The International Steam Pages

Tanzanian Narrow Gauge

The original report is Thomas Kautzor's from 2011, below is Geoff Warren 2013 update.

Thoms Kautzor writes:

The only place with working narrow gauge diesels in East Africa (excluding Sudan and its huge Gezira Lt. Ry.) is TPC Ltd's sugar mill at Moshi which I visited on 28th May 2011, this was just before the season started:

The Moshi sugar mill at Arusha Chini, 17 km south of Moshi, is presently operated by Tanganyika Planting Co. Ltd. (TPC), a Mauritian-owned company. It started out as a sisal plantation in the 1930s and was later converted into a sugar plantation. When TPC took over around 2000, they found the rail network in very poor condition, but have since been rebuilding it gradually. Presently track length is 65 km of two-foot gauge, to be ultimately extended to 80 km. Empty cane wagons are taken from sidings into the fields for loading on piggy-back trailers pulled by tractors, two wagons per trailer. Trains are made up of 45 wagons and weigh 250 tons full. At the factory, a modern 1-track unloading facility recently replaced the former two tipplers. With the major problem being theft, metal sleepers are being replaced by concrete sleepers and the original rail by heavier 9 meter used rails obtained from TRL, which are then welded into 36 meter sections. The resident South African track engineer designed a concrete sleeper which is made at TPC’s own on-site plant. The rails are bolted in place without plates or clips in order to deter theft. A now-disused 14 km meter gauge branch used to link the factory to the main network at Kahe Junction (on the closed Tanga - Moshi line), and a third rail has been laid on 12 km of this branch to allow access to cane trains. This section includes some three-rail points at the loading sidings. Milling takes place from the end of June to the end of March, when trains operate 24 hours/day. All cane is brought to the factory by rail.

When the present owners took over they found six four-wheel Motor Rail/Simplex T series diesels, built in the mid-1970s and rebuilt by Alan Keef in the mid-1990s (new 6 cylinder Perkins engines, ITL transmissions and AK “K” range axle-mounted drive boxes). The three that were in best condition (N°s. 3, 5 and 6) were rebuilt and are now used for shunting and works trains. A former Alan Keef Ltd. demonstrator (class K.100, Works N°. 48, 10-ton) was also sold to TPC in the mid-1990s, but no trace of it could be found. For cane trains TPC uses three modern Schöma CFL180DCLs (5895/2004, 6036/2006 and 6376/2009, 16 tonnes, 180 h.p.), which are named after animals: NYATI (Buffalo), SIMBA (Lion) and TEMBO (Elephant). The locomotives are serviced in a modern four-track workshops, just opposite the wagons workshops. There are presently 154 modern cane wagons, which are built in Kenya. A hand pump trolley is plinthed at the concrete sleeper plant.

Still present on site is TPC’s former meter gauge 0-6-0DM shunter marked “LANGASANI INTER CITY 125 KAHE”, which appears to be an ex-TRC/EAR 33 ex 82 class loco (six built by Hunslet in 1950/51, Gardner 8L3 engine, 27.7 t., 194 h.p.). It is in very poor condition, devoid of any plates and without its engine.

TPC is currently setting up a game reserve and lodge on the plantation, so in the future visitors could photograph wild animals as well as cane trains with Mount Kilimanjaro as a background.

MG 6wD “LANGASANI INTER CITY 125 KAHE” stored w/o engine (ex-TRC)

4wD 3 (Motor Rail) under repair

4wD 5 (Motor Rail) operational

4wD 6 (Motor Rail) operational

4wD (Motor Rail) frame only

NYATI (Buffalo) (Schöma 5895/2004) operational

SIMBA (Lion) (Schöma 6036/2006) operational

TEMBO (Elephant) (Schöma 6376/2009) operational

Hand-pump trolley plinthed at concrete sleeper plant

Scale-test wagon (9.080 kg)

MG covered van at workshop

MG covered van at concrete sleeper plant

Since my visit, they have added a smaller diesel calles KIBOKO (Hippo) to the fleet (Schöma CHL40 G 6505/2011, B-dh, 03.2011 to Patry, France, for TPC), which is used to shunt at the mill. Geoff Warren visited in 09/2013.

Network map:

Locomotive Works

MR 3, 5 and 6


Nyati and Simbah

Unloading track, tippler and cane scale test wagon

The pump trolley

The wagons and wagon works:

The sleeper plant and new track:

Geoff Warren writes of his 13th September 2013 visit:

I found the situation much as described by Thomas Kautzor on his visit in 2011 (see above). One new locomotive has been acquired. Schöma 49356 is named “Kiboko” (= hippopotamus) and its main use is shunting empty wagons from the tippler to the despatch sidings. Motor Rail/Keef loco 5 was also in use on shunting empties. Loco 3 was in the depot while 6 has been dismantled. Cane harvesting was in progress. By lunchtime “Nyati”, “Simba” and “Tembo” were all active, moving empty and loaded trains. The metre-gauge ex-EAR class 82 loco “Langasani Inter City 125” was still present, but because there is no use for it, it will be broken up. It has been moved to a place in which photography was easier. The two mg covered wagons are also still present.

The active system remains at 65km route length, and work continues to renew the track. More of the former mixed gauge track has been replaced by new narrow gauge. I was able to photograph some empty and loaded trains in action and the transferring of cane wagons between piggy-back road trailers and rails at interchange sidings.

As mentioned by Thomas, a tourist lodge has now been set up as a diversification of income sources. Running a tourist train has been mentioned, but no action taken. It should be mentioned that the mill operates very efficiently, indicated by the fact that a large part of the electricity generated from burning bagasse is exported to Moshi town.

Many thanks to Thomas Kautzor for telling me about the existence of this railway, and to TPC (Robert Baissac and Johan vanEck) for permission to visit. Thank you to Johann for your generosity in showing me around! TPC and Johan should be proud of their achievement, showing that a narrow gauge plantation railway can be a modern and effective transport system.

Kiboko and number 5 at the empties sidings

Track renewal in progress, Mt Kilimanjaro behind.

Simba (Kiswahili = “Lion”) bringing in the harvest. Clouds gathering on Kilimanjaro, as they do for 95% of the day. Friday 13th was lucky for me!

Rob Dickinson