The International Steam Pages


Steam in Africa 2014

Africa

Angola
(16th Oct 12)

Benin
(9th Jun 08)

Botswana
(19th Jul 12)

Burkina Faso
(16th Dec 09)

Cameroon
(12th Mar 13)

Central African Republic
(16th Mar 12)

Congo-Brazzaville
(10th Oct 13)

Congo (DR)
(30th May 13)

Egypt
(28th Mar 09)

Eritrea
(12th Apr 11)

  Ethiopia
(3rd Dec 08)

  Gabon
(16th Mar 12)

  Ghana
(24th May 08)

Ivory Coast
(22nd Dec 10)

Kenya
(24th Oct 13)

Liberia
(27th Apr 07)

Madagascar
(5th Apr 12)

Mali
(4th Jan 11)

Malawi
(27th Jan 12)

Mauritius
(3rd Sep 13)

Mocambique
(25th Sep 12)

Morocco
(2nd Jul 13)

  Nigeria
(25th Mar 14)

Réunion
(23rd Feb 12)

São Tomé
(29th Jul 11)

Senegal
(29th Feb 08)

Sierra Leone
(1st Feb 11)

South Africa
(17th Oct 13)

Sudan
(18th May 11)

Tanzania
(23rd Sep 12)

Togo
(15th Oct 12)

Tunisia
(22nd Nov 09)

  Zambia
(12th Jun 13) 

Zimbabwe
(20th Apr 14)

Steam Cranes
(3rd Sep 13)

Safari Steam 
Featuring just over 2000 images of 'Steam in Africa' (except South Africa),
Click here for more information.

Nick Lera logo Nick Lera Video: The Cape to Cairo Railway

Railways of Southern Africa - lists existing locomotives.

Regular contributor Paul Ash's 'Southern Africa by Rail'.


African Railways in General

The Fahrplacenter site has a mass of links to African railways, some of which are repeated specifically under the countries below - see http://www.fahrplancenter.com/Afrikanische_Bahnen.html. This includes both historical and contemporary information (3rd December 2008). Railways Africa  - http://railwaysafrica.com/index.php - although South Africa based/orientated, has contemporary information on African Railway developments (3rd December 2008).

Angola Index

The Benguela Railway was a wonderful institution but was a victim of the civil war in the country. A CFB site - http://www.cpires.com/angola_comboios_en.html - states that the railway (still under reconstruction) has two operational steam locomotives reserved for an eventual museum (215 and 216). These are described as 'Garratts' but the numbers were actually carried by two Baldwin 4-8-0s! Further information would be very welcome (29th June 2007). It seems that the number of surviving Cape Gauge steam locomotives is quite considerable, Trevor Heath has sent me a note he has had from Scott Jesser (8th November 2007) detailing locations and their contents, a video of the locos at Huambo has now been posted http://youtube.com/watch?v=lY8wlFHJpj8 (26th December 2007) and for a further video see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6yTFBbKHzQ (22nd June 2008)  For a huge set of images by Jamie Grieve, check out http://s208.photobucket.com/albums/bb241/jamie_grieve/interesting%20iron/?start=all (thanks to Trevor Heath and John Raby for this, 9th April 2008). An account is also on Gavin Hamilton's site - http://www.beyergarrattlocos.co.uk/survivors.html (link changed 31st July 2012). There are a number of videos of the Huambo collection posted by Jamie Grieve on http://www.youtube.com/user/jamiegrieve01 (31st December 2008). Jose da Palma is based in the country and has provided an update and a view of the 'new' Benguela Railway (updated 16th October 2012).

In addition, it seems that that many (21 at the last count) of the steam locomotives of the CF Luanda have survived and are now rusting away at Catete not so far east of Luanda, as reported on Gavin Hamilton's site - http://www.beyergarrattlocos.co.uk/updates.html (link changed 31st July 2012), some of which are necessarily Garratts, http://www.beyergarrattlocos.co.uk/survivors.html (link changed 31st July 2012), it's worth scrolling down this page for more information... John Middleton has sent me some notes and pictures (24th December 2008) of surviving steam locomotives on the CFB and CFL. Gavin Hamilton's site (see above) now record (14th October 2010) that cutting up of the Catete locomotives has commenced in a scrap drive to raise funds. The good news reported by Peter Bagshawe is the likely setting aside of some examples for a proposed museum at Muceques (the site of the railway workshops near Luanda). In an update to this (6th May 2011) Peter reports that scrapping is essentially complete but that two 4-8-2 + 2-8-4 Garratts (Beyer Peacock 501 and Krupp 554) remain as well as two 4-8-0s, Henschel 156 and an unidentified Armstrong Whitworth (200 series), presumably for the museum. The scrapping is (in my opinion RD) a mercy as the last thing this part of Africa needs is a further stock of preserveable 3'6" (1067mm) gauge steam locomotives. 

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Henry Posner III (added 8th July 1999) was told by the railway management at AfricaRail '99 Conference that "Benguela Railway: 12 steam locos are 'operational' and the Porto Amboim system is closed, scrapping pending." Few visitors get here these days but George Buta (24th September 2001) located a report from David M. Brown earlier this year that indicates that the narrow gauge locomotives in the 'museum' at Catumbela were still present albeit somewhat overgrown..... Since when I believe the preservationists from Sandstone in South Africa http://www.sandstone-estates.com/ have recovered and now steamed this delightful little Decauville (317/1901) - added 24th April 2005:

A visitor (22nd April 2003) to the narrow gauge railway at Porto Amboin reports: "The rail infrastructure has disappeared, with the exception of odd lengths of rail hidden under very derelict locos, some of which even have wheels missing, in addition to any non ferrous fittings which have of course disappeared. There is considerable corrosion, not surprising really given their proximity to the coast. Even if they were worth rescuing, which is extremely doubtful, there is no loading dock or jetty capable of taking the weight, no cranes nearer than Luanda, no heavy transport and precious little else. There are mines, snakes and various nasty diseases awaiting the foreign traveller."

Benin Index

Several years ago two Indian metre gauge YPs found their way to Togo (see that section for the full story). It is now not impossible that they will find use in neighbouring Benin which shares a common railway heritage and most importantly a common gauge.Thomas Kautzor visited Benin in December 2007 and reports on the state of the steamless  railway(s) here along with some history, alas now typical of many former colonial railways in Africa (9th June 2008). 

Botswana Index

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There have been (tour group) visits to BCL, Selebi Phikwe in the last few years but no reports have come my way. Now a report from South Africa suggests reinforcements in the shape of two 19Ds are on their way, although some serious repairs will be needed before they can enter service (10th January 2012). The first of these, 2689 has now entered service according to a report on the Railways Africa site (13th June 2012). Geoff Warren was here to see it running and has sent a report which includes the picture below (25th June 2012):

I suspect the decision to stick with steam relates to the uncertainty of the life of the operation which will be largely dependent on the international nickel price. As of the date of the report it was well down on the 2007 spike but still well above the long term average. There are pictures of this operation in Fabrice Lanoue's Southern Africa Steam Picture Parade 2012 (9th April 2012). Trevor Staats YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NslzTLHVAXo is now 14 years old but is still relevant today, Tom Gears' video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ8g_Aj-v7s is more recent (19th July 2012).

