Under British influence, most of the railways in Angola were built to 3ft 6in (1067mm) gauge, though the Moçâmedes Railway was originally built to 600mm gauge, being converted to 1067mm in the 1950s. Railways generally ran from the coast inland, with few north to south links, so that several isolated networks developed.
The first and only international rail connection came in 1929 with the opening of the Benguela Railway from Lobito to the Belgian Congo (present day Democratic Republic of the Congo). Two years later, this railway was linked through the Belgian Congo with Northern Rhodesia (present day Zambia).
The railways were largely devastated during three decades of civil war at the end of the 20th century. Reconstruction took place in the early years of the 21st century. There are proposals for extensions, including lines connecting the present three separate railways, and an international connection with Namibia.