2 July 2020
EAST COAST PORTS A series of east coast ports, most fed by a railway gathering in traffic from the deep interior of the continent, is transforming the industrial life of many nations. From Djibouti an electrified railway extends 750 km inland to Addis Abba. From Larnu a railway is planned to operate into Kenya although this scheme has hit financial irregularities. The long-established port of Mombasa has had a narrow gauge railway extending into the interior but now this has been replaced by a fine new standard gauge railway all the way to Nairobi. This will eventually be extended to Uganda.
SOUTH AFRICA The railway between Pretoria and Hercules has reopened for freight traffic. It was closed following the theft of copper cables in August 2014.
25 May 2020
SENEGAL The metre gauge railway from Dakar, capital and major port of Senegal, runs north and east and eventually crosses the border into Mali. The line has been rebuilt through the suburbs of Dakar since the still being built standard gauge, double track, electrified railway to Blaise Diagne International Airport runs immediately alongside the earlier line. Freight trains still run between Dakar and Bamako in Mali but the through passenger service ceased to operate in 2009. There is still a twice weekly train on the part of the route in Mali.
1 May 2020
MORROCO The hi-speed Al Boraq service has generated 35% extra traffic on the Tangiers – Casablanca service with 97% satisfaction ratings from passengers. There are 28 trips each way daily and stations give a comfortable environment for travellers. The trip time has been slashed from 4 hours 45 minutes to 2 hours 10 minutes with a probability that this will fall to 2 hours during 2020.
21 April 2020
SOUTH AFRICA There are plans to restart commuter services on Cape Town’s Central Line which runs to Chris Hani.
KENYA The State Railway is to obtain eleven class sixty one 2-car dmus to operate on five commuter routes radiating from Nairobi.
1 March 2020
SOUTH AFRICA Two trains collided at Horizon, west of Johannesburg resulting in substantial damage to the track. One person was killed, several were injured, and many were trapped in the wreckage but were eventually freed without significant injury.
2 February 2020
MOROCCO A consortium led by Egis is to design and build a light rail network to serve the Rabat – Sale – Temara conurbation.
23 November 2019
MOROCCO The first high-speed railway in Africa, operated by the Moroccan National Railways, has carried 2.5m passengers during its first nine months of operation, and a 3m total is confidentially predicted for the first full year of services. A fleet of twelve 2NZ double deck trains were supplied by Alstom for the 363 km long Tangier – Casablanca line. A maximum speed of 320 km/hour has made possible a reduction of the running time from 4 hours 45 minutes to 2 hours 10 minutes.
9 November 2019
EGYPT ECM, the company running the Cairo Metro system, has entered a contract with the Spanish company Indra to maintain the ticketing system on Lines 1 and 2.
SOUTH AFRICA Transnet has launched the world’s longest timetabled train – the 4km long, 375 wagon service between Sishen and Saldanha (861km). Each train carries 23,625 tons of manganese ore
25 October 2019
MAURITIUS The first section of the Mauritius Metro Express between the capital Port Louis and Rose Hill (13 km) was opened by Prime Minister Jugnauth on 3 October 2019. There are nine intermediate stops. The second phase will continue beyond Rose Hill to Curepipe (15 Km with ten stops) and will open in 2021. Most of the route follows that of the former Midland branch of the State Railway that was closed in 1964. CAF is supplying eighteen low floor 7-segment LRVs for the new line.
7 June 2019
MOROCCO The high-speed “Al Boraq” service between Tangier and Casablanca now provides twenty trips per day and has attracted over one million passengers during its first period of service. The country’s railway network has been given a major upgrade with the Casablanca – Marrakesh section double tracked.
ALGERIA The first 6.9km long extension to the Constantine tramway opened in the spring of 2019. It extends from Zoyaghi on the existing line to the new town of Ali Meadjeli. Alstom has supplied most of the materials needed for the new line – track, catenary, substations, signalling and ticket issuing equipment. They have also supplied 24 LRVs to add to the existing fleet of 20 LRVs. Alstom has supplied similar packages for new light railways in Algiers, Oran, Setif and Ouargla.
EGYPT The planned monorail in Cairo will use rolling stock designed and built by Bombardier in Derby, England.
ETHIOPIA Transport links between Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and the port of Djibouti (in the country of the same name) on the Gulf of Aden are being transformed by the opening on 01 January 2018 of a new standard gauge electrified railway. The new railway replaces a metre gauge line that had fallen into serious disrepair with most sections eventually closing in 2008. Building of the new railway began in 2010 with Chinese banks raising the funds for the construction which was undertaken by a major Chinese team. The railway carried heavy freight traffic from the start with trains taking 12 hours for the 466 mile journey compared with three days by road. A passenger train running daily was introduced three months after the start of freight services.
SENEGAL The first section of the Regional Express line linking the capital Dakar with the Airport (57km) was opened on 14 January 2019. Very heavy commuter traffic has been generated in the congested suburbs.
SOUTH AFRICA The 1100km long route between the manganese mines at Hotazel in the Kalahari Basin, and the ports of Ngqura and nearby Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape travelling via De Aar, is being upgraded. This will enable longer and heavier trains to be handled. At present trains of over 250 wagons are hauled by four Class 20E locomotives. Siemens Mobility has installed new signalling systems at three of the nation’s busiest stations – Johannesburg Park, Braamfontein, and Pretoria. The old signalling dated back to the 1930s and the new equipment will allow greater operational flexibility.
30 April 2019
ALGERIA A new rail link to Alger Houari Boumediene Airport to the city centre Algiers Agha station was opened on 29 April 2019. The trip time is 19 minutes and initially there is just an hourly service.
IVORY COAST A new bridge is being built for Line 1 of the Metro adjacent to a quite recently opened road bridge, both structures crossing part of the Ebrié Lagoon. It will carry the north – south standard gauge Metro Line 1 between the towns of Plateau (containing the CBD) and Treichville (for the docks and main hospital). The structure will be 372m long. The 23 mile long Line 1 will be completely separate from the nation’s main line railway which is metre gauge.
MAURITIUS Phase 1 of the “Metro Express” light rail line between Port Louis and Rose Hill, 13km, is expected to open in September 2019.
