Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will on Monday resume urban commuter train services in Bulawayo with residents paying $16 per trip.
According to the parastatal, the City- Cowdray Park route is coming back while an additional one the City-Emganwini route has been introduced to solve transport challenges.
NRZ is re-introducing the Freedom Train on Bulawayo routes first, before taking the service to other cities such as Harare.
The development is likely to stem transport shortages as the phased schools reopening that started last month unfolds.
Commuter train services were suspended in March following the outbreak of Covid-19 which has killed 242 Zimbabweans.
Its reintroduction reflects the gradual re-opening of the economy by the Government which started with the tourism sector and extended to airports that were allowed to resume domestic flights on September 2. Inter-city road travel resumed also on September 15 to help examination classes travel to their respective areas for the opening of the Third Term.
On Tuesday, Cabinet resolved to reopen the country’s borders in a phased manner for pedestrians and private vehicles starting from December 1.
NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika yesterday said measures have already been put in place to ensure that residents are not exposed to Covid-19.
Commuters will pay $16 per trip, the same amount paid to board Zupco bus while Zupco kombis are charging $24. Train users will have the added advantage of paying using Ecocash, swipe and cash.
Mr Maravanyika said commuters will not be allowed into the train without properly wearing masks. They will have their temperature checked and hands washed or sanitised before boarding.
“The National Railways of Zimbabwe is resuming its commuter train service in Bulawayo which was suspended in March following the outbreak of Covid-19. We will start operating on Monday 2 November 2020 and in addition to the City-Cowdray Park Route which has been running since 5 November 2018, an additional service will be introduced on the City-Emganwini route,” said Mr Maravanyika.
He said the extension of the service to Emganwini was a result of requests by residents and civic leaders who asked the parastatal to extend the service for people staying in the south-western suburbs.
“Fares for the commuter trains will be pegged at $16 per trip and payment can be made using cash, Point of Sale (POS) machines or Ecocash. The City-Emganwini train will leave the Bulawayo Station at 5AM and arrive at Khami at 5.30AM,” he added.
Mr Maravanyika said the train will leave Khami at 6AM and arrive at the Bulawayo Station at 6.50AM.
“For the evening run, it will leave Bulawayo Station at 5.20PM arriving at Khami at 6.20pm. The return trip leaves Khami at 6.45PM and arrives in the city at 7.15PM,” he said.
“The morning service to Cowdray Park leaves Bulawayo Station at 4.10AM and arrives at Pasi Pasi at 5.25AM. It leaves for the city at 5.45AM arriving at Bulawayo Station at 7AM.”
Mr Maravanyika said in the evening, the train will leave Bulawayo Station at 5.30PM and arrive at 6.45PM at Pasi Pasi.
“It departs Pasi Pasi at 7.05PM and arrives at Bulawayo Station at 8.40PM. The commuter train service will run from Monday to Friday and there will be no service during weekends and public holidays.”
He said the coaches will be disinfected every day to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
“People suspected to be infected with Covid-19 will not be allowed to board the train. Security personnel will be deployed aboard trains to ensure strict enforcement of Covid-19 regulations,” he [email protected]