1 February 2013

Zambia: Country to Explore Underground Railway System

Recently appointed Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Clive Chirwa yesterday unveiled designs to revamp the railway sector and turn it into a 21st-century railway system that is modern and profitable.

Professor Chirwa said 90 percent of the railway stations in the country were beyond repair and there was therefore need to sink railway stations underground, particularly in Lusaka, adding that this would go a long way in improving the outlook of the sector.

The railways director made these comments during a public discussion hosted by the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ), where he presented new architectural designs and a computer generated simulation on the new look railway system.

Explaining the simulations of the model, Prof. Chirwa said ZRL would establish electric powered trains to run on a rehabilitated network of tracks.

He said having electric trains would be cheaper than using coal power.

He explained that the company was already considering three ways of managing the transition.

Prof. Chirwa said the first way would be to have use a series of solar panels, while the second one is to generate power from Lusemfwa, while the third option would be to partner with ZESCO, whom he said had pledged to support the reconstruction.

Some members of the audience voiced skepticism regarding the implementation of an electric train system, when ZESCO had faced difficulties, blackouts, and load shedding in delivering capacity to both domestic consumers and industry.

Prof. Chirwa further highlighted nine modules to categorise development of the second 921 kilometre railway line that will be built from Chingola to Livingstone at a cost of US$120 million.

The modules have about 100 kilometres each and they include Mayoba 105km, Choma 112km, Monze 101km, Naluama 101km, Chisamba 109km, Luanshima 103km, Kafulafuta 104 km, Mabote 94 km, and Chingola 92 km.

He stated that ZRL's core business model would be to build partnerships with businesses that are centered on five divisions namely.

The divisions are freight, passenger, inter-mine, engineering design and infrastructure commercial.

Prof. Chirwa said these five areas will give ZRL a platform to become not only the country's major employer with over 10, 000 jobs and also make it one of the biggest contributors to the national economy.

And North-West Railways Limited proprietor Enoch Kavindele has pledged his support to Prof. Clive Chirwa's strategies and timeline saying the plans were achievable and should be backed with an effective transport policy.

Mr. Kavindele said a clear transport policy was needed to regulate what was transported on road and on rail and to give independence to both sectors.

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