Rail transport in Angola

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Angola railway network (interactive version)
1067mm gauge tracks, 610mm gauge tracks

Rail transport in Angola. There are three separate unconnected lines - the Luanda Railway (northern), the Benguela Railway (central) and the Moçâmedes Railway (southern). A fourth system once linked Gunza and Gabala.



  • total: 2,761 km
  • narrow gauge: mainly 2,638 km of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) (Cape gauge)
  • there is also 123 km of 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in) gauge (2002)

War damage[edit]

Railways in Angola suffered a lot of damage during the Angolan civil war, particularly the Benguela railway. A $4b project was proposed to restore the lines, and even to extend the system. It was reported in January 2008 that the repair of the Northern Line (a.k.a. Luanda Railway), started in October 2003 would be completed by August 2008.[1] However, it was not until July 2010 that freight services began on part of the line, and passenger services have been delayed until December 2010.[2]

Links with neighbouring countries[edit]

There are currently (August 2012) no rail links with neighbouring countries. The only such link having existed was the one of the Benguela railway with what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This line is currently being reconstructed;[3] the first train reached the border town of Luau in August 2013.[4]


Towns served by rail[edit]


See History of rail transport in Angola and below.


Railways rehabilitation and modernization programme[edit]

After the end of the civil war, the government could start to plan both the rehabilitation of the "network" inherited from the colonial power and largely destroyed by the civil war, and its extension by building new lines, interconnecting the existing lines and connecting with all neighbouring countries. If and when completed, this would result in a grid of three east-west lines and three north-south lines, linking all 18 provinces to the railway network. This plan is known also by the name Ango-Ferro. [6][7]

New institutional framework[edit]

Related to the program to rehabilitate the network inherited from colonial times and the project to build new lines, the institutional framework of railway operations was changed in a series of presidential decrees in 2010.[8]

As public administration to oversee, regulate, certify, and licence railway companies, infrastructure and rolling stock, the Instituto Nacional dos Caminhos de Ferro de Angola (INCFA - National Institute for Railways in Angola) was created out of the Directorate of Terrestrial Transport within the transport ministry.

Three decrees approved new statutes of the three railway companies as Empresa publica (abbreviated E.P.), i.e. government operated enterprises directly under the transport ministry. Since the concession awarded to Robert Williams to build and operate the Benguela Railway ran out in 2002, the government took over Caminhos de Ferro de Benguela S.A.R.L and converted it into an E.P. Caminho-de-Ferro de Moçamedes was converted to E.P. from U.E.E. (Unidade Economica del Estado).

All railway infrastructure, lines, tracks, stations, maintenance facilities etc. were declared to be in the public domain controlled by the state.

A general decree on railway reform established the separation between operation of the infrastructure and the operation of trains, thus making it possible that private companies could run their own trains on the public railway infrastructure, and also that the infrastructure parts of the current (in 2012) three railway companies operating three separate lines could be merged into one single national infrastructure company once those lines were interconnected.

The government of Angola has stressed that competition from private rail businesses is welcome, in order to improve services.[9]

New rolling stock[edit]

Passenger car at Malanje railway station
Box car at Donde railway station

New rolling stock was purchased from the Chinese constructor CSR.

SDD6A diesel locomotives [10]

Passenger coaches in five different types[11]

And various freight wagons:

The axle load of the above three freight cars does not exceed 16.5 tons.

  • KCR20 ballast hopper wagon[15]

New locomotives have also been ordered from CNR Dalian. The first five of 15 CKD8F locomotives with 1715 kW and good for 160 km/h, have been delivered in August 2012. The driver's cab is air-conditioned.[16]

Technical integration with SADC countries[edit]

AAR Coupler on new railway cars
Twin air brake pipes with taps.

Most railways in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries run on Cape gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in), which facilitates the planned integration of the planned Angola railway network with the neighboring countries without forcing trans-shipments at border crossings. This involved also the technical interoperability of rolling stock, and that led to the adoption of the AAR coupler, which is in use in South Africa for a long time already.

The Southern African Railways Association (SARA) is a body for this standardisation. The current three Angolan railway companies are members of SARA.

Rehabilitation of old lines[edit]

The rehabilitation of the old lines nears completion in 2012. The Luanda Railway operated by Caminho de Ferro de Luanda E.P. is done, both the 424 km of the main line to Malanje and the 55 km branch line to Dondo; missing is only a full connection to the Luanda sea port. The Benguela railway now operated by Caminho de Ferro de Benguela E.P. is operational from the sea up to Huambo; the rest is in the works, and both contractor and patron promised its completion up to the border with the RDC;[17] this involves 1303 km main line plus the 33 km of the Benguela branch. Also the 907 km of the Moçâmedes Railway (general line 56 km plus 151 km branch line to Cassinga) operated by Caminho de Ferro de Moçamedes E.P. is expected to be completey reconstructed in 2012.

Planned new lines[edit]

The plan involves eight new lines:[18]

Caminho de Ferro do Congo[edit]

This line would start at downtown Luanda and reach the Congo mouth at Soyo and then Cabinda via a wide Eastward curve passing via Caxito, Ucua, Quibaxe, Dange, Uíge, Songo, Lucunga, Madimba, Zaire, M'banza-Kongo, Quiende, Lufico to Soyo. The line then shall cross the Congo river between Soyo and Munanda, cross for about 40 km the RDC to enter Angolan territory again in Cabinda province at Imã to reach Cabinda city, and continue from there via Landana, Buco Zau, Belize, Cabinda to Miconje, where it is to connect with the rail network of Congo Brazzaville. This line would total about 950 kilometers. A feasibility study is being undertaken now. This line was already discussedn in 2008[19]

In an earlier document from the transport ministry, there was a border crossing to RDC planned further up-stream, where the Congo river is not so wide and where the RDC/Angola border moves away from the river bank, i.e. at Noqui (Angola) and Matadi (RDC).[7]

Link with Zambia[edit]

This would branch off the Benguela railway at Luacano and go south-east via Lago Dilolo, Sapito, Moxico, Samucal, Cazombo, Camanga, and Calunda to Macongo, where it would link to the line serving a new mine at Lumwana in Zambia. This line would be about 306 km long. A feasibility study is pending.

