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The Globe and Mail

Sudan hopes to regain past glories for its faded railways

Once Africa's largest railway network with more than 5,000 kilometres of track, most of the railways in Sudan are derelict and the trains broken down after decades of neglect. Khartoum hopes to revive the network with Chinese aid.

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A policeman guards Khartoum North Passengers Station Feb. 14, 2013. Sudan was once home to Africa’s largest railway network, with more than 5,000 kilometres of track running from the Egyptian border to Darfur in the west, Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast and Wau in what is now South Sudan.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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An old out-of-service train is parked at the Sudan Railway maintenance complex in Khartoum. Today, after decades of mismanagement and neglect, most of the country’s rail track is out of service.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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A Chinese man walks at Shanghai Hui Bo Investment Co., which makes railway cement sleepers and accessories in north Khartoum. The Sudanese government, with the help of Chinese money and expertise, wants to rebuild the rail network and restore some of the industry’s former glory.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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Workers prepare a train at Sudan Railway maintenance complex in Khartoum Feb. 14, 2013. Sudan could become a transport route for some of South Sudan’s oil production.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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Maintenance labourers work at the Sudan Railway maintenance complex in Khartoum. State railway operator Sudanese Railway Corp. has just 60 trains left in operation.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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A general view shows Khartoum North Passengers Station. Work to renew the rail tracks started last year when China’s Shanghai Hui Bo Investment Co. opened a plant in north Khartoum, opposite the Sudanese capital’s main train station.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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A labourer walks through the yard at Shanghai Hui Bo Investment Co. in Khartoum. The company is producing 1,200 concrete sleepers a day, according to its Sudanese manager Sharaf Nasser.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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Maintenance workers rest at the Sudan Railway maintenance complex in Khartoum.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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A maintenance worker walks past an engine at the Sudan Railway maintenance complex. Khartoum hopes that modernizing the railways will boost the export of livestock and other products.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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An engineer guides a train driver at the Sudan Railway maintenance complex. The remaining trains on the network cannot travel at more than 40 kilometres an hour because the British-designed wooden sleepers and tracks, mostly laid between 1896 and 1930, are too weak.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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An engineer inspects a train at the maintenance complex. Within two years, officials hope to renew between 1,000 and 2,000 kilometres of track.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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An employee works inside the control room of Sudan’s main railway station in Khartoum.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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An old bell hangs at the Khartoum North Passengers Station.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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Men wait as a train carrying luggage passes Khartoum Station.

MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

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