on regular attractive intermills through Camajuani to Jose Maria Perez. By mid-March these were reported to be (entirely?) diesel.

Picture by Yoshi Matsuo:


409 Antonio Sánchez

Probably undervisited. 1623/1624/1625 reported working with some line work.

412 Juan Pedro Carbó Serviá

1728 reported in steam for occasional duties around the patio, but intermills diesel.

413 Espartaco

Mill closed but 1326 worked at least one charter here.

418 Obdulio Morales

Totally dieselised as in 2000/1, but steam from Mill 448 Simón Bolivar visited almost daily on the molasses train.

424 Primero de Mayo

Mill still closed, with 1543 and 1848 (which was 'ex-works' in 2001) apparently 'ready-to-run' but not used.

427 Quintín Banderas

No reports but presumably, 1547 and  1548 may have alternately on patio duty.

428 Marcelo Salado

1342, 1429, 1549 variously reported working. 1343 in use last year, was not reported this year. Mill closed, but regular intermills to Batalla de Santa Clara via the branch from Carolina west of Remedios.

429 José R Riquelme

No reports.

433 Marta Abreu

Mill closed. Fireless 1239 stored in good condition.

Picture by Rainer Macht:


434 Panchito Gómez Toro

No reports.

435 Hermanos Ameijeiras

No reports. With only 1431 serviceable in 2001, I suspect steam was only used for tourist charters if at all.

437 Carlos Caraballo

Mill closed. 1550 is back from Marcelo Salado but no-one saw it in steam.

438 Ramón Ponciano

No rpeorts. Charter trains may have been run here, with 1552. Again it may have occasionally performed on shunts too.

440 Ifrain Alfonso

1635/1636/1850/1910 all in use (a welcome return to action for 1910). 1637 thought to have been under repair all season. As usual the crew's demands spoiled visits, the decorated trains were again in evidence.

Picture by Rainer Macht:


441 Diez de Octubre

1661 spare loco and used more this year.1639 from George Washington continues its repair, maybe for use next year, 1638 is out of use in the yard. 1661 also reported on a charter train at Mill 440 Ifrain Alfonso....

443 Pepito Tey

Mill closed. At least one charter here using 1164 and 1236.

446 Carlos Baliño

Mill working, only one visit and no active steam. 1432 may just be serviceable.

448 Simón Bolivar

Mill closed, not much steam activity 1354 seen active reported as an 'intermill' (but may have been only on the molasses tankers), another visitor found 1360 in steam for the molasses train to/from Mill 418 Obdulio Morales.

503 Orlando Gonzáles Ramirez

Locos seen working this year were 1563, 1732, 1836 and 1837. Nothing suggested it was other than 'business as usual' with very positive reports.

Picture by Yoshi Matsuo:

1836 + 1563

504 Ecuador

1564, 1578, 1821 and 1904 all reported at work on the patio and out on the line as usual. No reports of 1461 (a 2001 runner) being active.

Picture of 1821 by Yoshi Matsuo:


505 Carlos Manuel de Céspedes

No steam activity.

506 Bolivia

Mill closed, firlesses stored.

511 Brasil

No reports of the firelesses at work here (1370, 1251, 1369 working in 2001), security is tight for casual visitors.

515 Ciro Redondo

Only 1826 active mostly on the patio.

517 Patria o Muerte

Mill again closed, no news of 1827 from Ciro Redondo is here allegedly for tourist trains.

520 Noel Fernández

Two reports, 1664, super fireless working again.

Picture by Alan Murray-Rust:


522 Venezuela

Mill closed but 1657 and 1742 reported working including occasional intermills to Mill 504 Ecuador.

Picture by Roland Beier:


601 Salvador Rosales

One report only with 1592 in steam for a local special, normally it is used 'about twice a month'.

Picture by Bernd Seiler:


615 Bartolome Maso

One report - 1590 to LP's and intermills to Mill 637. 1757 used on one charter.

Picture by Yoshi Matsuo:

1590 on a REAL train

620 Arquimedes Colina

No reports.

627 José N Figueredo

No reports.

635 Rafael Freyre

Open and working 'normally' in between the charters and tourist trains. 1386, 1387, 1388, 1390 and 1391 all reported in use.

Pictures by Alan Murray-Rust



637 Renulfo Leyva

No active steam here.

Hershey Electric Railway

There is an extended account in the main visit reports.

Parque Lenin

2-6-0 2 was in regular use and is reported to be joined on the active roster by 1405 from Mill 105.


1517 (ex-Reynold Garcia) was available for hire and worked as required. 1551 needs repairs.

Rob Dickinson