BRANCH LINE NEWS INTERNATIONAL
INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1356 11 JULY 2020
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
International Editor: Pete Skelton, 1 rue Traversière, 16450 BEAULIEU SUR SONNETTE, France
to whom all email contributions should be sent. Email: [email protected]
Postal Contributions should be sent to: Paul Stewart, 4 Clarence Close, MALVERN, WR14 3HX
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, MATLOCK, DE4 3BY
 Austria – Koralm Tunnel Breakthrough
The north bore of the 32·8 km Koralm Tunnel was broken through on 17 June, no fewer than 18 years
after the start of work on the first exploratory tunnelling. Celebrations were limited because of
coronavirus measures. The south bore had been completed on 14 August 2018.
The tunnel forms the central part of the Koralmbahn, a new alignment being built to provide a 45-
minute journey time between Graz and Klagenfurt from 2025. This forms part of a larger programme
to modernise the Südbahn route which also includes construction of the Semmering base tunnel.
 Belgium – Antigoon Tunnel Railtours
The Antigoon Tunnel is on Line 10 in Antwerpen Docks and is a fairly new line which links one side of
the Schelde to the other. This line and tunnel save running freight trains through the congested
Currently there is a ban on all B-Transport vehicles using the Antigoon Tunnel including all
locomotives. The reason is simple; all Lineas locos have breathing apparatus in the cabs in case there
is an accident with a chemical train to enable the driver to escape. No B-Transport vehicles have the
breathing apparatus; so the chances of getting dispensation to run an enthusiast charter through the
tunnel are not good at the moment. Never say never, but…….. The tank wagons can contain anything
including poisonous gases, even when empty. [Courtesy of The Ramble]
 Belgium – Line 50A Work in the Brussel/Bruxelles Area
Work to extend Line 50A from Anderlecht to Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid has recently been finished.
The four tracks between Sint-Katherina-Lombeek and Anderlecht have been finished since 2018. The
lines between Anderlecht and Brussel Zuid/Bruxelles Midi were not completed. The line which used to
be Line 50A has become Line 50C and goes over the original viaduct. Line 50A is the centre tracks
which now drop down and run through the former Petite Île/Klein Eiland Yard and into the lower
numbered platforms at Brussel Zuid/Bruxelles Midi; so the three kilometres from Anderlecht to
Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid via Line 50A are basically on a new formation on railway land that used to
have track on it. The exit from Brussel/Bruxelles should be a lot smoother and therefore a lot faster.
https://infrabel.be/fr/article/trafic-fluidifie-lentree-de-bruxelles-midi [Courtesy of The Ramble]
Work in Progress on the Approach to Brussel Zuid/Bruxelles Midi [Photo: Infrabel]
 Czech Republic – Plzeň’s First Tram Extension since 1990 opens
On 16 December 2019, a 1·4 km extension of line 4 of the Plzeň tram network opened, intended to
open up an extensive development area in the south of the city which includes the growing campus of
the University of West Bohemia, wholesale markets and new apartment buildings. Many of the
buildings are still under construction, while large areas of land remain muddy fields.
Tram Line Extension in Plzeň
The former Bory turning loop of Line 4 has been abandoned and the previous terminus has now been
named Borský Park. Trams call at a new centre island platform, although only on southbound
services. The extension continues on its own right of way to a newly built tram and bus interchange at
Kaplířova Street, which has been named Bory, and there is a balloon loop where every second service
on Line 4 terminates. Beyond here the new tram line continues over a purpose-built light rail bridge to
the green-field development sites around the university campus and the Borská Pole retail park. After
serving the science faculty buildings at the penultimate Technická stop, the line terminates at a
double-track balloon loop at Univerzita.
