An old locomotive from Caminhos-de-Ferro de Moçâmedes. Photo credit: Peter Bagshawe

Rail freight service in Angola restarts after 40 years

Rail freight services between the southern Angolan towns of Techamutete and Jamba restarted on the 10th of August, after being interrupted for over forty years due to the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002) and its impact on the railway infrastructure. The opening was announced by national railway company Caminhos-de-Ferro de Moçâmedes.

The distance covered by the service is ninety kilometers. Two weekly trains will be operated on the line, but the objective is to operate two services daily; one for passengers and the other one for freight. The service will be managed by Caminhos-de-Ferro de Moçâmedes.

Ango-Ferro project

There are several ambitious agricultural and mining (gold and iron) projects in the area between Techamutete and Jamba and this infrastructure is essential in achieving a competitive freight transport network. The work has been completed by the Angolan and Chinese governments, which have been working together to repair and improve the national railway network since 2010 in a long-term project known as Ango-Ferro. Currently, there are three railway services in Angola, which inhabits a 2,600 kilometer railway with Cape track gauge (1,067 milimeter gauge adopted by most of southern African countries) and 120 kilometers of narrow gauge (600 mm) track.

Angola is one of the most important African exporters of oil and minerals (gold, diamonds, iron, etc.). It was a Portuguese colony until 1975, and the Portuguese had developed a railway network of 1,270 kilometers, one of the most complete in sub-Saharan Africa until the sixties. However, the network collapsed because of a long civil conflict, which started immediately after the country became independent. Since the end of the war, the Angolan government has focused on repairing and improving its railway network, not only to export minerals and oil via its ports but also because road transport is extremely expensive for most of the population.

Author: Jose Gutierrez

Jose Gutierrez is RailFreight's correspondent in Spain.

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