Have you ever asked yourself, “what’s the longest train in the world?” What are its dimensions?
How fascinating can it be to watch the train move past you for minutes? You probably haven’t thought about it before now. In everyone’s eyes, all trains are long. Who cares if one’s longer than the other, right?
We bet you’d care if we tie our story of the longest train in the world with Mauritania, a northwest African country. We also bet it would interest you if you learn that this long train gets the attention of tourists worldwide.
Apart from the tourism glory this train bings, it would be good for you to know that the train transports mineral resources that provide Mauritania majority of its annual revenue.
Read along as we keep you informed on the details of the world’s longest train.
The Mauritania Mineral Train
Transporting minerals across major cities via trains is considered a vital part of the global economy. It’s no wonder why the world’s longest train was built for the sole purpose of transporting minerals and not passengers. Mineral resources win this argument on transportation.
The Mauritania mineral train takes long trips transporting iron ore from its mining town to the required Port. A continuous export of the iron mineral comes into the Port of Nouadhibou from Zouerate (the Iron ore mining town ore).
The world’s longest train takes the Choum route in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a district found in Africa’s Northwest part. Transporting minerals to the port day and night to ensure a stable economy for the Republic of Mauritania.
The length, size, and full strength of this train are required when transporting Iron ore through the Sahara right below the Pristine sky. So you see, the owners, Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière, SNIM, aren’t intrigued about its length as long as it gets the job done.
The National Mining and Industry Company (English translation of SNIM) oversees the Mauritania mineral train’s maintenance and scheduling. Do people use the board the train as a means of transportation?
We’d get to that shortly.
How Long Is The Longest Train In The World?
Short and straightforward, the Mauritania mineral train is a uniquely-designed 3km compartment transporting masterpiece. That’s the equivalent of 3,937 steps if you try walking by the train from start to finish. As you’d figure, that’s a lot of steps, even for someone taking a morning walk to blow off some calories.
The Mauritania mineral travels on a 437 miles single track that links Zouerate to the Port of Nouadhibou. Covering approximately 0.42% of the track every second it travels.
As the longest freight train globally, the Mauritania mineral train transports over 200 freight carriages per trip. Each freight carriage is fully loaded with minerals (Iron ore) to be transported to the Port of Nouadhibou. Each freight can carry a considerable amount of Iron ore through the Mauritania track without a brink.
In general, the train weighs roughly 80 tons making it the biggest train in the world.
Besides its length, you could hear the amount of force exacted on the tracks from miles away. Over the years, nearby villagers have expressed their plight on the discomfort the moving Mauritania train brings.
The continuous sound you could hear for a few minutes is a delight for small children. The efficient locomotives on the Mauritania mineral train help to control the curve performance.
The Mauritania Railway
The famous Mauritania railway is the rail transportation unit of Mauritania, which also serves as an alternative for various transportations to specific locations in Mauritania and neighboring cities. Although not under its best management, the railway is managed by Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM).
It’s believed that the railway corporation contributes significantly to the economy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. At the same time, it is saving its roads the pressure of transportation minerals.
The construction of the Mauritania railway track began in 1960, costing Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière years of financial investment. The mining and industrial company faced a couple of setbacks in building those tracks under such a short period and channeling over 85% of its resources to the preparation of the Iron ore mining and transportation business. Before opening the Mauritania railway in 1963, those three years of construction took so much from the sector.
The Mauritania Railway is a 754 km rail track connecting the Iron mining plant and the Port of Nouadhibou. The railway line runs through Choum and Fderik to give the Mauritania mineral train two routes to the Port. The Mauritania train travels from Cansado to Nouadhibou, to Boulenoir, to Agueijit, down to Guelb El Rhein, and finally the M’Haoudat mine. The Mauritania mineral train has since sought an alternate route through Polisario following the Choum tunnel’s closure.
The Aftermath of The Railway Construction
Following the line’s construction’s outstanding success in 1960 was a positive shift in Mauritania’s GDP. Looking at the timeframe of the completion of the project, Mauritania railways became nationalized in 1974. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania’s government immediately launched the Iron ore transportation project from the mining plant later in 1975. This, of course, caused a significant shift in the revenue generated into Mauritania from neighboring regions.
