The first railway in what was then the Haute Volta region of French West Africa opened in 1934, with the arrival at Bobo-Dioulasso of the metre gauge railway from Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire. The line was extended in stages to Ouagadougou, which it reached in 1954.
After the two countries gained independence in 1960, the railway was jointly administered by the two governments. The situation prevailed until 1994, when a concession for the entire railway was awarded to a private operator, Sitarail.
The line from Abidjan to Ouagadougou (about 517km of which lies in Burkina Faso) remains the only operational line in the country. In the 1980s, work began on an extension of the line from Ouagadougou to Tambao; the line was completed only as far as Kaya, a distance of about 103km.
In 2011, consultants began design work on a new line to Niamey, capital of Niger. The route would follow the existing line from Ouagadougou to Kaya , then the route of the proposed Tambao extension as far as Dori (170km), whence it would turn east towards Terá and Niamey in Niger. The total distance from Ouagadougou to Niamey would be 420km. The line would be built to standard (1435mm) gauge, and could be accompanied by regauging of the Abidjan line to standard gauge.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook