Jonathan Lee

Worldly Images

Mozambique September 2012

Thursday 6th September 2012

Entering Mozambique at the Malawi border via the land crossing of Nayuchi/Entre Lagos was interesting to say the least (see Malawi September 2012 for more). Once we’d spent almost an hour messing about in no mans land doing all the necessary paperwork to leave one country and enter the next, our flat bed truck, loaded with bags of rice and people, made for an interesting journey. And a 3 hour journey at that. The initial drive was nothing short of slow, dusty & bumpy, but once we’d reached Tobue the dust road turned away from the railway line and the journey was then just dusty, all the way to Cuamba. It was an interesting experience but not one I was ready for repeating any time soon by the time we got off.

We’d been expecting to be dropped outside Cuamba station but we ended up at some small distribution place, where the rice being unloaded was clearly more important than us being dropped off. As dusk was drawing in we opted to make a bid for the station on foot, before it got too dark. The surroundings didn’t look that safe either but our escorts, three young lads from the distribution place, would surely keep us safe…….

It turned out to be a 5 minute walk to the station and we got there just in time for the booking office to have closed merely minutes before. The security staff told us to return at 3am to buy our 2nd class tickets, that was assuming there were still some to buy for the journey to Nampula the following morning.

Our hotel of choice was the Pensao Cariaco which cost MT650 for a twin and MT500 for a single between the three of us. Guide books say that this place is good value for Mozambique but if you’ve come from Malawi it might not seem so. They were not wrong! The rooms are small, habitable but without private bathrooms. The shared toilet was not nice and i wouldn’t have even entertained the shower……… Still, it had beds and the food was good, even if it did take an hour to arrive.

Friday 7th September 2012 

The 0245 alarm call wasn’t as bad as it had seemed the night before and by 0305 we were queuing at the station booking office behind about 25 other people. Thankfully luck turned out to be on our side and the fact that we were tourists got one of us through the station gate and into the ticket office, maybe thanks to the same security guard recognising us from the previous night? The result being 3 2nd class tickets being issued at 0400, before the ticket window was opened to the general public. Each cost MT400 and we were allocated to compartment F.

Whilst waiting the driver of D127, who’d brought it back from Entre Lagos, had got chatting to us and he confirmed that although the CFM locos work through to Liwonde the trains are actually worked by CEAR men from Entre Lagos. He also confirmed that there are no passenger trains between Cuamba & Entre Lagos, not even “now and again”, and that there were hardly ever any trains at all on the Lichinga line, let alone any passenger trains. Those that did run, “every now and again”, sometimes took two to three weeks to complete the journey and that was just in one direction!

The ticket office was opened up at 0400 and the gates to the station at 0450. There was no getting inside the station confines without a ticket either. Train 214 0530 Cuamba – Nampula was formed of:

YDM4 C102, 1 x wagon, 3 x 3rd class, restaurant car, 1 x 2nd class, 3 x freight wagons

The only other engines we could see in the yard upon our prompt departure at 0530 were GE U20 D127 & YDM4s C101/103 in multi, shunting. The berths in our compartment were already down as we pulled out and some much needed sleep was caught up on while our little YDM4 got to grips with the train, unfortunately a long way from our coach.

The line from Cuamba to Nampula is excellent, compared to other lines I’d done in Africa anyway. On our journey from Balaka to Nayuchi in Malawi, the previous day, one guy had compared the Cuamba – Nampula line to the Eurostar when i was trying to explain how fast our trains went, i could understand his thinking now. It was fast line and smooth track as well. Strangely, for Africa, there was no waiting for people to load their goods into the goods vehicles, the station stops were short and sweet and if your crap wasn’t on, it wasn’t being conveyed, end of.

There were security guys in every coach, one of which wouldn’t allow us to cross between the 2nd class and restaurant car while the train was moving, yet he was more than happy to hold the door open for us to cross back through with three plates to carry. While the restaurant car is always full of people, food can be taken back to your 2nd class compartment. The food on board was fine, contrary to what most people have to say about it, chicken, chips & rice for only MT100 each, just what the doctor ordered…….

Whilst the line is fast, in places it is very hilly too which certainly got the best out of the little YDM4 at the front, which could be heard very audibly, even from 7 coaches back, when it was hammering away up the hills at a slow pace. Had we not had to wait 45 minutes for the opposing working to arrive with YDM4 104 at Mussa, we’d have probably been right time into Nampula, instead we rolled in just before 1600, a very respectable 30 minutes late. In the station yard were GE U10? D01 & GE U20 D126, the former clearly the shunt loco.

Before heading off we bought tickets for our bash the following day. We intended to go out to Iapala and back, the one way journey costing MT148 in 2nd class, our allocated compartment being H. With that we walked the short distance down Paulo Samuel Kamkhomba to the Residencial a Mariqueira, where a twin room cost MT1750 with an extra bed (mattress on the floor) MT500 on top. It was a massive step up from the previous nights accommodation, and so it should have been for the price, it had hot water, although only from a tap and not the shower, air con and was clean.

