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Towards the end of 2009, South Africa’s Among facts of life that few seem to grasp,
ever-vacillating Department of Transport traffic once lost to the road is extremely
(DoT), having only recently relaxed difficult to win back. Were DoT serious
maximum permissible vehicle mass in its intent, an instant embargo should
regulations, announced sweeping new have been placed on further branchline
strategies to limit the conveyance of closures.
commodities by road. The broad objective
is to force the use of rail instead. The No such luck. After a Transnet Freight
country’s roads, apparently, are in such Rail working on 18 January 2010 to clear
poor shape that some may fall apart remaining rolling stock, we are told, there
within five years, due to lack of funds for was to be no further activity on the line
maintenance. running south from Pietermaritzburg to
The condition of many branch lines,
unfortunately, is little better. Few of those Extending 302km to Matatiele not all
closed during recent years are candidates that long ago, with its own branches
for revival unless virtually rebuilt from to Underberg and Kokstad (and not
scratch. From the moment when trains forgetting the former narrow gauge east
stop running, the vandals and thieves of Donnybrook), this too appears to have
Cover: Class 39-200 move in, helping themselves to sleepers joined the growing list of minor lines in
Photo: Craig Dean and station roofs, cutting rail into stealable South Africa that have seen their last train.
lengths; not infrequently burning or
smashing anything they cannot cart away.
Opinion: Pete the Pundit 2
Africa UpDate 6
SA RailNews 14
Gautrain Construction UpDate 22
Railway Signalling & Interlocking 28
Mishaps & Blunders 30 Home truths on gauge Rift Valley Tunisia: Electric for
Middle East UpDate 35 > Page 2 developments diesel
> Page 6 > Page 12
End of the Line 36
First train reaches Simon’s Town line Gautrain construction
Chipata closed > Page 22
> Page 12 > Page 16
www.railwaysafrica.com February 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 1
PETE THE PUNDIT shares one or two home truths on
With the obvious exception of North Africa - notably the alternative of transport could transport as much as possible
western bit - most of the once-proud railways on this continent from the colonies for the comforts of the mother country
are in a sorry state. Someone has to bear the blame for this, markets, and colonial defence, the rationale of colonisation
and the politicians have lost little time finding scapegoats. was adequately served.”
In Kenya and Tanzania, in addition to concessionaires who
– in three whole years or less - failed dismally to resurrect In other words, the 1,067mm gauge was chosen as the
thousands of kilometres of totally run-down track, broken cheapest means of pirating the wealth of the Western Cape
locomotives and decrepit rolling stock, the metre-gauge (where the 1,067mm gauge in South Africa began), and
is currently the favourite culprit. Everything, well-heeled shipping it back to Britain.
ministers explain to the gullible poor, will now have to be
rebuilt on “standard gauge”. Nigeria, attributing its 3,505km Another version of this story - one which happens to be
of almost completely inoperable (by 2006), derelict railway historical fact as distinct from politically correct claptrap –
to the burden of “Cape gauge”, bravely decided to rebuild sees matters somewhat differently. The original lines – to
completely on 1,435mm. Wellington via Stellenbosch in 1863 and to Wynberg in 1864
– employed the 1,435mm (4’8½”) gauge that DoT favours.
But in 1873 in Cape Town, a Parliamentary Select Committee
of three decided by 2 votes to 1 that the gauge should be
changed to 1,067mm. The dissenting vote came from C
Abercrombie Smith, chairman of the committee, who was
the Colonial Commissioner. Abercrombie – the colonialist -
was the one wanting to retain 1,435mm.
The amazing Landwasser viaduct, one of the major engineering achievements Cape Town’s station in the 1870s. The colonialists built the impressive
on Switzerland’s Rhatische Bahn – an all-electric metre-gauge system that structure and laid the rails to 1,435mm gauge – not exactly evidence of
crosses the Alps into Italy. frugality in outlay.
Even South Africa, which should know better, has climbed The reasons for changing the gauge were based on hard
on this ill-informed bandwagon. At the 2005 Africa Rail facts, limited availability of funds and similar practicalities.
conference, former transport minister Jeff Radebe – keen to To extend the line into the mountains beyond Wellington,
make his name saving South Africa’s crumbling railway from planning engineer R Thomas hall recommended 1,067mm
extinction - proposed a dramatic, home-in-one solution: a because it would cost far less in terms of earthworks,
change in gauge. tunnels, etc.
“Policy pronouncements of this magnitude are areas of Admittedly the objective of pushing the line through
strategic insight and visionary competence reserved for a to Kimberley had a lot to do with exporting precious
few,” the Department of Transport (DoT) was quick to point stones. To diamonds however, one railway gauge is much
out in an admiring, 90-odd-page follow-up “discussion the same as another.
The new-look history lesson from DoT didn’t stop with
Radebe didn’t touch on the reasons for South Africa choosing the colonialists: “The inheritors of the Colonial State, the
1,067mm gauge in the first place, an omission which his Apartheid State, did not concern itself with changing the
department was quick to rectify: gauge as the interest of the apartheid state fed off the
carcass of the colonial one. Both had no concern for the
“In the true tradition of colonial extraction and control, there general public and broader national economic goals. The
was no concern from the British colonialist to construct gauge therefore continued, to the detriment of technology
expensive rail systems in colonies. As long as the cheapest advancements and changes.”
*Ten years earlier the same minister (then responsible for Public Enterprises) somewhat less visionarily disregarded
warnings that failure to build more power stations would land Eskom and the country in huge trouble by 2007.
2 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
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Fortunately for everyone, “The end of the apartheid “NIGHTMARE” PROBLEMS
state ushered in a Democratic State which has access to DoT’s document succinctly sums up problems that arise
international markets’’. This was great news – but something where different gauges come together: “linked to the
in the new order must have gone badly wrong. The standard system, Cape gauge has break-of-gauge
Department conceded: “The rail network system in South nightmares such as transhipment delays and costs
Africa [at present] is in a serious state of decline....There related thereto; Break-of-gauge has related break-of-loads
has been no investment in new infrastructure for the past 20 nightmares, where loads that were on wide gauge wagons
years.” [ie since 1986]. cannot fit into the smaller wagons, or if the trip is from wide
gauge to narrow gauge, wagon space is wasted.”