 Europe – Cross-border Services Resume as European Borders Reopen
Spanish operator (RENFE) and French National Railways (SNCF) reintroduced cross-border services
between France and Spain from 01 July. The partners will operate two daily return services connecting
Barcelona, Girona and Figueres in Spain with Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Agde, Sète, Montpellier,
Nîmes, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Valence and Paris in France. The service frequency will be
expanded as demand increases. Both RENFE and SNCF have started the certification processes
imposed in their respective countries which involves protocols for cleaning and disinfecting trains. All
passengers and staff are required to wear masks on-board and restaurant services will not be
Services recommence across the Franco-Spanish Border
ÖBB reintroduced its Nightjet services from 26 June. An ÖBB spokesman said: “Train travel is back in
vogue – especially among the younger generation. For this reason, we are particularly pleased that we
are on the road again with our Nightjet. It is an important step to regain international mobility and to
enable people to travel in a climate-friendly way.”
The service includes:
Graz – Zürich, Wien – Zürich, Wien – Düsseldorf, Wien – Hamburg, Innsbruck – Hamburg and
Innsbruck – Düsseldorf from 26 June
Zürich – Hamburg and Zürich – Berlin from 27 June
Innsbruck – Brussel/Bruxelles, Berlin – Zürich, Hamburg – Zürich and Wien – Bruxelles/Brussel
from 28 June
Zürich – Wien and Zürich – Graz from 29 June
Wien – Roma, Wien – Milano, Wien – Livorno, Wien – Berlin, Wien – Warszawa and Przemyśl –
Berlin from 26 June
Milano – München, Zagreb – München and Rijeka – München from 27 June
München – Milano and Zagreb – Zürich from 28 June.
Nightjet is back! [Photo: RTBF]
German Rail (DB) is continuing to slowly reintroduce cross border services together with its partner
operators. Three pairs of Eurocity trains began operating from München via Jenbach to Innsbruck on
15 June with these extended to Italy on 25 June. Four train pairs have operated on the Frankfurt –
Köln – Aachen – Liège – Brussel/Bruxelles axis since 01 June being gradually increased to the regular
two-hour interval from 27 June.
Eurocity Services have recommenced from München to Innsbruck and beyond
Overnight services to and from Switzerland have slowly been reintroduced, including the Praha –
Zürich and Zagreb – Zürich EuroNight from 28 June, and Zürich – Praha and Zürich – Zagreb EuroNight
from 29 June. The EuroNight from Zürich to Budapest remains suspended until further notice.
EuroNight Services have resumed between Zürich and Zagreb
Following the restart of Tilo cross-border regional services between Switzerland and Italy in mid-June,
international long-distance trains between the two countries resumed from 29 June. Five return
Eurocity trains are running on the Gotthard axis from Zürich or Basel to Milano, corresponding to
around 50% of the normal schedule. This is expected to be expanded in mid-August with the full
timetable reintroduced from 07 September including the daily direct connection between Switzerland
and Venezia. From 29 June, four direct trains started running on the Simplon axis in both directions –
two from Genève via Lausanne and two from Basel via Bern to Milano.
Czech Railways (ČD) began to reintroduce its overnight services over the last weekend of June. The
overnight train from Praha to Poprad, Košice and Humenné resumed from 26 June, while the Praha –
Linz – Innsbruck – Zürich service departed for the first time on 28 June. ČD says it is in negotiations
with its partner railways to reintroduce other services, but strict hygiene requirements mean they may
not be operated over the summer.
Eurostar is continuing to operate a reduced timetable between London and Paris or Bruxelles/Brussel
for the time being. No trains are currently operating between London and Amsterdam. The operator
also says it will not operate direct London – Lyon – Avignon – Marseille trains this summer or in 2021.
Hungarian national operator MAV-Start reintroduced a number of international services from 01 July,
after passenger numbers dropped by up to 90% during the pandemic, and will also increase the
frequency of services to Austria and Germany. MAV-Start continued to operate five train pairs to
Wien and München during the pandemic, with this now increasing to a two-hourly service. Budapest –
Wien services have also been reintroduced, with all Railjet Xpress services resuming from 02 July.
Not happening this Year or next – Eurostar not resuming Services to Marseille until 2022
 Finland/Estonia – Finnish Regional Council delays Undersea Rail Tunnel
Plans to construct a 100 km privately-funded high-speed tunnel between Finland and Estonia have
been delayed by up to six years after the Helsinki-Uusimaa regional council’s assembly voted to route
the project under the capital.
The subsea standard-gauge railway tunnel between the capitals of Finland and Estonia would
significantly reduce travel time between the countries and create a unified metropolitan area in the
capital regions of Finland and Estonia. A prefeasibility study completed in 2018 found demand in
passenger transport between the two cities could increase from 9 million in 2017 to 23 million in 2050,
including 12·5 million through the tunnel.
The project, which would reduce travel times from 2 hours by ferry to 20 minutes by train, has been
estimated to cost between €15-20bn. The tunnel would connect Finland to the standard-gauge Rail
Baltica project connecting the three Baltic States with Poland and the Western European standard-
Despite the setback from the council decision, work could still begin on some sections of the project as
early as next year. This includes the Finnish terminus at Helsinki airport. The new route would be the
second tunnel through the Finnish capital, alongside a line from Helsinki Airport to Tampere, and is
tantamount to building two metro lines on top of each other which doesn’t make economic sense.
New ecological, technical and geological studies would need to be completed for a new alignment.
 France – Co-operative Group seeks to launch Lyon – Bordeaux Open Access Service from 2022
A new open access operator, Railcoop, lodged a formal application with the Autorité de Régulation des
Transports on 09 June 2020 to launch an inter-city service between Bordeaux and Lyon using the
conventional route via Périgueux and Montluçon. A direct Lyon – Bordeaux service could be revived
by Railcoop from 2022, the service having been progressively downgraded by SNCF prior to withdrawal
The organisation hopes to use the forthcoming liberalisation of the domestic passenger rail market to
launch a series of new passenger services, initially using open access provisions. These would include
day and overnight inter-city and inter-regional trains as well as local services in the future. It also
intends to launch a freight operation.
Railcoop says that there is a clear market for the reinstatement of conventional services that have
been neglected by SNCF in recent years; it believes the Lyon – Bordeaux route will be an important
proof of concept. SNCF withdrew its direct trains between France’s second and fifth largest cities in
2014 since when passengers have had to travel via Paris. The co-operative proposes to operate an
initial three trains per day in each direction, making nine intermediate calls and offering an end-to-end
a journey time of 6 hours 47 minutes. The company acknowledges that this would be slower for Lyon –
Bordeaux journeys than taking TGVs via Paris but says that the proposal reflects ‘a true demand for
comfortable, reliable and affordable direct trains’ where speed is not the sole priority for users. The
direct trains would also be able to serve intermediate markets.
 France – Fare Reductions on TER Network
The cost of regional train travel will be slashed in France this summer in a bid to encourage more
regional travel, as SNCF announces that it lost “billions” due to confinement.
Regional Services in France are provided by the TER Network
New summer travel measures were announced on 12 June by national train network SNCF and
regional train network TER (Transport Express Regional). This is in response to reduced demand for
train travel in France following the Covid-19 confinement lockdown period which lasted from 17
March – 11 May. They include:
2 million regional train tickets costing under €10 each which have been available from 22 June
and will be throughout the summer
A “young person pass”, costing €29 per month, which will allow travellers aged 12-25 to travel
freely on the TER network throughout France until the end of August
Free travel on the national TER network for an estimated 130,000 holders of regional TER
annual passes until the end of August
A new tourism pass offering reduced prices for visits by TER to hundreds of tourist sites in
France throughout summer.
The network hopes the measures will encourage a return to rail travel in France, especially among
young people, who typically make up 40% of regional train customers. Post confinement, the TER
network is currently seeing around 25% of normal travel. Prior to Covid-19, travel on the TER network
in France had been increasing.
