The railway administrators of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique have recently met in the coastal city of Biera, Mozambique to announced the launch of the Lusaka-Biera Express Goods Train which will start running by the end of September 2015 covering a total distance of over 1,000 km throughout the three countries.
The new express goods train will be administrated by Zambia Railways (ZRL), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and the Mozambican Port and Rail Company (CFM) which will contribute with equipment, wagons and locomotives for the new service without stops between both cities.
According to CFM Executive Director, Mr. Candido Jone, the express goods train will contain 20 platforms with a total capacity to carry 240 containers which are meant to transport a total of 10,000 tons of cargo per month at a rate of two days per trip.
ZRL CEO, Prof. Muyenga Atanga, celebrated the initiative and engaged the ZRL to further increase the tonnage capacity to 40,000 tons of cargo per month, since right now the same tonnage is being carried but at a rate of ten days per trip generating an income of USD 3.5 million a month in average.
Regarding to the goods to be transported, CFM Chairperson Victor Gomes, indicated that the express train will be used at the beginning to transport copper from Lusaka to Beira on the down line and taking fertilizer on the up one.
The expectation however is to attract more cargo as minerals, sugar and any other containerized cargo from the roads to the railway to make the trade of Southern African goods cheaper to be more competitive on international markets, according to railway administration’s officials.
According to the Mozambique Regional Gateway Programme (MRGP), ZRL will constantly support the new express goods train to raise its tonnage capacity.
The cargo volume carried on the available railways between Lusaka and Beira grew by 32% to 2.8 million tons in 2013 from the previous year when they were reopened after 25 years of no operations.