Mauritania Railway

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Mauritania Railway
Map Mauritania Railway.png
Map of Mauritania Railway
Line length704 km (437 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Route map
0 km Cansado
0 km Nouadhibou
96 km Boulenoir
222 km Agueijit
255 km Inal
318 km Tmeimitschatt
393 km Ben Amira
460 km Choum
Choum Tunnel (Disused)
Western Sahara/Mauritania Border
Western Sahara/Mauritania Border
485 km Char
568 km Tuadschil
625 km Fderîck
650 km Zouérat
670 km Guelb El Rhein mine
700 km M'Haoudat mine

The Mauritania Railway is the national railway of Mauritania. Opened in 1963,[1] it consists of a single, 704-kilometre (437 mi) railway line linking the iron mining centre of Zouerate with the port of Nouadhibou, via Fderik and Choum. The state agency Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (National Mining and Industrial Company, SNIM) controls the railway line.

Since the closure of the Choum Tunnel, a 5 km (3.1 mi) section of the railway cuts through the Polisario Front-controlled part of the Western Sahara (21°21′18″N 13°00′46″W / 21.354867°N 13.012644°W / 21.354867; -13.012644).



Mauritania Railway train at the station in Nouadhibou

Trains on the railway are up to 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) in length,[2] making them among the longest and heaviest in the world. They consist of 3 or 4 diesel-electric EMD locomotives, 200 to 210 cars each carrying up to 84 tons of iron ore, and 2-3 service cars. The total traffic averages 16.6 million tons per year.

Passengers are also occasionally transported by train; these services are managed by an SNIM subsidiary, the société d'Assainissement, de Travaux, de Transport et de Maintenance (abb. ATTM).[3] Passenger cars are sometimes attached to freight trains, but more often passengers simply ride atop the ore hopper cars freely. Passengers include locals, merchants, and rarely some tourists.[4] Conditions for these passengers are incredibly harsh with daytime temperatures exceeding 40°C and death from falls being common.[5]

In January 2019, the railway resumed tourism after a ten year hiatus; part of the track ran through a forbidden tourist area. One of the stops on the tourist route is an iron mine. The tourist route is typically operated by a locomotive carrying two passenger carriages. [6]


In October 2010, SNIM ordered six EMD SD-70ACS locomotives, with special modifications for operating in high temperatures.[7]

Glencore Xstrata[edit]

In 2014, the mining company Glencore paid $1 billion for 18 years of access to SNIM's rail and port infrastructure, which would be connected to branch lines to new iron mines at Askaf and Guelb El Aouj. The deal would have saved the company the cost of constructing their own tracks and facilities.[8] However, Glencore backed out of the project just one year later after the price of iron ore tumbled nearly 40%.[9][10]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Mauritania, a Nation of Moorish Nomads, Suddenly Finds Herself in 20th Century". The New York Times. January 20, 1964. last June, the 20th century elbowed its way into this Biblical picture
  2. ^ "The ore train". Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2008.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Best Train Journey in the World - Riding the Iron Ore Train, Mauritania". One Step 4Ward. 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Desert train of Mauritania running again after 10 years". Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  7. ^ "Railway Gazette: High temperature locomotives ordered from EMD". Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  8. ^ (registration required)
  9. ^ Ker, Peter (11 March 2015). "Glencore abandons Mauritania iron ore project after $US1bn investment". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Iron Ore Price Outlook". FocusEconomics. Retrieved 2019-08-26.

Further reading[edit]

  • Robinson, Neil (2009). World Rail Atlas and Historical Summary. Volume 7: North, East and Central Africa. Barnsley, UK: World Rail Atlas Ltd. ISBN 978-954-92184-3-5.

External links[edit]