Reservations for summer rail travel in France are still low. Although SNCF opened bookings for
summer rail travel in France on 15 May, reservations for travel in July and August are still low. While
some trains were full in June, only 20% of available seats have been booked for July and 8% for August.
Service improvements are also planned for the peak summer season, including new direct services
aimed at tourists (Auray – Quiberon); longer trains on routes popular with leisure travellers (Nice –
Marseille); and a tourist-focused recast of timetables elsewhere (Bordeaux – Sarlat/Hendaye/St Jean-
Sarlat is one of stations which is to see a tourist-focussed timetable this summer
In addition, TER trains are to be placed at the heart of a national tourism campaign featuring a rail
discount package. An interactive discount card and journey planning tool is to be made available on all
SNCF web portals, as well as on the website of each region, to encourage travellers to arrange visits to
attractions and book rail travel at the same time.
 Poland – Broad Gauge Line Revived
PKP LHS, the rail freight operator and infrastructure manager of the Hrubieszów – Sławków broad
gauge railway, is planning to revive another extraordinary line in Poland. It is the Dorohusk –
Zawadówka line, which is situated close to the Ukrainian border and has a gauge of 1520 millimetres.
To maintain and develop this route, the Polish company will incorporate a dedicated subsidiary.
The revitalisation of the Dorohusk – Zawadówka broad gauge railway is getting closer to reality. On 16
June the Management Board of PKP S.A., the Polish state-owned railway holding, has permitted its
subsidiary PKP LHS to take control over the mentioned line. To this end, PKP LHS, which operates the
395-kilometre-long broad gauge railway from Hrubieszów to Sławków, will establish a dedicated
wholly-owned company. It will be named PKP Linia Chełmska Szerokotorowa (PKP Chełm Broad Gauge
Line) or simply PKP LCHS. The new company will be based in the city of Chełm.
PKP LCHS will be a railway operator and infrastructure manager simultaneously like PKP LHS on the
Hrubieszów – Sławków line. It has proven that the formula of the integrated operator and
infrastructure manager under which PKP LHS works is beneficial for shippers and economic
development as well as the state because all investments are implemented from its own resources.
 Poland – The Return of the Jizera Mountain Railway
The Jizera Mountain Railway was in the far southwest corner of Poland and ran from Gryfów Śląski (on
the Węgliniec to Jelenia Góra line) to Mirsk (Line 317) and then as Line 336 to the spa town of
Świeradów Zdrój before ending at Świeradów Nadleśnictwo, a distance of 19·57 km.
The last passenger train ran on 11 February 1996 and, since then, there has been no traffic. In 2001
attempts to decommission the line were prevented by the town of Mirsk but a proposed takeover of
the infrastructure failed due to lack of finance. Proposals to convert the line to a cycle path in 2009
failed because it was not possible to transfer the line to the communities free of charge. An
interesting development occurred in 2013 with proposals to reopen part of the route (Gryfów Śląskie
to Mirsk) as part of a reopened cross border line Gryfów Śląskie – Mirsk - Jindřichovice pod Smrkem
(Czech Republic), a project which was interrupted in 1945. Although this failed to happen, reopening
of Gryfów Śląskie to Świeradów Zdrój was firmly on the political agenda and in 2018 the City of
Świeradów Zdrój started renovating and converting the station building into a museum and cultural
centre. The WUMAG VT 10 railcar, later numbered SN51-02, used on the line from 1935 to 1938, has
been preserved and is today waiting to be refurbished in the Skierniewice Railway Museum.
A feasibility study started in December 2019 was positive and on 9 June 2020 Lines 317 and 336 were
formally transferred from PKP to the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. Work on the restoration of the line
as far as Świeradów Zdrój (16·2km) will take about two years, including planning and tendering.
The Lower Silesian Voivodeship have also taken over Lines 308 (Jelenia Góra – Mysłakowice – Kowary)
and 340 (Mysłakowice – Karpacz) from PKP and plan to start work on restoring services to these two
lines later in 2020.
