Jonathan Lee

Worldly Images

Senegal June 2016 (YDM4’s a world away from home)

A trip to Africa had been long overdue since my last jaunt to Malawi & Mozambique in 2012. Both Senegal & Cameroon had been on the horizon for a while but with Senegal having a spate of not running trains in Dakar at all planning this trip was somewhat delayed, by about 3 years, and could well have scuppered the very reasons for heading into Cameroon as a result.

The Senegalese fleet of 5 YDM4’s and their 12 cylinder DLW built Alco were now back in full swing on the commuter services out of Dakar but things in Cameroon may have taken a wrong turn with the influx of Grindrod GM’s over the last few years. The CamRail MLW’s had previously worked the Yaoundé to N’gaoundéré overnight service solidly but nobody could confirm if they still did at the time of our trip planning so it could well be one of those “you’re a bit too late” trips; and with the odd sighting on the internet of GM’s working services our time in Cameroon could well be spent looking for something other than trains to do if the MLW’s had stopped working passenger services.

Flights

Booked through Brussels Airlines Direct (with return flights changed in Brussels Airlines office in Yaoundé)

SN2104 0650 Heathrow – Brussels

SN205 1100 Brussels – Dakar (Senegal)

Original

SN352 2340 Douala (Cameroon) – Brussels

SN2093 0955 Brussels – Heathrow

Changed to

SN372 2130 Douala (Cameroon) – Brussels

SN2093 0955 Brussels – Heathrow

 

Booked through Southall Travel (with ASKY Airlines)

KP53 0900 Dakar (Senegal) – Lomé (Togo)

KP34 1450 Lomé (Togo) – Douala (Cameroon)

Hotels

Senegal (Dakar) – Hotel Al Baraka – 25 minutes from Dakar airport by road and a 20-minute walk from Cyrnos station, the guy at reception spoke decent English and once we’d filled out our arrival cards we were shown to our rooms. We both had single rooms and mine was very spacious with a double bed and a single bed in it. The air conditioning worked very well and wasn’t noisy and the TV was a decent flat screen one. The room and bathroom were clean but no toiletries were included, other than a bar of soap. The only gripe we both had with our rooms was the fact that we couldn’t get our external windows to close and lock. Vic’s solution was to wedge a chair into the gap to prevent his balcony door from being slid open from the outside, mine was to put the external shutter down and leave it down for the whole stay; mainly because I couldn’t get it back up again!

Train Tickets

All bought individually for the journeys made; no rover type tickets available in either country

Senegal – Le Petit Train de Banlieue (PTB)

Sunday 5th June (The journey out to Dakar)

Having stayed at the Ibis Heathrow we were amazed to find a massive queue at the bus stop at Harlington Corner; after all it was only 0430! All the buses to the Central bus station were full and standing with airport workers heading off to start their shifts.

At Heathrow’s Terminal 2 check-in was straightforward and we were having a decent breakfast, with proper sausages, airside at one of the few places that was actually open for breakfast by 0515; having done pillow to airside in exactly an hour!

Our Brussels Airlines flight at 0650 to Brussels was the easy part but at least it was on time. In Brussels we transferred to Terminal T, which appeared to be where the flights to Africa went from, and waited patiently for our 1100 flight to Dakar to be boarded. Which wasn’t boarded until 1045 and departed 40’ late as a result. The flight was comfortable and relaxing but unfortunately didn’t pick any of the lost time up and after we’d found our way through the simple immigration process at Dakar’s airport, we soon found out the hard way that our booked ride to the Hotel Al Baraka had disappeared. First though we changed some money at one of the two change booths in the baggage collection hall. Both were offering exactly the same rate of 750 FCAF to the £1.

We’d booked the transfer from the airport through the hotel, via Booking.com, but they’d obviously decided not to wait. Which was a little understandable as walking out of the exit at Dakar airport is literally straight into the unknown, where there aren’t any electronic displays to tell those waiting what time flights are expected. Arriving people are channelled down towards car park, where there are taxi touts lining the way, all vying for the same business. We were collared by one guy who eventually got out of us where we were going and I was pretty sure at that point that he’d sent one of his mate’s away to write our hotel name on a piece of card and come back pretending to be our ride! Needless to say we found our own taxi to take us to the Hotel Al Baraka, which cost 10,000 FCAF and was d interesting journey to say the least. Within 30 minutes though we were dropped outside our hotel; in a lot calmer surround than those we’d left behind at the airport. When we got out of the taxi the driver asked for 10,000 FCAF from each of us and was immediately denied; he seemed content though as he drove away.

When we walked into the reception of the Hotel Al Baraka the guy behind the counter immediately asked my name and once I’d confirmed it told us that his driver had been waiting at the airport to collect us but had only waited for 15 minutes, after the d arrival time of our plane, and then returned to base. Thankfully the guy at reception spoke decent English and once we’d filled out our arrival cards we were shown to our rooms. We both had single rooms and mine was very spacious with a double bed and a single bed in it. The air conditioning worked very well and wasn’t noisy and the TV was a decent flat screen one. The room and bathroom were clean but no toiletries were included, other than a bar of soap. The only gripe we both had with our rooms was the fact that we couldn’t get our external windows to close and lock. Vic’s solution was to wedge a chair into the gap to prevent his balcony door from being slid open from the outside, mine was to put the external shutter down and leave it down for the whole stay; mainly because I couldn’t get it back up again!

After a short relaxation period we decided to nip out and find the Dakar Cyrnos station, while it was still daylight, so at least we knew where we were going the following morning. The old Dakar station was only a few hundred meters away and we were soon upon it, having wondered down almost deserted streets to get to it. The outside of which is very impressive and the building really does need preserving. It did seem to have d some work done on the inside with a lot of walls looking like they’d recently been painted white.

Round the side of the station building a shunt spur protruded beyond the building and we noticed the nose of a YDM4 sticking out; we actually found two YDM4’s stabled there, CC1501, nearest the gates, and CC1502 on top of it. Curiosity got the better of us and as the gates to the station were actually open we went to have a look. Security staff at the gate were more than happy to let us have a look round and we even managed to get a couple of photos of the YDM4’s; safely obscured from view of the security staff by some buildings. Closer inspection of the YDM4’s gave the impression that they’d not moved for a while, especially CC1501; both of which had been in service in November 2015. While CC1501 didn’t seem to have anything to identify it, CC1502 had an Indian Railways number stamped on the fuel tank; which appeared to read 6429 and two days later we found out what it’s actual IR number was. For now though I was pleased that we’d identified one of the two but would be attempting to identify the rest during the trip.

