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Iron-ore Train: The the longest and heaviest railway in the world

by | Nov 23, 2021 | Novel | 0 comments

The Mauritania Railway is the national railway of Mauritania constructed between 1960 and 1963.

The line was a success and provided a major portion of Mauritania’s GDP and as a result the line was nationalised in 1974.

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Following Mauritania’s annexation of southern Western Sahara in 1976, the line came under constant attack by Polisario militia, effectively putting the line out of use and thereby crippling Mauritania’s economy.

The attacks played a major role in prompting the army to overthrow Mauritanian president Moktar Ould Daddah in 1978, followed by a withdrawal from Western Sahara the following year.

With the line now secure, repairs were conducted and trains starting using it once again in the early 1980s.

Trains on the railway are up to 3 kilometres in length, making them among the longest and heaviest in the world.

Passengers are also occasionally transported by train.

Passenger cars are sometimes attached to freight trains, but more often passengers simply ride atop the ore hopper cars freely.

Passengers include locals, merchants, and rarely some tourists, with Irish blogger Johnny Ward showing it was possible when he undertook the journey in 2015.

Conditions for these passengers are incredibly harsh with daytime temperatures exceeding 40°C and death from falls being common.

In January 2019, the railway resumed tourism after a ten year hiatus; part of the track ran through a forbidden tourist area.

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The tourist route is typically operated by a locomotive carrying two passenger carriages.

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