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Asmara to Massawa by Rail Asmara / Mai Hizni / Arbaroba / Nefasit / Ghinda / The Flats / Technical details / Home page


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above Arbaroba    
Working up to
Dorfu Station

On the east valley wall we wound along the valley edge and in and out of several, small tunnels. At one place the railway crossed the road and then shared the same meandering with the road through another pleasant eucalyptus grove until we entered Arbaroba, a sizeable village clinging to the mountains at a saddle between two ridges. We crossed the saddle to the new ridge's north side. The road took the route along the south side of the ridge.

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Arbaroba from far down the road

As our Littorina pulled into the Arbaroba station the third-class train stood on the siding quietly puffing smoke as it waited for us. The damp morning air accentuated the pungent smell of the smoke from its wood-fired boilers. The train pulled several, small, wooded cars, some closed up and others with opened windows filled with people. Other people stood around the train while still others sat on top of the cars.

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A departing third-class train

Each station provided more or less level sidings where a train coming from one direction could wait while the train coming from the opposite direction passed them. That way the railroad was basically a single-track line with passing tracks at the stations.

We picked up two passengers and, once started, began coasting down the mountain again. While I was in Asmara, the Littorina provided first and second class passage while the steam train with its straight, wooden benches provided the third-class passage.

As we descended the northeast side of the mountain this cool morning, a cloud bank filled the distant valleys to a level just above Embatcalla. We continued winding down the mountain stopping at another station far below the road clinging to the ridge above.

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Morning clouds below Arbaroba

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Much the same view on a clear day

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Copyright © 2000 Mike Metras,