The International Steam Pages

The Darjeeling of Africa 2002 - Part 3

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:

Ghinda (69km, 888m) to Asmara (118km, 2312m)

Above Ghinda is the remaining section to be completed. As far as Embatkalla (81km, 1274m) the track is complete but not used regularly and the first group found it temporarily blocked by a rock fall. We went just a few kilometres up here in the late afternoon in the gloom on November 27th. The other pictures were taken on November 23rd/28th/29th.

On towards Nefasit (93km, 1672m) the rails were in as far as a road overbridge which was being rebuilt. Thereafter there were no rails up till Nefasit and a couple of bridges were said to still be mined. The track was in from Nefasit, initially unbolted and aligned and it was being ballasted back from Arbararoba (105km, 2061m)  the current limit of working for charter trains. After the recent war with Ethiopia, the fragile peace means that the army has not been demobilised and they are being used to restore the railway, the converted Russian truck hauls ballast trains. This is Arbaroba, the railhead at this time was now 5km further down towards Nefasit.

This is the train leaving Arbaroba.

And climbing a kilometre or so further on: 

Approaching Shegerini (110km, 2246m), the bridge at a higher level shown in the introduction becomes visible.

The weather was typical for the area, regularly bright in the morning turning more and more cloudy as the day went on. Note the track at the lower level behind the train at Shegerini.

And the attractive monastery overlooking the railway when viewed from the other side.

The line here goes through a short tunnel and emerges high on a ledge...

An almost identical scene (with the valley dropping away nearly 1000m behind) appears on an old postcard in our CD-ROM 'Safari Steam'.

Only just before the summit do 'normal' trees appear.

The section on to Asmara is downhill and unremarkable and a picture of the station is in the introductory section. This is Asmara shed showing 440.008 (not yet a runner), 202.002 and 442.55.

440.008 would have to be my favourite, it is a classic compound Mallet, with both piston and slide valves, but is not a 'runner', the active fleet consisting of  three 202 0-4-0T and three 442 0-4-4-0T. 

202.004 is Asmara pet and was steamed for the group and sent up to the works with a wagon...

Rob Dickinson