The first railway in Portuguese East Africa (present day Moçambique) was the 2ft (610mm) gauge Beira Railway, opened from Fontesvilla to a point 75 miles (120km) inland in 1894, extended to Beira in 1896 and the Rhodesian frontier in 1897, finally entering Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe) the following year. The problem of traffic interchange with other lines in Rhodesia led to the Beira line being regauged to 3ft 6in (1067mm) between 1899 and 1900.
The latter gauge was also chosen for subsequent railway development in the country, before and after World War I, by companies seeking to open up the mineral resources of the landlocked countries of central southern Africa. These lines did much to develop the Indian Ocean ports of Mozambique and to some extent open up the interior of the country but, in the absence of major north - south routes, little to unite its disparate parts. In consequence, the network today consists of several unconnected sections.
There are international connections with Malawi, South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.
In 2010 an agreement was signed for the construction of an 1100km railway from a new at Ponta Techobanine, south of Maputo, via Zimbabwe to Serule in Botswana. The project was confirmed by a tripartite agreement between the three countries in 2016.
In 2014 a new railway opened from the Moatize area to Malawi where it linked with the existing railway serving the port of Nacala, giving an alternative export route for coal from the Moatize area. The new route is operated by Nacala Logistics.
In 2017, construction began on a 525km standard (1435mm) gauge railway from the Moatize area to a new port at Macuse. This will massively increase the export capability of the Moatize mining area.
In 2022, rehabilitation of the 44km line from Mutarara on the Beira – Moatize railway to the Malawi border near Marka, Malawi was completed, allowing connection with projected works in Malawi.
© 2006-2022 Glyn Williams
Photo image declared public domain