THE chairman of the board of directors of Mozambique Ports and Railways (CFM), Mr Agostinho Langa Júnior, has pledged that the major rehabilitation project for the Machipanda main line will be completed within six months.

The $US 200m project has the aim of upgrading the 318km line, between the port of Beira in Mozambique and Machipanda, near the border with Zimbabwe, so it can carry up to 300 million tonnes of freight per year. Starting at sea level, the steeply graded and sharply curving line reaches an altitude of 663m at Gondola before descending to 300m near the Zimbabwe border.

Langa made his pledge during a visit to Sofala to view progress on the project. He acknowledged that issues to be overcome since preparatory work began in 2019 had included the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and delays resulting from difficulties in importing rail from Europe, particularly from Italy. One of the measures being taken to speed up progress is the allocation of a locomotive to the route which has already been delivered to Beira, and CFM says it will have a crucial role in verifying the correct alignment of track.

As part of the rehabilitation works, the number of tight curves of 400m radius are being reduced from 14 to four. This work has been carried out in the centre of Rovue, between the stations at Garuso and Manica, helping to reduce a chronic problem of derailments in this area, especially when trains are travelling at 60km/h.

Another view of the CFM chairman meeting teams involved in the upgrade project. Photo credit: CFM

The CFM chairman’s pledge means the Machipanda main line should be fully operational by October, allowing the volume of freight carried to rise from the current 600,000 tonnes per year to approximately 3.5 million tonnes in the first 12 months.

CFM says it is also likely that passenger trains will be reintroduced on the line. The company is awaiting delivery of four more DMUs as two new trains delivered in August 2022 are now in service on the Dondo - Beira line.

Last month it was reported that new concrete sleepers had been successfully laid over a 289km section of the Machipanda line. Other work undertaken so far includes replacing the rails, ballast and subgrade as well as welding rail joints.

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