Saturday 8th September 2012

How easy is it to check the departure times of trains, even in Portuguese? Well, we were soon wishing we’d done it ourselves when we got to the station at 0510, for what we’d assumed to be the 0530 Nampula – Cuamba. We figured there was something amiss when there was no train in the platform, and the security staff were laughing at us as we approached! It had gone at 0500 so it was off back to bed to sleep the embarrassment off……

All the timetables we’d seen had the train departing at 0530, yet in the very guide booked we’d been relying upon for accommodation it clearly said the train departed at 0500. There is a moral to this story but there was also a question answered in our stupidity in that the security staff had told us to return the following morning for the train, which was a Sunday. The trains previously hadn’t run on Sunday’s and also had only had 2nd class on one set, yet we’d seen 2nd class on both sets and had now been told to return for the train on Sunday, the only conclusion we could draw was that all trains now had 2nd class and that they ran 7 days a week, in both directions. Of course this assumption was coming from three guys who spend their life travelling by train and had just managed to miss one by making assumptions……..

Having spent the morning doing nothing we spent the afternoon getting a taxi 20km out of town to Rapalle, which we’d spotted coming in the previous day as having some sort of road access. The taxi cost MT1000 (£20) which was enough, and dropped us exactly where we’d asked, Rapalle village, which was in the middle of nowhere yet we still managed to end up drinking cold pop inside a small hut, while we waited for the train to turn up, which we were all hoping was before nightfall.

We were given an early sign that it wasn’t going to be long when a freight arrived from Nampula with Sheltham EMD GL26MC #12 (ex SAR 33.215), and was put into the loop rather than running straight through. The driver was South African and he had a CDN conductor, who didn’t speak a word of English. He told us at #12 was one of two Sheltham engines based in Nacala and they worked freights most of the time but every now and again ended up on the passenger if CDN were short of power.

YDM4 104 arrived 50 minutes late into Rapalle. We ended up in the front 3rd class coach for the 20km run back into town. the security staff wouldn’t let us stand in the vestibule to bellow at 104 though and insisted we sit down, finding seats for us all. The coach was full but not overflowing and there were seats. It was nothing like the free for all in Malawi and seemed pretty civilised and would probably have been a decent journey had we had a load of seats together, even on a long distance journey, of course we’d chosen not to be able to find that out having missed the outbound that morning.

Back Nampula we walked off the end of the platform, showed our cameras to the female security guard, who just waved us over to the Loco Shed, no hassles at all. We were given permission by the RITES staff on duty to walk round, but not to take photos, initially. However they allowed us in the end but only for personal use. The following were on shed (with the exception of C102 & 104) all of which were identified except, ironically, C102 which we’d missed that morning:

C101 – 6238 identifiable from electrical cubicle elements

C102 – missed due to us missing the damn train that morning!

103 – 6396 stencilled on the coupler

104 – 6517 as identified from inside the electrical cubicle back at the station

105 – 6516 stencilled on the coupler

106 – 6434 identifiable from electrical cubicle elements

The above explained quite a lot as 103-106 had clearly been renumbered from ex Beira machines 006-009, which had been spotted in Beira shortly after delivery with the ex IR numbers on their couplers. This could then explain why 4 Maputo based YDM4 (D601, 2, 4 & 5) had been moved to Beira as well?

Of the Nampula YDM4s only 4 were currently serviceable, 105 was undergoing overhaul, with most of its internals just being replaced and 106 was never going to work again having been damaged beyond repair while working a train in Malawi. 101/103 were being serviced after arriving back from Cuamba with a freight, C102 was Cuamba bound with the passenger and 104 was in the station having arrived from Cuamba. The only other engine on shed was the Atlantic steam loco (Henschel/1923 – 4-4-2 No. 813), still in the same spot it had most recently been photographed in, just looking a bit worse for ware. D01 & D126 were both still in the station area.

Sunday 9th September 2012

From this point our trip went downhill for a few days, we didn’t know it yet but the next YDM4 we’d have on a passenger train wouldn’t be until Friday 14th………

We flew Nampula – Beira with LAM, booked via the net in the UK. Not the cheapest way to get there but nothing was cheap in Mozambique. The taxi to the airport cost MT200 for the 4km journey.

Once in Beira the taxi from the airport into Beira cost MT500 for the 10km journey, which was basically a straight line into town, through a decent area too, until of course when we got to where it would drop us off, where the high rise buildings suddenly didn’t look as desirable and the streets were emptier, yet where the better hotels were concentrated. Our first choice was full and we then ended up fighting it out with the 2nd & 3rd choices, which boiled down to us negotiating a 3 bedded suit in the Hotel Mozambique down from MT6400 to MT6000, per night, which was about £130. It was clean, had hot water all the time, breakfast was included and had free WiFi. Had I paid that price back home I would have expected the Hilton and nothing less.

Of course we had to take a walk to the station, which was only 5 minutes away, where we confirmed that the Beira – Moatize train, that had started running in February was indeed running on the days we’d found on the internet, notices in the booking office confirmed the price in 2nd class was MT801 and the trains ran:

Tuesday 1850 dep Beira – Wednesday 1349 arr Moatize

Thursday 0700 dep Moatize – Friday 0303 arr Beira

The booking office was closed, a security guard told us it opened at 0800 the following morning and also that the inbound train from Marromeu wasn’t going to arrive until 1800, so we didn’t hang around to wait for it.

Right opposite the Hotel Mozambique was the CFM Railway Club, which had a 10m diving board and 50m, 8 lane swimming pool, where people were sat on the deck enjoying a beer. Guess where we ended up for the evening……….

