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slow railcar to
Rail Historians/Educational & People to People tour
FEBRUARY 16-MARCH 2, 2017
sure go - sold out
FIDEL CASTRO IS DEAD
WHAT WILL TRUMP DO?
As most of you know, Fidel passed power over to his brother Raul Castro in 2008 and he plans stepping down in 2018. But we are all asking what happens now since Fedel just passed away. Rumors have been flying and people are wondering "What Next?. First, to ease everyone's concerns. This tour will run regardless of what Trump decides to do. If by chance Mr. Trump does recede what President Obama has done then we will have the OFAC license issued to run this tour.
President Obama eased travel restrictions which went into effect on July 8, 2016. For tour groups this means the US government license from OFAC was no longer required. The OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) has 12 categories of authorized travel in Cuba that previously required a specific license. Our two tours in Febuary and March fall under the categories of "Educational and People to People" tours. If Trump decides to Over- ride Obama's Executive Order our two tours will still run. The only difference is that we will get the OFAC licenses for all tour members.
FUTURE TOURS USING THE OLDER HISTORIC
MOTIVE POWER-NOW OR NEVER!
Now, if Trump does override Obama's Executive Order we will not offer any additional tours to Cuba until such time that the OFAC license will no longer be required. This could only take a few months or it could be several years. If it is indeed several years then much of the older historic railroad equipment will have been retired. If you want to experience most of the older motive power and equipment we suggest you come with us to Cuba NOW. Early this year Cuba signed an agreement with Russia to receive hundreds of new diesels over the next several years to replace the older stuff. So if you want to experience historic steam-diesel-railcars and much more we still have a hand full of seats on our first tour February 16-March 1, 2016. Hey rail historians, it is now or never to see and photograph the last of the operating classic stuff!
This tour is an in depth photo and educational study of the Cuban rail and transportation system and how it effects the Cuban culture and the people of this country. We will have two guides on this tour and on certain days the group will be split for special itinerary programs such as the rail historians and the transportation/culture historians plus people to people contact with the local Cubans . On days that we have arranged charter trains all tour members will be onboard. On selective evenings we will have local Cuban railroad management and transportation experts present the challenges they face keeping the train wheels moving in this county without the help of American technology after the early 1950's. The rail system of Cuba effects the everyday life of many Cubans and their economy. Railroad workshops throughout the country employ thousands of Cubans and we will have the opportunity to meet and talk with these rail workers when we visit these shops.
This tour will appeal to both the dedicated and casual railway historians and also those intrigued by many of the outlying places we visit and meet the local people, where the passage of time has been suspended. On rail we travel with diesel, steam and antique electric traction, and our own chartered vintage Budd RDC railcar.
We aim to travel by rail to the east of the island using our own chartered diesel railcar, but we commence our journey on the Hershey Railway with electric traction. We will be accompanied throughout by our chartered motorcoach, which will convey our luggage and undertake our transfers. Our itinerary requires flexibity, and we will aim to incorporate all steam operations which are available during 2017, but we must always be mindful of mañana and the Soviet legacy.
U.S. EASES RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL TO CUBA
The Obama administration announced that it would allow individuals to travel to Cuba for "people to people" educational trips and lift limits on the use of American dollars in transactions with Cuba, wiping away stiff restrictions on travel and commerce. The actions are some of the most significant regulatory changes the Treasury and the Department of Commerce have made on the way toward normalization. Americans who plan a trip with a full schedule of educational exchange activities, including interacting with Cuban people, will for the first time in decades be able to travel on their own to Cuba without special permission from the United States government.
US RESTORES REGULAR FLIGHTS TO CUBA
The United States and Cuba has signed an agreement authorizing daily US commercial flights to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. The deal allows up to 110 daily flights to 10 destinations in Cuba, with about 20 of them to the capital Havana, where authorities have ordered renovations to double the capacity of Jose Marti airport.
FIRST AMERICAN FLIGHT TO CUBA
NEWS RELEASE: A JetBlue Airways Corp passenger jet landed in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara on Wednesday August 31, 2016 , becoming the first scheduled commercial passenger flight from the United States to the island in more than a half century. The arrival of the Airbus A320 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, opened another chapter in the Obama administration's efforts to improve ties and increase trade and travel with the former Cold War foe.
