25 December 2013

Livingstone Railway Museum (Zambia) - ex-SAR Class 7 no 955 and ex-SAR Class 8A no 1126

ZSR #955 followed by #1126 - Railway museum - Livingstone (Zambia). 12 Aug 2012 (c) Tjark van Heuvel as published on Panoramio

Image of ex-SAR engines Class 7 955 and Class 8A 1126 at the Railway Museum in Livingstone, Zambia - date probably in the period 1990-2000 - posted on flickr by user 74009.

Zambezi Sawmills Railways (ZSR) 

[A brief history with focus on ex-SAR (South African Railways) engines]

The Zambezi Sawmills company was founded in 1916 to exploit forests of Rhodesian Teak on the north bank of the Zambezi above Livingstone.

Zambezi Sawmills comprised the partnership entity of Messrs Tombous, Salisbury (presently Harare) and Jacobs Limited, Messrs A. F. Philips and Company (Bulawayo) and W. E. Tongue (Southern Rhodesia).

The timber is hard and strong and termite-resistant and found a ready market as railway sleepers, parquet floors and door and window frames in all parts of Britain’s Rhodesian colonies (including what is now Zimbabwe).

Initially the timber was dragged to the river by oxen and transported by river barge downstream to a point near Livingstone from where it was hauled the few kilometres to the town in wagons running on wooden rails drawn by traction engines modified so that the front wheels ran on the tracks and the large power wheels ran outside them.

In 1917 Zambezi Saw Mills installed new machinery in Mapanda Forest, 48 km west of Livingstone.
By the early 1920s the forests near the river were used up. The teak forests extended three hundred kilometres north-west and a 3 feet 6 inches railway was then constructed into the forests from around  1924 onwards using wrought iron rails which had originally been used for the first railway in southern Africa, the 1861 Capetown-Wellington line.

From Livingstone, where it branches off the Bulawayo-Livingstone-Lusaka main line, the branch line extends about 166 km north-west to Mulobezi, later extended to Kataba (172 km). The private company had eventually created one of the longest logging railways in the world to serve its sawmill at Mulobezi.

In 1925, ZSM (Zambezi Saw Mills) railway changed its name to Zambezi Sawmills Railways (ZSR) and passengers were accepted, travelling at their own risk, perched on top of timber on flat wagons. They were exposed to lions and other wild animals, the weather and fire thrown from locomotive chimneys.

The railway was operated using 2nd-hand locomotives purchased from Rhodesia Railways, South African Railways and Nyasaland Railways - the ZSR operated multi-coloured engines. Interestingly engines were not renumbered under the ZSR - they kept their previous numbers. Over a period of 50 years, some 30+ locomotives appeared on the ZSR roster.

In 1966 two SAR Class 7 locomotives, numbers 955 and 956, as well as four Class 7A and two Class 7B were sold to ZSR.  These eight ex-SAR locomotives joined eight ex-RR Class 7 locomotives that had been acquired by ZSR between 1925 and 1956.

In 1968 the government of the Republic of Zambia, through the Industrial Development Co-operation (INDECO) act acquired a 51% share of all privately owned organisations including the ZSR.

In November 1971 one SAR Class 8A locomotive, number 1126, was sold to ZSR.  This was the last locomotive to be purchased by this logging company. She then worked on forest mainline trains and also on specials on the Mulobezi-Livingstone line until 1973. [Originally built in 1902, by Sharp Stewart and Co. with works no 4862, after being ordered by the Imperial Military Railway, which became the CSAR (Central South African Railways), she became part of the SAR (South African Railways) in 1910.]

The INDECO state involvement led to the ZSR going bankrupt in February 1973, and Zambesi Sawmills Railways ceased trading. The ZSR Locomotive Repair Sheds at Livingstone were abandoned. Railway operations ceased at Mulobezi around 1972, whilst operation of the line to Livingstone was taken over by Zambia Railways in 1973.

