The International Steam Pages

Burkina Faso 2009

Click here for the original June 2006 report.

John Middleton visited Sitarail briefly on 4th December 2009 and reports - see also revisions to the builders' data below:


I managed a short visit to the shed and yards at Ouagadougou on 4 December 2009 and also had a look at Banfora station on 3 December 2009 whilst visiting mining projects in the Country.

The following were seen 




Working Ouagadougou – plates A3615/79 

7-AA 122



Spare Ouagadougou – plates 32370/79 




Shunting Ouagadougou – still in SPOORNET orange livery (ex SAR 33.214) 




Ouagadougou – being repainted 


80 ton Crane


Ouagadougou – plates 146009/79 





The passenger trains between Abidjan and Ouagadougou continue to run thrice weekly in each direction, staff at Ouagadougou also said that up to three freights a day were running and Ouagadougou yards certainly seemed full of traffic with CC 2002 busily shunting. 

Thomas Kautzor writes:

SITARAIL Burkina Faso (June 22-24, 2009):

I had the opportunity to pay short visits to the SITARAIL stations and depots at Bobo Dioulasso (km 795) and Ouagadougou (km 1145):


Passenger trains operate three times a week, departing both Abidjan and Ouagadougou on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, taking about 36 hours to reach their destination 1145 km away, depending on the time they spend at the border. There are two rakes of coaches, each with a first class/bar coach (demotorized CIMT/Soulé railcars from the 1970s, 36 seats) at the head of the train just behind the locomotive, followed by 6-7 stainless-steel second class sitter coaches (96 seats), of which there are 24, and a number of covered wagons for parcels. The two first class/bar coaches have been refurbished last year: they are now liveried military green (formerly orange) and are again A/C-equipped.

The passenger train is the preferred mode of travel by small traders between the two countries, due to the high number of police, customs and other checkpoints along the road through Côte d’Ivoire.

Goods traffic includes building material, cement, rice, flour and containers inland, and mainly live animals from Burkina Faso to Abidjan.

All line service is being done using 20 CC 22000 class locos, which are rebuilt from the CC-2201 – CC-2225 class (GMDL GT22LC A3608-26/1979 & A4073-8/1981), subdivided into two sub-series: CC 22001-9 (owned by Côte d’Ivoire) and CC 22101-11 (owned by Burkina Faso). The last CC 2200, CC-2203, has now been taken out of service.

There are two types of Henschel diesel hydraulics, used for shunting (these details amended courtesy of John Middleton, 16th December 2009):

AA-100 – AA-107 B-dh DHG400B 31847-54/1974 450 hp
AA-108 – AA-122 B-dh DHG400B 32356-70/1979 450 hp
BB-150 – BB-152 B’B’-dh DHG660BB 32371-3/1979 750 hp
BB-153 – BB-154 B’B’-dh DHG660BB 32568-69/1982 750 hp
BB-153 – BB-163 B’B’-dh DHG660BB 32574-82/1982-3 750 hp

Twenty-four of those were taken over by SITARAIL. The following locos assigned to Burkina Faso (shown by the 7 prefix) at the time of the break-up in 1989 can be found in use by SITARAIL in Burkina Faso:

7AA-111 under repairs Bobo Dioulasso
7AA-115 serviceable Bobo Dioulasso
7AA-117 serviceable Bobo Dioulasso
7AA-122 serviceable Ouagadougou
7BB-159 in use Bobo Dioulasso

After cannibalisation of withdrawn units, SITARAIL is finding it difficult and expensive to find spare parts for these locomotives and options for replacement include repowering them with Caterpillar engines or replacing them altogether.

In Côte d’Ivoire all locomotives are based at Abidjan-Plateau depot/works. The two other depots at Bouaké (km 315) and Ferkéssédougou (km 558) are not in use anymore. Formerly Henschel AA-109 used to be based at Bouaké, but has been taken back to Abidjan lately.

Also present at Bobo Dioulasso depot for repairs was SITARAIL CC 301, a GE equipped with two 300 hp Caterpillar engines. This used to be based at Abidjan until over a year ago, when it was transferred to Banfora (south of Bobo Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso) to shunt the sugar factory sidings there. It is thought to be a rebuild of either BB 601/2 (GE 39049/50 – 1977/78, ex Sodé Sucre).

CC 2002 (EMD GL26MC 31204/1966, ex Spoornet 33-214/S.Africa) was in use shunting the station at Ouagadougou. This is one of four locos acquired by SITARAIL in 1996 (all other locos are part of the concession and belong to either Côte d’Ivoire or Burkina Faso). The situation of the other three of this class, all in Côte d’Ivoire, is:

CC 2001 ex SPOORNET 33-202 in use shunting Abidjan;
CC 2003 ex SPOORNET 33-204 under repair Abidjan;
CC 2004 ex SPOORNET 33-209 awaiting repairs Abidjan.

CC 2003 has been promised to Bobo Dioulasso shed once repairs are finished. The class is considered to be very unreliable and as a result not allowed out onto the main line.

Track maintenance railcars assigned to Burkina Faso include:

ZD 4101 – 4103 (SOCOFER DR200-22, n°s. 640-642/09.1997) with hydraulic crane;
ZD 5004 (MATISA PV640, 197X) track geometry control railcar ;
ZD 5101 – 5103 (SOCOFER) without crane.

There are four breakdown cranes on the railway, two 60-ton and two 80-ton ones. Based in Burkina Faso are (the other two are at Abidjan):

60-ton 7SG 601 (Gottwald 14600200/1966) with match wagon 1ZW 0403 at Ouagadougou;
80-ton ZG 802 (Gottwald, 64000 kg, 70 km/h) with match wagon ZW 0405v at Bobo Dioulasso.


The ‘Société de gestion du Patrimoine Ferroviaire du Burkina’ was created in 1995 to take over any assets of the ‘Société des Chemins de Fer du Burkina’ (SCFB) not being part of the SITARAIL concession.

The following locomotives, belonging to SOPAFER-B, are dumped at Bobo Dioulasso shed (all behind the shed, except AA-104 which is in the yard in front of it):

AA-100/2/4/13/9/20 ;
BB-150/2/6/7 ;
7CC-1008 (Fives-Lille/Cail 1008/1955);
steam crane N°. 151 (Ransomes & Rapier F2122/8 - 1944).

CC-1008 and the steam crane had been set aside by an earlier depot manager for preservation.

Chemin de fer du Sahel

A product of the 1983 Revolution, construction of this line from Ouagadougou started in February 1985. The workforce was composed mainly of students and other young volunteers. The aim was to reach manganese deposits at Tambao, in the top northeast corner of the country. In December of the same year, the 103 km-long section to Kaya was opened, and although earthwork was completed for another 100 km, Kaya has remained the end of the line. Until the late 1990s a weekly mixed train operated from Ouagadougou on Saturdays, returning the same day, but then SITARAIL decided to close the line, which only saw limited cattle traffic. Initially a monthly inspection trip took place using one of the maintenance railcars, just to keep the line operational, but later this practice was abandoned and the line has become overgrown as a result. Only the initial section of 13 km to an industrial area (brewery, construction material dealers) and a cattle park north of Ouagadougou continues to see regular traffic.

There are now serious projects to reopen the line and even extend it. A Canadian company is building a large gold mine at Essakane, about 310 km northeast of Ouagadougou, and the railway could be used to carry the heavy equipment from the port of Abidjan at least as far as Kaya. Simultaneously Indian interests are looking at mining the manganese at Tambao.

Rob Dickinson