Western link to Namibia[edit]

This link of probably 343 km would start from the CFM at Cuvango and to south via Cassai, Xamutete, Cuvelai, Mupa, Evale, Ondjiva to Namacunde, where it would connect with the Namibian line Tsumeb to Oshikango. This link had also been discussed during a state visit of the Angolan president in Windhoek in October 2007.[20] A feasibility study is pending.

Extension of the Luanda railway to Saurimo[edit]

The Luanda railway shall be extended beyond Malanje by 527 km via Caculama, Xá Muteba, Capenda, Camulemba, Cacolo, to Saurimo in Lunda Sul province. There it would link with the Eastern north-south line, specified in the next section. A feasibility study is pending.

Transversal do Leste (Eastern transversal)[edit]

This new line would extend 1353 km from North to South, beginning at the border with R.D. Congo at Chitato, then via Luachimo, Dundo, Camissombo, Lucapa to Saurimo where it connects with the planned new endpoint of the Luanda railway, further via Camanogue to Luena where it connects to the Benguela railway, further via Lucusse, Cassamba, Cangombe, and Lupire to Cuito Cuanavale where it connects with the planned new endpoint of the Moçâmedes railway (CFM), and then via Mavinga to Mucusso on the Okavango river, where it connects to the Tsumeb - Caprivi line in Namibia. A feasibility study is pending.

Extension of the Moçamedes railway to Cuito Cuanavale[edit]

This would extend the existing line by about 180 km beyond the current end point Menongue via Longa to Cuito Cuanavale where it connects with the Transversal do Leste. A feasibility study is pending.

Transversal Norte-Sul (North-South transversal)[edit]

This central north-south line of planned 896 km starts at Uíge, from the planned Congo railway going south from there via Negage, Camabatela, Luinga, and Calandula to Malanje, the current end point of the Luanda railway, from there further south via Cangandala, Mussende, Calussinga, Andulo, and Cuhinga to Kuito, where it connects to the existing Benguela railway, and from there via Chitambo and Cuvango, where it connects with the existing Moçâmedes railway and the planned new line to Oshikango in Namibia. A feasibility study is pending.

Interconnection of the three historic lines[edit]

This new line of 589 km would start as an extension of the existing Dondo branch of the Luanda railway, and go south via Quibala and Waco Kungo to Huambo, connecting there to the existing Benguala railway, continuing further south via Cuima to Cuvango, where it connects — like the Transversal Norte-Sul to the existing Moçâmedes railway and the planned new line to Oshikango in Namibia. A feasibility study is pending.

This line creates a direct rail link from the capital Luanda to Angola's second city Huambo and to Namibia.


Speaking to the press in July 2012, on the occasion of the coming opening of the reconstructed CFB line to Luena, the director of the INCFA, Júlio Bango Joaquim, said that the construction of new lines would begin as soon as the three historic lines are operational in their full length. He placed the direct link to Zambia, bypassing the DR Congo, on top of the priority list, the link to Namibia coming next.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Angola: Repair of Luanda Railway Complete in August
  2. ^ "Railway Gazette: Angolan railway rehabilitation progress". Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  3. ^ "ANGOLAN RAILWAYS COMPLETE BY 2012". Railways Africa. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  4. ^ "FIRST CFB TRAIN REACHES LUAU". Railways Africa. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  5. ^ http://www.icf.gov.in/html/angola_write-up.pdf Archived 22 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Rough graphical presentation of planned network at the web site of the transport ministry
  7. ^ a b Presentation of Ing. José Luyindula of GCL on the project Ango-Ferro
  8. ^ Documents on the reform of Angola railway institutional framework
  9. ^ "Government wants private operators in railway sector". Railways Africa. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  10. ^ Specifications and image of SDD6A locomotive at CSR website
  11. ^ Specifications and image of passenger car at CSR website
  12. ^ Specifications and image of box car at CSR website
  13. ^ Specifications and image of open car at CSR website
  14. ^ Specifications and image of tank wagon at CSR website
  15. ^ Specifications and image of ballast hopper wagon at CSR website
  16. ^ "CNR Dalian locomotives arrive in Angola". Railway Gazette International. 2012-08-13. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "CAMINHO DE FERRO DE BENGUELA CONCLUIDO EM 2012" [Benguela railway completed in 2012] (in Portuguese). Transport ministry of Angola. 18 February 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  18. ^ Lourenço, Manuel João (20 June 2011). "Projecto de reabilitação e modernização dos caminhos de ferro de Angola" [Project to rehabilitate and modernize the Angolan railways] (in Portuguese). Instituto Nacional dos Caminhos de Ferro de Angola (INCFA)/Angolan transport ministry. 
  19. ^ Railways Africa - NORTHERN ANGOLAN RAIL LINK-UP
  20. ^ Railways Africa - ANGOLA-NAMIBIA LINK
  21. ^ "Carruagens do CFB avançam para Leste" [CFB wagons advance towards the East]. Jornal de Angola (in Portuguese) (Edições Novembro). 31 July 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 

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