Monday 10th September 2012 

By 0815 we had 3 tickets in 2nd class for the following day’s Moatize train, costing MT801 as the pricing matrix confirmed in the booking office. Whilst purchasing the tickets I got talking to the Station Master, who we quizzed about locos. He told us that sometimes the Moatize train was worked by a “big” loco and sometimes by a “small” loco. With that we were thinking maybe he was meaning the “big” to be the CCFB RITES D150 or even the RIRCON WDM7 and the “small” to be a YDM4? Of course you know that’s wrong but we didn’t at that point and it wasn’t long before we were in his office. 10 minutes later we were waiting outside one of the Directors offices on the 2nd floor of the station building, to ask if we could have permission to look round the loco shed & workshops, something the Station Master didn’t think would be a problem.

After almost an hour of waiting we were greeted by the Director, who apologised for not having greeted us sooner but he was in the middle of a morning meeting involving Rio Tinto & Vale guys, who we’d seen trickling in the whole time we’d been there. Also in the meeting was his Workshop Manager, who was happy for us to look round the workshops but couldn’t take us until after the meeting, so he took my number and would call after they’d finished.

Just as we were about to give the waiting up, after 1h15m, my phone rang as we walked across the station car park. The Workshop Manager was giving us an escort to take us round the shed & workshops and were were transported there and back on the CFM staff bus. One thing to note is that despite the fact that roads run right past the workshops & running shed, these roads can only be accessed through entering the port complex via the barrier to the left of the station (as you look at it), which has security on it at all times.

Beira Running Shed:

RIRCON YDM4s 6374 & 6351

RITES D150 (Works plate January 2002 MG2300-01) Originally exported to KTM Malaysia as #6800

RITES YDM4 005 in ex works paint (Refurbished GOC April 2006 plate on cab), from a previous photo taken in 2010 this was burnt out quite badly in the cab, so looks to have been repaired, and completed very recently.

Note: D150 (still with CCFB markings) had rusty wheels and was covered in dust. It clearly hadn’t turned a wheel in a long time, if at all in Mozambique? 6374 had been at GOC in October 2010 and hadn’t even had its cow-catchers fitted since arrival, and all three (D150, 6374 & 6351 were being returned to India, apparently)

Beira Yard:

CFM GM GT22LC-2 D305 shunting the yard

Sheltham GE C30’s 3016 (on a flat wagon) & 3020, both damaged beyond repair

Fuel Point:

Riversdale RML004 & RML001

Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique RTCM010 & RTCM011

Vale Shed:

Was full of locos, including newly imported #102 which could well have been an ex Croatian 2062? Unfortunately we didn’t get time to even not locos down as time was pressed and i was going to do it on our way back from the Workshops, which we exited by bus so that put pay to that idea….

CFM Workshops:

GM GT22LC-2’s

D301 – outside in yard waiting motors & main generator

D303 – inside in CFM Red waiting materials, although it had no bogies beneath it

D306 – inside with bent frame and half of it cut away after what looks like crash damage, will never work again. Only identifiable by chalked number on buffer beam

D307 – outside in yard waiting motors

D308 – inside the shed with power unit running

D310 – inside, shut down. Was intact.

Note: D302, 304 & 309 are in Maputo, as per the guy who showed us round

GE U20 D121 – inside in red livery stripped down with only power unit left on the shell

Sheltham GE C30 3019 inside with fitters attending to it, was off its bogies

RITES YDM4 004 outside with fitters working on it (had 6333 on electrical equipment inside cab and some of 6331’s robbed stuff too)

RIRCON YDM4 6331 – inside shed, appeared to be being stripped for spares, roof was off as were all the heads on the power unit and there were bits of 6331 in the electrical cubicle of 004

952 – Garratt steam loco, inside and intact at the far end of the shed, didn’t confirm if serviceable or not

Notes: We were told that the YDM4s were now only used for shunting in the yard and docks area along with working trains on the Machipanda line, which was still under rehabilitation to the Zimbabwe border. Maybe these had taken over from the RIRCON ones? This all after a change of management. At this point we realised our journey from Beira to Moatize was going to be a long one………

We spent the whole afternoon relaxing before returning to the station to view the 1755 Beira – Dondo commuter train. Our conversation with the Station Master that morning had revealed that once at Dondo sometimes the set runs forward to somewhere else to pick up goods before returning the next morning with the inbound commuter and sometimes it returns straight back to Beira. We soon found out that it would be returning straight back to Beira on this occasion, apparently arriving back at around 2100 and we were more than welcome to return with the train.

We were quite surprised when we could see a YDM4 appear from around the corner and back down towards the train, it wasn’t long before we could see the larger frame of a GT22 behind it though, pushing it down. Of course we weren’t going to do the train if it was a GT22 but there was hope with the YDM4 in the consist. Unfortunately it wasn’t running, we didn’t take any chances though and got the Station Master to confirm what the “Indian Loco” was doing, the response from the shed being that it was staying at Dondo to work a freight and the GT22 would return to Beira that evening, which was all we needed to know, and with that news we were off for dinner!

