Monday, December 27, 2010

Angola's Railways are Back on Track

Today marks the initial full-length test of the newly reconstructed rail link between Luanda and Malange tinto Angola's agriculture-rich central north-eastern region.  This link will be put to the test before the first commercial trip planned for January 13.

Inaugurated in 1909, most of  railway company CFL's (Caminho de Ferro Luanda) 424 kilometers of track and rail traffic stopped for 18 years due to war, the CFL rail line linking Luanda to Malange via Ndalatando, capital of Kwanza Norte, is considered key to open up the interior of the country and is one of the major issues of program national reconstruction started after the war ended in 2002.

The rehabilitation of the line began in 2005 and has reported cost $350 million. The track was laid by the China Railway construction Company which also built various train stations enroute which can hold between  200 to 500 passengers.

In addition to the thousands of passengers who will utilize the trains between Luanda and Malange, the trains are planned to decrease transport times of locally grown agricultural produce and cattle to Luanda, overcoming the current problems that still exist regarding the storage and conservation of fresh products.  The reopening of the rail line also brings improvements in the distribution of gasoline and diesel fuel to interior regions with the creation of three storage depots by national fuel company Sonangol.

The fleet of diesel locomotives serving the CFL are proudly painted in the Angolan colors of red, black and yellow with a national flag attached to the door of the engineer's cab. Along with the replacement of track and infrastructure, a major challenge for the CFL administration has been the training and replacement of executive and technical staff after most of the employees have died or left the service during the many years of the civil war.  

For the railway system in Angola, the next two years will be decisive with the opening of an important eastward link in the south in 2012.  The Caminho de Ferro Benguela (CFB) is the longest railway in Africa, stretching 1,344 km (835 miles) from the port city of Lobito on the Atlantic coast to the small town of Luau, on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Reopening the line will establish the only international connection to the DRC and Zambia, potentially utilizing the important transport of minerals from those regions. (Excerpts from BBC News, Angola)

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