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Cuba revives train line

Cuba has revived its previously defunct rail line, raising hopes of better travelling schedules around the country.

For the first time since the 1970s, Cuba has new trains rolling on the island after the first train made up entirely of Chinese cars left Havana Friday on a 14-hour, 835-km journey to Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city on the island.

The government hopes to develop a large-scale programme for the renewal of the island’s rail system, with the help of Russia and China, over the next ten years.

“Thanks to the cooperative relations with China, today the Cuban transport system can count with the start-up of these trains,” a Transport Ministry spokesman said.

Havana received in May 80 new rail cars made in China that are already in service and another 80 are due next year and so on at a rate of 80 each year from 2019 to 2021, acquired with a Chinese loan payable in 15 years.

The new cars are divided into the air-conditioned first class and TV and the second class with fans and windows.

Each car has a seating capacity of 72. Altogether they offer room for 720 passengers in a railway formation about 325 metres long, something unusual on the island.

Cuba has also signed an agreement with Russia to modernise its railways worth almost $1 billion, although the details have not yet been disclosed. In 2017, the Russian Railways state corporation said it was also negotiating the installation of a high-speed rail connection between Havana and the Varadero resort.

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