Tuesday 11th September 2012

With nothing else to do until the inevitable bowl out at 1850 that evening we spent the day drinking beer at a place on the beach before having more food at one of the station cafe’s before boarding. The station was busy, the concourse full of people, not only travelling but also with a group of school kids that seemed to be using the space to practice some sort of routine, badly.

Although there was a coach and van in one platform, which we’d assumed would be the 1755 Dondo, it never went anywhere and actually had more freight wagons shunted onto it. Maybe the Dondo commuter didn’t run when the Moatize train did? People had been boarding since we’d been at the station and the platform was busy when we did decide to board. The train was formed:

GT22 D310, 3 x freight wagon, 9 x 3rd class coaches, 1 x 2nd class coach, generator van for lighting, 3 x freight wagon & Guards van

On this occasion we were very glad to be towards the back of the train as the GM on the front was of absolutely no interest to us at all and the best thing it could possibly do was get us to Moatize quickly, or fail and get rescued by a YDM4 of course. The 2nd class coach had an armed security staff and only one door was open to the outside world. There were 8 compartments, which were clean enough and the seating upholstery looked new.  Our compartment was full, two guys who kept themselves to themselves and a young girl who spent most of the evening in another compartment. Having looked through the partition doors to the next coach I was so glad we’d managed 2nd class seats, 3rd class was already full and standing, 50 minutes before departure. It would have been one thing suffering it if it had been a YDM4 but having to endure it with a rancid GT22 would have really put the icing on the bowl out cake!

Departure was at 1850 prompt. On the running shed were two red YDM4s that we couldn’t identify and a blue liveried GE U20, which we’d have taken over the GT22 any day. Just beyond the Vale shed a siding full of coal sets and just beyond that what seemed to be a transfer point where the coal was offloaded from train to ship. The station master we’d been talking to rode with the train to Manga, where we assumed he lived and at all the stations to Dondo there were rafts of sellers, selling pop, water, beer, fags, bread etc. Before bed that night we passed 3 loaded coal sets heading into Beira, all with different companies engines on the front:

RTCM08/RML005 approx 10km outside Beira

Sheltham GE C30’s 3013/3012 at Dondo

Vale GT26CU-2’s 2953/2966 somewhere in the wilderness at 2140

At Dondo we spent quite a lot of time festering about, most of which was for Red ex Maputo YDM4 D601 to shunt a wagon off the rear of the train. At one point we were getting quite giddy about the fact that it may be added to the rear for some sort of banking or transfer move but it wasn’t to be and after we’d bought bread & pop for the morning breakfast we departed, leaving it behind, at 2050, having taken 2 hours to do 29km. Bed followed very shortly afterwards.

Wednesday 12th September 2012

A decent nights sleep was had and by the time we got up our compartment was empty, two of whom had disappeared in the night, the last leaving at Sena, where we had time to stretch our legs while stuff was offloaded. There were sellers all over the place, arms outstretched leaning up to the train windows offering their goods for sale. there was no shortage of pop and water at least. I was given a timings sheet by one of the staff, without any prompting at all, which confirmed we were about 3 hours late as we departed Sena for the short run over the Zambezi Bridge to Dona Ana.

As we departed Sena, in the yard/shed area on the right hand side there was a steam loco (which I’m reliably informed is a North British G Class 2-8-2), in among all the freight wagons that were dumped. It was barely recognisable from a distance, the creeping flora having almost taken over it’s whole hulk turning into part of the natural surroundings. There we no understandable markings on it other than some Portuguese scribblings that seemed quite recent, possibly indicating that it was withdrawn and condemned?

Although Dona Ana was nothing in comparison to Sena, with only a main line through the place and a loop, it was busier, again with open back trucks slowly loading people up for their onward journeys and plenty of sellers. We spent an hour there shunting wagons both on and off the front and rear of the train, which with one engine and only a loop was quite interesting, if not slightly annoying by the time we’d actually finished!

At Dona Ana the line to Vila Nova in Malawi branches off, which is no longer used, by the side of which were a load of wagons that had literally been shoved out of the way so the Moatize line could be rehabilitated. This kind of thing was evident throughout the journey, even in the bigger stations. It was as though the relaying of the line was the most important thing taking place at the time and nothing would get in the way. The amount of scrap rail and wagons laying around must have been worth a fortune in scrap value but they’d probably rust away over the next 30 years or so, where they lay.

Mutarara was the only other station on the line where we saw any steam locos, this time the loco was off it’s wheels and laid on it’s side in the grass, it’s tender remaining upright nearby. Again I’m reliably informed that it may be No. 461, a 1947 Montreal built 4-8-2, ex RR Class 11A No. 314.

Our late running put pay to any ideas we might have had of exploring the dumped ones at Moatize, where we arrived bang on 4 hours late at 1749, just as darkness was descending. There was a model, and a very good one at that, of a steam loco outside the station building and the only other loco we saw was a blue YDM4 with a ballast train, which we didn’t even identify, how bad was that?

We’d intended on trying to find accommodation in Moatize and one of the train crew had told us he would show us where there were places to stay. After waiting around for 30 minutes we decided to give it up as a bad job, just as he randomly returned in a taxi to tell us all the Pensao’s were full, conveniently?

