The International Steam Pages

The Darjeeling of Africa 2002 - Part 2

The first organised tour group visited Eritrea in December 2000. In November 2002 there were two more, I joined the second one (run by the LCGB). 

There are four other sections to this report:

Massawa (0km, 2m)  to Ghinda (69km, 888m) Section

We spent a total of 4 days in this area (24th - 27th November). The first day we went down from Asmara and took 442.54 and 442.59 with a train to Massawa. Near our destination the helpful staff moved the locomotives to the 'wrong' end so they could propel the train and perform a series of runpasts. Next day, we had just 442.54 between Massawa and Ghinda (and returned by bus), repeating the journey next day with both locomotives. On the final day we took the bus to Demas (a mere 8.5 km of very traditional dirt road with three evacuations of the bus to clear gullies) and then took the train on to Ghinda. This was probably the best tactic, since attempting the whole run restricted the time we could wait for the sun to appear at runpasts, also the Ghinda area tended to cloud up quite early in the afternoon. Apart from the first one, the pictures are presented in journey order, rather than chronological order.

442.54 and 442.59 ready to depart Ghinda for Massawa (our diesel shadow is on the left). 

The site of the old station at Massawa has largely been cleared and the line diverted round the back of a tower block. The locomotives spent the night in the open (and the loco crews slept out with them!) - this is a conventional photograph, I haven't sorted out night phootgraphy on the digital camera yet!

Massawa (old) town and port are on on the further of two islands (Batsa), linked by causeways. This is the view from the terrace of the Dahlak Hotel which is on Twalet. 

This is the causeway which connects Twalet to the mainland.

This bridge is not far from the outskirts of Massawa.

The initial hinterland of Massawa is scrubby and dry....

The (disused) passing loop at Dogali (20km, 100m) is something of an oasis with attractive palms.

Above Mai Atal, (29km, 180m), particularly above Demas (45km, 416m) the line starts to climb seriously, although the country remains quite open.

There is always one gricer who has to be different.... 

Never work with children and animals... But sometimes it does come right.

Towards Baresa (57km, 600m), the railway joins a narrow river valley and broadly follows it all the way to Ghinda. Several sections are carried on a ledge. The river itself sees water for just a few weeks in any year, we were there in the dry season and only near Ghinda was there a hint of a trickle.

On one afternoon we had a line up of the four active locomotives in Ghinda station. As seems to be traditional at Ghinda it was cloudy.

202.10 then did a little bit of prototypical shunting.

Rob Dickinson