• Cuba

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Ken W2KB
Well, in hopes of it beings somewhat topical, one of my co-workers took one of those "historical research" trips to Cuba a couple years ago to study the rail equipment (with a chartered plane full of railfans, errr rail historians <g>.) It was during the harvest so much of the steam equipment used only at that time was operating.

That said, it also occurs to me that while it has been some time since, there is still the possibility of a hijack to Cuba so the info would be helpful to the flight crews just on the chance.

I did take a quick look at FAA contractor DUATS website and found:

L/L: 2021N/07430W LRN/GPS: 20-21.42N/074-30.13W Elev:
fss: artcc: INTL Notams:
Freq: 278 Mag Var: 05W

By the way, I recall my friend mentioning that a couple of the group brought GPSs with them to see where they were and mark photospots for the record. That caused quite a commotion with the Cuban authorities who apparantly thought having a precise location for rail photos was a security breach. I think the units were confiscated.

  by CPRTim
Go to any eastern Canadian Airport in the winter months and you will find numerous flights both Scheduled (Air Canada) and Charter Airlines. These all overfly US airspace. Even Cubana, their national airline overflys the US on scheduled flights to both Toronto and Montreal.

Cuba is a popular winter destination for Canadians. For example, on our trip in March, we have a choice of two B757s and one B767 all leaving Halifax within a couple of hours of each other to several Cuban destinations.

For us, no different than going to Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. No special documentation required, just your passport and they issue a tourist visa.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Air Canada overflying US airspace is of course governed by a treaty between the two soverign nations.

Cubana overflying the US? WOW. One must wonder how that comes to pass (who am I to dispute your statement, Mr. CPRTim?). I wonder if they charter their aircraft to a Canadian flagged carrier and that carrier exercises its rights under the applicable "Can-Am" treaty?

I was always of thought that when two nations "break' diplomatic relations with one another, all pre-existing treaties were voided.

Regarding Mr. KenW2KB's report, I would guess that the one NAVAID he notes, the NDB (Non Directional Beacon - the most primitive form of NAVAID out there), is the only one available for US Airmen to use.

I know for a fact that when a US Military aircraft approaches Guantanamo, best be sure you are where you belong and not elsewhere - I personally know Marines who have done just that.

Oh well, anyone here frequent the several "airfan" Forums out there?

  by Rich T
Actually our flight was initially denied Cuban air space due to some procedural matters, and we circled over The Keys for some time before returning to Miami for refueling. After several hours at Miami our ATR-42 was permitted to depart and we landed without further incident. Surprisingly there were other US flagged carriers already there, including a Continental (DC-9?).

  by Gilbert B Norman
Are we ever getting off topic around here, but hopefully Mr. Benton will allow this lattitude.

Uh, I thought it was unlawful for any person in United States of America to have any trade outside of some humanitarian relief and "de minimis' bona-fide gifts, with any person within the Republic of Cuba.

In this statement, the scope of person not only includes an individual but also a business entity such as a Corporation. Trade means any transaction for goods, services, or capital, between any two soverign nations.

Sounds to me as when Mr. Rich T's chartered US flagged arcraft ramped at UHA that he observes still another US flagged aircraft parked at an adjacent gate, it is time to say (excepting Mr.RichT's starement in this instance) "believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see".

  by CPRTim
Boy we’re getting way OT here! But lets just say we’re providing info. for anyone who might want to travel to Cuba to sample their rail operations.

Aircraft on the Toronto and Montreal routes are modern “western” AirBus A320's in Cubana colours operating with the CU code. (Occasionally an aircraft leased from TACA (Guatemala) will be used) Flights operate direct Havana-Toronto/Montreal through US airspace. Sector times match those of Air Canada (Not adding a couple of extra hours flying time to route out over the Atlantic then north to Maritimes and into Canadian airspace to avoid the US)



Cuba is now second to Florida as the most popular southern destination for Canadians and air traffic is heavy between the two countries.
Last edited by CPRTim on Fri Jan 14, 2005 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Ken W2KB
The "historical research or educational" exemption that railfan charters operate under was added several years ago. There may be others that have thawed the ice a bit.

  by Rich T
This trip was billed and operated as a history study tour and daily lectures were part of the program. Two stand out; one was a representative of a Cuban English Language radio station, and the other was someone from the Ministry of Transportation who explained the many issues resulting from fuel and parts shortages.

  by David Benton
ill take all this as information useful to someone planning a railfan trip to Cuba . ( besides i find it interesting ! )
but please , lets not digress further than that .

  by Rich T
Okay - let's get back on track.

On March 5, 2002 there were;
286 total steam locomotives
180 active
11 builders
174 Baldwin
54 American Locomotive
34 Vulcan
11 Henschel
?? Davenport
Average age 80 years
Oldest #1112 0-4-2T Baldwin 1878
Most modern #1850 2-8-2 Baldwin 1935

Condition of the 286;
58 good
146 regular
82 bad

Maintenance intervals, 15 day, yearly, 5 year, 10 year.

16 km average trip to mill

Four gauges;
27 3/4", 30", 36", standard

At that time no new locomotives were planned.

Jump ahead to September 2004 British "Heritage Railway" magazine.

Surplus Cuban engines no use for UK.
Heritage lines and restoration lines in Britain have been warned to fight shy of redundant locomotives being offered for sale from sugar plantation lines. Most if not all ot the 55 locomotives offered would be highly expensive to rebuild and will be in pretty dire condition. The writer also doubted they would be of any use in Europe or the USA as they will almost certainly need a total rebuild, and in most cases a new boiler.
The article continues that about 50 were in steam for the last harvest.

  by Gilbert B Norman
I guess unless one has been of on an excursion to Mars, everyone knows that Fidel Castro is presently "not in good shape".

While likely the Cuban Government has a ready to go line of successors totally imbued with Marxist doctrine, there is always the possiblity that trade with the US will be "normalized". After all, we are "uh, not exactly' on the same ideological page with the Chinese, but that does not seem to impair trade with them.

Who knows, will a "Rail Study Tour' be in the offing. Will that little restriction appearing in any Passport that has been issued to me over the years, suddenly be rescinded? Will your local Post Office have a supply of stickers to attach noting the rescission?

Stay tuned.

  by CPRTim
Time once again to start planning for our annual trip to Cuba and the one day I’m “allowed” to leave the rest at the beach and head out on my own to do a bit of railfanning.

We will be in the Holguin area during March Break. I’ve always had good luck getting shots around the stations and they’ve even moved a engine so I could get a better shot. (these are great, friendly people!) But I’m wondering if anyone has info on current passenger train schedules so I can get some action shots. Are the xVIA RDCs still operating? I would especially like to see one of the former CPR units. Any information would be appreciated.

  by Gilbert B Norman
And I’m proud to be and American, where at least I know I’m free

Well,,,not exactly,,,,when it comes to visiting Cuba.

I don't think IED's are made from sugar cane.

  by David Benton
caught a travel doco here on cuba last week . I think there was one shot of a train , but pretty sure it wasnt a RDC .
It seems like Cuba is a great holiday destination , certainly pretty funky , crimefree , and happy people .

  by David Benton
MODERATORS NOTE: I think that discussing flights , tourist information , travel diffculities ,and travel experiences IS within the scope of this thread . Its all relevant to someone planning a railtrip to Cuba .
So please feel free to share your experiences and knowledge on travelling in Cuba .
Thanks ,

David .