Monthly Archives: June 2018

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.


  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..

The pictures and text below come primarily from Jose Banuado’s book. [1] The French text has been translated with the help of Google Translate. …….The Menton-Sospel line is the only one in the TNL network to have seen steam locomotives. In the above photograph, a small 0-4-0T No. 212 is shown. The manufacturer and the owner are not known. The locomotive is pulling a bogie truck and a wagon. The condition of the ballasting of the line suggests that this view is prior to the commissioning of the line, (c) Jacques Schopfer, the TCA Collection.The upper of the two photographs in the image above shows one of several locomotives destined for the construction sites of the PLM Nice-Cuneo line which were transported by tram to Sospel. This German-built 0-6-0T was partly deconstructed to be transported on a TNL wagon in September 1912, for the Gianotti Bros. public works company, (c) Maurice Bouvet, the Jose Banuado Collection. The second photograph in the image above is taken in 1914. 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, (c) Jacques Schopfer, the TCA Collection.Engineer Jacques Schopfer photographed the 0-6-0T Orenstein & Koppel steam locomotive No. 6871 of the Francois Mercier Company 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, (c) Jacques Schopfer, the TCA Collection.The Menton-Sospel tramway was used for the transport of material fro the construction of the PLM line from Nice to Cuneo. In the pictures above we can see shunter No. 7 with a load of tubes on a flat wagon at the goods station at Carel in Menton; sunter No. 13 with a load of rails on two wagons before the stop at Villa Caserta, (c) Jaques Schopfer and Maurice Bouvet, collections of the TCA and Gerard de Santos.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: above on the right with a wagon loaded with a small steam locomotive at Castillan, and immediately above 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.

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.

Uganda Railways – 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.
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  7., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  8., accessed on 5th June 2018.
  9., accessed on 5th June 2018.
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  11., accessed on 6th June 2018.
  12., accessed on 5th June 2018.
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  21., accessed on 31st May 2018.
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  23., accessed on 8th June 2018.

Uganda Railways – Part 18 – Tororo to Jinja

We have returned to Tororo and we are nearly ready to set off for Kampala! Before we do, it is worth a quick look round. Tororo Rock sits close to the middle of the town with the town-centre and the station to its north and suburbs to its east, west and south and flanked by the town golf-course. The view above is taken from the south side of the rock.An aerial view of Tororo Railway Village on the north side of the town. The picture is taken facing South-East with the town-centre off the picture to the right. On the left of the photograph, Tororo Station and Station Yard can be seen devoid of traffic. The line to Kenya heads off towards the horizon, barely distinguishable from the grass which has overgrown it. [1]Tororo Town looking in a generally northerly direction from the Rock. The Railway Station is in the extreme top right corner of the picture in front of the trees. [2]A picture of Tororo Station taken in 2014. A Uganda Railways Locomotive is in the bay platform possibly prearing to levae for Kampala or in the process of shunting the yard. [3]

Before we set off for Kampala, there is one more thing we need to notice. On the map above there are two sidings leaving the station at its western end. One is short – it provides a rail link for a World Food Programme Warehouse (below). The second is a little more significant. It can be seen heading south in both of the maps immediately above. And can be seen continuing south past Tororo Airport, crossing Airfield Road, running about 300 metres to the west side of Busia Road (A104).

It then turns westward immediately alongside the Jinja-Tororo Raod (A109) to provide the rail link for Tororo Cement Works. This can be seen on the map immediately below.

Tororo Cement Limited (TCL) is the largest manufacturer of cement in Uganda,[4] producing an estimated 1.8 million metric tonnes annually.[5]  In July 2015, TCL began an 86 billion UgSh expansion to increase annual production to 3.0 million metric tonnes.[6][7] Production on the newly completed production line began in March 2018. [8]Umeme upgrades Tororo Cement Industries power, plant doubles productionOn 4th June 2018, Umeme upgrades Tororo Cement Industries power, plant doubles production. [9] An earlier image (2009/2010) of the plant, taken from the south-west with Tororo Rock in the background, is shown below. [10]

After having had a good look round Tororo, we set off for Kampala.111469: Tororo Uganda Passenger for Pakwach 6023 Class 60 Garratt No. 6023 in Tororo in 1971.The line to Kampala is on the left. The line to Pakwach is on the right!

We leave Tororo is a north-westerly direction following the contours on the north side of the Nagongera Road as far as Achilet (about 5 kilometres outside of Tororo). For the next 10 kilometres the railway stays north of the road until reaching Nagongera, or Nagongora, as the Station is named on the maps below.After Nagongera, the line passed through Budumba.Budumba Station.After Budumba, road and rail combine to cross the bridge over the Mpologoma River.The line then splits with the northerly line crossing the Jinja-Mbale Road. The shorter route to Jinja goes via Busembatia and along the Jinja-Mbale Road.After Busembatia (where a link headed off to meet the more northerly line) the shorter more southerly line continues to Iganga (top right, below), Magamaga (bottom left, below) along the Jinja-Mbale-Totoro Road (A109) and then into Jinja.

