Gallery N°35 : Shunters (C.F.E. period)


In 1955, the Franco-Ethiopian Railway took delivery of 6 lococabs built by the "Constructions Ferroviaires et Navales de l'Ouest" factory. Commonly known as COFERNA, the bodies were painted in the C.F.E. battleship- grey livery, with red cowcatchers, and were designated C1 to C6. Their factory Series numbers were 10763-1 to 10763-6. These locomotives were equipped with the POYAUD6 PX1 diesel engine that produced between 160 and 180 hp, using an inversor-reductor by LECHNER and a VOITH type L 33 Y hydraulic transmission controlling, as was mistakenly used at the time, the false axle. The traction effort was then transmitted by a connecting rod to the median axle which, in turn, was coupled by connecting rods to two other motor axles.

This arrangement gave these machines a working weight of 30 tons, good stability, and made them really strong. They were capable of reaching a maximum speed of 25 km/h. Divided among the three main stations, they progressively replaced the 030 Pinguely.

These lococabs were used until the 1990s when they were reconditioned and repainted in the colours of the C.D.E. : yellow bodywork with a double green stripe and wearing the company's logo. The roof and chassis were battleship grey and the cowcatchers striped yellow and black.


Four lococabs were also delivered to the C.F.E. between September and October 1994. They had been manufactured by the Billard Company in Tours. Like the COFERNA, their bodies sported the battleship- grey livery of the C.F.E., and had red cowcatchers...

Equipped with the POYAUD UD8V PX1 engine that was capable of 275 hp, they were arranged in a more traditional way: three axles were joined by connecting rods, false axles, VOITH L 33 Y hydraulic transmission and MINERVA inversor-reductor. Their working weight was 34.7 tons and could reach a maximum speed of 30 km/h. They were designated C11 to C14 by the C.F.E. Following a very bad accident in 1970 at the station of Chenele, the C14 was decommissioned, and scrapped.


Gallery N°36 : Shunters (C.D.E. period)


The Djibouto-Ethiopian Railway (C.D.E.) used these lococabs until the 1960s. They were commonly known as COFERNA. Designated C1 to C6, their factory Series numbers were 10763-1 to 10763-6. Repeated breakdowns and lack of spare parts saw their demise. They were rapidly taken out of operation.
It was still possible to see the COFERNA C1 in perfect working order at the depot of Addis Ababa in 2010. It is possibly the sole remaining example of these extraordinary machines whose delivery to the African market was much too discreet.


This type of locomotive ran until the 1990s, with their bodies repainted in yellow with a double green stripe and bearing the company's logo. Their chassis were battleship grey and the cowcatchers striped yellow and black .
In 2010 it was still possible to see number C11 in full working order at the Addis Ababa depot, and number C12 in its original livery at the Djibouti station. C13 sits imposingly as a monument in the square in front of Dire Dawa station.

Both the "Billard" and the "Coferna" were, in turn, replaced by "Fauvet Girel" lococabs which were more powerful. The first four of these were delivered in 1980.


In 1953 the marine Iron and steel works at Homécourt built five road switchers destined for the Sollac steel works. These were modelled on the American "switchers". Their axle arrangement was of a BB type and the heavy chassis was able to take the heavy berthing. The slow diesel engines were of the Sulzer type GLDA22 B with electrical equipment supplied by CEM (Construction Electro Mécaniques). This was a success.

The Fauvet-Girel Company, still associated with CEM, resumed their production in Lille . From 1957 to 1970 it built 131 locomotives largely inspired by these machines, with multiple variations (bi-cabs, remote control…). The BB Fauvet-Girel remained the typical example of industrial switching locomotive in France for a long time.

The BB Fauvet-Girel of the Djibouto-Ethiopian Railway and the C.D.E., were of a metric gauge type (they were also found on a few railway networks of Western Africa). They continued with the usual arrangements: the Poyaud diesel engine, strong chassis and characteristic bogies with ballast support (of up to 4 tons, not installed here due to the light reinforcement of the African tracks). This gave them good stability further enhanced by a novel kinematic construction: the 2 electric motors drove the axles by chains, like lococabs, another speciality of Fauvet-Girel. Interesting at low speed, this type of transmission required regular and strict maintenance and could not be used on the line.
BB 0021 and BB 0022 were delivered in 1978. Equipped with the POYAUD V12 engine producing 660 hp and with a TA 641 G transmission box, these machines carried the plaque of their constructor FAUVET-GIREL ALSTHOM.
BB 0023 and BB 0024 were delivered in 1985 with a few equipment variations. They weighed 52 tons and their chassis was 7.37 metres long. They were equipped with the POYAUD A 6150 SLM engine, that could produce 435 hp, coupled to a TA 671 Dt transmssion box. These machines were acquired from the brand new corporation "Société Française de Locotracteurs", S.F.L. A group associating around Fauvet-Girel, the Alsthom, MTE, De Dietrich and Carel & Fouché companies. Its purpose was to promote the sale of lococabs in Africa and the Middle East. The success was lukewarm. This old company created in 1918 ceased all industrial activity in 1984 and became a simple financial holding, giving up its last involvement in the Arbel-Fauvel Rail group in November 1997.

In 2010 BB 0022 could still be seen in working order at the Dire Dawa depot.

(Bruno Calvet)