HAVANA, Nov. 6th (EFE) Cuba and Russia advanced today in Havana in the negotiations of a joint project aimed at modernizing the island’s rail sector, with an execution plan conceived until 2030, and they hope to sign the final contract before to end this year.
The project director for the Russian Railways company, Oleg Nikolaiev, said that there has been “a step forward” in the direction set last September, when Russia promised to collaborate in the updating of the Cuban railway sector with an investment of some 1,000 million euros (equivalent to about 1,054 million dollars).
Nikolaev, who led the delegation of his country in the talks held at the current International Fair of Havana (Fihav 2017), explained that the project covers works on more than 1,100 kilometers of railway and the supply of construction equipment, roads and transport.
The project aims to almost double the capacity of cargo transport and triple the number of passengers, as detailed by the director of the Russian state railway company RZD International quoted by the Cuban News Agency.
It also has among its primary objectives the increase in the speed of passenger trains to 120 km / h, which would shorten the travel time on long routes such as the one that links Havana and the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, which currently it takes 20 hours or more, and it would be reduced to 12 hours.
Likewise, the agreement provides for the repair of roads of varying complexity, the reconstruction of facilities related to railway activity, the training of personnel linked to the operation of means of transport and works on the road, the improvement of signaling and the repair of bridges.
The plan includes the modernization of the central line between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, the route between the central cities of Santa Clara and Cienfuegos, and the railway junction that gives access to the capital of the island.
The works will be assumed by specialized brigades of the Ministry of Construction and the Union of Railways of Cuba.
Cuba and Russia signed in December 2016 in Havana a group of agreements in the areas of military, transport, electric power and medicines, as a result of the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for economic-commercial and scientific-technical cooperation.
In recent years, both countries have given a boost to their bilateral relationship with new economic cooperation agreements, and two years ago Russia canceled 90% of the debt contracted by the island.