The Railways of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria
A MILLION NATIVES are carried every year in these fourth-
ONE of the romances of railway engineering is the way in which the great natural difficulties abounding in the states along the south shore of the Mediterranean Sea have been conquered and up-
This has been an advantage in many ways, for the 1,100 miles of line now in operation in the Sultanate are among the best equipped in the world, and have no ancient and worn out rolling-
A wilder, dirtier, and more uncomfortable journey could hardly be imagined than that from the Algerian frontier to the forbidden cities of Taza and Fez. which, before the coming of the railway, had scarcely known a European. Indeed, of Taza it is said that no white man had entered the city walls before the French storming party, in 1914, just before the beginning of the European war.
A certain number of “fast” trains were run for the convenience of officers and business men, but they consisted simply of a four-
The fine modern railways of Morocco are due largely to the great French soldier-
The Marshal lived to see the completion of his work, though the new line between Fez and Algiers was not opened through-
THE MAIN RAILWAY SYSTEMS of Northern Africa are clearly shown on this map. Before 1860 there were no railways in this part of Africa; to-
Of the 920 miles of standard-
The first electric trains were those taking the phosphate traffic from the big mines near Kourigha down to the Atlantic port of Casablanca, which, in 1914, was merely a big native village in a district almost fanatically opposed to European penetration. Now it has trams, railways, big hotels and shops, a small English colony, and a harbour which takes ocean-
Leaving the new all-
Down these long, steep banks the train must be braked very carefully to prevent it from running away. All the trains are fitted with the Westinghouse brake, which is used for making the station stops; but, to hold the train at a steady speed down mile after mile at 1 in 66, electric regenerative braking is employed on the locomotive. This means simply that when the current is turned off and the train is coasting downhill, the electric motors on the axles, instead of receiving current to drive them, act as dynamos and generate current, which is passed back into the trolley wire. This process keeps the motors and wheels turning at a certain definite speed, and if the locomotive tries to run faster a very powerful braking force is set up in the motors.
MARRAKECH STATION, MOROCCO, handles both steam and electric trains, and is a starting-
The current sent back into the overhead wire can be used by other trains going uphill. This ingenious system of braking not only renders absolutely safe the operation of the trains going down steep gradients, but also reduces the amount of current which must be obtained from the power station. To operate the regenerative brake the driver merely has to move a hand switch; after that everything is automatic.
Onward from Casablanca the line is level and runs closely alongside the Atlantic through Rabat to Kenitra, now known as Port Lyautey, after the man who raised it from a Moorish village to the second port of Morocco. It was in this section that Lyautey took the greatest personal interest, and at Rabat be insisted on the railway engineers carrying the line under the town in three tunnels, to preserve the Moorish aspect of the old city.
After passing the docks at Port Lyautey, which lies two miles up the river, the railway swings inland to Petit Jean. At this junction the Moroccan Railways meet the Tangiers-
French in Design, British Built
The fifty steam engines used are of the 4-
WHERE EAST AND WEST MEET. A typical scene in a Tunisian railway station, showing a Diesel-
Perhaps the most outstanding event in the history of Moroccan Railways was the opening in May, 1934, of the main line to Algiers. This long line partly follows the track of the old military 60 cm gauge railway, but at places makes considerable deviations to avoid the sharp curves and terrific grades of the latter. Nevertheless, so wild and mountainous is the country through which passes this vital link in the great Morocco-
Military stations are not so prominent on the Fez-
A PASSENGER TRAIN IN MOROCCO. The fine system in Morocco is due to Marshal Lyautey, the famous French soldier, who provided railway links between Algiers, Fez, and the Atlantic ports. In 1922 the Moroccan Railways Company took over the old military routes.
Running parallel with this branch, but close to the Algerian frontier, is the line of the private East Moroccan Railway Company, but this is now under the management of the Moroccan Railways. It starts from Oudjda, the frontier station on the Fez-
But the chief interest of the East Moroccan Railway is that the French authorities have approved its possible use as the first stage of the great Trans-
Should this Trans-
It is at Colomb-
Two other narrow-
Surprising developments in the working of express and heavy goods trains have taken place within the last two or three years, principally by the introduction of giant Beyer-
These engines are fitted with Beyer Peacock’s patent revolving coal bunker, which is a big cylindrical chute with two loading doors on top. When the bunker is full these hatchways are closed, and prevent coal dust from blowing into the cab or heavy rain from soaking the fuel. A small stationary steam engine is fitted alongside the bunker, and by means of gearing turns the whole bunker and its eight tons of coal round when a valve in the cab is opened. This trims the coal down to the front where the fireman can get at it with his shovel.
One of the big Diesel locomotives now hauling trains out of Algiers made history just after it was built by hauling a light express train from Paris to Marseilles, 536 miles, at an average running speed of sixty-
Coming into Algeria from Morocco the first place of note is Tlemcen, once a great Moorish city with a population of over 100,000, but now a pleasant little place with barely 30,000 inhabitants. From there the PLM (Algerian) main line turns seaward to Oran, from which place the trains come out again over the same route for seventeen miles before going on eastward to Algiers. Algiers Station, like that at Oran, is situated alongside the quays, and must be left in the same direction as it is approached.
Continuing eastward along the trunk route, the passenger is now travelling on the State Railways, whose lines extend to the Tunisian frontier through a district teeming with Roman remains. The main line passes within a few miles of Constantine, one of the most wonderful. cities in the whole of Africa. Its history goes back to the days of ancient Carthage, when the ruler was a brother-
Cutting the trunk line at right angles near the Tunisian border, and forming part of it for thirty miles, is one of the most remarkable standard-
After leaving the port of Bône the line runs south over level country until it meets the main line, and then starts to climb up tremendously steep grades to reach the phosphate beds and mines in the mountains. The whole 103 miles of the route from the sea to the terminus at Oued Kheberit were worked by sixty ten-
The surrounding country is so rough that both doubling the line or laying an entirely new route were out of the question on the score of expense, but electrification saved the day. The seventy-
The Oldest Diesel Locomotive
The wildness of the country made it impossible to use even road transport in certain regions, and the material for trans-
Once over the border into Tunisia the railways deteriorate, although the last section of the great 1,505-
The principal attraction of the city of Tunis is its proximity to the site of ancient Carthage, of which practically no trace now remains except in the great museums of Europe.
In the southern half of Tunisia is a big narrow-
The use of Diesel locomotives and rail-
The Tunisian Railways have ordered twenty Diesel rail-
THE TENSIFT BRIDGE which carries the line of the Moroccan Railways. The river bed is so soft that during construction caissons had to be sunk to a depth of 60 ft (twice the height of the bridge), so that a firm foundation should be obtained.