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Original ATA News Release
2007 Congress Agenda

By Prof. Wolfgang H.Thome Apr.03,2015

In time for the Easter weekend travel rush, an African rail company has launched brand-spanking new passenger wagons to its line.

The Tanzania Railway Corporation yesterday sent 22 shiny new train wagons enroute from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma.

The new equipment, sourced from South Korea at a cost of nearly 29 billion Tanzania shillings, will operate as a new deluxe train unit with less stops enroute, which will cut the journey time by several hours.

The new wagons are, according to a statement seen from the Managing Director of Tanzania Railways, equipped with sockets to charge phones and computers and, still to be verified, apparently offers Wi-Fi connections. All passengers will travel seated and their number is limited to the available seats or sleeper compartments on the train. 

The so called “Central Line” on which this train will run is also due for upgrade and modernization from narrow gauge tracks to standard gauge tracks, which when ready, will connect not just domestic destinations within Tanzania at more than triple the average speed of trains now but also extend to Rwanda.

The new line, estimated to cost at present prices just under US$8 billion, is due to link Kigali with the present railway head in Isaka and is also expected to extend, via rail ferry from Mwanza, to a new port outside Kampala. When complete, this rail line will offer an alternative to the Mombasa – Nairobi – Kampala – Juba/Kigali standard gauge railway which is presently under construction in Kenya, while Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda have yet to commence work to link up to the Uganda/Kenya border. 

Additional rail projects are planned between the new port of Lamu to Addis Ababa and Juba under the LAPSSET initiative, while in Tanzania a new railway from Dar es Salaam to Mtwara, the country’s gas capital, is also under consideration.

Franco-Ethiopian Railway from Addis Ababa

by Jerry W. Bird

Sometimes I feel like Casey Jones, as if "Railways of the World" a series I launched in 1989, started a 'renaissance ' in rail travel. Perhaps it was ESP, because since then, many famous routes have been upgraded or restored, and new lines installed, as countless visitors rediscover the romance of the rails. Like me, these folks savor the fact that getting there is more than half the fun. Given Aladdin's 3 wishes, I would restore Emperor Haile Sellasie's 'Lion of Judah' railway engine, hook it up to the prized set of French and British coaches, and operate luxury excursion tours on the Franco-Ethiopian Railway line.

Built in the 1930s, the 482 mile route stretches from Addis Ababa, via Nazaret, the Rift Valley and Dire Dawa, to Djibouti, a French protectorate on the Gulf of Aden. Photo of Haile Selassie's Lion of Judah engiine (below) by Muguette Goufrani. In a 5-minute BBC interview, hoping my message would cause a spark, I said, "Think of the much needed income such a tour would generate for the Ethiopian economy." I've followed the last decade's amazing railway renaissance.

After a visit to Emperor Selassie's palace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa's ornate railway station (gare) is the ideal venue for such an historic journey. Yes, the lordly Lion of Judah's engine lacks wheels, and the dust covered coaches shows neglect from being shunted aside during the Marxist regime. However, with some good old fashioned TLC (tender loving care) each museum piece would soon be in shining order. The Emperor's train is still not widely available for public view; fortunately we and our BBC friend received special permission.