SOUTH AFRICA Commuter traffic carried on the Western Cape lines to/from Cape Town has been increasing rapidly and the handling of peak flows was seriously disrupted by a fire that destroyed two trains standing in platform 13 and 14 of Cape Town station on 21 April 2019. The fire started in one train and was blown across to the second train by strong winds. Twelve coaches were destroyed and 300m of overhead power wire and signalling cables badly damaged. The Western Cape Lines had been able to increase the number of train sets from 39 to 56 during the last few years and four more are due in late April 2019. Yet more trains are already needed to handle the traffic before this loss of two trains.
31 March 2019
MOROCCO The new Tangier – Rabat – Casablanca high-speed railway is 215 miles long and an end-to-end trip will take just over two hours compared with the present five. During recent tests one train reached 170 mph, making it the fastest train in Africa. Alstom has supplied fourteen trains for the line and each will accommodate 533 passengers.
SOUTH AFRICA There are plans to transfer the operation of suburban train services around Cape Town from the State Railway to a new organisation appointed by the City Council. On 26 March 2019 four bids had been received from transport groups for this new organisation. In recent years Cape Town local services have been disrupted by passenger protests and by arson attacks on the coaches.
3 March 2019
SOUTH AFRICA The new Siemens signalling system is to be installed across the busy Gauteng Region.
1 February 2019
SENEGAL Trial runs for the Regional Express train from Dakar to Blaise Diagne Airport (55km) have been successful. Commuter services from the suburbs into Dakar as well as Airport passengers will enjoy services operating at 160 km/hour.
SOUTH AFRICA The second phase of resignalling Cape Town Station is about to start. Siemens Electronic signalling controlled from a nerve centre at Bellville was commissioned for platforms 13-16 and 20-23 during 2018. Phase 2 will cover platforms 1 – 12. Platforms 17 – 19 are closed while extensive repair work is undertaken and new signalling will be installed and commissioned later. Similar work was completed during 2018 at Johannesburg Park and Braamfontein stations and is under way at Pretoria with an expected finish in January 2019.
12 December 2018
KENYA Nairobi is Kenya’s capital city and all major roads leading towards the Central Business District (CBD) are heavily congested. A 2.2km long branch from the Mombasa main line leads to Syokimau Station above which is planned a major shopping mall with clusters of office buildings around it. A 6.5km branch is actively planned to run from Syokimau to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with diesel trains initially operating every 30 minutes between the Airport and Nairobi CBD. As traffic rises the route will be electrified with a more frequent service. The rail service between the Airport and CBD will take 22 minutes compared with at least two hours on the congested roads.
30 November 2018
MOROCCO Africa’s first high-speed line, between Tangier and Casablanca, was opened on 15 November 2018 at a cost of £1.9bn. Funds for the work came from France (50%) and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The section between Tangier and Kenitra is capable of 200mph operation while south of Kenitra trains will operate at 100 mph although this section may well be altered for higher speeds during the next few years. Twelve double-deck TGVs have been supplied by Alstom and services operate hourly throughout the day. The 4¾ hour journey has been cut to 2 hours 10 minutes but will become faster as the track beds down.
SOUTH AFRICA Alstom’s Gibela train manufacturing plant is by far the largest and most sophisticated automated facility in Africa. It was formally opened earlier this month by the President of South Africa but operations had been under way for several weeks. The first 3-car commuter X’trapolis emu had already been completed and testing it on nearby railway tracks was nearly finished. A second emu was nearing completion and the company is committed to delivering six emus to the train operating company by the end of March 2019. The factory has R380m worth of specialised equipment to assemble 10,000 individual parts that make up to an emu.
12 November 2018
SOUTH AFRICA To meet a growing world need for manganese Transnet Freight Rail has undertaken experiments to operate longer trains on the 1067mm gauge Sishen – Saldanha line on which 342 wagon iron ore trains are operated regularly and are hauled by eight locomotives placed throughout this very long train. Manganese traffic from the Horazel Mine has grown from 5m tonnes in 2012 to 12.8m tonnes in 2017. To handle the manganese traffic it is planned to operate 375 wagon trains – at 4km they will be the longest trains in the world. Each will carry 22500 tonnes of manganese ore and much of this traffic will be taken from the congested roads. Much of this traffic goes to Port Elizabeth. The Noupoort – Port Elizabeth line is to be upgraded to handle higher axleloads.
31 October 2018
SOUTH AFRICA The first train manufacturing plant in Africa was opened in October by the President, Cyril Ramaphosa at Dunottar, a little east of Johannesburg, It is a joint venture between Alstom and Gibela. The factory will produce 580 6-car X’Trapolis commuter emus during the next decade.
10 October 2018
EGYPT Details have been issued of Egyptian National Railways largest ever contract following an international competition to supply 1300 coaches which would operate improved services across the Nile Delta region. The winner is Transmashholding-Hungary (TMH), a consortium of Russian and Hungarian firms. Bids were also received from firms in China, Italy, India, and Romania. The coaches are all seating cars (i.e. no sleepers) and comprise 500 third class with forced ventilation.; 500 third class with air conditioning; 150 second class with air conditioning; 90 first class with air conditioning, and finally 30 second class with air conditioning and a cafeteria.
TANZANIA Work has begun on the construction of the 530km long standard gauge high-speed railway linking Dar es Salaam and Morogoro in the heart of the growing business hub of the nation. Contracts for the locomotives and rolling stock will be issued soon and civil engineering contracts have already been awarded. The new railway will replace a century-old twisting 3’6” gauge line that cannot be adequately upgraded.
SOUTH AFRICA There was a collision on 04 October 2018 at Riebeeck Park station in Kempton Park when a Johannesburg – Pretoria emu ran into the rear of a similar emu which was stationary because of a fault on the train. Three hundred and twenty passengers were injured – thirty two of them seriously.
13 August 2018
EGYPT The European Bank is providing a Euro 205m loan for the modernisation of Metro Line 1 in Cairo.
25 July 2018
MOROCCO King Mohammed VI has ceremonially named the Tangier – Casablanca High Speed Line “Al Boraq” – a fantastic mythological creature that travelled at a great speed. Morocco is to host the 12th World Congress of High-Speed in 2021. The State Railway, ONCF, has ordered thirty “Prima” electric locomotives from Alstom.
