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Railcar of the Hershey Electric Railway standing at Hershey station
Railcar of the Hershey Electric Railway standing at Hershey station

The first railway in Cuba, and one of the first railways outside of Europe and the USA, opened in 1837 between Habana and Bejucal, a distance of 27km. It was built by British engineers, and consequently used the standard gauge of 1435mm, which was adopted for futher expansion.

The lines eventually reached most parts of the island. Most lines remain in use today, and many routes retain a passenger service. Extensive rehabilitation of lines and equipment is in progress.

In 1919, a new standard gauge electrified railway opened between Habana and Matanzas. Although primarily intended for the carriage of sugar for export, it also carried passengers in railcars of a type known in the USA as interurban. The passenger service continues today as the Hershey Electric Railway.

In addition to the main lines, there were a large number of narrow gauge lines, mainly associated with the sugar cane industry. Remains of some of these survive and a few may operate tourist services, either by special arrangement or on a regular basis. However, information concerning these operations is hard to obtain.

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Photo image by Jezhotwells from Wikimedia Commons