A taxi into Tete cost MT600. Our first choice hotel had been full and we ended up at a place almost beneath the bridge over the Zambezi called Zambeze O Paraiso Misterioso, which cost MT3000 for a twin room, with extra bed (which was a mattress on the floor taken off the bed base in the room next door). The rooms weren’t the cleanest and the shower was a bit of a farce but still it had hot water, breakfast was included and the garden area was pleasant. The food was good too, and it was definitely better than spending another night on a train, especially with a GM.

Thursday 13th September 2012

With not too much of an early start we got to have breakfast and watch the sun rise beneath the bridge over the Zambezi before heading off to the airport for our flight to Maputo with LAM. The taxi cost MT500, despite being half way between Tete & Moatize.

The flight was harmless enough, stopping at Beira en-route. Can anyone see the irony in that?

At Maputo there are plenty of places to change money, well two actually and taxi’s are lined up outside the station. I think we got scammed with a higher tariff, despite the taxi’s being metered, and it cost us MT967 to the Hotel Turismo. The prices at the Turismo also put us off staying there at MT3000 for a double and MT2800 for a single and we ended up just round the corner at the Tamariz Hotel with cost MT1500 per room. It was a bit rough round the edges but seemed ok. It took until later that evening to realise that the local prostitutes used the place to carry out their business, the going rate seeming to be MT500 for the room…….

We were on a b it of a tight timescale upon arrival as I’d managed to arrange a trip round the CFM Workshops, Loco Shed & Roundhouse, having been given contact details by someone who’d visited recently, for a very friendly guy indeed, who was more than willing to show us round, but he had to be back for an opticians appointment at 1530. If anyone wants his contact details feel free to ask me for them, he is more than happy to show others round and is based at Maputo station itself. We were stood admiring the two steam loco’s plinthed at Maputo station when we were picked up.

Maputo Shed:

GE U20’s – D82 (Maintenance inside), D130, D105

RRL Grindrod GE U20 – 33.04

GM GT22 – D304

DMU Z202, 206, 208

Maputo Yard:

Garratt Steam Loco #972

GE U10 D506 shunting

CFM DLW built 3000hp D611 (Works Plate November 2008 Mozambique 001) preparing a freight

Maputo Workshops:

GE U20’s – D67, D106, D85 and two others completely stripped down and being refurbished

RRL Grindrod GE U26C – 34.01 (ex SAR 34.486 & SASOL 4)

GM GT22LC-2 – D302 in a new coat of paint

GE U10’s – D501 & D502 almost completed overhaul? D503 & D505 were completely stripped down, providing parts?

Alsthom – D40?

RITES YDM4 – D603 (6439 in electrical cubicle) (donating parts, being completely stripped), D609 (6481 on coupler beam) (receiving parts, on overhaul)

Bits of GE U20’s D115 (nose) + at least 6 other noses outside the doors, and D63 (nose, cab and other bits) inside the doors + all sorts of other U20 body parts.

Maputo Roundhouse:

Maputo Roundhouse Thursday 13th September 2012

Road 1

Nil

Road 2

Nil

Road 3

D406

Road 4

D101(D122 on opposite Cab

Steam Loco #332

Steam Tank loco, no number, #64?

Floor between 4 & 5

Cab of steam loco #082

Road 5

D404

D411

D412

Road 6

D414

GE “Low Nose” no No.

D104

D402

Road 7

D116

D103(center cab thing)

GE Frame, no No.

Road 8

Nil

Road 9

D413

D65

D415

Road 10

D98

D128(Frame only)

Road 11

D103

D97

D125

D30

Road 12

D401

D100

D57

GE “Low Nose” no No.

Road 13

D108

D409

D113

Wagon

Steam in the roundhouse

Maputo Yard (Station end):

Ex Xai Xai steam locos having been recently moved from Xai Xai, locos only, no tenders. Investigations revealed the following, in order of the line from the Maputo end:

1st – #012 (painted on one side only) = Works plate Alco 61465 May 1919 (both sides)

2nd – #05 (painted on one side only) = Works plate Baldwin 59204 May 1926 (one side only)

3rd – #06 (cast) on smoke box, no works plate

4th – #083 (painted on one side only) no works plate

5th – #082 (cast) on smoke box, no works plate

Having just made it back to the station in time for our guide to make his appointment I paid a visit to the Station Master just to check on some train times and it was a good job we did as some things had changed since the timetables we’d taken from the web had been published. The following trains ran:

0600 (M-F) to Matola Gare & 0655 return

0730 (SSuO) to Chokwe & 1420 return (DMU)

0745 (M-F) to Ressano Garcia & 1210 return

0800 (SSuO) to Ressano Garcia & 1220 return

0955 (SO) to Chicaulacaula & 1015 (SuO) return (was the Chokwe extended)

1300 (WO) to Chicaulacaula & 1300 (ThO) return

1730 (M-F) to Matola Gare & 1830 return

1745 (Su-F) to Manhica (was the Marracuene extended) & 0300 (M-S) return

1800 (Su-F) to Goba & 0350 (M-S) return

1815 (Su-F) to Ressano Garcia & 0300 (M-S) return (not known until we got to station that night)

All of the above were hauled with the exception of the Chokwe at the weekends, all of the daytime DMU trips to Matola had been cancelled. They’d previously been hauled vice DMU anyway but they weren’t running at all now. The Station Master could just tell me that they’d cancelled a load of trains but didn’t offer a reason as to why.