In 1976 the National Monuments Commission declared the ZSR site a National Monument, and it subsequently became a railway museum, which was opened officially on 12 June 1987 by the then Zambian President Dr. David Kenneth Kaunda.

NOTE: Curiously in 2012 the Mulobezi Train was still operational - as a life line to the locals living along the old rail track - it ran once a week under a government concession - using diesel power and running at a maximum speed of 15km/h - taking 2 days to go the full distance. More details in a Times of Zambia article may be found at the bottom of this blog page.

In 2013 it was reported that the government railways has taken back control of the line. Apparently operations came to a full halt during 2013, but ZRL (Zambian Railways Limited) plans to resume operations in the 1st quarter of 2014.

ex-SAR Class 7 no 955 - 21 August 2013 image courtesy Alan Middleditch.

ex-SAR Class 7 no 955 - 11 Sept 1997 image on Wikipedia Commons provided by Bahnfrend

While most of the Class 7 locomotives remained at Mulobezi out of use, SAR number 955 is now preserved at the Railway Museum in Livingstone.

Built in 1892 by Neilson and Co. for the Cape Government Railways (CGR), it is now the oldest steam locomotive still in existence in Zambia.

Noteworthy is that one of ZSR's locomotives - ex-SAR Class 7A no 993 - may now be seen in excellent preserved state in the Locomotion - National Railway Museum, Shildon (UK). In 1974, renowned wildlife artist and conservationist David Shepherd donated a helicopter to Zambia to help the local population hunt for poachers. In return, the President of Zambia Dr Kenneth Kaunda donated the locomotive to David Shepherd. Mr Shepherd brought the locomotive back to the UK in 1975, and the engine was displayed at Whipsnade Zoo, then East Somerset Railway, and then the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, before being transferred to the National Railway Museum.

ex-SAR Class 8A no 1126 - 21 August 2013 image courtesy Alan Middleditch.

ex-SAR Class 8A no 1126 -- 31 May 1990 - wikipedia commons image provided by Peter Bagshawe.

ex-SAR Class 8A no 1126 was employed at Mulobezi after logging operations had ceased and ZR had taken over the main line. She was used at Mulobezi to shunt fire wood and works trains. She returned to Livingstone in December 1975 and eventually, in June 1983, went on display at the Railway Museum at Livingstone.


STEAM in africa (Durrant, Lewis & Jorgensen - Struik 1981) has 2 pages on the Zambezi Sawmills railway.

Geoffs Trains entry for Livingstone Railway Museum (Ex Rhodesia Railways locomotives and rolling stock on display at the Livingstone Railway Museum. Equipment obtained by the Zambezi Sawmills from other railways and also on display in the museum is not included.)

Geoffs Trains image set of a 1994 trip along the Zambezi Sawmills Railway route ("Between 1986 and 1999 I owned and ran a tourist train in Zimbabwe under the company name Rail Safaris. Each year I ran at least one steam enthusiast tour, and in 1994 it was decided to try to reach Mulobezi, the terminus of the Zambezi Sawmills Railway. We planned to make the trip three times are fortnightly intervals. The first trip ran out of water 96.5 km from the junction at Livingstone. The second trip did not get past Livingstone because the steam locomotive had not been recovered. The third trip made it to Mulobezi, and back again just 38 hours late. A feat that was never to be repeated - that would have been a risk too far!")

A Trip on the Zambezi Sawmills Railway, 2006 (report by Dietmar Fiedel)

Livingstone Railway Museum, Zambia 2011 (Elmar Pfannerstall was here in July 2011. Some of the data quoted comes almost verbatim from 'on site' labels.)

For more information on SAR Class 7 go to Wikipedia.
For more information on SAR Class 8A go to Wikipedia.

