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Zimbabwe Railways

The rail system was built in the early 1900’s (part of it represents a segment of the Cape-Cairo railway) and has not been revamped since. As a result of 100 years of use, a number of sections are deteriorating with the track cracking and the foundations sagging. Lack of maintenance has led to faulty points resulting in numerous derailments.  The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) employed 17,000 staff in the late 1980’s, but today only 4-6000 employees are on hand. Vandalism has paralyzed the communications systems and only shunting is possible with the electric locomotives in urban areas – two way radios are used to facilitate train movements between towns. The geographical spread of the network makes it almost impossible to adequately protect and guard. Four million running tons is possible with the current capacity but this is yet to be proven.

The NRZ is the parastatal railway of Zimbabwe. NRZ operates about 3,000 km of rail at the 1.067 m gauge providing passenger and freight services. NRZ has an important transit function in the southern part of Africa and is well linked with neighbouring countries: toward the north, at Victoria Falls, the system links to the Zambia Railways, crossing the Victoria Falls Bridge. Towards the Indian Ocean, the system links to the Beira Railroad Corporation in Mozambique. A second line towards 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 is provided from Bulawayo by the Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway. The electrified (25kV AC) 313 km Gweru-Harare section has been seriously vandalized and the electric trains have since stopped operating.

The rail sector in Zimbabwe is in dire need of recapitalisation as the wagons, locomotives, tracks and signalling systems are all antiquated and in need of replacement. 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 where 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 4 million tonnes in 2015.

The NRZ network is divided in three operational regions:

  • Eastern Region: Mutare – Harare - Chinhoyi axis, with a branch line to Bindura/ Shamva
  • Midlands Region: Somabhula – Harare with branch line to Masvingo and Redcliff
  • Southern Region: Beitbridge – Rutenga – Dabuka and Chicualacuala – Rutenga; Dabuka – Mpopoma – Victoria Falls

For contact information, please see the following links: 

 4.1 Zimbabwe Government Contact List

For more information on the Zimbabwe railway network, please see the following attachment: Additional Zimbabwe Railway Information

Travel Time Matrix

Travel Time from Capital City to Major Towns (Hours / Days)

 

Harare

Kadoma

Kwekwe 

Gweru

Bulawayo 

Mutare

Chinhoyi

V Falls

Harare

 

 2hr

4hr 

6hr 

 8hr

3hr 

2hr 

18hrs 

Kadoma

 2hr

 

 1hr

 2hr

 6hr

 5hr

 5hr

 16hr

Kwekwe 

 4hr

 1hr

 

 1hr

 4hr

 7hr

 6hr

 15hr

Gweru 

 6hr

 2hr

 1hr

 

 2hr

 8hr

 8hr

 10hr

Bulawayo 

 8hr

 6hr

 4hr

 2hr

 

 12hr

 10hr

 6hr

Mutare 

 3hr

 5hr

 7hr

 8hr

 12hr

 

 5hr

24hr 

Chinhoyi 

 2hr

 5hr

 6hr

 8hr

 10hr

 5hr

 

 20hr

V Falls

 18hr

 16hr

 15

 10hr

 6hr

 24hr

 20hr

 


Capacity Table

Rail Operator Capacity
 

NRZ

BBR

Operates on (lines)

 

1

Locomotives (electric/diesel/steam)

10

10

Freight Wagons (flat bed) / size

255

 

Freight Wagons (high-sided)/size

3,560

 

Freight Wagons (drop-side)/size

1,074

 

Key Route Information

Standard Route Information

 

Route A

 Harare- To Bulawayo

Route B

Bulawayo – To Vic Falls

Route C

Harare – To Mutare

Route D

 Beitbridge – To Bulawayo

Track gauge

1.067

1.067 

1.067 

1.067 

Total track distance (single and/or double)

450km

440km 

280km 

317km

Total track travel time

5hrs

5hrs

3hrs

3.5hrs

Maintenance (Good, marginal, bad)

Bad

Bad 

Marginal 

Marginal 

Companies-consortiums operating on line

One

One 

One 

One 

Traffic frequency (monthly/weekly/daily)

Daily

Daily 

Daily 

Daily 

Security (Good, marginal, bad)

Good

Good 

Good 

Good 

Main stations (Add details below)

Gweru, Kadoma, Kwekwe

Lupane, Hwange 

Marondera, Rusape

Gwanda

Key Stations

Key Station Information

 

Station Name

Station Name

Station Name

Location

Harare 

Bulawayo 

Beitbridge 

Contact Information

marketing1@nrz.co.zw 

marketing1@nrz.co.zw 

 marketing1@nrz.co.zw

Connections with other

transport means

(road/waterways/air)

Rail, Road, Air 

Rail, Road, Air  

Rail, Road  

Storage Capacity

(square meters and cubic meters)

20,000m2 

15,000m2 

3,000m2 

Handling Equipment

Manual 

 Manual

Manual 

Handling Capacity:

TEU / Hour

200mt 

TEU outsourced

100mt 

TEU outsourced

20mt 

TEU outsourced