Zimbabwe Digital News
A massive transformation, re-awakening and integration of regional railway systems is currently taking place between South African, and Zimbabwean railway networks – involving both passenger and freight trains.
South Africa’s Shosholoza Meyl (long distance passenger train) from Johannesburg – Polokwane – Musina, which was discontinued in 2014 due to rationalisation of train services, will start running again from Wednesday, February 28.
Sources close to the arrangements told Zimbabwe Digital News this week that due to popular demand for the service, the Shosholoza Meyl, through the Passenger Rail Assosciation, would announce the train schedule for the Joburg-Polokwane-Musina route (on Friday February 23) at an event to be presided over by acting PRASA Group CEO Cromet Molepo.
“There is a huge demand for train services on the Johannesburg-Polokwane-Musina route. Apart from passengers travelling between Gauteng and Limpopo, this train will be attractive to thousands of cross-border traders crossing the border at Musina coming from, or going to Zimbabwe,” sources said.
The Shosholoza Meyl train will the launched at Johannesburg’s, Park Station (Premier Classe Lounge) at 10am.
Meanwhile the Transnet SOC Ltd-Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) Consortium this week delivered rolling stock to the long-struggling National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to strengthen regional integration, trade and the recapitalisation of the Zimbabwean railway programme.
This historical transaction between a South African-Zimbabwean consortium and NRZ, estimated at just over $400 million, will contribute to the realisation of the north-south corridor programme in the SADC region.
This week’s delivery or rolling stock will contribute to the region’s plans to perform an uninterrupted intra-trade and efficient railway system cementing Transnet’s Africa strategy which will see railway, terminal and ports integration throughout the continent, a statement from Transnet said.
To address Zimbabwe’s immediate railway capacity shortfalls, the consortium has entered into a six-month lease agreement for the rolling stock; the agreement is renewable on demand.
North-south corridor programme in SADC
The delivery of the rolling stock also emphasises the Zimbabwean narrative that, “Zimbabwe is now open for business”.
In a watershed moment President of Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa together with members of his Cabinet witnessed the presence of Transnet’s rolling stock targeted for the interim solution that includes the following:
· 7 locomotives
· 151 wagons
· 5 passenger coaches
· 1 Kitchen car
· 1 power car
The intervention of the interim solution agreement will be followed by the main solution contract through the consortium in response to the bid submissions as follows:
• 24 new mainline locomotives
• 10 new locomotive shunters
• 13 NRZ shunters to be refurbished
• 200 general purpose wagons
• 768 NRZ wagons to be refurbished
• 162 new passenger coaches
Transnet’s Group Chief Executive Siyabonga Gama said: “The nature of this contract and the relationship with neighbouring and continent-wide rail, ports, and pipeline logistics providers tells a story of how Transnet strives to collaborate and grow its footprint on our African Continent, Middle East and South Asia. This is not only a historical event, but a key economic contribution to the milestones set out for Zimbabwe.”
The delivery of the new and refurbished rolling stock will be finalised and announced in the near future as the Consortium and Zimbabwe Authorities conclude all the required governance processes and agreements.
The new railway equipment for the mainline solution will be manufactured in South Africa by Transnet through its advanced manufacturing arm. This accomplishment will also reinforce Transnet’s transition from its current Market Demand Strategy to Transnet 4.0 strategy.
The main growth thrusts of Transnet 4.0 includes the expansion of the company’s manufacturing business, with leading technologies to enhance new and existing products and improve business processes.
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