Trevor Staats was in Botswana in August 2000, steam is still hard at work (report 4th September 2000). Jonathan Duvel was here in July 1999 (13th September 1999) and steam still works here - read his report. The previous visitor I know of was Peter-H. Patt in May 1997, read his brief report on BCL, Selebi Phikwe with their Garratts from Zimbabwe ...... Trevor Heath was here in July 2001, quite steamy too (27th September 2001) and Trevor Staats was back shortly afterwards (1st November 2001) and again in July 2002 (pictures added 4th September 2002). Chas Rickwood was here in May 2003 (added 22nd May 2003) "I had a 2-day visit to Selebi Phikwe where both the active steam locos were ex RR/NRZ, ie a 19th class and a 14A."

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An update to the earlier reports (20th March 2009) is that the Garratts are for sale but the mine is still using its 19th 4-8-2's daily, indeed I have heard that they are buying a further such locomotive from Wankie (Hwange) Colliery in Zimbabwe, possibly for spares (16th July 2009). Later it was reported that the Garratts will be sent to New Zealand (20th May 2009). A brief July 2007 report (15th August 2007) suggests that there is at least one diesel here which shares the line work with one or more of the 19th class steam locomotives. The ex-RR 14A was serviceable but not used regularly. Although coal is expensive and of variable quality, the limited life of the mine decreases the chances of steam's total replacement. Jens Ingemann sent an illustrated report of an August 2007 visit (12th September 2007). The Rovos Railtour was here on 18th April 2008 and Colin Young sent me this picture of Class 19 LO 804 in action - the only locomotive seen in steam (1st June 2008).

Burkina Faso Index

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Thomas Kautzor was in the country at the beginning of 2006. The railway runs from Abidjan (Ivory Coast) to the capital, Ouagadougou; conditions appear a little better than average for a West African railway... The only 'steam' relic is a preserved 1944 Ransomes and Rapier steam crane - click here for some pictures (29th May 2007). Click here for an updated June 2009 report on the railway (itself updated 16th December 2009).

Cameroon Index

I have now removed all the pre-2012 reports to a separate page as they have been superceded by Thomas' Kautzor's comprehensive report of his  February 2012 visit (both these 18th March 2012). Basically, there are no longer any active narrow gauge plantations railways active in the CDC (Cameroon Development Corporation) although much remains by way of rolling stock including locomotives. All of which gives me a chance to plug our Safari Steam CD-ROMs on which pictures of the Tiko system (albeit non-active) appear.

I have uploaded Thomas's report of his 2012 visit to CAMRAIL, but there's no steam in it at all (12th March 2012).

Central African Republic

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The Central African Republic was never blessed with a main line railway, like Laos it had only a short narrow gauge line built to carry goods around a shallow part of a major river. Thomas Kautzor and Torsten Schneider have made the journey to see what was left (16th March 2012). 

Congo Brazzaville

One of the three Orenstein and Koppel 600mm gauge 0-6-2T locomotives (11781-3) delivered to Agence Générale des Colonies for the Congo (Brazzaville) survives plinthed in front of the C.F. Congo-Océan (CFCO) headquarters in Pointe-Noire, sister 11781 survives in the Central African Republic (see above). Thanks to Thomas Kautzor for this one, there are pictures of it on the web - http://www.travel-images.com/photo/photo-congo5.html and https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/1391609_396414697154960_2142106782_n.jpg (16th March 2012, second picture link changed 10th October 2013).

Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) Index

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Thomas Kautzor told me that there is still a preserved Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST at Lubumbashi station (Katanga) (29th June 2007), similar to Jack Tar preserved in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. This is Peter Bagshawe's 1972 picture of it inside the works.

Thomas has also told me that there are a number of steam 'survivors' here which have been photographed by visiting South African loco drivers, read his survey (6th February 2013). Peter Bagshawe has now added some comments based on his own 1972 visit, reclick the link above (12th March 2013). Thomas also mentions that one of the CFC's early 765mm gauge Cockerill 0-4-0Ts (thought to be either No. 1789 or 1790/1893) has been plinthed in front of Kinshasa Est station since 1948, there are only few pictures of her online:eg http://www.digitalcongo.net/article/13637 and http://rixke.tassignon.be/spip.php?article183 (added 31st May 2013).

Ian Martin referred me to a 2012 book "Mazungu, Canoeing the Congo" which includes a picture taken on 16th August 2008 of a derelict steam locomotive, said to be one of three, at Kongolo on the Lualaba River. You can read about the trip on http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/jan/27/canoeing-the-congo-river and its official website is http://www.canoeingthecongo.com. It appears that this is one from the two earlier batches of 20 Tubize 2-6-0s built for the C.F. du Congo Supérieur aux Grands Lacs Africains (CFL) between 1913 and 1925. Originally metre gauge, the railway was converted to cape gauge (1067mm) when it became linked to the main Congo system (Chemins de Fer Bas Congo au Katanga (BCK). Thanks to Thomas Kautzor and Peter Bagshawe for the identification (27th May 2013). I have failed to find a picture of these on the web, but the three volumes of "Le Rail au Congo Belge" contain over a dozen pictures of locos of the class. (Perhaps not surprisingly these out of print books are 'scarce' and priced accordingly when available.) Now with the assistance of the intrepid traveller concerned, Phil Harwood, I have pictures of the locomotives. The first two are screen shots from his video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJqTYZRQ3rg, note that the second is a less than perfect 'Photoshop job' using two adjacent frames and these show that the other two locomotives belong to a batch of 2-8-2s built by Haine St Pierre in 1950 (30th May 2013).The third is a normal digital image - as usual click on the thumbnail for a larger view.

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Egypt Index

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For some time, the only confirmed residual steam was that in the museum in Cairo. Now, Patrick Rudin reports on an unlikely survivor at the "Egyptian Media Production City" (28th March 2009).

Eritrea Index


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Red Sea Railway

By Amanuel Ghebreselassie and Jennie Street

Now Available

This did threaten to become the steam story of the 90's with long stored Mallets being put back into service on the rehabilitated 950mm gauge railway between the port of Massawa and the mountain top capital of Asmara, with its spectacular operation, it just took a little longer than originally hoped. There is a superb 1996 15 minute news clip available on the project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpnNmkoQZfo (added 7th January 2009). 

Ralph Reinhold provided a little more information (October 1997). Click here for more details. Roland Beier has provided a loco list and Renato Gaudio 2 classic old pictures. Click here for background information on what was for a long time a railway backwater. Much later (27th February 2008) I posted Tom Sherriff's pictures of the railway in its reconstruction phase in 1993 including the short lived (diesel!!) local service in Massawa. This Italian language website has a lot of material on the Railway including old photographs - http://www.ferroviaeritrea.it/contenuti.htm (added 9th April 2009). 

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To help tidy up this page, I have moved the reports of the various trips here to another page (latest update 27th February 2008), if you need convincing of the photographic rewards of joining one of the regular tours here, then you can check my own report on the 'Darjeeling of Africa' dating from late 2002 (1st December 2002). Good news for the many upcoming tour groups (no less than six scheduled up till November 2009 including two at the same time with different itineraries according to their website which should challenge the railway) is the return to service of 440.008 seen here at Asmara in January 2008 (pictures by Thomas Kautzor, added 10th June 2008):

Neil Edwards was on the LCGB/Enthusiast Holidays tour in October 2008 and has sent a brief report on the current state of the railway (14th November 2008). Thomas Kautzor was on the FarRail tour in March 2009 and stayed on to explore the extension to Keren which may one day be reinstated (6th April 2009),Thomas Kautzor was back on another FarRail tour in January 2010 (22nd February 2010) and Paul Dorsemagen similarly in March 2011 (12th April 2011).

