Category Archives: Uganda and Kenya Railways

Various posts about railways in East Africa

A Monorail in Kampala?

Charles Ewing who was based in India designed a monorail system. It was a single rail tramway arrangement. [1] His invention was a success. By 1899 a number of his design of lines had been laid in India. These included a twenty-two mile line at the Scottish firm of Messrs. Finlay, Muir and Co.’s tea estates in the Travancore Hills. [2]

In 1902, the Madras (now Chennai) Government approved the construction of a Ewing type monorail tramway in the environs of Madras, in the Chingleput (now Chengalpattu) District which was about 56km south west of madras. [3]

Ewing type monorail tramways became popular. In Patiala State, one connected Sunam to Patiala via Bhawanigarh. [4] An earlier line connected Sirhind to Morinda via Bassi and Alampur.  [5] In the Punjab a line was constructed between Morinoa and Karar. [6] In Kerala, a similar monorail was constructed between Munnar and Top Station [13] in the Kundala Valley. [14]

Patiala State Monorail Trainways (PSMT) was a unique rail-guided, partially road-borne railway system running in Patiala from 1907 to 1927. [9]. PSMT was the second monorail system in India, after the Kundala Valley Railway [10] and the only operational locomotive-hauled railway system built using the Ewing System in the world. [11]. The Kundala Valley Railway pre-dated this, also using the Ewing system between 1902 and 1908, although this only used bullocks for haulage. Following the conversion of the Kundala Valley Railway from a monorail to a narrow gauge railway in 1908. [12] PSMT was the only monorail system in India until its closure in 1927.

Uganda – Of great interest to me, given my personal interest in the Country of Uganda, is the fact that Ewing’s system spread outside the sub-continent of India. “In 1907, Winston Churchill visited Uganda and discussed with the authorities ways of improving transport between Port Kampala, known then as Luzira, and Kampala town. Amongst those consulted was a Mr Watts who had experience of the Ewing system in India. The environment and transport needs were considered to be similar and the Ewing system was subsequently adopted.” [7][8] The rolling stock was pulled by bullocks throughout its life.The short article in the ‘Uganda Journal’ in 1969. [8]

The Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911 notes the presence of the monorail between Kampala and the port: “Some 7.5 m. S. by E. of Kampala, and connected with it by monorail, is Kampala Port, on Victoria Nyanza.” [15]

It was a short-lived experiment, because by 1913 when a metre-gauge railway was being constructed, the monorail was not in a sufficiently usable state to serve as a construction line. [8]


  1. Adrian S. Garner; Monorails of the 19th Century; Lightmoor Press, Lydney 2011; p226
  2. Ibid.; p227.
  3. Ibid.; p227.
  4. Ibid.; p230.
  5. Ibid.; p229.
  6. Ibid.; p233.
  7. Ibid.; p233.
  8. W.J. Peal & J. Crompton; ‘The Luzira-Kampala Monorail’; Uganda Journal, Volume 33, Part 1, 1969, p88-89; accessed via, on 27th February 2019.
  9. The Imperial Gazetteer of India. Volume 20, p44; accessed via, on 27th February 2019.
  10. Mumbai gawks as train chugs overhead;, 19th February 2013, accessed on 27th February 2019.
  11., quoting Cassell’s Railways of the World By Frederick Arthur Ambrose Talbot, 1924 edition; accessed on 28th February 2019.
  12., quoting “Sands of Time” (PDF). Newsletter of Tata Central Archives. Tata. V (1): 5–6th January 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19th July 2008; accessed on 28th February 2019.
  13., accessed on 28th February 2019.
  14., accessed on 28th February 2019.
  15., accessed on 28th February 2019.

Uganda Railways – Part 30 – The Railway Magazine 1950 – June 1950

Reading through old copies of The Railway Magazine, I came across this article in the June 1950 copy. I thought it might be of interest alongside my earlier post about traction on the East African Railways:

and my previous (most recent) post in this series ….

Kenya and Uganda Railway Locomotives

by G. Gibson CME, E.A.R.&H. [1]

Class F 0-6-0 Locomotive. [2]

Class B 2-6-0 Locomotive. [2]

Class N 2-6-0 Locomotive, introduced in 1896. [1]

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, attained the dignity of a city on 30th March (1950) when the Duke of Gloucester presented the Royal Charter as the highlight of a week of Golden Jubilee celebrations, and it is of interest to recall briefly the part played by the locomotives of the metre-gauge East Africa railways in the development of the colony.

As has been recorded in an earlier article in this series, in 1895, construction was commenced at Mombasa on what was then known as the Uganda Railway. The track crossed from the island to the mainland over the Salisbury Bridge, since replaced by a road and rail causeway. It then passed through the coastal belt, with groves of coconut palms and tropical trees, to emergea at about 900ft. above sea level on to the Nyika Desert, where the line travelled for some 80 miles through sparsely-populated unwatered red earth and thorn scrub land. From Voi, 103 miles from the coast, and at 1,834 ft, above sea level, the country changed to contrasting scenes of rocky outcrop amid the thorn scrub. The Tsavo River, 135 miles inland, the permanent crossing of which was later hampered by man-eating lions, marked the boundary of a section of some 65 miles of thick thorn bush and forest, now forming part of the Tsavo National Game Park. From Makindu, more open country was encountered, and at mile 286, at Konza, 5,428 ft. above sea level, the line commenced its crossing of the Kipiti and Athi Plains, reaching Nairobi at mile 330, and at 5,453 ft. above sea level, where in July, 1899, the railhead was established and headquarters were moved there from Mombasa later in the same year.

At Nairobi the construction gangs paused to gather strength for their assault on the highlands. A tent town sprang up while stores were being accumulated and fresh labour recruited. Before long, the few European traders who had followed erected stores, while other pioneers commenced farming in the district. Administration offices and maintenance workshops for rolling stock were constructed, quarters and offices for railway staff built, and almost over-night Nairobi was established. Administered and supplied from Nairobi, the track struggled onwards through the forest-covered highlands, down the escarpments and across the floor of the Great Rift Valley, situated in which was then the boundary with Uganda. Kisumu, then Port Florence, on the shores of the Kavirondo Gulf of Lake Victoria, was reached in December, 1901.

To start the initial construction of the line, two locomotives and 25 wagons had been imported from India. There appears to be no detailed description of the locomotives available today, nor is it certain that they were both of the same type, as both ” A ” and ” E ” class engines are mentioned in early papers. They were certainly very small, and the Chief Engineer reported them as being incapable of hauling more than two wagons on a 1 in 30 grade.

The first locomotives for which details are available were those known as the ” N ” class, of which eight were placed in service in 1896, and a further eight in 1899. Principal dimensions are given in the accompanying table.Principal Dimensions of Locomotives. [5]

Three were fitted with Joy’s valve gear and the balance with Walschaerts link motion. These engines suffered from one serious defect, in that they continually derailed. History has recorded that one guard; suffering from acute verbosity, was instructed to condense his telegrams. Thereafter ” on again ” or ” off again,” as the occasion warranted, was all that was heard of these incidents. The last three of this class were scrapped in 1931.