Following the start up of Jet Blue these airlines will begain service to
Havana, Cuba within the next few months.
Los Angeles to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Miami to Havana, four daily round-trip flights
Charlotte to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Delta Air Lines
New York's JFK to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Atlanta to Havana, one daily round-trip
Miami to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Miami to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Fort Lauderdale to Havana, two round-trip flights daily (except only once on Saturdays)
New York JFK to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Orlando to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Fort Lauderdale to Havana, two daily round-trip flights
Tampa to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Fort Lauderdale to Havana, two daily round-trip flights
Newark to Havana, one daily round-trip flight
Houston to Havana, one weekly round-trip flight (on Saturdays)
THIS TOUR WILL ALLOW YOU TO EXPERIENCE INTERESTING
DAY 1 THURSDAY FEBRUARY 16: (D)
Fly from the US to Havana. Since American owned airlines fly to Havana from Miami and other cities and the travel restrictions have been eased your air is not included in the tour price. We plan to meet your flights in Havana and transfer you to the Hotel Plaza in downtown and check-in. In the evening we will have a "Welcome to Cuba" rooftop buffet dinner.
DAY 2 FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17: (B,D)
We make a leisurely start on our first morning, commencing with a guided walking tour of Old Havana, where we get the country, its capital, and its people in perspective. We include Gran Teatro, Capitolio, Floridita, Obispo, Castillo de la Real, Catederal, Plaza de Armas, Coche Mambi, etc. and all of the significant sites of old Havana before breaking for lunch. After lunch we continue to Antiguos Almacenes San José where 5 locomotives are preserved and with an opportunity to visit a motor museum (self pay). Late afternoon we hope to have a Steam Train working along Ave del Puerto from Termial de Ferris to Iglesia de Paula and complete the day with the New Port Avenue Brewery opposite Iglesia de Paula. Dinner will be in a restaurant near to our hotel.
DAY 3 SATURDAY FEBRUARY 18: (B,L)
We take a box lunch and bus to the Central and La Coubre Stations. We have requested to take the Budd railcar from Central Station to Cristina Railway Museum with an option to photograph our Budd car on the elevated railway. Afterwards, we continue by rail to the attractive Bejucal Station, terminal of the first railway, where exists a small railway artifact museum. From here we will bus to Parque Lenin locomotive shed, and derelict station at Expocuba. On to Cienaga and 19 November stations where we can view through fence at Cienaga diesel workshops. During the course of the day we will be meeting many railroad employees and management as we receive a general feel for the Cuban rail system.
Group two We take a coach from our hotel along the Malecon, past the National Hotel. We have a short visit to the Plaza de Revolution and the Colon Necropolis then continue into lovely countryside 45 miles west of Havana to the Orchid Gardens in Soroa. We will be able to meet the people that operate these gardens.
Steam action on the Parque Lenin Railroad near Havana
DAY 4 SUNDAY FEBRUARY 19: (B,L,D)
Our day will commence with a demonstration of the cigar making process and an explanation of the origin of coffee with a chance to sample both. Then we go to the Havana Club Museum, with its magnificent model railway and a chance to sample some rum! Across the road from here we take a ferry over the harbor, to the Casa Blanca terminus of the Hershey Railway for the train just after midday to Matanzas City of Bridges. This antiquated electric line was built to deliver sugar to Havana for the Hershey Chocolate Co. The stock used today is second-hand railcars from Spain. The Hershey Brill railcars are now out-of-service but we will see them at the workshops. It may be possible to visit the Hershey Railway vast workshops but arrangements will be made with local Hershey rail employees. At Matanzas, there will be time to visit the other railway station before we proceed to Varadero Beach and hotel check-in at the five star Barcelo Solymar Resort located on famous Varadero Beach.
