Uganda Railways – 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.

References

  1. http://www.mccrow.org.uk/EastAfrica/EastAfricanRailways/EARIainMulligan/UgandaRailways2004.htm, accessed on 1st June 2018.
  2. http://www.mccrow.org.uk/EastAfrica/EastAfricanRailways/EAR_GeoffPollard.htm, accessed on 6th June 2018.
  3. http://www.westonlangford.com/images/gallery/four-days-in-uganda, accessed on 1st June 2018.
  4. https://www.national-preservation.com/threads/uganda-railways.1150502, accessed on 12th June 2018.

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