With only one out and back train of an evening we went away and pondered what to do should a YDM4 turn out for one of the evening train, the result being us returning to the station prepared for doing an overnight to either Goba or Manhica. How bad could it be? Whether it was luck or not noe of the trains that evening produced YDM4s so we ended up back in our hotel for the night. We did do a move though which ended up being the Goba to Infulene for the return of the Matola commuter back into Maputo. We’d intended going a little further to Machava but the trains were absolutely heaving, even before departure, there were no lights and there wasn’t room to breathe, let alone move, so we took the easy option and got off sooner rather than later. D130 wasn’t up to anything anyway so it was no loss. RRL’s 33.04 on the other hand was a bit of a beast, almost a pseudo-Alco, it was only a shame we were only doing for 5km.

Maputo Workings September 13th:

RRL GM GT18 35.07 – 1210 Ressano Garcia – Maputo

RRL GE U20 33.04 – 1730 Maputo – Matola

RRL GM GT18 35.07 – 1745 Maputo – Manhica

GE U20 D130 – 1800 Maputo – Goba

GE U20 D82 – 1815 Maputo – Ressano Garcia

Friday 14th September 2012 

Having had a crap night’s sleep courtesy of windows banging in the wind I was so glad that I nipped back into the room before heading out, to get the jacket I’d been carrying around for 3 weeks for no apparent reason. There was now a reason, it was cold, raining and windy outside.

Of course you know already that this is the day our luck changes but nobody was as glad as us to see the familiar shape of a YDM4 backing into the station as we got there, right onto the stock for the 0600 Matola. It was D607 clearly with 6450 stenciled above the coupler at both ends. It was on load 5 and what an excellent run it was too. The train filled up on the outward but there was plenty of room to bellow. The return was a different matter, by the time we departed Matola the train was full and standing and by the time we arrived Maputo, 12 late at 0740, it was heaving and it took us 5 minutes to actually get off the train. Thankfully there was no loco on the 0745 Ressano Garcia otherwise we’d have missed it. Had we actually known what was going to happen that day we’d have settled for missing it and it would have done us a favour……..

GE U20 D82 wasn’t that rancid GM thing GT18 35.07 and not actually knowing if we’d have a YDM4 to Ressano Garcia we opted to take the next best thing and what a disaster that plan turned out to be. D82 was nothing short of rubbish, making no noise at all, and it was absolutely no surprise when we came to a stand, going uphill, and there was a distinct silence from the front of the train. Despite numerous attempts to restart the damn thing, it was fruitless, it just wouldn’t keep running, my guess was low oil or something similar.

Having come to a stand at 0935, at KM34.7, we soon became very familiar with our surroundings. We should have, we were there until 1242, just the 3h07m sat in the middle of nowhere. I’d say half the train had got off and made their way to the nearby road, which judging by the noise, or lack of, coming from it, had a very sparse amount of traffic but enough to stop and pick people up. Of course it was cold, raining on and off, we’d had not a great deal to eat and we were over 3 hours late, what more could go wrong with that? Yep, the rescue engine was the very reason we were on the train in the first place, the RRL GT18 35.07. Who was having the last laugh out of this day do you think? It wasn’t us!

Not only did we have to go all the way to Ressano Garcia and back, knowing we were 4 hours late and that any plans we’d had for the evening rush were out of the window, what we didn’t know was the CFM had something else up their sleeve to throw at us back at Machava, only 10km from home. We’d even decided to get off at that point and do D105 into Maputo on the return of the Matola commuter, which we’d seen on its way out. What happened next though was just random.

35.07 was removed from the train and went off into the distance, then arrived into the adjacent platform with the 1815 Maputo – Ressano Garcia, having replaced whatever had worked the train out of Maputo just outside Machava station. From the moment 35.07 was removed from the train it took 45 minutes to get another engine onto the front of the train we’d just got off and in the meantime, due to station congestion at Machava the inbound Matola commuter was being held at Matola, which seemed to be annoying the locals also. There were also two freight’s blocking through roads as well. After some shouting down a radio a member of staff went over to the yard and gave some instructions to the driver of GE U20 D69, which then shunted out of the station, only for D51 to back onto the train. Unlike the rest of the CFM U20’s we’d heard D51 was actually a good one, not like RRL’s 33.04 but ok nonetheless. We were just glad to be on the move again. Arrival into Maputo was at 2013, just 5h03m late. Now it was dark, we were cold, wet and hungry and had endured a day nobody wanted, our YDM4 bash that morning seemed like it had been weeks previous!

Workings & Sighting for 14th September:

YDM4 D607 – 0600 Maputo – Matola, 0655 return & 1800 Maputo – Goba

GE U20 D130 – 0350 Goba – Maputo

GE U20 D82 – 0300 Ressano Garcia – Maputo, 0745 Maputo – Ressano Garcia to KM34.7 fail (removed at Pessene – RRL GT18 35.07 forward)

RRL GT18 – 0300 Manhica – Maputo, 0745 Maputo – Ressano Garcia from KM34.7 (rescue failed GE U20 D82), 1210 return to Machava (replaced by D51) & 1815 Maputo – Ressano Garcia from Machava (replaced D51)

GE U20 D105 – 1730 Maputo – Matola & 1830 return

GE U20 D51 – 1815 Maputo – Ressano Garcia to Machava, 1210 Ressano Garcia – Maputo from Machava

