The Republic of the Congo (capital: Brazzaville) should not be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (capital: Kinshasa)
The first railway in what was then the Middle Congo region of French Equatorial Africa opened in 1934 from Brazzaville to the new port of Pointe Noire, a distance of 510km. Unusually for a French colony, the gauge chosen was 1067mm: perhaps because that gauge was already in use in the neighbouring Belgian Congo, although there was no connection between the systems.
In 1962, a 285km branch opened from Mont Bélo to Mbinda near the border with Gabon. Initially this carried iron ore traffic from Gabon, brought to the railway by a cross-border cable conveyor system. This traffic ceased with the construction of a new railway in Gabon, but the branch remained in use.
In 1985, a 91km loop was opened off the main line between Bilinga and Loubomo (present day Dolisie) to provide a better alignment for heavy iron ore traffic. The loop is normally used in one direction only, with returning traffic using the original line.
Since 2000 the entire network has been operated by non-governmental but state owned corporation.
At the present day there are no international connections, but there is a proposal for a standard (1435mm) gauge line connecting a new iron ore mine at Mont Nabemba to the port of Kribi in Cameroon. Only a short length of this line would lie within the Republic of the Congo.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook