Monthly Archives: Jun 2018

The Uganda Railway – Part 26 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Part D (Diesel – 1948 to 1977)

Diesel Traction on the East African Railways and Harbours Lines (1948 – 1977)

As the 20th Century progressed, railway networks and locomotive manufacturers began to turn away from steam and to look at a variety of alternative drive mechanisms and loco types. In East Africa the focus turned from steam to diesel.

Perhaps one of the most telling images that I have found while reading around the story of the East African Railways is the graph below. Sadly, the quality is not great but it makes a very important point. [7]

It is impossible to exaggerate the tractive effort required from the motive power on the line through Kenya and Uganda. In the UK we make a great deal of fuss over the strain placed on standard-gauge locomotives on the West Coast Mainline. Shap, Beattock and Drumuachdar are significant climbs which taxed the most powerful of locomotives. The gradients and the heights which the East African lines surmounted dwarf that UK mainline. These feats of endurance and the relative power of the locomotives required to achieve them on narrow-gauge lines is astounding. The diesels which would eventually replace the Garratts, which for many years dominated services on East African lines, would need to efficiently supply significant power with great adhesion if they vwere ever to makeva success of a role on these metals.

Class 90 (later Class 87) English Electric Diesels

Decisions were taken in the 1950s which led to the ordering of a series of different classes of diesel locomotives. The first diesel-electrics to be designed for the mainline, the Class 90 diesel-electrics first ran on the network in 1960. These locomotives ran for a time with Class 90 numbers before being re-numbered as Class 87.Class 90 1-Co-Co-1 diesels introduced in 1960, seen here at Nairobi Shed.  The first diesels to operate on the main line they were originally rostered to run between Nairobi and Nakuru, © Kevin Patience. [1]

john Ashworth quotes Steve Palmano’s comments that “the EAR&H 90 class was the second English Electric (EE) 12CSVT-engined model to be delivered, but the first to be ordered. The initial order, for 8 units was announced in October 1958, and an increase to 10 units was announced in March 1959. This was EAR&H’s first order for line-service diesel locomotives. A 13.5 ton maximum axle loading was imposed, to enable the locomotives to work northwest of Nairobi to Nakuru and Kampala, as well as between Mombasa and Nairobi, which section alone would have allowed a higher axle loading. This axle loading constraint required a multi-axle design, as it is unlikely that EE could have built a compliant 12-cylinder Co-Co model.  Unsurprisingly, EE used a 1-Co-Co-1 wheel arrangement. The resulting locomotive was largely a new design, although it included features drawn from the QR 1250 class (body style and general layout) and the Rhodesian Railways (RR) 16-cylinder DE2 class (running gear and in-frame fuel tank). What it was not, though, was simply a 1-Co-Co-1 variant of the QR 1250 with 12CSVT in place of 12SVT engine.” [2]

“Notwithstanding the 13.5 tons axle loading specification, the first series were built to a slightly lower 12.8 tons number, giving an adhesive weight of 76.8 tons. The total weight was 97.5 tons. The continuous tractive effort is consistently quoted as 44 500 lbf, although there is some variety in the corresponding minimum continuous speed, which is variously reported as 11.5, 11.7 and 12¼ mile/hr. The top speed is usually reported as 45 mile/hr, but this would have been a track limited speed, as the expected 72:15 gearing would have allowed 60 mile/hr, and there is no reason why the running gear would not have accommodated this on suitable track.” [2]

Class 90 English Electric diesel 9007 accompanies a 13 Class 4-8-4T built by North British, © Malcolm McCrow. [1]

90 Class 9003 at Nairobi Steam Shed (c) Kevin Patience. [1]9003 with a 59 Class on the left and a 29 Class on the right. Later in life the 90 Class was to become EAR&H’s 87 Class (c) Kevin Patience. [1]An EAR&H Class 90 diesel locomotive accompanied by other diesels and a Class 31 (c) Anthony Potterton. [1]English Electric Class 90 No. 9008 at Nakuru at the head of No 2 Down (Kampala to Nairobi and Mombasa), © James Lang Brown.[4]Class 90 No. 9010 waits to take over from the Class 58 which has brought the train from Kampala, © Malcolm McCrow. [4]Class 90 No. 9010 awaits the right away for Nairobi, © Malcolm McCrow. [4]English Electric 90 Class diesel in the cutting by Speke and Lugard Houses of Duke of York School © Paul Tanner Tremaine. [5]

Mail Kisumu – Nairobi, diesel class 87 (originally Class 90), approaching Nairobi 1976. [3]Class 87, No. 8729 at Tororo in 1971. [6]

Other Diesels

By 1975, the roster of diesels on the East African Railway had increased to include shunters and mainline locomotives for goods and passengers. Initially most of these diesels were sourced from the UK. [8] The range included:

A. 4 classes of smaller shunting locomotives which were 200hp diesel mechanical locos:

  • Class 32 (originally Class 80)
  • Class 33 (originally Class 81)
  • Class 34 (originally Class 82)
  • Class 35

Details are tabulated below …

B. Some larger goods/shunting locomotive classes:

  • Class 43 (originally Class 83)
  • Class 44 (originally Class 84)
  • Class 45 (originally Class 85)
  • Class 46 (originally Class 86)

Details are tabulated below …

C. Mainline classes:

  • Class 61
  • Class 71 (originally Class 91)
  • Class 72
  • Class 79
  • Class 87 (originally Class 90)
  • Class 88
  • Class 92

As tabulated below (all these tables are taken from files supplied by by Rob Dickinson. [8]):

Class 32 (originally Class 80)

Class 80, No. 8002. [25]

The Class 32(80) 0-6-0 locos were built for the EAR&H by John Fowler & Co Engineers of Leathley Road, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK. The company produced traction engines and ploughing implements and equipment, as well as railway equipment. [10] The image immediately below is taken from a series of photographs placed on-line by Rob Dickinson. [8]Class 32 at Nairobi Railway Museum. [9]3206 Fowler 0-6-0 diesel shunter at the Railway Technical Institute, Nairobi. Probably one of the oldest surviving diesel locomotives in East Africa. [11]The loco diagram above is from a series of pictures taken by Rob Dickinson at the Nairobi Shed. [12]111447: No. 3204 at Nairobi Kenya Railway Workshops, (c) Weston Langford. [22]

Class 33 (originally Class 81)

Locomotives of this class were supplied by the Drewry Car Co.

Drewry & Sons ran a motor and cycle repair business in Herne Hill, London, and started building BSA engined inspection railcars. A ready market was found in South America, Africa, and India. Drewry Car Co Ltd was registered on 27 November 1906. In 1908 BSA (of motor-cycle fame) took over building the railcars at Small Heath, Birmingham. In 1911 building was taken over by Baguley Cars Ltd, Burton-on-Trent. From 1930 a lot of Drewry locomotives were built by English Electric companies. In 1962 Drewry acquired a controlling interest in what had become E E Baguley Ltd, and formed Baguley-Drewry Ltd in 1967, thus once again building its own locomotives, in Burton-on-Trent. The company closed in 1984. [10]

Locomotive diagram for Class 33. [12]

Class 34 (originally Class 82)

The Class 34 locos were Hunslet 0-6-0 designs. The Hunslet Engine Company was founded in 1864 in Hunslet, Leeds, England. The company manufactured steam-powered shunting locomotives for over 100 years, and currently manufactures diesel-engined shunting locomotives. [13]

Locomotive diagram for Class 34. [12]

Class 35

The Class 35 locos were Andrew Barclay 0-6-0 diesel shunters. Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. are a builder of steam and later fireless and diesel locomotives. The company’s history dates to foundation of an engineering workshop in 1840 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. After a long period of operation the company was acquired by the Hunslet group in 1972 and renamed Hunslet-Barclay; in 2007 the company changed hands after bankruptcy becoming Brush-Barclay as part of the FKI Group. In 2011 Brush Traction and Brush-Barclay were acquired from FKI by Wabtec – as of 2012 the company still operates in Kilmarnock providing rail engineering services as Wabtec Rail Scotland. [14]

3505 Barclay 0-6-0 diesel-hydraulic shunter by the workshop at Nairobi. [11]Locomotive diagram for Class 35. [12]

Class 43 (originally Class 83)

These locos were built by the North British Locomotive Company. The North British Locomotive Company (NBL, NB Loco or North British) was created in 1903 through the merger of three Glasgow locomotive manufacturing companies; Sharp, Stewart and Company (Atlas Works), Neilson, Reid and Company (Hyde Park Works) and Dübs and Company(Queens Park Works), creating the largest locomotive manufacturing company in Europe and the British Empire. [15]

Its main factories were located at the neighbouring Atlas and Hyde Park Works in central Springburn, as well as the Queens Park Works in Polmadie. A new central Administration and Drawing Office for the combined company was completed across the road from the Hyde Park Works on Flemington Street by James Miller in 1909, later sold to Glasgow Corporation in 1961 to become the main campus of North Glasgow College (now Glasgow Kelvin College).

The two other Railway works in Springburn were St. Rollox railway works, owned by the Caledonian Railway and Cowlairs railway works, owned by the North British Railway. Latterly both works were operated by British Rail Engineering Limited after rail nationalisation in 1948. [15]

Class 43, No. 4306 0-8-0 in its later guise as No. 8306. [8]111567: No. 43110 at Mombasa, (c) Weston Langford. [22]Class 43 Locomotive Diagram. [12]

Class 44 (originally Class 84)

This 0-8-0 class was also built by the North British Locomotive Company.111593: No. 4402 alongside No. 87 42 at Kilindini Locomotive Depot, (c) Weston Langford. [22]

Class 45 (originally Class 85)

Still another North British 0-8-0 class of loco.111573:  Shunter No. 4503 at Mombasa, (c) Weston Langford [22]111615: Shunter No. 4504 moving No. 2410 at Voi, (c) Weston Langford. [22]Class 85, No. 8503 (later Class 45, No. 4503) working dead Class 90 (later Class 87) diesel electric to Makadara MPD, (c) Iain Mulligan [1]

Class 46 (originally Class 86)

The Class 46 (86) 0-8-0 central cab locos were built for the EAR&H by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co.

Class 86, No. 8607. [24]111396: No. 4622 alongside No. 8714 at Nairobi, (c) Weston Langford. [22]111576: No. 4615 alongside Westbound Goods  pulled by No. 3110 Bakiga. The picture is taken from Nairobi East Box (c) Weston Langford. [22]Class 46 shunter re-positioning cabooses at Nairobi Station. [16]

Class 61

Henschel starThese locos were supplied by Henschel & Son (German: Henschel und Sohn), a German company, located in Kassel, best known during the 20th century as a maker of transportation equipment, including locomotives, trucks, buses and trolleybuses, and armoured fighting vehicles and weapons.

Georg Christian Carl Henschel founded the factory in 1810 at Kassel. His son Carl Anton Henschel founded another factory in 1837. In 1848, the company began manufacturing locomotives. The factory became the largest locomotive manufacturer in Germany by the 20th century. [17]

Diesel-hydraulic locomotive No. 6107 working an up-country freight in 1975. Ten of these Henschel built Class 61 locomotives entered service in 1972 and in 1975/6 were generally in use on branch-lines. [18]

Class 71 (originally Class 91)

This Class was supplied by English Electric.

Class 72

This Class was also supplied by English Electric.

Class 79

There was just one locomotive in this class. No. 7901 was supplied as an experimental type by AEI Lister-Blackmore. Looking at the export market in the late 1950s British Tomson-Houston (BTH), with Clayton and Lister-Blackstone commissioned the Explorer CM-gauge prototype, which was ready in 1959. This featured a Lister-Blackstone engine, BTH electrical equipment and mechanical parts by established partner Clayton. Possibly Lister-Blackstone saw this as a pathway into the mainline locomotive market, as the cost was shared between itself and BTH. [19]

At 1100 hp (gross), with Co-Co running gear and weighing 72 long tons, the Explorer may be compared with standard shunters from the major worldwide builders. Previous engine partner Paxman offered high-speed engines which were in a lower power range than needed for the Explorer. The Alco DL531 was slightly lighter (in CM-gauge form) and marginally less powerful, at 975 hp (gross). The GE U9C was somewhat heavier and had a nominal power of 990 hp (gross), but this was a high-altitude, high-ambient temperature rating, and the UIC number was 1060 hp. The Alco & GE utilised 6-cylinder in-line engines, whereas the Lister-Blackstone featured the relatively complex 12-cylinder double-bank form, albeit still medium-speed. This complexity allied to its weight put it at an immediate major disadvantage. There were no production orders from this prototype. [23]

In 1959 EMD did not yet have a six-motor model in this power class. English Electric no doubt could have offered a Co-Co version of its existing eight-cylinder Latin American model with either the 8SRKT or 8SVT engine, by 1959 delivering 1100 hp. And more power would have been available from the 8CSRKT or 8CSVT engine with but minor weight penalty. Within two years Alco offered the DL535, delivering 1350 hp (gross), still with six cylinders, and weighing around 72 long tons in CM-gauge form. [19]

The Explorer was built by the Clayton Company of Hatton, Derbyshire, order number 3548 of January 1959, it was powered by a Lister Blackstone ERS.12T 12 cylinder twin-bank engine powering BTH electrics. Cylinders were 8.75 x 11.5 inches, maximum crankshaft speed was 800rpm, output speed through the phasing gears was 1,320rpm providing 1,100hp. Either crankshaft could be uncoupled in an emergency.

The locomotive weighed 72tons and rode on metre gauge Co-Co bogies of rubber cone pivot Alsthom style. Alsthom (originally ALS-Thom(son)) had a similar relationship with GE as did BTH, and it appeared that design ideas also travelled ‘horizontally’ between GE ‘associates’. This aspect of the Explorer design was carried over to the later AEI Zambesi type.

