Uganda Railways – Part 16 – Soroti to Gulu

The first picture in this post is a monochrome image taken at Soroti. a Class 60 Garratt arrives with its passenger train from Tororo. The second image captures a busy moment in Soroti Station Yard as another Class 60 musters goods wagons for its northwesterly travelling mixed passenger and goods train.

The third picture claims to show a busy time on the platform at Soroti. The station building is typical of many on the route but does not match that at Soroti, so, take your pick. Any of the stations shown in the last post or some below could be the location of this photograph! The caption on the original image says … “This photograph shows Soroti Railway Station 1956. It was a bustling and important railway cargo terminus for hauling of exports from Uganda to Mombasa Port, © Tahir Mirza.” [2]111487: Soroti Station, Uganda Westbound Passenger service behind a Class 60 Garratt, © Weston Langford. [3]A typical rural scene in Uganda. [4]

We set off from Soroti Station and the line swings immediately first to the Northeast and then back to the Northwest and then crosses the Soroti to Moroto Road. As we travel on we pass through or close to Ajikidaki, Nyalai, Okunguru, Obule, Omgariama, Mwogo, Aloi and Bar before arriving at Lira. The named stations on the route are Achuna and Aloi. First Achuna:111489: Achuna Uganda Westbound Passenger 2431, © Weston Langford. [3]111493: Achuna Station 1971, © Weston Langford. [3]

Then comes Aloi:

"disabled rail link to northren uganda"Above: 111497: Aloi Railway Station, Uganda Westbound Passenger Service with No. 2431, © Weston Langford. [3]

Adjacent: Typical of the condition of the line close to Aloi before renovation, © John Otim. [5]

After the small village stop at Aloi the line heads in a West-northwest direction, and then a westerly direction to Lira.Level Crossing near Lira.[6]Lira Railway Station.The city of Lira (above) and the location of the railway Station (below).I could find no photographs of Lira Station to put on this blog. There are a few pictures on the line from immediately around the city of Lira: These three pictures (above) were taken on the first journey for a train along the line on 20 years – in 2013. [7] The third picture shows the condition of the line at that time between Lira and Gulu.

North of Lira Station the line crosses the Lira-Kitgum Road and then travels through or near Alito and Kole, Otwal and Ayomlony, Lamin-Lyeka and Lokwir. At Lokwir the line allies itself for a time with what is now known as the Jomo Kenyatta Road, following it until it reaches Lakwatomer. It then heads west-northwest to Gulu.Kole (above and below).There are no signs of a formal station at Kole, however, the build up of a community at the road rail crossing which is some distance from the town of Kole (which is away to the East) suggests that trains must have stopped here in the past.There is a station at Otwal. It is shown in the satellite image below and location on the map above in the bottom right-hand corner.Lamin Lyeka – a village predominantly of traditional hut homes. The railway is in the bottom left of the satellite image.As the railway leaves Lamin-Lyeka and passes close to Opit (before reaching Lokwir) it runs through another village of traditional homes. In fact, the countryside in this area of Uganda is littered with  traditional round dwellings, whereas in the south-west of the country traditional homes are usually rectangular in shape.

The railway line enters Gulu from the south-east and turns to a north-westerly direction as it runs through the station site (below).The tracks approaching Gulu Railway Station. [10]111504: Gulu, Uganda No. 2305 in August 1971 © Weston Langford. [3]111506: Gulu, Uganda Nos. 2431 and 2301 in August 1971 © Weston Langford. [3]111507: Gulu, Uganda Nos. 2431 and 2301 in August 1971 © Weston Langford. [3]A survey by the US Army showed Gulu Station in use for growing maize in 2014. [11]Wagon abandoned at Gulu railway station. [12]Museveni opens Gulu railway linePresident Museveni (in hat) in the cab of a lcoc at the commencement of the Rift Valley Railway operations at the weekend in Gulu District (October 2013), (c) Cissy Makumbi. [8]

President Museveni flags off a train in Gulu, Uganda. The government is accused of awarding the tender to a Chinese firm after signing MoUs with another. FILE PHOTOPresident Museveni flags off a train in Gulu, Uganda. [9]

Our survey of the line will continue from Gulu with the next post.

References

  1. http://www.mccrow.org.uk/EastAfrica/EastAfricanRailways/UgandaBranches.htm, accessed on 2nd June 2018.
  2. https://www.britishempire.co.uk/article/sorotirailwaystation.htm, accessed on 2nd June 2018.
  3. http://www.westonlangford.com/images/gallery/four-days-in-uganda, accessed on 1st June 2018.
  4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usarmyafrica/5117351511/in/photostream, accessed on 1st June 2018.
  5. https://suncolor.wordpress.com/tag/northern-uganda, accessed on 2nd June 2018.
  6. http://www.works.go.ug/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/1604-Tororo-Pakwach_Consultancy_of_feasibility_Final%20Report_2016-10-18.pdf, accessed on 1st June 2018.
  7. https://skyworksafrica.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/train-spotting-in-uganda, accessed on 31st May 2018.
  8. http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Museveni-opens-Gulu-railway-line/688334-2049554-vr9xhk/index.html, accessed on 3rd June 2018.
  9. http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Chinese-firm-goes-to-court-over-Uganda-s-railway-project-/2558-2413758-format-sitemap-11v50d0z/index.html, accessed on 3rd June 2018.
  10. https://markandmaryinuganda.wordpress.com/tag/rift-valley-railway, accessed on 3rd June 2018.
  11. http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/uganda-seeks-8bn-rail-funding-china272807615431122, accessed on 3rd June 2018.
  12. https://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/rvr-why-uganda-kenya-shouldnt-have-signed-concession-deal, accessed on 3rd June 2018.

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