After our brief trip round the old station we continued our walk down towards Dakar Cyrnos station, by heading down the main road to the left of Dakar old station, following it to the roundabout and then taking the right hand exit, which leads right to the front of Cyrnos station. There was nobody around and the station wasn’t manned; unfortunately there weren’t any timetables for Le Petit Train de Banlieue (PTB) services but there were some timetables posted for additional services that had ran in November to Touba and in December Tivaouane; although the reasons for both weren’t shown but both sets of additional services ran out one day and back on another a couple of days later.

With nothing else to do, once we’d discovered Cyrnos station we made sure we were back at the hotel before darkness fell, the direct walk taking about 25 minutes at a steady pace. Thankfully, straight over the road from it, was a pizza place; that ultimately became our regular haunt for evening meals. The pizzas were fresh and tasty and the folks running the place were very friendly; even if they didn’t speak and English.

As we’d been up since the crack of dawn, been on planes for most of the day, moved back a time zone and done a fair bit of walking an early night beckoned; and our alarms were set for 0600 so we could be at Cyrnos statin for the first departure of the morning at 0710.

Gen for Sunday 5th June 2016

Ex-Indian Railways YDM4’s

CC1501 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

CC1502 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

Photos from Sunday 5th June 2016

Monday 6th June 2016 (Day 1 of riding the PTB commuter services in Dakar)

We were up for 0600 and out of the hotel by 0630. The walk from the Hotel Baraka to Cyrnos station took about 20 minutes and the roads and pathways were way busier than they had been the previous afternoon. We got talking to a local docks worked on the way, who spoke fluent English, and was only interested to speak with us and nothing more; he wished us a good day as he took a different direction to us at a crossroad.

Cyrnos station area was a little busier than it had been the previous evening but the ticket office wasn’t open when we arrived so we ventured onto the station instead. On the platform the station master’s office was open and the guy inside spoke good English and let us photograph the timetable he had posted on the wall. It was exactly the same as the one other had found in previous visits and the same as that posted on fahrplancenter; which was what we had printed out to take with us.

Things immediately took a wrong turn when a DMU arrived with 312 0553 Rufisque – Cyrnos and went straight back out with 313 0710 Cyrnos – Rufisque; that was that plan out of the window then! Luckily Indian YDM4 CC1503 arrived with 314 0618 Rufisque – Cyrnos and ran round to form 315 0735 Cyrnos – Thiaroye. For some reason the ticket office still hadn’t opened when we went to get tickets and we ended up boarding without one. The train was rather empty and the coaches had a strange 1 plus 1 seating layout with a raft of standing space in the middle of the coach! The gripper ultimately took 300 FCAF from us and legged it to the booking window at Hann and returned with two tickets for us. Meanwhile a DMU headed towards Cyrnos with the booked DMU train 316 0643 Rufisque – Cyrnos and when we passed CC1504 with 318 0708 Rufisque – Cyrnos our day looked set to be a bit of a washout!

Along the lineside between Dakar & Thiaroye it’s like a different world. The whole place is dusty and used as a rubbish tip for anything and everything, from general rubbish to dead horses! Folks are generally going about their morning business, including cleaning their horses and goats for the day ahead, ferrying their fresh produce about to set up somewhere and start selling it, laying out their freshly caught fish to be smoked in the dusty confines of the railway’s boundary fence and basically people are just setting up a stall wherever they see fit to sell whatever they’ve laid their hands on, with everything being covered in dust as the trains rumble by; but that just seems to be the way of life.

At Thiaroye we braved a quick photo of CC1503 before it was, almost immediately, detached from the train to run round. We then went in search of the ticket office, which turned out to be an old freight box van; which had been mounted on the platform with two ticket windows cut in the side. Tickets were duly purchased for the return journey to Cyrnos but we were presented with tickets costing 500 FCAF each and not the 150 as expected. Thankfully a local intervened and we then ended up with tickets for the correct price of 150 FCAF each. It turned out we’d been given tickets for the Autorail express service, the 0650 Thiés – Cyrnos, which we weren’t remotely interested in; until DLW built 12 cylinder Alco CC2301 rolled into the adjacent platform with said train and 11 coached behind it!

We were straight off CC1503’s set and legging it down the sand to try and find a coach that wasn’t locked, the first three of which had been padlocked closed! We ended up standing back towards Cyrnos, which wasn’t a problem as the train was right away to Hann anyway; where we ended up getting off anyway as we made the minus 5 onto 319 0822 Cyrnos – Thiaroye, which rumbled into view shortly after CC2301 had set off. CC1504 made for a nice photo as it curved into Hann and with tickets already in hand, from the ticket window, we were soon Thiaroye bound again on another empty train.

Upon arrival at Thiaroye CC1504 was run straight round, we assumed to form 328 0951 Thiaroye – Cyrnos, and I went to inspect the loco for evidence of its Indian identity while Vic saved some seats on board. Sure enough, stencilled into the fuel tank by hammer and nail was the number 6496; so that was two technically identified thus far.

When the DMU forming 326 0853 Rufisque – Cyrnos some people jumped ship from our set to it; which turned out to be a good plan if you’re a local as the next arrival, 321 0912 Cyrnos – Thiaroye was cancelled and our set was held back to form 330 1016 Thiaroye – Cyrnos instead; and by the time we left we’d had almost 90 minutes at Thiaroye, which is more than enough!

The run back into Dakar was ok though and the train never filled right up thankfully. At Cyrnos we stayed put in our seats on arrival as we’d heard that the staff allowed people to travel into Dakar old station when the sets were propelled back in for maintenance and cleaning. Things didn’t seem quite right when we arrived though as CC2301 was stood in the opposite platform with CC1503 Thiaroye side of it. The drivers of the two YDM4’s had a quick conversation and our set was then drawn forward, CC1504 was detached and it ran forward to Dakar. CC1503 was attached to the rear and then shunted us back towards Dakar and right up to the stock blocks; leaving CC2301 all on its own in Cyrnos station.

