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 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 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.
Several developments took place 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.
SMB-Winning began construction of a new 112km railway linking bauxite mines in the Santou and Houda areas with a new alumina refinery and the port of Dapilon.
Rio Tinto invited tenders for the exploitation of iron ore deposits in the Simandou area. This would require a new 650km railway to a deep water port in Matakong.
A suspended iron ore mining project in the Zogota region was reactivated under a new concessionary, Niron Metals. It is planned that the mines will be served by a new railway into into Liberia, where it will connect with either the existing ArcelorMittal railway to the port of Buchanan, or a new railway to another port.
In 2020, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the governments of Guinea and of the United Kingdom to promote a new 270km railway proposed by Anglo-African Minerals which would connect bauxite mines in the Mamou area with the port of Benty. An extension from Mamou to Tougue is under consideration for the future.
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.
Photo image © 2019 Glyn Williams, adapted from an uncredited image in various news sources