This of course is more nonsense. In 1988, a brand-new
railway was opened to Cape Town’s Khayelitsha and new True indeed, though this is not a problem confronting
high-tech, stainless steel commuter trains were introduced South Africa - not now, not in the past, not in the future
soon afterwards. In 1987, a large order for class 11E 5,850hp either, assuming that neighbouring Botswana, Zimbabwe,
electric locomotives arrived, followed by the first advanced Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia, who all use
dual-voltage 3-phase locomotives (the class 14E) in 1990 “Cape gauge” too, are not talked into doing something
and the first dual-power electro-diesels (the class 38) - in silly. Not only is there 100% gauge compatibility at
1992. During this time, 125 new class 10E, 10E1 and 10E2 present, permitting unobstructed through-running
locomotives were placed in service, and continuously between these five neighbouring countries and South
welded rail was completed on all main and suburban Africa: unhindered running of rolling stock without cargo
commuter lines. By 1987, 6,000 route km of line were under transhipment is possible to many places much further
sophisticated, centralised traffic control (CTC) signalling. In on, eg Kabwe in Zambia, Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam and
1989 a world record was established on the internationally lubumbashi in the DRC.
acclaimed Sishen-Saldanha line by running the longest and
heaviest train ever.
Admittedly, since 1994 (does that date ring a bell?) barely
4.5km of new commuter lines have been constructed, and no
new locomotives or passenger trains have gone into service.
Now which government must take responsibility for that?
South African proposals for track widening threaten the current uniformity of
gauge which makes through-running possible in the whole of Southern Africa –
such as this Rovos Rail excursion seen in Zimbabwe, en route from Cape Town
via Botswana and Zambia to Dar-es-Salaam on Tanzania’s east coast. Photo:
Ironically, changing our gauge would immediately give
rise to all the “nightmares” that DoT fears. Gauge widening
throughout the whole of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe,
Zambia, Angola, Namibia and the DRC – if this is what
the department actually has in mind - would be a truly
“More locomotive power needed for the Cape gauge to negotiate steep terrains,” unimaginable undertaking with formidable implications –
says DoT - but these Transnet class 11E locomotives are more powerful than even for the World Bank, generally careful with its money but
anything operated on standard gauge in England today. A fleet of these entered known to do foolish things in Africa.
service in 1987 – ie well within the “nil investment” period DoT claims for the
years after 1986. The Umfolozi viaduct is every bit as good as any in the world On another tack - it would be disastrous if an ambitious,
on 1,435mm gauge. countrywide South African gauge-changing project were to
be started, run out of money halfway, and be left half-done.
South Africa’s railways in 2009 were characterised by the
lamentably deteriorating service, dissatisfied customers, As for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, clarity is yet to emerge
under-maintained trains, badly vandalised stations and a on the likely cost of their planned change to 1,435mm and
disconcerting accident record – a sorry list of phenomena exactly how the billions of dollars needed are to be found.
largely attributable to inadequate funding and management, Also, the preliminary estimates of cost appear to concentrate
and nothing at all to gauge. on infrastructure. how much, one wonders, will completely
new 1,435mm gauge locomotives and rolling stock dent
Incidentally the term “Cape gauge”, used uncomplimentarily financial resources?
in the DoT document, did not originate in South Africa
and had nothing to do with colonialism. It derived from Will the dreams take knocks like that in Nigeria, whose
the initials of Carl Abraham Pihl, chief engineer of the envisaged new 1,435mm gauge network (with a contract
Norwegian State Railways, who used 1,067mm for a line worth $US8 billion already let) was summarily scrapped,
100km north of Oslo in 1862 – to save on cost. South Africa once reality surfaced?
was the sixteenth country to follow his philosophy of using
an economically modest formula. Today we continue to use To paraphrase a well-known politician from the colonial
“Cap gauge” in good company, for example: New Zealand, era: “By blaming mismanagement, failure to maintain and
Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, much of Japan and two general incompetence on gauge, politicians can fool some
states in Australia. of the people some of the time, but they can’t fool all the
people all the time”.
4 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
ALGERIA mines envisaged in Namibia and Botswana, and other bulk
ALGERIAN CONTAINER ROUTE LAUNCHED freight. The development, to be implemented through the
Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviares (SNTF - the Spatial Development Initiatives, will link Walvis Bay in Namibia
state railway of Algeria) has launched container transport by through Botswana to the industrialised Gauteng region in
rail between the Port of Algiers and the dry port of Rouiba, South Africa. It will offer a major rail transport alternative
about 20km east of the capital. Railway lines in the harbour to trans-Atlantic markets for Gauteng and Botswana, at the
have not been used for many years, and this is the first same time increasing regional integration and economic
time that container trains have been operated in the area. growth for the three countries.
Accompanied by executives, transport minister Amar Tou
watched the first loaded departure. ERITREA
An early (1950s)
The transport ministers of Botswana (Frank J Ramsden), Eritrea’s unique railway was begun in 1888 on 750mm gauge, then changed to
Namibia (helmuth K Angula), and South Africa (Sibusiso 950mm. In addition to the remarkable pre-World War II (1938) 0-4-4-0 Mallet
Ndebele), issued a joint communiqué on 13 December, steam locos, an elderly Littorina passenger railcar dating from the mid-thirties
following a meeting in Windhoek to discuss the proposed is still serviceable. A second similar vehicle has been stripped for spares.