Our plan was to find someone in Dakar station that could tell us something about the locos and while we found an office, which turned out to be the chief electrical engineer’s office, with a board with all the locos listed on it; it turned out that the occupant had gone home shortly before we got there and the board displayed information from 12/05/16 according to the date on the top of it. Which could possibly be correct as both CC1501 & CC1502 were showing ok for traffic; which clearly wasn’t the case.

Having asked someone to point us in the direction of the Chef de Gare, we ended up in the office of the Chief of rolling stock. Unfortunately for us he didn’t have much of a clue about the locos, and as it turned out not much of a clue as to what rolling stock would work what. The only useful information we could get from him was that CC2301 had derailed at Cyrnos and staff were going up shortly to put it back on the tracks. The person pulling the points had been at fault and it had derailed when the points had gone back while the loco had been passing over them. That explained when the 0822 Cyrnos – Thiaroye was cancelled as the loco & stock for it would have been stuck outside Cyrnos, in rear of CC2301’s 11 coaches; and would have certainly been used to mop up the mess.

The only other thing we could get from our man was that if CC2301 was ok for traffic it would return to Thiés that evening with the 1715 Cyrnos – Thiés; which put a whole new spin on things for us and we discussed the logistics of doing Thiés on the way back to the hotel.

As there didn’t seem to be many restaurants about at all we ended up going old school and buying some bread and cheese from the local supermarket for dinner and consumed our sandwiches at the hotel while figuring out what we could do about the Thiés train if was to be worked by CC2301. In the end we found two options, one was to do it out and return to Dakar by a seven seater taxi, which according to Lonely Planet took about an hour and cost 1500 FCAF per person. The other option was to stay the night in Thiés at one of two hotels. We eventually opted for option two and had the hotel ring ahead for us to reserve a room at the Hotel Bidew Bi, which was only 500m from Thiés station. As the long distance flying and the hot morning seemed to take its toll an early afternoon snooze was the order of the day and we both seemed to benefit from it; feeling fitter and fresher afterwards!

The walk back to the station for the evening trains seemed to take longer in the afternoon heat, after all it was a mere 37 degrees! The station area was a little busier than it had been when we’d arrived that morning. As we walked up to the closed booking office we were greeted by the station master, who’d given us the timetable information earlier in the morning; he pointed out to us that the two ticket windows to the right of the station entrance were for the trains to Thiaroye and Rufisque, with the one to the left being for the Thiés train.

CC2301 was nowhere to be seen at Cyrnos so it must have been re-railed ok and gone down to Dakar. With that we saw no reason not to get tickets to Thiés. As we began to queue by the Thiés booking window we noticed a freshly posted list of train times, that hadn’t been there earlier. It gave details of amended departure tines from Cyrnos in conjunction with Ramadan starting the following day, which basically had the commuter service starting at 1600 vice 1630 and the last train out was at 1930 vice 2000, including a few more tweaks to departure times; the Thiés train was retimed to depart at 1620 vice 1715. The full list of times are as follows:

1600 Thiaroye

1620 Thiés

1630 Rufisque

1700 Thiaroye

1730 Rufisque

1800 Thiaroye

1830 Rufisque

1900 Rufisque

1930 Rufisque

We did ask about the morning timetable and were told that it remained unchanged. What the above meant was that there was only one return trip to Rufisque of and evening vice the two in the normal timetable as the 1730 Rufisque would now be the first to stable there for the night.

With time to kill we walked down the track to photograph the ecs arriving to form 331 1630 Cyrnos – Rufisque, from beneath the road bridge Dakar side of the station, where we thought we’d not get noticed; but failed to notice the group of security guards sat in the shadows and were told by one that we couldn’t take any further photos as it wasn’t allowed.

After we’d queued and bought tickets to Thiés, which cost 1250 FCAF in premier class (which is air conditioned), CC2301 arrived with the stock to form the 1700 to Thiaroye; which immediately set the alarm bells ringing. Still quite confident we waited at the top end of the platform after it had departed, and eagerly awaited the arrival of the ecs to form the 1715 to Thiés; the wind soon dropped out of our sails when a single DMU came into view as it crept through the undergrowth from Dakar Gare! That was that then and we were soon back at the ticket office buying tickets to Rufisque for the 1730 departure; we didn’t even bother to attempt a refund on our Thiés tickets as they’d cost less than £2.

Thankfully YDM4 CC1503 rolled in with the stock for 335 1730 Dakar – Rufisque and we managed to get seats on it as well. On the way through Hann we passed a freight but the loco was on the Dakar end and we didn’t manage to see what it was. The journey was pretty much how the morning ones had been with dust filling the coaches on a regular basis, along with the random smells that wafted in now and again, including that of fish that had been spread out on the ground to be smoked during the day, the stench of decaying horse carcases and just generally that of dumped rubbish. The locals did seem to have a solution to the dust issues as many had face masks with them; and we even saw someone flogging them on the train!

At Thiaroye we expected the train to empty out a bit but as many seemed to board as had got off. It was a bit chaotic there as well as CC2301 had only just departed with 332 1742 Thiaroye – Cyrnos and there was a freight parked round the back of the statin as we arrived into the through road in the middle. There were people everywhere at the Rufisque end of the station; from what could make out these just seemed to be sellers of mobile phones and jeans just congregating in the station area, going about their business.

As one YDM4 eased its train out of the station we were astonished to find another at the Rufisque end of the freight in the adjacent road. It was in pristine condition and painted in what appeared to be Sri Lankan Railways livery; it had the number CC1366 painted on the cab side but that was the only number on it; there was nothing on the buffer beam. There’d been no mention at all in any railway on-goings of further YDM4’s being exported to Senegal and a check of the internet that night had nothing mentioned as coming out of Golden Rock. Strangely though the number series continued on from that of the YDM4’s that had been exported to Myanmar so I wondered if these newly exported ones to Senegal could be some of the ex-Tanzanian batch finding a new home? For now though the how many, where to and who for remained unanswered!

Once the train had emptied out at Mbao the driver began to give CC1503 a bit of thrash and the track from there towards Rufisque was in a lot better condition; and was even continuously welded and had visible ballast beneath it! It was a lot better than that between Dakar & Thiaroye, which was a disgrace in places with just one pin holding fishplates in and pieces of rail just slotted in where breaks had occurred; it was quite shocking really. Having had a great run to Rufisque it certainly set the tone for the rest of the trip.

