Transport on Saint Helena

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RMS St Helena in James Bay, off St Helena

Saint Helena has 138 kilometres (86 mi) — 118 kilometres (73 mi) paved and 20 kilometres (12 mi) unpaved — of roads.[1] The only major harbour is James Bay at Jamestown, Saint Helena, which has customs and immigration buildings. There is no merchant marine.


Saint Helena has its own vehicle registration plate system. Traffic drives on the left as is the case in the United Kingdom itself. Indeed, two of the nearest countries to the islands — South Africa and Namibia — also drive on the left. The speed limit is 30 mph (48 km/h) across the island, and with many of the roads single lane and on steep slopes the local etiquette is that drivers heading downhill give way to those coming up.

A minibus offers a basic service to carry people around Saint Helena, with most services designed to take people into Jamestown for a few hours on weekdays to conduct their business. Car rental is available for visitors.


Saint Helena now has an airport, but it is not yet open due to concerns about wind shear. The British government and South African company Basil Read signed a deal in November 2011 for construction of the Saint Helena airport, which had been due to open in 2016. Flights will mainly be to South Africa.[2]

Calibration flights at the airport began in mid-September 2015, and a Beechcraft King Air 200 leased from TAB Charters in South Africa touched down on the island for the first time on 15 September of that year.[3] UK-based Flight Calibration Services undertook the flights and was to begin the journey from Lanseria International Airport, in Johannesburg, flying via Namibia and Angola. The aircraft was due be on site for an approximately one week to undertake flights, weather permitting.[4]

An airport was built on Ascension during World War II to be used as a staging point for aircraft being ferried from factories in Canada and the United States to the war in North Africa. At the end of the war the airport was abandoned, subsequently re-opening when Ascension started to be used as a base for monitoring space launches and ICBM tests. Ascension airport is now known as RAF Wideawake. The only way to fly to Ascension is to fly with the RAF via RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, England on an overnight charter. This flight uses an Airbus A330 aircraft operated by an AirTanker Services on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). A limited number of civilians are allowed on this flight but fares are high. Transferring from Ascension to Saint Helena takes two days on the RMS Saint Helena.


The Saint Helena Railway Company built an inclined-plane railway on the island in 1829.[5] It became a steep staircase, Jacob's Ladder, and the island no longer has any railways.[6][7]

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