Daniel Rodrigues’s “The Iron Train”
The Iron Train, which starts its journey in Nouadhibou and ends in Zouérat, travels more than 405 miles through the Sahara Desert over the course of 20 hours. The extreme shifts in temperature from day to night make for uneasy travel conditions, but “the worst,” photographer Daniel Rodrigues says, “is the dust produced by wagons full of iron minerals.” The minerals come from a Zouérat mine and are unloaded in cargo boats in the port of Nouadhibou, he explains.
Rodrigues, a graduate of the Portuguese Institute of Photography, first became interested in the massive 1.5-mile-long train after encountering it in Mauritania while following a humanitarian mission that was en route from Portugal to Guinea-Bissau. Captivated by its story, Rodrigues returned to the area this year to photograph the Iron Train and the people who use it as a mode of transportation. Many of its riders are poor, and use this dangerous mode of transportation to visit relatives or to transport goods, such as live animals.
Inspired by the likes of Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin and Sebastião Salgado, Rodrigues produces both thoughtful, well-researched documentary work—which has been recognized by World Press Photo, Best of Photojournalism and Pictures of the Year International—and more spontaneous travel and street photography. This body of work will be part of a larger ongoing project about the many different trains that exist in the world and how they are used. Rodrigues says: “It’s one thing I want to [photograph] throughout life.”
All photos © Daniel Rodrigues
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