It was leased to the East African Railways who later bought it outright. In the late 1960s EAR reclassification it was assigned Class 79. It was allotted to the Kenya Railways in 1977, though by October of that year it was recorded as ‘stabled for scrap’ on the roster. [19]As of 2005, the ‘Explorer’ locomotive still exists, very much intact and still bearing its number and nameplates. It is earmarked for the Nairobi Railway Museum when funds become available. [19][20]Class 79, No. 7901 Explorer AEI Lister-Blackmore Co-Co at the Railway Technical Institute, Nairobi, still displaying the faded remnants of the EAR&H maroon livery and cast letters. Now confirmed as destined for the museum. [11]Unique pioneer diesel Class 79, No. 7901 ‘Explorer’ at Nairobi (c) Iain Mulligan. [1]No. 7901 ‘Explorer’ at the purpose built diesel depot at Makadara on 31 July 1962 (c) Iain Mulligan. [1]Green and yellow liveried Class 79 ‘Explorer’ at Nairobi Shed, alongside a Class 13, No. 1308, a Class 59 can just be seen in the shed (c) Anthony Potterton. [1]

Class 87 (originally Class 90)Pictures and details of this 1-Co-Co-1 Class of Diesel-Electric are shown above.Class 87, No 8701 English Electric 1Co-Co1 delivered in 1960. Lead locomotive of a class of 44 of which 11 are still in working order. They are normally confined to the Nakuru-Kisumu section of the main line. 8701 is seen abandoned at Nakuru, still painted in the later EAR&H green and yellow livery. [11]A double-header goods train close to Nairobi. Class 87s in green and yellow livery (c) Kevin Patience. [18]111393 No. 8714 at Nairobi, (c) Weston Langford. [22]111395: No 8714 at Nairobi Kenya, on the 1030am Kampala Mail, (c) Weston Langford. [22]111396: No. 8714 at Nairobi alongside shunter No. 4622, (c) Weston Langford. [22]

Class 88

The Class 88 locomotives were lighter cousins of the Class 92 locos below. In all, 20 units were delivered to the EAR&H. [18] They were built by the Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW), a Canadian railway locomotive manufacturer which existed under several names from 1883 to 1985, producing both steam and diesel locomotives. For a number of years it was a subsidiary of the American Locomotive Company. MLW’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities were located in Montreal, Quebec. [21]

In 1975, the emerging Quebec based Bombardier purchased a 59% stake in MLW from Studebaker-Worthington. Under Bombardier, the MLW organization continued locomotive design into the early 1980s, and also benefited from its geographic location. During the 1970s, Bombardier began to enter the railway passenger coach/locomotive business with domestic orders for commuter and subway systems. Based on a prototype trainset constructed in the mid-1970s, in 1980 MLW began production of a fleet of high-speed diesel-powered passenger locomotives for the LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) passenger trains being built for the newly created federal Crown corporation Via Rail. Similar equipment was also used briefly by Amtrak.The last of the locomotives were retired from service in 2001. [21]

Class 92

This Class was also supplied by the Montreal Locomotive Works. There were 15 locomotives, they were diesel-electrics and were delivered in 1971 for main line service. [18]Class 92, No. 9211 heads a Uganda bound freight train. [18]No. 9212 undergoes maintenance at Nairobi workshops. [18]


  1., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  2., 2nd & 8th January 2018, accessed on 26th June 2018.
  3., accessed on 26th June 2018.
  4., accessed on 24th May 2018.
  5., accessed on 27th June 2018.
  6., accessed on 27th June 2018.
  7. A. E. DurrantGarratt Locomotives of the World (rev. and enl. ed.). Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1981.
  8., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  9., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  10., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  11., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  12., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  13., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  14., accessed on 28th June 2018.
  15., accessed on 29th June 2018.
  16., accessed on 29th June 2018.
  17. accessed on 29th June 2018.
  18. Kevin Patience; Steam in East Africa; Heinemann Educational Books, Nairobi, 1976.
  19., accessed on 29th June 2018.
  20., accessed on 29th June 2018.
  21., accessed on 29th June 2018.
  22., accessed on 30th June 2018.
  23., accessed on 30th June 2018.
  24., accessed on 3rd July 2018.
  25., accessed on 3rd July 2018.


The Uganda Railway – Part 25 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Part C (Steam – 1948 to 1977)

Steam Locomotives on the East African Railways and Harbours Lines (1948 – 1977)

Until 1948, the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours (KURH) Corporation ran harbours, railways and lake and river ferries in Kenya Colony and the Uganda Protectorate. It included the Uganda Railway, which it extended from Nakuru to Kampala in 1931. [1]

In 1948, it was merged with the Tanganyika Railway to form the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EAR&H which provided rail, harbour and inland shipping services in all three territories until the East African High Commission’s successor, the East African Community, was dissolved by its member states in 1977. [1]

As well as running railways and harbours in the three territories it ran inland shipping services on Lake VictoriaLake KyogaLake Albert, the Victoria Nile and the Albert Nile. [2]

The Malayan Railway sold EAR&H eight USATC S118 Class steam locomotives in 1948, and another eight in 1949. EAR&H converted them to oil fuel and numbered them 2701–2716, making them the 27 class. EAR&H allocated them to its Tabora Depot on its Tanganyika section. They entered service in 1949 and 1950, working the lines to Mwanza, Kigoma and Mpanda, where their light axle loading was an advantage and their high firebox enabled them to run through seasonal flooding on the Kigoma and Mpanda branches. EAR&H built further S118 from spare parts in 1953 and numbered it 2717. EAR&H withdrew them from service in about 1965 and they were in Dar es Salaam awaiting scrapping in 1966. [3]

In 1955 and 1956, EAR&H introduced new and much more powerful steam locomotives for its Kenya and Uganda network: the 59 class Garratts. These were the mainstay of the section’s heaviest traffic until they started to be withdrawn from service between 1973 and 1980.

EAR&H extended the Uganda Railway from Kampala to Kasese in 1956 and thence to Arua in 1964. In 1962, it completed the northern Uganda railway from Tororo to Pakwach, thus superseding the Victoria Nile steamer service. [4]

This post focusses primarily on locomotives to be found within Kenya and Uganda. Those found primarily in Tanzania will need to be the subject of another series of posts in the future.

Older Classes of Locomotive

The network continued to make use of the best of the locomotives purchased by both the Uganda Railway and the Kenya Uganda Railways and Harbours Corporation. The EAR&H renumbered all of the older locomotives into a consistent numbering system. The first two digits of four referred to the class of locomotive and the second two digits to the number in the class.  Before we move on to the new purchases, here are a few images of the older locomotives on the system, furthger information about these classes can be found in the previous posts in this series:

Classes 10 to 19 were designated shunting locomotives; Classes 20-49, tender locomotives; Classes 50-79, articulated locomotives; and Class 80 and above, diesel locomotives.EAR Class 10, No. 1001 2-6-4 locomotive in live-steam 5″ gauge. [17]Class 11 2-6-2 Locomotive. [16]Class 11, No 1105 refuelling at Nairobi MPD, (c) Anthony Potterton. [10]Class 22, 4-8-0 No. 2216, built by North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, Scotland, for the Uganda Railway (UR) and continued in use well into the life of the EAR. [8]Class 23, No. 2306 – a rare visitor to Nairobi, freshly turned out from the paint-shop in EAR livery, (c) Iain Mulligan. [13]Another Class 23, No. 2309 stabled ready for disposal along with a couple of diesel locomotives in Mombasa sidings (c) Kevin Patience. [9]Class 24, 4-8-0 No. 2449 outside Mombasa Shed, (c) Kevin Patience. [9]Class 24, No. 2402 on Nairobi Yard, in the background is one of the diners used on the overnight Nairobi-Mombasa service, (c) Geoff Pollard. [10]Class 24, No. 2428, on 1st of August, 1953, on the occasion of the opening of the first section of the Western Uganda extension from Kampala to Mityani. (See EAR&H Magazine Volume 1 No.6 Page 8ff), from the collection of A.J. Craddock. [21]We have already seen this picture of a Class 28 2-8-2 locomotive in the previous post in this series. It is included here as representative of this class which was popular with drivers and firemen throughout their time on the network. Class 28, No. 2804, ‘Kilifi,’ (c) A.J. Craddock. [21]The twenty Class 50 locomotives were almost identical to the two Class 51 locomotives. [23]

Class 50 being scrapped (c) A.J. Craddock. [21]Class 52 4-8-2 + 2-8-4 pre-Second World War Garratts were unusually built by North British. 5204 was the last survivor and was photographed on the triangle at Morogoro in 1967 en-route to Dar for scrapping. [24]

Class 54, EAR No. 5402. (Chris Greville collection). [18]The same locomotive from the collection of A.J. Craddock. [21]

Class 55, EAR No. 5505 at Nairobi Railway Museum. [19]

A Class 55 Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4 awaiting its fate at Voi, (c) Kevin Patience. [9]Coal burning Class 56 Garratt still bearing its KUR&H Number. The first of the batch of KUR&H EC6 Class, this locomotive naturally became 5601. Six of these locomotives were delivered in 1949 pending the arrival of the 58s. After service on the Kenya-Uganda Section, they were banished to Tanganyika to replace the ex-Burma 55 Class which ended up in the Kenya-Uganda Section, (c) EAR&H Magazine. [13]

Class 56, No. 5603: “A Guide To Uganda” (Crown Agents, Curwin Press 1954) shows a 56 Class, 5603, at a station between Kampala and Jinja. The 56s were replaced by the 60s in 1954-5, (c) East African Railways and Harbours. [22]Class 56, No. 5605 preparing to depart from the docks area in Dar. [24]

The Class 57 stands in Nairobi Railway Museum yard, painted in the grey livery of the Kenya Uganda Railway. [25]

The Locomotives Introduced by the EAR&H

The EAR&H had tenure of the whole network for over 29 years. During this time new locomotives were bought and others were moved around the East African system. This next section of this post focusses primarily on the classes of locomotives that were new to the Kenyan and Ugandan rails.

Class 58 Garratt Locomotives

The EAR 58 class was a class of 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratt-type locomotives built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester, England, in 1949. The eighteen members of the class were ordered by the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR) immediately after World War II, and were a slightly modified, oil-burning version of the KUR’s existing coal-fired EC3 class. By the time the new locomotives were built and entered service, the KUR had been succeeded by the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EAR&H), which designated the coal-fired EC3s as its 57 class, and the new, oil-burning EC3s as its 58 class.[8] Wikipedia informs us that the early numbers in this class arrived in East Africa in time to receive their KUR numbers (Nos. 89-95, later Nos. 5801-5807). The first of the Class to arrive too late to receive their designated KUR number was No. 5808. The full Class 58 bore the numbers 5801 to 5818.

Class 58 No. 5803 at Changamwe, Kenya, with the Mombasa–Kampala mail train, circa 1950-51. [7]Class 58, No. 5807 (c) Kevin Patience. [20]Class 58, No. 5804 was unique in that it had the letters EAR&H on its tenders rather than EAR. It is seen here about to depart the high level platform at Kampala with the mail train for Nairobi in 1962. [14][22] And again below, (c) Geoff Pollard. [5]

Class 59 Garratt Locomotives

The EAR 59 class was a class of oil-fired 1,000 mm gauge Garratt-type articulated steam locomotives. The 34 members of the class were built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester, England, for the East African Railways (EAR). They entered service in 1955–56, and at 252 tons, were the largest, heaviest and most powerful steam locomotives to operate on any metre-gauge railway in the world

Class 59 Garratt taking water at Kibwezi in Kenya. [2]Class 59 No. 5909 near Mombasa. [12]Class 59 No. 5925 “Mount Monduli.”  [6]An unidentified Class 59 and a Class 24 in front of Mombasa Shed, © Kevin Patience. [9]Class 59, No. 5918, ‘Mount Gelai’ (c) Lou Johnson, taken on Nairobi loco shed in December 1977. “Mount Gelai” was always kept in immaculate condition by a dedicated crew of two Indian drivers and two African firemen who shared the 24 hour journey between Nairobi and Mombasa resting in a caboose attached to the train when off duty. The cab was pristine with polished brass. Linoleum floor and many other non-standard features. Kirpal Singh and Walter Pinto were the drivers but the fireman were just as dedicated to the task of keeping this 250 ton metre-gauge giant in superb condition. [11]

It was this loco which was refurbished and brought back into steam in the very early years of 21st Century as these youtube videos attest:



Class 60 Garratt Locomotives

The EAR Class 60, also known as the Governor class, was a class of 4-8-2+2+8-4 Garratts built for the EAR&H as a development of the EAR&H’s existing Class 56 Garratts. [8, p77]

The 29 members of the class were ordered by the EAR&H from Beyer, Peacock & Co. The first 12 of them were built by sub-contractors Société Franco-Belge in Raismes(Valenciennes), France, and the rest were built by Beyer, Peacock in GortonManchester, England. The class entered service in 1953-54. Initially, all members of the class carried the name of a Governor (or equivalent) of KenyaTanganyika or Uganda, but later all of the Governor nameplates were removed. [8, p77-78]

Line-up of East African Railways motive power at Nairobi MPD with 60 Class Garratt 6024 Sir James Hayes Saddler prominent left and 57/58 Class right. Five 59 Class Garratts, two 29 (Tribal) Class and two tank engines are also quite clearly discernable.  The post card was probably produced around 1955-6 – EAR&H Postcard via Cliff Rossenrode. [5]East African Railways class 60, 6002 (Franco-Belge Raismes 2984/1954, BP7655). (Chris Greville collection). [28]Class 60 No. 6029 near Mombasa.Class 60 No. 6006 after receiving a much needed repaint – taken in 2004 (c) Graham Roberts. [29]Class 60 No. 6008 Sir Wilfred Jackson with Giesel ejector at Nairobi. Most classes were refitted with Giesel ejectors which, although improving efficiency, arguably detracted from the appearance of the locomotive, (c) Kevin Patience. [5]No. 6022, formerly named Sir Andrew Cohen who was governor of Uganda in the mid 1950s.  Before independence all 29 in the class introduced in the 1953-4, with the first twelve built by Société Franco-Belge at Raismes in France due to the British manufacturer having no capacity to accept the complete order, (c) Anthony Potterton. [5]No 6012 at Kampala Shed, marked up as “reserved for museum”, a scheme that appears never to have come to fruition. The picture was taken  on 26/3/84 (c) tormaig. [30]No 6017: At the other end of the shed was the partially dismantled remains of another Garratt, 6017, whose boiler had been cut up in situ. Nearby is a class 31 boiler. No other steam locos were to be seen , although there were several bashed and battered diesels scattered around the shed. Picture taken on 26/3/84 (c) tormaig. [30]

These Garratt’s were the flagship locomotive of the fleet but they were by no means the only significant locomotive classes on the EAR&H. We have already noted the long-serving older locos but there were also a series of new purchases and transfers to the Uganda and Kenya lines.

New Steam!

Class 13

The EAR 13 class was a class of 4-8-2 T steam locomotives built by North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, Scotland, for the East African Railways (EAR). The 18 members of the class were built in 1952 and entered service in 1953. They were later converted into 4-8-4 Ts, because of a tendency to de-rail when operating in reverse, using bogies (trucks) salvaged from EAR 50 class Garratt-type locomotives, which were then in the process of being withdrawn from service. [8, p78]

Class member 1315 was for many years an exhibit in the Nairobi Railway Museum. However, in the late 1990s the locomotive was removed by Kenya Railways and broken up for scrap after the boiler was re-purposed for use in the main railway works. [32]

Class 13 Tank Locomotive at Nairobi West, (c) Iain Mulligan. [31]Newly out-shopped Class 13 tank No. 1308 gets up steam – note the traditional green and white paintwork in the cab.  Note the absence of the front bogie [truck], (c) James Waite. [5] A further image of a Class 13, No. 1316 at Nairobi MPD can be found on flickr, © CPH3. [37]

Class 29

The EAR 29 class was a class of oil-burning 2-8-2 steam locomotives based upon the Nigerian Railways River class. The 31 members of the 29 class were built for the East African Railways (EAR) in two batches, of 20 (in the years 1950 and 1951) and 11 locomotives (in the year 1955) respectively, by North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, Scotland. [8, p80f]Tribal Class 2930 Tiriki ahead of two 13 Class tank engines and a 5912 Mount Oldeani on the re-fuelling roads. Mount Oldeani can be distinguished by its unique smoke deflectors.  It also had an experimental blast pipe arrangement, ©  James Waite. [5]East African Railways – EAR 29 Class 2-8-2 steam locomotive No. 2908 “Elgeyo” in Nairobi Shed, December 1967. [38]Class 29 locomotive 2913 Kamasia, later Tugen behind the unidentifiable Class 31. Tanzania Railways had about a dozen Class 31 locomotives which were built between 1955 and 1956 by Vulcan Foundry, © David Addis. [39]Class 29, No. 2921 “Masai of Kenya” at Nairobi Ralway Museum. The loco was built in Glasgow. [41]

Class 30

The EAR 30 class was a class of oil-burning 2-8-4 steam locomotives. The class was built in 1955 by North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, Scotland, for the East African Railways (EAR). Its design was derived from the 2-8-2 EAR 29 class, which, in turn, was based upon the Nigerian Railways River class. [8, p81]

The 26 members of the class served their entire careers in Tanganyika/Tanzania, one of the three territories/countries served by the EAR.[36, p81]In 2003, Beyer Garratt No. 5918 was joined by this 2-8-4, Class 30 No. 3020 on a roster of available locomotives for steam journeys on the system in the early 21st Century.  Also rescued in decrepit condition from the museum, these locos can operate passenger excursions and the occasional revenue freight out of Nairobi. The loco is pictured in December 2004 at Kikuyu, © Trevor Heath. [40]

The video immediately above covers movements of a variety of different classes of locomotive on East African metals between Mombasa and Nairobi. The video above it shows Class 30 No. 3020 operating in the early years of the 21st Century in its restored state.

