• Uganda Railways - Metre Gauge

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by george matthews
 
David Benton wrote:It seems to me the whim of the engineer in charge, had the most bearing in those days. Witness the mess in Australia. The idea that it was already cheaper to build and ship equipment from India back then is intriguing. But again , metre gauge in most of the Asian colonies, 1067mm in NZ and Australia. Maybe the sourcing of Labour from India , meant the use of engineers familiar with Indian equipment, therefore metre gauge. Economy of scale would be better these days if we were all the same gauge, maybe not such a big factor in those days.
The British government debated the gauge choice. It was certainly not left to the engineer locally. For Kenya the choice made was definitely, and I think it can be seen in the minutes of the meetings, to use metre gauge because it was supposed to be slightly cheaper than Cape gauge. (I am sure that feeling was unjustified.) The Gladstone government propagated a fanatical penny pinching attitude to finance.
  by rogerfarnworth
 
We have now returned to the mainline at Tororo and are heading on toward Kampala.

The story continues .... "We leave Tororo is a north-westerly direction following the contours on the north side of the Nagongera Road as far as Achilet (about 5 kilometres outside of Tororo). For the next 10 kilometres the railway stays north of the road until reaching Nagongera, or Nagongora, .............."

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... o-to-jinja" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of interest is the number of railway lines on the map between Tororo and Jinja. There is by far the greatest density of lines in Uganda.
  by george matthews
 
rogerfarnworth wrote:We have now returned to the mainline at Tororo and are heading on toward Kampala.

The story continues .... "We leave Tororo is a north-westerly direction following the contours on the north side of the Nagongera Road as far as Achilet (about 5 kilometres outside of Tororo). For the next 10 kilometres the railway stays north of the road until reaching Nagongera, or Nagongora, .............."

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... o-to-jinja" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of interest is the number of railway lines on the map between Tororo and Jinja. There is by far the greatest density of lines in Uganda.
On the map there is a triangle of lines just before Jinja. These were the original line and a more recent line (?1965) that cut off some of the distance of the original. It made a triangle. However, I would doubt that the original line is still active. Moreover there was a line from Jinja that linked to Lake Kyoga. I doubt if that is still active. I think I looked at it by motor bike in 1966 and it didn't look active even then. Since the wars and political disturbances in Uganda I don't think much attention has been paid to the rail lines, none of which are in their original condition. I think it possible that the line to Kampala still functions sporadically. I doubt if any other line is active.
  by rogerfarnworth
 
Hi George

Looking at everything I can find, the older, original more northerly line probably has been abandonned. I jhave seen evidence of a line from Jinja to Namasagali which predated the extension from Nakuru to Kampala, is that the branch to which you refer?

Best wishes

Roger
  by george matthews
 
rogerfarnworth wrote:Hi George

Looking at everything I can find, the older, original more northerly line probably has been abandonned. I jhave seen evidence of a line from Jinja to Namasagali which predated the extension from Nakuru to Kampala, is that the branch to which you refer?

Best wishes

Roger
I would be surprised if there is any activity on the Namasagali line. It was built for very different conditions, at a time when road transport was rare and expensive. Even in 1966 it didn't look used.
  by rogerfarnworth
 
Yes, George, defunct now, but it was in place before the Kampala extension was built from Tororo and the original line linked into it in the 1920s to approach Jinja from the north rather than along the more modern alignment.
  by george matthews
 
The rail situation in Uganda is complex. One factor is the break up the East African federation - or Community.

The three territories were ruled as a quasi-federation by the British, and policy in the 1960s hoped that they would form a proper federation after independence. But the three governments never felt the need. The railways - East African Railways and Harbours - were a corporation that covered all three countries. When it was broken up only the Kenyan section still functioned. Uganda failed to form a proper corporation for its own territory and all the inter-territorial functions decayed. As the engineers and so on were located in Nairobi Kenyan railways survived the break, but Uganda's didn't. We must see now how the Chinese will manage. Will they form an administrative structure able to manage the whole of their new railway? I once called on a Chinese office in Tanzania and was not impressed by what I saw there. But that was more than 20 years ago and perhaps their administrative skills have improved.
  by rogerfarnworth
 
The journey continues from Jinja to Kampala .......

