The Uganda Railway – Part 4 – Mazeras to Voi

The next instalment of the journey from Mombasa to Kampala.

We start at Mazeras Station.

The railway roughly follows the Mombasa to Nairobi Road in a North-north-westerly direction to the next station on the line, Mariakani, a distance of 15 kilometres. The first image is ©Rohn Wood. [1] The second image below is © East African Corridors (Image 5031), [2] and the third image (consisting of two photographs comes from the National Archive Library (CO 1069-185-81). [3]

Mariakani is the first stop on the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) after leaviing Mombasa.

From Mariakani, the metre-gauge line continued a further 13 kilometres in a Northwesterly direction to Maji ya Chumvi, initially the railway and road followed a similar path, but just under halfway between the two stations as the crow flies,the road and the old metre-gauge line separate to allow a steadier grade for the railway. For a short distance railway and river are close to each other before the railway crosses the river and heads for Maji Ya Chumvi.Maji Ya Chumvi River Bridge

In the map below the deviation away from the road is evident and the location of the bridge over the river. The line of the SGR is also visible. The road and metre-gauge line converge once again at Maji ya Cumvi and the road crosses the railway line at that point.

Beyond the road crossing the railway heads on a further 16 kilometres in a westerly direction to Samburu village (not to be confused with Saburu County and the Wildlife reserve of the same name which is in that county).The image immediately above is a photograph taken in 2015 and can be found in a library of photos of stations on the metre-gauge line.[4] The photo of Mazeras Station, further above, comes from that same library. Much more ancient images follow. The first two come from very early in the line’s history and were both taken at Samburu. The third is a later image of the station from the early 1900s. An interesting digital 3D model of this station has been created by ADH (African Digital Heritage).[5]

After Samburu, the line continued west-north-west to Taru a distance of about 18 kilometres.

From Taru, we head on to Mackinnon Road Station, probably so named because it was at the junction between the old Mackinnon ox-cart road, construction of which was started in 1890 by the British East Africa Company, and the railway. Quickly, once the railway was complete the Ox-cart road became disused.[6]The railway was some distance north of the Nairobi to Mombasa Road at Taru. En-route to Mackinnon Road it converged again with the line of the road, before deviating north and then approaching the line of the road very closely.At Mackinnon Road, as can be seen above, the old metre-gauge railway route through the town has been superseded by the SGR.5903 at Mackinnon Road – Class 59 Beyer-Garratt on a Nairobi-Mombasa freight train near Mackinnon Road on 21st February 1978, © James Waite.[7]

In Dec 1977 No.5918 Mount Gelai hauls the A38 goods eastwards over steep
gradients towards Mackinnon Road. The 59 class was well suited to hauling heavy loads.
They had double the tractive effort of any locomotive employed on passenger service in the UK, where they were built in 1955.[8]. The next three photos can be found on the same reference.[8]Mackinnon Road  Jennifer Wu. [9]Mackinnon Road Inspection Vehicle, National Archives.Mackinnon Road  Ken Flottman. [10]

Immediately adjacent to the running lines of both the metre-gauge line and the SGR is Mackinnon Road Mosque. The track of the metre-gauge line can be seen in the image below.

Travelling on from Mackinnon Road, the railway travels in a straight line in a North-westerly direction. The next station is Miasenyi at the corner of the Tsavo East National Park. And then along the boundary of the park is passes through intermediate stations at Buchuma, Wangala and Maungu before passing under the new SGR.

Bucuma Railway Station.

The new SGR station at Miasenyi is shown above the old railway station at Maungu, below.

There is another station at Ndara before we reach Voi.At Voi, the SGR station is outside the town limits and south of the River Voi, The metre-gauge line is in the centre of the urban area and north of the River Voi. The images below show the SGR station.

The remaining images in this post show different aspects of the metre-gauge line in and around Voi and station at Voi. Voi is the largest town in Taita-Taveta County in southern Kenya, in the former Coast Province. It lies at the western edge of the Taru Desert, south and west of the Tsavo East National Park. The Sagala Hills are to the south. [12] It is also a junction station with a branch-line leaving the Nairobi-Mombasa line to head into Kenya. Stations on that branch-line are Mwatate,  Bura,  Mashoti,  Maktau,  Murka,  Ziwani and  Taveta, all in Kenya. The line connects with the Tanzanian main-line at Moshi, close to Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The River Voi Bridge, not far before the Station at Voi.Tribal Class 3113 Bamba in the passing loop near Voi. Note the meticulously maintained ballast. –  © James Waite. [11]A 59 Class at speed with a tank train train near Voi –  © James Waite. [11]5903 Mount Meru at Voi with a train from Taveta in the loop, © James Waite. [11]2455 detaches from its train and prepares to take on water at Voi –  © James Waite. [11]1307 4-8-4T takes water at Voi Shed – © James Waite. [11]

Station name board in 1979 © CPH3 on Flickr [13] and a considerably old picture courtesy of the National Archive of the Eastern End of Voi Station.






1., accessed on 16th May 2018.

2., accessed on 16th May 2018.

3., accessed on 16th May 2018.

4. #Savetherailway;, accessed on 14th May 2018.

5. African Digital Heritage

6. Wikipedia, Mackinnon Road, accessed on 19th May 2018.

7., accessed on 19th May 2018.

8. Sikh Heritage in East Africa, accessed on 19th May 2018.

9., accessed on 19th May 2018.

10., accessed on 19th May 2018.

11., accessed on 19th May 2018.

12. Wikipedia, Voi;, accessed on 19th May 2018.

13., accessed on 19th May 2018.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.