To meet increasing demands for power and to provide a more reliable locomotive than the ” N ” class, eight ” F ” class engines were received in 1897 and a further 26 in 1893. They were made by Neilson Reid and Vulcan Foundry.

In the latter part of 1897, orders were placed with Baldwins for 36 engines, known as the ” B ” class; 20 were received in 1899 and the balance in 1900. They proved reliable in service, but more expensive to maintain than the ” F ” class. They were typical of American design at that time, with bar frames, and sand box mounted on the boiler top. The ” F ” and ” B ” class locomotives suffered all the wear and tear of the construction days and by 1910 were in poor shape. Because of the difficulty in obtaining locomotive power, and to heavy military demands during the 1914-1918 war years, they were kept in service, however, although uneconomical, and were not finally written off as a class until 1931. Several of them were des-troyed by the mines of enemy raiding parties. In April and May, 1915, some 50 attempts were made on the railway by such parties, often resulting in fatal casualties among train crews.

By 1910 the tonnages hauled were rising rapidly and more locomotive power was essential. Orders were placed with the North British Locomotive Company, in 1911 for 18 Mallet type compound locomotives.The Mallet Type 0-6-6-0 compound tender locomotive. [3]

They were received in 1913 and 1914, but troubles were experienced with failures of the articulating bracket and maintenance proved heavy. Some redesigning was effected locally and improvements in performance resulted, but drivers did not like them, and stories were whispered of the strategies adopted by the crews to ensure that the engines did not run. Failures were certainly very frequent. After one engine of the class had been used for various experiments in 1929, they were scrapped in 1930.

At about the same time as orders were placed for the Mallet locomotives, three side-tank engines were ordered from Nasmyth, Wilson, known locally as the ” E.D.” class, and placed in service in 1913. They proved successful and were employed on main line traffic; additional water and fuel was supplied from auxiliary vehicles attached behind the engine. Reports at the time spoke of their ability to haul heavier loads, but with fuel consumptions equal to the older engines. They were scrapped in 1938.Class E.D. 2-6-2 Locomotive. [4]

Seven ” E.B.” class engines were ordered about a year after the ” E.D.” class tanks and put into service in 1914. In 1919 the order was repeated for a further 34 of the same pattern but be-cause of changes in a few details, these were designated “E.B.1″; 17 were placed in service in 1920 and the remainder in 1921. The original seven ” E.B.” class, and 28 of the ” E.B.1 ” class were scrapped in 1934, but the balance of six “E.B.1” engines are still in use today (1950) on shunting and departmental duties. Until 1914, the longest rigid wheelbase of any locomotive had been the 11 ft. 0 in. of the ” F ” class. In view of the extension of this to 12 ft. on the ” E.B.” Class, it was thought advisable to order the engines with flangeless leading coupled wheels. On arrival in the colony, they were found to have flanged wheels throughout, and were withheld from traffic for some time pending receipt of the correct tyres. Circumstances, however, forced their use in traffic with flanged wheels in which they proved completely successful. The ” E.B.” class were built by Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. Ltd., and the ” E.B.1 ” class by the North British Locomotive Co. Ltd. Oil fuel equipment was first tried out in the colony on one of these engines.

To return to 1913, as a consequence of the success of the ” E.D. ” class, a modified form of tank engine was ordered from Nasmyth, Wilson & Co. Ltd. They were known as the ” E.E.” class; five were placed in service in 1913 and a further three in 1914. They were due for withdrawal in 1939, but were retained in service as a result of wartime conditions, and are still giving useful service today (1950). In most respects they were identical with the ” E.D.” class, but the change from trailing pony to a bogie permitted an increase of water capacity from 800 to 1,200 gallons, and fuel from 1.5 to 2.5 tons. The adhesive weight was increased to 33.54 tons.

Up to 1921, superheaters had not been introduced, but in that year two experimental locomotives, ordered from Nasmyth, Wilson, in 1919. were placed in service. Based on similar specifications to the ” E.B.” and ” EAU ” class engines, but fitted with Robinson superheaters, they were known as the “E.B.2″ class. The resulting economies proved their worth but the locomotives were written offoff 1934 as they had been heavily worked as trial engines.

Following on the trials of the ” E.B.2 ” class, a total of 62 ” E.B.3 ” class engines were ordered between 1922 and 1930, all of which are in service today (1950). They proved a reliable class, and were originally employed on all mail links and through goods trains.Class EB3 Locomotive. [3]

Consequent on the advent of bigger and faster types, today they have been relegated to branch line and main line pick-up traffic, but are still regarded with considerable affection by the older hands who learnt their worth when they were, the pride of the railway. They were built by Vulcan Foundry and Nassmyth, Wilson.

In 1926, 21 shunting tank engines, similar in most respects to the “E.E.” class, but reverting to the original 2-4-2 wheel arrangement, were placed in service and were followed by a further six of the same type in 1930 and 1931. They were built by Vulcan Foundry and the Hunslet Engine. Co. Ltd., and their leading particulars, with the exception of the wheel arrangement and the slightly higher adhesne weight of 33.75 tons, are identical with the ” E.E.” class.

The year 1926 also witnessed the first arrivals of the Beyer-Garratt type engines, which later were to become the mainstay of the railway’s motive power. An initial order for four “E.C.” class was received and they were put into service immediately. The wheel arrangement and the motion was based on the “E.B.3” type, with slightly smaller cylinders, and the axleload limited to 10 tons to enable the engines to be used on the 50-lb track of branch lines.Class EC3 4-8-4+4-8-4 Beyer-Garratt Locomotive. [4]

In 1939, these four engines, with two of a later class, were sold to Indo-China to make room for six engines of a heavier type. Following on the successful operation and increased load capacity attainable by the ” E.C.” class, orders were placed with Beyer, Peacock & Co. Ltd., for a further 12 Garratt type, modified in a few details from the earlier engines. These were placed in service in 1928 and were designated “E.C.1” class. The main difference between the two classes is in the adhesive weight, which is increased to 83.85 tons. Total weight is increased to 134.6 tons, water capacity to 5,250 gal. and fuel to 10 tons.

In 1931, ten ” E.C.2 ” class Garratt locomotives, made by the North British Locomotive Co. Ltd., were imported. They are a little heavier than the ” E.C.1 ” class, having an adhesive weight of 87.95 tons and a total weight in working order of 142.1 tons. In all other leading particulars they are identical although there are a few differences in detail where infringement of established patents might occur.