The line through the station at Iganga runs North-South on the West side of the town-centre as shown in the adjacent satellite image and map.

It then runs roughly parallel to the A109 before passing north of Bukoyo. Which is a reasonable size town, for some reason not marked on the route map roughly where Namasoga and Bulanga are shown above.Magamaga is another decent sized town on the route of the line, indeed the railway passes right through the middle of the settlement, but there is no evidence of a station. It seems highly unlikely to me that there would not have been a halt somewhere at Magamaga given the size of the town, even if it is no longer in use.Just to the west of Magamaga, the line crosses the main Jinja-Mabale-Tororo highway (A109) by means of a bridge and then travels on the south side of the road and close to Lake Victoria before reaching Jinja.On its final approach to Jinja, the line travels alongside a branch-line which fed industry on the shores of Lake Victoria in Masese and Walukuba, before joining the more northerly route once again as it enters Jinja Station.

The more northerly route of the mainline passed through only one named Railway Station which appears on OpenStreetMap, that of Namaganda (Namabuga) – which is about a third in from the left on the map below, near the top of the image. There was also a station close to Kamuli and at one time a branch-line which left the northerly route at Mbulamuti.The northerly route is considerably more torturous. As it seeks to maintain a steady grade the contours mean that is snakes down to Jinja and travels considerably further all told. The locations of Namaganda (Namabuga) and Mbulamuti are shown on the maps and satellite images below.Namaganda (Namabuga).Kamuli was some distance from the route of the northern line (over 10 kilometres along the Jinja-Kamuli Road). The station was reached by trains coming from Tororo after crossing the Kamuli-Iganga Road near Kitayunjwa. The first picture below is a satellite image of Kamuli Station site. The second image shows Kamuli Railway Station in 1969. The third image is a map of the station site from OpenStreetmap.Tribal Class 31, No. 3139, ‘Pokomo’ was built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1956 and was allocated to the Uganda Railways in 1977. It is seen heading its train at Kamuli in 1969. Kamuli, the first station eastbound after Mbulamuti, was by-passed by first and second class Mail Trains after the Tororo-Namaga deviation was completed in 1962 but the all stations Nairobi/Kampala second and third class passenger trains were still routed over the original main line via Mbulamuti which was the junction for Namasagali (c) Glyn Constantine. [10]The railway travels on to cross the the Kamuli-Jinja Road as shown below and heads for Mbulamuti.Mbulamuti.It is not at all clear, to me, where the station for the junction at Mbulamuti was, from the satellite images at least. The location of the junction can be seen on the satellite image. The mainline enters the image at the top right, it is only vaguely visible. It drifts down in a south-westerly direction through the middle of the word ‘Pentecostal’ to some trees and then curves away to the east, leaving the image bottom right. The road, which leaves the route of the mainline at the trees runs along the route of the branch-line.

The branch from Mbulamunti travelled north on the east side of the Victoria Nile. First it curved around the south side of Mbulamuti, and then sinuously followed the contours north. We will make this branch the subject of another post in this series.

Both lines enter Jinja Railway Station from the North, as can be seen on the adjacent map.

I had the joy of sitting for over 6 hours in Jinja Railway Station in 1994. The passenger train I was on was held up by the derailement of a goods train between Jinja and Kampala.

Our journey, in this post, ends here at Jinja Railway Station with a series of photographs of the location which can be seen below.

In our next post we will set off from Jinja, cross the Nile and head on towards Kampala.









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Uganda Railways – Part 17 – Gulu to Arua

Our journey in this post begins at Gulu and when we leave the town we head west towards Pakwach. We start this post with a couple of photographs taken in Gulu.111510: Gulu, Uganda. An Officers Inspection Car No 116, taken in August 1971, (c) Weston Langford. [1]Level Crossing tarmacked over at Gulu, taken around 2010. [2]

Leaving Gulu Station we head for Pakwach. Thanks to Thomas Kautzor, I now know that the stations between Gulu and Pakwach were: Paliri, Bwobo, Aparanga, Pai Halt, Lolim and Pakwach East. Finding evidence of these stations has been difficult. Part of the problem with identifying locations is that the station names seem not to relate easily to the named locations on maps.

