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Published by membersonly, 2019-03-20 19:44:56


23rd March 2019




This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.

Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.

International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY


The Cape Verde Islands may have been Portuguese territory, but their strategic location meant they had one of the four largest
coaling stations in the world at Mindelo on the Island of São Vicente, initially for ships of the British East India Company in 1838,
followed by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 1850. Coal came from Cardiff and other British ports and was transported
by rail to a large storage area in the town, then back by rail to staithes for loading. Today nothing remains of the railways except
pictures on azulejo tiles on the buildings in the marketplace, which occupies part of the area once used for coal storage.

[103] Denmark – Construction of Aalborg Airport branch begins
Aalborg airport is the third biggest in Denmark and attracts sufficient passengers to warrant a dedicated
3km branch line, construction of which has now started. From the beginning of March 2019 to the spring
of 2020, the Banedanmark contractor will construct bridges, dams and tracks on the new line between
Lindholm station and Aalborg airport. The bridges and railway embankments are to be completed by

the end of 2019, after which the construction of the railway itself begins. The line should be ready for
commissioning by the end of 2020.
[104] France – Granville docks line being reinstated
The February 2019 Echo Du Rail is reporting that works were taking place last December to restore the
docks line (including replacing a missing 45metre section of track) in readiness for special trains in the
period 31 July - 4 August to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings. The special
trains would be hauled by PVC Rouen's Pacific 231G558. From the present junction just before Granville
station to the former Gare Maritime is about 2km, initially on reserved way and then street running.

In August 2018 a member noted that the track on the left between the buildings was mainly covered
over by earth, while the track to the right was totally tarmaced over from the end of rails in the picture.
The photograph is taken looking towards the docks.

The end of the reserved way at the Rue du Boscq looking towards Granville SNCF

[105] France – Heritage railway news
In December 2018 AMTP (Association du musée de transport de Pithiviers) at Pithiviers signed a 10 year
convention with the département of Loiret to continue to operate the 600 mm museum line (3 km) from
Pithiviers to Bellebat alongside the RD 22. The département owns the roadside line and financed work
to replace 2400 sleepers and 500 tons of ballast during the winter of 2018/19. This concerns 60% of the
line. AMTP is the oldest railway preservation society in France. It was created in 1966. 5884 visitors
travelled on the little train in 2018 along tracks that were originally part of the narrow gauge network
that was used to transport sugar beet every autumn to the sugar refineries at Pithiviers and Toury.
It is five years since MTVS started to develop a second base in the Oise at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. Regular
readers will be familiar with progress on the project to build a 12 km metre gauge tourist line to St Omer-
en-Chaussée. Two major achievements this winter can be announced.
The extension from the level crossing to Rotangy village was completed in February. This adds nearly 2
km to the line which is now 3.5 km from Crèvecoeur. A loop with a low island platform has been
constructed at Rotangy. Ballasting was in progress during the second half of February.
The second achievement was at the level crossing over the road to Beauvais. The automatic barriers
have been installed and the crossing now functions. The barriers and lights are activated by the train.
Road signs are in place.
In the 4th season at Crèvecoeur the line will be open in the afternoon, on the first and third Sundays of
the month from May to September. The steam train will start to operate along the new section once the
certificate is received from the prefecture after the official inspection. There will be festival days for the
inauguration and the traditional end of season week end. Those dates are not fixed yet.
Courtesy of the French Railways Society

[106] Germany – Rheine avoiding line
The former avoiding line has been entirely removed. This east to south curve allowed trains to run
directly between the Osnabrück and Münster lines. It was traversed by an IBSE railtour on 31 August
1996 and was occasionally used for diversions when the line between Osnabrück and Münster was
closed. Now it is only because the eastern junction was immediately west of the River Ems bridge that
one can locate its site with any confidence.

[107] Germany – Verden (Aller) to Stemmen
There is freight traffic over this Verden Walsroder Eisenbahn line only over the first 2 km, to Verden Ost,
where there are private sidings. The most significant traffic is from a Mars factory that produces about
200,000 tonnes of pet food annually. Thereafter the line is used only by Kleinbahn Verden-Walsrode eV for ‘heritage’ operations, using a diesel shunting locomotive. The track
beyond Verden Ost is in poor condition, with no more than 20 km/hr permitted, and significant lengths
down to 10 km/hr. The line opened in 1911 and participants in a railtour on 16 February 2019 were told
that many of the original rails are still in use. Kleinbahn Verden-Walsrode eV is advertising trains in 2019,
approximately monthly Easter to October. It might be prudent to visit sooner rather than later.

