was the first railway
to be built in German East Africa
and what is today Tanzania
A railway company was created in 1891 with the aim, to connect the port of Tanga
at the Indian Ocean
with the Lake Victoria
by passing south of the Usambara Mountains
. 1000 mm gauge was chosen. Since June 1893 the line advanced from Tanga inland. Due to undercapitalization the company had to be taken over by the state in 1899. Thereafter the line was run by the Ostafrikanische Eisenbahngesellschaft
(East African Railway Cooperation), a company which had been created to build and operate the Tanganjika Central Line
(Zentralbahn) from Daressalam
. Between Pongwe
on the Usambara Railway there was a double hairpin turn
On 26th of September 1911 the track reached Moshi at Mount Kilimanjaro after 351.4 km. Traffic on the whole line commenced on 4th of October 1911, the official inauguration took place on 7th of February 1912. In 1914 one train ran from Tanga to Buiko and back daily and on two days of the week the service continued to and from Moshi. The trip over the entire distance took 14 hours 40 minutes.
From the station Tengeni to the town of Sigi there was a branch-line of 23.3 km constructed with 750 mm gauge possessing four hairpin turns on its course.
From 4th of June 1912 to 12th of May 1913 the line was renamed „Nordbahn“ (Northern Railway) for a short period. The extension to Arusha was already planned and money provided but took not place due to the start of World War I.
The British mandate, which took over Tanganjika from the Germans, connected the Usambara Railway between Moshi and Voi
with the Uganda Railway
and extended it 1929 to its current termination point Arusha.
After Tanzanian independence the Tanzania Central Line and the Usambara Railway were connected between Mruazi
. During the East African Community
, which covered Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the Usambara Railway belonged to the East Africa Railways
(EAR). This community was dissolved in 1977 and the Usambara Railway became part of the Tanzania Railways Corporation
which was taken over in 2007 by an Indian investor.
Under the German rule in 1913 the Usambara Railway did operate with 18 locomotives
, 31 carriages and 199 trucks by 562 employees (of which 35 were Europeans).
After construction of the connection to Voi traffic between Arusha, Moshi and the coast was directed to the port of Mombasa. So the eastern part of the Usambara Railway was reduced to a local service. The passenger traffic was handled with four DMU’s during this time.
Today no more passenger trains do operate on the line. This was stopped in the 90's of the last century.
Helmut Schroeter: Die Eisenbahnen der ehemaligen deutschen Schutzgebiete Afrikas und ihre Fahrzeuge
= Die Fahrzeuge der deutschen Eisenbahnen 7. Frankfurt 1961.