The International Steam Pages
Steam in Mocambique, August/September 1999
Thiery Nicholas of TransNico International organised a tour using steam in August/September 1999. Now read all about it:
During the first Transnico Train Tour in Mozambique, steam locomotives in Xai Xai (750 mm) and Inhambane (1067 mm Cape gauge) have received a resurrection.
Several Transnico steam charters ran during a few days in Xai Xai and Inhambane after a long time without any movements. The situation of the both isolated lines in Gaza and Inhambane is very pessimistic as the tracks cannot be in a worse shape. The C.F.M. (Caminho de Ferro do Mozambique) has no plans to restore the both lines for commercial services. Only a tourist proposition could be an acceptable idea but with much track investment.
GAZA RAILWAYS (Xai Xai) 750 mm gauge
This isolated railway system has the main office in the Gaza province capital Xai Xai. There you have the Workshops and the sheds. No trains have run for years (with some exceptions) until almost one year ago when very strong rainfall completely disconnected the line on some sections. This system has the main line between Xai Xai and Manjacaze (53 Km) and splitting into two branches to Chicomo (37 Km) and Mauela (50 Km).
At this time, only one steam locomotive is in running order, Baldwin 06 (2-8-0) built in 1925. The locomotive 06 has still a very nice apparence but needs some lights repairs. In the workshops, the staff is still working to repair two other steam engines (05 2-6-2 Baldwin and a 2-6-0 Alco). What is surprising in Xai Xai? All the staff is working (lets say working) and the station is open without trains.
The rolling stock is in a very bad shape and a significant investment is required to rebuild the passenger coaches. Anyway, its really pity that a so interesting railway is in decrepitude because its an historic and colonial great heritage. Some plans to restore the railway with private investors from Belgium (including Transnico) are under consideration. A study will be soon on the tracks and if the perspectives are positive, a reconstruction of the tracks and rolling stocks will be possible for tourism purposes. The same way will be planned for Inhambane Inharrime line.
Today, its difficult to run a train more than a few kilometers out of Xai Xai due the landslides, but anyway, the complete line has to be restored with new rails and new sleepers.
INHAMBANE INHARRIME (1067 mm Cape gauge)
This scenic isolated railway line between Inhambane and Inharrime has had no traffic for some years. The tracks are in a little better shape than the Gaza Railway, but still a lot of work will need to be done before trains can runs normally. The 90 Km between Inhambane and Inharrime cannot be opened again for a regular passenger and freight traffic only, but if a tourist project is possible, then the railway has a future.
When the Transnico group arrives in Inhambane, the workshops were completely paralysed and the only locomotive outside and complete was the Porter 2-6-2 N° 572 built in 1941. This locomotive looked totally decrepit and after being out of use for years has started to be alive again. After almost one day of preparation, 572 was in fire with this nice smell of eucalyptus wood and cleaned. Also, the number 572 were repainted (cab) as the original plates have been stolen.
The first steam charter Transnico was taking place as the first train running for years. In fact the tender of the 572 locomotive was of the Porter 571. In the shed, the Porter 571 is in very bad shape but still repairable. A Belgian St. Leonard (N° 7 2-8-0) is also in the shed awaiting a possible restoration. Just three passenger cars can be used but they are also in bad shape.
As in Xai Xai, all the staffs is still there and working. A real surprise when no trains are running.
In Maputo region, several passengers trains are running daily on the three branches.
SCHEDULE OF MAPUTO TRAINS
Transnico is planning the next train tour in Mozambique in 2001 with steam charters in Xai Xai, Inhambane, Maputo and maybe on the Beira corridor. More news will be available after October 2000.