Malawi Railways Limited

Malawi Railways Limited

Nyasaland Railways Ltd was incorporated in 1907. After independence in 1964, Malawi inherited a network of three railways from the British and became Malawi Railways Ltd. They were the Shire Highlands Railway, the Central African Railway and the Trans-Zambezia Railway. The network was run as a single, integrated Malawian system, even though the Trans-Zambezia Railway was located entirely on foreign territory.

All of these lines were narrow gauge and single track, and the Shire Highlands Railway in particular had sharp curves and steep gradients, so the system was inadequate for heavy train loads. Maintenance costs were high and freight volumes were low, so freight rates were up to three times those of Rhodesian and East African lines.

Although costly and inefficient, the rail link to Beira remained a main bulk transport link until 1979 when it was destroyed by RENAMO forces in the civil war. By then, Malawi had its second rail link to the Mozambique port of Nacala, which is its principal route for imports and exports today.

From 1974 to 1979, Malawi worked with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) sponsored to build 70 miles of new track from Salima to Lilongwe though the Malawi-Canada Railway Project.

With effect from 1 December 1999, the Central East African Railways consortium led by Railroad Development Corporation won the right to operate the network and the network became privatised.

Stamp Issues


  • Peter Bagshawe
  • James Gavin