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So many tour groups have continued to visit Eritrea that operation is considered routine and does not merit reporting. However, Mark Carter (27th April 2005) has alerted me to news of a significant development carried on RailPage Australia (http://www.railpage.com.au), which in turn relates to a report in the Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable : "Since 20th March 2005 there has been the first regular service on Eritrean Railways since 1975 (table 2714). Every Sunday there is a regular steam train from Asmara down to Nefasit on km 25. Asmara departure: 8:00 Arriving Nefasit (km 25): 9:00 Departure Nefasit: 10:00 Arriving Asmara 12:00. Price: foreigners 50 USD Asmara-Nefasit-Asmara, locals 100 Nakfa Asmara-Nefasit-Asmara. It is still possible to travel Asmara-Massawa (km 117) on charter service."

Ethiopia Index

Graham Roberts' African Steam Survivors reports on relics in Addis Adaba. (21st December 2002). Neil Berry tells me (25th July 2005) that the steam locomotive pieces at Addis Adaba seem to have been scrapped. There are several references on the web to a railway museum in Addis Adaba but nothing with any detail, although http://www.steamlocomotive.info/search.cfm suggests there may be a steam locomotive here (3rd December 2008).

A website dedicated to the Franco-Ethiopean railway (http://www.train-franco-ethiopien.com/index_en.php) has been established by Jean-Pierre Crozet (jpcrozet@train-franco-ethiopien.com) who would welcome more information and photographs, particularly post 1980 (added 29th February 2008). http://membres.lycos.fr/ecolekessel/djibouti/train.htm also has some pictures (3rd December 2008).

Gabon Index

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Not a country that has featured on this site up till now (7th June 2010), but Thomas Kautzor informs me that there are two established plinthed locomotives in the country, Decauville 1775/1920 in front of the SETRAG railway station/HQs at Owendo (south of Libreville) and a Kerr Stuart in front of the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné. Thomas was here in March 2012 and you can see his pictures of both of them (March 16th 2012).

Now they have been joined by a Decauville 0-4-2T at the "Cie. Gabonaise du Bois (CBG)" timber camp in Rabi. It was retrieved from the jungle, where there are still two others left in inaccessible places. There are pictures of all three locomotives on this page - http://www.lrpresse.fr/trains/viewtopic.php?t=38173&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0.

Ghana Index

Continental Railway Journal 132 reports that all main line steam locomotives were scrapped in the 1990s but narrow gauge steam locomotives are preserved at Nsuta (Ghana Manganese Co. Ltd.) and Obuasi (Ashanti Goldfields Co. Ltd.), (21st December 2002). Thomas Kautzor was here in April 2007 and sent a full report on the current state of Ghana's railways (25th May 2007). Included were  pictures of the above locomotives (added 24th May 2007). 

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On the left is the 0-6-0WT locomotive at Nsuta - most likely Orenstein and Koppel 10609/1923. On the right is the 0-6-0WT locomotive at Obuasi - Hudswell-Clarke 1238/1916 - since this picture was taken, the locomotive has been donated to the Moseley Railway Trust and repatriated to the UK (25th May 2008). 

 

Thomas sent me a non-steam update from his visit later in 2007 (29th February 2008).

Ivory Coast Index

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There has been no live steam here for very many years, but a single 0-6-0T survives in Abidjan outside a railwayman's club (numbered 15.001). It was certainly here in 1963 and was still there in July 2001 according to Graham Roberts (25th November 2001) . It was well worn when it was retired. Thomas Kautzor reports it was still here in February 2008 (29th February 2008, new pictures added 15th June 2008).

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Mike Clendining found this small 0-6-0 preserved in San Pedro in November 2010, it is said to have come from the logging industry (22nd December 2010). Thomas Kautzor suggests possibilities include Borsig 8082/1911 600mm, OK 5693/1912 760mm, OK 11032/1925 600mm, but there will be more candidates...

Kenya Index

I have been given a set of EAR steam and diesel locomotive diagrams and official photographs dating from ca 1975. I am making these available as a free Dropbox download or on a CD for a nominal GBP 5. Click here for more information and access to the photographs at reduced size (800 x 500 pixels) (23rd September 2012).

Steamy things are happening in Kenya again. To whet your appetite here is a picture from 19th May 2011 (courtesy of James Waite) and by way of comparison a classic EAR postcard of almost the same scene - necessarily with a class 29 and not a class 30 (26th May 2011)! Like every Kenya steam safari in the last 10 years things didn't go 100% to plan and it has been suggested in some quarters that a more rigorous pre-tour testing regime would be a good idea in future. A lot depends on whether your glass of beer is half empty or half full, Thomas Kautzor has given a blow-by-blow account (2nd June 2011) and Geoff Warren has given an insider's perspective (2nd June 2011). Nevertheless James Waite was well satisfied by his experience and you can now read his illustrated report (28th May 2011). Although not strictly in keeping with this site, Thomas has also reported that some historic diesels have been scrapped including 7901 'Explorer', quite simply this is an inexcusable act of pure vandalism on the part of the railway there.

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As anticipated Kenya Railways have initiated a regular steam excursion (believed to be scheduled for the first Sunday of the month). Below is John Ashworth's picture of 3020 stabled in Nairobi station on August 6th 2011 ready to work next morning. A series of pictures of the actual excursion are now available on the Friends of the Rail Forum (10th August 2011). Kevin Patience tells me (8th September 2013) that plans are afoot to run 3020 on an excursion on 26th October 2013. The preparations can be followed here http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=319 (24th October 2013), on 22nd October 2013 3020 was lit up for the first time in 2 years. Sadly. later news is that the trip has now been 'postponed', reading between the lines it seems that the marketing effort didn't match that put into getting 3020 ready (24th October 2013).

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It is now generally accepted that 5918 will need significant repairs before it can be scheduled to operate further railtours (for a start, its superheater tubes are at least 35 years old); Kenyan Railways are neither willing nor able to fund these. Up to half a dozen tour operators are said to be interested and the necessary work will presumably have to be financed by one or more of them if it is to run again. In the meantime it seems that the railway will concentrate on locally promoted short haul steam trains with the smaller locos thereby building up the necessary experience needed for sustained steam operation in the future (24th June 2011).

The Railway Museum in Nairobi was established many years ago, its principal exhibits have always been a selection of steam locomotives from the (former) Kenya Uganda Railway, latterly East African Railways which became Kenya Railways on the break up of the federation. It was not included in the privatisation of the railways and seems to exist as part of the rump of the original Kenya Railways. Graham Roberts went back to his old haunts in early 2009 and he reports on the current scene (7th March 2009).

Click for full size image. From 2001 to 2006 steam progressively returned to the mainline in Kenya which now has an active fleet of 3 - 2409, 3020 Nyaturu and 5918 Mount Gelai. However, with the privatisation of railway operation in 2006, plans to operate them were put to one side. If you are interested in developments here consider joining the East African Newsgroup - East_African_Steam-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

These pages followed the restoration story and in view of the current break in developments, I have moved that material to a separate page.

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Pictures of the current scene in Kenya are regularly upload to the Friends of Rail forum Rest of Africa Photo Galleries - various sections including diesel, steam, other rolling stock and infrastructure are offered. This is particularly relevant at a time when 'Steam Safaris' are being revived (17th May 2011). Should that link become inoperative then try the home page - http://www.friendsoftherail.com/. At the time of writing 2409, 3020 and 5918 are all tested and available for use.  

Formerly, John Ashworth reports (2nd May 2010) that 3020 returned to action for a wedding on 1st May 2010.  I have uploaded an account of an excursion in August 2010 which appeared in the Kenya Daily Nation (17th August 2010). 3020 was out on the line again on 29th August 2010, Geoff Warren was on board (19th September 2010), John Ashworth rode a similar working on 3rd October 2010 (8th October 2010).

