Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby johnthefireman » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:15 pm

Yes, Tanzania is definitely considering a standard gauge line, in competition with Kenya in some sense. Deja vu - the original lines were a competition between the British and Germans, albeit with the more nefarious aim of colonial conquest rather than linking and developing the region.

And yes, Burundi has experienced some instability, although the recent statement by the president that he will not run again has boosted confidence somewhat. However Burundi is not the only potential beneficiary of a Tanzanian standard gauge line - Rwanda and Uganda also stand to benefit, and perhaps eastern DRC.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:32 am

We are now in Kampala and preparing to travel on to Kasese.

In 1994, I attempted to travel to Kasese and I might have been able to do so if I was prepared to wait in Kampala for the possiblity that a train migth run. In the end my trip to the South West of Uganda was much better served by a road journey via Masaka, Mbarara and Kabale.

Before we take one of those intermittent passenger services from the last century, we take a good look round Kampala Railway Station.


This post (below) is the penultimate post on the direct route from Mombasa to Kasese. After this there will be three further posts. One to complete the line to Kasese, one to review an old and defunct branch line running north from Jinja and a final post which will seek to cover the locomotives and rolling stock on the Uganda Railway .....

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... 20-kampala
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby george matthews » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:09 am

rogerfarnworth wrote:We are now in Kampala and preparing to travel on to Kasese.

In 1994, I attempted to travel to Kasese and I might have been able to do so if I was prepared to wait in Kampala for the possiblity that a train migth run. In the end my trip to the South West of Uganda was much better served by a road journey via Masaka, Mbarara and Kabale.

Before we take one of those intermittent passenger services from the last century, we take a good look round Kampala Railway Station.


This post (below) is the penultimate post on the direct route from Mombasa to Kasese. After this there will be three further posts. One to complete the line to Kasese, one to review an old and defunct branch line running north from Jinja and a final post which will seek to cover the locomotives and rolling stock on the Uganda Railway .....

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... 20-kampala

I do think that the various non-standard railways in Africa - and other areas - are on the way out. They were quite useful when they were busy. I travelled often on the metre gauge lines - all the main lines in East Africa. But there is no doubt that where railways continue there will be conversion to Standard gauge. Some of the old routes will be abandoned; others will be converted and new ones will be built. I think it true to note that all the Cape and Metre gauge routes outside South Africa are decaying. Some of them may be replaced by new Standard gauge routes. Some will simply be abandoned. The narrow gauge routes were all built in the colonial era with the same aim - to save money in the hope that their building costs would be less than for standard gauge. I think the savings in the long run were very modest.

Uganda has its own problems. Does it have an economy able to support a rail network? I don't think so. Its political problems have prevented economic development. As part of a loose federation, in colonial times, its railways were useful, and may well have been financed from outside the country. But note that only the route to Kampala was economically successful. The other routes were not. The Western line had some use to support the mine. The Northern route was a disaster urged on by Milton Obote, one of the most ignorant people to take over a former colony, only shown up by the even worse Idi Amin.

Uganda's chaotic post-colonial history has not been conducive to economic development. The breakup of the East African Community - a weak federation - was disastrous for Uganda, which suffered more from the loss than either of the other territories. The Museveni period has reduced the amount of fighting, and that is encouraging, but I don't think it has resulted in the economic gains the country needs. The most disastrous event was during the period of Idi Amin. He was an ignorant, brutal man - not unlike Donald Trump - who ruined the country. He expelled the Asian entrepreneurs who pioneered nearly all the economically useful projects of the 1960s. It was their activities which provided what freight there was on the railway. When they were expelled, and all their economic activities closed down, so went the possibility of freight for the railways.

Can any kind of modern economy revive? I am not optimistic. If there is no economy I don't see the Chinese railway being a success. What do the Chinese think it will carry? Nor do I see the Metre gauge railway surviving in an effective form. Your pictures show the Northern branch is derelict. I think the Western branch is also the same. Unless the Chinese can discover some freight that needs to be moved their line will go the same way. I compare their proposals with the line they built in Zambia. They built it take Zambia's copper to Dar es Salaam, to avoid Rhodesia, but the southern route was cheaper and the traffic to Dar was never a success - mainly due to lack of engineering maintenance and managerial incompetence. I would not be surprised if the same happens in East Africa. Perhaps if the Chinese stop in Kampala their line might succeed, at least to some extent. But only if some kind of economy develops in Uganda would it be sensible to build any further than Kampala. The current agricultural economy doesn't need more railways.

Moreover, the world economy has changed since railways first came to Africa. 100 years ago there were few roads and most of them were bad. There were no long distance lorries. Nowadays the east-west road is very busy carrying freight that used to go by train. Can the various railways compete with the lorries, many of them run in such a threadbare condition, but nevertheless, cheaper?