$US1.4 billion Trans-Kalahari railway. Three companies Photo: Richard Grönstedt
interested in the project made presentations at the meeting,
where it was agreed to await the outcome of the pre-feasibility ETHIOPIA
study scheduled for completion by May 2010. Pointing out LIGHT RAIL FOR ADDIS ABEBA
that the concept was first mooted nearly a century ago, The Ethiopian ministry of transport and communications is
the ministers said they “appreciated the initiatives taken by planning a light rail network in the capital city, Addis Abeba.
the private sector and assured our governments continued It was announced on 1 January that a memorandum of
commitment to private sector involvement in the project”. understanding (MoU) has been signed between the ministry
and a foreign company which is to lay rails in selected streets
A call for expressions of interest will be published to allow of the metropolis. No further details were provided, except
bidders to compete in accordance with the best international that a total route distance of 30km is envisaged.
practice. The line will be used for transporting coal from
The railway station in
Addis Abeba. Service
along the metre-gauge line
is currently suspended.
Photo: Dietmar Fiedel
RIFT VALLEY DEVELOPMENTS
On 15 January, according to Jaindi Kisero in the Saturday
Nation (published in Nairobi), a new shareholders’
agreement was discussed at a lively board meeting of Rift
Valley Railways (RVR).
In the previous week, the governments of Kenya and Uganda
reportedly directed the company “to get its house in order”
following reports that Egyptian-based Citadel Capital had
bought 49% of South African-based Sheltam’s 35% interest
In terms of timelines set down by the two governments,
shareholders were required to recapitalise the company
by putting in at least $US10 million by 25 January.
6 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
It is understood that a meeting to decide whether to “last month, the london-based private equity fund helios
cancel RVR’s concession was scheduled for 27 January Capital also jumped into the fray saying it was ready to pump
in Kampala. $50 million into the concession. In a letter by its managing
director, helios said it - together with its technical partners,
In the event of the concession being cancelled, Kisero America latina logistica of Brazil - had successfully
writes, the Transcentury group risks losing an estimated $9 conducted a commercial and financial due diligence and
million it spent on acquiring its 20% stake in RVR as well as developed a detailed turnaround plan for RVR. helios also
shareholder loans it has extended to the consortium in the said that it had engaged with both the IFC and KFW and that
last two years. it was prepared to invest the money.”
Kisero continues: “According to the government directive, the
shareholders must sort out their differences within 14 days or
face termination of the problematic railway deal. They must
migrate all their shares to a new special-purpose vehicle
known as the Kenya Uganda Railway holdings (KURh)
registered in Mauritius. In addition, they have to recapitalise
the company to a level that will give two international lending
institutions, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and
KFW of the Netherlands the comfort to release some $100
million they committed to the concession several years ago.
“According to the legal document that has been prepared to
make it possible for the migration to KURh - so called ‘deeds
of amendment’ - all six shareholders must raise capital in
KURh in proportion to their shareholding in RVR.” The other
shareholders of RVR are Centum of Kenya (10%), Mirambo
ltd of Tanzania (15%), and Prime Fuels ltd of Kenya (15%).
“The Egyptians have said they are ready to inject the required
$50 million in the concession. Transcentury has also said it is
ready to fork out the needed cash. Kenya freight train hauled by class 93 GE-built loco, dating from 1978.
www.railwaysafrica.com February 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 7
NEW KENYAN RAILWAY “ON COURSE”
Kenya’s planned new standard gauge railway is “on course”, Yakunin points out that Russia has more than 170 years’
transport minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere says. Evelyn experience building railways in harsh environments,
Njoroge of Nairobi-based Butterfly News quotes him “through tundra and desert, across mountainous areas
explaining that the agreement with Rift Valley Railways and the broadest rivers.” The China Railway Construction
(RVR) initially blocked the proposed development. It Corporation holds a series of contracts covering the
stipulated that the two governments could not construct 625km section of the coastal railway west from Surt to
a line within 35km on either side of the existing railway. Al Khums, Tripoli and Ras Ejder on the Tunisian border,
Eventually agreement was reached that a new line may be and an 800km link running inland from Misratah to iron ore
constructed without restrictions. deposits near Sabha.
It had been hoped to start building the new line in MALAWI
June 2009, “after the government pledged to fast-track JAPAN TO AID MALAWI
the signing of the bilateral agreement with Uganda to The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica),
ensure that it becomes operational in the next two to together with Malawi’s ministry of transport and public
three years,” Njoroge writes. Mwakwere, she added, is infrastructure, are to appoint consultants to undertake a
confident that the project is “on schedule”. Some three feasibility study on reinstating the long-inoperable connection
months ago, advertisements had been placed, inviting from Mozambique’s Sena line to the railways of Malawi.
companies to submit expressions of interest, and bids are There have been no trains on this line since 1983, when the
currently being evaluated, Certain firms, the minister said, Mozambique civil war began. The Japanese government is
“had volunteered to conduct the feasibility study and design to provide a grant of up to $US2.5 million for the study which
at their own cost.” is to include repairs to the flood-damaged Chiromo Bridge in
the district of Nsanje.
According to Njoroge, the government is seeking “a private
partner to help it raise the Sh196 billion (about $US2.5bn) Rehabilitation of the line will restore Malawi’s access to the
it requires to fund the new railway whose total construction port of Beira.
costs are estimated at Sh300 billion (about $US4bn).”
Mwakwere said that the line will initially be diesel-electric
powered but this would be switched to a fully electric line
once the country’s energy capacity and supply is reliable.
“The line will also extend from Kampala to the north past
Gulu and into Southern Sudan and to Kigali, Rwanda and
Bujumbura to the west.”
President of Rossiiskie Zheleznie Dorogi (RZhD – the
Russian State Railway) Vladimir Yakunin visited libyan
Railways chairman Said Mohammed Rashid on 5 December
to inspect progress with building the new 554km Surt-
Banghazi railway. Altogether a workforce of 3,500 from libya EMD diesel loco ex Taiwan in Malawi.
and Russia is involved in the four-year construction phase,
and housing for more than 400 is nearing completion at the MOZAMBIQUE
future Ras lanuf station. Some of the heavy construction SENA LINE ALMOST COMPLETE
and railway equipment has been delivered, including a track- Reconstruction work on the 574km Sena line from the central
laying machine, flat wagons and a 100 tonne crane. Mozambican port of Beira had reached a point only 24km from
the Moatize coal basin in the western province of Tete by the
The route parallels the Mediterranean coast, with six major end of December 2009. The Maputo daily “Noticias” quoted
and 24 minor stations. The double-track line is to be operated Tete provincial transport director Paz Catruza saying that,
initially using 16 diesel locomotives currently being built by despite a slight delay caused by a number of “technical and
GE Transportation, but it is intended to electrify eventually, to material constraints”, the reconstruction teams would reach
permit speeds of 250km/h. Moatize municipality during January 2010. Rehabilitation of
the stations at Nyamawabue, Sinjale, and Doa in Mutarara
district, as well as Cambulatsitse, Cateme, and Moatize itself,
in Moatize district, is included in the project.
