Blue Train still grounded

Loughty Dube



THE launch of the eagerly-awaited Blue Train service linking Zimbabwe and Botswana has failed to take off after it emerged that the National Railways o

f Zimbabwe (NRZ) could not mobilise enough resources to resume the once popular rail service.


The Blue Train passenger and goods train service between Francistown and Bulawayo was suspended seven years ago due to viability problems. The service was set to resume at the beginning of this month.


However, NRZ management has postponed the relaunch to a later date after a meeting held by
officials from Botswana Railways and the NRZ before the Easter holidays failed to come up with a timeframe for the resumption of the rail service.


Sources at the NRZ said the parastatal could not harness enough locomotives needed to resume the rail service, leading to the shelving of the project.


NRZ public relations manager, Fanuel Masikati, however refuted claims that the plans had been shelved and said deliberations on the matter were still ongoing.


“As you are aware, since this project also involves the governments of Zimbabwe and Botswana, there are also deliberations at that level. We expect all the loose ends to be tied up soon,” said Masikati.


Pressed to commit a date for the resumption of the project, Masikati said the service could be up and running by mid-May this year.


“We expect to do a test run of the route before we resume service but that is likely to be done by May and everything will be on course after that,” Masikati said.


He however dismissed claims that the NRZ had no resources for the project and said the involvement of the two governments meant that things had to be done above board.


“The cross-border train service has not been abandoned altogether but there are still deliberations at government-to-government level. We expect to launch the service soon,” Masikati said.