Out of Gulu, the line heads initially in a generally westerly direction and the image below is typical of the countryside through which the line travels.The trajectory of the line changes when it reaches Alelele. It heads in a south-westerly direction towards Alero.After Alero, the line travels in a south-southwesterly direction through Nwoya and on through Patit and Patera to Aparanga where reports indicate that there is a railway station of sorts. [3] It can be just picked out centre-left on the satellite image below. I have found no photographs of the station/halt.The next station I can find any possible location for along the line was some distance further to the West at  Lolim. On the way to Lolim, the railway and the Gulu-Arua Road followed almost the same course through, or close to, Lalem, Purongo, Wianomo and Wianaka.Near Wianaka, the road skirts the northern edge of the Murchison Falls National Park. The railway predates the formation of the National Park and so transgresses its boundaries, (see the left hand side of the map above).Going on to Lolim, while the railway snakes around, the road from Wianaka follows the Park boundary, (as above). The most likely location of the Railway Station at Lolim is shown in the satellite image below, which is just off the left of the map above. Again, there are no photos of the station and there is little evidence on the satellite image to confirm its location.From Lolim, the railway and road continued on a relatively similar alignment. The railway follows the contours to minimise gradients, the road takes a more direct route. Both meet short of the bridge over the Albert Nile near Pakwach.By the time the bridge is reached the railway and the road are on exactly the same alignment with the rails let into the surface of the road. In the first set of images below, the rails are clearly visible in the tarmac surface of the road over the bridge. [4][5][6] The second couple of photographs show the bridge from along the banks of the Albert Nile. [7][2]Arriving at Pakwach the railway turned to the West off the bridge. At present, the line stops at the end of the road/rail bridge. The line passed through the centre of Pakwach and was extended, in 1969, to Arua.

All evidence of that extension has possibly disappeared under the formation of the Pakwach-Arua Road. There are short sections where the road alignment does not seem to have covered the old railway formation. One example is shown in the adjacent satellite image. In the Mbaro area, where, over a short length, the road travels north-south before reaching Oryang, the railway alignment can just be picked out to the east-side of the road.

However, this route has some questions attached to it. … When the Pakwach-Arua Road reaches Nebbi it turns through an sharp, acute angle at a roundabout. The alignment of the road in Nebbi is vary unlikely to be the alignment of the original metre-gauge line. There is a possible cut-off route for the line which avoids Nebbi. Its alignment can be picked out on the satellite image below. It starts on the eastern edge of the image close to the village of Namrwodo and runs just north of west across the image before turning north-west and then meeting the Gulu-Arua Road once again.

We know that the railway reached Arua in 1969. It may have taken this route or another route and I cannot find enough evidence to establish the actual route at present Nor can I identify the site of the Station in Arua. This is an unsatisfactory end to the story of this line. Perhaps in due course I will find more information, or possibly someone who has more information will come forward.

In the next Uganda Railways post we return to Tororo, and begin to focus once again on the mainline to Kampala.








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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.


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Uganda Railways – Part 15 – Malaba to Soroti Railway Station

We are at the border between Uganda and Kenya. The railways have been in a reasonable condition over much of our journey to Malaba. A few of the branch-lines have deteriorated badly and the ride along the main-line has not been all that smooth. Sadly, as we travel into Uganda, things get a lot worse.

First a map of the railway system. The system is entirely focussed on transporting, primarily, goods to the coast at Mombasa. Little thought has been given to providing a network of feeder railways for Uganda’s capital. All railways lead to Tororo rather than to Kampala.The map below shows the first length of the journey from the Kenyan border at Malaba to Tororo. At Tororo there is a major junction where the line to Kampala and Kasese diverged from the line to Arua.The first picture below  is taken from a Tororo-bound train in August 1971 and shows an Eastbound service waiting for the line out of Malaba into Kenya.[1]111466: Malaba Kenya Eastbound Goods 3144 Tharaka Taken from Westbound Mail, © Weston Langford. [1]401461: near Tororo Uganda Mountain outcrop viewed from train, © Weston Langford. [1]111469: Tororo Station in Uganda, a passenger train for Pakwach behings a Class 60 Garratt No. 6023, © Weston Langford. [1] Tororo is the junction from the main line for the line to Arua and Pakwach East on the Upper Nile. Weston Langford had booked himself onto a tour train in August 1971 not long after the coup led by Idi Amin. He comments: “The tour party rode in carriages transferred from the Mail to the branch train. There was no sign of any immigration presence so the tour party repaired to the local police station where we were breezily told to report to the police at our first overnight stop. On the wall of the police station was a magazine page of a photo of the Queen and Commonwealth Heads of Government. It was stuck to the wall with sticky tape. The rest of that first day was a pleasant train ride through the African countryside. As far as Soroti the engine was a 60 class Garratt. The 60 class bore a striking resemblance to the South Australian 400 Class. From Soroti onwards the engine was a 24 Class 4-8-0.” [1]

