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caravan route between Berber and Sawâkin, and as the distance between these places was not, comparatively, great, being only from 230 to 250 miles, it was the most frequented road between the Nile and the Red Sea for some centuries. When the Súdân passed into the hands of Muḥammad Ali, large numbers of his troops and their officers regularly went to and came from the Sûdân viên Sawâkin, and when steamers appeared on the Red Sea, it was quicker and safer to travel to the Sûdân by this route than by any other. When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869 everyone quickly realized that sooner or later a railway would have to be made between Berber and Sawâkin. Meanwhile more than one Khedive of Egypt was anxious to connect Cairo with the Sûdân by railway, and it is said that the first to consider seriously the matter was Sa'id Pâshâ in 1860. Eleven years later Mr. J. Fowler, the eminent engineer, proposed to build a line from Halfa to Kharțûm, which should follow the east bank as far as ‘Amâra, cross the river here, run along the west bank to Ambiķôl, cross the Bayûda Desert to Matamma, cross the river again, and so on along the east bank to the capital. Another line was to run from Dabba to Al-Fâsher, the capital of Dâr Fûr, and a third line was to run from Sawâkin to Kharțûm. About 33 miles of railway were laid from Halfa to Sarras, and then, after an enormous sum of money had been spent, the work was abandoned, partly, it is said, because General Gordon wished it. The authorities were then, as ever, determined to force the trade of the Sûdân through Egypt, and did not appear to see that so long as caravans had to traverse some 1,200 miles of desert, no extensive development of trade was possible. The Cataracts on the Nile between Kharțûm and Upper Egypt render the passage of goods by river most difficult and expensive, and seeing that Egypt had no real control over the country south of Aswân, all river transport was unsafe. In 1885, after the murder of Gordon and the fall of Khartům, the British Government employed Messrs. Lucas and Aird to build a line from Sawâkin to Berber, but after a few miles had been laid the work was abandoned, and masses of material which were to have been used in its construction lay piled up at Sawâkin for years. Nothing further was done towards connecting the Nile with the Red Sea by a railway until 1903, in which year Lord Cromer visited the Sûdân for the third time. His Lordship then saw that, if the progress which had begun to manifest itself in that country was to be maintained, the Sûdân must be opened, and a sea-port found for it; and in a most important speech which he made to the officers assembled in the Kharțûm Hotel on January 27, 1903, he stated that he would endeavour to find the money, in the immediate future, to build a railway from Berber, which was often called the "key of the Sûdân,” to the Red Sea. A year later he found the money, and in August, 1904, work on the main line at Sawâkin began under the direction of Colonel G. B. Macauley, C.M.G., R.E. Before the laying of the line began, the authorities decided to make the Nile terminus at Atbara instead of at Berber, because that point was much nearer Ad-Dâmar, the new capital of the Berber Province. They also determined to make the Red Sea terminus at Shekh Barghûth, a place between 35 and 40 miles to the north of Sawâkin, because a far better harbour can be made there, and it is more convenient for large ships than Sawâkin, where navigation at night is almost impossible. The name Shêkh Barghûth means “Shekh Flea !” The place was called after a chief whose tomb stands on the northern point of the entrance to the anchorage, which has a depth of from 84 to 110 feet; it is now known as New Sawâkin or Port Sûdân. At Sal Lôm, about half-way between Sawâkin and Port Sadân, is a jnnction, and from it one branch line runs south to Sawâkin, and the other north to Port Sûdân. The harbour at Port Sûdân is to have a rolling-lift bridge, with a waterway 400 feet wide; it will provide for two sets of railway track, and accommodate foot and vehicular traffic. The bridge machinery will be worked by two electric motors of 50 h.p., and the time occupied in either opening or closing the bridge will be 40 seconds. It will be the second largest rolling bridge in the world.
From Sawâkin the line runs north, and then ascends a very hilly plateau about 3,000 feet high, which runs parallel to the coast. It then strikes in a south-westerly direction across the desert to the Atbara, which it reaches about 20 miles from the junction of that river with the Nile. From this point it follows the course of the Atbara until it reaches the Wâdî Halfa-Kharțâm line, about a mile north of the iron bridge (Atbara Junction). The total length of the line is 331 miles, and there are 25 miles of sidings ; the line was laid on the telescopic system.