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Graham Roberts' picture (left) says it all, 2409 on a revenue freight at Ruiru on the Thika branch in July 2006. There are so many heroes (and a few villains who mostly seem to have lost their jobs on KR) it would be invidious to name any.


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Liberia Index

Not a country which has seen steam for a long time, if ever, let alone many gricers considering its recent history, but Peter Nettleship was here in February 2007 and visited the Bong Mine Railway and the account of an out of the way railway (27th April 2007) makes fascinating reading. 

Madagascar Index

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I believe all the main line steam locomotives were scrapped a long, long time ago, but it seems that a steam locomotive (left picture by Mr. Poussnik - if you read this please get in touch) is preserved outside the sugar mill at Djamandjar. The status of the railway which served it on Nosy Be, an island off the north coast (30th June 2007) is unknown, it was in use with diesels into the 21st century. Mike Clendining went to Nosy Be in February 2012 and found that the sugar mill was derelict having closed around 2005; one effect of this is that the condition of the loco has markedly deteriorated (26th February 2012). Like the infamous London buses, Thomas Kautzor pitched up here at almost the same time and had a good poke around, finding significant steam remains, on and off the rails. Read his report which covers a number of other industrial sites in the country (15th March 2012).

Thomas Kautzor also provided a report on the state of the main line system - no steam at all of course (5th April 2012).

Malawi Index

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EA note from Trevor Heath informs me (9th January 2008) that Robin Taylor has reported that the two preserved steam locomotives D Class 4-8-0 (8) and G Class 2-8-2 (49), formerly at Lilongwe have been moved to somewhere in Kanengo (not far away on the line to Salima). As far as is known the small saddle tanks remain as before, Thistle at Limbe station and Shamrock at the Museum of Malawi in Blantyre.

Elmar Pfannerstill was here in August 2011 and confirms that the D class 4-8-0 is indeed at Kanengo in northern Lilongwe, it's clearly visible in Google Earth (13 53.47 S 33 47 56 E). However, he did not see the G class 2-8-2 at the same location. He also found Thistle at Limbe station (all this 22nd October 2011).

Mali Index

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A few years back, Continental Railway Journal carried a piece about an old metre gauge 0-6-0T in the workshops at Korofina (Bamako). Now (2nd January 2003) Thomas Kautzor  identifies it as Pinguely 143/1903 built for C.F. du Morbihan in France as their 14 (there are a couple more pictures on one of the Safari Steam CD-ROMs). Thomas Kautzor sent this picture of it there in December 2007 (picture changed 10th June 2008)

See Thomas Kautzor's report on his December 2007 visit for information on the railways here and in Senegal (29th February 2008), he has since been back in late 2010 (4th January 2011).

Mauritius Index

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James Waite was here on holiday and sent me a report of preserved steam and other gems (14th September 2005). Torsten Schneider has since sent a further report which adds significantly to it (24th January 2007). Thomas Kautzor has added considerably to this account following his own February 2012 visit (23rd February 2012), to which I have later added pictures of two preserved diesels at Labourdonnais Sugar Mill (3rd September 2013)..

No steam but Dean Sullivan was here in 2008 and found some relics of the Mauritius Government Railway including two coaches under restoration (10th May 2008). Thomas Kautzor has added considerably to this account following his own February 2012 visit (23rd February 2012).

Mocambique Index

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After a long period of silence from here, Simon Collins informs me that the Atlantic at Nampula is now restored and in (alleged) operable condition. The picture below is from his friend Kevin Billing who is working in the area and who is trying to organise a trip with it... (6th August 2010). Andrew Jones photographed the loco in the same position in August 2012 (24th September 2012).

To my mind Mocambique was long been a 'destination-in-waiting' for an enterprising tour operator, but somehow it never quite happened. Finally Henry Posner III told me (25th May 2005), "I recently spoke with one of the top people at CFM concerning their plans for rail preservation, and their plans are quite specific:

  • A national rail museum is being put together in the former passenger coach workshop in Maputo. 

  • Most surviving steam locomotives in Mozambique will be relocated to this location. This includes the Atlantic from Nampula (still there in mid 2012); the two 2-10-2s and two Mallets from Moatize (still there in mid 2012); the two Garratts from Beira (one definitely still present in August 2012); two wood burners from Quelimane (no news since 1987); and 2 from Xai-Xai (all locos now in Maputo by August 2012). 

  • CFM is conscious of the impact that this will have on steam tourism - namely, that they are foreclosing the opportunity to develop steam tourism - but does not believe that steam tourism has sufficient economic potential to justify the effort. The main focus of the museum will be to preserve history as opposed to promoting tourism.

  • There may be a few locos kept operable at Maputo for rail tours if circumstances warrant.

The above is obviously bad news for the railway tourism business, but at least represents stabilization of Mocambique's rail history and preserves the option of, for example, steam tourism in the future." 

Martin Potts was in Moatize in August 2012 and reports that some half a dozen steam locomotives remain in the shed and its immediate surroundings in varying condition, including the two Mallets which have been here dumped for the best part of 50 years (27th August 2012). There are at least 4 locomotives at Inhambane in 'better than derelict' condition and the workshops here are an absolute treasure, http://www.flickr.com/photos/quadralectics/sets/72157631062183164/with/7780103594/, added 25th September 2012.

Thgmas Kautzor was in the south of Mocambique in April 2011 and visited the new museum and Xai Xai. Nothing steamy moving of course, his report also surveys the 'modern traction scene (21st July 2011, updated 24th September 2012).

This site has carried a number of reports on the steam survivors and even their occasional operation, but in practice with the exception of the Nampula Atlantic none has turned a wheel in anger for some time. These reports have now been summarised (latest update 25th September 2012), covering each area of the country in turn including the survival and export of many steam locomotives from the former Sena sugar estates.

Many of the reports on this site over the years have been contributed by Paul Ash (he is a self confessed Mocambique junkie) and it may help to read his historical perspective covering a number of trips which predate most of the other material below (March 1999). Later he went back to Mocambique the hard way... (9th February 2004). There's no steam at all but you'll be enthralled like I was of his account of a trip from Malawi to Nampula in northern Mocambique and back. With steam on the way out everywhere this kind of trip sounds the next best thing to me.... 

The book Railways of Southern Africa includes coverage of surviving steam locomotives - if you are not familiar with steam here, read the Mozambique and Malawi section (added 10th June 2002).

Not working steam and not even indigenous steam, but is worthy of note that the Railway Touring Company trip in August 2002 saw SAR Class 19D 2685 and Garratt GF 2380 hauling what must have been the first steam-hauled train for a long time into (and out of) Maputo (6th September 2002). 

One of the casualties of the civil war was the TZR from Beira towards Moatize and Malawi. Now it is reported (22nd August 2002) that this line is to be reopened see http://allafrica.com/stories/200207290946.html. Trevor Heath tipped me off on this one - steam survivors at Moatize in April 2009 including one of the Mallets which has been dumped there for as long as I can remember - http://share.shutterfly.com/share/received/detail.sfly?sid=8EaNHDJw4asKq& (3rd May 2009).

South African Steam in Action have been actively lobbying in neighbouring Mocambique to conserve and preserve their steam survivors (4th May 2009).

There are many pictures of historic Mocambique steam on our Safari Steam CD-ROM, but Geoff Cooke has posted sets of the railway here in 1975 and even more interestingly also the Sena Sugar Estate.with its narrow gauge system (10th April 2012).

