The first railway in French Guinea opened in 1902 between Tombo and Kaloum. It was built to metre gauge, then in common use for minor railways in France. The following year, the line was extended to the capital city and port of Conakry, and by 1913 as far as Kankan (albeit with two breaks at major river crossings). This public 662km line remained the only railway for many years, but the greater part of it closed in 1986, leaving only around 36km from Conakry to Simbaya in use. A passenger service, the Conakry Express, was launched in 2011. This service has continued, albeit with some lengthy interruptions.
In 1973, a new standard (1435mm) gauge railway, the Chemin de Fer de Boké, opened for the conveyance of bauxite from the mines at Sangaredi to the port of Kamsar, a distance of 136km. A daily passenger service also operates.
In 2001, a new 105km standard (1435mm) gauge railway, roughly following the route of the former metre gauge railway, was opened by the Compagnie des bauxites de Kindia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Russian corporation Rusal, connecting its mines at Kindia with the port at Conakry. Exports from Kindia are believed to have ceased following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Rusal’s other mining operation at Dian-Dian is believed to have continued exporting on a limited scale via the Boké railway.
In 2014, a new 900km railway was proposed from Conakry to Bamako in Mali. Although no progress has been made to date, it continues to feature in governmental plans.
In 2019, Guinea Alumina Corporation opened a short railway connecting its mines at Tanènè with the CF de Boké, which is used to transport bauxite to the GAC port facility in Kamsar.
In 2021, a new 125km standard gauge railway opened, linking developing bauxite mines in the Santou and Houda areas with an alumina refinery and port facility at Dapilon.
Also in 2021, construction began on a new 600km standard gauge railway from iron ore mines in the Simandou area to a new deep water port near Morebaya.
In 2022, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Nimba Alliance Iron Ore Project and the government of Liberia, which would give the company access to the port of Buchanan via a new railway from its planned mining operations connecting with lines in Liberia.
© 2006-2023 Glyn Williams
Photo image © 2019 Glyn Williams, adapted from an uncredited image in various news sources