Early resumption of both passenger and goods traffic is
The revised deadline for completion of the line was extended
from December 2009 to the end of January 2010. According
to Director of the Sena line Reconstruction Brigade Candido
Jone, quoted in “Noticias”, the contractors - Indian consortium
Rites and Ircon International - ran out of material and the
target of 1,400 metres a day was not met for some time. The
production of reinforced concrete sleepers in factories at
Dondo and Sena fell behind because of a shortage of steel,
which is imported from India.
8 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
L’UNITÉ DE CONTRÔLE “SUPÉRIEURE” DE LA
Le système SAL s’installe sur n’importe qu’elle locomotive La quincaillerie subordonnée est échangée en moins de
construites tel que GE, GM, Alstom, Bombardier & autres. 5 jours.
L’interface Homme Machine (MMI) sera programmée pour Applicable à tous les technologies de Locomotive Moteur-
afﬁcher n’importe quel langage. Multi (Groupe électrogène).
L’installation du système sera adaptée et dessinée Le SAL est le système le plus avancé et complet, et à
spéciﬁquement aux demandes du client. coût effectif de système de surveillance intelligent de
locomotive par microprocesseur et Télémétrie avec GPRS
Installé dans les Chemins de fer de Classe 1 sur des sur le marché aujourd’hui!
locomotives EMD & GE il fonctionne avec succès.
Il élimine approximativement 85% des relais.
(Selon le manufacturier de la locomotive)
UM, pupitre de commande, des capteurs pour la chambre
du moteur, des dispositifs et les ensembles de ﬁlage sont
Les transducteurs et la quincaillerie requis pour le
montage sont fournis en ensembles.
Un système de support complet par téléphone, conférence
web ou sur place avec notre ingénierie.
Un support total de 20 années.
MESURE DE LA VITESSE ET LIMITATION UTILISANT GPS TÉLÉMÉTRIES PAR GPRS
LE CONTROL LOGIQUE TOTAL DÉCROIT LE NOMBRE DE RELAIS JUSQU’À 85%*
ET/OU UN GÉNÉRATEUR D’ESSIEUX
* SUJET AU MANUFACTURIER DE LA LOCOMOTIVE
CONTROL D’EXCITATION DIGITAL (DURANT LA CHARGE ET LE FREINAGE RHÉOSTATIQUE)
SYSTÈME DE SURVEILLANCE INTELLIGENT COMPLET
PAR MICROPROCESSEUR. PROTECTION COMPLÈTE DE SURVITESSE DU MOTEUR, SURVEILLANCE
DE LA TEMPÉRATURE ET DE LA PRESSION
INTERFACE HOMME - MACHINE PROTECTION COMPLÈTE DES GRILLES
DE FREINAGE RHÉOSTATIQUE
SYSTÈME DE COMMUNICATION DIGITAL
AVEC UN PROTOCOLE OUVERT CONTRÔLE D’ADHÉSION ET PROTECTION DES
CONTROL COMPLET DE MOTEURS DE TRACTION
MESURE LA CONSOMMATION RÉEL DE CARBURANT DIESEL PROTECTION ET CONTRÔLE DES ÉQUIPEMENTS AUXILIAIRES,
(COMPRESSEUR, VENTILATEUR, GÉNÉRATEUR AUXILIAIRE, ETC)
Tel: +001 (450) 424 4112 Fax: +001 (450) 424 4026
730 Cite des Jeunes Saint Lazare PQ J7T 2BS Canada
After the relaid line reaches Moatize, finishing touches to According to comment in the Rwanda press, “whereas we
track alignment, the drainage system and the rehabilitation welcome the step that our respective Infrastructure ministers
of bridges will continue throughout 2010, Jone explains. have reached, there’s need to re-emphasise the imperative
for a speedy implementation of each step agreed upon. If the
private sector is shying away from the project, our respective
governments should not be held hostage but rather mobilise
resources to kickstart the initiative.”
[ Old Chinese proverb: Consultants’ promises of profitability
sometimes burn investors’ fingers. - editor ]
RED SEA TO THE ATLANTIC
A new rail project has been launched to link the Red Sea at Port
Sudan with the Atlantic Ocean at Dakar in Sénégal. Secretary-
General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is quoted saying that the political will
behind the project was confirmed during the first ministerial
meeting on the scheme at Khartoum, Sudan, in December
2009. Cooperation activities by OIC in Turkey and Islamic
countries, he added, increase trade potentials, while the OIC
Economic Summit hosted in Turkey “opened new horizons”.
New projects aimed at creating common trade areas and
boosting cross border trade, are “on the way”.
Since the 6mta capacity of the rehabilitated Sena line will be insufficient to meet
export coal requirements in the near future, a connecting link from Moatize to Malawi
is planned, to provide access to the northern port of Nacala by 2015. An additional
new railway is envisaged from Mutarara to the Nacala line, bypassing Malawi.
LAGOS MASS TRANSIT RAILWAY
According to the lagos state government, the design for
the city’s N170 billion ($US1.2bn) mass transit rail project
has been completed. Enjoying World Bank financial
assistance, it will include a 7.75km viaduct, a 3km coastal
The proposed line from Dakar on the Atlantic coast in Sénégal to
elevated track and a 610m bridge over sea water. Trains are
Port Sudan, some 6,000km distant on the Red Sea.
to run at 100km/h.
