Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana says Zimbabwe’s railway lines and trains are some of the very best in the world in terms of comfort and running on time.
This comes after the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO), and the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) entered into a deal to ease transport problems in major urban areas starting with Bulawayo and Harare.
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On Tuesday Mangwana was among passengers aboard a “ZUPCO” train that took 45 minutes to arrive in Mufakose, a high-density suburb in Harare, from the city centre.
The train left Harare station at 5.30 pm, convenient for many now that business hours have been restored to normal, before arriving in Mufakose around 6.15 pm, although some passengers were dropped off along the way.
The train stopped at Lever Brothers, Lonchivar and Kambuzuma dropping off passengers at the stations where ZUPCO buses were waiting to take them to their final destinations.
Each passenger was then made to pay $40 for the trip by ZUPCO conductors who were manning the platform access gates or on the door to gain access to the train.
Speaking to The Herald after the train journey to Mufakose, Mangwana said the new commuter trains would alleviate transport problems being faced by the people. Said Mangwana:
I have used a number of metropolitan railway lines and trains in my very short life and this matches any that we have used in terms of comfort, keeping to the timetable and the lack of rowdiness on the train.
Actually, in some metropolitan cities, you feel unsafe because there will be drunk people who will be very rowdy to make you feel uncomfortable but in this one, we were seated decently with people having conversations.
Women felt settled and nobody was being molested and even when it got a bit darker, it was still ok.
Yes, the carriages are a bit older. There are some touch-ups that are needed and there is no question about that.
We will need lighting in there and as you can see it’s a little bit darker and people will be safer if there is lighting but it’s the safest mode of travel.
We also got here on time. We didn’t run into traffic. We were not gridlocked somewhere, which you will get when you are driving.
Yes, Government has taken this country in the right direction on this one.
The new Harare commuter train services started on Tuesday afternoon on the Mufakose route with those trying it out given a free test ride.
The Ruwa route is expected to start today and the third service, the Tynwald route, is expected to start Monday next week.
The trains have 10 coaches each and a carrying capacity of 100 passengers per coach. So each train can carry more than 15 busloads of passengers.