Spoornet 35.330, 656, 304 & 290 along with 35.647, 284 & 682 were seen with freights on the Ressano Garcia line

DLW D611 was seen at Ressano Garcia & Machava with the same freight

Sheltham Swaziland GE C30 3014 at Machava with a Maputo bound freight, which actually caught us up at Infulene

Saturday 15th September 2012 

I was up quite early and had given up on sleep by 0530 and by 0545 I’d given up on trying to get a shower, there was no hot water and the cold water was freezing! Instead i took a slow walk to the station on my own. We didn’t really know if the inbound commuter sets returned to Maputo on a Saturday morning but had our suspicions that they did. The hoards of people coming out of the station as I approached confirmed that they did. The following were observed:

YDM4 D610 (6418 stenciled above the coupler) with GE U20 D112 dead in tow on the blocks. The driver told me they’d come from Manhica

RRL GT18 35.07 0300 Ressano Garcia – Maputo

YDM4 D607 shunted into the station so it was assumed it had worked the 0350 Goba – Maputo

The others turned up at the station just as GE U10 D506 was shunt releasing 35.07 from its stock, which we assumed would be to work the 0800 Ressano Garcia. We’d turned up to view the 0730 Chokwe, which we didn’t know would be a DMU (Z202, 208 & 206) until it actually rolled in, so that put pay to that idea. The weather was still crap but we waited around to view the 0800 Ressano Garcia anyway and what a bloody good job we did. D607 had backed into the station, onto what appeared to be a short freight, however what was actually going on was the driver was watering it, before putting it onto the Ressano Garcia, so he told us anyway. And with D607 firmly bolted to the stock off we set for a cracking run to Ressano Garcia, on load 8 too. If only the weather had improved it would have made for a much nicer journey but I don’t think it stopped raining all day. D607 managed what D82 couldn’t, to actually make it to Ressano Garcia, and on time too.

Of course for every bonus we’d been handed there had to be something taken with the next move. This time we departed Ressano Garcia only 80 late, which you have to say is actually better than 4 hours late but knowing that there was a derailment somewhere ahead, which was the reason we’d departed late, wasn’t filling us with much hope. It turned out to be D611’s train at Chanculo, one wagon, all wheels, which had been dragged for a good two hundred meters down the loop. Thankfully though as it had been the rear wagon was in clear of the points at the Maputo end of the loop. The staff that we’d obviously waited for at Ressano, had their work cut out. There was quite a lot of sleeper damage and it was pissing it down to add to the niceness of the situation.

Leaving Chanculo behind we were soon at Moamba, where the train filled up. Luckily for us we’d moved to one of the bays in the front coach, where one of the 4 out of 22 windows in the coach actually closed, to shelter from the pouring rain. We were cold but there were locals getting on the train actually shivering. We managed to make it back to Maputo, without having an engine change at Machava, or suffering any further delay, which was nice. The last two days had put the other two off doing trains again for the remainder of the trip…….

Workings & Sighting for 15th September:

DMU (Z202, 208 & 206) – 0730 Maputo – Chokwe

YDM4 D607 – 0800 Maputo – Ressano Garcia, 1220 return

Sheltham Swaziland GE C30 3009 in Maputo Yard (am)

GE U20 D90 – Machava Yard

Spoornet 35.304, 656 & 330 (minus 290 from previous day) at Moamba, Machava bound, then at Movene on their return, Ressano bound

DLW D611 at Movene, Ressano Garcia bound with a tank train. Train de-railed at Chanculo

YDM4’s D608/606 at Chanculo with a Maputo bound freight. Later seen in Maputo Yard

GE U20 D69 – Machava Yard

Spoornet 35.290, 682, 284 & 647 (290 added from other set) – Machava Yard with a Ressano bound freight

GE U20’s D61, D89 & D112 in Maputo Yard (pm)

Sunday 16th September 2012

Yet another grim morning but I was at the station in time to view the 0800 Ressano Garcia, on my own. I thought I was in the moment I saw a YDM4 approaching the station but then I realised it was short hood leading and in a pair. the freight they were working was drawn into the reception road just outside the station and as we’d not yet managed to identify D606 I took a walk down to them in the morning rain. D608 had 6448 clearly visible above the coupler but D606’s number was harder to identify and I had to climb in between them to make sure I could read it correctly, once my eyes had adjusted 6430 was clearly visible, which completed the Maputo set:

D603 = 6439, D606 = 6430, D607 = 6450, D608 = 6448, D609 = 6481, D610 = 6418

It wasn’t long before U20 D130 appeared out of the gloom to work the 0800 Ressano Garcia, which meant a proper breakfast was coming my way for the first time in 3 days, which the others joined me for. After which we had grand plans of having a walk round the city but the rain stopped that and we ended up spending the morning drinking coffee instead, before we parted company with the others heading off to Catembe for a couple of nights, as we’d originally planned, while I moved hotels from the Tamariz to the Turismo Hotel, which while it did cost MT2800 for a single room, was far better than the Tamariz and exactly what i expected of a “Western” hotel. Spotless room, hot water, TV, double glazed with no outside noise whatsoever and breakfast was included also.

I did walk back to the station that evening to see what went out to work back with the commuters the following morning. I was even considering doing one out to the Cabin B and walking back but the weather was still shocking so didn’t bother.

