Cuba’s first new train passenger cars in more than four decades set off on their maiden journey across the island on Saturday in what the government hopes will prove a total revamp of its decrepit railway system with help from allies Russia and China, ONA rpeorts quoting .
Cuba’s railway system is one of the oldest in the world; its first stretch was launched in the 1830s. But it has suffered from a lack of maintenance and new equipment in an inefficient state-run economy under a crippling U.S. trade embargo that lacks cash.
Trains have for years been one of the cheapest but also least efficient ways to travel long distances on the Caribbean’s largest island, typically taking 24 hours to cross the nearly 900 km (600 miles) from Havana in the west to Santiago in the east - twice as long as by car.
Tickets are often elusive, with the ramshackle infrastructure unable to cope with the demand, and trains do not run on schedule. Passengers, meanwhile, must contend with missing windows and doors, and cracked seats. Accidents have become increasingly common in recent years.
But Cuba’s government is planning to change all that by 2030, starting with upgrading its equipment, before moving onto the more daunting task of restoring the railroads.