The Kampala to Bombo Narrow Gauge Line - A Stronach-Dutton Roadrail System

Roger Farnworth Apr 3, 2021

  1. Roger Farnworth

    Roger Farnworth TrainBoard Member

    The Kampala to Bombo Narrow Gauge Railway - A Stronach-Dutton Roadrail Railway in Uganda in the 1920s.

    At the insistence of the Governor of Uganda an independent novel rail system was tried out in the early 1920s. The trial resulted in the building of a line between Kampala and Bombo which operated during the middle years of that decade. Ultimately, the system failed and it was closed well before the end of the decade.

    This was a project run by the Direct Works department of the protectorate/colony and was not part of the much wider network of "The Uganda Railway" which stretched from Mombasa on the coast of Kenya to Kampala and eventually on the Kasese in the West of Uganda. Articles about the Uganda Railway network can be found on this link:

    I discovered this line when I came across it in an article by Henry Lubega. I have discovered quite a bit more about the design philosophy since then. The system used for the line, the Stronagh-Dutton Roadrail System, is referred to elsewhere – particularly in “Narrow Gauge Steam … and other railway curiosities, Volume 1,” a ‘bookazene’ published by Kelsey Publishing and in a relatively short publication by the Narrow Gauge Society.

    At first look, it seems quite an ingenious idea – removing the weight of the locomotive from the rails enabled much lighter rails to be used. In practice, however a whole series of factors rendered the idea impracticable.
    Kurt Moose and BoxcabE50 like this.
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    “In 1925, the Uganda railway recorded its highest transport tonnage, but the following year it nosedived to its lowest. The fall was due to handling procedures at Kampala station, forcing ginners to resort to sending their cotton direct to Port Bell by motor vans than the railway.”

    What was the handling issue? Did I miss it as I read. If so, oops....
  3. Roger Farnworth

    Roger Farnworth TrainBoard Member

    Probably should have been clearer. The problem as I understood it was the transhipment arrangements from the 2ft gauge to the metre gauge. It was not clear why that was a particular problem in that year!
    BoxcabE50 likes this.

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