Starting from the port of Massawa the line rises to an altitude of 2394 meters at Km. 115 then descends to 2342 meters at Asmara Station at Km. 117.600.
The line then continues on a falling grade to Keren, altitude 1390 meters, Km. 104, and on to Agordat, altitude 606 meters, Km. 188.800.
From Massawa to Mai Atal, Km. 29.900, the gradient is fairly easy, then increasing in severity to Ghinda, Km. 69.400, and still more so from there to Asmara.
Between Mai Atal arid Damas, Km. 45, there is a, considerable "Rump" which necessitates trains being split at Mai Atal.
A survey has been made in order to eliminate this "Rump" so as to enable full loads to be taken as far as Ghinda, but the estimated expenditure was not considered justified and the idea abandoned, now in view of the increasing traffic this project is again under consideration.
Maximum grade on section. Massawa to Ghinda is 3% with 100 meters minimum radius curves, Ghinda to Asmara, maximum gradient 3½% and 70 meters minimum radius curves. Asmara to Keren maximum gradient 2½% with 70 meters minimum radius curves and Keren to Agordat maximum gradient 2½% minimum radius curves 100 meters.
All curves are uncompensated.
Ratio of curves to straight about 43%. [Added by hand. Typeset said 36%]
In the section Massawa to Asmara there are 30 tunnels, (one of which is for protection only), the longest, being 372 meters and the shortest 35 meters, and in the section Asmara to Agordat 9 tunnels, longest 230 meters and shortest 36 meters.
There are 65 bridges on the whole line most of both bridges and tunnels being on the curves.
The unusual gauge of 95 centimeters was decided on by the constructors of the Railway in order to use surplus material and rolling stock available.
It was originally intended to continue the line to Tessenei and construction was completed as far as Biscia, 31 km beyond Agordat. The Agordat – Biscia section was, however, taken up during the war, in 1942.
From the section point of view the Railway can best be described as spectacular, especially in the section Ghinda to Asmara, and to a slightly less extent in that from Keren to Hummed.
The main offices, stores, workshops, running shed etc., are situated
in Asmara. There is also a fair sized running shed with some machinery
at Massawa, where the locomotives for the Massawa–Ghinda section are based.