“The Nile River Bridge at Jinja was built in the late 1920s. It is perhaps the iconic structure for the whole of the metre-gauge railway system from Mombasa to Kasese.

The first railway in Uganda ran from Jinja to Namasagali on the Victoria Nile where a steamer service ran on to Masindi Port. From there passengers travelled by road through Masindi to Butiaba on Lake Albert. From there they could travel on by steamer to the Belgian Congo or north to Juba in the Sudan.

Train passengers from Kenya reached Uganda by steamer from the railhead at Kisumu and across Lake Victoria to Entebbe or Port Bell. In the mid 1920s the main line in Kenya was extended from Nakuru through Eldoret, and Tororo to Mbulamuti where it met up with the original Jinja to Namasagali line. The new line to Kampala then crossed the Nile at Jinja by a bridge carrying both the railway and a roadway underneath.”

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/20 ... to-kampala" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The last part of my own journey to Kampala by train in 1994 commenced once a derailed freight train had been rerailed ahead of us and the passenger train was ‘given the road'. We had waited for over 6 hours at Jinja Railway Station. Travelling by rail was unreliable but really enjoyable!!
  by johnthefireman
 
george matthews wrote:The rail situation in Uganda is complex. One factor is the break up the East African federation - or Community...

When it was broken up only the Kenyan section still functioned...
I wouldn't say that. The other two did function, but not very effectively. I was in Uganda when the break up of the East African federation took place (around 1976?), and I was in Kampala again around 1996 or '97 where I witnessed the railway still functioning.

If you were to say, "only the Kenyan section still functioned effectively", I might be inclined to agree.

Incidentally, there is once again an East Africa Community, albeit not as integrated as the old one, but integration is gradually growing, and this one is a voluntary association, not something imposed by the colonial power. It has expanded beyond Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and I believe it includes Rwanda and South Sudan. Even Sudan showed interest in joining at one point.
Last edited by johnthefireman on Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by johnthefireman
 
george matthews wrote:If oil is exported from S Sudan it might come via a pipeline rather than a rail line. But in any case I doubt if it would be via a metre gauge line. The Standard gauge line would be the best export line. Perhaps a pipeline to the SG terminal at Kasese - if that is ever built.
A pipeline would be the most economical and probably most environmentally-friendly means of transporting oil from South Sudan, and there have been studies of pipelines through Kenya and Ethiopia, but there has been no progress so far, and there are many other factors and considerations which may militate against it in the short term. Currently Kenya is transporting oil from Turkana to Mombasa by road, and South Sudan used to transport oil from the Adar Yel oil fields in northern Upper Nile to the refineries in the north by lorry and barge, so there is a precedent in the region for shipping oil by these less-efficient means. Hence transporting oil from South Sudan to Kenya by rail is by no means an impossible scenario. It would indeed be by standard gauge - I doubt whether anybody is going to extend the metre gauge to Juba.
  by rogerfarnworth
 
Interesting! At the moment there seems to be a significant question over whether the Kenyan Government will bring the SGR to the border with Uganda! While I was in Uganda the pre-contract notification for the SGR in Uganda was in the national papers but so was a great deal of uncertainty about whether the Kenyan SGR would terminate at Kisumu rather than head North-west from Nakuru towards Tororo.
  by george matthews
 
johnthefireman wrote:Museveni: “We are going to build standard gauge railway"
What remains to be done is build the Standard Gauge Railway with the branches to Kasese, Kakitumba and South Sudan.”
I note that Kagitumba is a town in Rwanda. Why is it a possible terminal for the SG railway?

I wonder whether Museveni is just fantasising about possible terminals, or whether he has discussed these proposals with the Chinese - who are paying for the new railway? And of course Museveni himself has origins in Rwanda.
  by george matthews
 
Worth noting that the Kenyan SGR is not the only route being considered by Rwanda and possibly even Uganda. The Tanzanian route (the "central corridor") is also under review.
I would think that the Central route in Tanzania must be on a list for replacement as a Standard Gauge line, perhaps after a coastal line could be built from Mombasa to Dar. If it was continued north at the western end it would reach Burundi - a country with very dubious stability.
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