The International Steam Pages

Steam in Zimbabwe and Zambia, 2023

George  Shields has added a more optimistic update (20th July 2023):

"Garrett class 14A No. 523 is now working regular wine and dine trains in both Zimbabwe and Zambia to the Victoria Fall bridge for Sunset. Zim side on Tuesday and Friday, with Zam on Wednesday and Saturday. With associated l/e movement from Zam to Zim and reverse to work the trains. So 523 is quite busy."

Dave Hallett returned from a trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia in late March 2023 and can report on the following:

Previously Dave sent a similar report covering 2018/9.


Back in 2018 15th class no. 411 was considered for cosmetic restoration and static display in Masvingo to commemorate the Zimbabwean Presidents exploits during the bush war. However, 411 was in such poor condition, that sister loco no. 417 was tidied up and renumbered 411. Like all good projects it never got beyond being towed out of the Bulawayo area. Subsequently, the loco was moved to the Bulawayo Railway Museum in time for a visit there by the President on 30th October 2020. The loco remains there to this day as another exhibit for the museum.

A visit to Bulawayo steam shed on 20th March revealed the following:

14A no. 519 strip out in progress for a retube in the P15 shed.

15th class no. 395 is operational, 16A no. 613 (with front power unit from 611 in poor external condition but advised it is operational. Also located in the P15 shed.

15th class no. 414 in main shed no. 1 road awaiting retube, other than front tank removed, no work commenced but appears to be mated with front power unit from 386, which is missing some motion and LH piston.

16A no. 611 on shed road no. 4 no change from previous visits, tank and tender units removed and motion missing. Mated with front power unit from 613.

The last steam operation was a Valentines day run from Bulawayo to Figtree behind 395 in February 2022. Sadly 395 was failed at Khami due to steaming problems and the excursion completed with diesel haulage.

It appears that there is little likelihood of any steam activity in the near future.


I visited the Bushtracks Safari operation in Livingstone, Zambia, earlier in March 2023 and found 14A class no. 523 being steamed for a run to the Victoria Falls bridge. At the time of my visit, Bushtracks were unable to operate the evening dining train to Jafuta in Zimbabwe due to track access issues with NRZ. That has now been resolved and the Bushtracks Express and Royal Livingstone Express are regular features in the Victoria Falls area. There is little or no progress on 14A no. 520 due in large part to the pandemic in previous years, but I am advised that work will commence soon. 14A no. 512 is parked just across Livingstone Way in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The boiler has been condemned and it is expected to be cannibalised to enable restoration of sister loco no. 516 when that is moved from the Bulawayo Railway Museum at some point in the future.

Rob Dickinson