NIGERIA President Buchari commissioned the first phase of the Abuja Light Rail Project on 12 July 2018 in a ceremony at the major station in the Central Business District. The line when completed will operate to the International Airport.
SOUTH AFRICA Another six commuter coaches have been torched by vandals and the railway authorities have asked the police to set up a special division to combat those responsible.
7 May 2018
SOUTH AFRICA A collision between an informal bus (a “bakkie”) and a train on 27 April 2018 at the Bullskop level crossing in the Cape Town outer suburbs killed seven and injured several more. The crossing has boom gates and flashing lights but these were ignored by a taxi (which got through ahead of the train) followed closely by the bus which was hit by the speeding emu.
20 April 2018
ALGERIA The new 9.8km long tramway between Ouargla city centre and the Universities was opened on 20 March 2018. The line is a joint venture by engineers CITAL and Alstom. Alstom supplied 23 Citadis trams and was involved in the provision of substations, signalling, maintenance programmes, ticketing systems, and telecommunications.
RWANDA & TANZANIA The Transport Ministers of Rwanda and Tanzania have reviewed the plans for a new standard gauge railway between Isaka and Kigali, and have decided that it will be electrified rather than rely on diesel traction. When completed the new line will be part of a through 1320km route between Dar es Salaam and Kigali.
UGANDA In an effort to reduce chronic congestion on the main highways in the capital Kampala, the Government has issued contracts to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build the initial 35km of the planned light rail system. This will involve the upgrade of existing poorly used railways together with some extensions into new housing areas. The new light rail routes are expected to open in 2020 and two later phases may follow.
21 March 2018
TANZANIA An electric railway 400 km long is to be built between Isaka in Tanzania and Kigali in Rwanda. This plan replaces an earlier proposal to build a diesel powered railway between the cities. The capital of Tanzania is being moved from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and studies are under way to start commuter rail services around Dodoma since there will be a major increase in the population following the decision to make it the capital.
2 March 2018
IVORY COAST During a State Visit on 30 November 2017, the French President Emmanuel Macron laid the foundation stone for the 23.5 mile long north-south Metro in the capital Abidjan. Much of the route will use the right of way of the former metre gauge railway to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
SOUTH AFRICA The State Railways (PRASA – Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) decided on 28 February 2018 to reintroduce the long distance passenger service between Johannesburg and Musina that had been withdrawn in 2014 as part of a passenger service reorganisation. The train, taking passengers to the border with Zimbabwe, will take ten hours and be equipped with a dining car, seating cars, and Tourist Sleepers.
14 February 2018
MOROCCO The State Railway, ONCF, is to obtain thirty Prima M4 electric locomotives from Alstom. They will take power at 3kV dc.
KENYA The Mombasa to Nairobi main line is to be electrified by the China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company. The work will include the construction of fourteen substations along the route.
16 January 2018
ALGERIA As part of the project to extend the branch from Blida, on the main east – west line near Algiers City south to Ain Defla and to double track and electrify the entire route, a major tunnel 7.3km long has been completed near the southern end of the line. This is the longest tunnel in North Africa and the second longest in the African continent. During the past decade major developments have transformed transport around several cities with a Metro and light rail network in Algiers City, and light rail systems in Constantine, and Oran. The contract to build a tramway in Setif has been awarded to Alstom with Turkish engineers Yepi Merkezi. On the railways suburban trains operate on the main lines out of Algiers City and limited commuter services out of most other cities. Intercity services are to be upgraded by seventeen bi-mode train sets to be supplied by Alstom. Long distance passenger traffic and a significant part of freight traffic has been lost following the construction of a much improved road network so the railway authorities have fought back by the construction of new branches and the electrification of older routes.
TUNISIA The European Investment Bank is making funds available to develop Tunis City RER Lines D and E, and also to obtain the necessary rolling stock.
IVORY COAST Construction of the Abidjan Metro began on 30 November 2017.
SOUTH AFRICA The Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg express, the “Shosholoza Meyl”, with about 850 passengers on board hit a lorry at a level crossing near Kroonstad at 0740 on 4 January 2018. 14 passengers were killed and 268 injured, several of whom died later in hospital.
28 December 2017
MASCARENE ISLANDS This cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean lies close to Madagascar and a little further from the east coast of the African continent. Two of the islands have had rail systems. Mauritius was a British colony but is now an independent nation and had a network of standard gauge routes radiating from the capital Port Louis comprising two main lines and four branches totalling 155 route miles and opened between 1864 and 1904. Passenger traffic ceased in 1956 and freight in 1964. The freight traffic had been sufficiently heavy to justify the use of three Beyer-Peacock Garrett locos among its fleet of 52 locos. A road network had been developed as the railways closed but now congestion is causing serious problems leading to plans to open a Metro/light rail line following the route of at least one of the old railways. Sufficient finance has now been raised and in the summer of 2017 the engineering contractor Larson and Toubro was appointed to start constructing a line from Port Louis to Curepipe. CAF will supply 18 Urbos trams for the new line.
Nearby Réunion is a French overseas department and had a metre gauge line 124 km long operating round the coast from St Pierre on the west coast via the capital St. Denis, on the north coast, to the eastern town of St. Benoit. It opened in stages from 1878 and closed by 1976. A line to join the two termini completing a circle around the island was authorised but never built. Again road congestion is causing difficulties and in 2013 a detailed plan to construct a tram:train route between St Paul and Roland Garros Airport (41.5km) was announced. LRVs would run on reserved track at up to 100km/hour between towns but would become street tramways running through the heart of larger communities. However the line seemed impossibly costly to build featuring the highest railway bridge in the world and a tunnel 10km long. A source of funds has not yet been found.
13 December 2017
MOROCCO Twenty two Citadis trams are to be obtained to operate the expanding light rail network in Rabat-Salebus.
SOUTH AFRICA An order for 240 Bombardier TRAXX electric locomotives was made in March 2014 and so far 15 have been completed at the Assembly Plant in Durban. The first locomotive to have completed testing was accepted by the Railway on 7 December 2017. Metrorail Western Cape has had to suspend all services on the Kapteinsklip and Bishop Levis routes because of repeated vandalism affecting mainly substations, trackside cables, and the signalling system..