While we alighted at Rufisque, many others stayed on board and when the driver blew up and the train began to move forward we got back on; and ended up a couple of hundred yards further along the platform, which basically allowed the loco to run round. In the adjacent platform was yet another freight, waiting to head towards Dakar, this one with GM CC2461 at its helm; basking in the afternoon sunshine. Unfortunately our telling off at Cyrnos prevented us from getting our cameras out so we walked back to the station to get tickets for the return journey while CC1503 ran round.

Rufisque station building is a very colonial type one and would have been very photogenic had we been able to get our cameras out. The ticket office was in the large waiting hall and the whole place just looked like it was set about 50 years in the past. Having bought our tickets we festered on a bench while CC1503 finished running round and bravely produced the cameras; using the flip-screen of which does have its advantages and keeps things a little discreet. We managed to get on board and have the pick of the seats before the stock was drawn back into the station; and after a brief stop we were Dakar bund again.

We passed YDM4 CC1366 between Rufisque and Mbao on the racetrack section, where it was working hard with its freight. As the trains run back into town limited stop in the evening, just like they do going out of town in a morning, it was a nice relaxing journey back, on an empty train and with no hassle at all. Our 1946 arrival into Cyrnos had us arriving just as dusk was beginning to turn to darkness and it was dark by the time we got back to the Hotel Al Baraka but there were still quite a lot of people milling about the place and we had no issues while walking back.

With not really much option the pizza shop owner was pleased to see us return for a second night and decent pizzas were served up again. Having had a thoroughly enjoyable day, where the people had been friendly and helpful, the trains had behaved, albeit for the Thiés not dropping an Alco, and we’d managed to get round the old station area at Dakar, it was nice to relax in my large hotel room and gather my thoughts before an early night; and to do it all over again the following day.

Gen for Monday 6th June 2016

Ex-Indian Railways YDM4’s

CC1501 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

CC1502 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

Trains into Dakar Cyrnos

am

DMU – 0553 ex Rufisque (vice hauled)

1503 – 0618 ex Rufisque

DMU – 0643 ex Rufisque

1504 – 0708 ex Rufisque

2301 – 0650 ex Thiés (vice DMU)

1503 – 0831 ex Thiaroye

DMU – 0911 ex Thiaroye

DMU – 0853 ex Rufisque

Caped – 0951 ex Thiaroye (CC2301 derailed at Cyrnos preventing stock arriving to form outbound 0912 dep to form 1016 ex Thiaroye))

1504 – 1016 ex Thiaroye (held back vice working 0951 ex Thiaroye)

pm

2301 – 1742 ex Thiaroye

1504 – 1752 ex Rufisque

DMU – 1856 ex Thiaroye

1503 – 1852 ex Rufisque

Trains ex Dakar Cyrnos

am

DMU – 0710 to Rufisque (vice hauled)

1503 – 0735 to Thiaroye

DMU – 0757 to Thiaroye

1504 – 0822 to Thiaroye

Caped – 0912 to Thiaroye (2301 derailed at Cyrnos preventing 0831 ex Thiaroye arriving to form it)

pm

1504 – 1630 to Rufisque

2301 – 1700 to Thiaroye

DMU – 1715 to Thiés

1503 – 1730 to Rufisque

DMU – 1800 to Thiaroye

2301 – 1820 to Rufisque

1504 – 1855 to Rufisque

DMU – 1930 to Rufisque

1503 – 2000 to Rufisque

Photos from Monday 6th June 2016

 

Tuesday 7th June 2016 (Day 2 of riding the PTB commuter services in Dakar)

After our failed attempt to get to Thiés the previous evening we went out with a different outlook on things and having walked to Cyrnos station we found a very large group of people gathering at the top end of the station. They were stood all over the tracks and when we clapped eyes on a large banner one was holding it soon became evident that the group were picketing outside their place of work; and were staging a 24 hour strike! Needless to say we kept well away from the group and while it seemed to be a very civilised picket, you just never know when a spark will ignite the masses!?

Unlike the previous morning, the ticket office was actually open at Cyrnos, and tickets for 200 FCFA to Rufisque were duly purchased. We’d already made our minds up that we’d be doing the 0710 Cyrnos – Rufisque all the way anyway and were quite pleased when YDM4 CC1503 arrived into Cyrnos with 312 0553 Rufisque – Cyrnos. The train wasn’t that wedged on the inward, let alone when it loaded up for the return journey and as we boarded we were greeted by the guy who’d allowed us to photograph the timetable in his office the previous morning.

It seemed a little damp in the air as we headed out of Dakar and thankfully the dampness actually kept the dust down on the outward journey; which was very welcome. There wasn’t much different along the way to Thiaroye, other than the lack of dust, and the morning horse grooming session was in full swing by the time we reached the outskirts of Thiaroye; by which time we’d passed YDM4 CC1504 heading into Dakar with 314 0618 Rufisque – Cyrnos, a DMU heading in with 316 0643 Rufisque – Cyrnos and DLW CC2301 heading in with 318 0708 Rufisque – Cyrnos. The conclusion of our spotting’s was that the loco-hauled sets would come back out of Rufisque in a morning with a first in last out policy. They went in 2301, 1504, 1503 the previous night and came out 1503, 1504, 2301 on this particular morning; so we’d see if the same policy would be adopted the following day.

The run from Thiaroye to Rufisque was somewhat disappointing, with CC1503 not being driven hard, or on full power, along the racetrack section of continuously welded rails. May locals had boarded at Thiaroye, along with their hordes of fresh vegetables, all got off at Mbao to sell their veg on the local market there; although quite why they specifically had to sell there, when the whole Dakar suburb seems to be one big market, I don’t know! Still, the train arrived into Rufisque about 10’ late as a result of the mass boarding and alighting of veg sellers; and we’d only passed the DMU forming T10 0650 Thiés – Dakar Cyrnos just after Mbao.

As the sun was shining perfectly on the front of CC1503 on arrival into Rufisque, with the nice old station in the background, we decided to run off and get a photo before the stock was shunted forward to allow the loco to run round. Our plans were soon halted, moments after our cameras were made visible, by the member of staff emerging from the cab; who was adamant we were not taking photos. Unfortunately, due to the fact we had point and press cameras, which took a while to kick in, neither of us managed a shot before we were stopped from taking one. Of course we questioned why we couldn’t take photos, which was where the French ignorance crept into the guy’s demeanor and he wouldn’t engage us any further. Eventually he just walked off in a holier than thou kind of way, as though he was better than everyone else; just as the set was drawn forward for CC1503 to run round. We didn’t realise it at that moment but later in the morning we were thrown a lifeline that may well involve us having the last laugh in the situation; but we’d see…..

Unfortunately we couldn’t really risk legging it up to get a photo of CC1503 before it was detached so settled for a sneaky one when it reversed in the station to drop back onto the stock; at which point CC1503 was blocking everyone on the station from seeing what we were up to. We then went and bought two tickets back to Dakar for 200 FCFA each and went to board the stock, before it drew back into the station. As we approached the back of the loco though the driver popped his head out of the door and was interested to know what we were up to. He assumed we were on official business but when he realised we were just tourists with an interest he was great with us and was interested to know what we did for a living. Once we’d told him we worked on the railway and got chatting I used the opportunity to get into the cab of CC1503 and he was more than happy to open the electrical cupboards for me; which revealed the Indian Railways No. 6588 on various electrical components behind the doors; which was good enough for me to assume that CC1503 was indeed IR’s 6588; especially as all the components were marked with the same number. That was technically three down with two to go!

Having eventually boarded the stock, what we didn’t expect was for it to start propelling backwards when the horn went, and we set back past the carriage shed and round the corner to a level crossing; which was about 1km from Rufisque station. Whether it was a regular move or not, the only reason I could see for the move was to pick up a guy in a wheelchair; who was lifted aboard by a few of his friends. CC1503 then drew the train back into the station, picked up the waiting passengers and set off bang on time at 0853 with train 326 0853 Rufisque – Cyrnos. Mr I’m holier than thou was on the platform as the train departed, talking to one of the grippers, and didn’t budge his head an inch as we rolled by on departure!

The run back down the racetrack to Thiaroye was no better than the outward journey had been and while the driver may have been sociable, he needed to get to grips with the power handle a bit more. By Thiaroye most seats had been taken and upon arrival people began leaping on in the vain hope of getting themselves a seat; which didn’t happen in most cases! The sensible ones stayed on board the set in the adjacent platform, which would form 328 0951 Thiaroye – Cyrnos with CC2301 at its helm. A couple of shacks out of Thiaroye we passed CC1504 with 321 0912 Cyrnos – Thiaroye and it was plain sailing towards the city from there; where were rolled by the picketers and into Cyrnos station about 10 minutes late at 1010.

While all the commuters got off the set we stayed put for the run back to Dakar Gare and by the time the train had emptied out CC1503 had quickly run round and was propelling us back towards Dakar the moment it was attached. The staff on board, while they didn’t seem to mind us being there, were interested in what we were doing and where we came from; but that was it.

At Dakar we headed straight for the office we’d found the previous day with a blackboard displaying all the engine and unit numbers. Thankfully there was someone inside, unlike the previous day, and we waited patiently outside for him to finish his phone call. It turned out that he was actually the chief electrical engineer and he took us across to an old coach, with wooden verandas at either end, and introduced us to Mr Derwiche who was the chief mechanical engineer.

We sat in his air conditioned ancient coach chewing the cud, which was initially more like a bombardment of questions from us to him but we found out quite a lot of information and then some! Of the five YDM4’s only 2 were fit for traffic, CC1503 & CC1504. CC1501 & CC1502, which were dumped in the yard by the wall, both needed new crankshafts with them having been laid up for 5 & 2 months respectively. CC1505 also needed a new crankshaft but this was at Thiés already stripped down, waiting reassembly once parts had been sourced! With those three out of service that left just the two YDM4’s and CC2301 for service; which was a service that required 3 locos every day so 100% availability was required every day!

When we asked about the Thiés service and why it had been loco-hauled the previous morning we were told that at weekends the capacity required is greater and basically if there aren’t enough Autorail DMU’s available then the loco-hauled formation is used to increase capacity; but this is only out on a Friday night and back in on a Monday morning.

We asked about the extra trains we’d seen noted on the boards outside the station at Cyrnos, which had gone to Touba and were told that the festival Magal de Touba is a national Muslim festival held once a year and its dates are based around a Muslim calendar. As the masses descend, according to guide books about 2 million, on Touba for the festival, basically everything that works is used to run trains out to Touba before the festival and back to Dakar after it; this happens every year.

Having seen the unexpected YDM4 CC1366 the previous evening we asked about this, to be told that it belonged to Industries Chimiques du Senegal (ICS). ICS has a phosphate mine at Taiba, produces phosphoric acid at two plants in Darou and fertilizers in Mbao. A bit of research on the net when we got back to the hotel revealed that Societe d’Exploitation Ferroviaire des ICS (SEFICS) is the subsidiary of the ICS Group that is in charge of transporting the products and materials between the industrial sites and to the Dakar Port Terminal for export. Apparently ICS currently had 4 YDM4’s with a further two expected soon; they were very recent arrivals into Senegal, which would explain why CC1366 looked in very good condition. The mystery now being what were their original identities; with one immediate theory being that they could be the remaining ex Tanzanian 73R’s finding a new home; especially as the batches to Myanmar had finished up at DF1360. So maybe RITES had just continues the Myanmar Railway’s number series with this batch of 6 YDM4’s for ICS? Either way it would be interesting trying to find the information!

CC1366 eventually led us on to asking if we could have a look round the cabs of both CC1501 & CC1502 to try and identify their old IR numbers in the electrical cubicle. This was no problem but for the fact that CC1502 was locked up s we had to make do with just looking in CC1501, which was in a bit of a state. Still, behind the magic doors the number 6600 was revealed on many of the electrical components and the moment Mr Derwiche realised what we were looking for, he took us back to his office, rummaged about in a cupboard for a few minutes and produced a notebook. In it were 5 Indian Railways YDM4 numbers. He’d asked for the original identities of the locos when on a visit to Golden Rock in India, when at the time only three of the locos had been ready, with the other two still undergoing overhaul. The numbers were 6600, 6469, 6588, 6496 & 6522. As we’d found 6600 in the electrical cubicle of CC1501 that made sense, we thought we’d found 6429 on the fuel tank of CC1502 but must have misread it, which now makes sense. We’d fund 6588 in the electrical cubicle of CC1503 earlier that morning and had found 6496 stamped on the fuel tank of CC1504 the previous day so 6522 had to be CC1505; which meant his list was in numerical order! This had been the only time I’d ever been to a country and managed to return with the full and complete gen for their imported YDM4’s!

