The National Railways of Zimbabwe launched a new method of operating freight trains on the main line – Express Trains – as a way of enhancing operational efficiency, reducing transit times in the movement of commodities and achieving quick delivery of customers’ cargo.
The new service, which had successful trial runs during the last quarter of 2012 brought much relief to customers who have been yearning for a package with a high degree of consistency, predictability, reliability, as well as offering faster conveyance times for bulk consignments.
From the time the Express Trains were launched at the Stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop in Harare on 12 October 2012, the services have lived up to expectation by meeting customers’ growing needs for better delivery times for their traffic, affordable bulk haul and efficient in-bound and out-bound logistics. Running at specified times, the new service enables customers to precisely plan for dispatches and receipt of their consignments.
Customers can now bid farewell to periods of anxiety and anticipation for the delivery of their cargo since it was established during the trial period that, with Express Trains, it now takes a maximum of 46 and 40 hours to rail traffic from as far as Hwange to Harare and from Beitbridge to Harare respectively, for both local and imported traffic. It even takes far less transit times for movements within intermediate stations.
Express Trains were launched at an opportune time when the NRZ is currently heavily engaged in the movement of coal to thermal power stations in Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare – a move that is assisting the nation to power industries and for domestic use when the main sources of power, Kariba hydro power station and Hwange Thermal Power Station are undergoing major annual service. Furthermore, Express Trains could not have come at any other better time as well than during the time when the NRZ is involved in the movement of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and agricultural equipment, among others to support agricultural growth in the country.
The NRZ is also transporting cement to the local and export markets in addition to other commodities such as wheat, sulphuric acid, fuel, raw and processed sugar to local markets and for export.
With the recently launched Express Trains the NRZ is now poised to satisfying customer transport needs, re-capture lost traffic and grow new customers. The aim is to unleash its full potential and make rail the first choice of moving bulk freight and passengers.
One of the major areas the NRZ is working on is refurbishment of locomotives and wagons to boost its current capacity. The on-going refurbishment and repair of locomotives and wagons is aimed at increasing the NRZ’s fleet and enhance operational capacity. The NRZ is also strengthening wagon management structures at terminals to facilitate effective and efficient utilization of the available wagon fleet.
The NRZ is also soliciting private companies to participate in the Public Private Partnership programme in an effort to capacitate the organization and enable it to play its key role of being the backbone of Zimbabwe’s transport industry that sustains the country’s economic recovery. Some companies have participated in the refurbishment of wagons and locomotives. So far 1 100 wagons and 10 locomotives have been churned out and released to the existing fleet through the PPP programe.
Efficient movement of Express Trains is greatly buoyed by the on-going mainline track rehabilitation programme where cautions (speed restrictions) which hamper the fluidity of train movements have been greatly reduced.
Customers are encouraged to opt for Express Trains, a new service that guarantees improved service delivery by contacting the NRZ Marketing Office in Bulawayo, Gweru or Harare.