This paper evaluates the development of local and regional industrial development in the context of rail infrastructure projects taking place in Mozambique’s Moatize coal fields linked to the discovery of coal deposits in the area. The study used a case approach to analyse the transport infrastructure developments associated with the exploitation of coal resources in Moatize. The study describes the transport infrastructure developments in terms of the main activities involved and the arrangements including the lead firms, the state actors, and the policy framework. The direct linkages to the local and regional economies are critically assessed including understanding how the investments have been organized. We assess the institutional dynamics in terms of the lead firms, the role of the Mozambique state, and influence of other organisations such as the World Bank. The study further assesses the relationship of the infrastructure investments with the development of capabilities at the local, national and regional level. The paper evaluates to what extent are local (Mozambique) and regional (South Africa) linkages being developed given competitive and procurement dynamics. The study provides recommendations on local and regional capabilities development drawing from the findings, including key elements of a regional strategy for maximising the backward linkages of major infrastructure projects.