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The very first railway in the French colony of Sénégal was built in a part of the country that now falls within the boundaries of Mali. The first railway in what would become present day Senegal opened in 1924 from Dakar to Kayes; this was a metre gauge line, of which about 690km lay in the territory of the present day country. Several branch lines were subsequently built, of which those to Saint-Louis and Mbaké remain, giving a present day network of about 900km.

After Senegal and Mali gained their independence in 1960, the line to Kayes became an international line. The respective governments each took control of the railways in their own territory, with arrangements put in place for the continuance of international traffic.

In 2003, the two governments handed over control of the entire line to a private consortium, Transrail. Little investment has been put into the lines and they remains in poor condition. Services are erratic, and sometimes suspended for long periods.

The mining company TiZir is currently constructing a new 22km railway from its Grande Côte Mineral Sands extraction project to a junction with the existing line at Mékhé, and funding the rehabilitation of the existing line from there to Dakar, a distance of around 100km.

In 2012, a project to upgrade the 1230km railway from Dakar to Bamako in Mali, which would include conversion to standard gauge.

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Flag image from CIA World Factbook