24 November 2017
TUNISIA The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to finance with a loan of Euro 83m the construction by the Government of the Republic of Tunisia and Tunisia National Railway of two new suburban railway lines in Tunis City. Line D will be 11.3 km long with nine stations and will be built alongside the existing heavy rail line to Algiers. Line E will be 8.2 km long, have seven stations, and will run from Tunis City to Bougatfa. The loan from the EIB will cover the purchase of twenty eight train sets and the first services will commence on Line D in October 2018.
8 November 2017
TUNISIA Four 4-car air-conditioned emus have entered service on the Sahel line between Sousse and Mahdia.
ALGERIA The first 9 km long section of a Metro in Algiers City was opened on 31 October 2011 some 28 years after a hesitant start to build the line. The line runs south east from Tafourah Grande Poste in the city centre to Hai el Badr and there are eight intermediate stations. The line was extended in 2015 from Hai el Badr to El Harrach Centre adding a further four stations. The line was built by a consortium comprising Siemens, Vinci, and CAF. Now it is hoped to start work on an extension of this line to the Airport.
UGANDA The new standard gauge railway being built from Kampala to the border with Kenya at Malaba (273 km) is being electrified for the following reasons. The railway will be less expensive to operate since diesel fuel is extremely costly but electricity is relatively inexpensive. The Chinese engineers who are building the railway can supply 6000 kW and 7200 kW electric locomotives one of which can haul a heavy load that would require two diesel locos. The maintenance of diesel locos costs 30-40% more than an electric loco. Electric traction is deemed to be eco-friendly. Many nations world-wide are electrifying their railways and in order to access affordable spares, up-to-date technology and staff skills it is considered important that the new railway follows world trends. It costs more to build an electric railway but costs less to operate it. The new railway will feed into the Nairobi – Mombasa railway in Kenya (472 km long) and will be linked to other new standard gauge lines being built across nations in Central Africa.
26 October 2017
SOUTH AFRICA: NATAL Following very heavy downpours extensive damage halted all services on the KwaZulu-Natal Metrorail on 10 October 2017. The track has been distorted and in places totally undermined. The new signalling system over 24km of the route which was due to be handed over in December has been so badly damaged that most of the work will have to be re-done. Substations have been damaged and many of the overhead wire masts moved that the power has had to be turned off leaving seventeen train sets out on the system unable to be moved back to the depot. Other damage includes the destruction of fencing and severe damage to station roofs.
CAPE TOWN The City Authorities propose a takeover of the suburban railway services which are responsible for moving 54% of the commuters. Reliability of the services has deteriorated recently and the City believes that local control of the assets will help to maintain the services.
Three people caught stealing signalling cables during the morning rush hour early in October 2017 have each received a 10 year jail sentence.
MOROCCO Line 1 of the tramway between the twin cities of Rabat and Sale was opened on 18 May 2011 and was followed by Line 2 which was intended to improve the links between the two cities. The system now carries 110,000 passengers each day. Line 2 is now to be extended by 7 km to serve the new Sale Hospital which is still under construction.
26 September 2017
ALGERIA CAF has been contracted to supply twelve 6-car Inneo train sets for the Algiers Metro.
SOUTH AFRICA Nearly 7.5m tonnes of coal were handled by the Richard Bay Railway and Port during June 2017. This was a record volume of traffic – about 0.5m above the previous record. Fifty one additional trains were operated during the month – the railway normally operates around 500 services monthly.
For more information please click on this link (the original is in German):
22 August 2017
ALGERIA CAF is to supply a further 12 6-car Inneo metro trains to join the 14 trains already in service on the Algiers Metro..
EGYPT On 11 August 2017 a passenger train from Cairo to Alexandria ran into the rear of a passenger service from Port Said that was standing at a minor station a few miles from Alexandria. Thirty six passengers were killed and about 150 were injured.
5 August 2017
MOROCCO The first high-speed railway in Africa is nearing completion. This will link Tangier and Kenitra (200km) following a route more or less parallel to the coast and therefore significantly shorter than the traditional line via Sidi Kachem. At Kenitra connection will be made with the existing line to the capital Rabat and onwards to Marrakesh.
SOUTH AFRICA The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has received the last of twenty new emus built in Brazil with PRASA staff present in order to learn how to build similar stock in South Africa. Five hundred and eighty further emus will be built in South Africa at a new construction plant at Dunottar Park. Meanwhile the Trade Unions and PRASA are applying to the Courts for permission to employ armed guards on trains operating along the notorious Central Line in the Western Cape. Most of the drivers and guards have agreed to have an armed guard with them.
28 June 2017
SENEGAL The narrow gauge near moribund railway running east from the capital Dakar is being transformed into a standard gauge electrified double track railway to link the capital Dakar with the growing city of Diamniadio (36km). Construction of this initial section of the Dakar Regional Express line has begun. There will be 11 new stations to serve rapidly growing suburbs and trains are expected to operate from late 2019. Planning is more or less complete for the second section of the new line – to the International Airport (55km) to which high-speed trains (180 km/hour) will run every 15 minutes from 2020-21.
SOUTH AFRICA The organisation responsible for operating passenger services on South African Railways is commonly called PRASA – the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa – which is the implementing arm of the National Department of Transport. A new train for use on commuter services across the nation has been produced by the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium and is a key part of PRASA’s twenty year modernisation scheme to reverse the decline in the use of commuter services. Six hundred new train sets for suburban routes have been ordered – the first twenty being built at Gibela’s plant in Brazil, and five hundred and eighty at a brand new factory in South Africa at Dunottar Park. The new trains have longitudinal seating and abundant standing space. The trains are open along the full length of the set adding to a spacious feel. The new trains have been named “The People’s Train” and have been inaugurated by President Zuma initially on a single route from Pretoria to Pienaarspoort.
15 June 2017
SOUTH AFRICA The first thirteen X’Trapolis emus entered service on 9 May 2017 on the suburban network around Pretoria. Later further units will serve routes around Cape Town and Durban.
29 May 2017
AFRICA Five railway companies are working together to create a 3000km long north – south route starting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, serving traffic centres in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia, before running through to the port of Durban in South Africa. The line is planned to boost both freight and passenger traffic along this corridor.
SOUTH AFRICA A new factory at Nigel, in the Rand, will build the Metrorail passenger trains for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.
