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Ghana’s railway project: full steam ahead

The Ghana Railway Master Plan project for expanding the country’s rail network is making headway. Two machines with Plasser & Theurer technology help to quickly put the new lines into operation. Ghana’s railway network dates back to British colonial times (1820-1957). It was built for transporting raw materials and goods from areas south of the mountain barrier to Accra. At the time, the city was the trade centre for goods of all kind. The triangular rail network between Sekondi, Kumasi, and Accra comprises approximately 1,000 km.

The West African state of Ghana

is situated at the Gulf of Guinea, bordering Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, and Togo to the east. Ghana has about the geographic size of the United Kingdom. The two countries share a historical link due to colonial times. The country has about 29 million inhabitants and has been divided into 16 regions, each with a regional minister since 2019. Accra, the capital of Ghana, is a coastal city in the south of the country.


During the second half of the 20th century, investments in the railway network came to a halt. As a result, road traffic increased. In the 1990s, Ghana Railway Corporation started a project to revitalise the existing network. Compiled in 2013, the Ghana Railway Master Plan proposes a six-phase-project to build a new, 4,000 km standard gauge network. The current government created the Ministry of Railways Development and appointed Hon. Joe Ghartey as minister: this political move emphasised the railway's strategic importance for the country’s further development. The new lines will enable railway transport to northern regions and to the neighbouring country of Burkina Faso. As a result, connections are established between this land-locked country and the Tema and Takoradi seaports.

The track gauge will be changed from Cape gauge (1,067 mm) to standard gauge (1,435 mm). The lines will be designed for speeds of up to 160 km/h. Higher axle loads will be permissible: 16 t on the western railway line, 4 t on the eastern line, and 25 t on the central line.

A Ghanaian-Indian construction project

Starting in Tema, Ghana’s greatest seaport, the new eastern line leads through Afienya and ends a few kilometres from Akosombo at Mpakadan. From there, it will be routed east of the Lake Volta reservoir further north. The new line with a length of about 96 km will be designed for mixed traffic at speeds of up to 160 km/h. The completion of the railway line including the stations is scheduled for the autumn of 2020.

The project is a partnership between the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) and Afcons Infrastructure Limited, an Indian construction company that financed the project. Afcons Infrastructure Limited operates in several African countries, acting on its social responsibility: 1,150 out of its 1,400 employees are from Ghana.

Two track maintenance machines perform fully mechanised track maintenance: a Unimat Junior 08-16/4 levelling, lining and tamping machine and a PBR 400 R ballast profiling machine. Both machines were built by Plasser India. They were delivered at the end of 2019 and started working on the project after successful acceptance in February 2020.

We are very pleased with the new machines. They were immediately able to support us in our ambitious construction goals. After a short training period we started constructions

Udai Veer Singh
Vice President at AFCONS Infrastructure Limited - A Shapoorji Pallonji Group Company