This was meant to be a country with enormous steam potential after years of
ruinous civil war in which a few outposts somehow kept working. However, the
bean counters got here, and alas, most of the remaining stock was scrapped and
plans reined in. There are still steam locomotives in situ in several parts of
the country, but very little prospect that any will ever steam again, at least
in the near future.
Trying to give an overview of such a diverse country with mostly isolated
railway sections is not easy. I have tried to divide this page into more easily
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....
To my mind Mocambique has long been a 'destination-in-waiting' for an enterprising tour
operator, but somehow it never quite happened.
Anyone fancy organising a steam trip to
Mocambique? Described by Henry Posner III as
"the Galapagos of steam - small, bloody difficult to reach but with some unusual
beasts", Paul Ash discusses
the possibilities (22nd August 2001). See also Henry's report on
(Link updated 24th April 2009), also these
pictures from April 2009 http://share.shutterfly.com/share/received/detail.sfly?sid=8EaNHDJw4asKq&
(added 3rd May 2009).
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; the two 2-10-2s and two Mallets from Moatize; the two Garratts from
Beira; two wood burners from Quelimane; and 2 from Xai-Xai.
- 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."
Paul Ash was back in Maputo in early October 2000. No active steam, but at least one
Henschel Pacific is stored on quite good condition. Read the report (15th
October 2000). Geoff Pethick (3rd February 2004) has sent this picture of
Garratt 952 at Beira from December 2003. It was still here in August 2012 (25th
Moving north, Paul Ash stated (9th September 2004).
"Staff at the shed at
Moatize say the two Henschel 2-10-2s remain workable but there are no plans to operate them."
Henry Posner III was told by railway management in June 1999 that on the
there are 10 or more Garratts stored at Gondola - Richard Grove confirmed this (15th September 1998) " Saw the ten
Garratts stored at Gondola. Condition ranges from abysmal to reasonable. Three 971 class
are here - two of them at least are in 'Mozambique-nice' condition.", but
Paul Ash wrote (9th September 2004), "
All the Garratts at Gondola have now been scrapped save for two Henschel 971 class."
Henry then added from personal
inspection (note added 25th May 2005, many of these locomotives will now have
At Nacala, three 2-8-2's are dumped at the loco shed.
At Nampula, the following were noted:
0-6-0T #1 plinthed at the west entrance to the workshop.
Two identical 2-6-2's (one is #511) dumped west of the workshops.
An unidentified 2-8-2, minus tender, dumped north of the loco depot.
Two unidentified 2-8-2's (one minus tender), one unidentified 4-8-2 dumped east of the
An unidentified 4-4-2 is stored inside the workshops, pending restoration for a tourist
service on the disused line to the port of Lumbo."
Andrew Jones was in Mocambique in August 2012 and reports that he
found the five Xai Xai steam locomotives in Maputo mentioned below,
click on the thumbnails for a larger image: Paul Ash has identified them as
respectively 012, 05, 06, 082 and either 083 or 081.(25th September 2012)
The narrow gauge railway out of Xai-Xai somehow struggled on for years and
Alas Paul has sent me (1st November 2005)
a news report which states:
"The Mozambican police have arrested a gang of thieves who stole railway equipment in the southern province of Gaza, according to a press release from the ports and rail company
CFM, received by AIM on Tuesday. The thieves stole rails and other metallic equipment, presumably for sale to scrap metal merchants. Their operations were highly
organised. The thieves cut paths through the bush, along which they then drove trucks. They used metal cutting and soldering machinery to remove the rails and slice them into manageable pieces. The thieves destroyed about eight kilometres of track, in the Chonguene region, along the narrow gauge railway that runs from the provincial capital,
Xai-Xai, to Manjacaze. No trains have run on this line since 1998. Nonetheless, CFM intends to rehabilitate the line at some stage in the future. Since it is the only narrow gauge railway in the country, CFM regards it as part of Mozambique's heritage that should be preserved. A preliminary assessment of the damage is that it will cost 2.5 million US dollars to repair. Similar thefts have been reported elsewhere in the country."
Don't hold your breath waiting, the country has more important issues to address
in the short term......
The railway vanished under 3 or more metres of
water in the 2000 rains and Paul Ash later visited in 2001 to
see what survived (22nd August 2001).