Havana Club Model Railroad
Above photos of the Hershey Railroad's electric equipment
DAY 5 MONDAY FEBRUARY 20: (B,L,D)
Today we plan two steam hauled journeys. We transfer by our bus to the museum sugar mill of Jose Smith Comas near Cardenas. Here a number of steam locomotives are nicely preserved. We can examine these whist we await our journey behind steam to Cardenas, and onwards with a small amount of street running on the town's rum factory branch. We take lunch at a hacienda and continue to Central Australia mill near Jaguey Grande, for yet another steam charter , during which we halt at a banana plantation. There will be opportunities for photos and to even operate the steam locomotives before we make a brief call at Central Catorce de Julio, an operational sugar mill with a narrow gauge railway system. We then continue on our charter bus to the four star Las Caneyes Resort just outside the city of Santa Clara.
Visiting the Jose Smith Comas Sugar Mill and their railroad
DAY 6 TUESDAY FEBRUARY 21: (B,L,D)
We commence our day with a transfer north-east past the city of Remedios, past the Museo de Vapor Marcelo Salado to Caibarien, where there is a coach and railcar works, of which we can view through the fence! Returning to Marcelo Salado, there are a large number of preserved steam locomotives, to observe before we return to Remedios by our charter steam hauled train. We will take lunch in the outstanding central square of this colonial city before moving to nearby Central Herberito Duquesne mill, to view British built narrow gauge diesel locomotives at work hauling sugar cane, after which, we transfer to beautiful Sancti Spriticus, one of Cuba's oldest towns, for a brief city visit en route to our check-in at the three star Hotel Los Laureles.
Group two will remain at Remedios after lunch and take a guided walking tour of the of the colonial buildings , the square and two interesting churches
The Marcelo Salado Museum is a steam lovers paradise
DAY 7 WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 22: (B,L,D)
We will be riding a mid-morning scheduled public train to Tunas de Zazal which will give us the opportunity to meet local Cuban passengers on the train.. We will then transfer to Manaca Ignaza and, if operating, those who wish can ride the Tourist Train to Trinidad station through the Sugar Mills' Valley. Alternatively you can continue to extraordinary Trinidad for a walking tour before regrouping again at the station where we can all ride an antiquated railbus on the Casilda branch. We return at the end of the day to our hotel near Sancti Spriticus.
Group two will make a leisurely and separate transfer to Manaca Ignaza, the former home of a landowner who had many slaves working in the surrounding fields. One can make the climb up to the top of the Slave Tower, used by the overseer to ensure there was no slacking.
DAY 8 THURSDAY FEBRUARY 23: (B,L,D)
We plan to commence with our chartered RDC Budd railcar from Sancti Spirticus station, departing after the arrival of overnight train from Havana. We break our journey at Jatibonico to observe rail action at Central Uruguay sugar mill then continue to Ciego de Avila, where we transfer to the railroad workshops north of the city for a visit and a pause for lunch. We continue north, making a stop at Central Ciro Redondo for further action before arrival at Moron. At this point we plan to connect with a steam locomotive charter train hauling us onward to Central Patria O Murte, a former and very welcoming sugar mill with a railway museum, and many preserved locomotives. Here, we expect to be given some of their home-produced potion before continuing our steam-hauled journey to the end of their line. We round off our day with a visit to the Moron workshops which maintains a fleet of classic American built EMD G-8 road switchers which are now over 50 years old. Some of these diesels are very unique as they have been re-fitted with Baldwin motive power. Also the remaining fleet of Budd RDC railcars are based here. Once these railcars develop a major mechanical problem they are made into a non-powered passenger car. As it turns out our operating Budd RDC railcar is the last one active. Additionally the Canadian GMD 1's are base here for heavy maintance. To top it off this workshop is a roundhouse with a turntable. After our workshop visit we check into the four star Hotel Moron.
Moron is where the classic American built EMD G-8's are based
Most passenger trains out of Moron are pulled by the G-8's
with a consist of American built heavy weight three axle passenger cars
including an operating RPO
But some of the G-8's pull trains of non-powered Budd RDC's
The Moron roundhouse, turntable and workshops
DAY 9 FRIDAY FEBRUARY 24: (B,L,D)
We are now a week into our tour, and it's time to relax and watch the Cuban landscape pass as we transfer to Gaspar with a box lunch, and then travel east on our Budd RDC railcar. Our first stop will be at Camaguey, where we plan to visit the workshops which service the ex-USSR diesel locomotives. At Las Tunas, we leave our railcar and connect with one of the local street railcars, following which we transfer north to the FC Manati, a provincial rail system operating a Brill Railcar. Our day is completed by a transfer to the Playa Pesquero Resort on the beach near the town of Rafael Freyre for two nights.
DAY 10 SATURDAY FEBRUARY 25: (B,L,D)
We visit Central Rafael Freyre, a charming narrow gauge former sugar system with Baldwin power which continues to operate a public passenger service. In the morning, we hope to travel to Potrerillo at the end of the west branch by a railbus. We will return to the resort for lunch. In the afternoon, we return and wish to travel as far as possible with a steam locomotive on the east branch to Altuna and beyond if possible.
One of the highlights on this tour will be our visit to the Central Rafael Freyre Railroad
Rafael Freyre has a unique railcar that we will charter
AY 11 SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26: (B,L,D)
We transfer to Holguin Station to join our Budd railcar, which by now will have turned on the 'wye'. We plan to pause at Caocum Junction for rail activity and then travel to Central Julio Antonio Mella to visit an active working sugar mill for rail activity. Subject to demand, we could also break our journey at Alto Cedro to visit Lugar de Nacimiento de Fidel Castro, the reconstructed birthplace of the Castro brothers. We rejoin our train at Julio A Mella station and continue downhill to Santiago de Cuba for a brief city tour of the cultural music and dance 'capital' of the Republic, before retiring to our hotel. Prior to arriving at Santiago, we may also break at Combinado to observe the rail action and facilities.
Group two will visit Lugar de Nacimiento de Fidel Castro, the birthplace of the Castro Brothers.
DAY 12 MONDAY FEBRUARY 27: (B,L,D)
We transfer to Dos Caminos to board our Budd car at the top of the hill and travel on to Guantanamo. Then we transfer to a local Brill car and take the Caimanera branch, past salt pans into the restricted area close to the American Naval Base border. We stop for lunch at the hotel in Caimanera. If we can obtain formal consent and a boat, we cross between piers to Boqueron, on the other side of the bay and return to Guantanamo again with the local Brill railcar. Either way, we return to Santiago.
Our charter Brill Railcar
DAY 13 TUESDAY FEBRUARY 28: (B,L,D)
We depart Santiago on our charter bus travel to Dos Caminos to join our Budd railcar. The railcar will be returning to Havana and railroad management has given the approval for us to ride all the way back to the city. We have made The request that we use the Bayamo/Marti route instead of the mainline. This line returns to the mainline at Marti which is east of Camaguey. We then head west on the mainline for Santa Clara where we tie up for the night and transfer to the four star Las Caneyes Resort just outside the city. We estimate the running time for the Budd car between Dos Caminos and Santa Clara is 14 hours so this will be a very long day. There is also an option to fly back to Havana. There is a flight at 8:30AM and 6:00PM.
Group two will visit an attractive island in the bay where houses are on stilts. We take lunch near the Castillo del Morrow guarding the entrance to Santiago Bay and prior to the 6:00pm flight (no dinner included if one flies) there is plenty of time to visit the Castillo. On arrival in Havana, we transfer to our hotel.
DAY 14 WEDNESDAY MARCH 1: (B-L)
For those opting to fly, there is free time in Havana to catch up on anything missed, either rail or cultural. For those travelling by rail, we continue with the railcar back to Havana. Before departing Santa Clara we plan to visit the dispatcher's offices. The journey by our Budd railcar should take around 6 hours. A couple of hours outside of Havana the mainline speed limit is fast and a few years ago we were able to get our Budd car up to 90mph. The night is spent in Havana and after hotel check-in you can enjoy the evening in the historic "Old Havana" and have dinner at the restaurant of your choice.
DAY 15 THURSDAY MARCH 2: (B)
There are transfers to the airport for your flights home.
PRICES PER PERSON
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$4,895
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$695
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT BOOK BY AUG 31-$300
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY NOVEMBER 16, 2016
TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2020 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.