Given that the first pictures I’ve found relate to a journey from Malaba to the North of Uganda, we will follow the branch-line first  and return to the route of my own, 1994, journey later. Suffice to say that , in 1994, we arrived at Tororo in the early hours, between 3am and 4am. I was awoken from my sleep at Malaba, supposedly for a passport and visa check which did not happen, and I was just beginning to settle again when we passed through Tororo in the dark on our way to Kampala.111470: Tororo Uganda Passenger for Pakwach 6023 and Shunter 1106, © Weston Langford. [1]The branch-line to the north of Uganda was closed for a very long time. In the 1970s, Idi Amin was influential in the break up of the east Afrian community and the transfer of the railway from the East African Railways and Harbours to the control of Uganda Railways. In subsequent years, tacks were stolen for steel, engines broke down and no spare parts were available, and the railways became so unreliable that they were effectively useless. [2] There was a brief period in the 1990s when some semblance of proper services were restored but ultimately to no avail.

The picture above shows the first train for many years to run along the route we are about to take. The image shows the train in Tororo preparing to run along the branch through Soroti. The journey took place on 14th September 2013. [3] Rift Valley Railways were responsible for the network at that time. As well as improving transport links to northern Uganda, the line provides a regional railhead for South Sudan and eastern DR Congo. The study of the feasibility of undertaking the refurbishment was undertaken at the behest of the Delegation of the European Union to Uganda [9]

Tororo Railway Station. [4]

This is a short video about the opening of the branch-line. The work was done before considering the work necessary on the mainline.

The two following images from The Transport Library show diesels at Tororo in 1971. [5]Class 1-CO-CO-1 Diesel No. 8729 © Charles Gordon-Stewart.
Class 1-Bo-Bo-1 Diesel No. 7102 © Charles Gordon-Stewart.The three images of Tororo Station above come from a report by Dr R Choudhuri. [7]Tororo Yard in 2014. [8]The northern branch (above) left the mainline immediately to the west of Tororo. The western end of Tororo Station Yard, the right-hand track heads off up the branch we are following. [10]Level Crossing close to Tororo.

The branch travelled through or close to Mukuju, Apokori and Muliri before the halt at Mogades. close to Molo. [10]It then travelled via Lwaboba, Bumasikye, and Naukuma Village before passing through the second halt on the line at Manafwa, [10] before crossing the Manafura River about 2/3rds of the way to Mbale.After crossing the river the line travelled near or through Mudodo Village, Bungokho, Bugema and Mukanga Centers before arriving at Mbale. It appears from a survey of the line that no station facilites were provided between Tororo and Mbale, a distance of about 50 kilometres. A map of Mbale, showing the location of the station is followed by a satellite image of the station site.A recently repainted Mbale Station sign in 2004, © Iain Mulligan. [6]111474: Mbale, Uganda a Northwest-bound Passenger Service behind Class 60 Garratt No. 6023, © Weston Langford. [1]

Immediately after Mbale Station, the railway turns north and crosses the Namatala River. En-route to Soroti the line passed through Kachumbala, Bukedea, Kumi and Okungulu. The locations of these stations are shown in satellite views and map below.Kachumbala


A 60 Class with a passenger train at Bukedea, The train was booked to take four and a half hours from Tororo to Soroti where it was scheduled to arrive at 1205 before continuing on to Lira at 1400.  The booked time to Lira was  4 hours 40 minutes.No first class accommodation was available and the trains were scheduled to connect with the daily 2nd and 3rd Class only train between Eldoret and Kampala and vice versa, (c) EAR&H.



Kumi111480 and 111481: Two pictures taken at Kumi Station, Uganda of a Northwest-bound Passenger Train taken in August 1971 behind Class 60 Garratt No. 6023, © Weston Langford. [1]Okungulu (or Okunguru).

After Okungulu the railway crossed a swamp. The swamp sat alongside the Omunyari River which was bridges by a substantial girder bridge … In fact, a series of such bridges.[9][11] Bridges over the Omunyari River and Kapiri Swamp, [11] as seen in the satellite images below. The second image is a close up of the south side of the swamp shown in the first image.Just beyond the swamp we encounter Soroti Station, some distance from the town which gives it its name. The map below shows Soroti and the Kapiri Swamp but the rialway station is off the north of the map.111483: This picture was taken in August 1971 at Soroti Station, Uganda of a Northwest-bound Passenger Train taken in August 1971 behind Class 60 Garratt No. 6023. The train was taken over by No. 2431 in image 11484, below. Both pictures © Weston Langford. [1]

We finish this leg of our journey at Soroti Railway Station.






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