Gallery N°47 : Accidents / Incidents (C.F.E. period)

During building of the Railway, safety of the building site was guaranteed by a local militia organised by Mr Carette Beauvais. For the first part of the route it was essentially made up of native Issas tribesmen who were known as "Askaris".

When the Railway started operating the areas it went through were not always safe. Convoys were frequently attacked by armed bandits composed of"Chiftas". Plundering on the line, such as the theft of sleepers, fishplates and telephone wires, was common practice.

At first, to limit the risks, convoys only ran by day. Then, starting in 1925, the Company operated night trains. The Railway Management decided to establish its own security service that would replace the previous native militia. These armed guards escorted all convoys and protected the maintenance works and accident spots. In exchange for peace, the Issas tribes along the line enjoyed some benefits, such as employment by the CFE and free travel.

(Laurent Jolly)

As the railway only had one track it was necessary, in case of derailment or accident, to free the line as soon as possible in order to restore service. This was a priority and a real achievement.

The CFE did not have heavy lifting cranes. The whole operation was achieved using jacks for lifting or shifting. Trucks on their side were unloaded and reloaded by employees responsible for the maintenance of the line. Depending on the circumstances, an emergency track could be laid out before lifting the wreck. This would allow the repositioning of the trucks and locomotives before leading them back on to the main track.

Accidents and derailments required great effort. An emergency train, loaded with lifting gear, camping equipment, food and water was always at the ready. In 2010 the emergency trains were still using trucks that dated back to the 1920s. A nice example bearing number XX 9071 can still be seen at Djibouti station.