"Eritrea - Riding The Old Steam Railway" Top 5 Page for this destination Asmara Travelogue by janiebaxter

Asmara Travel Guide: 95 reviews and 713 photos

The Old Italian Railway

The railway was built by the Italians and completed in 1911. It runs from Asmara to Massawa on the Red Sea, and was closed in 1975 by the Ethiopians until 2003 when it was re-opened with the old track and the trains restored to working order.

Building the Railway

The original railway took from 1887 to 1911 to build due to the inhospitable barren, rocky terrain which is between 3000 and 8000 feet above sea level. There are 35 viaducts and 30 tunnels along the line

The original Railwaymen

The railway employs the original railwayworkers, drivers and signalmen who are all in their 80s and 90s.

Mountainous Terrain

The old steam trains are called narrow gauge Mallet trains because of the special wheels which allow the trains to run on tracks through the rocky and mountainous terrain of Asmara.
You get a wonderful view of the mountains while riding in the train

Curious Villagers

As the train approaches villages, all the people come out to wave and look at the train, attracted by it's loud whistle.

Every bit is Useful

As the train stops in the village, the women sell goods to the tourists and crew on board and also take the spare hot water which the steam engine produces. Even the smallest children are curious.

Photo Opportunities

The villages in the mountains are quite remote and don't get many visitors. They are very traditional which is often a good photo opportunity

The trip was organised by The Railway Tourung Company in the UK who specialise in railway trips throughout the world.

  • Page Updated Oct 13, 2007
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