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Russians to Upgrade Cuba’s Railway System

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One of the first railways in the world, Cuba's railroad system is about to be upgraded by the Russians.

The Russians have signed an agreement with the Cubans to upgrade the Island’s railway system. Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, signed the agreement yesterday in a ceremony at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.

The intergovernmental agreement for the modernization of the railway infrastructure was co-signed by Evgueni Dietrich, Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said the project is valued at “slightly less than $1 billion.”

Cuba’s original railway system was constructed by the Spanish with the first track laid in 1837. The Spaniards built it to transport sugar to the coastal ports. Once most glorious, the Cuban railway was the first railroad system in Latin America and the seventh country in the world to have its own railroad.   

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Today’s railroad stretches for 835 km, from Havana to Santiago de Cuba.  Over the years, despite the U.S. embargo, friendly nations such as China, Canada, Spain, and Venezuela have provided Cuba with new trains, improvements and maintenance to the railways.

In November 2016, Cuban firm Tradex and the Russian company Tvervagonnostroitelny Zavod signed a deal for the supply and delivery of 68 railway cars.

The investment in its railway infrastructure will have a positive effect on the Cuban economy and will increase and improve cargo volumes, rail safety and passenger transportation throughout the Island. The project will also reducing transfer times of export-import between the two countries. An equipment and services deal to be supplied by Russia’s RZD is the next step.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, and UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, were among other world leaders in attendance at what is considered as the most important international economic event in Russia.

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On his visit to Russia, Minister Cabrisas has also met with the adviser to the President of the Russian Federation, Anton Kobiakov, the president of the Promsviazbank Bank, Piotr Fradkov, the executive director of the oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and the heads of several Russian ministries, including Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich, Agriculture Minister Dmitri Patrushev, and deputy head of the Russian government Yuri Borisov.

Also in attendance at the International Economic Forum were the Cuban ministers of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil Fernández; of Industries, Alfredo López Valdés; the Cuban Ambassador in Moscow, Gerardo Peñalver Portal, and several other business leaders and officials.

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