Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has said it is battling with constant train derailments due to climate change that is damaging the obsolete railway line.
Some cases are caused by vandalism of equipment, but mostly trains derail due to bending and cracking of the rail caused by excessive heat, NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said.
He was speaking in an interview following two derailments on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Harare-Mutare railway lines last week.
The railway company had to suspend the passenger train service between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls for two days last week after a goods train blocked the line at Intuba Siding following derailment.
On Monday, more than 600 passengers had to complete their journey from Mutare to Harare by road after a locomotive derailed at Matinhidza.
“We have kick outs during this time of the year because of heat which causes expansion of the rail. The rail reacts to climatic conditions and because this season temperatures have been too high, the rail has been constantly expanding and contracting causing some bends that lead to kick outs.
“We have quite a number of kick outs happening now and again but no serious damages or losses are recorded,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He called for urgent finalisation of recapitalisation project.
“We need to urgently recapitalise our system because our rail is exposed to climatic conditions unlike in other countries where the rail runs underground. We are calling for investors so that we can recapitalise and replace the old infrastructure which is more than 70 years old,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said because of the old infrastructure, passengers are usually delayed as the train speed is now restricted to less than 23km per hour in some areas when it should be about 70km per hour.
Mr Maravanyika said NRZ needs a complete overhaul of the railway track, locomotives, coaches and wagons to cater for both passengers and goods.
He said NRZ moves an average 900 to 1 200 passengers per day per route and the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route is the company’s cash cow. – @ncubeleon