Eritrean Railway is the only railway system in Eritrea. It was constructed between 1887 and 1932 by the Kingdom of Italyfor the Italian Eritrea, colony and connected the port of Massawa with Bishia near the Sudan border. The line was essentially destroyed by warfare in subsequent decades, but has been rebuilt between Massawa and Asmara. Vintage equipment is still used on this line.
Construction began from the Red Sea port city of Massawa in 1887, heading towards the capital city of Asmara. The "Decauville" railway was the first built, from Massaua to Saati, just 27 km. Progress was slow, thanks to the long climb up the mountains to the high plateau of inland Eritrea, and the substantial civil engineering works required; the line reached Asmara in 1911.
It was extended to Keren in 1922, Agat in 1925, Agordat in 1928, and finally Bishia in 1932, for a total length of 280 km (174 mi). Bishia (Biscia in Italian) proved to be the end, even though the builders had ambitions of reaching the Sudan Railways line. Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia led to resources being diverted elsewhere, including the upgrading of the line from Massawa to Asmara to handle more traffic.
in 1994 the Eritrean president declared that rebuilding the railway was a priority for the new nation. During the war years a spirit of self-reliance had been built up, and the Eritreans refused foreign loans and expensive rework. Instead, the Eritreans decided, they would rebuild what they had left with their own efforts. Rebuilding the line started, some work going into rebuilding the workshops and station in Asmara while others set to reconstructing the Massawa end. Renovation of the main line began from Massawa westbound, recovering rails and steel ties.