Morocco Index

One of the most fascinating items on our Safari Steam CD Roms was the narrow gauge steam in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, although the lines concerned mainly ran in Morocco. Richard Bowen visited the Eastern Rif in October 2002 and his report on the survival (albeit near derelict) of a number of the locomotives makes fascinating reading. (11th March 2003), later reports suggest that the steam locomotives have been scrapped.

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Thomas Kautzor has sent the pictures (taken on April 1, 2010 and added to this page on 2nd July 2013) of what is assumed to be the last steam locomotive in Morocco. CFM 030-TX-1 (Henschel 26549/1942, 43.4 t) is plinthed at the ONCF headquarters just northeast of Rabat-Agdal station (photography through the fence best in the morning). Henschel 26549-57 were built for Illies & Co. for use on the Peking-Mukden railway in China. They could never be shipped and were found dismantled in crates in the docks of Bordeaux at the end of the war. They were put back together by SNCF and used as 030-TX-1 to 9 for shunting duties at Paris-Sud-Ouest, Vierzon, Bordeaux, Coutras, Limoges, Brive, Périgueux et Ussel. After their withdrawal in the early 1960s, only 030-TX-1 was sold to CFM.

Nigeria Index

Steam survived more or less intact into 2013-4 at Ebute Meta, Enugu and Port Harcourt - read an illustrated report (25th March 2014).

In a tender document closing on 25th February 2013, Nigerian Railway Corporation is selling a steam locomotive at Enugu for scrap, presumably the River class mentioned in the paragraph below, thanks to Mike Clendining for this one (30th January 2013)..

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Graham Roberts' African Steam Survivors reported on two River 2-8-2s in Lagos. There is at least one more there and this one was (then) a runner... (updated 2nd November 2004). And then there were four (12th November 2004), there is another River in the old shed yard, albeit in less good condition than the others. James Hefner tells me (22nd May 2003) that two of the 0-8-0T shunters (86 and 94) were extant until at least 1999 - see http://www.topforge.co.uk/Photographs/NRC.htm (the website states incorrectly that they are 0-6-0T).

Thomas Kautzor made a far-ranging tour of the country in November 2007. His report necessarily includes much information on surviving diesels but also lists quite a few surviving steam locomotives (29th February 2008). Don't rush to visit, no steam is serviceable, but I have now added some very interesting pictures (15th June 2008).

Progress is being made on the new national railway museum - see my "Railway Museums in Africa" page (1st June 2010).

Réunion Index

For an excellent page on the history and remaining relics on the island (including a preserved Schneider 0-6-0T) see http://www.mi-aime-a-ou.com/le_train_de_l_ile_de_la_reunion.htm. (3rd December 2008). Thomas Kautzor visited in January 2012 and has provided a fascinating view of what is left of the railway here (23rd February 2012).

São Tomé Index

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Thomas Kautzor visited here in January 2009, researching the remains of the colonial railways on the island (pictures added 17th March 2009), an absolutely fascinating read. He was back in February 2011 and additionally visited the neighbouring island of Principe (29th July 2011).

Senegal Index

See Thomas Kautzor's report on his December 2007 visit for information on the railways here and in Mali (29th February 2008).

Sierra Leone Index

This country represents one of the great disasters of post-colonial Africa. Its 2ft 6in narrow gauge railway closed long ago, but most of the locomotives and rolling stock survived more or less intact. Although it once seemed (2nd August 2004) that a significant portion of it would eventually be relocated to the Sandstone Railway in South Africa, instead a local museum was established and that the first steps towards this had already been taken (18th March 2005). Click here for a copy of a local report on the new railway museum in Freetown (added 23rd May 2005), the museum has its own website now - http://www.sierraleonerailwaymuseum.com/ (1st February 2011). For some old pictures see http://www.myforefathers.co.uk/html/sierra_leone.html (3rd December 2008).

Mike Clendining visited in November 2010 and commented on the "excellent museum" just a short walk from the Freetown dock gates. The museum staff said a second Garratt exists in the workshop, partly dismantled. The original Freetown station is now a (general) museum and retains its very British approach steps and lamps. The site of Hill Station, at the top of the long climb out of Freetown retains its name board, and, across the road a red pillarbox (23rd December 2010).

South Africa Index

At long last a list has been published which divides up surviving SAR steam locomotives into three categories according to their historical importance. You can read Steam in Action's circular covering this which includes the list available as a download in XLSX format. Also available is a similar rolling stock list although this is not divided up (8th October 2013).

Four of the Port Shepstone 2ft gauge Garratts are up for sale according to this report http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read.php?1,204348 (19th November 2011). These are all basically in fair to good condition, but urgent action will be necessary as disposal is required by the end of the month. No contact point is given but I am sure that the good people at Sandstone (http://www.sandstone-estates.com/) would be able to point interested parties in the right direction. Further to this Trevor Heath tells me that NGG-16 127 together with a significant amount of spare parts has been purchased by the Puffing Billy Railway in Australia and should arrive there by March 2012 (6th February 2012).

I have never attempted to give full coverage to steam operation in South Africa because it is certainly very different in nature from anything on the rest of the continent. There are quite a few preservation sites which are readily found with your favourite search engine and over the years many tour groups have been here for special charter steam. http://railwaysafrica.com/index.php covers the modern aspects of the railway and also has current news on heritage operation (3rd December 2008). There is a list of plinthed preserved steam by location available http://steam-locomotives-south-africa.blogspot.com/, it seems to be maintained regularly (added 3rd August 2011). For historical information about individual South African steam classes, this page is invaluable http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Steam_locomotives_of_South_Africa (19th January 2012).

As you can read below, the best description of the current (2011) state of railway preservation in the country was probably 'parlous'. Traditional preservationists and representatives of the new South Africa stare at each other across a huge divide - just how wide can be judged from two papers delivered at a symposium at the University of the Western Cape in October 2010 (21st February 2011).

Bad news seems to follow bad news, now Sandstone announced they would consider disposing of their 2ft gauge railway system (23rd June 2011), very sad - see their perspective on the background to the decision, following on the suspension of the 'Apple Express' from 1st January 2011, it marks a new low in the narrow gauge scene in the country. Since when, Sandstone have held a spectacular  'Kalahari Sunrise' event, a report of which appears on their website http://www.sandstone-estates.com/index.php/home/38-general/2709-photographic-summary-kalahari-sunrise (16th May 2012). They are planning a similar event for 3rd to 12th May 2013 (date amended and link added 6th June 2012), so perhaps they have found a way around their problems, see http://www.sandstone-estates.com/index.php/home/38-general/2738-steam-and-vintage-gala-sandstone-may-2013.

Reef Steamers (link amended 15th February 2011), Friends of the Rail and Sandstones Estates have come together to create Steam in Action which seeks to organise the conservation (and operation) of steam traction and railway heritage in general in South Africa (31st October 2007). For a couple of years, their regular newsletter was the best way to keep up with the battle to preserve safely the large stock of steam locomotives in the country - http://www.steam-in-action.com/index.php/newsletters, it also contained much preservation news but it was discontinued at the end of 2010 (link and information changed, 15th February 2011). Please be advised that, should you wish to make a donation to Steam in Action, you should not use the normal postal service for cheques or cash as the South African postal system is not to be trusted.

For many years, there has been a store of steam locomotives (or dump according to your point of view) at Millsite (cape gauge) and Humewood (narrow gauge) which contained inter alia many historical items. The scrapping of a number of these provoked a storm in local enthusiast circles which led to much vitriol being exchanged between individuals and HRASA on the Yahoo sar-L group. Ultimately, some peace was restored and a statement issued by Transnet on the future of those remaining - http://railwaysafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2750&Itemid=0 - the scrapping has stopped, temporarily, but the fact remains that many treasures are vulnerable. (3rd June 2008).