Before leaving we asked about photography of the PTB trains and were told that the chef de exploitation, based in Cyrnos, had told all the security staff working for PTB that photography of trains was not allowed without authority but he would authorize us to take photographs in his yard area at Dakar. Mr Derwiche said he’d ring Mr Diouf at Cyrnos and tell his we’d be heading his way that afternoon, to ride to Rufisque. He didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t get authority to photograph and said that we should ask for Mr Diouf the moment we got to Cyrnos that afternoon.

Having had a more successful morning accumulating gen than we had done the previous morning we were even given an escort to take us down the yard to photograph CC2301, which was already stabled and CC1504 as it backed a set of stock into the adjacent road. By the time we headed out of the station area, having bid a good day to Mr Derwiche, staff were all over CC1504 like a rash with the dip-stick out and side doors open even before it had stopped!

A steady walk back to the hotel, via the supermarket for some food, had us eating our cheese & smoked turkey sandwiches in the safe haven of our room as Ramadan had started on this particular day and we didn’t want to offend anyone by eating in view of others!

After a bit of a siesta in our rooms 1515 soon came about and we were headed back to the station earlier than on the previous afternoon; having thankfully discovered the Ramadan timetable posted at Cyrnos station the previous afternoon. CC2301 arrived into Cyrnos, as we got there, to form the 1600 Cyrnos – Thiaroye. While it sat in the platform we went in search of Mr Diouf and soon found out that it wasn’t the guy we’d been talking to in the Chef de Gare’s office; but he soon pointed us in the right direction, Mr Diouf’s office being right next door. When he didn’t answer after the first knock I went in, to find him at his desk. Mr Diouf spoke good English and was very sympathetic to our cause as regards photographing and we told him we wanted to photograph trains at Cyrnos, Thiaroye and Rufisque for the next two days; his immediate answer was “no problem I will give you authority”. He gave us no paperwork at all and said he’d tell the security staff at all three locations about us, so we wouldn’t have any issues. With that we thanked him very much and headed to the top end of the station to photograph CC2301 before it departed; and were completely unhindered. We ended up doing it anyway as the train was empty. We were hoping for CC1504 on the 1630 Cyrnos – Rufisque and didn’t really want to end up with CC1503 again so by doing CC2301 it limited the km’s on CC1503 if it produced.

En-route to Thiaroye we passed SEFICS GM CC2463 with a freight near Pikine, heading towards Dakar. Having seen three freight’s the previous evening we were hoping to get chance to photograph one of the newly arrived SEFICS YDM4’s. Fortunately, but rather unfortunately we did get chance to photograph another freight while at Thiaroye and after a DMU had headed out to Thiés, with the retimed 1620 (vice 1715) Cyrnos – Thiés, SEFICS NRE Genset RS-CC-02 could be heard approaching in the distance. The station are was wedged with the evening sellers doing their trade in jeans, mobile phones and earphones and it was going to be difficult to get photos of both the approaching YDM4, arriving with 331 1630 Cyrnos – Rufisque, and the approaching Genset. However, CC1504 cleared a path through the crowd and we managed to clamber into the front door of our train and photograph the Genset arriving and CC1504 got train 331 underway.

Once alighting folk had cleared the train out a little the run to Rufisque turned out to be a very good one with the driver having a lot better knowledge of where the power handle was, than the driver had on CC1503 earlier in the morning! CC1504 actually sounded quite good but did seem to ease power off every now and again and then go back to full power; there was no sign of a transition or field divert though.

At Rufisque there was no freight train sat waiting on this occasion so we jumped off, got a quick photo and then got tickets for the return journey while CC1504 had shunted the set to the loop to run round. We photographed the CC1504 backing onto the set and then it drawing into the platform, with the nice old station building behind it, and we had not so much as a glimpse our way whole we did so.

The run back towards Dakar was quite relaxing and the train wasn’t full at all. There was a minor issues with some guy sat behind me, who seemed to be dishing abuse towards a girl in the coach. Despite the security on board giving him a fair chance, and even sitting next to him to calm him down, he ended up handcuffed to the seat! That was our cue to move and we watched the riot from the confines of the next coach; which did seem to get a little heated and attract a crowd.

We passed CC2301 with 335 1730 Cyrnos – Rufisque, which with the Ramadan timetable change wouldn’t return, a DMU with 337 1800 Cyrnos – Thiaroye as booked and CC1503 with the retimed 339 1830 (vice 1820) Cyrnos – Rufisque; and upon arrival into Cyrnos CC1504 ran straight round to form the retimed 341 1900 (vice 1855) Cyrnos – Rufisque. Having had quite a good afternoon out we were quite pleased with the earlier finish, which also meant we didn’t have to walk back to the hotel as darkness fell.

It was quite a cool evening, considering it had been about 37 degrees earlier, and the streets were busy as we walked back to the hotel. The owner of the pizza shop over the road acknowledged us as we walked by and seemed quite pleased to see us when we walked through his door 10 minutes later. All in all it had been a very good day; we’d accumulated gen on the YDM4’s, met some interesting and key people at Dakar Gare and had managed to get people off our back while photographing. Roll on the morning……….

