Flag of Mauritius

Railways in


The first railway on the island of Mauritius opened in 1864 between Port Louis and Grand River South East, a distance of some 50km. By the early decades of the 20th century a network of approaching 200km of standard gauge line had been established, fed by many more km of narrow gauge plantation railways.

Mauritius Railways locomotive No.60

The predominant traffic of the railways was sugar cane, but they were also very important to communications on the island, enabling wasy movement of passengers and general freight. The importance of the railways may be judged from this photograph of a large Garratt locomotive built for Mauritius Railways in 1927 by Beyer Peacock in the United Kingdom. I have not been able to identify the source of this image, but it is almost certainly an official works photograph as it appears to show the locomotive as newly built in the special grey livery that was often used for photographic purposes at that date.

Following the Second World War traffic declined in the face of road competition and passenger services ceased in 1956. Further competition and decline in sugar cane production led to complete closure in 1964. Lines were closed and lifted and although routes may still be traced, few tangible artefacts remain today. Narrow gauge railways fared rather better in this respect, and although most of them closed about the same time, a number of locomotives and other items are now on static display in various locations.

In 2017, contracts were signed for the construction of a 26km light rail transit system connecting the capital, Port Louis, with the town of Curepipe.

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Flag image from CIA World Factbook