Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Train crash in Cuba belies ongoing efforts to improve the rail system
Three people died and at least 93 others were injured when two trains collided near Sibanicu, in Camaguey province, on Saturday (February 7). The collision derailed at least one of the trains, tumbling carriages down an embankment.
This is the second major train crash in Cuba in 18 months. At least 28 people were killed when a Manzanillo-bound train from Santiago collided with a bus at a level crossing at Yara, in Granma province, in October 2007.
The recent crash highlights again the sorry state of public transportation in Cuba, where the rail infrastructure is antiquated and run-down, and buses and trains are always overcrowded.
Fortunately, the Cuban government recently announced that it has earmarked $500 million to modernize the rail system, operated by Ferrocarriles de Cuba. Since 2000, Cuba has upgraded its aging trains by buying modern, albeit second-hand, railway stock from Canada, Mexico, and Europe. In 2006, 12 new Chinese diesel trains were shipped to Cuba. And in October 2007, it ordered 200 new railway cars from Iran.
And in September 2007, Cuba signed a deal with the Venezuelan Economic and Social Development Bank to invest $100 million to improve rail tracks, signals and communications… not least, stated Cuban transport minister Jorge Luis Sierra, with a goal of increasing “the [average] speed of our trains from 40 to 100 kilometers per hour.”
None too soon!
Meanwhile, Cuba has been restoring and sprucing up some of its treasured antiquarian steam trains for tourist passenger ventures. In fact, Cuba is a twilight zone Nirvana for railroading buffs.
I’ll be writing about Cuba’s steam trains in a future post, but if you’re heading to Cuba any time soon you can read about them, and the various steam train rides on offer, in my Moon Cuba.