Thierry Nicolas visited with a tour in mid 1999 . Click here for the report (report
originally added 13th September 1999, amended and illustrated 21st December 1999). The
picture below was taken at that time:
Previously Paul Ash had sent an illustrated account of
Africa's most amazing survivor (8th
July 1999). Olaf GŁttler (19th September 1998) sent a
report which included Xai-Xai which was not working then..
Former Sena Sugar Estate
A number of narrow gauge locomotives
have been brought to the UK from the sugar estates in Mozambique (23rd November 1998). Read Peter Nash's report. Alex
Smith was working on restoring the mill at Marromeu and sent
some pictures of the stored
locomotives still there, (updated 24th December 2000) -
absolutely fascinating material. Later (29th April 2002) Alex Smith and Pat Keegan reported that "There
are now 4 mills in operation in Mozambique. Marromeu on the Zambesi, Maragra, Xinivane and
Mfumbise, all located between or around Beira and Maputo and served by a reasonable road
system. At Marromeu, the latest is that they have moved all the locos that were in the
loco workshop, out into the elements. Afraid they wont last too much longer there.
Rail is no longer being used - all cane is presently being trucked in." The remaining locomotives at Marromeu were then acquired by South
Africa's Sandstone Trust. Read Geoff Pethick's illustrated
report (22nd March 2003). These are now included (2nd
August 2004) in
the stocklist of the Sandstone Railway in South Africa. Now, Sandstone are
now restoring one of the 600mm gauge Feldbahn 0-8-0T from the Sena sugar
plantation in Mocambique - a locomotive that has been exported twice to Africa.
Click here for the
full story and pictures (10th May 2005).
The isolated line from Inhambane to Inharrime was never dieselised and
apparently closed in 1993. For a fascinating set of pictures from August 2012
including views of equipment inside the depot see http://www.flickr.com/photos/quadralectics/sets/72157631062183164/with/7780103594/
(25th September 2012). One of the locos inside the shed is 20 and Paul Ash has
identified the other one as 8..
The following pictures from Koen De Vaere were taken
10th June 2007 and were added to this page on 11th December 2011, it seems a
start was made on repainting 572 at some stage. 571 may be somewhere in the long
Bas Brul was in Inhambane at New Year 2005 (15th
February 2005). No trains were running, the restored station had become
government offices, 8 (inside works) and 571 and 572 (outside) were still present but
the other rolling stock was by and large in in a dire condition. What has
happened to the other locos is not known. This is 572:
Thierry Nicolas ran in the country in mid 1999, click here for the report (report
originally added 13th September 1999, amended and illustrated 21st December
1999) which saw a steam charter here, it may have been the last ever (steam)
train on the line. Olaf GŁttler (19th September 1998) "There is considerable activity
in the shed in Inhambane, two locos are under repair and it's planned to restart a service to Jangamo
about 30km from Inhambane. The track would be too light for the two bigger locos in
the shed. One of them did run for a film crew for about 5km recently.
This isolated line survived with operational steam long after the main part
of the railway was dieselised. The following pictures from Koen De Vaere were
taken 28th May 2007 and were added to this page on 11th December 2011:
Paul Ash reported (9th September 2004). "Rail operations at
Quelimane are effectively finished for good. The track is now heavily overgrown, the staff have been retrenched (except for a lone security guard at the shed) and the locos - 409 and 412 - have been pushed into the back of the shed. Condition of both is good, but there is no nowhere, nor anyone, to run them."
Paul Ash reported (4th October 1999): "Infrequent trains run on the
Quelimane-Mocuba line (Baldwin 2-8-2s), hauling mostly logs from the plantations around
Nicuadala, about 40km inland. It seems there is no traffic beyond here.
Richard Grove confirms (15th September 1998): "In Mozambique the line from
Quelimane to Mocuba (145 km) is now operating with mixed passengers and freight entirely
steam hauled." I have now had more details from Olaf GŁttler (19th September 1998)
and you can read his brief
report and see two
June 1998 pictures.
This locomotive was still present in August 2012 ((25th September 2012).
Henry Posner III reported that one of the Atlantics was steamed
at Nampula on 31st
October 2000 (added 5th March 2001) and Paul Ash reported it was still operable
some time later (9th September 2004). All of which was cast into doubt by the news that loco and boiler have
been separated, the
latter for use in the local Coca Cola plant (24th
April 2005). Compare the first picture below courtesy of Brad Knapp, General Manager of
Central East African Railways with the second. Paul Ash justifiably calls it a
crime against preservation. I now believe that after appropriate pressure,
the locomotive is now back in one piece... (25th May 2005)