The International Steam Pages

Steam on the Zambezi Sawmills Railway

Thomas Kautzor emailed me this report which is taken from A firsthand report and pictures would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, 26 October 2007 
'Dinner Excursion' trains have been launched by the enterprising Bushtracks Africa concern, featuring a 20km run on the historic Mulobezi line west of Livingstone through the Zambezi River Valley. 

In terms of a programme launched on 24 October 2007, guests are fetched at 17:00 from the Royal Livingstone Hotel in air-conditioned vehicles for a 15 minute drive to the Bushtracks siding, where photographs can be taken.

The train departs at 17:45, passing through Dambwa Township and running parallel to the Zambezi River. Guests enjoy drinks before dinner as they travel through the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Game Park while the sun sets across the water. A four-course dinner is served just after 19:00 when the train stops for water at the 20km peg. Fine cuisine and excellent wines are provided by Sun International's Royal Livingstone restaurant.

The return journey begins at approximately 20:00 and dinner continues while the train makes its way back to Livingstone. Disembarking at the Bushtracks siding, guests are driven back to the hotel, arriving by about 22:00.

The Royal Livingstone Express is made up of five carriages: two dining cars, a kitchen car, lounge car and observation car, and is hauled by either class 10 no 156 (of 1922) or class 12 no 204 (of 1928), both 4-8-2 types long resident in Livingstone. They were built by the well-known North British Locomotive works in Glasgow.

The dining-car Wembley was constructed by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company and went on display in London at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924. It was exhibited at Wembley again in 1925 and then shipped to South Africa. A type A-22, noted for the seven pairs of carved interior hardwood pillars, it had been earmarked for preservation but allowed to deteriorate into very poor condition. It has been magnificently restored by Rovos Rail in Pretoria. 

[According to Bushtracks publicity material, the Mulobezi line, constructed by Zambezi Sawmills in 1916, was once “the largest privately owned railway network in the world”. Hmmm. Then the second biggest must have been the Canadian Pacific railway, whose 4,672km Montreal-Vancouver line was completed in 1885. - editor]

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Rob Dickinson