The history of rail transport in Namibia began with a small mining rail line at Cape Cross in 1895. The first major railway project was started in 1897 when the German Colonial Authority built the 600 mm (1 ft 11 5⁄8 in) gauge Staatsbahn (State Railway) from Swakopmund to Windhoek. By 1902 the line was completed.
Parallel to this government initiative, the Otavi Mining and Railway Company (O.M.E.G.) was established. It built another 600 mm (1 ft 11 5⁄8 in) gauge line, the Otavibahn, from Swakopmund to Tsumeb via Otavi between 1903 and 1906, and a branch from Otavi to Grootfontein in 1907/08. The German colonial railway was taken over by the Railways of South Africa after World War I, and linked into the network of South Africa.
After the independence of Namibia, TransNamib holdings took control of the national rail network, which, by that time, had long since been converted to 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge. TransNamaib has shown phenomenal growth and currently the railway network in Namibia has stretch through our country with a length of 2 687 km.
In 2005, an 89 km section of new Northern Railway from Tsumeb to Oshivelo was opened by then President Sam Nujoma, as part of the “Northern Extension” of the railway link from Kranzberg to Otavi. Construction on the project’s second phase, a 59 km stretch from Ondangwa to Oshikango on the Angolan border was completed in 2010.
TransNamib’s rail system is linked Transnet rail in South Africa. Our Rail network stretch from the South (South African border) to the Northern part of our country (Angolan border) and from the midline of the country to its coast and its harbors towns. Beyond that, neighbors are also connected via the Trans-Caprivi, Trans Cunene and Trans-Kalahari highways which in turn, connects with all countries in the SADAC region. Cargo trains operate between South Africa and Namibia twice a week.
Railway Network currently operation in Namibia consists of 2, 687 route -km length of tracks. This number continues to increase as the rail infrastructure continues to grow and the rehabilitation of Aus – Luderitz line which is about 139 km is under construction is expected to open end of 2014.
Trains radio-controlled from five control centres and 16.5 ton axle-load restriction (lower on some branch lines). The Northern Railway Extension is 18.5 ton axle load.
In term of our distribution network within Namibia, TransNamib has representation and wide distribution network with stations and depots throughout major Namibian towns such as Okahandja, Gobabis, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Omaruru, Otjiwarongo, Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Ondangwa and Oshikango. We are therefore able to provide a cost-effective rail and road transport service in Namibia and beyond.