The International Steam Pages

Real Steam in Cuba 2005?

Peter Smith's Cuba Report 2005 Visit from 10th to 24th March 2005 showed that the early season promise of some interest was not totally maintained...

STEAM. For one who enjoyed the glory days up to 2002, 2005 provided only disappointment

10 de Octubre - 1639 was in steam on 12th March and hauled full cars from the loading point to the loco shed. A run on the main line was thwarted by the lack of watering facilities at Ranchuelo. The railbus 15031 was being resprayed after body repairs but hopes of seeing it back in service were dashed when on a later visit the front truck had been removed. On later visits 1639 was always at Ifrain Alfonso. 1661 remains dumped.

Ifrain Alfonso - 1636 was switching the yard on 12th March. On later visits this loco was not in steam ,1639 deputising but mostly only in light steam. 1635, 1850 and 1910 still stored, 1637 in the shed.

Luis Arcos Bergnes - 1541 and 1823 present on 14th March, increasingly isolated and overgrown.

Marcelo Salado - No changes to stock from November 2004 visit. 1549 was seen working a tourist train to Remedios on 14th March.

J M Perez - 1622 and 1728 present, not in steam.

Obdulio Morales - Mill and shed closed, diesels all locked in deserted shed. All steam except the loco dumped behind the shed (?1420) now at Simon Bolivar.

Simon Bolivar - Except for scrapped remains of 1361 everything was as last visit. No 5 (1334) in working condition was in the shed which has been substantially cleared out except for the locos. The bogie rail lorry appears to be in working order, the 4 wheel lorry without engine was outside the shed.

Mal Tiempo - Mill closed, shed deserted but everything still intact. One loco (1345) appeared to have seen recent use. 1621 and 1848 still present.

Rene Fraga - No steam, diesel present (38xxx). 1413, 1518 and 1820 out of use.

Jose Smith Comas - No changes from November 2004, the site was deserted on 19th March.

Parque Lenin - 1350 ready to work on 20th March but no passengers as no food for visitors. 1373, No 1 present, Nos 2,3 stored at back of shed.

Martinez Prieto - Whole museum project terminated, not clear what will happen to locos. Only 1205 seen plinthed and ?1502 in the shed.

I did not disappoint myself by going to Manalich as a single standard gauge loco had limited appeal compared with earlier days. I understand 1403 may be deplinthed for further use and that would be worth seeing.

THE HERSHEY On 19th March 3008 and 20807(?) comprised the tourist train which was next due to run from Casablanca on 21st March. 3009 was in the yard and 3006 was on the Santa Cruz branch train but I did not see it. Most of the electric locos are stored and none has been scrapped. 3007 survives but has no future as its structural failure prohibits rail haulage. I think itís a great shame as it would make a good static exhibit for Cristina. Some flat car to tourist coach conversion in progress, purpose not clear as the essential appeal of the Hershey is to ride a Brill car. There are underutilised tourist cars all over the island.

THE MAIN LINES The main aim was to photograph complete trains as most photos are all loco or just the baggage car or crew caboose. I had some success.

Highlights for me were:

34077,the TU7 previously station pilot at Santa Clara has been overhauled and painted blue and white along with 4 boxvan coaches to work the University shuttle; the complete set worked only once in the 2 weeks of my visit. More usually 51208 A1A-A1A worked it with 3 brown boxvan coaches.

61613 seen on 17 March on a MOW train at Santa Clara; I had assumed all withdrawn.

A series of 53xxx on long distance freights at SC. Most mixed intermodal flats (each 1 40 foot and 1 20 foot container) and tank cars with a few box cars. All had one loco only and a crew caboose immediately behind it. 53xxx are being painted darker blue when repainted - eg53016.

53XXX now appearing on passenger services especially trains 11 and 12. Trains 1 and 2 are still 2x 524xx. Some like 53008 and 53016 seen on passenger and freight. In Havana 53xxx locos pick up or drop off the train at Enlace del Gas junction as presumably too heavy for the elevated approach to Central Station. 524XX pilot brings trains to and from the station (52410).

61201 is still Luyano pilot

509XX operate mainly on yard pilot and local services 

512xx have similar duties and secondary freights and have both AA-A1A and A1A-A1A trucks

MINAZ hopper trains with 38xxx and 39xxx frequently seen waiting for the road for long periods at SC.

Railcars 2404,6,7 seen in use on Havana to Matanzas, Moron and Camaguey trains. No Budd cars seen on these trains.

Various 51xxx seen including 51001 at Santa Clara on 12th March

91401 seen on Havana bound freight on 12th March

524xx noted only in Havana on trains 1 and 2, 52434, 52449 and as station /yard pilot.52432 in green and cream, others blue. A freshly overhauled but unidentified 524xx seen in Coubre yard in dark blue with yellow stripes .It is understood this class are being rebuilt by Alsthom.

The yard at Cienaga was nearly empty with only a 53xxx and 512xx in the works sidings. Only other locos were a 53xxx and 2 524xxx being prepared for train No 1.

Some Guerrillero railcars remain at Cienaga including 4107, 4115 but it is not known if they are still used; most local services seem to use German railbuses.

School services with yellow coaches have finished and cars are being redeployed elsewhere.

Examples of 71xxx and 526xx seen at Santa Clara and Havana, 71048, 71071, 52648, 52656.

It is understood 12 6 axle diesel electrics are to come from China this year - see

Rob Dickinson