The first railway in Madagascar opened in 1909 between the island's capital, Antananarivo, and Brickaville, a distance of over 200km. It was built to metre gauge, as were all subsequent lines on the island.
By 1923 there was a network of 3 lines in the northern part of the island, totalling 673km of route. During the 1920s and 1930s, a separate 163km line was built in the south of the island. All lines came under government control in the 1940s.
In the early years of the 21st century the system was part privatized. The northern group of line under Madarail operates regular passenger, freight and tourist services. The FCE line operates a passenger service on a few days each week, primarily for tourists; it is not clear whether it still operates freight trains.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook