Benguela Railway

1301 km railway with 100 years of history
Benguela railway is the only railway connection from Central Africa to the Atlantic. Its construction began in 1903 and was finished at February, 2nd, 1929.
On June 10th, 1931 the recently built Angolan port of Lobito received the first copper load from Katanga.

CFB: The Cubal by-pass
Later, in the 70s, was built the Cubal by-pass. Considering all by-passes and deviations, the railway has 1679 km and it ascends 1854 meters in the first 350 km.

CFB: The world biggest private eucalyptus plantation
CFB owned 37 000 ha of land and used annually 570 000 tones of wood to fuel locomotives from Lobito to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

CFB: Rehabilitation until 2011

The rehabilitation of the railroad section between Munhango and Luau started in February 2009. The Chinese construction enterprise China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR-20) shall finish the replacement of trails in May 2010 and the inaugural passengers train from Lobito to Luau is predicted to 2011. In November 2005, Daniel Quipache - Benguela Railway's director - announced the beginning of the Lobito - Luau rail corridor rehabilitation to January 2006, using a credit facility from the Chinese Republic. This facility has accelerated the total rehabilitation of the 1,301 kilometers of railroad up to Moxico's region. The rehabilitation is inserted in the National Railway Plan which was first estimated to cost 200 million dollars and to be concluded in 2012. This plan considers the repairs of engines and bridges, replacement of sleepers, improvement of stations and demining. In the last four years four important projects have been maintained:

Calenga - Santa Iria Project, which has re-established the railway traffic between Caála and Huambo in 2002.
Lobito-Cubal Project, with an extension of 153km, concluded in December 2004 but only started up in July 2005.
Luena-Luau Project, in conclusion stage at the moment.
SITLOB - Intercity System of Passengers Transportation in Lobito and Benguela.

Eight years ago, in 2001, the Benguela Railroad was reduced to the 34km between Lobito and Benguela (Benguela branch line) and to some railroads accessing Lobito's warehouses and industries (Industrial area of Lobito and Lobito's Ring road - approximately 18km).
The connection from Lobito to Cubal was announced to be ready by the first quarter of 2002... but the Cubal By-pass Bridge was in worse conditions than expected and three metal bridges hadn't been considered. August has been then declared, but in November 2002 the arrival to Cubal was postponed to December. In December 2002, the CFB's General Director, Daniel Quipaxe, stated to Angop that the connections between the regions of Benguela and Huambo were expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2003. In March there was a new rescheduling and the works were limited to the placing of stone and cracked stones due to a lack of sleepers. The Works on the Rio Cubal Bridge finally began in May 2003, joining Portuguese engineers and Angolan technicians and were finished seven months later, on February 6th, 2004. The bridge's roadway, in pre-reinforced concrete, has six 25m long spans. One of these spans was entirely demolished and reconstructed; the same happened to one of the support pillars. Finally in December 18th, 2004, the Lobito-Cubal By-pass was reopened, but it only began to be used in July 2005, because works were still being carried out in the bridge upon Halu River, at 79km from Lobito's city.

The government of Angola has invested to date 1,800,000,000 dollars in repairing the Benguela Railroad, including demining, replacement of railroads, bridges construction and 16 stations construction.

Out of curiosity :
The 99 years old operation and utilization agreement, licensed / assigned to the Caminho de Ferro de Benguela SARL (Benguelan Railway Company), ended on November 28th, 2001. All fixed and circulating assets of the company reverted to the estate of Angola.

Also out of curiosity :
Above, you can see some stamps commemorating the stamp's centenary, which ‘live’ Angola Independence. Bellow, left, the first coloured postcard from Portuguese Africa: Bridge upon Catumbela River, at the 272nd km - Alto de Catumbela. The rail track arrived here in 1909. Bellow, right: Alto de Catumbela Station; for many people living there, it was the first picture they saw of the ‘city’.

CFB holds two still operational Baldwin 4-8-0 steam engines (Locomotives 215 and 216). They are reserved for a future museum.


 CFB at Luau’s Virtual Community
 CFB’s timetable from Mart 2007 !!!
 The Garratt Locomotive
 The International Steam Pages - Steam in Africa 2009

Updated on November 12th, 2009
Translated by Ana Catarina Pires