Pamenus Tuso, Showbiz Correspondent
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s Mother’s Day steam train ride proved to be a huge tourist attraction on Sunday as it attracted enthusiasts from as far as France and Italy.
On Sunday, NRZ marked Mother’s Day by organising a 200km round steam train ride from Bulawayo to Plumtree. Local and international steam train lovers participated in the excursion – the longest trip so far this year.
NRZ business manager for passenger services, Munyaradzi Masaka, said the company decided to promote the steam train brand because of historical and aesthetic appeal.
“Our steam train is proving to be a huge tourist appeal in its own right. On Sunday, steam train enthusiasts from as far France, Italy and Harare took part in the ride to Plumtree,” Masaka said.
“A German client will be also bringing customers in the country to simply photograph the steam train. A British client will be also hiring the steam train this year.”
“We have tried to create a service that is both recreational and nostalgic. Among those people who took part on the ride were people who once worked for NRZ as far back as the 1950s. Some of them were enginemen driving the steam train. So this was a very significant event for them because it’s historical,” said the manager.
Some people from Harare as well as former Plumtree High School students also enjoyed the three-hour ride.
“We also had people who were former Plumtree High students. They used this opportunity to ride on a train which they used to ride while going to school from Bulawayo.”
A train enthusiast from Harare, Timothy Bell, who participated in the ride praised NRZ for organising the trip.
“I used to work for the Rhodesian Railways as a shunter. This trip brought good and old memories. I wish NRZ could organise more trips like this. My grand-grand children also enjoyed the ride,” said Bell.
The company has since lined up schools joy rides, Sanganai/Hlanganani expo, a family fun day and Hwange excursions this year.
Before the Mother’s Day ride, the steam train had been popularised in Bulawayo by city socialite – Babongile Sikhonjwa who once celebrated his birthday on the train.
Also, each year, organisers of the Victoria Falls Carnival book the train for what they have themed the train party where thousands of fun lovers are ferried to a bush to party. So popular is the train party that the train goes to the venue three times.