Class 31

The EAR 31 class was a class of oil-burning 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge 2-8-4 steam locomotives. The 46 members of the class were built in 1955 by Vulcan Foundry, in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire (now part of Merseyside), England, for the East African Railways (EAR). They were a lighter, branch-line version of the EAR 30 class, and worked from various sheds throughout the EAR system. [8, p80ff][36, p83]A 1/4 scale replica of Vulcan built East African Railways Class 31 locomotive. It has been built to be as an exact a replica as can be achieved albeit running on Kerosene rather than heavy oil with all the controls etc being scaled down from the original from works drawings. This powerful 10 1/4 inch gauge locomotive is a regularly works on the Stapleford railway and both the railway and the loco’s owner would love to hear from anyone that was involved with the  31 class build or operation although I guess they would be very old now! The loco is owned by John Wilks , © John Wilks. [42]East African Railways Class 31, No. 3101 at its naming ceremony. [35]Class 31, No. 3105 ‘Bagisu’ has just been out-shopped in Nairobi, © Anthony Potterton. [5]Class 31 No. 3130 Karamojong, © Anthony Potterton [5]

A dirty Tribal Class 31 No. 3133 ‘Lango’ with a very clean Class 29 behind © Anthony Potterton [5]


  1., accessed on 17th June 2018.
  2., accessed on 21st June 2018.
  3. R. TourretWar Department Locomotives. Abingdon: Tourret Publishing; 1976; p. 35.
  4.  Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Library, Mombasa and East African Steamers, Y30468LJanus. Cambridge University Library.
  5., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  6., accessed on 21st June 2018
  7., accessed on 21st June 2018.
  8. Roel Ramaer; Steam Locomotives of the East African Railways; David & Charles Locomotive Studies. Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1974, p65-85.
  9., accessed on 21st June 2018.
  10., accessed on 1st  June 2018.
  11., accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  12., accessed on 21st June 2018.
  13., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  14., accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  15., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  16., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  17., accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  18., accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  19., accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  20., accessed 1st June 2018.
  21., accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  22., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  23., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  24. accessed on 22nd June 2018.
  25. accessed 16th June 2018.
  26., accessed on 23rd June 2018.
  27., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  28., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  29., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  30., accessed on 14th June 2018.
  31., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  32., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  33., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  34., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  35., accessed on 25th June 2018.
  36. A. E. Durrant; C. P. Lewis; A.A. Jorgensen; Steam in Africa. London: Hamlyn, 1981.
  37., accessed on 25th June 2018
  38., accessed on 26th June 2018.
  39., accessed on 26th June 2018.
  40., accessed on 26th June 2018.
  41., accessed on 26th June 2018.
  42., accessed on 26th June 2018.

Beyer-Garratts to IndoChina-Yunnan Railways

In working on a series of posts about East African Railways I have noticed that 6 Beyer-Garratt locomotives from The Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR) were sent to Indo-China to work on metre-gauge lines there. This post investigates two possible options for the location of those Garratts after they left East Africa. Their KUR numbers were 41, 42, 43, 44, 51 and 53. Various sources indicate that their reference numbers in Indo-China were 201-206. [8][9][10]

Research suggests that there are two possible locations for these locos operations after leaving East Africa. The first, initially seeming the most likely, is the Burma-Yunnan Railway which was a British project. The second was a French project. We spend a little time focussing on each project before some final observations are made at the end of this post

  1. The Burma to Yunnan Railway

The Burma–Yunnan railway was a failed British project to connect far southwest China’s Yunnan province with the recently established rail network in British-ruled Burma. The bulk of this post is taken from the Wikipedia article about this line. [5]

The British project was working against the background of the successful French Yunnan–Vietnam railway that had been established on the nearby Hanoi to Kunming route from 1904–1910, some 30 years earlier. To secure the rights to construction, Britain referred to Article IV of the Anglo-French Siam Convention for ‘mutual privileges’. It seems as though there was an element of competition in the decision to proceed with the building of the line.

Maria Bugrova‘s article The British expeditions to China in XIX century discusses the question of a railway to Yunnan from Burma.

In the 1880s, Great Britain drew special attention to the Upper Burma region and the roads to southwestern China. The former colonial officer of British Burma‘s administration, A.R. Colquhoun, and an engineer of the Civil Works Department in India, H. Hallett, traveled in 1882 from Canton to Rangoon. A.R Colquhoun returned to England and sent his proposal to the Chamber of Commerce of Great Britain to investigate the question of building a railway between Rangoon and southwestern China through the Shan states. His proposal was approved by the Chamber. According to a preliminary calculation, the cost of work was about seven thousand pound sterling. One half of this amount had to be presented by the Chambers of Commerce, and another part had to be contributed by the Government.
By the end of 1884, Hallett and Colquhoun received 3,500 pounds from the Chamber of Commerce for the investigation of building a railway. They found important information about climate, population and minerals. They drew special attention to Likin. From their point of view, penetration of British goods into China depended on the amount of this tax. The difficulty of Likin question substantially explained the British traders’ interest in building a railway. In case of this building it would be possible to avoid the payment of Likin transferring goods to the interior of China. Colquhoun telegraphed daily to The Times about the expedition. [1]

The wikipedia article says that there are references in the 1898 British Hansard regarding possible construction of the line. [2]

Archibald John Little‘s 1905 book The Far East mentioned the proposed route on page 124: [3]

A railway, starting from Mandalay, goes north-east to the bank of the Salwin which is to be crossed at Kunlong Ferry in latitude 23 degrees 20′, whence, if ever built, it is to be taken north in Chinese territory and run parallel with the prevailing strike of the mountains, due north to Tali-fu; but this line will pass through a wild thinly-peopled country and it is doubtful if a private company will be found to build it.

In 1911, Leo Borgholz, the US Consul General in Canton, published a trade report entitled ‘Yunnan Trade Districts and Routes’, in which he mentions that the British appeared to have shelved the project for lack of financial viability. [4]

In 1938, Edward Michael Law-Yone travelled to Yunnan from his native Burma to see the proposed route. [5] By 1938 construction had begun. In 1941 25 metre-gauge 2-8-8-2 mallet-type articulated engines were ordered from the American ALCO company, and America promised to supply steel for the construction effort. [26]

In 1939 it was proposed to construct the western section of the Yunnan–Burma railway using a gauge of 15 14 in (387 mm), since such minimum gauge facilitates the tightest of curves in difficult terrain. [6]

An article by Royal Arch Gunnison published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday, 27th November 1941 stated that American Engineers still expected around 12 to 15 months to complete the railway. [6]

Research has resulted in a few images of the construction work coming to light. [11] These images show work in and around the Nam-ting River Gorge in 1942.

Unfortunately, it seems that construction of the line was abandoned due to Japanese advances, and was never resumed. Burma’s limited trading value to China and its internal political and military instability have probably been two major contributing factors.

Commemorative sign at the site of the Manzhuan Tunnel.

Today the Yunnan side of the line lies in ruin. Though signs here and there attest to its presence, there is little actual rail left, and the line has all but vanished from local history and barely graces itineraries of all but the most determined travellers.

One such sign can be glimpsed opposite the ferry to Baodian, slightly south of Manwan in the far north-eastern section of Lincang prefecture. The sign records a tunnel from the construction, but the entry has long been covered over and there is no visual hint to the line’s presence whatsoever.

In the Geographical Journal of March 1940 (Volume 45 No.3) there is an article about the Yunnan-Burma Road, work on which was taking place during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), and in the final stages of Britain’s long rule over Burma. Brief mention is made of the Yunnan-Burma Railway which was then under construction, a British project to connect China’s Yunnan province with the then recently established rail network in Burma, which ultimately failed. [7]

So, although it initially appears as though this would be the natural location for the Garratts after leaving East Africa in 1939, our investigation suggests that it is actually very unlikely to have been their destination.

If correct, this means that the British probably sold the Garratts to their erstwhile competitors in Indo-China – the French.

2. The Yunnan to Vietnam Railway

The Faux Namti (Wujiazhai) Bridge over the Sicha River, in the Nanxi Valley region (right). More than 800 Chinese coolies died here. [12]

The Yunnan–Haiphong railway is an 855 km (531mile) railway built by France between 1904–1910, connecting Haiphong, Vietnam with Kunming, Yunnan province, China. The section within China from Kunming to Hekou is known as the Kunming–Hekou railway, and is 466 km long. The section within Vietnam is 389 km (242 mile) long, and is known as the Hanoi–Lào Cai railway. The railway was built as a metre-gauge line due to the mountainous terrain along the route. Currently it is the only metre-gauge main line in China.

In the 19th century, the French colonial administration worked to develop regular trading networks and an efficient transport infrastructure between Indo-china and south-west China. The primary motivation for such an effort was to facilitate export of European goods to China. A railway would also give France access to Yunnan’s natural resources, mineral resources and opium, and open up the Chinese market for Indochinese products such as rice, dry fish, wood and coal.[13]

Prior to the construction of the railway, the standard travel time from Haiphong (the closest sea port to most of Yunnan) to Kunming was reckoned by the Western authorities to be 28 days: 16 days by steamer and then a small boat up the Red River to Manhao (425 miles), and then 12 days overland (194 miles).[14]

The right to build the railway was obtained following China’s defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95). At a cost of 95 million francs (€362 million), the railway was among the most ambitious colonial projects undertaken by France, and was put into use on 1 April 1910.[13][15]

In the context of French technology and manufacturing over a century ago, the construction of a several-hundred-km long railroad through the red-earth mountain plateau of Yunnan called for political will allied with vision, courage and hard work; without these, one of the most magnificent projects in the history of railroad construction would not have been possible.

This railroad represents the highest level of engineering technology in the early 20th century. For 80 percent of its length it runs between perilous and precipitous mountains. Within a linear” distance of 200km. Between Hekou at 76m above sea level to Mengzi at 2,000m above sea level, there is an altitude disparity of over 1,900m: the section between Baogu and Baizhai involves a climb of 1,200 m within just 44 km.

In order to complete the project at the least time and cost, the Hekou to Kunming project was divided into 12 separate sections which were progressed simultaneously. The French Yunnan-Vietnam Railway Construction Company recruited more than 60,000 Chinese labourers from all over China and there were over 3,000 French, American, British, Italian and Canadian engineers involved in the construction. Along this 465-km-long railway, 107 permanent railway bridges of various types were built and 155 tunnels excavated; 1.66 million cubic metres of earth and stones were dug out and over 3,000 temporary bridges and haulage routes were built. The difficulties encountered were beyond the imagination of the decision-makers in Paris.

The climate was sweltering, particularly around the Nanxi River valley area, where summer temperatures could exceed 40 centigrade; it was humid and oppressive, and infections from tropical diseases and plague were always possible. Statistics show that during those six years, 12,000 people died and are buried alongside the 465km of railway. 10,000 of these died in the Nanxi River valley, most of them Chinese labourers who gave up their lives in order to earn a living. There were also several hundred Frenchmen and other foreigners, drawn from afar by this railroad, who never made it back to their native soil.

One of many bridges along the route is the 67 metre-long steel railway bridge over the Sicha River in the Nanxi valley. To Chinese, this handsome and delicate structure is known as “Wishbone Bridge.” Since its completion in 1909, the “Wishbone Bridge” has never had an adverse impact on railroad traffic. Hardly a bolt has had to be changed. [27]

Under pressure from Japan, France closed the line on 16 July 1940 to cut supplies to China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During the Japanese occupation Japanese National Railways Class 9600 2-8-0 locomotives were shipped to aid their invasion, and after the completion of the “death railway” it was possible for a time to send through traffic to Burma and hence to the Indian metre gauge network. This is now not possible, as sections of the railway were destroyed during the conflicts since World War II. [16]

During the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979, the railway bridge across the Nanxi River at the two countries’ border was destroyed, and the trade between China and Vietnam came to a halt for several years. [17]

Twice-a-week, cross-border passenger services operated as late as 2000; the second-class passengers had to transfer from a Chinese train to a Vietnamese train at the border station, while the first-class car passengers could remain on board as their car was transferred to the train across the border. However, landslides caused frequent delays. [18]

Eventually, in 2005 the passenger service on the Chinese section of the railway (the Kunming–Hekou railway) was terminated,[9] [10] and most of the passenger coaches were donated to Myanmar. [19]

In 2008, a passenger service on a small part (37 km long) of the Chinese section of the railway was resumed, but on a very limited scale. As of 2012, two daily trains ran from Kunming North railway station on the metre-gauge tracks to Shizui (石咀) Station on the western outskirts of Kunming, and to Wangjiaying (王家营) east of the city. [19]

As of 2016, this service still continued, with 2 daily trains to Wangjiaying and one to Shizui. In December 2017, in order to leave room for the construction of the Kunming No.4 Metro line, the commuter train service between Shizui and Wangjiaying was terminated again, and parts of the metre-gauge railway in the urban area was demolished. Freight services continued to operate throughout the Kunming–Hekou railway. [20] Some rolling stock continues to be maintained in working condition. According to a 2015 news report, over the seven preceding years, 63 metre-gauge flatcars had been refurbished at the Kunming North Station’s workshop, for use in trans-border container shipping. [21] In 2016, 100 mothballed freight railcars were selected to be refurbished at the Kaiyuan workshop and to be put into use again. [22]

Among important cargo types moved internationally on this line are chemical fertilizers. [21] Since 2015, direct trains have been run from the phosphate fertilizer manufacturers in Kaiyuan to consumers in Vietnam. [23][24] In the opposite direction, sulphur and zinc ore concentrate are imported to China from Vietnam. [24]

The overall role of the Kunming–Hekou meter-gauge line in the Sino-Vietnamese trade significantly declined in the 21st century, as compared to the railway’s heyday in the first half of the 20th century. According to one article dated 2015 and describing the trade as it operated prior to the opening of the standard-gauge railway to Hekou in 2014, the most common route for cargo shipped from Kunming to Vietnam would be the rather circuitous one: via the Nanning–Kunming railway (opened 1997), the sea port of Fangchenggang, and then by ship to Haiphong. [25] However, since 2015, the amount of trans-border shipments on the meter-gauge line has been on the increase again. [23][24] According to a 2017 report, the first quarter of 2017 saw 166,200 tons of freight shipped by rail on the trans-border line, which represented a 66.2% increase from the same period of the previous year, and 12-year record. [24] This consisted of 74,100 tons of fertilizers exported from China to Vietnam and 92,100 tons of sulphur and zinc ore concentrate imported to China from Vietnam. [24]

On the Vietnamese side, the Hanoi–Haiphong and Hanoi–Lào Cai railways continue to be important for domestic and trans-border cargo transportation. Passenger trains continue to run both from Hanoi to Haiphong and from Hanoi to the border town of Lào Cai. [20]

3. The Disposition of the Beyer-Garratt Locomotives from East Africa.

Whatever the intention of the Kenya Uganda Railway (KUR) in sending their locos to Indo-China, it seems that they will have ended up on the French-owned line from Vietnam to Yunnan. There is some supporting evidence for this …..