At about the time of the receipt of the first Beyer-Garratt, orders were placed with Robert Stephenson & Co. Ltd., for six 2-8-2 engines. They arrived in the colony in 1925, but were not placed in service until 1927-28 ; these six ” EA.” class locomotives have given very fine service on the fast mail link between Nairobi and the coast.Class EA and EC5 Locomotives. [3]

Today they have been relegated to long distance through goods traffic between the capital and Mombasa, being limited by their 17.5 tons of axle load to this section, which until recently was the only line laid with 80-lb. rails. Orders have been placed for fittings and materials to rejuvenate the class and they should then give many more years of useful service. In December 1948, one of these engines completed its first million miles in service.

Since 1930, the only locomotives placed in service have been of the Beyer-Garratt type. In 1939, six ” E.C.3 ” engines were received, followed by two more of the same class in 1940 and a further four in 1941. They recorded large mileages during the late war, when traffic demands were the heaviest in the history of the railway. One engine covered 243,000 miles between shopping for heavy repairs, while several ran over 200,000. The boilers are fitted with arch tubes and thermic syphons. The maxi-mum axleload is 11.75 tons, which limits their use to anything but main line traffic, where they are used on mail and through freight trains, hauling loads of up to 575 tons on 2 per cent. grades.

In 1944, were delivered seven ” E.C.4 ” class Garra tts from the War Department. With smaller wheels and larger cylinders than the “E.C.3” class, they are the most powerful locomotives in use on the railway today. They are limited to main line use because of their axle load of 13.75 tons, and are used on through goods traffic between the coast and the capital. The boilers are fitted with arch tubes and have the largest firegrate area of any class.

Two ” Burma ” type ” E.C.5 ” class locomotives were placed in service in 1945. They were transferred to Tanganyika in 1949 after a comparatively short period of service in Kenya and Uganda; Tanganyika already had four of the class in service. The engines were replaced in Kenya with six ” E.C.6 ” locomotives almost identical in design, but with 11 tons axle load and modified firebox. At the present time, a further consignment of Garratt type locomotives, representing a modernised form . of the ” E.C.3 ” class are being unloaded at Mombasa and prepared for service.

With the exception of the three ” N ” class engines with Joy’s valve gear, all locomotives have been fitted with Walschaerts link motion. Electric lighting was first introduced during the 1914-18 war years. Since 1922, all engines have been fitted with turbo-generator equip¬ment.

Up to 1900, Welsh coal was imported as locomotive fuel. When, however, the track had reached forest areas in or near the highlands, a change was made to wood fuel, which was cut and stacked at suitable points on the line side. In 1926, coal again was imported, but from South Africa, when it was required for the first Beyer-Garratts. Oil as a fuel was first considered in 1899, but no action was taken Until 1915, when an ” E.B.” class engine was fitted for trials. It was not finally accepted until 1948, however, and now all classes, with the exception of the “E.B.1s,” have been converted to burn liquid fuel.



1. G. Gibson; Kenya & Uganda Railway Locomotives; The Railway Magazine, Volume 96, No. 590, p401-405.

2. The Railway Magazine, Volume 96, No. 590, p398.

3. The Railway Magazine, Volume 96, No. 590, p399.

4.The Railway Magazine, Volume 96, No. 590, p404.

5. The Railway Magazine, Volume 96, No. 590, p402-403.

Uganda Railways – Part 29 – The Railway Magazine 1950 – April 1950

I have been looking through old railway magazines over the Christmas break this year (2018) and came  across articles in the 1950 editions of the Railway Magazine which relate to this series of posts. The first is in the April 1950 edition of the magazine. ……..

The April 1950 edition of The Railway Magazine [1] contains the first of these articles written by Thomas H. Cobb. The next three images are scans of the relevant pages of The Railway MagazineThe text is reproduced below:

At 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays the down Uganda Mail starts from Kampala on its 884-mile journey to the coast at Mombasa. In its course it crosses the Nile within a mile of its source, the highest railway summit in the British Empire, the equator three times, and diagonally the Eastern Rift Valley and up the eastern wall of it. From Nairobi it drops over 5,000 ft. to the sea in little more than 300 miles, and the whole journey takes just under 48 hours.

The Uganda Railway was begun on December 11, 1895, with construction on a few miles on Mombasa island and on the adjacent mainland. There was con¬siderable skepticism as to whether the line would pay, but its avowed intention was to put an end to the slave trade. The work was done at high speed and survey parties were always busy on the next section ahead of the construction. By 1899 the railhead had reached the further edge of the Athi Plain at mile 315, and halted while the survey parties went ahead, and a supply base was established at the foot of the hills. This spot has become Nairobi. Indians were imported to build the line to the metre-gauge (which it still remains). object of the builders was to push on to Uganda as quickly as possible; one result was that Kenya was ‘discovered’ on the way.

After Nairobi the line climbed into the Kikuyu Hills and dropped down the escarpment into the Eastern Rift Valley. Such was the hurry to get the line open that the word ‘dropped’ is almost literal; a temporary line was laid to overcome this descent of 1,552ft on gradients varying from 1 in 7 to 1 in 1.75. This section was worked by ropes and for the steeper two parts a carrier was used for the trucks, as at Hownes Gill on the Stanhope & Tyne Railway in County Durham. The permanent line was brought into use in 1901, and the ‘lift’ remains only a scar on the hil-face. North-west along and across the bottom of the valley construction was easy, but at Nakuru the line had to begin to surmount the Mau Plateau over which it passes,with asummit of 8,322 ft. There are 27 steel trestle viaducts on this section, and the temporary line climbed down one side of the ravines on a gradient of 1 in 30, reversed and climbed out the other side on the same grade. From the summit the descent to the Lake is steeper, about 4,500 ft. in 80 miles. The first loco¬motive reached Port Florence (Kisumu) on Lake Victoria on December 20, 1901. Kisumu is 179 miles by water from Port Bell, which is 6 miles by rail from Kampala, the commercial capital of Uganda.

This land and water route remained the route to Uganda till the first half of the 1920s, when the all-rail route was completed, branching northwards from. the Kisumu line at Nakuru and sur- mounting the Uasin Gishu Plateau near Timboroa, over the record summit of 9,136 ft. The line then descended into Uganda and joined the Busoga Railway, which was already in existence from Jinja to Namasagali, circumventing the rapids of the Nile. The junction, at Mbulamuti, about 30 miles north of Jinja, was reached in 1928. In 1931 the last section of the main line was opened, from Jinja to Kampala. The main engineering feature of this section is the single-span rail and road bridge over the Nile at Jinja, just below the Ripon Falls, where the Nile starts its 3,000-mile journey to the Mediterranean.

The Uganda Railway reached Tororo, the first station in Uganda, in 1927; just before it reached the objective that its name implied, it was renamed the Kenya & Uganda Railway, which it remained till May 1, 1948, when all the railway and steamship services in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika amalgamated to form the East African Railways & Harbours. These lines have always been state railways, though they are administered as a separate department.

