September 29, 2005

Zimbabwe to bring steam trains back into use

Zimbabwe is to go back to using steam locomotives to boost its ageing fleet of diesel trains and attract tourists, the state-run Herald newspaper has reported. The country has an acute shortage of foreign currency needed to import fuel and spares, but most of the spares for the steam trains can be found locally, the report says. Zimbabwe also has plenty of coal. According to Fanuel Masikati, public relations manager of the National Railways of Zimbabwe. these special steam safari trains were also expected to generate foreign currency for the country. It would cost around Z$2 billion (US $77 000) to refurbish 10 steam engines, some dating from the 1950s. The railways planned to have five of the engines in use by the end of the year and the others by the end of next year, the newspaper said. Zimbabwe phased out its steam locomotives and replaced them with diesels more than 10 years ago. Details were not available of the condition of equipment needed to run the steam engines, such as coal-loading machines. (Cape Times, South Africa)

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