Huochemi on the National Preservation Forum [28] comments that:

“although Charles Small in “Far Wheels” has a chapter on the KUR/EAR, he does not deal with these Garratts. The roster info is truncated as Small notes that this info was given in the Railway Magazine. He does not mention the date but it must have been prior to 1959, the date of his book. There is a distant shot of a Garratt in service on the Yunnan Railway in “Chemins de Fer de la France d’Outre-Mer” (p131).

After Pearl Harbour, there was good reason for Britain to help out with motive power for the (essentially French) Yunnan Railway but in 1939 it does not seem so likely and indeed, according to Chang Kia-Ngau, Britain was still minded to take note of what the Japanese thought of potential unfriendly actions such as providing anything that might be construed as military aid to the Chinese.

It could of course have simply been a meeting of minds i.e. France wanted some more motive power and the KUR was happy to sell. My first thought was that the locos may have been intended for the Burma-Yunnan Railway, in which British had a greater interest, and discussions were underway from 1938 on this. Only a portion of that line was built and it may be that the Garratts’ use on the Yunnan Railway line was intended to be temporary (the only route in was via Vietnam and the Yunnan Railway), but in the event they remained there permanently.”

M636C on the Vietnam thread on the Classic Trains Forum [29] comments:

“There was … a former French line to Kunming … which remained metre-gauge. This line had 4-8-2+2-8-4 Beyer-Garratts purchased second hand from the East African Railways.”

Tkautzor on Les Forums de Passions Metrique et Etroite provides some very helpful comments in French (translation below):

Selon Frédéric Hulot dans “Les Chemins de Fer de la France d’Outre-Mer” les six Garratts du KUR ont été achetés par le CIY en 1939 et déchargés en octobre de la même année, mais n’ont vu que peu de service avant que la ligne coupée en juillet 1940. Alors qu’elles étaient capables de soulever des charges de 500 tonnes sur les pentes les plus raides de la ligne, ils n’étaient pas populaires auprès des équipages car elles ne pouvaient pas être tournées sur les plaques tournantes de la ligne en raison de leurs longueurs.”

(According to Frédéric Hulot in “The Railways of France Overseas” the six Garratts of KUR were bought by the CIY in 1939 and unloaded in October of the same year, but saw little service before the line was closed in July 1940. While they were able to pull loads of 500 tonnes on the steeper slopes of the line, they were not popular with crews as they could not be turned on the turntables on the line because of their lengths.)

My thanks for the comments made by members of different railway forums which appear to have answered the question raised by this blog!☺ As huochemi says on 25th June 2018:

“Just to be clear, we know what happened to the Garratts. All six are shown on the 1948 roster for the Yunnan Railway, and five for the “1960s” (60 年代) (from Yunnan Province History – Railway History 云南省志 – 铁道志 published by the Yunnan People’s Publishing House in 1994). My interest is how they came to be sold by the KUR to Yunnan. Incidentally, looking at your updated note, I cannot see anything in the ALCO Works List for 2-8-8-2s for Burma/China around 1941, and I wonder if it ever got as far as a firm order.” [28]


  1., accessed on 23rd June 2018.
  2. British Hansard, 17 February 1898 – Early discussion of the line. … Vol 53 c865 … (MR. JOSEPH WALTON(Yorkshire, W.R., Barnsley): … I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the great commercial importance to British interests of opening up early railway communication between Burma and China, the recently reported acquiescence of the Chinese Government in such a policy will be promptly acted on by Her Majesty’s Government causing the necessary surveys to be made for a continuation of the Burma railway system into Yunnan? …….. THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. CURZON,)Lancashire, S.W., Southport: … The question of the hon. Member is based upon a report which I am not in a position to confirm. In any case, I think it will be advisable to construct the railway to the Chinese Frontier before coming to any decision with reference to possible continuations beyond.)
  3. Archibald John Little, The Far East, The Far East Cambridge Library Collection – Travel and Exploration in Asia Edition illustrated, reprint, reissue, Cambridge University Press 2010, p124.
  4. Yunnan Trade Districts and Routes”, 1911 as published in Daily Consular and Trade Reports, p1223ffp1223ff
  5.–Burma_railway, accessed on 23rd June 2018.
  6.  “TOY railway”The Northern StandardDarwin, NT: National Library of Australia. 8 December 1939. p. 15, accessed on 23rd June 2018 & Construction Miracle: China’s Yunnan Burma Railroad. Royal Arch Gunnison, San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, 27th November 1941.
  7. The Yunnan-Burma Road; The Geographical Journal, Vol. 45 No. 3, March 1940, p161ff.
  8., accessed on 14th June 2018.
  9. Roel Ramaer; Steam Locomotives of the East African Railways; David & Charles Locomotive Studies. Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1974, p88.
  10. A. E. DurrantGarratt Locomotives of the World (rev. and enl. ed.). Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1981, p177.
  11., accessed on 24th June 2018.
  12. accessed on 24th June 2018.
  13. Jean-François Rousseau; “An Imperial Railway Failure: The Indochina-Yunnan Railway, 1898–1941;” Journal of Transport History, Vol. 35, No. 1, June 2014.
  14. H. WhatesThe Politician’s Handbook, Vacher & Sons, 1901, p. 146.
  15. Clarence B. Davis; Kenneth E. Wilburn Jr.; Ronald E. Robinson; “Railway Imperialism in China, 1895–1939”Railway Imperialism. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991. p159.
  16.  A Picture Album of Steam Locomotives in China, 1876 – 2001. China Rail Publishing House.
  17. William D. Middleton;  Yet There Isn’t a Train I Wouldn’t Take: Railway Journeys, Railroads Past and Present Series, Indiana University Press, 2000. p189.
  18. Wayne Arnold; “This Train Beats Walking (Sometimes);” New York Times, 3rd December 2000, accessed on 24th June 2018.
  19. 滇越铁路徒步第一程(昆明——宜良) (A walk along the Kunming-Vietnam Railway. Part 1: Kunming-Chenggong);, (Chinese), accessed on 24th June 2018.
  20., accessed on 24th June 2018.
  21. 昆明铁路局修竣63辆米轨平车投入国际联运, 4th May 2015 (Chinese), accessed on 24th June 2018.
  22. “上半年中越米轨铁路国际联运增长106.9% (The first six months’ international freight volume on the meter-gauge China–Vietnam railway has increased by 106.9% [compared to the previous year])”, 新华云南 (Xinhua Yunnan), 4th August 2016 (Chinese), accessed on 24th June 2018.
  23. Yunnan’s First Fertilizer Train Bounded for Vietnam, 19th March 2015, accessed on 24th June 2018.
  24. 胡, 晓蓉 (Hu Xiaorong); 张, 伟明 (Zhang Weiming) (2017-04-04), “中越米轨铁路国际联运运量持续攀升 (The volume of international shipments on the China-Vietnam meter-gauge railway continues to climb)”, 云南日报 (Yunnan Ribao) (Chinese, accessed on 24th June 2018.
  25. Lu, Hua (陆华); Guo, Weina (郭薇娜) (2015-04-24), 昆明铁路局:国际铁路联运开启云南货运新篇章 (Kunming Railway Bureau: An international railway link opens a new chapter in Yunnan’s freight transportation)(Chinese), accessed on 24th June 2018.
  26. Mallets built for export by North American locomotive builders. Includes reference to Yunnan/Burma railway 2-8-8-2 engines, accessed on 24th June 2018.
  27., accessed on 24th June 2018.
  28., accessed on 24th and 25th June 2018.
  29., accessed on 24th June 2018.
  30., accessed on 25th June 2018.

The Uganda Railway – Part 24 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Part B (1927 to 1948)

Locomotives on the Kenya and Uganda Railway and Harbours Lines (1927- 1948)

In 1926/27 the Uganda Railway was replaced first by the Kenya and Uganda Railways in 1926 and then by the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours (KURH) Corporation in 1927, when the powers-that-be placed Mombasa Harbour into the same company as the railways.

Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours (KURH) ran harbours, railways and lake and river ferries in Kenya Colony and the UgandaProtectorate until 1948. It included the Uganda Railway, which it extended from Nakuru to Kampala in 1931. In the same year it built a branch line to Mount Kenya. [1]

In 1948, it was merged with the Tanganyika Railway to form the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation which provided rail, harbour and inland shipping services in all three territories until the High Commission’s successor, the East African Community, was dissolved by its member states in 1977. [1]

The EB3 Class, later Class 24

One of the most reliable of classes on the system were the old EB3 Class which eventually became EAR Class 24. They were numbered 2401-2462 by the EAR and served right through the KURH tenure of the railway system. As noted in the last post, these were 4-8-0 locomotives. The last of the three pictures of this Class, and the largest (below) shows one of the Class at Nairobi Railway Museum in the mid-1980s (© torgormaig on the National Preservation Forum). [11] This locomotive was originally given a Class number of 2412 but when No. 2401 was made a Ugandan loco as part of the arrangements for the devolution of the East African Railways into their constituent countries, No. 2412 was renumbered No. 2401 in Kenya.

In addition to these locos, the UR bequeathed a series of different locos to the KUR: including its MS Class of 2-6-4T locomotives which became the KUR EE Class and eventually the EAR Class 10; its GC Class which became the KUR EB2 Class; its G Class which became the KUR GA Class and later still, the KUR EB Class.

The KUR went on to order a series of powerful locomotives:

The EA Class, later Class 28

The KURH EA class, later known as the EAR 28 class, were 2-8-2 steam locomotives. The six members of the class were built in 1928 for the Kenya-Uganda Railway by Robert Stephenson and Company in Darlington, England, and were later operated by the KURH’s successor, the East African Railways (EAR). [2][3]

Iain Mulligan took a number of photographs of this class of locomotives. One of a Class 28 taking on furness fuel oil at Nairobi MPD. The 28 Class were the largest non-articulated locomotives on the system. Mulligan also shows No. 2804 Kilifi being prepared for service at Nairobi Shed. [4]

Built by Messrs R Stevenson in 1928, they were originally designated the EA Class by the KUR&H. With their 4ft 3in driving wheels, these 2-8-2s looked far more like the locomotives built for the UK home market and looked distinctly un-African.East African Railways – EAR Class 28 (KURH – EA Class) 2-8-2 steam locomotive Nr. 2801 “Mvita” (Robert Stephenson Locomotive Works 3921 / 1928). [5] The ex-works photograph for this Class is below. [6]The EA Class were well-liked by drivers and firemen. They initially worked the mail trains between Nairobi and Mombasa and by 1950 had completed a million miles. Unfortunately, they were relegated to hauling goods trains at high speed and as this resulted in significant mechanical troubles which led to their withdrawal in the 1960s (c) Kevin Patience. [15]

The East African Railways and Harbours Magazine carried a single page article on the Class 28 locos in 1955. [7]

The EC Class Garratts

The KUR EC class was a class of  4-8-2+2-8-4 Garratt-type articulated steam locomotives. The four members of the class, built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester, England, were the first Garratts to be ordered and acquired by the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR). [3]. They entered service in 1926, and, after a relatively short but successful career with the KUR, were sold and exported to Indo-China in August 1939. [8] They became the forebears of a dynasty of power -massive locomotives working on narrow-gauge rails, functioning best because they were articulated and could spread their power and weight over a significant number of axles.

The ED1 Class, later Class 11

The KUR ED1 class was a class of 2-6-2T steam locomotives built for the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR). The 27 members of the ED1 class entered service on the KUR between 1926 and 1930. They were later operated by the KUR’s successor, the East African Railways (EAR), and reclassified as part of the EAR 11 class.[3]

In 1930, four similar locomotives were built for the Tanganyika Railway (TR) as the TR ST class. These locomotives differed from the ED1 class units only in being fitted with vacuum brake equipment instead of Westinghouse brakes and air compressor. They, too, were later operated by the EAR, and reclassified as part of the EAR’s 11 class.[3][9] The two images above show KUR ED1 Class which later became EAR Class 11. [10]The ED1 locomotives were the last locomotives to be supplied to the network without superheaters. At first they were used on branch-line traffic, but later in life they could be seen on shunting duties across the whole network, (c) Kevin Patience. [15]

The EC1 Class Garratts, later EAR Class 50 and 51

The KUR EC1 class, later known as the EAR 50 class and the EAR 51 class were also 4-8-2+2-8-4 Garratt-type articulated steam locomotives. The KURH numbered these locomotive No. 45 to No. 66. The EAR numbered them 5001 to 5018 and 5101, 5102. The last of the class is shown in the works photos below. The first twenty members of the class were built in 1927 by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester, England, for the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR). They entered service in 1928, and, with two exceptions, were later operated by the KUR’s successor, the East African Railways (EAR), as its 50 class. [3][12]  The two exceptions were sold to Indo-china in the late 1930s.

The remaining two members of the EC1 class were built and entered service in 1930, and were different in some respects. They later became the EAR’s 51 class. [3][12]KUR No 54 ‘Nandi’ departing Nairobi with a passenger train (c) Andrew Templer. Class EC1 No 54 was to become EAR&H 50 Class 5008. [13]KUR Postcard showing KUR Class EC1 still in grey but sporting EAR&H 50 Class number board as it heads a Nairobi bound freight over the Mau Summit. The locomotive number of the 50 Class was also illuminated on either side of the headlight, (c) EAR&H Magazine. [14]

The EC2 Class Garratts, later EAR Class 52

The KUR EC2 class, later known as the EAR 52 class, was also a class  4-8-2+2-8-4 Garratt-type locomotives. There were 10 members of the Class. KUR ordered them unusually from the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, Scotland, instead of Beyer, Peacock & Co., the builder of all the KUR’s other Garratt locomotives. They entered service in 1931, and were later operated by the KUR’s successor, the East African Railways (EAR), both in Kenya/Uganda and in Tanzania. [3]Source: the Beyer Garratt website ( The picture is annotated  as follows: Kenya-Uganda Railway class EC2 – No. 68 (NBL 24071/1931) as East African Railways 5202. (Chris Greville collection). [16]An EC2 at Nairobi Shed. After working for some years on the Kenya Uganda lines, theory moved to the Central Line and were eventually scrapped in the late 1960s, (c) Kevin Patience. [15]

The EC3 Class Garratts, later EAR Class 57

The KUR EC3 class, later known as the EAR 57 class, was a class of 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratt-type articulated steam locomotives. The twelve members of the class were built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester, England, for the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR). They entered service between 1939 and 1941, and were later operated by the KUR’s successor, the East African Railways (EAR). [3][19]

The Class was numbered No. 77 to No. 88 on the KUR. The EAR numbered these locos as No. 5701 to 5712. There is an excellent article on-line about the making of a G-Scale model of No.77 ‘Mengo’. [20] These were the first locomotives anywhere in the world built with the 4-8-4+4-8-4 wheel arrangement. “The huge boiler and extended wheel arrangement that this system of articulation permits is noteworthy, and the fact that the engine is to operate on a 50-lb. rail, has a maximum axleload of less than 12 tons, and can negotiate a 275-ft. radius curve, yet weighs 186 tons, makes this locomotive a conspicuous example, of the designing capacity and ingenuity of the British locomotive manufacturer. The Kenya & Uganda Railways have
used Garratt engines for many years, and before long the 879 miles of main-line will be operated almost entirely by this type of engine, which is an indication of the state of reliability and availability it has attained, and how it can give to a railway restricted by a narrow gauge and light rail the carrying capacity of a standard-gauge railway.” [21]