A journey from Mombasa to Kampala is by no means dull. The mail train consists of about 13 carriages, three first, three second, three or four third, a restaurant car and two or three old first class non-corridor carriages used as seconds. This comes to about 400 tons tare. In addition, there are two vans for crew and three or four covered freight trucks. From Mombasa the train is worked by a Mikado, built in 1927 by Robert Stephenson, Darlington, originally intended for shunting, but now used on most passenger trains between Mombasa and Nairobi, where the lines are 80lb to the yard, laid in 40 ft. lengths. The ruling grade from Mombasa to Nairobi is 1.18 per cent. in the up direction and 1.05 per cent. in the down, apart from the first few miles, where it is 2 per cent. to get clear of the coast. Up means up¬country. All gradient posts are marked in percentages.

The line is single throughout, with passing loops at most of the stations, and water at intervals of some 20 miles. Signals guard the entrance to each loop, one above the other on the one post, the top indicating the left-hand loop, and the bottom the right. There is a daily service from Mombasa to Nairobi, and twice a week the trains run right through to Kampala. The train leaves Mombasa at 4.30 p.m. and reaches Nairobi (315 miles) at 8.52 the next morning. First and second class carriages have side corridors, and the seats form sleeping berths at night, four to a compartment as the racks let down to form the upper berths.

There is practically no difference between first and second class, except that the former have a fan and bed-reading lamps, and are slightly less crowded. Third class carriages have wooden seats and centre corridors; they are always crammed to bursting point. Hire of bedding, and food in the restaurant cars is cheap, and passengers are officially encouraged not to tip company servants – but they do. Speed is never high; the up mail train covers the first 30 miles out of Mombasa in 100 min., including two stops. All trains stop at all stations, with the exception of a few ‘local’ stations neat Mombasa and an odd flag stop or two usually missed by the mails. The Uganda Mail heading for Lake Victoria in the Kikuyu Hills, banked by 4-8-0 Locomotive No. 69. [2][4]

Before it gets dark you can see the whole of Mombasa Island and Kilindini Harbour as the line clears the coconut groves and negotiates the first spiral into the hills. The first thing that strikes a stranger is the sharpness of the curves on the metre-gauge; it is not unusual for a long train to be travelling in three directions at once, and the engine is frequently in full view of he windows of the ninth or tenth carriage. After dark the train is a lighted snake, as, even when the passengers’ lights are out, each carriage has a side-light in the middle just under the eaves. The engine pierces a tunnel in the darkness with its search-light. In the night are passed, Mackinnon Road, the new military headquarters of growing importance; Voi, junction for Moshi on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, and the Tanga line (the only physical connection with the railways of Tanganyika); and Tsavo, famous for its man-eater lions which made havoc of the construction gangs.[3]

You wake up next morning on what looks like Salisbury Plain, only here you climb up the side of every combe, round the end and out the other side. When I later saw this country from the air it looked quite flat and the railway seemed to be making an absurd fuss. At Nairobi the mail waits an hour-and-¬a-half. The station has three long platforms, mostly covered with awnings. the island connected with the main platform (which is used by the mails in both directions) by a subway. There is a complete set of signals, and it is the only station on the line which has the air of a station such as we know it in England. As at Marylebone, with luck one might see a train at any hour of the day. The mail endures some mar¬shalling, and some coaches are added for the longer stage on to Kampala.

When I came up we started from Nairobi with thirteen large coaches and several smaller ones, vans and trucks on the back, a tare weight of 470 tons. We were headed by a 4-8-2 + 2-8-4 Beyer Garratt, and were banked by one of the shapely 4-8-0 tender engines which are the maids of all work. The line turns a sharp right-angle to the north to circumvent the town, and then plunges straight into the 1 in 50, which lasts for nearly 20 miles with few intermissions, and some pitches of 1 in 40. The scenery changes to woods of eucalyptus and intensive cultivation.

At lunch time, after a morning of heavy slogging, the train reaches Uplands, and suddenly, the Rift Valley is spread at your feet. Here a new alignment, the third in 50 years, was brought into use at the beginning of 1948, and the trees have not had time to grow high enough to obscure the view. The valley stretches as far as you can see, blue in the midday haze, and in the middle you look down into the crater of the extinct volcano Longonot. The railway winds down the face of the escarpment on a steady grade of 1.05 per cent., which is considerably better than the old route, up which trains took 2 hr. to struggle 15 miles, with two stops. In the floor of the valley the line passes hills of fantastic shape, like sleeping camels and inverted washbasins, and you can see the beautiful lakes Naivasha and Elementeita; at Eburru jets of steam spurt out of the ground. There are all kinds of game in the valley, and you are unlucky it you do not see a giraffe or an ostrich, or at least a herd of buck. In the evening the train arrives at Nakuru; 120 miles in just under 8 hr.

After Nakuru the light remains only long enough to see the Lake Nakuru, away to the south, with its fringe of pink flamingos, and as the darkness falls the old main line to Kisumu branches to the left. The line to Uganda goes up the side of a slope in a series of S-bends, and as the telegraph wires follow the line, from below they look like a forest as they thread backwards and forwards about six times. To see the next 125 miles to Eldoret, in some ways the most interesting of all, it is necessary to travel in a goods train which starts at dawn and arrives at dusk, taking just 12 hr. on the journey. The mail trains traverse this section in the night in both directions.

Some goods trains have a third class carriage at the back, and as the whole train is continuous-braked, travelling is not uncomfortable. Speed between stops is not much slower than the passenger trains, but crossing places may entail waits of over an hour, so heavily occupied is this section with goods trains during the day time. Soon the climbing starts in earnest, and the line is much on a shelf in wooded ravines, crossing side valleys on horseshoe embankments. From Maji Mazuri to Equator Station is over 20 miles, dreaded by enginemen for fear the water will run out; this stretch is over an hour’s collar work.

Below Equator station the line rises clear of the trees and the country is grassy and open, the scenery Alpine without the mountains or snow. An S-bend, and the lower of the two spirals is encountered. In the station the ‘line’ runs through the platform, at an altitude of 8,716 ft., 1,050 ft. above Maji Mazuri. The equator is crossed again, the second spiral is threaded, and the equator is crossed for the third and last time. An EC3 at the spiral close to Timboroa Station. [2]

Before the summit, the line ploughs into wonderful cuttings and woods, and the absolute top is reached at 9,136 ft.The Summit, the highest altitude reached by any British colonial railway. [5]

Timboroa station, 9,001 ft., is just beyond the Summit. Because of these altitudes it was considered that the vacuum brake would not hold, so the Westinghouse is fitted.

The descent to Eldoret is quite different in scenery. First come bamboo forests, and a steel trestle over a ravine, then open country not unlike the moors between Riccarton Junction and Whitrope summit on the Waverley route. At times you might think you were coming down Shap to the south, or crossing the blasted heath between Penruddock and Troutbeck. The kindlier country begins at Eldoret, where you are down to 6,000ft again. Eldoret, a thriving centre of Kenya settlers, has the unfortunate distinction of having its two passenger trains a week in each direction in the station between 1 and 1.30 a.m. From Eldoret to Tororo I have not travelled by daylight, even in a goods train.

