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Camrail freight train passing Bessengué station
A Camrail freight train passes Bessengué station in Douala
hauled by Bombardier MLW MX620 no.CC2221, a 2200hp Co-Co diesel electric locomotive.

The first railway in what was then the German protectorate of Kamerun was a privately owned narrow gauge line opened in 1902 from Victoria (present day Limbe) to Soppo, near Buea, a distance of 43km. The first public railway was a 160km line from Douala to a point near Mount Mananguba, opened in 1910. It was built to metre gauge, then in common use for minor railways in Germany. The line was completed through to Yaoundé under French administration between the First and Second World Wars.

Metre gauge was also used for subsequent expansion, which consisted of a number of branches from the original main line and a new 667km main line from Yaoundé to Ngaoundéré, opened in 1987 by the Republic. A concession for the entire network was awarded to a private operator in 1999.

Up to the present day, there are no international connections.

In 2015, a feasibility study commenced for a 120km link from Edea, on the Douala to Yaoundé main line, to the new port at Lolabe.

Funding was approved in 2021 for a new feasibility study for a 700km line from Ngaoundéré to N’Djamena in Chad, about 170km of which would be in Cameroon.

Also in 2021, a memorandum of understanding was signed for the construction of a new 510km standard gauge railway connecting iron ore mining operations in the Mbalam area of southeastern Cameroon with a new Atlantic port near Kribi. A possible future 70km extension from Mbarga would serve a mining development at Mont Nabeba in the Republic of the Congo.

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Photo image by Z. NGNOGUE from Wikimedia Commons