Designed by Beyer, Peacock & Co. Ltd. to the detailed specification of the Chief Mechanical Engineer, Mr. K. C. Strahan …, and the subsequent requirements of Mr. H. B. Stoyle, then present Chief Mechanical Engineer (1939) and previously Locomotive Running Superintendent
of the railway, these locomotives were the next step in a significant series of Garratt locomotives supplied to the Kenya & Uganda Railways.  “Perhaps nowhere in the world have Garratt engines been worked more intensively, the mileages obtained being a record for a narrow-gauge line of this kind. The new design not only embodie[d] the makers‘ improvements
culled from the experience of Garratts in service in various parts of the world, but include[d] various modifications and alterations suggested by the railway, based on its long experience,
which combine[d] to make these new engines particularly interesting and outstanding
examples.” [22]

The locomotives are massive, particularly, “considering the restrictive conditions of a metre-gauge and 50-lb. rail. On this light rail (half the weight of the rail in Great Britain) and on a gauge 1 ft. 5 1/8 in. less with more difficult grade and curvature conditions, the tractive effort of the engine is equal to the biggest passenger engines in Great Britain while the boiler is practically equal in horsepower, having a similar size grate and an even larger barrel diameter despite the total height to chimney top from rail level of 12 ft. 5 1/2 in., which is nearly a foot lower
than the highest British dimension. The locomotive further weighs roughly 20 tons more than the largest British types, the width over the running board is 9 ft. 6 in., and the footplate area is
considerably larger than that of many standard gauge engines.” [22]

Interestingly it was specified that these engines were designed to, “facilitate conversion
to 3 ft. 6 in. gauge with the minimum of alteration; thus the cylinders and rods and motion are centred for the wider gauge, a wider wheel centre providing for the shifting of the tyres
outwards. The engine [was also] designed to take care of the possible conversion of the Westinghouse brake to vacuum, when the gauge is altered, and also for the ultimate introduction of automatic couplers. Despite these features, however, a far greater measure
of accessibility [was] obtained throughout the locomotive than hitherto.” [22]

The full design details for these engines can be obtained from the July 1939 Railway Gazette article. [22] EC3 Class KUR No. 87 ‘Karamoja’ at Nairobi Railway Museum in 2012, [23] and again, below. [24]Details of the Class 57 provided by the EAR&H Magazine. [25]Class 57 No. 5711 on Nairobi shed on 15th January 1971, it lasted another two years before being withdrawn for preservation, © Terry Bagworth. [26]Line-up of East African Railways motive power at Nairobi MPD with 60 Class Garratt 6024 Sir James Hayes Saddler prominent left and 57/58 Class right. Five 59 Class Garratts, two 29 (Tribal) Class and two tank engines are also quite clearly discernable.  The post card was probably produced around 1955-6 – EAR&H Postcard via Cliff Rossenrode. [27]

The EC4 Class Garratts, later EAR Class 54

The KUR EC4 class, later known as the EAR 54 class, was a class of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge 4-8-2+2-8-4 Garratt-type articulated steam locomotives developed under and for use in wartime conditions.

The seven members of the class were built during the latter stages of World War II by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in Manchester, England, for the War Department of the United Kingdom and the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR). They entered service on the KUR in 1944, and were later operated by the KUR’s successor, the East African Railways. [28]The official works photograph of a EC4 Class Garratt.Class 54 No. 5407, above, at Nairobi. Formerly the KUR EC4 Class, seven of these powerful Garratts were received in 1944. Despite their impressive tractive effort, the 54s were not a success and were demanding on maintenance and unpopular with footplate crews, © Iain Mulligan. [4]

Adjacent, Class 54 Garratt at Nakuru Yard, June 1963, © Neil Rossenrode. [29]

The EC5 Class Garratts, later EAR Class 55

The KUR EC5 class was another class of 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratts Thet were built during the latter stages o the Second World War at Beyer, Peacock in Gorton, Manchester for the War Department. The two members of the class entered service with the KUR in 1945. They were part of a batch of 20 locomotives, the rest of which were sent to either India or Burma. [3][30]

Class EC5 Garratt, later EAR No. 5505 at the Nairobi Railway Museum in 2012. [30]

The following year, 1946, four locomotives from that batch were acquired by the Tanganyika Railway (TR) from Burma. They entered service on the TR as the TR GB class. [3]

In 1949, upon the merger of the KUR and the TR to form the East African Railways (EAR), the EC5 and GB classes were combined as the EAR 55 class. In 1952, the EAR acquired five more of the War Department batch of 20 from Burma, where they had been Burma Railways class GD; these five locomotives were then added to the EAR 55 class, bringing the total number of that class to 11 units. [3][30]

Iain Mulligan has two excellent monochrome pictures of one of this class of loco. Class 55 No. 5509 is shown in Nairobi having just arrived from Voi in the two photographs concerned. No. 5509 was ex-Burma Railways. The pictures can be found by following the link in reference [4]No. 5505 on 17th November 1979 shown in KUR grey before it was repainted in EAR maroon. [26]

The last locomotives ordered by the KUR were a number of slightly modified EC5 locomotives which were due to be designated as a separate Class – EC6. Indeed these locomotives were designated EC6 by the EAR for a short time before all its locomotives were reclassified.

The next post will look at the locomotives introduced to the network in Kenya and Uganda by the EAR.


  1., accessed on 17th June 2018.
  2., accessed on 17th June 2018.
  3. Roel Ramaer; Steam Locomotives of the East African Railways; David & Charles Locomotive Studies. Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1974, p42-85.
  4., accessed on 17th June 2018.
  5. accessed on 17th June 2018.
  6. accessed on 17th June 2018.
  7. Staff writer (April 1955). “”28″ Class Locomotive” (PDF). East African Railways and Harbours MagazineEast African Railways and Harbours. Volume 2(2): p57. Accessed on 17th June 2018.
  8. A. E. DurrantGarratt Locomotives of the World (rev. and enl. ed.). Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1981, p177.
  9., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  10., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  11. torgormaig on the National Preservation Forum;, accessed on 15th June 2018.
  12., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  13., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  14. Not used
  15. Kevin Patience; Steam in East Africa; Heinemann Educational Books (E.A.) Ltd., Nairobi, 1976.
  16., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  17., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  18. Not used.
  19., accessed on 19th June 2018.
  20., accessed on 19th June 2018.
  21. The Railway Gazette; 21st july 1939 – Beyer, Peacock & Co. Ltd. Locomotive Engineers Manchester; accessed via ref. [20] above on 19th June 2018.
  22. The Railway Gazette; 21st july 1939 – New 4-8-4+4-8-4 Metre-Gauge Beyer-Garratt Locomotives, Kenya & Uganda Railways; accessed via ref. [20] above on 19th June 2018.
  23., accessed on 19th June 2018.
  24., accessed on 19th June 2018.
  25. Staff writer (February 1955). “”57″ Class Locomotives” (PDF). East African Railways and Harbours Magazine. East African Railways and Harbours. Volume 2 (1): p22, accessed on 19th June 2018.
  26., accessed on 18th June 2018.
  27. accessed on 1st June 2018.
  28., accessed on 19th June 2018.
  29., accessed on 19th June 2018.
  30., accessed on 19th June 2018.


The Uganda Railway – Part 23 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Part A (1896 to 1926)

The featured image shows a busy Nairobi Railway Station from above.

To finish my series of posts about the Uganda Railway, I want to focus on the locomotives and rolling stock on the network.

It was my intention, before starting this exercise to cover all locomotives and rolling stock in a single blog post. As I began to review the available information in books and on the internet, it seemed that there was enough material to justify more than one post. This and the following posts will not be fully comprehensive in nature but I hope that they provide some insights that are valuable.

Probably, along with many other people, my attention is primarily drawn to the Garratt locomotives on these lines. However, I will attempt to reflect the full range of motive power and rolling stock on the line, references are given where ever possible. Everything in this first post predates the arrival of the Garratt locomotives.

Early Locomotives on the Uganda Railway (1896-1926)

At first, all locomotives were imported secondhand from India and it may have been this fact that proved decisive in determining the track-gauge for the line. On 11th December 1895, George Whitehouse arrived at Mombasa with the mandate of the Uganda Railway Committee in London to build the “Lunatic line”. He was a veteran of railway building having served as Chief Engineer in Mexico, South Africa,South America and in India. The first rails were laid at Kilindini on 30th May 1896. [1] The first two locomotives arrived from India in May 1896. They were designated ‘A’ Class and were built in 1871/72 by Dubs of Glasgow for the Indian State Railways.

I was fortunate enough in 1994, to find a copy of Kevin Patience’s book, “Steam in East Africa,” in a Nairobi bookshop. This book was published in 1976 by Heinemann Educational Books (E.A.) Ltd in Nairobi. Some of the pictures below are taken from this book.‘A’ Class Locomotive imported from India in May 1896. [2]

The first two imports worked between Kilindini and the assembly yard at Mombasa. They were officially retired in 1903 but there are reports of one still working in 1917. [2]Two ‘E’ Class locos (as above) built in 1878 arrived from India in June 1896, along with six secondhand  ‘N’ Class locos. The ‘E’ Class locos worked up to the rail-head until George Whitehouse imported new ‘F’ Class steam locomotives in September 1896. [2]Steam Engines being unloaded at Mombasa docks, © Nigel Pavitt. [3] The picture here is of a Garratt boiler being unloaded, probably in the late 1920s.Erecting ‘N’ Class locos at Kilindini in 1896. A further 20 secondhand ‘N’ Class locomotives were imported from India and remained in service until 1931. [2]Between 1896 and 1898, 34 new ‘F’ Class locos were delivered from Britain by Kitson of Leeds, Neilson Reid of Glasgow and the Vulcan Foundry of Lancashire. [1] The ‘F’ Class loco above is shown with a supply train at Maji ya Chumvi. These new ‘F’ Class locos were the first new locomotives bought for the line and were based on the older ‘F’ Class Indian Railway locos. [2]Torrential rain held up construction work for 22 days at Mazeras in November 1896. The rain caused subsidence and derailments. [2]Similar problems arose near Maji ya Chumvi in May 1897 when 24 inches of rain fell. This mishap involved another ‘F’ Class loco and 23 days of work was lost while repairs were made to embankments and bridges. [2]When the railhead reached Voi a triangle was installed which allowed the locomotives to turn to head back to Mombasa. I am not sure whether the locos shown in the image above are ‘N’ Class or ‘F’ Class. [3]‘F’ Class Loco on Tsavo River Bridge. [2]An ‘N’ Class Loco with water train near Nairobi during construction of the line. in 1897/8 no supplies for locomotives were shipped from the UK because of industrial action in the UK factories. These older Indian ‘N’ Class locomotives kept construction on track during a crucial phase of the project. [2]

The UK strike in the locomotive industry in 1897/8 caused a complete cessation of supplies of spares and new locos. Once the UK strike was over, it would have been reasonable to expect that new locos and supplies would reach East Africa from the UK. However, the high demand within the UK meant that the companies involved could not prioritise work abroad and it quickly became evident that motive power would have to be found from a different source. The Uganda Railway Committee turned to the American market and purchased 36 locos of 2-6-0 wheel arrangement.Thirty-six new 2-6-0 locomotives  were imported from the US by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in 1899 and 1900. This became the “B” class of UR. [2] I cannot ascertain the location of the image above, however, the image below is taken at Nairobi Station. The early station building is evident.The “F” class locomotive weighed 30 tons and her tender could carry 1,500 gallons of water. The “B” class weight 25 tons and carried the same amount of water as the “F” class. Both the locos were coal burning (the coal was imported from South Africa). Wood fuel replaced coal in 1903 as it was less expensive and readily available. However, it produced more smoke than coal. UR administration ensured plantations of eucalyptus and other fast- growing trees were established to provide wood fuel for locomotives. [1]During the construction of the line it was necessary to make provision for work to continue across the Rift Valley floor while a difficult task of constructing the route down the escarpment took place. At the end of September 1899, the rail-head had reached the eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley (7,500ft above sea-level). [2]

An Incline was built to move construction materials to the valley floor, two sections of the incline were set at 45 degrees, special cars had to be constructed to carry equipment and in particular locomotives. The incline opened in May 1900 and remained in use until November 1901. Use of the incline advanced the rail-head westward by 170 miles while the line down the escarpment was being built. The pictures immediately adjacent, above and below show the top of the escarpment and two images of a locomotive being lowered to the valley floor. [2]One of the  temporary trellis viaducts being crossed by an ‘N’ Class Loco near Elburgon in 1900. [2]An ‘F’ Class Loco narrowly misses  R. O. Preston on the trip up the line on the Mau Escarpment during the building of the line. [2]These locomotives had a short life on the network. Eighteen were supplied in 1913. They were 0-6-6-0 Mallet ‘MT’ Class Locomotives. Disappointing performance and high maintenance costs led to them being relegated to secondary duties and eventually being scrapped in 1926 as the Beyer Garratt locomotive began to arrive. [2] Their presence on the system was heralded by, “Railway Wonders of the World,” with the picture shown below. [13]Nasmyth-Wilson supplied eight of these 2-6-4T ‘EE’ later Class 10 locos to the railway in 1913 and 1914. They gave good service right up to their due date for replacement in 1939. The outbreak of the Second World War kept them in service and eventually they were not withdrawn until 1965! [2]No. 1003 (393) on display at Jamhuri Park, (c) Kevin Patience. [5]In 1925, the Vulcan Foundry shipped two lots of 2-6-2T locomotives (as above) to the Uganda Railway. One batch of 6 locomotives of which the photograph below is the official Vulcan Foundry works photo. [6]The second batch included 15 locomotives of the same wheel arrangement, of which, the locos in the photographs below may be examples. The first, photographed in East Africa and perhaps in the 1930s. [7] The second, also in East Africa but taken at around the beginning of 21st Century at Nairobi Railway Museum.The Nairobi Railway Museum brochure says that this was the last saturated steam locomotive class used by the railway. Experiments in the 1920s showed that super-heated steam was far more efficient. Originally used for shunting, they were often to be seen hauling branch line traffic, (c) Hawknose Harlequin. [11]The UR GB class, known later as the UR / KUR ‘EB1’ class, and later still as part of the EAR 22 class, was a class of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge 4-8-0 steam locomotives built by North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, Scotland, for the Uganda Railway (UR). [8] The design of the GB class was based upon that of the earlier UR G class. The 34 members of the GB class entered service on the UR in 1919, and continued in service after the UR was renamed the Kenya-Uganda Railway (KUR) in 1926. Some of them were in service long enough to be also operated by the KUR’s successor, the East African Railways (EAR) as part of its 22 class, from 1948 until the last ones were withdrawn in 1964. [9][10]This picture is taken on the mainline extension to Uganda at Eldoret it shows an ‘EB1’ Cl;ass Locomotive. This 4-8-0 design proved to be very successful on East African lines and further versions of the 4-8-0 were produced – the ‘EB2’ and ‘EB3’ class.Two ‘EB2’ Class Locos were introduced in 1919 – these were super-heated locos. The trials undertaken with the ‘EB2’s (URGC Class) were a great success and in 1923, the first of many ‘EB3’ locomotives arrived.The two GC class locomotives were heavily worked as trial engines, and then written off in 1934 after proving the value of super-heating. [12]An early locomotive on display in a relatively dilapidated state at Nairobi Railway Museum in 1994. The plate at the back of the tender shows No.301 which suggests that it is a Tanganyika Railway locomotive of the Class ‘EB3’ which might later have been EAR&H Class 23 No. 2302.Another early locomotive on display in a refurbished state at Nairobi Railway Museum in the early 21st Century. Incidentally, these two pictures do not show the same locomotive, careful review of the two pictures will reveal the differences between the two! [4] The loco immediately above is shown below, first in an early picture from the Railway Museum, (c) Thomas Kautzor, [5] and then in 2005 in a refurbished state shown in the second picture. The locomotive concerned was originally numbered No. 173, then No. 2412 and then No.2401.The original Class 24  No. 2401 sits in a forlorn state at Tororo Railway Station in the mid-1980s, © torgormaig on the National Preservation Forum. [15]

The locomotive No. 301 in the earlier picture is shown in the next two shots below during and after refurbishment, and repainting, lettering and numbering. [5]It is likely that No. 301 actually became EAR No. 2302 as No. 300 became EAR No. 2301.