It is hoped to complete construction, providing jobs for RITES CONTRACT TO BE REVOKED
about 4,000 Nigerians, in three years. State governor The 25-year railway management agreement between
Babatunde Raji Fashola says the Chinese Civil Engineering Tanzania and Rail India Technical and Economic Services
Construction Company (CCECC) is ready to begin work. (Rites) is to be officially revoked in February, Permanent
The first construction phase, he told journalists, will be the Secretary in the Tanzanian Ministry of Infrastructure
27.6km Blue line from Okokomaiko to Marina, adding that Development Omari Chambo has told the parliamentary
Nigerians working on the london underground were keen committee on public accounts in Dar-es-Salaam. In the three
“to come back home and run an efficient rail system”. years since taking over operations, the government says, the
company has “underperformed”.
With regard to the proposed Red line rail, the state is
waiting for Federal Government agreement to use its UNIVERSITY RAILWAY
existing rail corridor to link Iddo through Agbado and Ijoko Following “extensive planning”, the University of Dodoma
in Ogun State. (UDom) has announced its intention to construct a railway
network to shuttle students and visitors both on and outside
RWANDA its campus. The proposed system will link all five schools
“RWANDA NEEDS FAST-TRACKING” within the university campus to the main rail station near
Ministers of Infrastructure from Tanzania, Burundi and the centre of Tanzania’s capital city. UDom vice-chancellor
Rwanda agreed at a meeting in December to establish a Professor Idris Kikula told the Dar-es-Salaam Daily News
“roadmap” of legal and regulatory framework to govern on 27 December that lines are to be constructed alongside
the proposed railway construction project linking the roads already in place on the campus as well as beside a
three countries. 6km stretch outside the university.
A feasibility study carried out by an American firm concluded According to Kikula, the idea was prompted by the
that the proposed new 1,700km standard-gauge line from university being an “expansive area”, and the fact that the
Dar-es-Salaam is both economically and financially viable, current student enrolment of 14,000 is projected to reach
at an estimated cost of $US3.5 billion. “Donors”, it is said, 50,000 in the not too distant future. The institution covers
“have equally endorsed the initial findings.” The three an area of about 6,000 hectares, on which residential
countries intend to engage “strategic partners”, mainly from halls, lecture rooms, hospital, administration and other
the private sector to invest in this “profitable project.” areas are widely spread.
10 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
www.railwaysafrica.com February 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 11
Kikula is optimistic that investors who have been ZAMBIA
approached will sell the proposal to the banks who would FIRST TRAIN REACHES CHIPATA
advance loans. “We are currently focusing on external The first train has arrived in Chipata (formerly Fort Jameson)
investors but even local people can partner up to invest in in Eastern Zambia, carrying ballast. There was excitement
the project,” he told the Daily News. among the local population which gathered 6km from the
Malawi border to witness the event. The line has been under
“But because it is primarily targeting students, it would construction for 27 years.
be a low cost means of transport,” Kikula told the paper,
adding: We’ll be happy if groundwork starts in 2010.” The extension west of Mchinji in Malawi to Chipata was
conceived in 1982 as a bilateral two-year project between
Zambia and Malawi. The portion from Mchinji to the border
was completed in 1984, but the Zambian government lacked
the necessary resources to complete its part of the work, and
only 3.5km of track was laid. When the project was revived in
2006, it was found that the construction was inadequate and
the rails were lifted. Unsuccessful endeavours were made
to interest the private sector and in the end the Zambian
government provided the necessary funds.
Zambia’s Eastern Chamber of Commerce (ECCP) has urged
government to speed up the acquisition of land for a dry
port at Chipata. ECCP chairman Timothy Nyirenda stresses
Dodoma University plans a campus railway the urgent need to construct a dry port for the storage and
transport of heavy-duty goods.
TAZARA The first train
CHINESE LOAN FOR TAZARA from Malawi
The Chinese government is to lend $US39 million to the reaches
Tanzania-Zambia railway, known as Tazara, to help it out Chipata,
of its financial crisis. Tanzania’s infrastructure development Zambia. The
minister Shukuru Kawambwa told the press: “China spent 30km line has
about $US500 million to build Tazara’s infrastructure in the been under
1970s, so it has agreed to extend the loan to rehabilitate it.” construction for
MASVINGO PASSENGER TRAIN RETURNS
Passenger train service between Gweru and Masvingo
Impressive semaphores are to be seen at Tazara’s vandalised stations, says (197km), suspended the past six months for $US35,000’s
Richard Grönstedt (who took the photo), but they do not work. worth of coach refurbishment (six vehicles) and track
rehabilitation, resumed on 11 December 2009. The timetable
makes it possible for people to travel from Gweru in the
TUNISIA morning, do business in Masvingo, and return the same
From October 2010, new electric trains will gradually phase
day. Travellers from harare or Bulawayo connect with the
out diesel traction between the main railway station in Tunis’
restored branch-line service at Gweru. According to National
Place Barcelone and hammam El Chatt, 17km south of the
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) public relations manager Fanuel
city. Sets with a capacity of 2,500 are to be introduced by
Masikati, quoted in The Chronicle, rails imported from China
Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT
are being used for track renewal and slippers (sic) are being
- the Tunisian National Railways). They will be capable of
manufactured at Fort Concrete in Gweru.
120km/h. Trains are to run at a four-minute frequency in
peak hours, covering the journey in about two-thirds of the
present time. Many road bridges have been built to eliminate
from Gabès to Tunis
(422km) at Bir Bou
Regba, junction for
a branch running via
Hammamet to Nabeul.
Photo: Richard Ågren
Dieter Fiedel photographed the Gweru-Masvingo mixed train in 2007.
12 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
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South African Rail News
NEW DIESELS FOR S A housing area, the lawns and
GE Transportation has signed gardens are overgrown,
a contract with Transnet in the streets potholed, the
South Africa to supply 100 new houses drab with scrap cars
diesel-electric locomotives. and junk in the driveways.
