BY LOURDES PÉREZ NAVARRO | Granma
Rail workers, with the skill of knowing where to place their feet after constant work on the railroads, wedged the rail with a thick piece of timber and removed the deteriorated rail using a lever and a sledgehammer. They then changed it for a new one. They were encouraged by the strong purpose of putting the track two from the Los Elevados railtrack into function. This provides access to the Central Train Station in Havana City.
Jose Angel Reyes Guilarte, head of a Roads and Bridges Brigade from Havana belonging to the Road Works and Railroad Constructions Company, (VOC), talks to Granma newspaper: “We are carrying out a major repair of the railroad two to improve the circulation and speed of trains along this track, which was in a dreadful state and could not be used for four years. We are also working on the metal structure, especially the aisles. Height? Well that is another challenge, but we have to carry on working and get this line to work.
The earlier repair of Los Elevados, very important to the operations of the trains that transport passengers to and from the Central Station, dates back five years. Then, work on the structure of the bridge was carried out.
The Penichet crossroad is at the foot of Los Elevados, which links the city with the Havana Port zone. Road-repair workers also worked there and tried to reestablish the technical parameters of the area and guarantee the safety of the motor and railroad vehicles that go by that place.
The level of deterioration of this level crossing could have caused accidents. It was totally closed for some days, while a major repair—which included the demolition of the concrete and the setting of a new one—was being undertaken.
Members of the Young Workers Army (EJT) worked hand in hand with fully-fledged soldiers from the VOC.
Sergeant Eduardo Camejo from Matanzas, Corporal Carmelo Ezequiel and Juan Miguel Valera from Havana City and Erick Espinosa from Villa Clara say that this work is really useful. They know that with the work they do they are helping to put the railroad back into function.
“I have been here for over a year and except for putting up a bridge, I have done everything. If I am given the chance to stay here when I finish my military service I will certainly do so,” said Corporal Carmelo.
Operators Miguel Molina and Raymundo Carvajal, with more than 20 years experience in this railroad work, look at them, listen to them and smile. “These guys are worth teaching,” they said.
JOINING EFFORTS ON THE RAILROAD
Based in the Cristina Station, 40 soldiers from the EJT are now working on the repair of the rail roads of the area of Nudo de la Habana.
According to Rolando Navarro, Director General of the Cuban Railroad Company, Cuba’s decision is to integrate 2,000 soldiers from the EJT this year into railroad work. “Today, we have 300 and we will increase that to 700. By December, 1,300 more will be incorporated mainly involved in the repair of track, as we hope to revitalize the railroads by 2012.”
This idea has been renewed. Early in the 1970´s, these people worked hard to rebuild the railroad. Some of them then went to work at the Railroad Construction Company, where they took executive charge. Currently, the contribution of young people to the construction of railroads has come to be a number-one priority.
Navarro said that those inmates included in the Tarea Confianza membership will be incorporated into these activities. In addition, political and mass organizations are gradually joining clearing up activities on the railroads.
Navarro said: “It is necessary to do this, as these railroads have not been properly cared for in a long time. So, they are full of grass and solid waste thrown out by the nearby population and workplaces. The results can be clearly seen in those places where the community has joined the cleaning activities, such as in the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Río, Guantánamo, and Havana.
RESTORATION OF THE CENTRAL LINE
The current process of rebuilding the railroad—- in operation till 2012—-began last October near the Havana junction, a very important area for the Cuban economy since it carries more than 60% of railroad activities to every area, said deputy director of VOC productions Alfredo Paredes Sánchez, Once this area is finished, the 2010 plans should aim at restoring two stretches of the Habana-Santa Clara Central Line ( the one with most technical flaws), as well as an area in Palo Seco in Camaguey.
From his standpoint the program is “a challenge for our workers, but the most important thing is that the 80 percent of the resources can be found in Cuba, including the stone. The construction materials are guaranteed.
The receipt of cutting–edge technology will help to boost the restoration process of the railroads, said Paredes.