Trans-Gabon Railway


Trans-Gabon Railway

The Trans-Gabon Railway ( _fr. Transgabonais) is the only railway in Gabon. It runs 670 km east from Owendo port station in Libreville to Franceville via numerous stations, the main ones being Ndjolé, Lopé, Booué, Lastoursville and Moanda.

Construction

A railway was first planned in 1885. Investigations into the line were conducted in 1968, funding was agreed in 1973, and construction began the following year. The first section, from Owendo to Ndjolé, opened in 1978, with the remaining sections opening in stages until December 1986. Costs were well over budget and almost bankrupted the country.

The Trans-Gabon Railroad is overall adjacent the Ogooue River until Ndjolé. Most important constructions are the Juckville Tunnel, the viaduct over the Abanga swamp, and the bridge over the confluence between the Ogooue and the Ivindo Rivers.

The line to Franceville was completed in 1987. [ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3MKT/is_v95/ai_4594164 ]

Gauge

Because the line was built well into the era of earthmoving machinery, the need to choose a narrow gauge to save costs was no longer important. However the choice of standard gauge took advantage of off the shelf equipment.

List of Stations

The Trans-Gabon Railway, 669km, has 23 stations. There are consecutively:
* Sahoué
* Owendo, (Kilometre Point) KP 0, which is near Libreville
* Ntoum, KP 35,
* Andem, KP 57,
* M'Bel, KP 85,
* Oyam, KP 118,
* Abanga, KP 148,
* Ndjolé, KP 182,
* Alembe, KP 202,
* Otoumbi, KP 226,
* Bissouna, KP 244,
* Ayem, KP 267,
* Lopé, KP 290
* Offoue, KP 312,
* Booue, KP 338 - proposed junction to Belinga
* Ivindo, KP 375
* Mouyabi, KP 411
* Milole, KP 448
* Lastoursville, KP 484
* Doume, KP 514
* Lifouta, KP 549
* Mboungou-Mbadouma, KP 584
* Moanda, KP 619
* Franceville, KP 669

Economy

Originally intended to reach Makokou and carry iron ore, its route was changed for political reasons, namely to keep within national borders managanese ore traffic that went on the COMILOG Cableway via the Republic of Congo. When the railway reached the manganese mine at Moanda, the Cableway was closed.

The railway is also important for transporting timber and uranium in addition to being the only important public transport route in the nation.

The railway was privatised in 1999. Plans regularly surface proposing an extension to Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo. There would be a break-of-gauge should the Gabon (1435mm) and Congo (1067mm) systems ever meet.

Traffic

* In 1996, the railway carried 3MT of freight and 190,000 passengers. [ Janes World Railways 2002-2003 ]

* A new railway serving the iron ore deposits at Belinga might carry 30MT of ore. Since this is ten times the traffic of the existing line, use of the existing line from the coast to the junction at Booue would require total reconstruction of the existing line, which is more easily done if a new line or track is built roughly parallel to the existing line. Since the two lines are the same gauge, it would of course be desirable for the two lines to connect.

Trivia

* The Trans-Gabon Railway is one of the few Central African railways which was not built during the colonial period.

* The Trans-Gabon Railway crosses the Ogooue River five times, at Franceville, at Ndjolé, and three times around Booue.
* Passenger services on the line are restricted to only three journeys per week.

Timeline

* New Hughes satellite based train control system installed. [ [http://www.hughes.com/HUGHES/Doc/0/517SIO0A4QFK32531JOAQDSI18/ChannelsFall04_LR.pdf untitled ] ]

2006

* June 2 - New line for iron ore from Belinga to port. Unclear if it will use part of existing line. Would be standard gauge. [ [http://www.terradaily.com/reports/China_given_monopoly_to_work_Gabons_untapped_iron_ore_resources.html China given monopoly to work Gabon's untapped iron ore resources ] ]

References

* Minko Monique. 1983. Les communications Terrestres. in "Geographie et Cartographie du Gabon, Atlas Illustré" led by The Ministère de l'Education Nationale de la Republique Gabonaise. Pg 86-87. Paris, France: Edicef

See also

* Transport in Gabon


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