At Tororo the line enters Uganda. It is hotter and greener than Kenya, but, apart from the rocks of Tororo, reputed scene of Conan Doyle’s Lost World, the scenery as far as Jinja is dull. The line runs up and down small slopes, between elephant grass, sometimes as tall as 20 ft., bananas, coffee and cassava. At one place the Mpologoma swamp is crossed, an oasis of bright green papyrus, on a 2-mile embankment which gives continual trouble to the maintenance department. Near Jinja, extensive sugar estates are passed. The wealthy Kampala dwellers cut this last bit out by having their cars to meet them at Nsinze, whence it takes about 3 hr. by road to get home; the train, winding northwards through Busoga, and wandering back south with a touch of east, spends 7 hr. After Jinja, which is reached after lunch, the line twists and plunges down to cross the Nile. This is one of the highlights of the journey.

The bridge is in sight of the Ripon and the Owen Falls, and the line swings round and climbs till it passes just above the former. The clear blue of Lake Victoria and the broken white of the falls are not only a relief to the eye of the hot and dusty traveller, but here at your feet is the answer to the age-old riddle of where the Nile comes from; this is its very source. One wonders if the
Baganda and Basoga, who lived in mutual enmity on either side of it, ever used to ask themselves where the river went to. Opposite is the golf-course on which hippopotami form natural bunkers; and are the rub of the green.

Buganda, entered on crossing the Nile, is a country of hills all same-height with flat tops, divided by swamps. The line was built more cheaply here, and there are many short stretches of 2 per cent. uncompensated on the curves. The line rises and falls to cross almost every anthill. The downhill stretches lead to swamps which are crossed on embankments with right-angle bends, and as speed gathers you wonder what will happen at the bottom as you see the Beyer-Garratt swing round in full view of your window. About 10 years ago there was a terrible accident, and a crowded train plunged into a swamp. Over 20 passengers from the teeming third class carriages were pinned into the ooze and drowned.

Kampala, reached almost exactly 48 hr. after leaving Mombasa, is a single-platform station with a short bay at the eastern end. It is built at the top of a single line ramp of 2 per cent., and the yards are in the lower ground below. There is no turntable, but a triangle is laid. out among the eucalyptus trees. The platform is covered most of its length, and the offices and station building are the best in the town. There are plans to extend the railway 200 -miles farther west to Toro, on the slopes of Ruwenzori, which divides Uganda from the Belgian Congo. There are vast copper deposits there, but the proposed railway may be abandoned in favour of a canal, which will involve the deepening of a river whose flow is so sluggish that it is marked on maps as flowing both ways.

Some curiosities to end with: from Mbulamuti to Jinja the east-west main line runs distinctly eastwards for about 20 miles. The curves on the line have the inner edge of the outer rail oiled by hand twice a week. The two summits of 8,322 and 9,136 ft. on the Kisumu and Kampala lines respectively are only 20 miles apart, but on quite separate lines, yet they have each pursued an independent course of over 60 miles from their divergence at Nakuru. The main line from Nairobi to Uplands is being re-aligned, which will entail a completely new course for about 20 miles, and the complete abandonment of one station; at one point a tunnel is being cut, which will rob the tunnel on the Kisumu line of its uniqueness in East Africa. The only racial discrimination on the railway is against Europeans, as they are not issued with tickets below second class, even for trains which consist of third class carriages only.


  1. Thomas H. Cobb; The Kenya-Uganda Railway; in The Railway Magazine No. 588 Vol. 96 April 1950, p262-267.
  2. The Railway Magazine April 1950, p250.
  3. The Railway Magazine April 1950, p265.
  4. The Railway Magazine April 1950, p264.
  5. The Railway Magazine April 1950, p251.

Uganda Railways – Part 27 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Part E (Rolling Stock 1895 to 2018)

Metre-Gauge Railways in East Africa – Rolling Stock

This post provides a short survey of carriages, goods wagons and brake vans/cabooses on the network in Kenya and Uganda from the inception of the Uganda Railway in the 19th Century to through the demise of the East African Railways Corporation in 1977 on to 2018 when this post is being written. The approach is eclectic rather than structured and the post includes some interesting vehicles.

A. The Early Years

Nairobi Railway Museum houses a couple of examples of passenger stock from the very early years of the line. During the construction phase of what was the original main line from Mombasa to Kisumu it was not possible to provide air conditioning in carriages! Carriages had to be design in order to limit temperature experienced by passengers.It was from this coach that superintendent Charles Henry Ryall was dragged and killed by a man eating lion on 6th june 1900 at Kima station. [1]Interior of a 1st Class Carriage at Nairobi Railway Museum. [35]The coach in the first image above can be seen poking its nose into this image of another Uganda Railway 1st Class carriage. The photo was taken, by me, in 1994.British and SA troops in WW1 decorate a Uganda Railway train at Voi with merchandise confiscated from felled or runaway German troops. [9]111397: Nairobi Kenya Preserved Uganda Railway Officers Saloon No 13 on platform, (c) Weston Langford. [8]Lion leaning on the back of carriage with box van behind, dated around 1961. The image shows a lion stepping up on to the back of the railway carriage and trying to find a way in. The photo is linked to the East African Railways & Harbours/Caltex historical film ‘The Permanent Way”, which included the building of the original ‘Uganda Railway’ from Mombasa to Kisumu (now in Kenya) from 1895 to 1903. [36]An example of one of the above coaches at the rear of a train on the first (timber) bridge between Mombasa Island and the mainland. [2]Similar carriages illustrated again at At Mombasa Railway Station around the turn of the 20th century. [3]Loading the train. [3]Another images of the early carriages, this time at Changamwe Railway Station a few kilometres from Mombasa. [4] This picture also provides a glimpse of a typical covered goods wagon in use on the line in the early 20th Century.And at Samburu. [5]A short train of open wagons close to Mombasa in the construction phase of the line. [3]  The two images immediately above are evidence of a rather chaotic attitude to the transport of railway workers in the years of the construction of the line! [6]A Uganda Railway wagon stands alongside Indian labourers as they repair the railway near Taveta during WW1. It had been bombed by the Germans. [9]An interesting example of early holiday travel. A short journey down the line to shoot game! [7]A further example of provision made for shooting parties: the High Commissioner to had the railway extended to his estate. It was used by the Governor Frederick John Jackson who owned a 1910 BSA Railcar, which was used for hunting parties. When the American President Theodore Roosevelt visited Uganda he borrowed the railcar. The BSA Railcar above was restored by the Sandstone Heritage Trust in South Africa. [7]

