The Tracks section, under the Infrastructure branch is responsible for the safe railroad movement of customer goods and services. This branch carries all timeous restoration, repair and / upgrade of sections to ensure that there is minimum downtime and delay in service provision. This entails removal of existing temporary speed restrictions (cautions) and stabilizing the track to minimize further occurrences. Scheduled rehabilitation is also undertaken of the railroad to required technical specifications and set quality standard to ensure that it remains in an optimally safe railway network. A significant section of track needs immediate attention through re-railing of worn-out, cracked rails and slippers.
Projected growth plan / Areas to be worked on
There is projected expansion or stabilization of the existing rail network as follow:
- Reach new rail-heads e.g. Hwange Colliery Chabba Mine railway link line to Thomson Junction station. This is to provide a railhead at the product source (Chabba mine) , eliminate double handling of the commodity and increase the loading capacity at source (uplift larger volumes).
- Harare – The Mount Hampden to Bindura line and also the Kildonian line upgrade to meet increased volumes on the sections.
- Plumtree – Chicualacuala railway line upgrade to cater for coal movement from Botswana into the country.
SIGNALS AND TELECOMMUNICATION FUNCTION
Signals Function in Train Operations
- To provide safe and smooth train operations.
- To facilitate for optimum utilization of line capacity.
Services Provided by the Function
Services provided by the NRZ Signals Function are the following:
- Train Control or Signalling Systems for safe and efficient movement of trains
- Power Remote Control (PRC) Systems for electric power control on the electrified section
- UHF 2-way radio or other wireless voice communication systems for operator to train, security and service personnel communications
- Provision of backhaul communication systems based on fibre and microwave radio technologies to cater for the following in addition to the above listed services:
- Data (WAN links)
- Analogue voice telephone and VoIP systems to provide voice telephone services
- Auxiliary systems such as:
- Hot Box Detectors (HBD)
- Trailing Gear Detectors (TGD)
- Train Integrity or End of Train systems
- Rail-road level crossing protection
- Video and tele-conferencing facilities
- Public address systems at workshops and stations (mobile and fixed)
- Passenger Information Display systems at stations
- Security Systems such as Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) and Access Control Systems
- GPS for asset monitoring and tracking
- Workshops for repair of electronic office equipment, radios and electromechanical equipment (for signalling systems)
- The National Railways of Zimbabwe plans in future to install modern signalling and telecommunications systems that will have minimal track-side equipment to replace the old CTC system. This has been necessitated by the numerous cases of vandalism and theft of track-side equipment that happened in the past. This approach will also reduce the installation costs as minimal cable works will be required.
- Communication backhaul systems will be optic fibre based for all the main (major) railway lines with the option of using microwave radio backhaul systems on the branch (minor) lines. Modern wireless voice communication systems specifically developed for railway use will be introduced to replace the current UHF 2-way radio communication systems in use currently.
- The life expired analogue voice telephone network will be replaced with a modern digital voice telephone system.
The section exists to facilitate, provide and manage the electrical energy needs of the organisation and to design, procure, maintain and monitor electrical equipment and infrastructure that is critical to operational efficiency of the organisation and the safety of all users’ staff and the public alike.
Among the major responsibilities the following are notable;
- Substations and other electrical distribution infrastructure – The section operates and maintains a total of 58 high voltage (11kV) substations) system wide. These provide power to key workshops, running sheds, communication equipment, signaling installations operating buildings and yard equipment.
- Standby plants and power plants – A total of 89 standby plants are installed in all key operating points to mitigate against the effects of loss of the supply authority power due to equipment failure or load shedding. This backup power ensures smooth operations and ensures the safety of equipment and staff. The section carries the installation, commissioning and maintenance of these plants. Research and upgrading in line with technological advances are carried out to improve life expectancy and mitigate against obsolescence. Power plants are key in providing power in emergency situations such as derailments to aid in quick recovery.
- Air conditioning plants and Refrigeration Equipment. These are maintained as per design specifications. The plants in all key installations which may fail due to heat induced faults. Other plants are in operating buildings in climatic areas to provide a conducive work environment thereat. Refrigeration equipment in rolling stock and operating buildings are also maintained.
- Workshop equipment and machinery – Through its workshops located in various centers system wide the equipment, cranes, workshop plants are maintained in good working order.
- Provision of artificial lighting in all major yards and operating buildings. This enables yard operations to take place 24 hours a day and also ensures the safety of staff and customer goods.
- Provision of specialist services and electronic repairs and servicing- Through the Electrical Test laboratory electronic repairs of equipment and locomotive cards is undertaken. Designs and improvements in line with modern trends and system needs is undertaken in conjunction with the drawing office.