I can imagine a future in which the burning of oil is banned worldwide to prevent climatic catastrophe - yes, there is - and in that case Uganda would be ideally suitable for an electrified network. But not yet.
Last edited by george matthews on Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:54 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:18 am

Yes George, the western branch is no longer in use beyond the suburbs of Kampala. I am soon to post a survey of the route and you will see, when I do, that at times I have really struggled to find evidence of the line. A number of lengths of the formation have been converted into murram roads by the various local authorities.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:31 am

This next post relates to the western extension of the Uganda Railway through to Kasese and the Kilembe Mines. (I am expecting to post twice more about the Uganda Railway. There is one branchline which I have to follow and then I plan to write about the locomotives and rolling stock on the line.)

The Western Extension, as it was known, was built and opened in the mid-1950s, its main target was to reach the Kilembe Copper Mines in the west of Uganda. Kasese was built alongside the Mines and has grown since then into a reasonable size town with industry and tourism building its economy.

Official sanction for building the railway to Mityana was given in 1951, and for the continuation to Kasese in 1952. The decision rested upon a guaranteed source of traffic at Kilembe, and was prompted by the fact that mining development was dependent on some positive step to improve communications. There seemed little doubt that the line would attract some Congo traffic, which would provide new revenue for E.A.R. & H., while the Uganda Government was much encouraged by the very favourable report of an Economic Survey Committee. The concluding sentence of the report reflects the tone of the whole: ‘The committee desires to record its firm conviction that this project will prove eminently successful. and contribute materially to the welfare and prosperity of the people of Uganda”. The capital cost of the extension was £5.25 million, and the Uganda Government provided the Railway Administration with a loan to cover this.


https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... -to-kasese
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:33 am

This is the last post relating directly to the lines of the Uganda Railway and covers the first railway built in Uganda. The last post on the Uganda Railway will cover the locomotives and rolling stock on the network.

"There were two very early railway lines in Uganda. Port Bell to Kampala was one. The other was an earlier line from Jinja to Namasagali via Mbulamuti. We encountered this line as we travelled from Tororo to Jinja earlier in this series of posts. Indeed the original line from Tororo travelled to Mbulamuti to meet the older line from Jinja to Namasagali. At that time there was a good justification for this. Namagali was a significant point on an 'overland' journey from Mombasa to Cairo! Meeting the line from Jinja to Namasagali at its mid-pint allowed easy access to both significant destinations and beyond them to the Nile and to Lake Victoria."


https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... namasagali

There is much to explore in the Great Lakes region in Africa! This series of posts relates only to the railways providing access to Uganda but there were a whole variety of different transport services in the area which would warrant further study!
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby johnthefireman » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:34 am

George, while much of what you say about the past is true, I do think you're unduly pessimistic about the future. It looks different - and far more optimistic - when you live here in modern Africa. As the population increases, passenger traffic becomes more important*, and on routes which actually serve the needs of the people rather than the colonial authorities. Inter-Africa trade is on the increase and is a priority for many countries and regions, which is one of the reasons why standard gauge is now receiving so much attention. Many governments are looking at thirty year plans - obviously things are not going to change overnight, but a lot of the incremental stuff is going to link up in the coming decades. Despite what grabs the attention of western media, Africa is gradually becoming a more democratic, more peaceful and more developed continent. Rwanda is one example - from being a by-word for genocide it is now a well-developed and highly respected nation. I was last there a couple of years ago and found Kigali to be a safe, well-ordered and clean city which puts many British cities to shame. Mineral wealth is either being newly discovered or else existing deposits are becoming more accessible - maybe that's what the Chinese are interested in? (although of course extractive industries and fossil fuels bring their own problems).

East African standard gauge, whether via Kenya or Tanzania, will be tapping into a large and growing population in a region which is becoming increasingly integrated economically; the growing economies of Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda, including a growing highly educated middle-class; the mineral wealth of South Sudan and DRC, neither of which will be at war for ever; the hydroelectric potential of Uganda and Ethiopia along with the potential to generate electricity from geothermal sources in Kenya and from solar power just about everywhere; and much more. It looks much more optimistic from here than it does from outside the continent.

* Kenya Railways has just announced that the number of coaches on the Madaraka Express standard gauge passenger train is to be increased from 11 to 16 due to high demand.

SGR train gets more passenger coaches

NO MORE AGONY OF FULLY BOOKED SGR TRAINS FOR WEEKEND TRAVELLERS
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:35 am

The Nairobi-Mombasa route is 'low-hanging fruit'. I am not surprised that a route with large cities at each end is successful and that the much faster service between them attracts passengers. I have several times taken the old line and a faster service is bound to attract people off the dangerous road. The same is true of the freight, in both directions.