The railcar was made for the High Commissioner by the Drewry Car Co, using a BSA engine. Drewry & Sons had previously been cycle builders, run by Charles Drewry and his two sons, and located at the Herne Hill Cycle Works, 286-290 Milkwood Road. James Drewry delivered a motorised railway inspection trolley to Africa (below). Subsequently the company started building the BSA-engined Railcars. BSA took over production themselves in 1908. [7]An early goods train on the line, crossing a steel viaduct. The train is a combination of open wagons and a cattle wagon. [10]An open wagon supplied to the Uganda Railway in 1902 by the Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Ltd of Birmingham, UK. [16]Another early wagon on display at Nairobi Railway Museum. [24]

I have recently discovered some photographs of a model railway based on this line in the early years of the 20th Century. My interest in model railways means that I find these images exciting.I have still to find out more about this model. The rolling stock and locomotives seem to be very faithful to the original. [12]

B. The Developing and Growing Network

Early coaching stock began to give way to slightly better travelling conditions and carriage sizes began to develop to provide the travelling public with a better standard of service.The three pictures immediately above were taken by me in 1994 at Mombasa Railway Station. They provide a glimpse of passenger coaches stored in the sidings at the station and it is my hope that this blog post will place them into context in the history of the railway.The interior of a restaurant car. [23]A Class 11 locomotive during WW1 travels with an open wagon ahead of it to allow for the possibility of German mines.111510: In a siding at Gulu, Uganda Officers Inspection Car No 116 sits awaiting possible duties, (c) Weston Langford. [8]Passenger livery for an inspector’s caboose complete with rear window which was not fitted on a goods caboose. Goods cabooses were finished in all over maroon, as shown in the smaller image below, (c) Peter Ritchie. [11]


The larger monochrome image below shows a passenger train caboose in use by the sikh drivers of the train as their rest-coach between stints at the controls of the train, (c) Anthony Potterton. [6]The image immediately above shows a large caboose (No. 962) in all-over maroon, pictured in the Mombasa Railway Station sidings in 1994. The picture is one of my own.The photograph above shows a similar caboose (No. 6067). The notices on the doors indicate that the left-hand door is for the Mechanical Department Staff and the right-hand one for Mechanical Department Drivers. The caboose is stabled at Voi. [13] A similar vehicle is shown in this picture (adjacent) taken by George Gilliland. [11]

Freight/Goods wagons increased in size from those used in early years. The picture below shows an early flat bed wagon being loaded with a more modern car. [6] Should we call it a car transporter?The sidings at the main stations on the line provide ample evidence of the amount of freight which used to be carried on the line. Much of the rolling stock (both for freight and passengers) seems to be stabled and unused in many of these images below. These images have been trawled from a series of different websites.Coaching stock at Nairobi Station. [14]A picture taken from Nairobi Railway Museum. [15]Carriage interior. [34]More pictures taken from Nairobi Railway Museum (above and adjacent). [15]

A typical mixed train consist is shown below – coaches, box wagons and tarpaulin covered open wagons being typical. There would also have been a caboose to allow drivers rest-time.

More images of rolling stock follow. As the 20th Century gradually came to an end traditional wagons were replaced by flatbed container wagons. Rail transport also began to specialize as road transport carried the more regular loads.Typical goods traffic from the 1960s was covered wagons which required loading before incorporating into goods trains, as immediately below. [17]Bulk loads of oil or specialist loads of wire which travelled from point of origin to point of destination on the railways, and did not need transshipment, became the main freight carried on the line. A typical oil train is shown above. [19] And a specialist load is shown below. [20]Container traffic became more and more significant.Mombasa metre-gauge freight railway terminal. [21]Image result for railway Carriages in KenyaNew coaches for Kenya produce by BREL in Derby UK. [33]


A series of railway maintenance cranes were kept at a variety of stations along the route of the metre-gauge line. Some of these are now kept at Nairobi Railway Museum.Crane No. 1164 at Nairobi Railway Museum where it is seen outside after repainting on 22nd October 2015, (c) Geoff Warren. [22] Also at Nairobi Railway Museum, Crane No. 1106, (c) John Ashworth. [22] At Nairobi Depot, Crane No. 1130, (c) John Ashworth. [22]At Nairobi Depot, Crane No. 1013, (c) John Ashworth. [22]Crane No. 1101 sitting idle and rusting away in Kampala. [22]

Light Weight Passenger Stock (Aluminium)

In the latter years of the East African Railway Corporation purchases of light weight carriages were made and many of these were used as 1st Class carriages.

A number were used as coaches to be dropped off from the main services to allow first class access to branch-lines. This practice is covered in an early post in this series. [30] A couple of photographs follow. ….

Other Interesting Pictures

East African Railways Railcar No. 3 was a Wickham Railcar, it was built in 1947. One of its sisters is shown below. [26]Railcar No. 2 was also built in 1947 and was 200hp, used on the Kisumu-Butere branch line. [27]East African Railways Inspection Vehicle. [28] The two images immediately above show a Uganda Railways Postal Wagon under construction at the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Works in the UK. [29]

C. The Latter years

After 1977, the rolling stock (and locomotives) on the network were distributed between the three main constituent parts in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Very little new stock was purchased once the East African Railways Corporation had been split up. However, in 2015, the Uganda Observer reported that RVR was set to increase its current haulage capacity by 50 per cent after its first 120 of 480 heavy-duty railway wagons arrived in Kenya. Apparently, each of the wagons, which were built by the China CNR Corporation, had the capacity to transport 60 tonnes per trip, an increase from a then current 40-tonne load capacity per wagon. [32]

In 1994, I travelled from Mombasa to Kampala by train. I was on my own and so experienced a few problems with leaving luggage in my compartment when eating in the dining car. My luggage was expertly searched and some of my well-hidden cash (US dollars) went missing. The culprit had the confidence to approach me before I had noticed the loss to change some of the currency for him!

The theft apart, I had a wonderful time. The pictures that follow are not my own and were taken in the early years of the 21st century under the tenure of Rift Valley Railways (RVR). The journey that I enjoyed from Mobassa to Kampala was only available for a few years in the 1990s. The sleeper services in Kenya travelled from Kisumu through to Mombasa. Apart for the repainting of the carriages which were originally built in the UK, there seems to be little difference in the travelling conditions – silver service on starched table cloths, two berth cabins with connecting doors to the immediately adjacent cabin, etc. The first two images are taken from the pre-RVR era. The first three are my own (low quality slides) from 1994. The Nairobi-Mombasa express…  (c) David Pinney. [31]









The pictures of the sleeper coaches and the dining car are taken from a blog entitles ‘The Man in Seat Sixty-One’ by Mark Smith. [31]

The sleeper train from Nairobi to Mombasa no longer travels as it has been replaced by the SGR line. However, the SGR does not access the centres of Nairobi and Mombasa. The image below shows the metre-gauge train arriving at Nairobi SGR terminus with a train from the much older city centre station.