22 April 2017
UGANDA Streets in the capital, Kampala, are becoming increasingly congested with traffic at a standstill during the busiest hours. Plans for a Chinese built standard gauge Light Rail Mass Transit system are progressing and the first services will commence operations by 2020. Phase 1 comprises four routes with the first to open being the route to Namanve in the east. Other routes in phase 1 of the plans will run to the north, south and west. When completed the system will comprise 240 route km. To ensure no delays due to road traffic standing on level crossings, the routes will be built on a continuous elevated structure so that there will be no level crossings on the system. Seven segment LRVs will operate about every 7 – 8 minutes on all four routes taking power at 750 V DC from an overhead wire. The LRVs will provide First Class, Upper Class, and Economy Class accommodation. The hub of the system will be Kampala railway station to which a standard gauge heavy rail line to the coast is being built.
12 March 2017
SOUTH AFRICA Two incidents in February 2017 disrupted services in the busy commuter network around Pretoria. On 16 February 2017 a local emu service was derailed on a faulty point near Hatfield station. The point blade had not closed properly allowing the wheel on one bogie to jump from the track. On 20 February 2017 an two emu services were in head-on collision at Lynross station near Pretoria. It appeared that one train had run through a red signal. One hundred passengers were injured, twenty of them seriously.
28 January 2017
MOROCCO Africa’s first high-speed railway, between Tangier and Kenitra (185 km) is due to commence full public services in June 2018, with test operations from February 2017. Some limited public services will operate during the latter part of the test period. Later extensions will see the route extended south through the capital Rabat to Casablanca, and later still over a new branch to Agadir by 2035. Alstom is supplying four double-deck DUPLEX trains that will operate at up to 350 km/hour cutting the travel time over the initial section from 3 hours to 47 minutes.
12 November 2016
SOUTH AFRICA Two commuter trains were involved in a head-on crash early on 24 October 2016 while travelling on a single track branch at Esselen Park in Tembisa north east of Johannesburg. It is thought that a driver of one train had missed a red signal. One person was killed and 243 injured.
12 October 2016
ETHIOPIA The new standard gauge railway from the capital Addis Ababa to the Red Sea port of Djibouti (466 miles) was opened for freight services on 6 October 2016. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC. Financed and built by Chinese firms, the line will have Chinese management and operating staff until local replacements are trained. Freight trains will take 12 hours for the journey compared with at least three days over the deeply rutted road between the two points. Passenger services will commence in about three months time. A Cape-gauge railway between the same end-points closed between Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa eight years ago after falling into disrepair.
For more information follow this link:
6 September 2016
SOUTH AFRICA Transet, the Government owned freight company, has awarded a contract to Bombardier to build 240 electric locomotives. These are being assembled at two Bombardier plants – at Koedoespoort in Pretoria, and at Edwin Swale in Natal. A new factory was opened on 25 August 2016 at Isando, near Johannesburg, in which the Mitrac high-power propulsion equipment will be manufactured.
24 August 2016
SOUTH AFRICA Arson attacks on suburban stock have become a serious problem in the Cape Town area. The most recent incident on 7 August 2016 resulted in the destruction of two motor cars and two trailers at Retreat Station. In the past two years fifty nine coaches have had to be taken out of service due to fires and the loss of stock is making it difficult to provide a full service on all lines.
8 April 2016
SOUTH AFRICA Transnet Engineering is planning to develop a design for a commuter emu with an eye on the large potential need in South Africa where most of the existing fleet will be replaced during the next few years. A significant need exists also in Egypt (around Cairo and Alexandria). Several new suburban services are likely to start up during the next few years including those in Nairobi and Lagos.
25 March 2016
ALGERIA Alstom is to supply twenty six 44m long Citadis trams for the new 15.2km long east – west tramway in the city of Setif. The trams will be assembled at the new plant in Annaba and the tramway is due to open in 2018. Below is a link to a YouTube video giving information about this tramway. Note that there is only a music soundtrack and French on-screen text.
EGYPT A Chinese consortium, which is making major inroads into the civil engineering market in Africa, is now undertaking a major tramway project in the city of Heliopolis. This appears to include an upgrade to the existing tramway there.
12 March 2016
SOUTH AFRICA Services on the branch line to Daveyton in the Rand have been withdrawn temporarily because local gangs have targeted railway staff and sometimes passengers. On 22 February 2016 one train was set on fire and staff have sometimes had to run for their lives when attacked by stone-throwing gangsters.
22 February 2016
KENYA Good progress is being made with the construction of a new standard gauge railway between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi. A later phase of construction will take the railway to Malaba on the Kenya / Uganda border. A new proposal has been discussed by Ministers from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan to electrify the new railway to reduce the overall journey time and increase the capacity but the line will open around late 2017 using power from individual diesel locomotives.
SOUTH AFRICA The railway track bed close to Capetown is undergoing erosion from seas that are stormier than usual. The line is being threatened near Glencairn on the Simonstown branch in the Cape Town suburbs by the movement of large amounts of sand covering the tracks and station car parks. This then exposes insecure sections of the coastline including the track bed of parts of the Simonstown route.
6 February 2016
ALGERIA A consortium including Colas Rail and the local engineers EMA have been awarded the contract to build two extensions to the Algiers metro. They are both relatively short 1.7km and 3.6km long – and both are to open during 2017.
MOROCCO The single track main line between Marrakech and Settat (143km long) is to be double tracked in order to handle rapidly rising passenger traffic.
EGYPT A light railway network with routes extending for 70km is to be built to serve a new city that is planned some miles east of Cairo and will be linked to the capital by means of the new light railway. The plan is for business people to move from their homes in existing crowded suburbs to pleasant new homes in uncrowded locations and using the new tramway to travel to work in Cairo each day. There will be 12 stops on the new network. A Chinese consortium is completing the planning of the new light railway and expects to start construction later this year.
SOUTH AFRICA The Cape Town – Simonstown suburban line reopened on 25 January 2016 after being closed for several months following storms which depositing vast amounts of sand and debris on the tracks.
19 January 2016
EGYPT The Government has announced a 15 year investment programme for transport costing US$ 13.5bn. New high-speed railways will be built to link the major cities (cost $5bn). Cairo Metro Line 3 will be completed by 2022 and capacity on the other lines will be boosted so that the Metro will carry 1.5m passengers every day. Only 15% of citizens in Egypt own a car so public transport plays a vital role.