GE U20 D112 – 1745 Manhica

GE U20 D130 – 1800 Goba

RRL GE U20 33.04 – 1815 Ressano Garcia

Monday 17th September 2012

Amazingly it had stopped raining and there were even breaks in the cloud as I walked to the station. The loco for the 0600 Matola was already on the train, YDM4 D610, I couldn’t believe my luck. Of course with luck came an absolute farce so it seemed so we’d see how the day progressed eh? The run  to Matola was cracking, D610 actually put D607 to shame, it was a lot louder and had a good transition too. Rather than run straight round at Matola though this time it shunted the stock out and back into the opposite road, where people were boarding as it was backed in. I was among the first half a dozen folk through the front door and yet I struggled to find a seat. Again it was absolutely heaving all the way into Maputo yet the gripper managed to get through and take MT5 off everyone for the journey into town.

I was a bit closer to the door when we arrived back this time and it only took me 3 minutes to get out of the train. Again though there was no loco on the 0745 Ressano Garcia, which turned out to be GE U20 D130, which was my cue to do one and attempt to enjoy my last day in Maputo, especially now the sun was out.

Cheekily I arranged another trip to the Roundhouse. I’d been trying to figure out what had been in there through my photos the previous night and wasn’t making much headway. By the time I’d spent another 2 hours there, pen in hand and photographing everything, I had a very comprehensive list indeed. The roundhouse was like entering Pandora’s box, not knowing what was round the next corner and what would come into focus out of the gloom.

While I was in the roundhouse RRL’s GE U20’s 33.01 & 33.02 had arrived into the yard in multi with a freight and were immediately split on shed.

The deal with my second roundhouse trip was for me to make my own way back, which I did so via the Xai Xai steam locos again. The roadway back towards the station was waterlogged though and I’d noticed staff walking via Cabin B and then straight up the track, which seemed like a good idea, especially if I wanted to keep my feet dry. What a good idea it turned out to be too. I’d been toying with the idea of waiting the 90 minutes or so for the Ressano Garcia coming back in but just as I got to the cabin D607 rolled in, dragging RRL GT18 35.07 dit, with what turned out to be load 10 and 3 freight wagons in tow. On I got and it wasn’t until I asked the Station Master at Maputo that i figured out what the train was. It turned out to be train 532 1015 (prev day) Chicaulacaula – Maputo running 5h20m late. I’m guessing that 35.07 must have failed somewhere and D607 had been sent out to rescue it. Either way it had saved me a lengthy walk.

After a bot of afternoon sightseeing I returned to the station for the evening rush, which unfortunately didn’t produce a YDM4 on the Matola. Workings as follows:

RRL GE U20 33.01 – 1730 Matola, 1830 return

RRL GT18 35.07 – 1745 Manhica

GE U20 D112 – 1800 Goba

GE U20 D130 – 1815 Ressano Garcia

D69 replaced D112 as Station pilot just before D112 went to Goba

I played it safe and only went to Infulene again, having picked the most wedged train to depart Maputo to do out it seemed, D112 on the Goba. RRL’s 33.01 was just like it’s counterpart 33.04 coming back in and well worth paying the MT5 for. Having not had many GE’s around the world, other than in the US, these were definitely the best I’d had.

Tuesday 18th September 2012

I couldn’t resist the last walk to the station, my body was in the routine anyway. RRL’s U20 33.01 was the Matola anyway so any daft ideas i may have had to do it were out anyway.

I met the others for breakfast and we were officially homeward bound, the taxi back to the airport only cost MT500, a bonus. Now came the reward, LAM didn’t have us registered in their system for our return flight to Nairobi. We’d booked through Kenya Airways but the LAM system apparently hadn’t taken the booking from their system. Oh and the other good news was that the plane was full, without us being in the equation!

20 minutes before departure we we called over and checked in, the last three seats, which they weren’t willing to give us over internal flyers to Pemba only. What a bunch of…………

Having watched our bags disappear at Maputo, we were amazed to see them being offloaded through the plane windows at Nairobi, it was just a shame that LAM had to give us that last minute scare, when we were all actually looking forward to going home. It had been a hard trip and the weather in Maputo hadn’t help things much, still there’d be plenty more of that waiting at home………..

3 Comments

  1. Paul
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm. Reply to this comment

    Outstanding! As a veteran of the Xai-Xai line (when it still ran) and a couple of trips with CDN freights, CEAR trolleys and on the Cuamba pax, this brought back many happy memories. Even the crap pensaos don’t seem so bad … with time

  2. P51
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm. Reply to this comment

    Great article Shovell – never been anywhere south of El Jem but with the photos it really brings the place to life!

  3. Phil Lindsey
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 9:14 pm. Reply to this comment

    Hi Jonathan,

    Fabulous tales of your trip to Mozambique! I’m off there in a couple of weeks so please would you let me know your contact at the sheds in Maputo please? I’m actually in search of an armoured railcar that I designed an built for CFM in 1989 whilst I was working for Hugh Phillips Engineering Ltd of Tredegar, Gwent. I’m wondering if it still exists – No AZ50 or ZA50. If you e-mail me I’ll send you a couple of images I took all those years ago at Maputo.

    Thanks for your help.

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