The price for the journey from Nairobi to Mombasa in 1000 KSh in 2nd Class and 3000 KSh. in 1st Class. This is ridiculously cheap for a western traveller, there are around 125KSh to t UK£1 and 100KSh to US$1. A 2nd Class single from Nairobi to Mombasa is £8.00!!

A metre-gauge train in RVR colours has just arrived at the Nairobi terminus of the SGR line. [31]SGR trainPassenger coaches on the SGR are built in China, modern and air-conditioned… [31]


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Uganda Railways – Part 28 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Part F (1977 to 2018)

In 1977 the East African Railways Corporation (EARC), formerly the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EAR&H) was broken up. The three countries which made up the East African Community were unable to agree about many things and it became necessary for them to go their own ways. Three railway companies were formed: Kenya Railways Corporation; [1] Uganda Railways Corporation; [2] and Tanzania Railways Corporation. [3] In this post we will focus on the first two of these and on later arrangements with Rift Valley Railways which ended in 2017 when the two Corporations were reformed. At the end of the post, which is essentially about narrow-gauge railways we will highlight developments relating to the new standard-gauge lines which may well dominate the future in Kenya and Uganda.

  1. Kenya Railways Corporation
  2. Uganda Railways Corporation
  3. Rift Valley Railways
  4. Chinese Standard-Gauge Lines

In 1977 the East African Community (EAC) collapsed. The East African Community (EAC) is now an intergovernmental organization composed of six countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. John Magufuli, the president of Tanzania, is the EAC’s chairman. The organisation was founded in 1967, collapsed in 1977, and was revived on 7 July 2000. [4]

In 2008, after negotiations with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the EAC agreed to an expanded free trade area including the member states of all three organizations. The EAC is an integral part of the African Economic Community.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have cooperated with each other since the early 20th century. The customs union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which Tanganyika joined in 1927, was followed by the East African High Commission (EAHC) from 1948 to 1961, the East African Common Services Organization (EACSO) from 1961 to 1967, and the East African Community (EAC) from 1967 to 1977. [5] Burundi and Rwanda joined the EAC on 6 July 2009. [6]

Inter-territorial co-operation between the Kenya Colony, the Uganda Protectorate, and the Tanganyika Territory was formalised in 1948 by the EAHC. This provided a customs union, a common external tariff, currency, and postage. It also dealt with common services in transport and communications, research, and education. Following independence, these integrated activities were reconstituted and the EAHC was replaced by the EACSO, which many observers thought would lead to a political federation between the three territories. The new organisation ran into difficulties because of the lack of joint planning and fiscal policy, separate political policies, and Kenya’s dominant economic position. In 1967, the EACSO was superseded by the EAC. This body aimed to strengthen the ties between the members through a common market, a common customs tariff, and a range of public services to achieve balanced economic growth within the region. [7]

In 1977, the EAC collapsed. The causes of the collapse included demands by Kenya for more seats than Uganda and Tanzania in decision-making organs, [8] disagreements with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who demanded that Tanzania as a member state of the EAC should not harbour forces fighting to topple the government of another member state, and the disparate economic systems of socialism in Tanzania and capitalism in Kenya. [9] The three member states lost over sixty years of co-operation and the benefits of economies of scale, although some Kenyan government officials celebrated the collapse with champagne.[10]

The EAC was revived on 30 November 1999, when the treaty for its re-establishment was signed. It came into force on 7 July 2000, 23 years after the collapse of the previous community and its organs. A customs union was signed in March 2004, which commenced on 1 January 2005. Kenya, the region’s largest exporter, continued to pay duties on goods entering the other four countries on a declining scale until 2010. A common system of tariffs will apply to goods imported from third-party countries. On 30 November 2016 it was declared that the immediate aim would be confederation rather than federation. [11]

The collapse of the East African Community saw the railways split three ways and the stock was similarly dispersed. Inevitably stock was renumbered. A typical example is 4-8-0 steam locomotive No. 2401 which ended up in Uganda and can still be found at Tororo in a dilapidated state. Kenya took No. 2412 and renumbered it for the class leader No. 2401. It is this renumbered loco which can be seen at Nairobi Railway Museum.

From 1977 onwards existing classes of locomotive were supplemented by others.

1. Kenya Railways Corporation

In 1977, the Kenya Railways Corporation was formed. Over the next 30 years, Kenya’s railway network deteriorated from a lack of maintenance. By 2017, only half of Kenya’s metre-gauge railways remained in operation! [12]

In November 2006, the Rift Valley Railways Consortium took over the operation of railways in Kenya and Uganda under a 25-year concession. [13] However, RVR was unable to turnaround railway operations, hampered by corrupt management and aging infrastructure. In 2017, the World Bank found that a $22 million loan extended for the purchase of refurbished locomotives had been diverted into a shell company controlled by RVR executives. [14] The Uganda Railways Corporation issued a notice of default to RVR in 2016, [15] and the Kenya Railways Corporation terminated the concession in April 2017. [16]

From 1977 to 2006 a number of new locomotives were purchased.

Henschel – Class 62

A photograph of this locomotive can be found on flickr © CPH3. It was taken in 1979 and shows a Class 62, No. 6243 diesel hydraulic & GE U26C Class 93 at Nairobi MPD. The link is provided at Reference 38 below. [38]showimageClass 62, No. 6255 Henschel has arrived at Kisumu with the through carriages from Butere, bound for the Nairobi night train. Some shunting had to be done and then No. 6255 headed off to the shed, ending the duties for today. © [39]A pair of 62 Class diesels at Nairobi’s old steam shed with its water crane now devoid of its hose (right), © Graham Roberts. [40]

GE U26C – Class 93 and Class 94

The Kenya Railways (KR) U26C locomotives have been designated as class 93 (delivery in 1977, 26 units) and 94 (delivery in 1987, 10 units). [31]

In 1998, five of the class 93 locomotives were leased to Magadi Rail, a subsidiary of the Magadi Soda Company. They were used to operate soda ash trains from Magadi along the 150 km (93 mi) branch line to Konza, which is also leased to Magadi Rail. [32]. In 2007, they were returned to their owner. [33]

As at 2011, all members of class 93 and 94 formed part of the fleet of the Rift Valley RailwaysConsortium. They were all still serviceable and suitable for rehabilitation and upgrading. [34]Class 93, No. 9308 [35]Freight train on the way to Uganda near Nakuru, © Daniel Wipf. [36]Class 93, Nos. 9310 and 9322 double-heading a goods train at Equator, Kenya. [37]Class 93, No. 9306 at Mombasa © Daniel Wipf. [36]Kenya Railways Class 94 at the head of the train I travelled on from Mombasa to Nairobi in 1994, just about to leave Mombasa Railway Station.Class 94, No. 9402 [34]Class 94, No. 9406, one 10 U26C’s built under works numbers 45374-45383 in February 1987. Fitted with the 7FDL12 engine of 2610hp. 1.000m gauge, C-C wheel arrangement. 9406 and a sister loco in Nairobi freight yard (adjacent to Nairobi station). Train is a container train bound for Mombasa docks. Photo taken on 27 February 1998 © Dave Craik. [47] 