5 December 2015
SOUTH AFRICA Alstom is acquiring 51% of the stock of the massive Union Carriage and Wagon plant at Nigel, in the Rand. This factory has built most of South Africa Rail’s electric locomotives, most of the freight wagons, and two Blue Train sets. Alstom is keen to increase its presence in Africa and intends to supply locomotives etc to nations across the continent.
2 November 2015
MOROCCO Alstom is to supply fifty Citadis LRVs to operate services on the 22.5km long Line 2 of the Casablanca tramways. The trams will be 32m long and will run in pairs with a capacity of 606 passengers. Alstom supplied 74 LRVs for use on Line 1 of the tramway which is 31km long and opened in December 2012.
1 October 2015
ETHIOPIA Construction of the first heavy rail electric railway in East Africa between the port of Djibouti and the capital of Addis Ababa is going ahead with much of the finance and the actual construction performed by Chinese firms. Meanwhile a two-line 34km long tramway is being built in Addis Ababa by the Chinese Railway Engineering Corporation at a cost of $475m, 85% of the cash coming from Chinese interests. The north – south route opened on 20 September 2015.
SOUTH AFRICA The last section of the Cape Town suburban branch to Simonstown was closed in February 2015 when a retaining wall collapsed and a large volume of earth and sand was heaped across the tracks, There have been long delays while engineers consider how best to repair the damage. A massive residential development including a hospital, schools, and a shopping centre is being built at Modderfontein, north east of Johannesburg. The area is being served by a new station on the Gautrain route and is being built by the developer. Plans to convert the national rail network from Cape Gauge (1067mm) gauge system to standard gauge (1435mm) have been halted because of the US$110bn cost.
4 September 2015
ALGERIA The Constantine tramway has carried 7.2m passengers in the two years since it opened in July 2013. A 10km long extension is to be built by a consortium led by Alstom during the next three years starting at Zoueghi Slimane station and running to the Mohamed Boudiaf International Airport via the new township at Ali Meadjeli. Extra trams are to be built by Alstom at the new Annaba assembly plant.
IVORY COAST A build-operate contract for the first metro line in Abidjan was signed on 6 July 2015. The consortium includes Hyundai Rotem and Keolis and the rolling stock will be built by Hyundai Rotem. The 37km long light railway linking the northern and southern suburbs via the city centre and the International Airport follows for much of the route the right of way of the existing metre gauge heavy rail line. The light railway will open in stages from 2020.
14 August 2015
ALGERIA The State Railways have confirmed its order with Alstom for the construction of seventeen 6-coach bi-mode (diesel and 25kV electric) multiple units for fast services between Algiers, Oran, Annaba, Constantine, and Bechar.
SENEGAL The Government has invited expressions of interest for the work to upgrade and electrify the main line from Dakar as far as Diamniadio (36km) and then along a new branch 19 km long to the soon to be opened Blaise Diagne International Airport.
SOUTH AFRICA The Gautrain Management Agency has invited tenders for twelve additional train sets to alleviate peak hour overcrowding especially on services running south of Centurion. A new factory is to be opened by the Gibela Consortium in Dunottar, near Springs in the Rand, for the assembly of 580 of the 600 six-car emus to be supplied for suburban services around Johannesburg. A major training exercise is being organised so that inexperienced local workers can perform the work. The first twenty trains will be assembled overseas by experienced staff who will then act as guides for the new workforce.
3 August 2015
EGYPT The first of the new Hyundai Rotem trains has entered service on Cairo Metro Line One several weeks ahead of schedule. Twenty nine-car trains are on order of which four are being supplied ready to run from South Korea. The remaining trains will be assembled from kits in Egypt.
MOROCCO The high-speed railway between Tangier and Kenitra will be opened early in 2018. The first of twelve Alstom Duplex train sets arrived on 29 June 2015 and the project is around 70% complete. The journey time will be 47 minutes giving an average speed of 233 km/hour. On the southern extension to Casablanca trains will be limited to 220 km/hour with much of the route being the substantially upgraded conventional railway.
17 July 2015
MOROCCO Over US$ 400m will be spent during 2015 on the construction of the 200km long high-speed railway between Tangiers and Kenitra. The 19km long two-line light rail system in Rabat was opened in May 2011 and there are now plans for extensions that would double the length of light railway. The construction of a 2.3km extension to Line 2 was approved by the City Council on 25 February 2015.
SOUTH AFRICA A 4km long branch is planned to run from Belville to Cape Town Airport. Finance is being assembled to allow Gautrain to purchase of additional rolling stock, build a second train depot, and improve signalling to allow the operation of additional trains.
1 July 2015
ALGERIA The final 23km of the light rail line in Algiers was opened on 14 June 2015. Forty one Alstom Citadis trams will carry around 100,000 passengers each weekday.
SOUTH AFRICA The China Development Corporation is to lend Transnet $US 2.5bn to help fund its current order for new locomotives.
4 June 2015
SOUTH AFRICA The first two of the 3600 suburban service coaches ordered have been completed at the Alstom plant in Lapa, Brazil.
22 May 2015
ALGERIA It is intended to electrify all the important railways across the nation increasing from the present total of 4000 route km to 6000 km by 2017 and eventually 12300 km. Train speeds are to rise to 220 km/hour within the next few years and up to 350 km/hour eventually. Meanwhile a Citadis tram assembly and maintenance plant is being built in Annaba to meet the growing needs of countries in North Africa.
SOUTH AFRICA The order from the National Railways for 359 class 22E and 100 class 21E locomotives represents the largest ever order for Chinese railway equipment. The locomotives will be dual voltage (3 kV dc / 25 kV ac).
8 May 2015
SOUTH AFRICA Transnet is to invest R205bn in improving the rail infrastructure in order to transform the freight rail division, the fifth largest in the world. Power supply cuts have been a problem in recent months disrupting commuter and freight services at several parts of the country but especially in Cape Province. Of 4091 scheduled departures from Cape Town during one week in April 2015 985 were significantly delayed due to power cuts with a significant number delayed by up to two hours.