 Russia – Expansion Plans for Москва (Moskva) Metro Announced
The Municipality has announced Moskva Metro expansion plans for the coming years. Total route
length is to exceed 450 km by 2022. The authorities intend to allow 90% of city residents to have easy
access the capital’s fastest transport system.
By the end of 2020, plans call for nine new stations, six of them being already in operation, and the
completion of three stations on the Big Circle Line’s north-eastern and western sections. Construction
works will continue for the Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya Line which will become the longest metro line and
will connect Moskva’s central area and remote south-western districts. It will be possible to reach
Rasskazovka from Novokosino and to get to Vnukovo International Airport on this line. Seven new
stations have already opened on the Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya Line.
A quiet time on the Москва Metro
In 2022 the authorities expect to open two new metro stations towards Vnukovo Airport. Currently,
the constructors are studying various options for linking the two yellow line sections in central
Moskva. Technically, this will be the most complicated metro line whose central sections are to
include the Plyushchikha, Volkhonka and Dorogomilovskaya stations. The Solntsevskaya Line will be
formed by connecting the current Kalininskaya Line (between Novokosino and Tretyakovskaya) with
the unfinished western section of the Solntsevskaya Line between Delovoi Tsentr and Rasskazovka.
Another project envisages the northern extension of Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line. The contractor is
building the Ulitsa 800-Letiya Moskvy and Lianozovo stations and the line will later reach Fiztekh
station in Severny, the Northern District. An additional station called Yuzhny Port is scheduled to be
built on a section of the light-green line between the Kozhukhovskaya and Pechatniki stations with
construction taking place between 2021 and 2023. In the past few years the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya
Line has been expanded by six stations.
The Sokolnicheskaya Line will soon be extended by 2·6 km to Potapovo station. This was the first
metro line to reach the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas. It is operational between
Yugo-Zapadnaya and Salaryevo served by three stations and also between Salaryevo and Kommunarka
served by four stations.
The Kommunarskaya Line will be also constructed in the next few years, with the first section between
Ulitsa Novatorov and Kommunarka to be operational in 2023. Apart from these stations, the section
will have five other stations. In 2023, the city is also planning to open a short metro section between
Sevastopolsky Prospekt and Ulitsa Novatorov. The last section of the Kommunarskaya Line is to open
in 2024-2025 and will have 6 stations.
Regarding the Big Circle Line, there are plans to complete tunnels in all of the line’s sections
throughout 2021. The first section with five stations was opened in February 2018, with another
station in December 2019 and the section between Aviamotornaya and Lefortovo stations was
operational in 2020. The Big Circle Line will be 70 km long served by 31 stations and two new train
maintenance facilities. It will link the current and future radial lines 10 km from today’s Circle Line.
This will reduce congestion at stations within the Big Circle Line’s perimeter and the Circle Line.
Passengers will be able to change to other lines at 23 stations, as well as to four stations on the
Moskva Central Circle, six stations on the first two Moskva Central Diameters and to 11 railway
Moskva has started the construction of two new metro lines, the Biryulyovskaya and Rublyovo-
Arkhangelskaya lines, with links to the Big Circle Line and Moskva Central Circle. In addition, the first
section with 6 stations of the Rublyovo-Arkhangelskaya Line is expected to enter passenger services in
2024-2025. The Shelepikha station will provide direct links to the Big Circle Line and the Moskva
Central Circle. Starting 2028 three other stations will be operational.
