The Trans-Gabon Railway (French: 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.
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.
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.
Construction and specifications
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 (1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)) took advantage of off the shelf equipment. It was constructed by a consortium of Impregilo, Astaldi, Philipp Holzmann, Constructions Et Entreprises Industrielles and Entreprise De Construction Franco-Africaine.
In June 2006 a new line for iron ore from Belinga to port was announced. Unclear if it will use part of existing line. Would be standard gauge. This line was supposed to open in 2012, but in 2014 completion is still awaited.
The Trans-Gabon Railway, 669 km (416 mi), has 23 stations. There are consecutively:
- 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[disambiguation needed], 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
The railway is also important for transporting timber and uranium in addition to being the only important public transport route in the nation. In 1996, the railway carried 3MT of freight and 190,000 passengers.
- 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.
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