The International Steam Pages
Real Steam in Cuba 2005?
Roland Beier visited Cuba from 30 March to 13 April 2005. There is still something to be achieved by individual gricers although you require a lot of luck and patience and it is no longer as in the old days. Although this visit was not only devoted to chasing steam seven working steam locos have been encountered. Quintin Banderas, Ecuador and Brasil have not been visited which use another six working locos according to other reports.
207 Gregorio Arlee Manalich
On 30 March 1510 was the loco in use on the standard gauge. The loco ran tender first with empties via the new built section to the Centro Acopio around 16.00 and returned with a load of fulls. This was the first train of the day as I was told, the day before it had been raining. A class 38 diesel from Hector Molina was there to take the train onwards. Another visit on 11 April saw 1402 working. This loco ran chimney first to the Centro Acopio. Staff told that the mill should reopen in 2006 and that the narrow gauge may be used again. A closer inspection of the new standard gauge section revealed that the sleepers placed on the former n.g. line carry fittings for a third rail. So there is at least a possibility for the narrow gauge system to be reinstated.
319 Rene Fraga
On 2 April 1518 was in steam at Rene Fraga. A Class 38 diesel had arrived on a hoppers train and 1518 was then use to shunt hoppers over the weigh bridge. 1413 was dead on shed.
440 Ifrain Alfonso / 441 Diez de Octubre
A typical example for ups and downs. On 4 April 1639 (lettered mill 441) and 1636 (mill 440) were both in steam at Ifrain Alfonso shed. 1636 was then used to serve the 441 Centro Acopio. The loco ran all the way via the main line and back during the late morning, repeating the whole trip during the afternoon. So there was real main line steam between Ranchuelo and Santa Maria. On the same day 1639 took 2 diesels for repairs to Cruces and returned from there light engine. Staff said that the next day 1636 would be used as yard shunter whilst 1639 was booked to work to Pozo. On my arrival on 5 April 1639 was dead however, the loco had failed and Pozo was worked by a diesel whilst 1636 acted a s yard pilot and Diez de Octubre was served by a Class 37 diesel.
515 Ciro Redondo
One of the highlights if you were there on the right day. On 5 April 1826 was in use as yard pilot. The steam leaks reported at the beginning of March had obviously been repaired and the loco performed quite well. Around noon another whistle blew and 1829 arrived on a full load from the line leading to CA 1. The loco then took water and at 14.00 went out again on a train of empties serving CA 2, CA 12 and CA 3 (Desengano). The loco later returned to the mill chimney first on a train of fulls in evening sunlight, just as it had been many years ago.