Location: front left seat EE set now departed
SÉNÉGAL-MALI LINE UPGRADE NEEDED
on December 7, 2011 in Senegal
The 1,233km metre-gauge railway from Dakar in Sénégal to Bamako in adjoining Mali was completed in 1924, though portions of the line were in operation 20 years previously. An extension to Koilikoro, a further 53km, was completed later but is out of use. There was little further investment in the line itself until some three years after operations were privatised in 2003, by which time the track was in poor condition.
In 2006, partial improvement took place, funded by an International Development Agency loan of $US48.7 million for “transport corridor improvements”.
Today however things are not looking good. Although additional rolling stock has been acquired, Transrail – which holds a 25-year operating concession – reported 136 derailments in the first 10 months of 2011, also 291 instances of broken rail between Dakar and Thies (70km), part of which carries a commuter service. Repair work is in progress along some 44km of this section at present, scheduled for completion in 2014.
In 2010, Thomas Cook’s International Timetable listed a once-weekly “express” passenger train linking the two capitals, remarking that “the trains are life-expired, filth has accumulated for years, bedroom doors often don’t lock and lack hinges, lights don’t work and toilets have no water. The available mattresses and linen haven’t been washed for years. Never mind what the timetable says, the train will take anything from 44 to over 80 hours to make the trip”. Transrail says 400,000 tons of freight were conveyed in 2010. Loads are constrained by a 15 ton axle load.
Currently the two countries, keen to upgrade the railway to carry minerals like iron ore and phosphates, are seeking funding for upgrading from sources such as the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency. A figure of about $US1.6 billion has been mentioned for strengthening the track.