The International Steam Pages

Restored 2927 in Tanzania

The things you hear in the pub.... A visitor to Tanga (northern Tanzania) in October 1996 was told that shed staff from Dar es Salaam had been there relatively recently to recover spare parts from their derelict steam locos so that "a couple of locos in Dar could be put back into action to work engineers' trains" - Colin Martindale points out (18th October 2007) that all the derelicts are now long gone.  CRJ 110 had a photo of 2927 and confirmed it was now back running and would be used on special trains. The August/September 1999 edition of Wanderlust reported that Travelbag Adventure had a "Slow Train to Zanzibar", running on October 23rd and 29th 1999, featuring a 'recently refurbished 1950s steam locomotive used between Arusha and Dar via the little-known Sadani Reserve.....'. (added 15th September 1999)

Reports appeared in the UK railway press and elsewhere confirming that 2927 was regularly working trips to Soga about 60 miles from Dar. On July 1st 2001 it operated a 250 mile Safari from Tanga. Kevin Patience took me to Dar on 4th September 2001 and in between dodging the mosquitoes and Swahili lessons we confirmed that 2927 is yard pilot at Dar (it may also be found in the yard at Ilala some 2km out of town) when not working specials, definitely working steam and their next project is to restore a 30xx, but don't hold your breath waiting to see it run.... First they will have to evict the mongooses living (and breeding) in the firebox . And if you don't find 2927 at work the boiler off 2505 with smokebox numberplate and Dodoma shedplate is alive and well in the works at Dar.

Mike Dean organised the restoration of 2927 in Tanzania a few years ago. When his contract came to an end he hoped to organise one final trip but it proved impossible in the time available. (24th January 2002). In mid-February 2003 Kevin Patience found 2927 in the shed where it had been  for at least a month awaiting two new tubes and also removal and checking of two superheater tubes, otherwise it was OK. 3001 was still in the workshop rusting. At Morogoro, a massive scrap drive was clearing a large number of disused steam locomotives. (9th March 2003).

Graham Roberts was in Dar briefly in May 2003 and takes up the story (7th June 2003). "2927 has had attention recently: she was last steamed in February, and has had work in the firebox (I think a new brick arch but am not sure). The fitters told me she is to be steamed again soon, maybe next week, now the work is complete. They are bemoaning the lack of spares: previously they cannibalised locos laid aside at Morogoro but these are now all scrapped apart (they thought) from two. They thought there were no other locos upcountry, but then again I don't suppose they've been to look. 3008 (which I didn't realise was there) is laid aside in the sidings between the repair shops and the station. She is in a very sorry state with the motion and many other parts removed and looks unlikely to run again. TRC management approached Kenya Railways with a long list of spares required some time back and the price KR quoted back was not attractive, so there the matter rests." All is not lost, much later Graham reported to the East_African_Steam Group than 2927 ran a successful excursion from Dar to Soga in August 2003 (20th December 2003). 

On 23rd February 2005 Graham Roberts reported that 2927 was in use locally in Dar and was running excursions every two months or so. Here (picture added 25th February 2005) it relaxes after a day's shunting:

2927 ran a successful excursion to Soga and back for a large group from the Railway Touring Company on 12th September 2005 as part of their East African Tour (added 13th September 2005). A report of both East African sections has been posted on the RTC site (17th October 2005). Once privatisation here and in Kenya is properly sorted, expect to see a flurry of tours in this part of the world now just as we saw in Eritrea and Myanmar a few years back. I hope someone will tell the management here not to get too excited as such interest is rarely sustained once the initial demand is satisfied. Regular reliable trips for the 'normal tourist' market have to be the basis for viable steam tourism.

Rob Dickinson