Further examples of Class ‘EB3’ were shipped to Kenya in 1923 from the Vulcan Foundry – No. 162 below is pictured at their works. No 170, below No. 162, is shown in Kenya, it was later numbered 2409 which means that No. 162 became No. 2401, although No. 173 eventually took over the No. 2401 (after first being number 2412).No. 177 above will have become Class 24 No. 2416. [5]Another loco of the same Class (EB3) found on a trawl of the internet. [14] Once renumbered to Class 24, the numbering ran from No. 2401 to No. 2462.

My original intention was to post a single post on locomotive and rolling stock. I anticipate that this is the first, now, of 3 or 4 posts. The next post will start with locomotives used by the Kenya-Uganda Railway which took over from the Uganda Railway in 1926/27.


  1., accessed on 13th June 2018.
  2. Kevin Patience; Steam in East Africa; Heinemann Educational Books (E.A.) Ltd., Nairobi, 1976.
  3., accessed on 19th May 2018.
  4., accessed on 12th June 2018.
  5., accessed on 15th June 2018.
  6., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  7., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  8., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  9. Roel Ramaer; Steam Locomotives of the East African Railways; David & Charles Locomotive Studies. Newton Abbot, Devon, UK, 1974, p42-44.
  10., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  11., accessed on 16th June 2018.
  12., accessed 17th June 2016.
  13., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  14., accessed on 17th June 2018.
  15., accessed on 15th June 2018.





The Uganda Railway – Part 22 – Jinja via Mbulamuti to Namasagali

There were two very early railway lines in Uganda. Port Bell to Kampala was one. The other was an earlier line from Jinja to Namasagali via Mbulamuti. We encountered this line as we travelled from Tororo to Jinja earlier in this series of posts. Indeed the original line from Tororo travelled to Mbulamuti to meet the older line from Jinja to Namasagali. At that time there was a good justification for this. Namasagali was a significant point on an ‘overland’ journey from Mombasa to Cairo! Meeting the line from Jinja to Namasagali at its mid-pint allowed easy access to both significant destinations and beyond them to the Nile and to Lake Victoria.

Until the early sixties the main line from Jinja ran to Tororo via Mbulamuti which was the Junction for Namasagali. At one time it had been possible to travel in a through first class coach from Nairobi to Namasagali, the coach being detached at Mbulamuti and added to the 3rd Class service which ran from Jinja to Namasagali. By 1962 there is no mention of this service in the timetable, nor of sailings between Namasagali and Masindi Port.

We have already looked at the length of this line between Jinja and Mbulamuti in this series. The relevant link is:

So, we will begin this post by focussing on Mbulamuti.

Malcolm McCrow says that “Down Mail Trains (and School Trains) from Kampala used to arrive at Mbulamuti after dark having left Jinja some two hours previously. Perhaps a young schoolboy who had been given a multi-coloured torch at Christmas would play its beam on the station sign which read Mbulamuti for Namasagali but few of us schoolboys at that time had any idea of what exactly was the significance of Namasagali.” [1]

West-bound Mail Trains arrived at Mbulamuti in daylight and, as at most stations, it was possible to buy fruit and other food items from platform vendors, (c) Neville Webb. [1]

Mbulamuti was busy when trains stopped at the station. It is sad that all of this activity has ceased and that Mbulamuti no longer has a place on the country’s rail network.

In the image below a local goods train from Jinja pauses at Mbulamuti en route for Namasagali while Tribal Class 3110 Bakiga waits at the platform, (c) Neville Webb.

As we have already noted, the line south of Mbulamuti has been covered in another post. However, it is worth seeing the third monochrome picture in the adjacent sequence. In it a Class 24 heads a mixed passenger-freight train into Kakira, which was on the old line between Jinja and Mbulamuti, (c) EAR&H Magazine. [2]
In the satellite image below, the pink line represents the route of the old Tororo to Jinja line and the blue line represents the first part of the branch-line to Namasagali.

The town of Mbulamuti is visible at the top of the image, left of centre. The station, in later years, was on the mainline. The branch, which was once the mainline, travelled to the south of the township and we will pick up its route on other satellite images and maps as we progress along the route. The map below is an extract from OpenStreetMap and shows the old mainline (in dark grey) and the branch (as a light-grey line to the northwest of Mbulamuti). The River is the Nile flowing north from Jinja.

The route from Mbulamuti starts from south of the town, travels up its east side and then meanders following the countours as much as possible towards Namasagali. The railway formation has been converted into a murram road which snakes through the landscape as shown ont he adjacent larger scale extract from OpenStreetMap. Mbulamuti is in the bottom right corner of the map.

The first class coach in the first monochrome picture above has now (below) been detached from the Mail Train and takes up position next to the caboose in the mixed traffic train for Namasagali where, as the sign says, passengers can join a steamer service which in these days connected with other steamers which in turn connected with yet other steamer and rail services which ultimately took passengers all the way to Cairo, (c) Neville Webb. [1]

By 1962 the Busembatia-Kakira deviation had been completed and only 2nd and 3rd Class passenger trains (travelling over the old line) continued to call at Mbulamuti from where services to Namasagali had by 1962 been discontinued. A mixed traffic train with a through first class coach from Nairobi to Namasagali awaits departure from Mbulamuti prior to 1962, (c) Neville Webb. [1]

The photographer is travelling on the mixed traffic train headed by a Class 31 between Mbulamuti and Namasagali, (c) Neville Webb. [1] The route continues to snake across the landscape, perhaps getting a little closer to the Victoria Nile until north of Lusenke. After this it follows a relative direct North-northwest route to Namasagali.

Another Class 31 (this time in colour) heads a mixed traffic train as it arrives at Namasagali Station, (c) Neville Webb. [1]

Namasagali is shown in the adjacent satellite image. The route of the railway is shown as a road which is a straight line heading north-northwest alongside the river to a point approximately in the centre of the image. At this point the road turns to the west and the line of the railway continues north-northwest to what was the station and port area.

The site of the port and station is shown as a larger scale image below.

Namasagali was once a significant inland port. Not only did it provide for movement of freight but also for passenger travel in the interior of Africa. Tourism was welcomed as an article in the East African Railways and Harbours Magazine makes clear. [4]

The author describes a tour of the heart of Africa which started on board the ‘Stanley and used a variety of differnt modes of transport to visit “Masindi Port on the western shore of Lake Kioga, … Butiaba on the eastern shore of Lake Albert, [a cruise up] Lake Albert and the Nile to see Murchison Falls, back down the Nile and across Lake Albert to Pakwach on the paddle steamer ‘Lugard II’ to Nimule, … backto Pakwach … Butiaba … Masindi Port … Namasagali and by train back top Nairobi. All in 10 days!” [4]

An interesting description of the first arrival at Namasagali follows … “When we reached the ‘Stanley’ at Namasagali she was lying alongside the quay waiting to give us breakfast. These stern-wheelers have to be seen to be believed. They are reminiscent of the romantic Mississippi ships, but of course more modest. There is no champagne and caviar; no slick Northern style gamblers with their thin cheroots. But there is for the passengers a lazy old-fashioned air about the ship which sets the pace for the whole tour.” [4]

The name board welcomes visitors to Namasagali Railway Station. [3]

The Stanley. [4]

The Stanley at Namasagali. [6]

The three images above show another stern-wheeler, EAR& H steamer SW GRANT at Namasagali, (c) Neville Webb. The image below shows the same steamer en-route on the Victoria Nile. [3]

A busy port scene at Namasagali, loading cotton (c) EAR&H. [2]

The Stanley at Masindi Port taken 18th May 1929, (c) A. Weatherhead. [5]


  1., accessed on 10th June 2018.
  2., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  3., accessed on 12th June 2018.
  4., accessed on 12th June 2018.
  5., accessed on 12th June 2018.
  6., accessed on 12th June 2018.

The Uganda Railway – Part 21 – Kampala to Kasese

This final length of our journey takes us along what is now the defunct line to Kasese. The first part of this line in the Kampala suburbs still exists but further west there are only remnants of the line. In 1994, I attempted to travel to Kasese and I might have been able to do so if I was prepared to wait in Kampala for the possibility that a train might run. In the end my trip to the South West of Uganda was much better served by a road journey via Masaka, Mbarara and Kabale.

The picture above shows one of those sporadic passenger trains to Kasese which in the end I missed! [1]

The Western Extension, as it was known, was built and opened in the mid-1950s, its main target was to reach the Kilembe Copper Mines in the west of Uganda. Kasese was built alongside the Mines and has grown since then into a reasonable size town with industry and tourism building its economy.

Official sanction for building the railway to Mityana was given in 1951, and for the continuation to Kasese in 1952. The decision rested upon a guaranteed source of traffic at Kilembe, and was prompted by the fact that mining development was dependent on some positive step to improve communications. There seemed little doubt that the line would attract some Congo traffic, which would provide new revenue for E.A.R. & H., while the Uganda Government was much encouraged by the very favourable report of an Economic Survey Committee. The concluding sentence of the report reflects the tone of the whole: ‘The committee desires to record its firm conviction that this project will prove eminently successful. and contribute materially to the welfare and prosperity of the people of Uganda”. The capital cost of the extension was £5.25 million, and the Uganda Government provided the Railway Administration with a loan to cover this. The government also guaranteed to meet any operating losses incurred on the line, although the chances of such losses were reduced by the policy of crediting to the line any profits on traffic also passing over the Kampala-Mombasa section. [9]

In the last post we left Kampala Railway Station and travelled the very short distance into the suburbs to Nalukolongo, the main workshops for the Railway system in Uganda. To be reasonably sure of getting a passenger train towards Kasese we would probably need to go back to the mid 1990s, and even then we probably need to be ready to leave within a week of our intended journey date and expect to take at least 36 hours on the journey. Back in the heyday of the line the journey to Kasese could be achieved overnight with an evening departure from Kampala and a morning arrival in Kasese.

OpenStreetMap when accessed in 2018 showed the railway extending only to Nalukolongo. Later we will see that the approximate route through to Kasese often appears as a dotted line on OpenStreetMap.

Beyond Nalukolongo, the line is shown on OpenStreetMap as a short stub serving industrial premises to the West of the Lubigi Channel. The mainline bridges the channel before becoming disused. A spur enters the premises of Ntake Bakery Co. Ltd. and a further short spur serves Roadmaster Cycles premises.

Google Maps shows the route of the old line to Kasese. The route runs to the south of the Lubigi Channel past the Kabawo Market and on through the Kampala suburbs, until it crosses the Masaka Road southwest of Busega. Continuing in a westerly direction, the line passes to the south of Buloba and then turns North-west before reaching the halt at Bujuko, 28 kilometres from Kampala Railway Station. The probable location of the halt is on the right of the satellite image below, adjacent to the Kakiri-Bujuko Road.

The next halt is at Kawolongojo, according to the adjacent map. There is a primary school of this name close to the route of the railway and it seems most likely that the satellite image below shows the location of the station.The next stop is at Mityana. The station is shown on the adjacent satellite image, the railway route is just about visible running from bottom right to top left of the image. On the map below, the station location is marked by the blue square.

When the route of the line was planned in the 1950s a full survey had already been undertaken of the route from Kampala to Mityana some years before. The route beyond Mityana was a matter for debate. The railway could either follow the Katonga valley or pass further north through Mubende. The exact terminus was also a matter of debate, although the line obviously had to pass as close as possible to Kilembe. The 1930 survey committee had recommended a route via Mubende in order to serve that District most effectively, but in the 1951 report this was rejected as being unduly costly, and approval was given to the Katonga route. This provided the most direct link between Kampala and Kilembe. and was expected to provide a service for Ankole as well as Mubende. After reaching Mityana in 1953, the line was therefore extended to Musozi in 1954 and Nkonge in 1955. Four possible termini were considered, out of which Kasese, that involving least expenditure, was finally chosen. The rejected proposals were for extensions beyond Kasese 8 miles to the western arm of Lake George, 22 miles to the Kazinga Channel or 31 miles to Lake Katwe. The country offered few problems for construction, yet the cost of each proposal (£0.1, £0.4, and £0.55 million respectively) was considered too high in relation to the probable benefits. The Congo authorities agreed that for transit traffic a road haul to Kasese would be as satisfactory as one to Lake Katwe, and preferable to lake transport, which had been considered in relation to the other possible termini. [9]

For the first fifty miles from Kampala the line passed through country with very fertile soils and a rainfall of 40 to 50 inches evenly spread through the year. The land was originally under forest, but although patches survived in the 1950s, most was used for the perennial crops, bananas and coffee, or for a rotation of annual crops and short fallow periods. A population of 200 to 250 per square mile was supported almost entirely by agriculture. Conditions become progressively less suitable for cultivation as the Lake Victoria zone was left behind. Rainfall became much less rekiable and only ossasionally exceeded 30 inches in a year, while the soils were among the least fertile in Uganda. Over large areas the density of population was below 25 per square mile, and most of the country was occupied by the natural savanna woodland vegetation and by numerous buffalo, antelope and other types of game. Much land was suitable only for extensive grazing, and west of Nkonge even this form of land use was precluded by tsetse-fly infestation. [9]

After Mityana, the next halt is at Myanzi. The station was a distance south of the town close to the shores of Lake Wamala. The station is again marked with a blue square on the map below and the line of the Kampala to Kasese railway is shown dotted. While the route of the line is clearly visible on the satellite image, the only evidence of the station is the access road which runs south from the town and then turns west-southwest close to the railway line.On down the line, our next stop is at a station named for Lake Wamala. Wamala Railway Station is not evident on Google Maps or OpenStreetMap although the line itself continues to be visible on both running in a west-southwesterly direction. The most likely station location is shown below.Further along the line we come to Musozi. The line continues to appear on OpenStreetMap as a dotted line and the station location is shown as a blue square. The town of Musozi is some distance to the Northwest of the station.

Kasambia comes next! It is south-west of Musozi. The railway station is some 2 kilometres or so to the northwest of the village of Kasambia. The exact location of the station or halt is not visible on Google Earth but is marked by a blue square on OpenStreetMap. The route of the railway is still marked by a dotted line.