Many years ago SANRASM (South Africa National Railway and Steam Museum) was established to provide a home for preserved steam locomotives and rolling stock. Grand plans were drawn up to safeguard the large collection but in practice nothing happened and the several sites were in practice abandoned to the elements. Inevitably in the anarchy that is a daily fact of life in many parts of South Africa today, scrap thieves set to work, the pictures below from Paul Ash naturally show not the actual theft but the consequences at the Chamdor site where the damage was such that of all 27 steam locomotives present, all that was saved was a few wheels and one boiler. Armed guards were necessary to protect the legitimate scrappers.

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This nightmare scenario is covered in a series of reports on the Steam in Action website - http://www.steam-in-action.com. The quantity of material available is such that the number of links is too great to be given here. It makes very depressing reading indeed, but the very small silver lining from this incident is that the money from the scrap will go some way to ensuring that the SANRASM locomotives at their Randfontein site do not suffer the same fate (23rd October 2010).

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However, the Sappi Saiccor paper mill operation is the last 100% working steam in the country although arguably at harvest time the Sandstone operation is 'real' too. Reports of these and some other sites have now been moved to a separate page. This picture (added 10th June 2008) comes from Thomas Kautzor and shows Sappi Saicco 19D 4-8-2 No. 1 (ex SAR 2697, Borsig 14748/38) at Umkomaas on May 18th 2008, there are more pictures in Michael Bleckmann's report of a May 2009 visit (17th June 2009):. There are more pictures in Fabrice Lanoue's Southern Africa Steam Picture Parade 2012 (9th April 2012).

The chill winds of recession (not to mention bloody mindedness in the first case) are blowing through the steam/railway scene in South Africa (4th March 2009). On my return from a 7 week tramp through South East Asia I found news of the effective end of steam tours in the country, the disintegration of the remaining branch lines, the likely demise of even the cut back Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe and that Sandstone will no longer run passenger trains. Transnet wants out of this financial black hole and a new operator needs to be found which will probably be easier than finding the capital needed to establish it as a proper business. Despite reports that it had ceased operation at the end of June 2009 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outeniqua_Choo_Tjoe), it seemed that this proved only to have been a maintenance break - see http://www.railwaysafrica.com/blog/2009/07/the-outeniqua-choo-tjoe/ for the news as of 17th July 2009 (27th July 2009). As often is the case in such matters, the railway's own website contains absolutely nothing about the ongoing saga let alone bothering to mention that the timetabled services were withdrawn for the duration of July 2009, hardly outstanding public relations. An initial announcement amount operation resuming in August was not fulfilled, 1st October being the next target, (2nd September 2009). John Hyde reported that the service restarted on 16th October 2009 and the season ran through till March 2010, but that's as far as the good news went because he found it diesel operated with every sign that management had no intention of making any effort to use a steam locomotive. Now it seems that Transnet has decided to dispose of the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe altogether, I hesitate to  use the word 'sell', I cannot imagine what private business would want to actually pay for it. Anyway 'expressions of interest in acquiring' the service were requested by 1st December 2009. As of 1st October 2010, Transnet, having failed to find an acceptable operator, announced they would terminate the service although the local authority is desperate to keep the service running, see http://www.railwaysafrica.com/blog/2010/10/outeniqua-tjoe-choo-2/ (3rd October 2010).

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Friends of the Rail (FOTR - see below) had recently completed a full restoration of their 15F 3117 when it was derailed on a passenger train on 20th June 2010, an incident caused by vandals removing some 40 sleepers near Cullinan. Fortunately, it was travelling slowly at the time and there were no serious injuries among the 620 passengers aboard, it could have been much, much worse (added 27th June 2010). Below is John Ashworth's picture (he was the FOTR guard in the train) and there are more on http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=330. The same site has details of the appeal to cover the cost of the repairs.

The Umgeni Steam Railway is an unlikely setting for 'real steam' but their 19D has been hired out to contractors for moving water pipes for Durban's massive Western Aqueduct project. Thanks to John Ashworth for this, there are links on this page - http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=109&t=11712 (17th October 2013).

Some time earlier, Trevor Heath sent me a report on the future of steam (tourist) operations in South Africa (22nd April 2000), looking back it seems very optimistic... I have some updated information from John Ashworth of Friends of the Rail, they now have their own web page . Perhaps of more interest is that they now have their own railfan forum - http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/ - check it out (link updated 9th August 2007).

Nick Lera logo Nick Lera Video: The Cape to Cairo Railway

Sudan Index

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A long shot, but no-one had been there for a long time.... However John Athersuch visited and told me (16th May 2002) "No live steam, but I found the 1885 Hunslet 4-4-0T in Khartoum. This is destined for a museum I was told. I also found seventeen North British Class 500 from 1954/55 and a single Class ?200 at Zalad (10km East of Atbara) awaiting scrapping. There were reports of Class 300 and 200 similarly dumped at Sennar." A sad end when so much time and money were spent on these locomotives in a blaze of publicity  in the 1980s. I have now added some of John's pictures (10th June 2002). Martin Dronkers reports that the graveyard at Atbara still contained at least one of the Hunslet tanks (3rd March 2004), picture left, although Derek Welsby (23rd December 2010) tells me they were cut up for scrap some time afterwards. Richard Gennis reports similarly and states the Atbara museum contains Hunslet 0-6-0T 3740/1951 and the 4-4-0T reported by John Athersuch as being bound for the museum is here in a near derelict condition pictures of these and a NBL stationary boiler are on a separate page (30th January 2011):

There are a fair number of very interesting Sudan pictures available on the Friends of The Rail Forum http://www.friendsoftherail.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=147 (added 23rd April 2008). From pictures taken by Robert Hayward in 2007, it seems that Atbara Museum is up and running including at least one Hunslet tank (see above). Thanks to Thomas Kautzor and Trevor Heath for tipping me off on this. There is a list of Sudan Railways steam locomotives on http://orion.math.iastate.edu/jdhsmith/term/slsdsgr.htm (added 23rd April 2008).

Derek Welsby has published a book on the country's first railway from Wadi Halfa to Kherma, this was a short lived affair, a railway whose main use was to support the Gordon Relief Expedition of 1884-5 and Kitchener's Dongola Campaign in 1896. More information is available thought the Sudan Archaeological Research Society. Email SARS@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk for more information (18th May 2011). 

Tanzania Index

I have been given a set of EAR steam and diesel locomotive diagrams and official photographs dating from ca 1975. I am making these available as a free Dropbox download or on a CD for a nominal GBP 5. Click here for more information and access to the photographs at reduced size (800 x 500 pixels) (23rd September 2012).

Tanzanian Railways is up for privatisation report the BBC (2nd December 2002), thanks to David Thornhill for this, needless to say 2927 is included in the offer and is pictured in the story. A new appearance on the scene is an East African Newsgroup - East_African_Steam-subscribe@yahoogroups.com (29th October 2002). Latest privatisation news (15th January 2007), yes 5 years on, it is still incomplete..

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Around 1996/7 2-8-2 2927 was restored to working order and it has since worked quite a number of excursion and charter trains, often being found shunting at Dar. The slow moving privatisation has stymied its operation of 2927 and since there are no longer passenger services out of Dar, there is no stock for it to use. Consequently it was last reported (15th January 2007) just in use locally in Dar or Ilala as required, however Geoff Warren reported that in early 2008 "2927 is currently resting and rusting in the Carriage and Wagon workshops. It was last used for shunting 'about 4 months ago', and five more YDM4 from India are imminent...." (21st January 2008).