Other Locomotives

Class 95

Class 95, No. 9509 arrives at Nairobi with train from Mombasa. Kenyan Railways had 10 Class 95 which are GE Class 34’s leased from Spoornet. Photo taken on 27 February 1998, © Dave Craik. [47]

2. Uganda Railways Corporation

Uganda Railways Corporation was formed after the breakup of the East African Railways Corporation (EARC) in 1977 when it took over the Ugandan part of the East African railways. [20]

Its operation after the demise of the EARC was hampered by civil war and inefficient management in Uganda. A significant number of new locomotives were purchased in the time of Idi Amin. [59]

After the EAR breakup URC got the following locos:

36U01-06 Henschel DHG400 32209-14/1977-78 340 hp
62U01-10 Henschel DHG1000 32199-208/1977-78 760 hp
71U01-02 Alsthom AD12B 1986 1050 hp
73U01-20 Henschel DHG1200 32392-411/1978-83 1250 hp
73U21-33 Henschel DHG 1200 32949-61/1990 1250 hp
82U01-14 Alsthom AD20C 1979-81 2000 hp derated to 1650 hp. [59]

In 1989, government soldiers massacred sixty civilians at Mukura railway station.

Uganda Railways were joint recipients of the 2001 Worldaware Business Award for “assisting economic and social development through the provision of appropriate, sustainable and environmentally complementary transport infrastructure”. [21]Class 36, No. 36U06, Henschel DHG400 32209-14/1977-78 340hp (c) U.S. Army. [50]Uganda Railways Class 62 (Henschel DHG1000 32199-208/1977-78 760hp) at the head of a goods train heading from Nairobi to Kampala in 1994.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. [52] The two images immediately above show two Henschel locomotive types in Uganda Railways livery which were eventually renumbered as Class 73. The first image shows No. 73U15 [48] and a class-mate. The second shows No. 62U06. [49] The one below shows No. 73U33 (formerly No. 62U33) at Kampala Railway Station. [51]

In 2005, the Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVRC) from South Africa was awarded a concession to manage URC and Kenya Railways. RVRC was scheduled to take over operations on 1 August 2006. However, the East African Standard reported on 28 July 2006, that the take-over was postponed until 1 November 2006. [22] It actually took place in November 2006 and was scheduled to last for 25 years. [23]73U27 still in Uganda Railways livery but in charge of a RVR train in Kampala on 13th March 2012, the day after RVR took over local services. [53]

The 2007–08 Kenyan crisis included destructive riots that blocked and partly destroyed the rail system linking Kenya and Uganda, leading to economic difficulties in supply for Uganda. Further, destruction and loss of income led to significant financial losses. [24]

On 9 October 2008, Toll Holdings of Australia announced that it had entered into a contract to manage the Kenya-Uganda railway, replacing management by RVRC. Officers from Toll subsidiary Patrick Defence Logistics would manage the railway after the transition. [25]

Under Rift Valley Railways in August 2010 owned 3 No. ex-URC 62U and 15 No. ex-URC 73U in  (with some of the 73Us renumbered into 73s), while others could be found derelict at Nalukolongo Works. [59]

Because of extensive fraud [14] the Rift Valley Railways concession was terminated and in late February 2018, URC finally took possession of the concession assets and resumed operating the metre-gauge railway system in Uganda. [20][26]

3. Rift Valley Railways Consortium [27]

The governments of Uganda and Kenya contracted RVR, majority-owned by Egyptian equity firm Qalaa Holdings, to operate the 2,353-kilometre Kenya-Uganda railway line for 25 years. Rift Valley Railways (RVR) Consortium won the bid for private management of the century-old Uganda Railway in 2005 and in 2014, RVR moved 1,334 million net tonne kilometres of rail freight, up from 1,185 million net tonne kilometres the previous year. [28]Repainted/rebranded Class 87, No. 8723. [45]Old and new juxtaposed. A Class 93 in RVR livery passes one of the new SGR railway stations in Kenya. [46]Repainted/re-branded Class 94, No. 9409 at Nairobi Railway Station. [41]Repainted/re-branded and renumbered Class 62 locomotive, Class 73, No. 7319, at Kampala. [42]Newer locos of the Class 96 are shown in the two photos immediately above. The first is No. 9616 in charge of a goods train passing the SGR station at Mtito Andei, Kenya, (c) Jeff Angote. [43]  The second shows three of the class at Kampala Railway Station, No. 9617 is easily identified and the second locomotive is probably No. 9609. [44]

Rift Valley Railways purchased a number of locomotives from General Electric in 2014 and gave them the Class No. 96. RVR held a ceremony on 18th September  2014 to mark the commissioning of the first three of 20 second-hand GE B23-7 locomotives which were acquired from the USA at a cost of US$25m (2.2 billion Kenya Shillings) and converted from standard to metre gauge. These were  the first locomotives delivered to Kenya or Uganda since 1987. The remaining 17 arrived over the following five months.

By 2017 the relationship with both countries governments had soured completely. Both countries accused RVR of failing to live up to the terms of the concession, including non-payment of concession fees amounting (in the case of Uganda) to US$ 8.5 million equivalent to 31 billion Shillings. RVR is also said to be debt-ridden, owing hundreds of millions of dollars to lenders like the African Development Bank, German Development Bank, Infrastructure Crisis Facility, and Equity Bank. [29] There is evidence of corruption at the highest level in the company, as noted above, a $22 million loan extended for the purchase of refurbished locomotives had been diverted into a shell company controlled by RVR executives. [14]

The concession in both countries was terminated in the ‘winter’ months of 2017/2018.

4. Standard-Gauge Lines

In 2011, Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Road and Bridge Corporation to build the Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). Financing for the US$3.6 billion project was finalised in May 2014, with the Exim Bank of China extending a loan for 90% of the project cost, and the remaining 10% coming from the Kenyan government. [17] Passenger service on the SGR was inaugurated on 31 May 2017. [18]

As of June 2018, work is underway to extend the SGR to Naivasha. [19] There are plans to broaden the network of standard-gauge lines considerably as shown below. [30]

The SGR in Kenya currently runs from close to Mombasa to close to Nairobi. The style of the line and its stations is/are futuristic. A few images give a good impression of the line. It has not been universally well-received and particular concern has been expressed about access to both termini from their respective cities.Modern SGR train. [54]One of the many viaducts allowing wildlife free access under the new SGR railway, [55] SGR Mombasa terminus. [56]Nairobi SGR railway terminus. [57]Mtito Andei SGR Railway Station. [58]



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Uganda Railways – 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]


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Uganda Railways – 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]


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