Nkonge and Kabagole are noted on the adjacent route map as the next halts on the line. Nkonge appears only on the most close up map view on OpenStreetMap, otherwise it appears as Kabunde. The railway line appears  as a dotted line on OpenStreetMap but, while it is possible to identify the line on Google Earth, it is impossible to find the location of the station at the place marked on OpenStreetMap. In fact the most likely location is some kilometres to the west and I have chosen to show a satellite image of that location as the most likely location of the station.The railway route followed the swamp-filled channel of the Katonga River beyond Nkonge. Kabagole is also marked on OpenStreetMap close to the Katonga River.The quality of satellite images in this part of Uganda is poor. However, in our recent visit to Uganda (April/May 2018) we stayed for 10 days very close to the location of the station in a village called Kijongobya. We drove past the station location as we were leaving the location and had an evening close to the location in the Katonga Wildlife Reserve. Sadly, there is little evidence of the station on the ground and the line of the railway is difficult to identify. The story of those 10 days can be found elsewhere on this blog, along with pictures of the location as well, ( [2]

Next on the line comes Bihanga Station, at the Western end of the Katonga Wildlife Reserve and some 2 or 3 kilometres from the village with the same name. The satellite imagery at this end of the park is of very low quality and roads and railway lines are not distinguishable from the green of the countryside.The line reached Kabuga – the railway line is shown in red. The station was probably to the west of the bridge over the Mpanga River. The road and the railway shared the bridge and the causeway to it.From Kabuga the railway continued to Kamwenge. As elsewhere on the line from Kampala to Kasese, the line of the railway has sometimes been taken over by a road. This has sometimes happened by default and at other times as a result of planning by the immediate local authority.

The formation of the railway often provided a suitable ready formation for a road and usually for a road that would sustain heavier demands than other murram roads in the vicinity of the old railway.

The dotted line shown on some of the OpenStreetMap plans is an approximation to the route of the line rather than a detailed following of the route. This is evident on the plan of the area around Kabuga and continues to be the case between Kabuga and Kamwenge.

The actual route of the line is shown in red on the first map below. Travelling west, towards Kamwenge, the country becomes more hilly, the rainfall rises to 50 inches and the soils are of rather greater fertility. The land is of higher potential productivity than that the line has just travelled through, and around lbanda, twenty miles to the south, there is some relatively dense agricultural settlement: but the land near the railway was, in the mid-1950s, as yet almost entirely undeveloped, and very sparsely populated. [9]Kamwenge Railway Station was just to the northwest of the village.Recently laid track at Kamwenge, 172 miles from Kampala and the second last station before Kasese at Mile 208. Dura River at Mile 190 was the last station before Kasese, (c) James Lang Brown. [3]

From Kamwenge westwards the dotted line fairly represents the route of the railway which snakes around seeking to provide the shallowest possible grade through the topography of the West of Uganda.

The construction costs of the whole line from Kampala were very greatly affected by the difficult nature of the country in the final forty miles before Kasese. Severe problems were presented by the descent of the escarpment, which involves a spiral at one point, while from the foot there is an 18-mile crossing of papyrus swamp through which a causeway had to be built, entailing a vast amount of labour‘.

Some of the EB1s ran in black and were duly converted to oil burners is shown here as a 22 and 24 Class haul empty ballast wagons along the extension, (c) James Lang Brown. [3]

Near Nkongora the topography necessitated that the line should gain height relatively quickly and to achieve this the engineers designed a spiral, the fourth on the line from Mombasa. It can be seen to the left of the map immediately above and in the image below.Aerial view of the 1.18% (1 in 84 approx) spiral which was cut round a hill between the Mpanga and Dura Rivers, (c) Brian Kingston. [3]The line wound its way westwards through the landscape to the edge of what is now called the Queen Elizabeth National Park and the bridge across the Dura River on the East side of the park.

The Dura River flowed through Queen Elizabeth National Park into Lake George and then to Lake Edward before becoming part of the Nile.Crossing the Dura River Swamp (adjacent), (c) Geoffrey Parsons. The sign is a Momentum Board, which refers to the opposing gradient being steeper than the ruling gradient. The figures mean that the driver should achieve a speed of 18 mph at a distance of 4 furlongs (8 half furlongs) from the sign. The train’s maximum speed was 25 mph. [4]

After crossing the Dura River, the railway headed northwards until it reached Kitogo and then turned west following the northern border of the Game Reserve to cross 18 miles of swampland before encountering a branch line which served the Hima Cement works north-east of Kasese. Hima Cement Works near Kasese. [6]

The mainline continued to follow the northern border of the Game Reserve all the way to Kasese Railway Station.Kasese Station was not the end of the line, but we will look round the station before heading on.The arrival of the all classes all stations mixed goods train arriving at Kasese in the morning after leaving Kampala the previous evening. The main purpose of the line was to facilitate the export of copper from the mine at Kilembe There were great plans for Kasese and a grid of tarmac surfaced roads was laid out. But the roads, like the great plans led to nowhere, (c) Harry Dodge. [4]The Ruwenzori Range form a backdrop to the Class 60 Garratt as it leaves the train to take on water and head for the small motive power depot where a second Garratt has been stabled, (c) Harry Dodge. [4]Kasese station looking west towards the old loco shed and Ruwenzori Mountains beyond. It is midday and the pilot loco, 73u08, waits for the arrival of the overnight train from Kampala, which was due several hours earlier, 30th March 1984, (c) torgormaig on the National Preservation Forum. [16]

The picture immediately above shows the station at Kasese in relatively good condition. The photos that follow tell a very different story!Tracks laid in 1955 when the Western Extension was laid from Kampala to Kasese to service the copper mine at Kilembe and a few buildings are all that is left of Kasese station in the early 21st Century, (c) Roger Steedman. [5]

Above, Kasese Humanist School taken across the tracks at Kasese MPD. [7].

Right, those same tracks being removed by the railway company. [12]A view from the station platforms towards the MPD with the Humanist School visible in the left background. [8] Various Station images follow. [15]

The opening of what was officially termed the Western Uganda Extension.   A special train conveying the Governor, Sir Andrew Cohen, and HH the Kabaka of Buganda travelled overnight from Kampala behind a 30 Class locomotive which was named Batoro by the Omukama of Toro on its arrival at Kasese .  The train is seen arriving at Kasese – the “defaced” blue ensigns are the official flags of the East African Railways and Harbours.  The second coach back from the locomotive is a special vehicle which may have formed part of the “royal” train stock used by visiting royals and colonial governors of the time, © EAR&H Magazine, December 1956. [4]

The route of the line beyond Kasese Station  is shown as a black line on the map below. The line first turned north and provided access to sidings for industry on streets to the north-wet of the railway station. It then turned sharply back on itself and travelled in a generally south-southwest direction. Immediately off the southwest corner of the map is the location of the Kilembe mines. The site is shown on the second map below.The immediate area around Kasese is shown on the satellite image below. The line of the railway can just be picked out entering the image in the top right-hand corner and running to Kasese. Kilembe Mine is shown towards the bottom left of the image close to the town of Kasese.

Kilembe Mines: In July 1950, two Canadian mining companies, Frosbisher Limited and Ventures Limited, formed a joint venture, named Kilembe Mines Limited (KML), whose objective was to mine copper from under the Rwenzori Mountains near Kasese. [10] KML built and operated a copper smelter in Jinja and maintained offices in Kampala, the country’s capital.

In 1962, KML was acquired by Falconbridge of Africa, who sold it to the Government of Uganda in 1975. Copper extraction ceased in 1982 due to dilapidated equipment, high inflation and insecurity. [10]

In 2013, after nearly 30 years of dormancy and after several failed attempts to privatize the mine, a consortium led by Tibet-Hima Mining Company Limited, won the competitive bid to manage, rehabilitate and operate Kilembe Mines Limited for 25 years from 2013 until 2038. In exchange for those rights, the consortium paid a cash down payment of US$4.3 million and is expected to make an annual payment of US$1 million until the end of the concession.

The consortium agreed to invest US$135 million into rehabilitating and improving the mine and to increase the capacity of Mubuku I Power Station to 12MW. In addition to the cash payments above, royalties were promised to the Ugandan government as were taxes on Kilembe Mines Limited business operations.[10]

Sadly, little or nothing of this had materialised by July 2017. [11] And by the end of the year, the concession had been withdrawn by the Ugandan Government. Above, Kilembe Mines access tunnels, [13] and below, a view across the mine complex. [14]The following are a range of views of the Kilembe Mines site. [15]


  1., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  2. (26th April to 4th May 2018).
  3., accessed on 9th June 2018.
  4., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  5., accessed on 10th June 2018.
  6., accessed on 10th June 2018.
  7., accessed on 10th June 2018.
  8., accessed on 8th June 2018.
  9. A. M. O’Connor; East African Studies No. 18; East African Institute of Social Research, Oxford University Press, 1965 p51ff, accessed via OpenDocs ( on 9th June 2018.
  10., accessed on 11th June 2018.
  11., accessed on 11th June 2018.
  12., accessed on 11th June 2018.
  13., accessed on 11th June 2018.
  14., accessed on 11th June 2018.
  15., accessed on 11th June 2018.
  16., accessed on 12th June 2018.

The Uganda Railway – Part 20 – Kampala

The final posts of our journey take us along what is now the defunct line to Kasese. The first part of this line in the Kampala suburbs still exists but further west there are only remnants of the line. This post focusses on what remains in Kampala.

In 1994, I attempted to travel to Kasese and I might have been able to do so if I was prepared to wait in Kampala for the possiblity that a train migth run. In the end my trip to the South West of Uganda was much better served by a road journey via Masaka, Mbarara and Kabale.

The picture above shows the facade of Kampala Station in the late 1980s. [1] The adjacent picture shows one of those sporadic passenger trains to Kasese which in the end I missed! [1]

Before we take one of those intermittent passenger services from the last century, we take a good look round Kampala Railway Station. The pictures below show the station buildings, the low level and high level platforms, the loco shed and some of the goods sidings. Where possible, images are credited.A Class 58 Giesel equipped Garratt sits at the Low Level platform at Kampala. The locomotive has just arrived from Nairobi, © Geoff Pollard.[2]Shunting and unloading in the Ministry of Works sidings at Kampala Station. The locomotive is EB3 No. 2458, © Geoff Pollard. [2]Unique in that it was the only locomotive to have  “EAR&H” on the tenders, No. 5804 prepares to depart Kampala with the Mail Train in October 1962, just after Uganda gained independence, © Jim Fowler. [2]With a water column still standing sentinel, the engine sheds at Kampala with abandoned KR derelict diesel locomotives, (c) Iain Mulligan. [1]111528: Kampala Uganda Locomotive Depot No. 3114 Banyala (c) Weston Langford. [3]111517: Kampala Uganda Locomotive Depot No. 3114 Banyala, © Weston Langford. [3]There was never a problem wandering around the shed at Kampala in the late 50s.  This picture shows Class 60 Barratt No. 6001 Sir Geoffrey Archer.  This locomotive was renamed Umoja [Unity] in 1962 and after independence in Uganda was the only Class 60 still to be named. Until 1960 both Mail Trains and School Trains were invariably headed by Class 60 locomotives between Kampala and Nakuru.  Class 60s were also used between Kampala and Kasese on the daily overnight service.  However it was only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays that first and second class was carried – this working connecting with the first and second class only Mail Trains.  The return working for all these passenger trains left Kasese at 1640hrs, © Malcolm McCrow. [2]111516: Kampala Uganda Locomotive Depot No. 1316, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111520: Kampala Uganda Locomotive Depot Class 60 Garratt No. 6016, (c) Weston Langford. [3]An unidentified Class 60 Garratt on shed at Kampala, © Malcolm McCrow. [2]111526: Kampala Uganda Locomotive Depot No. 1316 with breakdown crane and Kampala City Skyline in background, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111522: Kampala Uganda Locomotive Depot Loco. No. 1316, (c) Weston Langford. [3]The Mail Train for Nairobi departed at 1715 on alternate weekdays. Here the train is standing at the single high level platform used until the early 60s, © Malcolm McCrow. [2]Mail Trains and passenger trains to and from Kasese often also used the single track high level platform, by 2004 this had become a car park. Goods wagons occupy the low level covered platforms, (c) Iain Mulligan. [1]111534: Kampala Uganda Mixed from Kasese No. 6012 © Weston Langford. [3]111532: Kampala Uganda Mixed from Kasese No. 6012, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111530: Kampala Uganda Mail from Nairobi, Diesel No. 8706, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111512: Kampala Uganda Shunter No. 2417, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111514: Kampala Uganda Shunter No. 3131 ‘Kenyi’, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111536: Kampala Uganda Shunter No. 1310, (c) Weston Langford. [3]111535: Kampala Uganda Mail to Nairobi Diesel No. 8706, (c) Weston Langford. [3]The then daily 16.00 train to Kasese stands ready in Kampala station for its overnight journey west with loco 73u05 on 26th March 1984, (c) torgormaig on the National Preservation Forum. [4]

After what is a significant collection of photographs of Kampala Railway Station and its immediate environment we set our sights on getting to Kasese. It is 2018 when this blog is being written. To be reasonably sure of getting a passenger train towards Kasese we probably need to go back to the mid 1990s, and even then we probably need to be ready to leave within a week of our intended journey date and expect to take at least 36 hours on the journey.

OpenStreetMap in 2018 shows the railway extending only to Nalukolongo in Kampala’s Western Suburbs. This is the location of the main railway workshops.But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As the train leaves Kampala Railway Station heading west, it is noticeable that the ride is more uncomfortable as the track alignment has deteriorated over the years. We pass the locomotive depot on our left to the south side of the line, and, if we are reasonably observant we see the triangle used for turning the large Garratt locomotives. On our right, to the north of the line are a series of freight sidings which supplement the marshalling yard alongside the passenger station.The train crosses the Nakivubo Channel and the Nsambiya Road and then runs alongside the Entebbe Road, which at this point is only for traffic flowing out of the city and has been given the name Queens Way. Our regular lodgings when in Kampala these days are at the Whitecrest Guesthouse on Lebowa Hill, some kilometres out down the Entebbe Road.Passing under the beginning of the Entebbe Road proper, the line then heads west on the south side of the Masaka Road to Nalukolongo and the end of the line (in 2018).On 5th April 1984, the 16.00hrs overnight train to Kasese sets out from Kampala behind 73u08. Taken from the Entebbe Road bridge (c) torgormaig on the National Preservation Forum. [4]Nalukolongo Railway Workshops are a modern facility serving the whole of the railway system in Uganda, they were rebuilt by Rift Valley Railways duringvtheir tenure of the network from Mombasa to Kampala.

Beyond Nalukolongo, the line is shown on OpenStreetMap as a short stub serving industrial premises to the West of the Lubigi Channel. The mainline bridges the channel before becoming disused. A spur enters the premises of Ntake Bakery Co. Ltd. and a further short spur serves Roadmaster Cycles premises.


  1., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  2., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  3., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  4., accessed on 12th June 2018.

The Menton to Sospel Tramway Revisited Again! (Chemins de Fer de Provence 61)

I have already mentioned that my wife has purchased two books for me as a birthday present. They are written in French by Jose Banuado. They cover the tramway network of the TNL, the Tramways de Nice et du Littoral. In the first volume there is a section about the tramways which meandered into the hills behind the Coast, one of which was the tramway from Menton to Sospel.

Among a whole series of different pictures, mainly old postcards, were some pictures of the line showing the operation of steam locomotives on the line and others of goods wagons in use between Menton and Sospel, particularly to deliver material to the construction work on the PLM Nice-Cuneo line..