[108] Germany – Some extracts from Der Schienenbus Feb/March 2019
There is an article on line re-openings which list the following as reasonably certain prospects, although
some may, for example, be awaiting political agreement as to finance. The lines are:

Wrist to Kellinghusen (Schleswig Holstein) 2.9 km, Berlin Südkreuz to Blankenfelde 16 km (presumably
the Dresdener Bahn rebuilding), Berlin Gesundbrunnen to Basdorf 19 km. Munster (Westf) to
Sendenhorst 14.8 km, Harsewinkel - Verl 25.1 km, Mettmann - Stadtwald to Wuppertal Vohwinkel
(which involves some new construction) 6.4 km, Euskirchen to Düren 30.2 km, Lollar to Londorf 14.1 km,
Kassel to Baunatal-Grossenritte (presumably some of the ex DB goods line used by the Hessencourier
Museum trains) 9.5 km [The last 3.3 km of this is the section of the Naumburg line used by RBK],
Wolfersheim to Hungen 12.1 km, Homburg to Zweibrücken 11.1 km, Ehrang to Konz (the line through
Trier West) 15.7 km, Calw to Weil der Stadt 22.9 km, Kleinengstingen - Gammertingen 19.7 km,
Gessertshausen - Markt Wald 27 km, Gunzenhausen - Wassertrudingen 14.6 km. Also listed is the line
which served the recently closed colliery at Kamp Lintfort.
Steinhuder Meer-Bahn - Wunstorf to Kaliwerk Sigmundshall
The only remaining source of traffic on this line was the Kali (Potash) works Kaliwerk Sigmundshall,
owned by the company K + S (Kali und Salz), but transport of Kali ceased at the end of last year. Museum
trains ceased some years ago. There are fears that the line could close altogether, although the
possibility of removing a sizeable spoil heap by train remains. Over the years and when fully open the
Steinhuder Meer-Bahn has had standard gauge and narrow gauge sections.
Ahlen (Westf) Gbf - Ahlen Ost - this former goods line, currently out of use, may be revived. Subsidies have
been received towards the re-opening. Potential traffic is steel coils. Other customers have expressed
interest in using the link.
Rheinkamp - Kamp Lintfort. This is due to re-open for a garden festival (Landesgartenschau) in 2020,
be extended at some stage to Kamp Lintfort Mitte by December 2021 and also electrified. A company
to own the line has been set up by the local council (Niederrheinbahn GmbH) and the preferred operator
is RATH Gruppe from Düren.
There is a report that the goods lines between Hamm and Bielefeld may be used by passenger trains
with calls by Inter City trains at Gütersloh being dropped as a result. This is due to long term upgrading
work on the passenger lines and at Bielefeld.
Osbergshausen – Waldbröl - As reported in the international supplement to BLN 1323, this line should
reopen shortly - in addition to the work listed, there is still work to be completed on the viaduct at
The Selters to Altenkirchen goods branch in the Westerwald was said to be under threat as the WEBA
(Westerwaldbahn) withdrew from operations and ownership. However the Lappwaldbahn has taken
over both ownership and operations from 26 November 2018. Track was said to be deteriorating but
the Lappwaldbahn intends to carry out refurbishment work.
The line from Landsberg (Lech) to Schongau was also said to be under threat. The Augsburger Lokalbahn
took over as operator from DB in 1998, but a substantial reduction in the tonnage of goods carried
forced them to withdraw last year. In a surprise move DB Cargo have stepped in to continue to provide
services, so the line will not close.

[109] Germany – The present use of line 6575
Line 6575 ran between Forst and Weißwasser near the Polish border. Most is now closed, but the
northern end remains open as far as Simmersdorf (km 22.906) where the company Overseas GmbH
transport coal and fertiliser by rail for onward distribution by road. Another user of the line is
LogistikDienstleister Lion who have a container terminal 3.6km south of Forst at the Forst Business park.
There is no room for expansion, so Lion are building a new container terminal at Kodersdorf, between

Horka and Görlitz. The Forst site will remain in use, but dealing with transport of items such as combine
harvesters, tractors and large plant components to Bremerhaven.

