National Railways of Zimbabwe
The emblem of the NRZ: three rail-sections turned of 120° between each other, between the national colours of Zimbabwe on a dirty electric locomotive
|Predecessor(s)||Rhodesia Railways (RR)|
|Key people||Mike Karakadzai, general manager|
|Products||Rail transport, Cargo transport, Services|
|Owner(s)||Republic of Zimbabwe (100%)|
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is the parastatal railway of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean railway system was largely constructed during the time of British colonial rule, and part of it represents a segment of the Cape to Cairo Railway. Until 1980 it was called Rhodesia Railways (RR).
In the colonial era, Rhodesia Railways was the state railway operator in both Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Although Zambia gained independence in 1964, it was not until 1967 that Rhodesia Railways surrendered the 1,300 km (810 miles) of route and 80–90 locomotives to Zambia Railways.
|12th class (4-8-2)||5||1||6|
|14A class (2-6-2+2-6-2)||7||6||13|
|15th class (4-6-4+4-6-4)||52||0||52|
|16A class (2-8-2+2-8-2)||8||9||17|
|19th class (4-8-2)||3||0||3|
|20th class (4-8-2+2-8-4)||18||0||18|
Rhodesia Railways was a heavy user of the Garratt locomotive. In June 1976, 100 of its 109 locomotives were Garratts. For operational purposes, Rhodesia Railways was divided into two areas: those lines north-east of Gwelo (now Gweru) fell into the Eastern Area, with all other lines in the Southern Area.
NRZ operates about 3,400 km (2,100 miles) of railway lines, all of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Cape gauge providing passenger and freight services. The gauge is standard for all of southern Africa. NRZ has an important transit function in the southern part of Africa and is well linked with neighboring countries: toward the north, at Victoria Falls the system links to the Zambia Railways, crossing the Victoria Falls Bridge. Toward the Indian ocean the system links to the Beira Railroad Corporation in Mozambique. A second line toward Mozambique reaches Maputo. To the west, a connecting line link ups to Botswana Railways to reach South Africa, eventually reaching Durban and Cape Town. A direct line to South Africa from Bulawayo was opened in 1999 by the Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway. The 313 km (194-mile) Gweru-Harare section is electrified at 25 kV AC.
Steam locomotives are still used in Zimbabwe; they have proven so popular with tourists that there are plans to refurbish several more steam locomotives. However, funding is constrained, and diesel-hauled freight transport is a higher priority.
The NRZ has also suffered of the general decline of the country's economy. Neglect of maintenance, lacking spare parts and overdue replacement of equipment have led to a situation were only part of the railroad net is in good condition and equipment problems have led to reduced service. Steam locomotives have been reintroduced since 2004 as coal is in relatively good supply, while diesel must be imported and electricity shortages are common. Further, the company is seriously indebted, making it impossible to solve this situation without external help. Goods transport has declined, from 18 million tonnes in 1998 to 2 million tonnes in 2010.
- On 27 August 2006 more than 60 people were killed in a head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train 30 km south of Victoria Falls.
- On 3 June 2006 five fatalities occurred in the Ngungumbane rail crash.
- On 1 February 2003 forty people died in the Dete train crash.
Major lines and stations
|Victoria Falls – Bulawayo||Link from Victoria Falls to Zambia Railways, Zambia|
|Bulawayo – Harare||Link from Chicualacuala to Maputo, Mozambique|
|Bulawayo – Francistown||Part of the line is in Botswana
Connects further to Mafeking, South Africa In 1911 Rhodesia Railways was granted a special agreement to preserve its rights of access under the Tati Concessions Land Act, which formally annexed a former territory of Matabeleland, an area including Francistown, to the Bechuanaland Protectorate (modern Botswana).
|Harare – Shamva/Kildonan/Zawi|
|Harare – Mutare||Link from Mutare to Beira Railroad Corporation, Mozambique|
|Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway
|Connects to Beitbridge, South Africa.|
The Zimbabwe National Railways Museum is in Bulawayo; it has a selection of locomotives, railway carriages and other interesting things. One of the exhibits is a Rhodesia Railways class DE2 diesel locomotive.
Well known employees (past and present)
- Former Vice President Joshua Nkomo worked there as a social worker in 1948.
- Roy Welensky the last Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland worked as an engineer for Rhodesia Railways before entering politics.
Some real characters who were known throughout the system were employed with the Rhodesia Railways. Be it footplate staff, guard, shunter, way and works or administrative staff each of them was a rail men and made the railways what it was. Most of them have now passed on but there are still some very much alive. If only they would tell their stories. Some years ago someone mentioned that a Mr Nyenhuis (Senior Locomotive Inspector) had written a book about his years on the footplate.
- Railway Union Reports (by: International Transport Workers' Federation):The restructuring and privatisation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) . Issue 6 - July 2008
- Turk 1976, p. 76
- Turk 1976, pp. 76–77
- "REFURBISHING FOR MORE ZIM STEAM LOCOS". Railways Africa. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
- "BULAWAYO STEAM". Railways Africa. 12 December 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- Africa news.com: Zimbabwean trains held in China over debt. 6 December 2010.
- "NRZ FREIGHT STATS PLUMMET". Railways Africa. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- "Victoria Falls train crash claims five lives". ZimObserverNews (in English). 28 August 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2006.
- BBC News: 40 die in Zimbabwe train crash. 2 February 2003
- Durrant, A E (1997). The Smoke that Thunders. Harare: African Pub. Group. ISBN 1779011342.
- Hamer, Edward D (1983). Steam locomotives of Rhodesia Railways: the story of steam 1892-1979. Malmö: Stenvalls. ISBN 9172660775.
- Hamer, Edward D (2001). Locomotives of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Malmö: Stenvalls. ISBN 9172661526.
- Robinson, Neil (2009). World Rail Atlas and Historical Summary. Volume 7: North, East and Central Africa. Barnsley, UK: World Rail Atlas Ltd. ISBN 978-954-92184-3-5.
- Turk, Andrew (February 1976). "Garratts Galore". Railway World (Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan): pp. 76–78.
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