As a result of the Republic’s annexation of Southwest Sahara in 1976, the infamous Mauritania railway line got attacked frequently. The Polisario militia planned and coordinated the attacks, which led to a pause on Iron ore’s transportation. As expected, the continuous attacks resulted in crippling Mauritania’s economy for years causing major revenue setbacks. Since the incident wasn’t managed appropriately, it leads to the impeachment of the Mauritanian president.
The Army overthrew President Moktar Ould Daddah in 1978 and processed the Southwest Sahara’s immediate withdrawal the following year. The Army then tackled the attacks from the Polisario militia head-on and opened the track for business again. In the 1980s, the lines had fully undergone repairs and active enough for railway transportation in Mauritania. Since then, the railways have not faced such devastating obstruction causing harm to Mauritania’s economy.
Are Civilians Allowed on The Mauritania Mineral Train?
As the longest train in the world, the Mauritania mineral train sure gets a lot of attention from people worldwide. With tourists wondering if they could have an adventurous time on the Mauritania line while watching nature’s green.
Thankfully, the SNIM allows passenger boarding on its Iron ore transportation train. However, you should probably note some things before going onboard. Before the SNIM agreed to passenger on board, it stated the terms clearly to the boarders.
First, you should not expect the treatment, comfort, or luxury of a typical passenger’s train. The primary purpose of the Mauritania mineral train is to transport Iron ore to the appropriate Port. It’s not reasonable to expect that the train’s management would not be responsible for your welfare aboard. This means zero ticketing service, absence of a dining cart, and no conductor for the announcement of your stops or anything whatsoever. You’re almost always treated like goods.
The world’s longest train, the Mauritania mineral train, doesn’t have boarding schedules for passengers like the others.
Sadly, the only schedule SNIM maintains is the transportation of Iron ore across its routes down to the Port of Nouadhibou. This means the train could depart later or earlier regardless of the information you got.
Your best chances of boarding the Mauritania mineral train is therefore bound by speaking directly to an employee of the railway station.
Also, because of the maximum train length and loading of the minerals, departure time is often extended. This means there are chances you’d wait for hours even when hinted by a railway station staff. Regardless of your departure time, expect to spend 9-15 hours on the train due to unscheduled stops. It’s a service train, remember? So it means the staff is primarily concerned about getting the Iron ore safely to the Port of Nouadhibou.
Your Adventurous Trip on The Longest Train
How then can you have an adventurous trip on the longest train in the world?
As stated earlier, there are two points of boarding the Mauritania train. Passengers can either choose to board from Choum or take the train from Nouadhibou.
The railway tracks lead both towards and away from the Atlantic ocean. There’s nothing adventurous in boarding the train from Choum, the mining center. This is where you have uncertainties about the departure time and traveling with the Iron ore.
On the other hand, getting aboard from the Port of Nouadhibou increases your chances of enjoying the 9-12 hours adventurous trip of the Northwest African railway tracks. The returning trip from Nouadhibou means the freight cars are empty, which increases your chances of having a fun time on the train.
You’d experience more comfort on the longest freight train in the world while exploring each freight to get a look at what Iron ore looks like. It’s often fun when you’re with a group of friends in the empty freights as the train travels from Nouadhibou down to Choum.
If lucky, you could get staff on the train to take you on a private tour of the train, explaining each section and how the ores are loaded. Riding with an empty freight section makes it easy to breathe the fresh air from gliding across your face as the train drives by.
With the Iron ore abroad, it increases the risks of traveling on the Mauritania train. Be sure to remember that many people have died, ignoring the dangers of traveling on the Mauritania train. It’s not your regular train!
Not many know this, but there’s a passenger’s wagon on the Mauritania train. That’s a pro-tip because you’ve read this piece until the very end. It’s a 6-bunk passenger’s wagon connected to the end of the Mauritania train.
While this may sound fun, remember it’s a mineral transporting train without a conductor.
This means nobody’s in charge of the cleaning and maintenance of the passenger’s wagon. To the staff, it’s just another section of the train which nobody cares for. It’s always untidy, with worn-out bunks and insects crawling over the area.