The Republic of the Congo (capital: Brazzaville) should not be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (capital: Kinshasa)
The first railway in what was then the Middle Congo region of French Equatorial Africa opened in 1934 from Brazzaville to the new port of Pointe Noire, a distance of 510km. Unusually for a French colony, the gauge chosen was 1067mm: perhaps because that gauge was already in use in the neighbouring Belgian Congo, although there was no connection between the systems.
In 1962, a 285km branch opened from Mont Bélo to Mbinda near the border with Gabon. Initially this carried iron ore traffic from Gabon, brought to the railway by a cross-border cable conveyor system. Iron ore traffic ceased with the construction of a new railway in Gabon. The railway remained in use until 2021.
In 1985, a 91km loop was opened off the main line between Bilinga and Loubomo (present day Dolisie) to provide a better alignment for heavy iron ore traffic. The loop is normally used in one direction only, with returning traffic using the original line.
Since 2000 the railways have been operated by a non-governmental but state owned corporation.
In 2011, feasibility studies were completed for a standard (1435mm) gauge line connecting a new iron ore mine at Mont Nabeba to the port of Kribi in Cameroon. The line would be 510km in length, of which 70km would be in the Republic of the Congo.
In 2018, an agreement was signed for the construction of a major road and rail bridge across the River Congo between Brazzaville and Kinshasa, connecting the capitals of the two countries and their associated rail networks.
In 2018, an agreement was finalised for implementation of a 1067mm gauge railway connecting mines at Mayoko with the port of Point Noire. This would include rehabilitation of 182km of the existing main line, and construction of 230km of new railway to Mayoko.
Photo image by David Stanley from Wikimedia Commons