Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Republic of Congo has 5,033 km of unconnected railway lines that do not have the same standards. 858 km of electrified tracks serve the mining region of South Katanga, 1026 km of 0.6 m gauge tracks serve the agricultural and gold-bearing region of northeastern DRC, the Kisangani – Ubundu section has a 1.00 m gauge, while all the rest of the network is distance 1.067 m. So, let’s talk about rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Currently, the DRC railway is organized into 4 separate networks, namely a line connecting Matadi and Kinshasa on the one hand, and a more extensive network connecting Zambia, Angola and Lake Tanganyika, with Lubumbashi as the central point, a line connecting Kisangani and Ubundu, to overcome the Stanley Falls of the Congo and finally a narrow gauge railway in the Uele area (to the north). There are also plans to extend existing lines, including a link between Kinshasa and Ilebo, which would make it possible to connect the two most important networks.

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Matadi-Kinshasa line

The line that connects the port of Matadi with Kinshasa is 366 kilometers long. Its gauge has been 3½ feet or 42 inches since 1931 (nose track; 1.067 meters). This SNCC line is operated by the Société Commerciale des Transports et des Ports (SCTP, formerly ONATRA) under an agreement signed by the two companies. But this line has lost large market shares due to its poor condition, the insecurity of railway transport (some trains have been attacked) and the rehabilitation of the road along the railway in 2000. According to Congolese sources, an agreement with a Chinese construction company was signed in the summer of 2006 ., according to which the company will finance the renovation of the railway, rolling stock, communication roads, signaling and electricity. ONATRA chooses an aggressive commercial policy to revive rail transport.

The Matadi Bridge, the world’s largest railway suspension bridge, is currently out of service for the railway. There is also a vague project to create a bridge between Kinshasa and Brazzaville, for which a rail option could be reserved and would make it possible to connect Kinshasa for the first time with the deep-water port of Pointe Noire (Congo-Brazzaville).

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Katanga, Kasaï and Benguela Lines

This network spans 3,641 kilometers of railway lines (including 858 kilometers electrified) in Katanga, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental and Maniema. Its wheelbase is 3½ feet (42 in/1067 mm). Today these lines are operated by the National Company of Congolese Railways SNCC.

  • Great Lakes Line : Second section from Kindu – Kabalo – Kalemie (Lake Tanganyika). This line is connected to its first section by a 320 km river line. The 355 kilometers from Kindu to Kongolo were built between 1907 and 1910 by the Compagnie du Chemin de fer du Congo Supérieur aux Grands Lacs Africains (CFL), the 273 kilometers from Caballo to Albertville between 1911 and 1917, again by CFL. The missing section between Kongolo and Kabalo was only built between 1937 and 1939.

This network was meter gauge and set to 1067mm gauge in 1955 for connection to the Katanga3 network.

  • Katanga line : Kabalo – Kamina – Likasi – Lubumbashi – Sakania – Zambia. This line was built between 1909 and 1918 from Sakania to Bukama and from 1952 to 1956 between Kamina and Kabalo from Bas Congo Railway Company in Katanga (BCK).
  • Kasai Line : Or (Port Frankie at that time) – Fireplace. This line was built between 1923 and 1928 (from Bukama) by the Léopoldville-Katanga-Dilolo (LKD) railway.
  • Bengal Railway : Kamina – Dilolo – Angola (Bengal Railway). This line was built between 1928 and 1931 (from Tenke to the border) by BCK.
  • The line between Lakes Kivu and Tanganyika was opened in 1931 by Céfaki (Kivu Railways) between Kalundu and Kamaniola. The second section to Bukavu was never built and the line was closed in 1958. It was 1067 mm gauge (3½ ft gauge) to be integrated into the English “Cape – Caire” line.

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Great Lakes Line – Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The first section is between Kisangani and Ubundu. Its distance is 1.00 meter. The second section Kindu – Kabalo – Kalemie (Lake Tanganyika) is connected to the Katanga network, see above. This 127 km line was built between 1903 and 1906 by the CFL to avoid the large falls of Stanley Falls.

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Mayumbe and Uélé local lines

Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Other lines existed and are not currently in use.

The Mayombe Railway (north to Tshela from Boma), 140 kilometers long, was built in stages between 1898 and 1914 by Mayumbe Local Railway Company. The line was dismantled in 1984.

The Uele Railways (or Wichicongo), connect Bumba with Bondo and Mungbere. The latter section appears to be in operation between Aketi and Isiro with a train every two or three months. This network was built between 1924 and 1937 by Congo local railways, and in the 1970s for the Aketi – Bumba section; it is 842 km in total. It includes the lines Aketi – Mungbere (685 km), Komba – Bondo (121 km) and Liénart – Titule (31 km).

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Industrial lines

There were also other 60 cm lines, primarily industrial, including Charlesville (Jokupunda)–Makumbimanaged by Forminière, Muyumba–Manono for access to the river port and Alberta (Ebonda)–Yamisiko–Yamaluka–Yangundamanaged by Huileries du Congo Belge (HCB).

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History of the Congo Railways – Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Chemin de fer du Katanga (CFK), founded in 1902, is operated by Railway from Lower Congo to Katanga (BCK) since its inception in 1906. In 1952 CFK and Leopoldville-Katanga-Dilolo Railway (LKD), established in 1927, merged to create Katanga-Dilolo-Leopoldville Railway (KDL). At independence, the railways were nationalized. The Congolese company KDL (now Kinshasa-Dilolo-Lubumbashi Railway) takes over the Congolese BCK. In 1974, Congo merged its railway companies KDL, CFL (now Congo Office of the Great Lakes Railways), CVZ (Local Railways of Zaire), CFMK. (Matadi-Kinshasa Railway) and CFM (Mayombe Railway) in Zaire National Railway Company (SNCZ). In November 1995, the SNCZ was dissolved and the Congo signed a framework agreement ceding the operation of the railways to a private company called SIZARAIL from the South African group Comazar/Transnet, which was dissolved in 1997 by a government termination of contract. SNCZ, which became the National Railway Company of the Congo (SNCC), took over all activities.

# Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

# Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

# Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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