THE Botswana Express Train has announced plans to resume the Francistown-Bulawayo service on trial basis as it evaluates the viability of the route.
The train is expected to arrive in the city from Francistown at about 7AM today, departing from Bulawayo at 2PM for the return journey. Today’s passenger trial run follows a successful one that was conducted by officials from Botswana Train Express and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) on Monday.
NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika yesterday confirmed the move saying both parties were confident the trial run would yield positive results after the operators stopped services in the early 2000s.
“These are still trial runs from Francistown to Bulawayo Railway Station. On Monday, the railway trial run was just for NRZ and Botswana officials. The initiative is for Botswana Rail working with the NRZ. They will start the passenger trial run tomorrow (today) but they say it will run for a couple of weeks or a month as they evaluate the service,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said the NRZ was set to benefit from the partnership with Botswana as it would confirm to investors the capabilities of the parastal to work with other partners.
Mr Maravanyika said the NRZ would also benefit from the partnership through sharing of expertise between the two parties.
“In terms of benefits, the NRZ is coming in as a partner and the most important benefit that we have at the moment is gaining investor confidence that we are able to attract another train from another country. We are also looking at a situation where our teams benefit in terms of the partnership as they are going to gain expertise and competence,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika said if the trial run is successful, the public, especially cross border traders, will benefit from the Francistown-Bulawayo rail connectivity.
“It is going to help in terms of tourism as some people will come to Francistown and connect to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. They can use the railway network as NRZ already has a running train connecting the areas. It will also be convenient for small and medium enterprises businesses or the cross border traders as they can use the train for convenience purposes especially at the Plumtree Border Post,” said Mr Maravanyika.