Ten units are to be built in Erie It is disgusting. A number
and Grove City, Pennsylvania. of houses appeared to be
In addition, 90 locomotive unoccupied.
kits - also manufactured
in Pennsylvania – will be “In the early years Esselen Park
sent to South Africa for was the pride and joy of the
assembly to meet localisation railways. It was immaculate,
requirements stipulated in the it had its own resident
contract. The locomotives will horticulturist, complete with
be built at the end of 2010 and a team of garden labourers.
delivered in early 2011. It had a shop, barber, post
office, library, bar, snooker
GE’s model C30ACi, the first room, gym and a bioscope.
AC diesel-electric locomotive “Oh good, we’ll be able to have tea on the journey. They’re putting in the milk”. All that is gone.
to be introduced to sub- (A cartoon in Punch, 100 years ago)
Saharan Africa, will have an
engine that delivers 3,300 gross horsepower (GhP) using an
electronic fuel-injection system that automatically supplies
the exact amount of fuel needed for optimal engine efficiency.
The locomotives will also feature GE’s unique AC propulsion
technology and dynamic braking, aimed at lower life-cycle
costs, improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
According to the GE Transportation announcement, “This
contract is especially relevant in the light that South Africa
has not placed an order for locomotives in approximately
[ Not quite. Some 75 new class 10E1 and 10E2 locomotives
were placed in service in 1989-90, followed by the class
14E and 14E1 dual-voltage units after 1990, and 50 class 38
Esselen Park railway training college. Kaalfontein station is seen on the right.
electro-diesels in 1992; not to mention the class 19E in 2009.
It is true there were no new straight diesels during this time “In later years the horticulturist only looked after the college
(GE was remiss in failing to make this distinction clear) – and gardens. The occupants of the staff houses were obliged to
in fact even the 50 class 38s had diesel engines. – editor ] look after their own gardens and sidewalks. This place too
was always neat and well kept.
Esselen Park railway training college: the main building.
“The residents’ recreation club had a restaurant/bar, bowling
green, tennis courts, lapas etc. You must see it now - the
Delivery of the 50 class 38 electro diesels- effectively 3kV DC building is in a state of neglect, broken windows etc. The
electric units with on-board diesel engines – commenced in 1992. wire mesh around the tennis courts is missing and grass in
growing in cracks in the paving; I did not even bother to get
ESSELEN PARK out of my car to look at the bowling green which was hidden
Retired railways communication technician William Smith by overgrowth. This place is fast beginning to look like most
recently revisited Esselen Park Training College, formerly a wayside railway stations.
prestige, showpiece complex that reflected the high standards
of instruction it provided in countless rail-related fields, from “I once lived and worked there and was saddened by the
locomotive-driving to trains operating and signalling. scene I was confronted with.”
“I was shocked to see the condition,” he writes. “The once [ According to press reports, advanced plans by coach
beautifully kept lawns and gardens were overgrown and Carlos Alberto Parreira to base the Bafana World Cup team at
unkempt; the buildings looked drab and uninviting. The the “Esselen Park School of Excellence” have been shelved
once immaculate swimming pool was half-empty and the due to the complex being so badly run down that it will take
surrounding lawns and shrubs were overgrown. In the staff about R16m to renovate. - editor ]
14 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
AFRICA UPDATE SA rAilnewS
TRL director general Narasimhaswami Jayaram said that RVR commercial manager in Kampala, Geoffrey
two goods trains comprising 23 wagons would be conveying Tindimwebwa says the rates will still be lower than those
various commodities including cement from the Tanga charged by road freight hauliers. “Our rates have been
Cement Company. steady since last October before the fuel prices rose and the
price of steel spiralled,” he points out, whereas the truckers
TAZARA raise rates every time the fuel price changes. “Also, we have
TAZARA TARIFFS UPPED had a negative result from the weakening dollar as most of
New fares applicable on the Tanzania-Zambia Railway came our rates are in that currency. It has been losing value, while
into effect on 1 July. Ticket prices on ordinary passenger the prices of our inputs have been going up.”
trains as well as the Tazara Express went up 20% while
parcels and luggage rates rose 30%. Travellers from Dar- ZAMBIA
es-Salaam in Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia now pay RSZ TAKEN TO TASK 36.200 loco at Port Shepstone. Two similar units
A GM SW1002, 1,120hp class
Tsh72,600 ($US72) in first class on the Tazara Express, up In anbe converted for remote control operation. Photo: Peter Bagshawe. of
are to editorial, The Times of Zambia takes Rail Systems
from Tsh60,500 ($US60). Zambia (RSZ), the concessionaire running Zambian Railways,
Esselen Park training college: the Railwayman’s Inn. Remotely controlled
to task for buying “brand new motor vehicles worth $US1.4
To Makambako (Iringa) from Dar-es-Salaam now costs shunting locos,
million”, while apparently falling short in service delivery.
Tsh29,000 ($US29) instead of Tsh24,200 ($US24). To Rujewa commonplace in the
“While the company has every right to purchase vehicles for
(Mbeya) the fare is now Tsh29,900 ($US29) instead of USA, are not new to
operations, we feel their priorities are misplaced,” the paper
Tsh24,900 ($US24). writes. South Africa. This
Hunslet at Namakwa
Sands’ Koekenaap yard
Tazara managing director Clement Subulwa Mwiya points “Gone are the days,” it laments, “when the railway network
in the Western Cape
out that the company’s policy is to adjust tariffs annually. was the most reliable mode of transport in Zambia. “It was so
was photographed 15
High operational costs are being experienced, notably in the reliable and cheap, that the rail line was years ago. favourite
wage bill and the continually rising cost of diesel. Tazara is mode of transport, offloading goods and passengers in
upgrading its facilities at a cost of $US10 million, he says, remote areas where roads were inaccessible.