Perhaps a similar improvement between Nairobi and the western parts of Kenya will have the same result - more demand to travel. For Kenya itself I would hope that Kisumu would be an attractive western stopover, though not as attractive as Mombasa, because of its smaller population. Kampala would also be an attractive destination - because of its size. What about beyond Kampala? There is no western destination which would attract large numbers of passengers. Is there any source of freight sufficient to attract carriage? That's the dilemma. If there wasn't enough freight to keep the Metre gauge running is there likely to be enough to keep a SG line? South Sudan is another dilemma. A line to that country is even more speculative than to western Uganda and Rwanda. It has essentially no modern economy at present.

The Chinese thought that the line from Zambia to Dar es Salaam would be a good idea. It didn't develop a lot of traffic. The same is quite possible for a western Uganda line.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:43 am

george matthews wrote:It has essentially no modern economy at present.


The key phrase being "at present". I mentioned thirty year plans. Railways can't be planned and built at short notice - there is a long lead time (as we see with improvements and modernisation of the UK railways, including the high speed lines, which take many years to come to fruition). Africa is looking to the future.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:05 pm

johnthefireman wrote:
george matthews wrote:It has essentially no modern economy at present.


The key phrase being "at present". I mentioned thirty year plans. Railways can't be planned and built at short notice - there is a long lead time (as we see with improvements and modernisation of the UK railways, including the high speed lines, which take many years to come to fruition). Africa is looking to the future.

I wonder if the Nairobi-Mombasa route might support a second passenger train? That would need investment in two new sets of carriages. Perhaps the second sets could be used for service through Nairobi on the the western extension.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:37 pm

As far as I know there are already two trains. One is an express, stopping hardly anywhere, and the other is a stopping train, calling at about seven stations en route. At least that was the plan - I can't confirm whether it is actually happening yet.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:25 pm

My original plan was to provide details of locomotives and rolling stock on the Railway in a single post. This has become a little unwieldy so further posts will follow this one ...

.
It was my intention, before starting this exercise to cover all locomotives and rolling stock in a single blog post. As I began to review the available information in books and on the internet, it seemed that there was enough material to justify more than one post. This and the following posts will not be fully comprehensive in nature but I hope that they provide some insights that are valuable.

Probably, along with many other people, my attention is primarily drawn to the Garratt locomotives on these lines. However, I will attempt to reflect the full range of motive power and rolling stock on the line, references are given where ever possible. Everything in this first post predates the arrival of the Garratt locomotives.

Early Locomotives on the Uganda Railway (1896-1926)

At first, all locomotives were ....


https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... ock-part-a
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby johnthefireman » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:19 pm

As you probably know, there's one Garrat, 5918 Mount Gelai, which is basically still in operational condition. We last operated her several years ago and she failed with what we believe to be leaking superheater elements, but that's not really a major job to repair. Unfortunatly in the interim a few parts have been stolen, but at least when I inspected her last year where she stands in shop 006 of the main Nairobi railway workshop she was still pretty intact. 5918 is not a priority for repair, though, as the smaller locomotives, 3020 and 2409, are more useful and economical for running the sort of short steam safaris which are envisaged if ever all the financial and bureaucratic obstacles can be overcome.

I've fired a Garrat in South Africa, where several are still operational. Magnificent beasts.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:46 am

johnthefireman wrote:As you probably know, there's one Garrat, 5918 Mount Gelai, which is basically still in operational condition. We last operated her several years ago and she failed with what we believe to be leaking superheater elements, but that's not really a major job to repair. Unfortunatly in the interim a few parts have been stolen, but at least when I inspected her last year where she stands in shop 006 of the main Nairobi railway workshop she was still pretty intact. 5918 is not a priority for repair, though, as the smaller locomotives, 3020 and 2409, are more useful and economical for running the sort of short steam safaris which are envisaged if ever all the financial and bureaucratic obstacles can be overcome.

I've fired a Garrat in South Africa, where several are still operational. Magnificent beasts.


Hi John

Yes, I have seen photographs of Mount Gelai in Steam. These Garratts were amazing beasts and I am a little jealous of you having been involved with her restoration and having fired on in South Africa.
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Re: Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

Postby rogerfarnworth » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:29 pm

The first of these posts about locomotives and rolling stock on the railways of Uganda and Kenya covered locomotives used by the Uganda Railway. This second post primarily covers locomotives introduced by the Kenya Uganda Railway up until it handed over to the East African Railways Corporation in 1948.

Locomotives on the Kenya and Uganda Railway and Harbours Lines (1927- 1948)

In 1926/27 the Uganda Railway was replaced first by the Kenya and Uganda Railways in 1926 and then by the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours (KURH) Corporation in 1927, when the powers-that-be placed Mombasa Harbour into the same company as the railways.

Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours (KURH) ran harbours, railways and lake and river ferries in Kenya Colony and the UgandaProtectorate until 1948. It included the Uganda Railway, which it extended from Nakuru to Kampala in 1931. In the same year it built a branch line to Mount Kenya. [1]


https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... 927-to-19/

The Kenya Uganda Railway introduced Beyer Garratt locomotives to the network. These were massive machines with huge pulling power which suited the lightly constructed lines on which they ran.
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