Click here for reports on its adventures up to 2005. This picture is by Tanjiv Kapur. Richard Hay was in Dar in March 2012 and found 2927 intact in the works but clearly it had not moved 'for several years' (28th April 2012).

Togo Index

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Graham Roberts has sent a picture of 2257 in store in Togo (21st December 2002). A visitor in April 2004 found the two YPs still in store and still in good condition (5th May 2004). Mike Clendining has provided an update on the YPs and the indigenous steam locomotive, a bit delayed, from his October 2006 visit (21st May 2007).For the latest report on railways in Togo and the YPs in particular, I have Thomas Kautzor's report of a December 2007 visit (29th February 08). Martin Potts confirms that the 'steam' situation remains unchanged in October 2012 (15th October 2012).

Thanks to Nick Lera and friends in India for this one (22nd September 2000). The two Indian YPs bought by RDC will be sent here! Henry Posner III confirms "Our company bought them through RITES in the interest of preservation and possible operation, and they were overhauled last year at Ajmer. Shipment was delayed due to the complications involved in arranging ocean transportation, but they are now under way to Togo, West Africa, on the MV "Le Yi", scheduled to load on 12 September. Togo was selected because it is a metre gauge, vacuum brake country, and because of our good relationship with the railway there. Guatemala was the backup destination but was considered less desirable, despite our ownership of the railway concession there, as conversion of gauge, braking systems and fuel would have been required. At this point there are no specific plans for operation of the locos in Togo, but in the long run there may the potential for a modest tourist operation. Again, the main objective at this stage is preservation. We hope that by example other groups would consider similar efforts; RITES advises that there are a few locos still available. Realistically, however, scrapping is inevitable in the absence of buyers in the next several months. At this moment I would like to thank RITES for the patience and good faith they have demonstrated through this project, which has turned out to be more complicated than any of us had contemplated. Additionally, I would like to thank the various IRFCA members who have assisted us in with port information, contacts, etc. helpful to the cause." RDC's website may be relevant. A later report (3rd October 2000) states "In the week to 28th September, the Chinese cargo ship 'Le Yi' arrived in Durban, South Africa, and was discharging and loading cargo at berth L on Durban's T-Jetty. Standing as deck cargo on it were two YP-class pacific steam locomotives, numbers 2257 and 2684, complete with tenders of the same numbers."

Tunisia Index

Tunisia took six British War Department 0-6-0ST - there are pictures on our Safari Steam CD-ROMs. Two of them survive preserved in Tunis - see this page for pictures of them in 2007 (added 22nd November 2009) - http://www.phantasrail.com/tunisia_preserved_steam.htm.

Zambia Index

The old Zambezi Sawmills Railway out of Livingstone - featured on our Safari Steam CD-ROMs - now boasts a tourist service reports Thomas Kautzor (27th October 2007). Click here for more information.

Click for full size image. Richard Gennis reports (12th June 2013): "I found 204 in steam in Livingston on 25th May 2013, it was shunting stock in preparation for the Bushtracks special which ran later that day, 156 was also there and in working order although not in steam, it is due to replace 204 in a few weeks time as 204 needs some small repairs."

A June 2009 report from Ben Costa via Trevor Heath updates what appears below namely that 12th #204 has returned to service and is performing well, while the 10th has been stopped for some important repairs (5th July 2009). By February 2010, according to Trevor Heath, the position was reversed with attractive 10th class #156 on the trains with #204 sidelined (16th February 2010). The relevant website is http://www.royal-livingstone-express.com/ (6th November 2011). There are pictures of both their locos in Fabrice Lanoue's Southern Africa Steam Picture Parade 2012 (9th April 2012).

A visitor in early 2008 reported (25th February 2008) - "The train commenced operation on Dec 26th 2007 and runs Wed-Sat inclusive, leaving Livingstone at 1745hrs. the train is run principally for guests at the two Southern Sun hotels located in Livingstone adjacent to Victoria Falls. The consist of the train which left on time was:- 
10th class #156
4933/4101 - former NRZ Economy coaches
211 - Diner - ex SAR "Wembley'
4821/6049 - ex Spoornet
All coaches had been lavishly renovated by Rovos Rail in Pretoria and are in a dark green livery, very similar to Rovos. A five course meal is served and was of a high standard with catering done by the Sun group. Due to the state of the track on the Mulobezi line, speeds were very low and we did not go in to Simonga siding as the track there is not considered good enough as yet for the loco to run around. Instead we were propelled back to Livingstone by 156, arriving back at 2120hrs. Water was taken on the outward journey from the Sindi river...this is a temporary arrangement and it is intended to take out a road bowser in future. 12th class # 204 is on site at the Bushtracks siding (adjacent to the main road from Livingstone to the Falls) and it is hoped to have this loco serviceable within 3 months as a back-up to 156. At present, Bushtracks (the train operator) do not have rights to run on the main line so are not able to operate down to Victoria Falls." Chas Rickwood and Mike Taylor report (17th April 2008) that 12th # 204 is expected to be back in service by the end of May. Potential visitors from the Victoria Falls side should note that day visas are no longer available and expensive full visas are now needed.

Peter Bagshawe was in the country in November 2008 and has reported on the general state of the railways (24th December 2008).

Zimbabwe Index

Zimbabwe has had more 'working steam' than the whole of the rest of Africa put together for some years, although the Bulawayo shunts may have finished - see below (8th February 2012). However, it is no longer the kind of country which most tourists would want to visit. Updates on the current situation are available on the Zimrail group - zimrail-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Regular steam consisted of shunting and trip workings in the Bulawayo area (see below) and continues with some shunting at Hwangie (formerly Wankie) colliery on the line to Victoria Falls and Zambia. Since independent travellers stopped visiting the country, reports on the latter tend only to come from visiting tour groups. For the latest example from July 2007, see http://www.geoffs-trains.com/reportzimbabwe07.html. And, to be even handed, you can read about the FarRail tour which followed (31st August 2007). Robert Hall had a friend travelling independently in the country in August 2007 he reports (25th September 2007) "For the visitor, various shortages – annoying at times, but not life-ruining; and life goes on, and people in the main were found friendly and cordial, and not afraid to talk to and fraternise with foreign visitors. The picture got, is that the news media – with the axes to grind, which they tend to have – depict Zimbabwe nowadays as an utter nightmare in all possible respects, and in so doing, overstate the case. Things may not be very good there; but the independent traveller can go there, and enjoy the experience, and not feel threatened." In other words, something which has been said many times about other destinations including Indonesia..

One of the best railway museums in Africa is in Bulawayo, now Geoff Cooke has created an unofficial website to support it (19th March 2005). Tour groups come here from time to time to charter steam and pictures of two 2005 tours are available on Geoff Cooke's website (17th October 2005). Historic tour group activity (1999 - 2001) is covered in another page.

I have moved the main Bulawayo blow-by-blow reports for the last few years to a separate page (more news moved 9th October 2010) but the most recent news I have is posted below:

By early 2006, it seemed that there were 6 (potentially) active steam locomotives in Bulawayo (11th February 2006) and later additions are in brackets:

14A 519; 525
15 386; 416; 424 (395)
16A 612 (611)

The amount of work they actually do varies enormously and unpredictably. If you happen to be in the area and are patient then seeing working Garratts in the 21st century has got to be rather special. Trevor Heath forwarded information on proposed 'football specials' and other excursion trains which have spurred a mini steam revival (10th May 2010) although when Ralf Mandera visited in June there was precious little sign of it (19th June 2010).

