ANGOLA: Caminho de Ferro de Benguela has extended the Lobito – Luena express passenger service that it launched in mid-2021 to Luau in Moxico province, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The train departs Lobito on Mondays at 07.00, arriving in Luau on the following day with the 1 344 km journey taking around 30 h. Return departures are on Thursdays.
An inaugural train from Lobito to Luau had run on March 8. Services are formed of air-conditioned carriages, some with sleeping accommodation, and a restaurant car is included. A first class fare for the Lobito – Luau journey is priced at 21 850 kwanzas with a berth costing an additional 3 000 kwanzas.
The 1 067 mm gauge Benguela line completed in 1929 was badly damaged during the Angolan civil war between 1975 and 2002 but was then rebuilt over a 15-year period with Chinese assistance at a cost of around US$1∙9bn. The line was originally built to carry copper traffic from the Copperbelt.
Since the line has reopened only a limited amount of freight has been carried across the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Speaking in Luena last November, António Cabral, Board Chairman of Caminho de Ferro de Benguela, said that he regretted the line was ‘not very profitable’ because freight trains returning from Luau and Luena to Lobito run ‘half empty’. Inbound trains carry about 150 000 tonnes of goods a year.
According to local reports, CFB’s plans include the launch of fast diesel multiple-unit services over the route and the introduction of passenger services with space to store small volumes of goods. A fleet of seven four-car DMUs was supplied in 2019-20 to Instituto Nacional dos Caminhos de Ferro Angola by CRRC.