Steam trains have proved so popular with tourists that the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is to refurbish seven additional locomotives, bringing the operational fleet to ten. This has been officially announced by public relations manager Fanuel Masikati. He told the Bulawayo Chronicle that the engines are used for rail leisure safari trips, targeting mainly tourists.
A recent trial run from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls was very well received. 'Our target was 200 passengers but the event was oversubscribed and we ended up with more than 300. In response, we decided to refurbish additional locomotives to meet expected demand,' he said. It is planned to run steam safaris on special days such as the Mother's, Father's, Valentine's and family fun days, on three routes. These are Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Bulawayo-Plumtree and Bulawayo-Mbalabala.
According to Masikati, NRZ is looking forward to the much-needed additional income, which would increase revenue inflow. Following the successful Victoria Falls trip, enquiries are flooding in locally and internationally from individuals and families that want to ride on the trains. 'Right now we are going to exhibit the safari train at the Sanganai-Hlanganani travel expo, to be held this year in Harare.'