Matadi–Kinshasa Railway

The Matadi - Kinshasa Railway is a railway line in Lower Congo to the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa and an important mode of transport between the Congolese capital of Kinshasa ( Leopoldville at the time of construction ) and the port of Matadi on the Atlantic. She travels around the non- navigable waterfalls of the Congo under the Stanley or Malebo pools. It measures 336 km and is operated by the Onatra. In the last 44 kilometers of suburban trains operate the province Kinshasa.


From the 1880s, the exploitation of the Congo area started by the Congo Free State, which took advantage of the great rivers as transport network. Between the port in Matadi and Kinshasa, Congo is not navigable because of the Livingstone Falls on a length of about three hundred kilometers. Initially, the waterfalls were bypassed walking with support columns. Since this was not particularly efficient for Trade and Industry ( CCCI ) was founded the Congolese Railway Company ( CCFC ) on July 31, 1887 alongside the Congolese society. Under the direction of Albert Thys, of the stage stop Sona Qongo 1904 gave its name ( Thysville, today Mbanza - Ngungu ), the construction was continued. The company was taken over by the formed on November 9, 1889 Congo Railway Company with a capital of 20 million marks, followed involved the state of Belgium 8 million marks. On December 4, 1893, the first section from Matadi to Nkenge (40 km) was opened to traffic. Particular difficulties were preparing the output of the Congo canyon through the canyon of the M'pozo as well as the following passage of the crystal mountains. After only eight years of construction work was completed in 1898. During this period, 1800 residents and 132 colonists were killed. The hard work put Joseph Conrad, who himself worked in the colony, in his socially critical novel Heart of Darkness a literary monument.


Despite the technical and financial difficulties which had to be overcome during the construction, the line could soon be run profitably. Long time she was the only connection to the outside world Kinshasa. In the early ivory and rubber were mainly exported via this pathway. It was found, however, that the railway was built in narrow 765 - mm gauge and narrow radii was subject to certain restrictions. So it was largely traced out new in the 1920s and upgraded with thresholds for the Cape gauge. Where the old trackbed should continue to be used, three-rail tracks were assembled. It could be switched on June 13, 1932 without interruption to 3 feet 6 inches. The newly created engineering structures all had a profile that permits electrification. For a realignment exchange of land with Portugal in Angola was necessary. Portugal left Belgium 3 km ² in the hinterland of Matadi to around 3.5 km ² in Katanga.

Company details

The railway was operated from 31 July 1889 by the Brussels -domiciled Congo Railway Company ( Cie. du Chemin de fer du Congo ) from 1 June 1936 by the Office of colonial transport operations (Office de l' Exploitation ds transport Coloniaux; Otraco ). Today's operating company Office National des Transports ( Onatra ) went in 1971 from the Otraco forth. The track consists of flat-bottom rails ( 33.4 kg / m) on metal sleepers and has a maximum slope of 17 ‰ to. The railway line measures 366 km, with the stitch lines of Matadi to the oil port of Ango - Ango and the new trackbed after Thysville 389 km. The minimum curve radius is 250 m.

Late 20th century

After running parallel to the rail road was resurfaced in 2000, the poorly maintained and dilapidated line has lost a lot of traffic on the road. In a derailment in November 2003 collapsed train in the Congo, and ten travelers lost their lives. At that time, were still eight locomotives operational. According to the latest published timetables run twice a week, a more expensive express only first-class carriage with twelve hour travel time and once a week cheaper slow train only with third-class carriage, with stops at all stations whose journey takes sixteen hours. His name is Kibola Bola, which means to Kikongo rotted or rotting. A closed in summer 2006 contract between the Onatra and a Chinese construction company provides that the Chinese rehabilitate the track and rolling stock and train set and telephony signaling repaired. Then the Onatra wants to ensure that the web is regularly supplied with energy, and recover with a " hard sell" of the lost market share again.

Rolling stock

Before the Second World War

55 locomotives (coal and oil):

  • 27 0 -6- 0T ( Bourbonnais ) à 29 t for shunting
  • 5 2-8-2 ( Mikado ) à 66 t for freight and passenger
  • 17 2-8-2 ( Mikado ) à 79 tonnes for freight and passenger
  • 6 2-10-0 ( decapod ) à 82 t for freight and passenger

Car park:

  • 43 cars 1./2./3./4. Class and restaurant cars
  • 4 luggage trolley
  • 1530 freight cars of various types

The rolling stock was equipped with an automatic clutch and central vacuum brakes.


8 locomotives ( diesel )

Car park:

  • Cars 1 / 3 Class and buffet cars
  • Baggage car
  • Freight cars of various types