The Blue Train, the world famous luxury train linking Cape Town with the Rand, has attracted poor loads of late and operating losses are mounting. A business and marketing partner is now being sought to help make the train better known and attract many new passengers.
10 April 2015
MOROCCO The first 19km of the two-line Rabat tramway was opened in May 2011 and a further 20 km is now planned starting with a 2.3km extension of Line 2. The 200km long Tangiers – Kenitra high-speed line is now being constructed. A new station has been built at Casablanca Port and is expected to handle 5000 commuters during each rush hour.
ALGERIA A Metro is to be built in the nation’s second largest city – Oran. The initial 19 km will serve several sporting venues, the university, a major shopping complex, and the main line railway station.
SOUTH AFRICA Many long distance passengers trains were withdrawn in November 2014 but the reaction from the public was very negative. A service between Johannesburg and Komatipoort was provided during Easter 2015 and was so successful that the restoration of other services across the country is to follow. The following level of service will be provided. Johannesburg – Cape Town 4 trains each way per week plus one Premium Class service weekly (The Blue Train); Cape Town – East London 1 return train per week; Johannesburg – Durban 4 return trains per week; Johannesburg – Port Elizabeth 3 trains each way weekly; Johannesburg – East London 3 return services per week; Johannesburg – Bloemfontein 1 service each way per week; and on the route that started the revival:- Johannesburg – Komatipoort 2 return trains per week.
25 March 2015
EGYPT Alstom has been awarded the contract to build the infrastructure and the signalling on the 3.5 miles extension of Cairo Metro Line 3 to the Airport. It is planned to open in 2018. See the link below for more information about the Cairo Metro.
SOUTH AFRICA Two new Chinese built electric locomotives, 20-031 and 20-032, have been painted in the distinctive “Blue Train” livery and hauled the famous train out of Pretoria on 11 March 2015. They hauled the train right through to Cape Town since they are able to operate on both 3kV DC and 25 kV AC and therefore there is no need to change locomotives twice on the journey behind older classes of locomotive – at Kimberley then Beaufort West.
28 February 2015
EGYPT The railways have been subject to numerous bomb attacks during the past seven months resulting in significant damage to the track and other parts of the infrastructure. In addition 60 coaches have been badly damaged. Safety services are now being operated ahead of scheduled inter city and very long distance trains and many overnight trains have been cancelled.
14 February 2015
SOUTH AFRICA Transnet has ordered 240 dual voltage (3kV dc and 25kV ac) main line locomotives from Bombardier.
29 January 2015
EGYPT Alstom is to supply signalling equipment for the 240 km long double track Beni Suef – Asyut line which operates alongside the Nile south of Cairo. The system will provide colour light signals, bi-directional operation on each track, and will use Alstom’s Electronis Interlocking System (EIS) It will be in use by January 2019 and will allow a virtual doubling of services provided.
SOUTH AFRICA An electrically powered Johannesburg to Cape Town “Premier Classe” express ground to a halt in the small hours at De Aar because it had run out of diesel fuel. Although the traction engines use electricity drawn from the overhead wires, the on-board equipment is powered by a diesel motor in a support coach and the staff at Johannesburg had forgotten to fill up the fuel tank. The train lighting, air conditioning equipment, and the ability to open the windows were out of action. The passengers eventually got to Cape Town by bus many hours late
16 January 2015
SOUTH AFRICA A new branch 7.8 km long is to be built from Port Elizabeth to Motherwell Township. It will be used by large numbers of commuters and no freight will be handled.
7 January 2015
ETHIOPIA Construction of the 32km long light rail system in the capital Addis Ababa is nearly complete. The $475m cost has been met by a loan from the Exion Bank – a Chinese operation.
For more information please follow the links below:
SOUH AFRICA Freight traffic on the railways has been given a boost following a significant increase in robbery of cargoes sent by road. It has become worryingly common for lorries to be hijacked en route and the cargo stolen but once freight is under way on the railway network theft is uncommon.
13 December 2014
SOUTH AFRICA South African Railways decided on 27 November 2014 to withdraw many of its long distance inter-city trains. All services north of Pretoria were cancelled at only a day’s notice. Second class and tourist reduced fare services from Johannesburg to both Durban and Port Elizabeth were to run on fewer days per week and the recently introduced Premier Class services on the same routes were axed completely. Traffic on most long distance routes has been falling steeply and fewer than 1m journeys are now made per year. Air travel has taken most of the Premier Class traffic and buses or private cars meet most of the lower fare market.
1 December 2014
SOUTH AFRICA Traffic on the Gautrain services continues to rise There are two main routes – Johannesburg to Pretoria and to Sandton Airport with 55,000 passengers carried each day compared with 22,000 using parallel bus routes. Over 40m people have ridden the trains since services began in 2020..
20 November 2014
ALGERIA A Metro is to be built in Oran, the second largest city in the country. The 19 km long line will link Hai Essabah and Boukeul.
MAURITIUS The construction of a 25km long light rail line in the Indian Ocean island republic has been agreed. It will run from the capital St Louis, over an abandoned railway right of way to the residential community of Curepipe. 31 LRVs will be supplied by CAF to offer a service along a route that has major road congestion problems. The new line will have five park and ride stops.
28 August 2014
MOROCCO Alstom has withdrawn from the five year contract to maintain the new 30.7km light railway in Casablanca due to “unresolved contractural differences”.
ALGERIA Alstom was awarded on 20 August 2014 the contract to supply seventeen bi-mode (diesel and electric) multiple unit trains to operate long distance service across the nation. The trains will link the capital Algiers with Oran, Annaba, Constantine and Bechar.
SOUTH AFRICA Transnet Freight Rail is to withdraw all locomotives aged 30 years or more during the next four years reducing the number of locomotive types in use from 29 to 4. The move will make maintenance procedures easier and reduce the need to hold a large range of spares. The introduction of dual-voltage electric locomotives is helping to speed this process. All locomotives aged 20 years will receive a mid-life refit. A new large shopping centre costing Rand 60m to build is to be opened at Langa station 11km from Cape Town during February 2015. 45,000 commuters use Langa station each weekday.
6 August 2014
MOROCCO The Moroccan National Railway (ONCF) has issued a Euro 30m contract to a consortium comprising Thales, Huawei, and Imet to instal the GSM-R control system along five routes totalling a length of 712 km. Eventually ONCF plans to instal GSM-R along virtually its entire system totally 1923 route km including along Africa’s first true high-speed railway between Kenitra and Tangiers.
