The International Steam Pages

Steam Revival in Eritrea

This page summarises the various reports I have posted on this site covering the revival of the Eritrean Railway.

Although it was posted very late (27th February 2008), I have some pictures of the railway in during the reconstruction phase in 1993 courtesy of Tom Sherriff.

Mike Cunningham was here in October 1997. At that stage there were no regular public services (I said 'yet' then but in 2007 they have still not been resumed) and rebuilding was pressing ahead. Read all about it including a current loco list (and two pictures added on 3rd February 1998)! Later I had a few more photographs from Ralph Reinhold.

I filed a report of active steam in February 1999, the UK Independent of 4th March 1999 carried a further article which included the following, "This is a project that the Eritrean President, Issaias Afewerki, has personally nurtured - jumping on for an inaugural ride this month - turning down an offer from Saudi Arabia to pay good money for the scrap metal, and instead mobilising veteran octogenarian mechanics to reactivate history." The war with Ethiopia obviously did not help!

The first enthusiast group I am aware of visited the country in December 2000. There were problems behind the scenes, but the photographic results were excellent. Read Hans Hufnagel's illustrated report (9th April 2001). 

Thereafter, you didn't need a master's degree to spot that this was going to be THE fashionable destination in 2002/3/4. Operation became so routine that reports just dried up!

Two tour groups visited in November 2002 and there was another in January 2003. One spot of good news (22nd January 2003) was that a group of local expatriates (mainly from the Diplomatic Corps) chartered the train in December - the railway needs non-railfan tourism as part of its business plan! Local predictions were that the railway would be open throughout in February 2003, and I have seen one private report which suggested this was achieved (2nd March 2003). I visited the 'Darjeeling of Africa' on one tour, OK the railway is no longer 'real', but it is a very special operation (1st December 2002). Here the crews sleep out in the open with their locos. I have now added Roland Ziegler's pictures of the Keren Extension (9th December 2002)

GlobeSteam kicked off the new season in October 2003 and Alexandre Gillieron reports on a successful visit (9th November 2003)..

Rob Dickinson