The various updates are indented below, however by early February 2012 there was no current 'real steam', local sources suggested that it had, in effect, finished. I heard indirectly "the shunt crews have been told they can choose between steam v. diesel traction and so they have said 'I’d rather twiddle my thumbs in a DE9A cab all shift than maintain a fire and get grubby'." (17th February 2012). Indeed when steam is rostered for the West End shunt, the crews tend to turn up late for their shift, thus ensuring a diesel has to be substituted... (16th April 2012).

Chas Rickwood reports (7th April 2014) a small revival with 15As 395 and 414 active as well as 14A 519 and 16A 613, the last of these ran a successful second excursion between Harare and Ruwa on Sunday, 13th April 2014 (17th April 2014). Tickets sold so well that an extra coach was attached and discreet rear diesel assistance provided on occasions although the train again ran rather late - read Robin Taylor's report (20th April 2014)

Nigel Petre reports from his February 2014 visit, 395 and 519 are definitely runners and 414 under active repair (17th March 2014).There was a steam excursion from Harare on 13th February, the first steam there since 1978  - read Robin Taylor's report (20th April 2014

For some time 395 and 613 were the only two serviceable locos, having been used for a tour group in May 2013. They have now nominally been joined by 414 which has emerged form P15 after some years (25th May 2013).

Early 2013 has seen two special workings. On Sunday 17th February 2013, 395 worked another Valentine's Day special to Khami Siding although there were problems with the braking on one coach. Even more special was 613 working a special from Cement Siding near Bulawayo to the Colleen Bawn cement facility on Saturday 2nd March 2013, this to commemorate 100 years of Portland Cement in the country (Mike Taylor via Trevor Heath, 12th March 2013).

A visit found 613 being prepared for a Valentine's Day special to Sawmills, for which 395 for reserve although it was still suffering from foaming problems during its last steaming (in the event it was 395 which hauled the very successful train). With unpaid wages and no work being done on restoration of other locos, it must be likely that they will be 'saved' for special workings (8th February 2012), which will themselves not survive much longer.

Mike Taylor reported on the situation on 1st October 2010 "Three locos in steam, 613 rostered shed loco was hauling 416 - also in steam out of the P15 to shed. 416 had been undergoing maintenance. 525 was at the coaling tower before departing for the West End shunt. Coal supplies are available. 395 was towed to Vic Falls last week, where she was put into steam. Then used to take a dining car and observation coach onto the Falls bridge for "sundowners" as part of a Tourist publicity conference / campaign. All went well and 395 is back in P15 for boiler washout - looking quite smart. 611 and 414 were also in P15. 612 - completely dismantled - has been removed out of refurbishment. Looks as if refurbishment has come to a halt. Steam crane and associated rolling stock being prepared for trip to Mutare to recover some derailed wagons. No obvious activity in P15. Appears apprentice- type labour used for pre- Safari servicing has been allocated to main workshops. Seven senior staff due to go on pension this month." (added 3rd October 2010). Chas Rickwood adds of 3rd October 2010 "14A Garratt No 525 had been on the West End shunt earlier in the day and was back on shed for fire cleaning...also in light steam was 15th class No 416. The two active 16As, Nos 611 and 613 were both in the washout section of the P15 shop. 15th class No 395 was dead on shed having returned from last weekend's trip up to Vic Falls. The 15th class went dead up to the Falls (and back) because of the fire risk...it was lit up there and worked the Rail Leisure trip down to the Falls bridge. This trip was advertised to the public with accommodation from Byo to the Falls and return on the normal passenger train . In the event there were few (if any) fare paying passengers and the promotion was supported by NRZ and ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourist Authority) plus some politicos who were invited along. All credit though to NRZ for persevering with their Rail Leisure programme which helps to keep steam alive...they are planning a couple of local steam excursions once the rains come and the fire risk is reduced." (added 8th October 2010).

Steam continued to be used on the West End and loco shunts into November 2010 (23rd December 2010). On a typical day, 613 was doing the WE duty and 416 shunting coal wagons around the loco area. Of the remainder of the working fleet, 611 and 395 were on the washout road and 525 under repairs in the P15 shop. NRZ ran a steam trip to Plumtree on 12th December 2010 with 395 connected to a train consisting of water tanker, caboose, 4 wagons with a total of 150 tonnes of cement - to be dropped off at Plumtree - for Botswana delivery - 2 dining cars and three 1st class Museum coaches, observation car 754 and composite guards van 2602, combined with a white painted coach previously used for surgical eye procedures around the country. The outward trip went well but a nut came off the motion on the return and a diesel had to be summoned to rescue the train but return was not too late. Thanks to Trevor Heath and regular Zim reporters for this.

Chas Rickwood reports (21st March 2011) that just three shunts are still scheduled for steam - West End, Belmont and a Mpopoma turn. Part of this is accounted for by the railways loss of traffic to road services. Latest news from Chas Rickwood - "2012 finds steam alive and well in Bulawayo with two locos in steam at the shed this afternoon. 611 has been the regular loco recently on the West End shunt and the other loco in steam today was a bit of a surprise, being 14A No 519. This loco is in fact an amalgam of 519 and 525, being the frame of 525 with 519's boiler and renumbered as 519. This loco has been undergoing steam test and may well do a turn on the WE shunt later in the week." (3rd January 2012)

Click for full size image. Click for full size image. Nigel Petre visited Bulawayo shed on 11th December 2012. He was delighted to find 16A 613 in steam but it had disgraced itself by getting derailed. In any case, there was no work for it as the crews are still refusing to operate steam for routine turns. 15A 395 was being prepared for a Christmas special. Also present and in steam was one of the steam cranes although he did not note its identity (7th January 2013). Chris Capewell confirms it will have been MXU 100 036 (Klockner Demag-Gottwald 1123-1124? / 1962), (8th January 2013).

The colliery railway at Hwange continues to use steam although I had had no reports of visits for some considerable time. There are pictures of this operation in Fabrice Lanoue's Southern Africa Steam Picture Parade 2012 (9th April 2012) and a mention in Geoff Warren's report of a June 2012 visit (25th June 2012).

Click for full size image.

Very little has been heard of the Victoria Falls Safari Express in recent years, Theo Strauss sent me this picture of privately owned 14A 512 taken in October 2010. While not in steam, the locomotive appears to be ready for use (24th December 2010). The Victoria Falls Steam Train Company's current programme is to be found on their website http://www.steamtraincompany.com/ (5th January 2012). A good source of steam information in the region is (http://dermatechengineering.yolasite.com/steam-news.php link dead 21st Octorber 2013), Dermatech Engineering have regular contracts with the various non-governmental steam operators, these people have now completely retubed 512 so it can continue as a 'runner' - thanks to Trevor Heath for this one (10th March 2012). There are pictures of this operation in Fabrice Lanoue's Southern Africa Steam Picture Parade 2012 (9th April 2012).

Click for full size image.

See Graham Roberts' African Steam Survivors report (21st December 2002). The two steam locomotives (stored) at Cement, 14A 509 and ex-SAR 19D 2695 have been sold (28th January 2003). They have undergone overhaul in Bulawayo and by mid 2007 were on there way out of the country, en route to New Zealand. By the end of 2007, they were in the Wellington Depot of Mainline Steam, and Trevor Heath tells me that 509 may even steam by the end of 2009 (2nd September 2009).

Nick Lera logo Nick Lera Video: The Cape to Cairo Railway

Steam Cranes

Steam cranes have always been the 'Cinderellas' of the railway steam scene, but as their more glamorous steam locomotive sisters ended their working days, they have often continued to be active in countries with no other real steam, but in Africa the only known active survivors are in Zimbabwe. You can read more about these and other survivors (updated 8th January 2013).


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk


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