Wednesday, January 12, 2000

“Out of Africa”, traveling by train with a steam locomotive in Tanzania!

In the early 70s, in Tanzania, I made a long journey by train on the “Central line” from Mwanza to Morogoro. This trip went-on for two nights and one day!

We were 6 people in a sleeping compartment, with seats that could turn into beds. The train stopped at many stations were we could buy food, tea and coffee was served by the staff on the train. The train would sometimes stop in the middle of nowhere to re-fill water and coal for the engine. When I arrived, a shower was definitely needed as I was covered with dust and soot...

All pictures are from the web…

History of railways in Tanzania

The Central Line was the second railway project coming into existence in the colony of then German East Africa after the Usambara Railway. For the Tanganjikabahn-project a company was founded, the Ostafrikanische Eisenbahngesellschaft (OAEG) (East African Railway Company) which started railway construction in 1905 

The building started at the port and capital of that time, Dar es Salam in 1905 with 21 million marks provided by Adolph von Hansemann's Disconto-Gesellschaft bank. From the start the engineers fought large difficulties, the tropical climate, periodic heavy rain and lack of appropriate building material. 

In 1907 Kilometer 200 was reached in the vicinity of the town of Morogoro. In 1909 the railhead reached Kilosa. Kigoma at Lake Tanganyika at kilometer 1252 was reached in 1914 just prior to First World War. The regular travel time over the total distance amounted to 58 hours. 

After independence, the railways were integrated into the “East African Railways and Harbours Corporation”, but after a few years, each country started to run its own network.