The TAZARA Railway

Posted in: Switzerland

To be able to represent the Friends for Namwala at the 50-year anniversary of the Namwala Secondary School, Beat and I travelled to Zambia on the 21st of June 2016. This time, we chose a different route by taking the TAZARA train line from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia the last 2000 km on land. The 1860 km long journey with a duration of 48 hours passes by 320 bridges, 22 tunnels and 93, partially monumental, stations and overcomes a height difference of 1786 km.
The train line, built by the Chinese in 1976, was the last big train line project in Africa. For a long time, it was the only connection to the port for Zambia as the older, English train line, was boycotted for political reason. The business was kept open with varying success. A couple of years ago, there was a new beginning and so we were able to travel in half a year-old wagon. There was a restaurant and a bar, where we could get a bite to eat.
The maximum speed of around 70 km/h was rather slow for Swiss standards, but in return it did the very beautiful and diversified landscape justice. When I watched the locomotive from my window, it seemed to move rather elegantly for pulling 15 very heavy train wagons. With four hours of delay, we arrived in Kapiri Mposhi where we were welcomed at the station by Patrick Muma, the former school inspector of Namwala, who was moved here.
The journey was despite its length a big adventure, that I would very much love to re-do. It would make sense to travel in the opposite direction in order to cross the Selous Game Reserve by day, so that one could have a chance at seeing the wild animals.

– Johannes van der Weijden

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