and 18 locomotives are being rehabilitated currently Dr John Middleton of the World Bank in Washington DC,
“The failure by private provide safety and reliability has visit to
writing in his RSZ to capacity following a business forced
UGANDA many Zambians to abandon rail 2009, refers to the 3,300hp
South Africa towards the end of transport in preference for
MAIN-LINE AT JINJA REOPENS the faster and more reliable road transport. at was hoped that
class 39.200 series under construction It Koedoespoort
The main-line to college: one of the restaurants, frequently
Esselen Park training Kampala from Kenya, closed near Jinja on when Zambia Railways 39.201-207 had beento RSZ, on the
Works, Pretoria. locos was concessioned on test things
14 May for receptions.the collapse of an embankment due to a
hired out following would change for the better.” line “Where four of them are
blocked culvert, was reopened to traffic on 16 June. During producing better performance than five class 37s (3,200hp
the fourAFRICAN DIESEL LOCOS
SOUTH weeks that the line remained inoperable, freight was [RSZ inherited a sorely run-down was the which is taking a
each). The unique 39.251, which system prototype for the
offloaded hasIganga and taken forward by road. 75 class 34
Approval at been given for control upgrades of According great deal of time and money to put right. The rosy leasing
39.200 series, is believed to have been sold to past of
to Rift Valley Railways75 class 37 GM diesels. Glenn Kleyn,
GE diesel locos and (RVR) project manager The GEs will railways inRRl who are dates back to minedays when it was
company the country using it on a the somewhere. It is
be fitted with the Brightstar control system. Four class 36
quoted by New Vision (published in Kampala) a new three- called Northern TFR were – but nobody will want to which was
rumoured that Rhodesia unhappy with this loco remember
metre diameter galvanised ironcontrol operation. Two of the
are being converted for remote culvert has been installed, that. – editor] 37.010 by a local consortium. In December,
to provide adequate outlet for stormwater to drain anticipate
GM 36.200 series are to follow. If successful, TFR into Lake 39.201-18 were sent to Richards Bay/Phalaborwa for working
converting a further 40 locos.
Victoria, about a kilometre downstream. through trains. This involves running under the wires, but
frees up electric locomotives for use elsewhere. “
Kleyn said the repair work was being done at mile 323. In 4 - 6 March 2009
addition, the company is investigating a structure at mile 289 SOUTH AFRICAN ELECTRIC LOCOS
towards Busembatia. A package of upgrades is being done on class 7E locomotives.
The traction motors have always been problematical and
“It (mile 289) is not in any immediate danger but we are tests are being done with traction motors from both India
NEW NRZ SERVICE
investigating and drawing up designs,” he told the paper. The China. Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has introduced
a new weekly passenger service to Chicualacuala, 500km
UGANDA RATES INCREASE south-eastfor Bulawayo on the line 18E rebuilds has been
Approval of a further 127 class to Maputo. The existing
Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has increased freight rates granted. These will be in the 18.500-525 and 18.600-
Wednesday train to Chiredzi has been rescheduled to leave
between Mombasa and Kampala from $US80 per tonne to Bulawayo at The new number series is believed to Arriving
700 series. 14:00 on Wednesday instead of 21:00. indicate
$110. Former managing director Roy Puffet explained in July: at 04:00 onless comprehensive at 05:00 to Mbizi junction,
somewhat Thursday, it returns rebuilds as a cost-saving
“The tariff adjustment was driven by continued upward costs and continues originalthere orders 18.001-18.425 involved a
measure. The from 18E to Chicualacuala. Following a
of energy, petroleum products and steel. The price of diesel 14:00 departure, it runs back tothe new batches are having
complete stripdown whereas Bulawayo, arriving on Friday
has SG108, 1,170hp class 36 shunting loco at Newlands, Cape Town. Two is
A GE gone up by 24% in the last eight months and there less rigorous overhauls but still with the same upgrade
morning. The Chiredzi-Bulawayo service retains its former
double digit inflation36.102 - are currently being converted for remote
similar units - 36.101 and as well as dollar revaluation”. timing on other days of the week.
Thermitrex (Pty) Ltd
Tel: +27 (0)11 914 2540
RAILWAYS AFRICA 3 | 2008 February 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA
package. On 25 October, 18.515 was noted ex-works at SIMON’S TOWN LINE CLOSED
Koedoespoort. Old 6E1 shells marked up to 18.525 and
18.639 have been seen.
All of the 18Es so far have been rebuilt from series 6-11
(E1646-2185). however, a few from these series have now
been overhauled as 6E1 and repainted purple for passenger
services (E1654/57/58 and 1950).
Class 6E1 loco 1367 hauling Shosholoza Meyl express. Photo Jacque Wepener
Transnet spokesman John Dludlu is quoted by The
herald online saying that reaction to the November call
for expressions of interest from private bidders to operate
the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe would be made public once the
process has been completed.
Western Cape finance, tourism and economic development On 4 December 2009, Metrorail advised on its website: “Train service between
MEC Alan Winde told the herald he hoped 2010 would be Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town has been cancelled due to acts of nature,
“The year that the Choo-Tjoe receives a new owner and is passengers will be conveyed by bus between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town
given the chance to cement its iconic status”. he is confident in both directions. We apologise for the inconvenience caused. Thank you.”
Malcolm Bates photographed the line (still closed) at Glencairn in mid-January
the Choo-Tjoe will form part of Fifa World Cup visitors’
- rusty and largely buried in sea sand.
tourism experience. “Transnet has prioritised the sale of the
Choo-Tjoe’s operations between George and Mossel Bay,
and assures us they will communicate with us as soon as GUARD’S VAN COMEBACK
any milestones are reached,” Winde said. Guard’s vans bringing up the rear of every South African
freight train were standard practice until the eighties,
During a two-week period over the December holidays, when rows of them filled the “scrap” sidings up and down
he added, the Choo-Tjoe was almost fully booked: “This the country. Their discontinuation had two significant
is particularly remarkable since its usual thrice weekly consequences: rural passengers lost the facility of the
timetable was doubled to accommodate holidaymakers.” passenger compartments provided for their use, and the
The majority of travellers on the train were South African, fireman (now driver’s assistant) took over responsibility for
which could indicate renewed enthusiasm for heritage rail intermediate shunting, points changing etc.
in the country, he thinks. In addition, foreign visitors to the
Choo-Tjoe provided positive feedback of their experience. The guard’s van – but without room for passengers – is
currently making a comeback. It isn’t called a guard’s van
The line between Knysna and George was badly washed and there is no guard. The purpose is to convey shunters.
away in several places by floods in 2006, the damage being Apparently the drivers’ assistants are no longer entrusted
aggravated by further heavy rains the following year. Initial with shunting duties and have reverted to more mundane
estimates for repairs ran to more R100 million, a figure which tasks like making the driver’s tea.
would be inevitably higher today. The current steam-worked
service is running between George and Mossel Bay, though
diesels have had to be used recently due to a critical shortage
of water in the region.
