Monday, 24 March 2008

Valle de los Ingenios Railway, Cuba

Trinidad, in Cuba, is a world heritage site. There is a railway operation from Trinidad towards the East, terminating at Mayer. There´s a diesel railcar service provided for the locals which I think does a round trip morning and evening. There´s also a steam train for tourists which does a round trip starting at 9.30 in the morning.

Unfortunately, the steam locomotive had failed sometime before I arrived and the steam trip was not running. I found the locomotive in the yard at Trinidad - number 1432, a fairly modern Baldwin ´ten-wheeler´ 4-6-0 oil-burner. I also had a conversation with one of the drivers (if you can call it a conversation when I don´t speak Spanish and he didn´t speak English). So, I didn´t get to see working steam in Cuba, but I was able to look at the Valle de los Ingenious Railway operation.

The ´station´ at Trinidad is a short, low platform provided with a small awning. On the other side of the minor road which runs parallel with the single railway track is a simple building with a waiting room and an office for the booking clerk and railway operator. I presume the line to the West does (or did) connect up with the rest of the network, but I couldn´t confirm that. To the East, the line continues to Meyer where it stops. To the West of the station, there are three parallel loops where the stock is stabled - there is also a reversing ´wye´ or triangle which allows locomotives, railcars or whole trains to be turned. On one road I found a 4-wheel coach, a 4-wheel open wagon converted for use as a coach and a diesel locomotive 34C71. This was next to the steam locomotive with two coaches and a motorised platelayer´s trolley with its own wagon. On the other siding was an open-sided passenger coach, an apparently converted freight car which now has windows down the sides, a fairly big diesel locomotive made in Russia and a 4-wheel trailer passenger car. There was also a lightweight railcar without autocouplers by ´IFA´, numbered 637 apparently based on a bus design. Finally, there was a fairly new open-sided but fenced-off shed provided with a pit and a lifting crane, with a bogie diesel railcar numbered 4021 ´at home´ and giving the impression it did most of the work.

Since 4021 only had a cab at one end, it was obviously intended to run with a trailer car to provide the second cab. The trailer car I´d found looked the right size, but the 4-wheel (as opposed to bogie) construction seemed odd. Also, 4021 had had a tail lamp ostentatiously fitted on one side of the non-driving end. That evening, all would be revealed.

Sunday evening, I travelled in the cab of 4021, as described in my travel blog for Sunday.

Pictures of the railway at Trinidad.