[110] Hungary – Narrow gauge branch to reopen?
The Balaton narrow gauge system was once quite extensive, but today only the section from
Balatonfenyves to Somogyszentpál remains in operation. There is a 6km branch off this line from
Imremajor to Csisztapusztai Gyógyfürdő, which is a spa town. Steam trains to the spa were a major
tourist attraction until the line closed in 2002 due to poor track condition. Now Balatonfenyves town
council and several others in the area have won funding to completely rebuild the line which runs
through a marshy area. More money is needed, but reopening is looking hopeful.

Map courtesy of

[111] Poland - Observations from the Turkol tour of North East Poland (Part 2)
Day two started with the 20km line from Ełk to Olecko, freight only now and apparently used by 8 trains
a day. Shortly after leaving Ełk, what should be seen on the left of the train but a real live Elk. Our
members had a bit of a chuckle at the thought of an Elk seen near Ełk. The pun only works in English as
the Polish name Ełk does not refer to the animal, and is pronounced more like ‘yewk’ anyway.
Passenger services from Ełk to Olecko were suspended in May 1998 but restarted and ran from 2005 to
2012 when the Voivodeship decided not to fund passenger trains due to low ridership. Track condition
was good. The line used to continue for 37km from Olecko to Gołdap, which was once an important
junction station not far from the border with Kaliningrad, and there was a line across the border until
1945. Passenger services ended in April 1993 and freight in June 2002. The track is still present, but
seriously deteriorated so a complete renovation of the line would be required to allow traffic to restart.
There is considerable interest from local government officials and entrepreneurs from the Polish-
Kaliningrad region, along with their counterparts from the Kaliningrad Oblast, in reopening the Olecko
to Gołdap line, and indeed extending it into Kaliningrad. This would require rebuilding 3km of railway
on the Polish side and 8 km on the Kaliningrad side. There was a conference in Gołdap in 2018 about the
railway, but, while everyone attending was in favour, the likelihood of this happening for a town of
13,470 people must be dubious. The Olecko avoiding curve being lifted means that trains wishing to

continue to Suwałki must reverse in the old station. Progress was much slower on the 43 km line to
Suwałki – also freight only.

The Turkol tour at Olecko

The tour now headed south towards Białystok and reversed at Sokółka to visit the cross border line to
Grodno in Belarus. Local trains only get as far as the border station at Kuźnica Białostocka. To go further
requires either a Belarus visa or to be travelling with a registered tour group only in an area around
Grodno. The tour was at Kuźnica Białostocka when TLK 41107 arrived. This is the 03:45 from Gliwice to
Grodno and spends an hour at Kuźnica Białostocka on border formalities before continuing on the
standard gauge tracks across the border to Grodno where it rapidly turns round to return.

The TurKol tour trains stands in the standard gauge platforms at Kuźnica Białostocka. Note that the
overbridge is purely for border staff required to view the train, and is locked off when no cross border
train is present.

BLNI 1313.368 reported the works to reopen line 52 between Lewki and Hajnówka, with reopening for
passenger services in June 2019. The first freight ran on the 15 October 2018, and day 2 of the TurKol
tour was shown as travelling the line. And so it did – the first passenger carrying train for 20 years
according to the TurKol tour manager, suggesting that the tradition of local VIPs gricing the first train
had been somehow overlooked. The 48 km line was taken at a very steady pace, often very slowly. It
was noted that construction of new platforms at the sites of four of the old stations was in progress,
with the addition of a new station at Miklasze. Passenger traffic on the line had ended in 1994 and goods
traffic only survived on the easternmost 4km between Hajnówka and Nieznany Bor until 2018. The line
is uniformly flat and agricultural in character with only large villages en route, so how long the passenger
service will last is anybody’s guess. The lines re-opening is part of the revitalisation works for the
Bialowieza Forest Development Program, and weekend trains from Warszawa, Siedlce and Białystok are
planned. Of interest to prospective gricers is that services from Bielsk Podlaski and Lewki will terminate
on the western platform at Hajnowka station, while services from Czeremcha will presumably terminate
on the east side platform. This means the connection between the west side platform and the
Czeremcha to Hajnówka line will not be covered by the local service. It was just as well, then, that the
TurKol tour was going up the freight line to Cisówka, and needed to do the connection!

South of Hajnówka station the lines from Lewki and Cisówka meet by the signal box. The connection from Lewki will probably be
rare in the future, so, understandably, everyone stayed on the train for the outward crossing – just to be sure. No such issues
when the tour returned, so photographs were taken, the penalty being gathering gloom as daylight hours ended. The tour is seen
heading for the west platform at Hajnówka, having reversed south of the junction.

Today services from Czeremcha end at Hajnówka, but until 2004 they continued for a further 32 km to
Cisówka. This is a fascinating section of railway as there are several spurs off the standard gauge to
loading points shared with spurs from a Russian gauge line 3 km to the east. This runs alongside the
standard gauge over the long causeway which crosses the Siemianówka reservoir. Cisówka is on the

other side of the reservoir and this was as far as the tour went. The two lines continue north east with
standard Gauge tracks reaching Svisloch BČ in Belarus. Traffic appears to be timber and coal.

The former ‘station’ at Cisówka is not only far from the town, but has what can best be described as ‘rudimentary’ facilities.

[112] Romania - Otopeni Airport branch tendered
The Romanian railway infrastructure operator Căile Ferate Române (CFR) announced on 12 February
2019 a tender for the planning and construction of a 2.95 km branch to Terminal 1 at the Aeroportul
International Henri Coanda Bucuresti. This will give Otopeni Airport a direct connection to Bucureşti
Nord Station. The project is expected to be completed by the UEFA European Championship in June
2020, with tenders to be submitted by 25 March 2019. The junction will be at km 16.1 between
Mogoşoaia and Baloteşti, just before Odăile h. (km 16.8 of the route Bucureşti - Urziceni - Făurei). The
new route will be elevated from 17.530 km and will have the terminus with the two-track Aeroportul
Otopeni station at km 19.050, south of the terminal. At the moment it is not possible to reach the airport
directly by train as this is about one kilometre from the station P.O. Aeroport h. A free connecting bus is
provided but most passengers choose buses that travel directly to and from the city centre.
[113] Russia (European) – Regular main line steam service starts
There is now a Saturdays only public steam service in Russia between Bologoye and Ostashkov, a
distance of 110 kms. It departs 09:25 from Bologoye arriving Ostashkov at 13:07.There is also a return
working getting back just after 18:00. See the link below which is to a video with captions in English
It looks fairly accessible from the regular Sapsan service between Moscow and St Petersburg, which
stops at Bologoye.

[114] Spain – More on Águilas
A member wrote about his findings at Águilas in BLNI 1323.076, prompting another member to provide
details of his own, earlier investigation, in September 2012.
Back then, the Visitor Centre at the Hornillo was planned, but some way from completion: Spain being
Spain, he wondered whether it would ever materialise, and was delighted to learn that it has.
The "long line of ferry wagons" seen by our original correspondent is explained by the survival in Águilas
of a wagon workshop, perhaps somewhat surprising given that there is no regular revenue-earning
freight traffic nearer than Murcia. Incidentally he thinks it was bogie vans rather than "ferry wagons"
that were observed, as to the best of his knowledge RENFE never owned any ferry wagons, and those
owned/operated by Transfesa were maintained at that company's own workshops elsewhere in Spain.
Águilas was the joint headquarters (the other being in London) of the Great Southern of Spain railway
company, which owed its origins to the export potential of the iron-ore. Its workshops and main depot
were located opposite the station, whose size, even now, reflects former glories. This company built and
operated (pre-RENFE) the lines from Lorca to Baza (towards Guadix) and Almendricos to Águilas. At Baza
and Lorca end-on connection was made with separate companies: hence the origins of the two separate
Lorca stations, Sutullena and San Diego. The Great Southern of Spain was well-known to steam traction
aficionados for its fleet of 25 British-built 2-6-0 locos (built 1889 - 1905, by a variety of builders) which
were much photographed. These proved to be as much at home on passenger trains, singly or double-
headed, as shunting mineral wagons on the Embarcadero, and lasted until the end of steam locally
(December 1967). They were each named after localities served by the railway: 130-2124 "Águilas" was
procured by the town and is plinthed, minus her tender, near the town centre.

The works plate on the plinthed loco shows North British, built 1905 at Hyde Park Works, whereas the "real" 2124
was built by Neilson in 1889, so a 'fix' has obviously happened here..

As befits its history, Águilas is still a pro-rail town, which succeeded in fighting off the threat of the
complete closure of the local rail system that was proposed in 1984 (which put an end to Almendricos -
Baza - Guadix). It has an active enthusiasts' Association "El Labradorcico", which, inter alia, runs a small
but interesting railway museum housed in the station building (open 10:00 - 12:00, 16:00 - 18:00 SuX).
Among its other achievements, the Association organises special trains with RENFE, most notably
chartering a train from Águilas to Puigcerdá in 1989 for locals to visit Andorra.
Back in 2012, RENFE trialled weekend through summer services from Madrid (Friday p.m.)
to Águilas, returning on Sundays, using a TALGO unit. These were considered sufficiently successful to
have been repeated in subsequent summers.
Lorca was the site of an earthquake in May 2011 which caused 9 deaths and considerable damage to
Sutullena station.
Finally, rail-linked staithes roughly similar to the Hornillo survived in use further west at Almería for over
thirty years after those at Águilas ceased to operate: in this case, for export of iron ore from the
Marquesado deposits.

[115] Spain - L'Alcudia -Moixent to reopen in April?
Following a visit to the Valencia area last week, the Minister of Development has announced that train
service will be restored to the L'Alcudia - Moixent section of the Cercanias line C-2 at the "end of April"
after nine years of bus replacement.

[116] Spain - New sleepers for Dénia to Teulada
Valencian rail operator FGV has ordered almost 20,000 new sleepers for the conversion of the existing
heavy rail line between Teulada and Dénia to tramway. The concrete mono-bloc sleepers will cover
17km of track. The budget is for this year, so it is possible that the work will be completed this year.
Dénia station and booking office is still open and the visit revealed that some of the tracks in the station
have been taken up.

[117] Sweden – Sydostlänken to start work this summer
Älmhult is north east of Hässleholm on the line to Stockholm. A non-electrified line ran south from here
to Sölvesborg, but the southern section closed in 1998 leaving a lengthy branch serving the big Volvo
factory at Olofström. Trafikverket is to upgrade and electrify the line in the summers of 2020 and 2021
while Volvo is closed for its summer break. The line south of Olofström to Mörrum is also to be rebuilt
on the old 1067mm gauge alignment, which is about 13km. This will allow access to the important port
of Karlshamn. No mention of a passenger service yet. The new freight route created will be called the
Sydostlänken – south-east link in English.


[118] Australia – Newcastle Light Rail opens
The heavy rail route between Hamilton and Newcastle stations was closed on 25 December 2014 and a
new terminus, Newcastle Interchange, constructed adjacent to the former Wickham station, opening
on 15 October 2017. There were two options for the light rail link into the central business district. The
NSW government supported using the old heavy rail link, but the city decided on a predominantly street
running project, using only the first 500 metres of the old heavy rail line. The new light rail would run

from Newcastle Interchange through the central business district to Pacific Park. Major construction
commenced in September 2017 with the line opening to passengers on 18 February 2019. The 2.7-km
long network, which features six stations, is operated by Keolis Downer. The line is catenary free (a first
for Australia) preserving Newcastle’s urban landscape from overhead wires.

[119] Brazil - Contract signed for the cross-sea monorail in Salvador
February 2019 saw a contract signed to build a SkyRail in Salvador, Brazil, which will be integrated with
the city’s LRT and existing metro system and transport 150,000 passengers per day in this city of 2.9
million people. The construction of the 20-km line will start within six months and be fully operational
by 2021. The coastal route will be partially built above the sea to connect Salvador’s central business
district to São João Island.

[120] Canada – Snippets from British Columbia
Skytrain: A new platform 5 opened at Commercial-Broadway station on 2 February, alongside the track
serving existing platform 4; this allows boarding and alighting to take place on both sides of inbound
Expo Line trains. Three of the fourteen 4-car Mark III Skytrain sets ordered from Bombardier had been
delivered from the Plattsburgh, NY plant by February.
The Canadian: Derailment of a CN freight on 2 January left the eastbound “Canadian” stranded at
Melville, Sask. and the westbound at Winnipeg, Man. Bus transport was quickly arranged each way
between the two stations, enabling passengers to continue their journeys by joining the other train,
which reversed back to its origin, providing the unusual sight of the Observation Car being at the “wrong
end” of each. The 280 mile gap can be covered by road in only 5 hours, as against the 8 hour train
schedule, and final arrivals were 125 minutes late into Vancouver, and 117 minutes early at Toronto. A
further CN derailment on 26 January left the eastbound train stranded at Jasper, Alta.; passengers were
bussed to Edmonton and then flown to Toronto! The train itself returned empty to Vancouver.
Kettle Falls International Railway: Lease of this BNSF cross-border line has been taken over from
OmniTrax by US operator Progressive Rail under a new title, the St Paul & Pacific Northwest
Railroad. The line runs north from Chewelah, Wash. to Kettle Falls where it divides, one line crossing
the border to Grand Forks, B.C. and then back to the border at Daurent, the other also crossing the
border to terminate at Columbia Gardens, B.C.
Alberni Pacific Railway: This tourist line will not operate this year due to the city council withdrawing its