 

Gen for Tuesday 7th June 2016

Ex-Indian Railways YDM4’s

CC1501 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

CC1502 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

Trains into Dakar Cyrnos

am

1503 – 0553 ex Rufisque

1504 – 0618 ex Rufisque

DMU – 0643 ex Rufisque

2301 – 0708 ex Rufisque

DMU – 0650 ex Thiés

1504 – 0831 ex Thiaroye

DMU – 0911 ex Thiaroye

1503 – 0853 ex Rufisque

2301 – 0951 ex Thiaroye

1504 – 1016 ex Thiaroye

pm (Ramadan Timetable)

2301 – 1642 ex Thiaroye

1503 – 1742 ex Thiaroye

1504 – 1752 ex Rufisque

DMU – 1856 ex Thiaroye

Trains ex Dakar Cyrnos

am

1503 – 0710 to Rufisque

1504 – 0735 to Thiaroye

DMU – 0757 to Thiaroye

2301 – 0822 to Thiaroye

1504 – 0912 to Thiaroye

Pm (Ramadan Timetable)

2301 – 1600 to Thiaroye

DMU – 1620 to Thiés

1504 – 1630 to Rufisque

1503 – 1700 to Thiaroye

2301 – 1730 to Rufisque

DMU – 1800 to Thiaroye

1503 – 1830 to Rufisque

1504 – 1900 to Rufisque

DMU – 1930 to Rufisque

Photos from Tuesday 7th June 2016

 

Wednesday 8th June 2016 (Day 3 of riding the PTB commuter services in Dakar)

Having figured out the first in, last out policy that seemed to apply at Rufisque, we headed to the station expecting to have CC1504 to Rufisque on 313 0710 Cyrnos – Rufisque but were knocked for six when the guy at the ticket counter told us there were no trains to Rufisque today! Our minds immediately thought the worst but when I asked for tickets to Thiaroye we were given two tickets straight away. We then began to speculate what might or might not be going off down the line and soon dismissed the idea that the line from Thiaroye to Rufisque was closed when CC1504 arrived with 312 0553 Rufisque – Cyrnos, and immediately ran round.

The fact that the 0710 Cyrnos – Rufisque was actually running but not going beyond Thiaroye led us to contemplate other theories; yet when we got stopped for 15 minutes at Hann, having just watched CC1503 depart for Cyrnos with 314 0618 Rufisque – Cyrnos, our minds just gave up. When we did eventually get on the move again we were slowed for a speed order near Pikine, where there’s a curve off to a freight yard. Looking at the people working on the tracks and the large score in the sand and sleepers it looked as though something had derailed on the points; probably a freight sometime in the night?

All became clear when the next train we passed was CC2301 heading 318 0708 Rufisque – Cyrnos, which meant the DMU for 316 0643 Rufisque – Cyrnos had not produced and the train had been cancelled. Now a betting man would then presume that as our 0710 Cyrnos – Rufisque was terminating at Thiaroye that it would then form the 0831 Thiaroye – Cyrnos, instead of the 0735 Cyrnos – Thiaroye forming it. This would then allow CC1503 to work 317 0757 Cyrnos – Thiaroye vice the cancelled DMU and the 0735 would be cancelled in lieu of it. The DMU stuck at Rufisque would then, in theory, form the 0853 Rufisque – Cyrnos and karma would be restored; did this happen? You bet your life it did! I reckon controlling PTB’s commuter sets would be a lot less stressful than doing the Caledonian Sleepers!

What the amendment to service meant for us was a trip back to Cyrnos with CC1504 on the 0831 Thiaroye – Cyrnos and then a second return trip to Thiaroye when CC1504 ran round to form 321 0912 Cyrnos – Thiaroye and then return with 330 1016 Thiaroye – Cyrnos. Despite the one cancelled inbound service things weren’t too bad for us as regards the loadings on board, especially as on the first trip out C2301 had just departed Thiaroye with the 0708 Rufisque – Cyrnos as we approached. We even had a good conversation on board the 0831 to Cyrnos, with a guy who’d spent 23 years in Quebec and had a wife who lived over the there. He was a very sociable chap and so was the other guy who joined in the conversation; this just fuelled our perception of the Senegalese, who had all been very sociable both with us and around us as we travelled around on their slow commuter trains. Not one person had given us and problems or myther; it was great.

After CC1504 ran round at Cyrnos it then drew its stock across the north end points and propelled the set back to Dakar on the opposite line, which we assumed was wrong road. CC2301 was on shed being serviced and CC1503 was attached to a set in the station area. We briefly saw Mr Derwiche, only to hand him a Railway Magazine, from the UK to read, before heading back to the hotel, via the supermarket, for a spot of afternoon lunch.

Back at the station in the afternoon we were greeted on arrival by Mr Diouf, who asked if we’d had any problems since speaking with him the previous day; the answer being not at all, and whatever he’d said to his team of security staff it had worked as we’d not had so much as a glimpse our way since asking for authority to take photographs and didn’t have for the rest of the trip afterwards either!

Our plan was to do the 1630 out to Rufisque again and when CC2301 arrived with the stock for the 1600 to Thiaroye and a DMU then did to work the 1620 to Thiés, we weren’t surprised when YDM4 CC1504 followed with the stock for the 1630 to Rufisque. As we photographed it arriving we didn’t manage to get a seat before departure and ended up standing by the doorways. We were soon moved out of the doorways by a member of security staff and as the train crept out of town there was an influx of people at each station and the train was positively wedged by the time it was out of the Dakar suburbs; and uncomfortably so. While there was no problem with the locals there just wasn’t much space but they did try to accommodate us as best they could. Unfortunately, I seem to attract the nutters and when the security guard asked a guy to stand away from the door there was a bit of a kick-off and various other folk in the coach had to calm the guy down; who was stood right in front of me and pretty much preventing me from moving anywhere. Thankfully his anger evaporated and he got off before Rufisque. 

The freight along the line seemed to be regular and we passed one train between Hann & Thiaroye, which we didn’t even manage to see the engine of as the train was that wedged at the time, and another near Mbao; which was unfortunately for us headed by a YDM4, again in what appeared to be Sri Lankan livery. We couldn’t see its number as it passed by though but as we now knew there were potentially 6 of them in the country working for SEFICS then it could have been a different one to CC1366 of course.

Having departed Cyrnos 10’ late it was no surprise when we landed 10’ late at Rufisque. Again we bought tickets back to Dakar while CC1504 ran round and then positioned ourselves to get photographs f it drawing the stock in with the nice station building in the background. It stopped in the station, we boarded, the horn went and CC1504 drew away 12’ late with334 1752 Rufisque – Cyrnos.

Our last journey on PTB was as relaxing as they come, with a good engine on the front of the train; which was being driven well. We passed the precession coming out with CC2301 working 335 1730 Cyrnos – Rufisque, a DMU forming 337 1800 Cyrnos – Thiaroye and CC1503 working the retimed 339 1830 (vice 1820) Cyrnos – Rufisque. At Cyrnos CC1504 was immediately run round to work the retimed 341 1900 (vice 1855) Cyrnos – Rufisque, which left late as the run-round time of only 10 minutes didn’t allow for the lost time to be pulled back.

