A railway was proposed in the late 19th century to connect Uganda with the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Work was started in 1898 and the railway reached the Kenyan shore of Lake Victoria in 1901, from where it was possible to reach Uganda by steamboat. The first railway to reach Uganda itself had to wait until after the First World War before work commenced, and was only completed from the Kenyan border through to Kampala in 1931. The chosen gauge was metre gauge, matching the Kenyan system.
Various extensions and branches were completed to remote parts of the country as late as the 1950s and 1960s. However, by the early 21st century, only the main line from the Kenyan border to Kampala (235km) and a short branch from Kampala to Port Bell on Lake Victoria (8km) remained in use.
In 2010, Ugandan Army engineers began the process of rehabilitating the existing lines, and restoring the 500km line from a junction with the main line at Tororo to Pakwach on the Albert Nile River. The latter line reopened in 2013.
A commuter passenger service for Kampala was launched on a trial basis in December, 2015. Two daily return services are offered between Namanve and the capital, a distance of about 14km.
In 2013, contracts were signed for the construction of the following railways:
A number of proposals exist for further reopened or new railways:
No definite timescale has been set for these proposals.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook