THE Botswana Express Train has announced plans to resume the Francistown-Bulawayo route service on trial basis as it evaluates the business viability of the business.
The train is expected to arrive from Francistown at about 7am today departing from Bulawayo at 2pm. Today’s passenger trial run follows a successful one that was conducted by officials from Botswana Express Train and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) on Monday. NRZ public relations manager 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 Francis Town to Bulawayo Railways Station. On Monday the railway trial run was just for NRZ and Botswana officials. The initiative is for Botswana Rails although working with the NRZ. They will start the passenger trial run tomorrow (today) but they say it will go for a couple of weeks or a month in trying to see how the train will be running,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said NRZ was set to benefit from the partnership with Botswana as it will confirm to investors the capabilities of the parastatal to work with other partners. Mr Maravanyika said NRZ will also benefit from the partnership through sharing of expertise between the two parties.
“In terms of benefits, the NRZ are coming 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 out 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 Francis Town- Bulawayo rail connectivity.
“It is going to help in terms of tourism as some people will come to Francis Town 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.