We headed back to the Hotel Al Baraka feeling very pleased with our 3 days of riding the PTB commuters. We also felt absolutely rancid as the dust entering the trains is on a lot grander scale of an evening after the sun has been on it all day! After a quick wash it was down for our last pizza of the trip but unfortunately we couldn’t celebrate with a beer back at the hotel as the bar was closed! Thankfully the hotel’s card machine was working and we paid our bill before heading to our rooms; and confirmed that the shuttle we’d booked to take us to the airport the following morning was going to materialize at 0630!

Our brief visit to Senegal had given plenty of food for thought and thrown up some unexpected twists. Unfortunately though it did seem like PTB could go rather rapidly down the tubes if they didn’t get some replacement crankshafts for their YDM4’s as with one more failure they’d be technically short of locos and the DMU availability didn’t seem to be much better! Cameroon now beckoned…….

 

Gen for Wednesday 8th June 2016

Ex-Indian Railways YDM4’s

CC1501 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

CC1502 – Dakar old station demic (requires a new crankshaft)

Trains into Dakar Cyrnos

am

1504 – 0553 ex Rufisque

1503 – 0618 ex Rufisque

Caped – 0643 ex Rufisque (problems with DMU at Rufisque)

2301 – 0708 ex Rufisque

DMU – 0650 ex Thiés

1504 – 0831 ex Thiaroye (formed off 0710 Rufisque terminating at Thiaroye due 0735 Thiaroye being caped)

1503 – 0911 ex Thiaroye

DMU – 0853 ex Rufisque (DMU used ex caped 0643 Rufisque – Cyrnos)

2301 – 0951 ex Thiaroye

1504 – 1016 ex Thiaroye

pm (Ramadan Timetable)

2301 – 1642 ex Thiaroye

1503 – 1742 ex Thiaroye

1504 – 1752 ex Rufisque

DMU – 1856 ex Thiaroye

Trains ex Dakar Cyrnos

am

1504 – 0710 to Rufisque (caped at Thiaroye to form 0831 Thiaroye – Cyrnos due DMU failing at Rufisque for 0643 to Cyrnos and 0735 Cyrnos – Thiaroye being subsequently caped)

Caped – 0735 to Thiaroye (DMU problems at Rufisque 0643 Rufisque – Cyrnos caped on inwards)

1503 – 0757 to Thiaroye

2301 – 0822 to Thiaroye

1504 – 0912 to Thiaroye

pm (Ramadan Timetable)

2301 – 1600 to Thiaroye

DMU – 1620 to Thiés

1504 – 1630 to Rufisque

1503 – 1700 to Thiaroye

2301 – 1730 to Rufisque

DMU – 1800 to Thiaroye

1503 – 1830 to Rufisque

1504 – 1900 to Rufisque

DMU – 1930 to Rufisque

Photos from Wednesday 8th June 2016

 

Senegal Summary

Ex-Indian Railways YDM4’s

CC1501 (IR 6600) – demic at Cyrnos waiting a crankshaft

CC1502 (IR 6469) – demic at Cyrnos waiting a crankshaft

CC1503 (IR 6588) – in service

CC1504 (IR 6496) – in service

CC1505 (IR 6522) – in bits at Thiés waiting a new crankshaft

 

DLW built

CC2301 (September 2007) – in service

 

DMUs

Power Car 112 looks demic at Cyrnos with only 6 of the 10 power cars seeming to be in service

 

Train Working Summary

Only three locos serviceable for three loco-hauled turns – 1503, 1504 & 2301

Only three DMU’s appeared serviceable, with technically three required daily but the Thiés train only seems to run with one during the week. CC2301 and stock are sometimes substituted on a Friday evening and Monday morning if not enough DMU’s in service as extra capacity is generally required out on a Friday and back on a Sunday.

The discovery of possibly 6 newly exported Ex Indian Railways YDM4’s to work with SEFICS on their freight services was a good discovery and clearly needed some more investigation

 

Thursday 9th June 2016 (Travelling from Senegal to Cameroon)

We were downstairs and into the hotel’s pristine minibus by 0628 and away we went. The driver took us the scenic route to the airport, via the coast and not through town as the taxi that had brought us in the first place had. The roads were a lot better and we actually saw some of Senegal as we ambled along the empty roadways; the journey took just under half an hour.

At the airport the check-in desks were open for Asky Airlines and we were only queuing for 5 minutes before our boarding passes were in hand. We changed our remaining CAF back at the only open money exchange counter and ultimately ended up with Euro’s instead of pounds as the buy-back rate was a lot better and we ended up with about £6 more in our pockets as a result. The £ to CAF rate is 750 or 980 to buy-back, the Euro is 665 or 680 to buy-back! It was a no-brainer really.

We were handed an immigration form to fill out with our boarding cards and having filled it out we were through immigration quickly and having breakfast airside; which we paid for in Euro’s and got change back in Euro’s! Our Asky flight to Lomé, Togo, should have departed at 0900 but there was no sign of it by then so we had a look online, using the free airport WiFi, and flight radar showed it en-route from Bissau, Guinea. It eventually arrived at 0935 and was berthed by 0945. Unfortunately, even though everyone was on board by just after 1000, we didn’t take off until 1039! Luckily we had a 2h20m connection in Lomé for our connecting flight to Douala, Cameroon.

The plane was empty and we were told to sit anywhere as we boarded. Our allocated seats were 10 B and C but the rows skipped from 4 to 11 between the two classes! Food was served on board and was included in the ticket price. Our plane was a brand new 737-800, which even had the plane registration (ET-ATU) on the safety instructions and despite the late departure was quite a pleasant flight to Lomé; where we would, in theory, have only just over an hour for our connecting flight to Douala. This didn’t turn out to be the case…

2 Comments

  1. Charles Hinton
    Posted 08/07/2016 at 4:51 pm. Reply to this comment

    Fascinating and very detailed report. Only made in once in January 2001 – Had Alsthoms BB1604 and BB1608 on ex SNCF Bruhat regauged stock. Also 1607 and 1610 in service. Remember the dust! cheers

    • Jonathan
      Posted 08/07/2016 at 5:36 pm. Reply to this comment

      Thanks Charles. Glad you enjoyed the report as much as I enjoyed the country! Would like to return again…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>