Railway Engineers from India are expected to arrive in Fiji in the next few weeks to assess the country’s railway network.
NEW DELHI: Fiji Government indicted that it had secured significant development assistance from the Indian government during the World Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi last week.
Fiji is looking to upgrade its railway network, which is presently used for carting sugarcane, to carry more cargo and start carrying passengers.
The Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum met India’s Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal who has offered the immediate deployment of technical expertise for the assessment of the network.
An Indian team, provided by Indian Railways, will comprise civil and mechanical engineers, including traffic management experts.
Rail Transport in Fiji: Rail transport in Fiji moves cut sugar cane to crushing mills. Also, there used to be two horse-drawn street tramway systems, some other passenger systems, an underground mine system, and some tramways on construction projects. There are multiple other modes of transport in FIji.
Tramways have been used to transport sugar cane from the fields to the mill since 1876, when a 2.4 km (1.5 mi) horse tramway was constructed on the Selia Levu estate, on the island of Taveuni. The Holmhurst Mill on Tavenui had tramways from 1882 of 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge. A tramway was also built on Mago Island.
Most cane tramways were of 2 ft (610 mm) gauge, on the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Steam engines were used, later replaced with diesel engines. Most of the mills and tramways were built by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR), an Australian-owned company, and were transferred to the Fiji Sugar Corporation in 1973, when CSR withdrew from Fiji.
Many lines were on road reserve provided by the government; combined road-rail bridges were common. Some passenger services were provided, such as the famous Free Train from 1915, with one or two trains a week from Lautoka to Kavanagasau and Rarawai on the Rarawai-Kavanagasau Light Railway.
In 1988, according to Cane Train, there were 645 km (401 mi) of permanent cane railway in Fiji, for the Lautoka and Rrawai, and Penang mills on Viti Levu, and the Labasa, on Vanua Levu.
In the 1970s, a holiday resort on Malololailai Island, Nadi Bay, built a short tramway from the air strip to the resort complex, using 2 ft (610 mm) gauge equipment from the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
The Coral Coast Railway Company, on Viti Levu, has operated return trips for visitors from Yanuca Island to Natadola Beach (16 km or 9.9 mi towards Nadi) from 1986 and also to Sigatoka.
The Emperor Gold Mine, at Vatukoula, in northern Viti Levu, used 2 ft (610 mm) gauge tramways underground, with 21 battery-electric locomotives.
Tramways were built for reclamation at Suva and Lautoka, airfield construction at Nadi (1941-1942), tunnelling for the Suva sewerage system and for the 1980s Monasavu hydroelectric scheme in the centre of Viti Levu.