(Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by ZIMDAILY EDITOR)
HARARE – Commuter passenger rail service is expected to start this afternoon with three routes at peak periods along the main east-west railway line through Harare as Zupco and National Railways of Zimbabwe introduce rail coaches to ease congestion in and out of the city centre to the eastern and western suburbs.
Similar services in Bulawayo are now being arranged. The Harare trains are scheduled to start carrying passengers this afternoon and the fare will be the same as those charged by Zupco buses and kombis on the same routes, $60 a trip. Zupco is planning feeder services from the suburban stations that passengers can use on the same ticket as the train, so there will be no extra charge for the final leg going home or the initial leg going to work.
The move, falling under the Government priority for a decent, adequate and efficient public transport system arose after commuters complained about the waiting period at terminuses in the early morning and later afternoon when it became apparent Zupco and its franchise holders were taking too long to move commuters at these times.
The reopening of schools has also added to the demand. People had resorted to mushikashika and other illegal transport but the recent blitz which sees passengers as well as operators fined had meant more people wanted legal public transport.
Friday afternoon saw serious congestion at city terminuses. Besides the rail service, Zupco is now on a drive to recruit more franchise holders and has invited all owners of roadworthy buses and kombis to join the fleet and is working with the police to see how buses can be given priority at peak periods so as to speed-up turnaround times.
According to the initial rail timetables issued by Zupco, the three rail services will run from the city centre to Ruwa, Tynwald and Mufakose. The Tynwald route sees the coaches leaving Harare railway station at 5:45am and arriving in Tynwald at 6:30am with stops at Lever Brothers, Lochinvar, Kambuzuma and Warren Park. It leaves Tynwald on the return trip at 6:45am and with the same stops arrives in the city centre at 7:30am.