Since 2011, Moskva Metro opened 300 km of lines served by 145 stations. The projects included
Moskva Central Circle, the First and Second Moskva Central Diameter lines, as well as 10 train
 United Kingdom/France/Belgium – Eurostar to Introduce Contactless Travel
Rail passengers using the Eurostar will be able to use a new facial biometric corridor to enable
contactless journeys by March 2021. The walk-through system from biosecurity company iProov will
allow passengers to complete ticket checks and border exit processes at St Pancras International
station without needing to come into contact with people or hardware. The concept, already trialled
in airports to increase speed and safety and manage immigration, is now being brought to train travel
as part of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition run by Innovate UK and funded by the Department for
The Current Eurostar Check-In Area at London St Pancras International
How the iProov system works: Passengers planning to travel on Eurostar services would be offered an
accelerated pre-boarding option. Prior to travelling, they would use the Eurostar app to scan their
identity documentation before iProoving themselves. The iProov facial biometric check uses patented
controlled illumination to authenticate the identity of the user against the ID document. As well as
checking that the user is the right person, matching the identity portrayed in the passport, the
illumination process checks that the user is a real person, rather than a photo, video, or mask, and,
uniquely, that the user is authenticating right now. This protects against large-scale criminal attacks
using deepfakes (software to mimic another person’s face digitally). The passenger would then receive
a message confirming that their identity document had been secured and a ticket or passport would
not need to be shown again until they reached their destination.
On arrival at St Pancras International, the passenger would enter the contactless travel corridor and
proceed in distanced fashion before boarding the train. A kiosk solution at the station would allow
passengers without access to smartphones to complete the same process.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Canada - Feasibility Studies Agreed for Calgary-Banff Passenger Railway
Alberta’s Ministry of Transport and the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) have signed a memorandum
of understanding to undertake feasibility studies for a new 130 km passenger railway between Calgary
and Banff. The proposed railway would be a dedicated line built within the existing Canadian Pacific
right of way, with six new stops: Calgary International Airport, Downtown Calgary, Cochrane, Morley,
Canmore and Banff. Potential capacity would enable up to eight departures from Calgary International
Airport to Banff per day with express services operating between the airport and downtown Calgary
up to every 20 minutes. Regular inter-city trains between Calgary and Banff ceased in 1990.
 Israel – First Section of ( ֵאי ַלתEilat) Line Approved
Plans for the first section of Israel’s Eilat rail link has been approved by the Southern District Planning
and Building Committee. The announcement comes eight years after the railway was initially
approved by the Israeli government on 05 February 2012 and despite continued delays to decisions
regarding plans for the rest of the Eilat line.
The initial 35 km northern section will upgrade track and double existing lines between Be’er Sheva
and Dimona, with work being conducted by national infrastructure company Israel Roads (NY). The
upgrade will cost around 2·7bn Shekels (€702m).
The line is currently used primarily for the transport of ore and phosphates from the Negev to the
ports of Ashdod and Haifa, with no passenger services operating on the Be’er Sheva – Dimona section.
However, planners estimate that 5·2 million passengers will use the completed Eilat railway annually in
The project is intended to improve connections between the two cities and support Dimona’s 350m
Shekels (€91m) city centre regeneration plan. A new station is planned near to the city’s Peretz Centre
An Israeli Double-Deck Train
The completed Eilat line will eventually connect the Gulf of Aqaba port at Eilat with the Mediterranean
port of Ashdod south of Tel Aviv. Plans for the project include five new passenger stations, four freight
terminals and eight additional sections for freight traffic.
The line will have separate alignments on some sections for freight and passenger trains to minimise
the ruling gradient for freight trains, meaning that the line will be 260 km long for freight trains but
just 240 km long for passenger services.
 New Zealand – Last Train from Dunedin
Rail supporters gathered in Dunedin on 24 June to wave off what may be the last passenger train
travelling through Dunedin. More than 20 Dunedin Railways Limited workers and Keep Dunedin
Rolling campaign supporters gathered at the station as a locomotive and carriages leased by Dunedin
Railways departed for the North Island with what may be the last passenger train to run from Dunedin
after Dunedin Railways announced it was to mothball its track and equipment in a bid to avoid
 Panama – Bulk Carrier Takes Out Railroad Bridge in Panama Canal
A bulk carrier transiting the Panama Canal took out the railroad bridge in Gamboa on 23 June causing
major damage. The Panama Canal Authority said it is investigating the accident and that ship transits
are not impacted by the incident.
