The International Steam Pages

Steam Survivors in the Congo (DR) 2013

This report was first posted on 6th February 2013, Peter Bagshawe has since (12th March 2013) added some comments which are in italics. Also a picture of a 2-6-2T from the John Middleton collection.

Thomas Kautzor writes:

"For a while now, South African company Sheltam has been operating in the southern part of the DR Congo. The drivers live in a caboose attached to their locos. A few of them have been posting photos on their Facebook pages, including of some of the steam loco survivors they photographed with their mobile phones."

I don't 'do' Facebook but these pictures are available to non-account holders.

The following 1970s archive pictures come from our CD ROM Safari Steam South and show the 700 class 4-8-2 (Basil Roberts picture) and 900 class (Peter Bagshawe picture). They look a little different today...

John Middleton has sent me this picture (12th March 2013) of one of the 27 Tubize / Haine St Pierre 2-6-2T (built 1925-1930) which still survived at Tenke Fungurume mine in June 2008, it's L71 (Tubize 2099 of 1929. John comments that there may be more survivors to be discovered.

At Kolwezi (Km 332 from Lubumbashi), KDL 4-8-2 706 (La Meuse 4360/47) is plinthed in front of the station: (PB 706 has been plinthed at Kolwezi for many years, and was one of the locos allocated to Mutshatsha for working the section to Dilolo prior to dieselisation. This happened at the beginning of February 1972, and 706 had the honour of working the last steam passenger train (Dilolo-Mutshatsha) on 3 February 1972, and the last steam goods (Mutshatsha-Dilolo-Mutshatsha) on 4-6 February 1972. It then managed to be called on to do a days steam shunt duty in March 1972 (presumably replacing 118 whilst on washout)! Of course I arrived at Mutshatsha on 8 February 1972 and, except for the 100 Class on the shunt, had missed all the steam action!)

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At Kamina (Km 600), the steam dump reported by Peter Bagshawe in 1972 is still present southwest of the station, next to the loop (visible on Google Maps) (PB On 4 February 1972 (I planned my trip the wrong way round-I should have been in Mutshatsha!) the dump comprised 2x100Cl, 2x700Cl, 1x850Cl, 8x900CL (Garratts) and the three Feldbahn locos. In February 1972 there was still line and shunt work at Kamina for the 100 and 400 classes.)

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According to a source in the DRC there are three class 700 4-8-2s (24 built by La Meuse 1939/47 and Franco-Belge 1950) and five class 900 Garratts (12 built by Haine-St-Pierre in 1953) present here.

At Kananga (km 1156) a class 400 2-8-2 (without tender) is plinthed in front of the station: (PB Kananga (originally Luluabourg) had an allocation of 400 Class locos. These seem to have last worked in December 1971, and it is therefore quite likely that the loco on display is one of 403/408-411/419 which were apparently still there in June 1972. It is a pity there isn’t a photo of the front of the loco, in case it still carries its buffer beam number.)

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At Mweka (km 1406) a loco is dumped (I didn't try to find out what type or class, but my guess is a 2-8-2): (PB I’ve had a good look at the Mweka locomotive and am pretty certain that it is one of the Porter 2-8-2 locomotives (200 Class). This is as it should be as, at the end of steam, Mweka’s sole allocation was 200 Class locomotives. They were still at work in June 1972, but it is doubtful they lasted much longer as a batch of GE U15C locos had just entered service, with more on route.)

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Rob Dickinson