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Historical Milestones

  • The development of the railways in Zimbabwe was directed by several considerations among which was the need to establish a line to serve the mining and agricultural enterprises which were fast being established along the Zimbabwean watershed and elsewhere, and to link the land locked country with sea-ports in Mozambique and South Africa.
  • The first train arrived in Bulawayo in 1897.
  • Line construction began from Fontesvilla (55km from Beira, Mozambique) to Umtali (now Mutare) in September 1892 and from Vryburg in Cape Province, South Africa to Bulawayo in May 1893. The latter was completed in October 1897 and the former four months later in February 1898.
  • The link between Harare and Bulawayo took place in October 1902 after the initial construction was brought to a halt by the outbreak of Anglo-Boer war in October 1899 which necessitated the supply of materials via the Beira line.
  • The next stage was the construction of the line northward which began from Bulawayo in 1903 and eventually reached the current Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo border in December 1909.
  • Up to September 1927, the whole system was operated by the Mashonaland Railways Company under the title Beira and Mashonaland and Rhodesian Railways, but as from October 1, 1927 the Rhodesia Railways Company became the working company.
  • The Rhodesia Railways Limited assumed ownership of the whole railway system in the now Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Vryburg to Bulawayo section in 1936. The Vryburg to Ramathlabama (South Africa/Botswana Border) section was later acquired by the South African Railways in December 1959.
  • On 1 April 1947, the Rhodesian government acquired the assets of the Rhodesia Railways Limited. The railway undertaking became a statutory body known as the Rhodesia Railways on 1 November 1949.
  • On 1 July 1967 the rail network was split at the Victoria Falls Bridge with Zambia Railways taking over the northern railway system and Rhodesia Railways the southern one.
  • On 1 June 1979 the title of Rhodesia Railways changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia Railways and finally to National Railways of Zimbabwe on 1 May 1980 after the nation attained its independence.
  • A giant leap in the development of the transport system of Zimbabwe – in fact the single most significant event since the arrival of the railway itself – was made in 1983 with the electrification of the busy mainline, a distance of 305km between Harare and Dabuka marshalling yard near Gweru in the heart of the industrial Midlands. The inaugural train ran on 22 October 1983 after the remarkable successful electrification programme was completed in a time scale of two years.
  • In 1987 the NRZ relinquished ownership of the Botswana section of the railway line and this gave rise to the formation of a separate entity - Botswana Railways.  
  • September 1992 saw the arrival of Diesel Electric (DE) 11 class of locomotives, thereby boosting the main line fleet and enabling the NRZ to cope with greatly increased traffic volumes.
  • Following the acquisition of DE 11 locomotives, steam locomotives were withdrawn from mainline operations in July 1993, but a small number was retained for use on special ‘steam safari’ services.
  • In 1996 the Government of Zimbabwe awarded a BOT concession to New Limpopo Projects Investments Ltd (NLPI), which saw the construction of a new link between West Nicholson where NRZ’s network ended to Beitbridge, thereby providing a more direct rail link between Beitbridge at the border with South Africa and Zimbabwe’s second largest city of Bulawayo. NLPI incorporated a Zimbabwean registered company, Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway Ltd to operate the new link all the way to Bulawayo.The NLPI BOT concession line was inaugurated on 15 July 1999.
  • 1997 saw the turning point in the history of the railways after the deregulation of the transport industry which allowed NRZ to operate as a commercial entity while competing with other players in the transport industry.
  • To mark its 100 years of existence the NRZ, in 1997, ran a train which traced the original developmental route of the railways.
  • A new-look fleet of passenger coaches equipped with state-of-the-art equipment were acquired in 1998 to replace the brown ones plying on the Bulawayo-Harare and Harare-Mutare routes.
  • In 2001 the National Railways of Zimbabwe introduced a commuter train service(commonly known as Freedom Trains) in Harare and Bulawayo to cushion urban commuters from rising transport costs. In Bulawayo the commuter train service was introduced along the Luveve and Emganwini routes while in Harare they ply the Marimba, Dzivaresekwa and Ruwa routes.
  • Passenger trains to service branch lines between Harare-Bindura, Harare-Chinhoyi, Gweru-Masvingo and Bulawayo-Beitbridge were introduced in series from 2003.
  • The Bulawayo-Francistown passenger train service was re-introduced on 19 May 2006.




+1 #1 zimbeva 2017-04-29 00:03
when was Dabuka Marshaling yard opened

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