[121] India – Line to reopen fully after mining subsidence concerns
The railway line from Dhanbad to Chandrapura passes over a coal mining area and safety concerns
(presumably due to subsidence) caused the line to be closed from 15 June 2017, though most reopened
in November that year. Recently, authorization for the reopening of the remaining section (Kusunda to
Sonardih) for goods and passenger trains has been received from the Chief Commissioner of Railway
Safety, but only after some works for repair and rehabilitation of the line have been completed.

[122] Morocco – Extension of the Rabat-Salé Tramway Network
At present the tramway runs from Moulay Youssef Hospital in Rabat to Avenue Hassan II in Salé.
Ridership has exceeded expectations and the line is being extended at each end.

From Moulay Youssef Hospital the line will be extended for 2.4km to Alkifah Avenue in the district of
Yacoub El Mansour. Commissioning was scheduled for the end of 2018.
At the Salé end the line will be extended 4.6 km to link the current terminus of Avenue Hassan II with
the new Salé Hospital, running via Zarbia Avenue and serving the districts of Hay Moulay Ismail and Al
Quariat. It will include a new bridge over Ain Houala Avenue which will be 360 metres long and 5.6
metres high. The date of commissioning of this section is scheduled for July 2019. A further 22 trams
have been ordered to operate the extended service.

[123] Nepal – Cross border railway to India kicks off
Nepal has started the procurement process to buy rails and rolling stock for the new railway from
Janakpur in Nepal to Jaynagar Railway Station on the Samastipur Division of the East Central Railway of
Indian Railways.

[124] Zimbabwe - Bulawayo commuter train a rare success
Chugging through townships, maize fields and scrubland as the sun rises, Zimbabwe’s only commuter
train is cheap and reliable — two qualities that its passengers cherish in a downwards-spiralling
economy. Each morning sleepy travellers walk to the tracks and clamber aboard before the train leaves
the Cowdray Park settlement at 6am on its 20-kilometre (12-mile) journey into Bulawayo, the country’s
second city. The hugely popular service was only revived in November after being suspended for 13
years as the rail network collapsed under President Robert Mugabe. At Cowdray Park there is no
platform, and no station except for a makeshift ticket office made out of an old carriage sitting in a field.
En route, the train stops several times in the open to pick up more passengers who stream in from
surrounding homes, climbing up the steps and squeezing into 14 packed carriages. Soon after 7am, it
pulls into Bulawayo’s grand but dilapidated station and disgorges about 2,000 workers, uniformed
school children and other travellers into the city centre, ready for the day ahead. The train is not only
reliable, at 50 cents it is far cheaper than the two dollars charged by kombis (minibuses) after a recent
doubling of fuel prices. Bulawayo once had two commuter train lines carrying workers in from either
side of the city, while the capital Harare had three lines — all of them dubbed “Freedom Trains” as they
allowed passengers to avoid higher road costs. The services were scrapped around 2006, and the
Cowdray Park line is the only one to be re-launched in a $2.5-million project funded by the state-owned
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). Mugabe’s successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa has
backed railway investment as part of his plans to turn around the economy. Apparently just $10 million
would put the other four commuter lines back in operation, starting with the ‘other’ Bulawayo line.
Zimbabwe’s rail network — which includes the dramatic line across the Victoria Falls into Zambia — was
built under British colonial rule, and at its peak in the 1990s had 600 locomotives and 3,000 passenger
carriages. Today it has less than 100 locomotives and a few hundred carriages, running a threadbare
schedule between major cities, and a much-reduced freight service carrying sugar, chrome and quarried
stone. The main line between Harare and Bulawayo — opened in 1907 — was once electrified, but
vandalism stripped it of its copper cables, signalling system and track motors. Today, diesel-powered
trains on the line are often hugely delayed and drivers are often forced to communicate using text and
WhatsApp messages.
Old carriages had to be refurbished to start the Bulawayo commuter service, and some windows on
older carriages are still marked “RR” for “Rhodesian Railways” — Zimbabwe’s name before
independence in 1980.

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