The steepest gradient is 1 in 100, and the sharpest curve 5 degrees. The cost of the line was £E.1,375,000, or about £, E.4,150 per mile of main line. Work was begun at both ends simultaneously, that at Atbara being under the direction of Major E. C. Midwinter, D.S.O., R.E. At the Sawâkin end much blasting of rock had to be done, and the wash-outs which took place in the hills here were heart-breaking. Drinking water had to be distilled from sea-water, every ton of which was carried in tanks into the desert. Scarcity of labour was another difficult matter. Colonel Macauley hired numbers of Arabs from the neighbourhood of Sawâkin, and set them to work, but these men preferred brigandage or robbery to manual labour, and as they could not be induced to do the earth work of the line they had to be sent away. A few Abyssinians were employed in bridging, but the bulk of the work on the line was done by the Nubians of the Nile Valley, and the fellahin from Egypt. The
Egyptian cannot be surpassed as a labourer. Systematic work on the line began in October, 1904, and on October 15th, 1905, the first train from Halfa entered Sawâkin. A few weeks later the state of the permanent way made it possible to run through trains at regular intervals, and from January ist, 1906, a bi-weekly service of trains was established. The line, it is true, passes through a desert, from
498 Thamtam Well Obak wel
PORT SUDAN RAILWAY
Zullot 468 Kilom.
The Nile-Red Sea Railway.
which little traffic is to be expected, but it is important to remember that it will tap all the fertile districts of the Sûdân. The produce of the Dongola Province will be brought to the main Halfa-Kharțâm line by the branch which runs from Karêma, near Gebel Barkal, to No. 10 station in the Abû Hamed Desert, and it will find its outlet at Sawâkin viâ Atbara. From the south will come the gum, cotton, and cereals of Dâr Fûr, from the east the
products of the Blue Nile and Kasala Provinces, and when the lines from Al-Obêd to Duwêm on the White Nile, and from Kasala to some point on the new Red Sea line, have been made, the Sudân will become self-supporting. The Red Sea Railway will take no trade from Egypt because, practically speaking, there is none to take ; on the other hand it will create a trade, which but for this railway could never come into being. Already the price of coal at Kharțûm has been reduced from £4 1os. to £ 2 ios., and coals are now cheaper than wood ! Steel girders are now £7 per ton instead of £10 as formerly, and cement now costs £4 per ton instead of £7. Formerly farmers sold their dhurra at Kharțûm for 55. or 6s. per ardeb, but now it can be transported to the Red Sea for 3s. per ardel, and sold at Red Sea ports at 20s. per ardeb. The new railway has brought Khartûm nearer to the sea by 900 miles ! It was formally opened by Lord Cromer on January 27th, 1906, at Port Sûdân. Among those who carried out the work the official account of the opening mentions Mr. Bakewell, Lieut. W. B. Drury, R.N., El-Mirali Mahmud Bey Kheirallah, Ali Effendi Shauki, Hussein Effendi Yusri, Hassanain Effendi Rifat Mohammed Effendi Ali, Mohammed Effendi Fadil, Ibrahim Effendi Es-Sayyid, and the following Officers and Civilian Engineers :-Colonel G. B. Macauley, R.E., Capt. E. C. Midwinter, R.E., Capt. W. E. Longfield, R.E., Capt. M. E. Sowerby, R.E. ; Lieut. S. F. Newcombe, R.E., Lieut. P. C. Lord, R.E., Hon. A. Pelham, Mr. C. E. Hickley, Mr. R. W. Windham, Mr. J. C. Hodgson, Mr. G. B. Macpherson Grant, Mr. H. V. Hawkins. In his speech Lord Cromer pointed out that the serious development of the Sadân began from that day. So long as the country was separated from the rest of the world by a waste of burning desert, and so long as communication could only be kept up by a line of railway and river steamers over a distance of 1,200 miles, that being the distance from