ZAFRA 2005 ReporT         

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THE DOWNTURN CONTINUES....

- The story of 2005

The decimation of the Cuban sugar industry that has taken place in recent years continues but in a slower more controlled manner. Cuba now even imports some sugar! In some areas a thinner variety of cane is being grown. This is more resistant to the pests and diseases that have affected many Cuban canefields in recent years as can be witnessed by areas with withered or poor growth. The thinner variety does require more plants to produce the same amount of sugar and is responsible for lower quantities of harvested cane at some mills.

Standard gauge steam operations are now confined to less than 10 working mills plus the museum sites, but 2005 did see the construction of a new line at Manalich built solely for steam use!

For narrow gauge steam, with Pepito Tey finally closing, Mal Tiempo losing their cane cars and Manalich not milling, Rafael Freyre provided the only location to see trains other than with just a tourist carriage. The introduction of regular water tanker trains proving that within this community the railway is still a necessary part of the transport infrastructure.

There may have been fewer locomotives operating at less mills, with maybe as few as 25 working locos in 2005.

For information on the status of other mills refer to the 2003 zafra report.

207 Gregorio Arlee Manalich.

What a difference a year makes! The mill closed through lack of cane with diesels handling the intermills to Hector Molina. The narrow gauge not used and the line severed at the large loading point just outside the mill. This LP was the only one still used, reached by means of a new standard gauge line laid from the FCC line in a tight ‘s’ curve to the acopio. The tightness of this line was ok for the mill’s 2-6-0’s 1402 (maroon) and 1510 (black), but far too tight for class 38 diesels such as was found derailed there in May. Manalich say the mill may reopen and the narrow gauge reinstated, if cane levels increase next year. We shall see!

212 Boris Luis Santa Coloma.

1606 was again out of use at the back of the shed.

213 Manuel Martinez Prieto.

Progress is slow, if at all, at Minaz’s Havana museum operation situated near Havana Airport. The mill is still used but only as a refinery. The current museum fleet includes 1204, 1205 and 1309 in restored condition. 1507 is operational and some reports also mention 1502 although this was not seen when visited in April. 1112 was being overhauled. 1707 is the next loco to be restored. 1803, 1805 and 1806 are in dumped condition.

315 Jose Smith Comas.

The museum fleet is now 1122, 1216, 1410, 1415, 1530, 1531, 1610, 1614, 1714, 1721 & 1812. 1531 & 1610 are the only locos deemed operational at present. 1812 may end up being sectioned as 1426 at Marcelo Salado.

319 Rene Fraga.

The operation from the LP's just outside the mill was handled by 1518 with 1413 used as standby. 1820 was not in use this year. 1119 is plinthed near the mill.

403 Mal Tiempo.

The narrow gauge tourist train still runs, but the mill has ‘lost’ all of it’s cane cars (possibly to mill 416), so charter trains were not possible this year despite locos being available. Standard gauge 1848 has been ‘parked’ at the mill, but 1621 is dumped in the yard.

404 Ciudad Caracas.

The mill was back in action, but all cane duties were diesel. The mill wish to reclaim 1621.

405 Luis Arcos Bergnes.

Only 1541, 1823 and the plinthed loco remain.

411 Jose Maria Perez.

1622 from Luis Arcos Bergnes still awaits overhaul. 1728 was available for pilot duties but was usually only used on tourist duties.

STEAM IN PARADISE 2005 ZAFRA REPORT part 2

STEAM IN PARADISE 2004 ZAFRA REPORT

STEAM IN PARADISE 2003 ZAFRA REPORT

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