The railway bridge crosses the Chagres River in Gamboa. It is part of the Panama Canal Railway which
parallels the Panama Canal providing freight and passenger service linking the Atlantic with the Pacific
Ocean. The incident has caused a portion of the bridge to collapse into the water and the line is
expected to be closed for some considerable time whilst repairs are carried out.
The ship involved was the Cyprus-flagged MV Bluebill which was loaded with steel products and
transiting the Canal in a northbound direction, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, after sailing from Korea.
It is believed that a fault had developed with the ship’s rudder and the crew were unable to avoid the
 Turkey (Asiatic) – The Elaziğ – Tatvan Railway
(BLNI1354.256) As mentioned in the previous article, details of the distances by the new line were
awaited; a correspondent has now kindly supplied most of these and they are tabulated below:
Location Distance Location Distance Location Distance
(km) (km) (km)
Yolçati 0·0 Gökdere ? Kurt 241·3
Elazığ 23·9 Ekerek Durağı ? Muş 265·0
Yurt 38·3 Ziveyir ? Çizmeburun 276·5
Çağlar 46·9 Suveren 135·0 Özden 292·3
Koçkale 58·3 Hodan 140·5 Nurkavak 301·0
Konak 66·4 Genç 156·6 Bahçetepe 311·0
Murat 78·6 Dik ? Sicaksu 324·3
Muratbağı 87·3 Bozkanat Turna 190·8 Rahova 345·7
Seydili 90·0 Nurik ? Tatvan Gar 359·0
Palu 93·9 Oymapinar Solhan 203·1 Tatvan Iskele 363·8
Bağlar 100·0 Yenibaşa ?
Beyhan 112·8 Zengök ?
 Uganda – Government approves 1·4 trillion Shillings for Malaba – Kampala Railway
THE Ugandan government has approved a 1·4 trillion Shillings (€335m) investment to reconstruct the
215 km Malaba – Kampala railway with the intention of improving freight connections between the
capital city and Uganda’s eastern border with Kenya. An additional investment of 48bn Shillings
(€11·5m) has been approved to purchase eight locomotives for the line and a further 9.5bn Shillings
(€228,000) for routine repairs across the network.
The investment is part of the ambitious Uganda Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project which aims to
redevelop the country’s dilapidated 1266 km, metre-gauge network to standard gauge. In addition,
the project will be partially financed with a €21·1m grant from the European Union and the Ugandan
government seeking further investment from international finance institutions. Additional funding
had also been sought from China, however due to economic concerns which included Uganda’s
delayed oil production, no investment was agreed.
The SGR network will eventually reach 1724 km, both redeveloped and reconstructed, and will be built
in four planned sections:
Malaba – Kampala,
Kampala – Mpondwe
Tororo – Gulu
Bihanga – Mirama Hills.
Construction of the Tororo – Gulu section has been contracted to Vinci Group subsidiaries Sogea
Satom and ETF. The French consortium will replace the entirety of the 375 km section including the
production and installation of 200,000m3 of ballast and the replacement or repair of sleepers, rails and
The current run-down state of Uganda’s Railways
The investment has been given additional impetus due to the coronavirus pandemic which has drawn
attention to the need for the rail network to be fully operational for freight. There are concerns that
the large numbers of drivers currently required for road freight transport may increase risks of cross-
border transmission and shipping has slowed significantly due to current border restrictions with
border crossings dropping from 300 to 100 a day. Consequently, shipping times between Mombasa
port and the Ugandan capital of Kampala have more than doubled and the cost of goods has risen by
up to 40%. The government hopes that the investment in the country’s railways will allow for more
efficient, cost-effective alternatives to congested road transport. It is also hoped that the railway will
reduce cross-border road traffic and help to limit the transmission of any future pandemics.