A steering committee has been set up to collate ideas on
restoring the Knysna line. One proposal is to curtail the
route to omit the badly damaged section at Kaaimans River,
ie running trains between Wilderness and Knysna only.
Unfortunately this would leave out the scenic bridge crossing
the breakers at the mouth of the river, much photographed
and known throughout the world.
[ The tracks at Wilderness station were lifted recently by
contractors upgrading the area sewerage system. It is Guard’s vans are back on goods trains. This one was tailing a load of mealies
understood that the lines are to be reinstated on completion at Losdorings in the OFS. Photo: Jacque Wepener
of the work. - editor ]
16 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
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DüBS A - RESTORATION APPEAL HOLIDAY SEASON TRAINS
Umgeni Steam Railway’s (USR) Dübs class A tank locomotive Rolling stock shortage prevented South Africa’s railways
will be 118 years old in 2010. In 1985, she hauled a trainload from running anything like the number of special passenger
of dignitaries from Durban to the Point to celebrate 125 years trains over the Christmas period compared with the situation
of railways, so what better loco to celebrate 150 years of ten and more years ago. Many additional coaches that were
railways in South Africa this year? pressed into service were criticised for being dirty, or having
no water or lights. It is believed that the potential revenue
Unfortunately the years have taken their toll on 4-8-2 “Umbilo” loss runs into hundreds of thousands. Ordinary scheduled
(NGR no 88, SAR no 134). All her 187 boiler tubes need trains were filled to capacity. On the main-line through
replacing (at R400 apiece), as well as much badly corroded the OFS, intending passengers were left behind at many
platework. An enthusiastic team is eager to get this loco intermediate stations – a picture that was no doubt repeated
running again, but funding of the necessary replacement on many other lines.
components presents a major problem.
FINANCIAL CHALLENGES FACE PRASA
A donations board has According to a letter that we understand was sent to
been set up at Inchanga employees of Prasa (the Passenger Rail Agency of South
station, where the Africa), passenger services may be severely curtailed by
names of donors will 2011 if substantial government financial assistance is not
be recorded as well as received soon. Other sources warn of pending countrywide
an indication of how cuts in Metrorail service early in 2010, due to serious
the fund is progressing. “financial challenges”.
Even a part sponsorship
for a boiler tube would be
Donations may be deposited directly into USR’s Nedbank
account 1301259314 (Musgrave Branch code 130126). Please
ensure that donations can be clearly identified by putting
DUBS FUND and your name in the reference section.
WESTERN CAPE TRANSPORT PLANS
According to a 14 January 2010 media briefing by Premier
helen Zille and transport MEC Robin Carlisle, the Western
Cape government has targeted 2014 for achieving a 10%
shift from road haulage to rail freight and a 13% modal shift
from private to public transport. This would result in a 60:40
private:public transport split into the central business district WESTLEIGH-VIERFONTEIN LINE
of Cape Town, compared to the current 69:31. To realise The Wepeners reported on 15 December:
these objectives, rail transport is to be promoted, rapid trunk “We paid a visit to Rustig station [29km west of Westleigh]
routes for existing [road] public transport services are to be on the Vierfontein branch. As the name suggests, it was
provided and the minibus-taxi industry is to be formalised. peaceful there, no sounds - and almost nothing left! The
points to the loops have been lifted and only a through-line
According to Carlisle, the province has R10 billion to R13 remains. A half burned-out fibreglass nameboard lies on the
billion available for its plans, adding “ten to 13 billion buys a ground. Ruins of station buildings remain. A very overgrown
lot of BRT [bus rapid transit] and it buys a lot of trainsets.” goods platform with rails marked ‘SAR 1919’ survives. The
loops have trees growing between the sleepers and track.
Zille admitted the targets were ambitious, but said she would Some wooden sleepers have gone missing. New ballast
rather strive for the “near impossible” than set the benchmark was observed but weeds were already growing through it,
too low. (late in 2009, Zille was forced to concede that the though the track looked shiny. Two pieces of rail that once
cost of Cape Town’s planned “integrated rapid transport supported a gate were observed, marked Cape Government
system” had been underestimated by more than 300%). Railways - 82 .
[ Getting 10% of freight off the road and onto rail looks “Attie was visited next. A few buildings still stand,
like a tall order. Virtually all the goods sidings along Cape vandalised. No mealie trucks were noticed in the silo area.
Town’s suburban lines have been lifted and the council Someone has placed four beehives on the old waiting room
has been allowing flats to be built where goods yards used roof. No trains.
to be. – editor ]
“Our next stop was at Gunhill yard, Kroonstad. This was full
NEOTEL WOES of traffic for a change, although no shunting was observed.”
A new underground fibre-optic cable has been laid
between Welkom station and Whites on the OFS main-line,
but has not yet been handed over by the contractor. For the
present, communications continue to depend on the old Attie: The OFS
cables which are suspended from cross-bars on the former main-line
electrification masts. Parts of this infrastructure has been passes 15km
cut down, presumably stolen for scrap, and this means that to the east,
the cable sags almost to ground level, facilitating its own at Westleigh
theft. Electrified originally in 1974, electric traction along the junction.
branch was suspended in 2005. Photo: Jacque
18 RAILWAYS AFRICA February 2010 www.railwaysafrica.com
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