The first trains to operate in Angola ran from Luanda to Funda, a distance of about 46km, in 1888, although the line was not officially opened until the beginning of the following year. This formed the first section of the Caminho de Ferro de Ambaca, later becoming part of the CF de Luanda. Influenced by British involvement in the construction consortium, the chosen gauge was 3ft 6in (1067mm).
The majority of later railways in Angola were built to the same gauge, though the Moçâmedes Railway was originally built to 600mm gauge, being converted to 1067mm in the 1950s. Railways generally ran from the coast inland, with few north to south links, so that several independent networks developed.
The first and only international rail connection came in 1929 with the opening of the Benguela Railway from Lobito to the Belgian Congo (present day Democratic Republic of the Congo). Two years later, this railway was linked through the Belgian Congo with Northern Rhodesia (present day Zambia).
The railways were largely devastated during three decades of civil war at the end of the 20th century. Reconstruction took place in the early years of the 21st century.
In 2022, CF de Moçâmedes launched a feasibility study into a 300km branch line to Oshikango, Namibia, where it would connect with the Namibian rail network.
Also in 2022, an operating and maintenance concession for the CF de Benguela was awarded to a consortium of Trafigura, Mota-Engil, and Vecturis. Under the termsof the concession, extensive upgrades and improvements will be made to the existing route. These may include a branch line from Luacano to Jimbe on the border with Zambia, where it would connect with a planned new line in that country.
© 2006-2022 Glyn Williams
Photo image supplied by Caminho de Ferro de Benguela