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Cuba warns of rising rail danger, faster trains

Posted on Monday, 05.07.12

Cuba warns of rising rail danger, faster trains

By PETER ORSI

Associated Press

HAVANA — A railroad upgrade project in Cuba has trains traveling faster

and that means more danger for careless motorists and pedestrians,

authorities said Monday, reporting 33 collisions involving cars and 47

pedestrians hit last year.

An article in labor union newspaper Trabajadores did not say how many of

the vehicular crashes were fatal, but 30 of the people hit by trains

died. That alone was about 50 percent more than the 19 deaths from all

train-related accidents reported the previous year.

The trend appears to be worsening, with 27 pedestrian accidents in just

the first three months of 2012, including 10 fatalities.

This Caribbean island's state-run media are mercifully free of grisly

stories about crashes and violent crime that are common in newspapers

elsewhere, and accidents generally go unreported until officials give a

yearly tally.

But Trabajadores carried accounts of impatient and inattentive drivers

being mowed down, including a motorcyclist who tried to race across the

tracks and an animal cart that failed to stop for a passenger train.

Many crossings here lack descending barriers, and not all drivers come

to a full stop and look both ways as they are supposed to.

Ronald Bofil, director of rail safety and inspection for the Ministry of

Transportation, said a national campaign to overhaul Cuban railroads

means the trains themselves are operating more safely, but efforts to

improve signaling have not resulted in motorists reforming their own bad

habits.

"On the tracks today, the (safety) measures must be extreme. With the

current revitalization of the railways, the trains are gradually

reaching greater velocities," Bofil told Trabajadores. "Nevertheless,

many drivers and pedestrians ignore the danger inherent in crossing

train tracks even when they see the locomotive approaching."

Bofil also said collisions with free-ranging cattle is a significant

problem that joint efforts with the Agriculture Ministry has yet to solve.

He did not give numbers on incidents involving livestock.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/07/2787819/cuba-warns-of-rising-rail-danger.html Tags: agriculture, train

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