The International Steam Pages

Steam In Zimbabwe, June 2010

Ralf Mandera reports on his June 2010 visit, it's slightly at variance with what seems to have been intended for the world cup period - see the report on this site from May 2010. Quite where 525 was is material.

Just got back from Zimbabwe where I managed to slip to Bulawayo for a couple of days. With regards any of the 'news' about it being unsafe I would say to anyone who wants to go (I flew into Vic Falls, so can't speak for Harare), get on with it as the locals were no problem. You may need to get an indemnity signed by the station master at Bulawayo for the steam shed if the Security ask but after we got this they were quite happy for us (travelling with the wife) to footplate it.

Anyway the news is good or bad depending on your viewpoint.613 was in steam and shunted the station on the 11th June which seemed to be no problem, with the possible exception of any active QJ', this might be the largest 'active' steam left...who knows...if so first time that a British built loco has held that moniker for probably a century). Anyway In the shed 395 (what ever that was originally! was it 424?) had been working a day or two before hand but had blown something in the boiler so it was waiting to be repaired. 613 was the only other loco that might be repaired although it won't be active for some time judging by the various bits missing. The drivers seemed confident though. In Vic falls 512 was cold but the baboons found it useful for the occasional drink of water. It does get run every week or two at present for the train to the bridge but that is it. The 'Steam Safaris' every month seem to be operating (I think that's what 395 had been on) and it would seem that as long as there is a loco available these will continue.

As a footnote with regards to the 20 class Garretts. Was talking to a couple of different old guys. Jonathon...who used to drive them and commented on the size of trains these things were capable of moving and also the 'Texas Ranger' a slightly eccentric Expat who still works as a clerk for the railways .He said that some years ago 5 20th class Garratts were completely rebuilt by a third party but owing to some decision from on high were steamed straight to the scrap dealers rather than back to work...a sad day.

There seemed to be no steam activity at Thomson Junction for Wankie apart from a diesel.

512 at VF:

611 active in Bulawayo:

Rob Dickinson