Mozambique Ports and Railways

Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (abbreviated CFM; in English Mozambique Ports and Railways) is the parastatal authority that oversees the railway system of Mozambique and its connected ports.

The rail system is composed of a total of 2,983 km rail of the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge that is compatible with neighboring rail systems. In addition there is a 140 km line of 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) gauge, the Gaza Railway.[1]

The system developed over more than a century from three different ports at the Indian Ocean that serve as terminals for separate lines to the hinterland. The railroads were major targets during the Mozambican Civil War, were sabotaged by RENAMO, and are being rehabilitated. Management has been largely outsourced. At this time there is no directly interconnecting rail service between the three lines. Each line has its own development corridor.

In August 2010, Mozambique and Botswana signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a 1,100 km railway through Zimbabwe, to carry coal from Serule in Botswana to a deepwater port at Techobanine Point in Mozambique.[2]

Nacala railroad / CFM Norte

The seaport of Nacala is the terminal of the Nacala railway, the most recent addition to the railway system. Construction of the railway began in 1915 at the port of Lumbo, but money ran out and construction stalled at Monapo. When construction resumed, and it was decided that Nacala should be the seaport terminus and a branch was built between Monapo and Nacala. By 1932 the railway reached 350 km from Nacala to Mutivasse, and by 1950 it extended to Nova Freixo (present-day Cuamba), 538 km from Nacala. An additional 46 km were constructed northwestwards to Vila Cabral (present-day Lichinga).[3] In 1970, the government of Malawi completed a link between Nova Freixo and Nkaya Junction in Malawi, where it connected to Malawi Railways' main north-south railway line. The Nacala line was a longer but more direct route from Malawi to the sea than the older Sena line to Beira, and most Malawian freight traffic shifted to the Nacala line. The line was closed in 1984, when RENAMO rebels blew up a portion of the line during the Mozambican Civil War.[4]

The Mozambican government began rehabilitation of the line in November 2005.[5] The railway system is operated by Northern Development Corridor. Vale bought a stake in the operator in 2010 and planned a new link from Moatize, where Vale has coal mines, east to Nkaya Junction, connecting there to the existing line to Nacala.[6] It was constructed as the Nacala Logistics Corridor, and was completed in 2017. The project included a coal export terminal and coal storage yard at the port of Nacala-a-Velha.[7]

Beira railroad / CFM Centro

Beira is the terminal of the Beira railroad, the oldest railway system of Mozambique. Its Machipanda line goes to Harare (formerly Salisbury) and was opened in 1899 as link to then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and its transits. The Sena line of the Beira railroad connects to the coal fields of Moatize with the potential to link to the railway of Malawi as well as to Zambia. As the Beira Railroad Corporation (CCFB) the Beira railway is leased from CFM to the Indian RITES Ltd. and IRCON International consortium.

Maputo railroad / CFM Sul

Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques, and Matola are the terminals of the Maputo line that links to northeastern part of South Africa. Like the Ressano Garcia Railway Company, the Maputo line is managed by the NLBP (New Limpopo Bridge Project Investments) together with Transnet Freight Rail and CPM with the aim to rehabilitate and operate the line to the border of South Africa.[8] In South Africa the link goes to Komatipoort and further to Johannesburg. The Maputo line also links to Swazi Rail and the National Railways of Zimbabwe.

See also



  1. CIA factbook
  2. "Railway Gazette: Pointers September 2010". Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  3. White, Landeg (1993). Bridging the Zambezi: a Colonial Folly. Springer, June 18, 1993. pp. 107-108.
  4. Phiri, Patson (2006). "Rehabilitation work starts on Nacala railway line." Southern African News Features 06 No 44, Southern African Research and Documentation Centre. Published May 2006. Accessed 17 August 2019.
  5. Phiri, Patson (2006). "Rehabilitation work starts on Nacala railway line." Southern African News Features 06 No 44, Southern African Research and Documentation Centre. Published May 2006. Accessed 17 August 2019.
  6. "Railway Gazette: Mining drives African rail plans". Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  7. "Nacala Corridor officially inaugurated". Railway Gazette. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  8. Port of Maputo Archived 2006-12-29 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Ash, Paul (2010). "The African phoenix". Trains Magazine, January 2010
  • Robinson, Neil (2009). World Rail Atlas and Historical Summary. Volume 7: North, East and Central Africa. Barnsley, UK: World Rail Atlas Ltd. ISBN 978-954-92184-3-5.
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