Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Railways in the Democratic Republic of the

Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (capital: Kinshasa) should not be confused with the Republic of the Congo (capital: Brazzaville)

The first railway in the Congo Free State (later the Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was an 800km line opened around 1910 from Bukama, in the copper producing region of Katanga, to the Rhodesian border at Sakania. There, it connected with lines constructed by the British, which by that date allowed through traffic all the way to the Cape of Good Hope.

The gauge of the Katanga Railway was 3ft 6in (1067mm), the same as that used in Rhodesia. Subsequent development in the south east of the country was to the same gauge, most notably the Benguela Railway, which opened from Lobito in Angola to the border town of Dilolo in 1929, although it was another 2 years before the line was completed to its junction with the existing railway at Tenke.

Elsewhere in the country, a number of isolated groups of lines sprang up with various gauges, 600mm, 1000mm and 1067mm. These groups of lines are connected by a network of river steamers.

The original main line remains important for freight traffic today, and is partly electrified. Most of the other lines in the south east also remain open for traffic, except for the Benguela railway which is out of use beyond Kolwezi. The latter is, however, being reconstructed and will be connected to the railway of Angola when reconstruction in that country is complete.

The isolated groups of lines for the most part also remain active, and important in their own areas. Some run down lines are in the course of reconstruction.

International freight traffic uses the link with Zambia and is expected to use the link with Angola when that reopens. There are no international passenger services.

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