Cuba has completed construction of its first new railway in more than two decades on 1 July with the opening of the 65 km link between Havana and the port of Mariel, which provides access to the new container terminal.

The new line will be officially inaugurated on 26 July, which is a national holiday in Cuba, although trains have already begun running. A passenger service operates over the line, primarily to carry port workers from Havana to Mariel, although the new line will also help to improve passenger services in Artemisa province.

The Mariel container terminal operated by Singapore-based PSA International and located 45 km west of Havana, has the capacity to handle 1m teu per year, compared with just 350,000 teu at Havana’s former port facilities. Mariel terminal has handled 57 ships since it opened six months ago with cargo movements of approximately 15,000 containers, the terminal’s deputy director, Alvaro Molina, told the Cuban state television.

The terminal has 702 m of berth and is equipped with four super post-panamax cranes. The container terminal was built by Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht at a cost of $957m, with some $682m in financing coming from Brazil’s BNDES development bank. Cuban Authorities hope it will benefit from the Panama Canal expansion project, due to be completed in early 2016.

The Cuban government said it was analysing 23 potential foreign investment projects at the Mariel Special Development Zone.