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Railways in


Ariane 5 launch facility at the Centre Spatial Guyanais
Ariane 5 launch facility at the Centre Spatial Guyanais, showing a completed space vehicle approaching the launch pad

Temporary mining railways were in use in Guyane from the mid 19th century. In 1886 the first few kilometres of a permanent steam hauled railway serving gold mines in the Saint Elie area. The line eventually extended to around 33km. The mining company went into liquidation in 1919 and the railway closed. A new company took over and resumed operations by 1926, however, although a new steam locomotive was purchased it is reported that it was never operated, and wagons were hauled by mules. By the 1950s, this had been reduced to man power. The company ceased operation in 1950 but the railway continued to be operated for some time by gold mining individuals on an ad hoc basis. Since the construction of the Petit-Saut dam on the Sinnamary River in the 1990s, most of the original line is underwater. The 1926 steam locomotive still exists, although in very poor condition. There are tentative proposals to reopen part of the line near Saint Elie as a tourist railway.

Between 1890 and 1897, a 600mm gauge steam hauled railway about 16km in length was constructed to facilitate the transport of prisoners between the camp at Saint Laurent du Maroni and that at Saint Jean. Another 22km line linked Saint Laurent with sawmills at Charvein and to various forestry sites, conveying prisoners to work camps. The lines closed in 1946 with the abandonment of the prison camps.

There is a sawmill in Dégrad Corrèze with an internal 600mm gauge network using hand propelled trolleys to move timber around the works.

The Centre Spatial Guyanais spaceport has several internal railways. There are two main routes, each consisting of a pair of standard gauge lines designed to carry a large rail platform straddling the pair of lines and hauled by a heavy duty road vehicle. One of these routes carries boosters and fuel tanks from the booster assembly building to the final assembly building, the other carries completed spacecraft from the final assembly building to the launch pad. Separate from these routes, a 900mm gauge line carries fuel from storage to the booster assembly building.

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