It is inappropriate to copy the various pictures from Banaudo’s book. One  shows a small 0-4-0T No. 212. The manufacturer and the owner are not known. The locomotive is pulling a bogie truck and a wagon. Another photograph shows one of several locomotives destined for the construction sites of the PLM Nice-Cuneo line which were transported by tram to Sospel. It shows a German-built 0-6-0T which was partly deconstructed to be transported on a TNL wagon in September 1912. A further photograph in the image was taken in 1914. In this image the 0-6-0T Orenstein & Koppel steam locomotive No. 6871 of the Francois Mercier Company is about to leave the goods station at Carel in Menton, coupled with the shunter No. 13 of the TNL. This loco was photographed on a number of occasions by Engineer Jacques Schopfer photographed the 0-6-0T Orenstein & Koppel steam locomotive No. 6871 coupled with the shunter No. 13 of the TNL on numerous occasions in 1914 – on the Viduc de Monti, on the approaches to the Viaduc du Caramel, and stationary on the viaduct.

The Menton-Sospel tramway was used for the transport of material for the construction of the PLM line from Nice to Cuneo. In other pictures in Banaudo’s book we can see shunter No. 7 with a load of tubes on a flat wagon at the goods station at Carel in Menton and shunter No. 13 with a load of rails on two wagons before the stop at Villa Caserta.

The bogie motor-trams of the 213-216 sub-series with more powerful engines and braking systems were also used for goods traffic on the Sospel line: two pictures in the book show: one with a wagon loaded with a small steam locomotive at Castillan; and another with a load of long poles on the Caramel viaduct, from the collections of André Arutur & Jean-Jacques Stefanazzi.Caramel ViaductThis postcard dates from around 1914 and shows the viaduct at Caramel, with one of the bogie trams pulling a goods van. [2]

Goods trains were a feature of the line from the start, but there was a serious runaway of a goods service at Monti on 12th September 1912 which destroyed tractor 4 and killed its two crewmen. From 16th June 1913 a new service was started with two tractors 6, 7 (and 13 added in 1914) in the form of motorised box cars (known as fourgons in French), which were fitted with the same powerful equipment and brakes as the bogie passenger cars, and which pulled a variety of goods wagons.

Banaudo also tells us that in 1914, four passenger trips and three or four goods trips were made on the line each day, but like the rest of the T.N.L. network traffic fell off in the 1920s. During the building of the P.L.M. main line railway from Nice to Breil via Sospel, the line had a boost of goods traffic carrying many construction materials, but once complete in 1928 there was huge drop in traffic.


  1. Jose Banuado; Nice au fil du tram Vol.1 published by Les Editions du Cabri, 2004, p59-61.
  2., accessed on 8th June 2018.

The Uganda Railway – Part 19 – Jinja to Kampala

We start this next portion of the journey at Jinja Railway Station, Jinja sits on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, near the source of the White Nile.[1] Lonely Planet says that Jinja is “famous as the historic source of the Nile River, Jinja is now the adrenaline capital of East Africa. Get your fix of white-water rafting, kayaking, quad biking, mountain biking and horse riding in a gorgeous natural setting with crumbling colonial architecture. The Nile River’s world-famous rapids are under threat, however. In 2011 the Bujagali Hydroelectric Project buried around half of the rapids under a giant reservoir. Although the government has pledged to not further dam the river, Uganda still needs energy and so a new hydroelectric plant is planned for Kalagala Falls. Though worker strikes and faulty construction have it behind schedule for now, it’s expected that the Isimba Dam will flood some key rapids and even an island lodging as early as October 2018. It’s not the end of rafting though. Meanwhile locals keep pushing to keep Jinja’s tourism industry alive with offerings that have wisely begun to diversify.” [2]Before 1906, Jinja was a fishing village that benefited from being located on long-distance trade routes. The origin of the name “Jinja” comes from the language of the two peoples (the Baganda and the Basoga) that lived on either side of the River Nile in the area. In both languages “Jinja” means “Rock”. In most of Africa, rivers like the Nile hindered migration, this explains the ethnic boundaries along the Nile as one moves north from the river’s source on the northern shores of Lake Victoria.

However the area around Jinja was one place where the river could be breached due to the large rocks near the Ripon Falls. Here, on either bank of the river, were large flat rocks where small boats could be launched to cross the river. These rock formations were also accredited with providing a natural moderator for the water flow out of Lake Victoria. For the original local inhabitants, the location was a crossing point, for trade, migration and as a fishing post.

This might explain why, despite this barrier, the two tribes have very similar languages, and the more powerful Baganda had an enormous influence on the Basoga. The area was called the ‘Place of Rocks’ or ‘The Place of Flat Rocks’. The word for stones or rocks in the language of the Baganda is ‘Ejjinja (Plural Amayinja), and in the Basoga dialect this became Edinda. The British used this reference to name the town they established – “Jinja”

In 1954,with the building of the Owen Falls Dam, (later renamed Nalubaale Power Station, the Ripon Falls were submerged. Most of the ‘Flat Rocks’ that gave the area its name disappeared under water as well. However a description of what the area looked like can be found in the notes of John Hanning Speke, the first European to lay eyes on the Source of the Nile:

“Though beautiful, the scene was not exactly what I expected, for the broad surface of the lake was shut out from view by a spur of hill, and the falls, about twelve feet deep and four to five hundred feet broad, were broken by rocks; still it was a sight that attracted one to it for hours. The roar of the waters, the thousands of passenger fish leaping at the falls with all their might, the fishermen coming out in boats, and taking post on all the rocks with rod and hook, hippopotami and crocodiles lying sleepily on the water, the ferry at work above the falls, and cattle driven down to drink at the margin of the lake, made in all, with the pretty nature of the country—small grassy-topped hills, with trees in the intervening valleys and on the lower slopes—as interesting a picture as one could wish to see.”

Cotton-packing, nearby sugar estates, and railway access all enabled Jinja to grow in size. By 1906 a street pattern had been laid out, and Indian traders moved in starting around 1910. The Indians were Catholic Christians and English-speaking, and originated in the former Portuguese colony of Goa on the west coast of India.

The town was founded in 1907 by the British, as an administrative centre for the Provincial Government Headquarters for Busoga region. This was around the time that Lake Victoria’s importance in transport rose due to the Uganda Railway linking Kisumu, a Kenyan town on the lake, with Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, 900 miles (1,400 km) away. British-American Tobacco Uganda (BATU) established a tobacco processing factory in Jinja in 1928. [3]

Jinja is a major station on the Uganda Railway and a port for Lake Victoria ferries since the early 1900s, when access to the railway was by ferry to the railhead at Kisumu. [4]

Before we get on our train, here are a few pictures from Jinja, taken in different eras and culled from a variety of different websites.Ripon FallsRipon Falls HotelOwen FallsOwen Falls Dam in the early 1960s.

Enough of the City of Jinja. [5] ….. We return to the railway station and get ready to depart for Kampala.In this picture, it is January 1956 and a School Train for Eldoret has just arrived at Jinja – still in daylight. Until 1961, trains departed Kampala at 1500, as opposed to 1715, and thus arrived in Jinja just before sunset. The Class 60 Garratt is taking on water, (c) Malcolm McCrow. [6]

And below, a series of photos around the station site. [10][11]

As we leave Jinja Railway Station, we cross unmetalled roads and head on towards the Victoria Nile. On the way, close to the Station throat, we pass two branch-lines, the first travels east and is no more than a factory access to the railway system. The second travels south alongside Nile Crescent to sidings and a pier on Lake Victoria. On the map immediately below, the main line turns to the west. In a very short distance the line switches to the south and heads directly for the Nile Bridge.A sharply curving alignment of the railway approaching the bridge from the east shows it in good light.

The Nile River Bridge at Jinja was built in the late 1920s. It is perhaps the iconic structure for the whole of the metre-gauge railway system from Mombasa to Kasese.

The first railway in Uganda ran from Jinja to Namasagali on the Victoria Nile where a steamer service ran on to Masindi Port.  From there passengers travelled by road through Masindi to Butiaba on Lake Albert. From there they could travel on by steamer to the Belgian Congo or north to Juba in the Sudan.

Train passengers from Kenya reached Uganda by steamer from the railhead at Kisumu and across Lake Victoria to Entebbe or Port Bell.  In the mid 1920s the main line in Kenya was extended from Nakuru through Eldoret, and Tororo to Mbulamuti where it met up with the original Jinja to Namasagali line.  The new line to Kampala then crossed the Nile at Jinja by a bridge carrying both the railway and a roadway underneath.

Ramsay Nicholson with the assistance of his younger brother Pearce Nicholson was responsible for supervising the construction of the bridge in 1926 and the following historic photographs were copied from their family’s photograph album in 2010. There are more in the album. [13] Both above and below (in colour) – looking east:  Classic scene with Class 60 Garratt heading a Mail Train bound for Kampala over Jinja Bridge. The photograph was taken after 1958 as the dining car (last vehicle in photograph) has acquired the all cream livery which was introduced after the Queen Mother’s visit that year when several of the the aluminium coaches were painted cream to give a uniformity to the royal train consist. By 1961 all passenger coaches had acquired the dark maroon and cream livery which had previously only appeared on 2nd and 3rd class stock, (c) East African Railways & Harbours. [6]Again looking east, A diesel in charge of a train on Jinja Bridge. [8] The Nile Bridge at Jinja looking west. Jinja is still a very important railway centre with wagons being mustered for despatch by to Kenya – by rail via Tororo, or by rail ferry to Kisumu. Another possible destination for the wagons is Mwanza in Tanzania. Vague about what decides a wagon to go by rail via TRO or by Lake via KSM or MWZ, but thought to be customer who decides, (c) Iain Mulligan. [9]Again looking west, the photographer climbed up on to the Bridge and then walked back eastwards along the tracks. Once past the bridge itself, but still on the elevated approach, joy of joys, a “train” came over behind him. Not a real train, but the works train, and what that meant was a Class 62 decorated with palm leaves pulling a LSB, with a crowd of workers on their way from the stations to the west to a union meeting at Jinja. To the photographer’s horror the sides of the LSB were open flat, and there was only just room for him between them and the railings. Anyway, a great cheer from the passengers as they went past. (c) Iain Mulligan. [9]Happy days and homeward bound, the train is travelling toward Kampala. Most school pupils tended to get to a window for the crossing of the White Nile just after the train left Jinja. At primary school, many boys would carve “propellers” which they held out the window as the train went along at around 25 to 30 miles per hour, (c) Malcolm McCrow. [6]The Nile Bridge looking West in 1994. Our train has just moved on after a 6 hour delay at Jinja Railway Station.The Nile Bridge in 1994 looking east, on my return journey to Nairobi from Kampala.View from the Jinja Bridge at dusk in 1994.From a distance! [12]River Nile Bridge at Jinja looking west. [7].

There is (June 2018) a new road bridge being constructed across the Nile between the railway bridge and the old road bridge which should be open in 2018. It is a strikingly modern cable-stayed bridge! [14]

Once the railway has crossed the Nile it travels on in a southerly direction towards Bulamba and then swings gradually round to the south-west. On its way to Kampala the railway passes through the following Stations:

Buikwe (Buyikwe): as far as I can tell, this is the first station/halt beyond Jinja Railway Bridge when travelling towards Kampala. The first map and satellite image below show its location and I believe that it is likely that the monochrome picture which follows was taken at the Station in the early 1950s.

Lugazi/Kawolo: is 45 kilometres (28 miles) east of Kampala by road. There is a Station close to the centre of the town as shown on the map and satellite image below. The Station also served the hospital at Kawolo which is shown on the map of Lugazi just to the east of the town.

A Guide To Uganda” (Crown Agents, Curwin Press 1954) shows a Class 56 Garratt No. 5603, at a station between Kampala and Jinja. The 56s were replaced by the 60s in 1954-5, (c) East African Railways and Harbours. [6]School Trains ran to the same schedule as the Mail Trains, but on days when the Mail did not run.  The consist was virtually the same, although there was often only one, or no first class coach at all, on many of the School Trains.  Here a Giesel ejector fitted Class 58 Garratt heads a Kampala bound Mail Train through Kawolo, 226 miles from Eldoret and 31 miles from Kampala.  The oil fired furnace is clearly visible.  A Kampala bound freight is headed by a Class 60 Garratt still to be fitted with its Giesel ejector, © A J Hudson.[21]

Lugazi Railway Station runs north-south near to the centre of the map above.

Seta: The next Station is at Seta. It was on the south side of the small village bearing the same name.






The EAR&H had few serious accidents, but on 3 January 1963, just 23 miles from Kampala and not far from Seta, a freight train with a caboose and 6 tank cars of high octane aviation fuel for Entebbe Airport stalled on the gradient. After setting back, the driver made a run at the gradient which the engine cleared with ease and tore off down the other side where it derailed. The escaping fuel was ignited by the Garratt’s oil furnace and the driver and firemen were killed. After three days of continuous round-the-clock working the single track line to Nairobi was re-opened, (c) A J Hudson. [6]Kampala bound Mail passing a Tribal headed freight at Seta, 21 miles from Kampala, © Malcolm McCrow. [21]

Mukono/Kyetume: The next Station is close to Mukono at  Kyetume as shown on the adjacent map. Work on a new railway station [15] and a Railway Inland Container Depot (ICD) was completed in 2015. [16]

The ICD project was funded by World Bank and managed by the Ugandan ministry of works and transport in line with the East African trade facilitation program.

Its current capacity is 1,644 containers with an average of 6,500 annually, with enough parking space for container trucks. Construction of the depot was undertaken by Chinese company China Jiangxi International. [16]The Mukono railway station contracted by CJIC has significantly alleviated the traffic pressure in the capital Kampala and greatly cuts down the cost of local transportation of goods in Mukono, which, in turn, boosts the local economy. [15]Mukono Railway Station Building completed in 2015. [15]Mukono Railway Inland Container Depot was also completed in 2015. [16] The associated siding is shown in the adjacent image. [17]

From Mukono, the railway travels North-west towards the Kampala-Jinja Road and then westwards into Kampala and its railway station which can be seen to the bottom left of the map below. before reaching Kampala Station the railway passes through Kireka close to the point that the Northern By-Pass leaves the Jinja-Kampala Road. Sporadic communter services are provided. Four pictures below show the railway at Kireka. [22][23] The map also shows the old railway from Port Bell joining the mainline just before it reaches Kampala Station. The line to an from Port Bell was constructed to provide access from the Lake Victoria Steamers which brought passengers to Uganda from Kisumu. The full length of that line is shown on the next map.The track arrangement at Port Bell is shown on the next map and satellite image.An 11 Class tank engine on the  Kampala to Port Bell branch, © Iain Mulligan

The motor vessel SYBIL unloading at Port Bell which was at the end of the six mile branch line from Kampala.  Mixed passenger and freight trains ran three times a week to and from Kampala to meet the round the Lake service which by 1962 was operated by the motor vessel VICTORIA.  The train journey between Kampala and Port Bell took 20 minutes and only 2nd and 3rd class was provided  © Malcolm McCrow

The station at Kampala is the end of this part of the journey. A Class 58 Barratt arrives at Kampala Station (Low Level) with a train from Kenya © Geoff Pollard. [20]

Kampala Railway Station in the 1980s. [18]Kampala Railway Station was built by 1940. It is shown here in the 2010s, © Morgan Mbabazi. [19]


  1. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (13 January 2014). “Profile of Lake Victoria, East Africa”,, accessed on 5th June 2018.
  2., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  3., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  4., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  5., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  6., accessed on 1st June 2018.
  7., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  8., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  9., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  10., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  11., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  12., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  13., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  14., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  15., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  16., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  17., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  18., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  19., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  20., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  21., accessed on 31st May 2018.
  22., accessed on 8th June 2018.
  23., accessed on 8th June 2018.