SOUTH AFRICA Suburban services around Cape Town were disrupted on 29 July 2014 after signal cables were deliberately damaged at no fewer than 25 locations along the 20km long four-track main line between Cape Town and Nyanga. Repairs were largely completed by 3 August 2014 although normal services were not fully restored until 4 August 2014. The damage has been linked to a dispute with one of the Trade Unions.
16 July 2014
SOUTH AFRICA The Ganz two car emus withdrawn from service in Wellington, New Zealand, were to be hauled to the Welkon plant in the Orange Free State on 26 April 2014, but some were derailed during the move and did not finally reach Welkon until early July 2014. There they are to be converted into hauled stock with some then being sold on to Zimbabwe, and after a gauge change the others to Tanzania.
ETHIOPIA Plans for the tram system in the capital, Addis Ababa, have progressed. Construction of the two routes (essentially north – south 16.9 km, and east – west 17.35km) is under way by the Chinese Railway Engineering Corporation and this company is supplying a fleet of three section 29m long 70% low floor LRVs. Bidders are now sought to operate and maintain the system after it opens in 2015.
1 July 2014
EGYPT Recent political turmoil has hit the tourist industry badly and much of normal day-to-day business has been unable to operate smoothly. As a result the railways have faced a 87% drop in passenger traffic. The number carried during March 2014 was just 2.7m compared with 20.7m during March 2013.
SOUTH AFRICA Alstom has won its largest ever contract – to build 3600 emu coaches over a ten year period to replace older stock on South Africa’s suburban networks and provide extra capacity for steadily growing traffic originating from rapidly growing suburban communities.
16 June 2014
SOUTH AFRICA Fares on the Gauteng (Pretoria/Johanesburg area) and Western Cape suburban railway networks are to be increased by at least 50%. Some fares will rise by as much as 70%. Massive subsidies from Central Government have kept the fares at extremely low levels and the Government believes that the time has come for passengers to pay a bit more although the fares will remain very low compared with charges in other urban railways across the world. The Richards Bay Railway, which carries the second largest volume of coal on any railway in the world, was closed completely during the period 14 – 24 May 2014 to allow a massive catch-up on deferred maintenance and the replacement of obsolete structures.
3 June 2014
ALGERIA Work has begun on the construction of a 22.7 km long light rail line in the city of Setif. The work is being done by a consortium of Alstom and the Turkish engineers Yapi Merkezi and is expected to be completed in 2017.
EGYPT The second phase of Metro Line 3 was opened on 7 May 2014. The first 4.3km long section runs from Attaba (interchange with Metro Line 2) to Abbasiya. The second phase continues from Abbasiya to Haroun El Rachid (7.2km). Further phases will lead to an east – west line running across the city centre from Giza in the west to the International Airport in the east – 18km in all.
13 May 2014
IVORY COAST A 37km long railway is to be built in the nation’s largest city, Abidjan, linking the Houphouet-Boigny International Airport 18km to the south east, the southern suburbs, the city centre, and suburbs to the north. Hyundai Rotem will supply the rolling stock and signalling, while the electricity supply equipment will be provided by Dongsan Engineering. Construction will start in 2017 and will cost Euro 1bn with the finance coming from the consortium which will retain a stake of at least 40% in the operator once the line is opened.
24 March 2014
SOUTH AFRICA Details have emerged about the largest ever order for new locomotives that has been placed by Transnet Freight, the largest railway operator in Southern Africa. 1064 six-axle locomotives are to be built by Transnet Engineering at its assembly plants in Durban and Pretoria preserving jobs for 30,000 local workers. Four international firms are supplying the specialised propulsion equipment. 599 of the locos will be dual voltage electric (3kV DC and 25kV AC) with Bombardier supplying the propulsion equipment for 240 and CSR Zhuzhou Electric supplying the equipment for the other 359 locos. The remaining 465 locos in this massive order will have diesel-electric equipment from General Electric in 233, while CNR Rolling Stock SA will supply the equipment for the remaining 232 locos.
5 March 2014
SOUTH AFRICA Three class 20E locomotives were delivered from China to the railways at Durban Docks. They will join two others delivered earlier and after testing will be used in the Pretoria area. A new transport plan “Go Durban” has been drawn up by the city and will involve the expenditure of R20m over the next twenty years. At present only 50% of citizens live within 10-15 minutes walk of rail public transport but it is hoped to increase this to 85%. Twenty five new suburban stations will be opened and 500 extra coaches will be obtained. Both the main rail and bus services will run 24 hours per day and a new cashless fare system will be introduced. The 13,000 strong fleet of minibus-taxis will be integrated into the system and will provide feeder routes to/from the stations and main bus routes. The new suburban branch in Durban to Bridge City opened ceremonially on 2 February 2014 with full services introduced on 3 February 2014. Trains run every 20 minutes at the peaks.
5 January 2014
SOUTH AFRICA President Zuma opened the large Kalagadi Manganese Mine on 29 November 2013. The mine, one of the largest manganese sources in the world, is linked to the Sichen – Port Elizabeth railway by a 23km long branch that is electrified at 3kV dc.
Forty one special trains carrying a total of 80,000 people were organised to carry crowds wishing to attend the Nelson Mandela Memorial event in Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on 10 December 2013. The passengers were carried free of charge.
ALGERIA The Algiers Metro opened on 1 November 2011 and extends for 9.5km between the city centre and suburbs to the south east. Services operate every 7 minutes between 0500 and midnight using a fleet of fourteen 6-car trains supplied by CAF. The construction of extensions from both ends is under way and eventually there may be three separate lines. A light railway was opened on 8 May 2011 serving communities close to the Mediterranean Sea and extended on 14 June 2012 to reach the heart of the city centre. A further long extension serves suburbs to the east and the University was opened in late 2013. A fleet of 41 Alstom Citadis seven segment LRVs provides a frequent service on all routes. Suburban rail services operate on two routes to the south and south east of the city centre. There are around two dozen services daily on each route but no trains after the early evening rush hour. A tramway is being built in the city of Oran and similar projects are being studied for twelve other cities.