I am especially indebted to Jan C Ford for borrowing information used in this entry:
Jan C Ford has an extensive set of images on flickr featuring the Livingstone Railway Museum.
Jan C Ford also has blogged about the Livingstone Railway Museum.
Here is a list of the locomotives on display at the Museum as noted in Jan C Ford's blog entry

No 944 - 15 Feb 2012 - image (c) Jan C Ford via flickr

Class: 7th

Running nbr: 955
Built: Neilson Reid
Works nbr: 4447
Date: 1892
Arrgt: 4-8-0
Livery: Blue + Black smokebox
Orig owner: Cape Government Railways
Acquired ZSR: Purchased 1966
Notes: Oldest loco. in Zambia. Part of first batch of 7th class entering service 1892. Renumbered 955 in 1910 with the amalgamation of Central South African and Cape Government railways to form South African Railways. Saturated with slide valves.

Class: 7th

Running nbr: 69
Built: Neilson Reid
Works nbr: 5791
Date: 1900
Arrgt: 4-8-0
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways
Acquired ZSR: In 1926 for £2,500
Notes: One of second batch delivered through Beira and assembled at Umtali. RR nbr 20 (other 3 in batch 11, 12, 17). ZSR fitted the loco with an electric generator and headlights in 1929 - this was the first ZSR loco to be so fitted.

Class: 7th

Running nbr: 70
Built: Neilson Reid
Works nbr: ?
Date: ?
Arrgt: 4-8-0
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways
Acquired ZSR: ?
Notes: Complete with bees nest!

No 1126 - 15 Feb 2012 - image (c) Jan C Ford via flickr

Class: 8th

Running nbr: 1126
Built: Sharp Stewart
Works nbr: 4862
Date: 1902
Arrgt: 4-8-0
Livery: Blue + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Imperial Military Railway which became the Central South African Railway which amalgamated with Cape Government railways to form South African Railways in 1910.
Acquired ZSR: Purchased in 1971.
Notes: Fitted with piston valves and assumed to be superheated. On ZSR worked 'forest mainline' trains and specials between Livingstone and Mulobezi until 1973. Remained at Mulobezi until 1976 on works trains and shunting firewood trains.

Class: 9th

Running nbr: 91
Built: North British
Works nbr: ?
Date: 1912
Arrgt: 4-8-0
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways. Sister engine 96 (below) was also supplied 1912. Both were part of the first batch of 18 9th Class locos.
Acquired ZSR: ? Notes: Displayed without tender, part dismantled and with boiler part sectioned to show construction.

Class: 9th

Running nbr: 96
Built: North British
Works nbr: 19822
Date: 1912
Arrgt: 4-8-0
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways. Sister engine 91 (above) was also supplied 1912. Both were part of the first batch of 18 9th Class locos.
Acquired ZSR: Purchased in 1963 for £1200 and worked up to 1973.

Class: 12th

Running nbr: 181
Built: North British
Works nbr: 23380 (The Museum gives the works number as 23392)
Date: 1926
Arrgt: 4-8-2
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways. Part of 1st batch of 20 12th Class.
Present owner: Zambia Railways (on loan to museum).
Notes: The class was ordered to replace ailing traction on the vital Salisbury-Bulawayo-Wankie route. Later nicknamed 'Glamour Girl' and a popular class. In 1967 (following independence) this was one of the locomotives assigned to Zambia.

Class: 15A

Running nbr: 401
Built: Beyer Peacock
Works nbr: 7353
Date: 1950
Arrgt: 4-6-4 + 4-6-4
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways. Part of 4th batch of an order for 30 'Class 15 Agaraes' intended for passenger and mail trains.
Present owner: Zambia Railways (on loan to museum).
Notes: Boiler 543 Engine 398. In 1967 (following independence) this was one of the locomotives assigned to Zambia. Regarded as the fastest of the Rhodesia Railways locos and free-running. Nicknamed 'Greyhounds'.

Class: 16A

Running nbr: 623
Built: Beyer Peacock
Works nbr: 7501
Date: 1952
Arrgt: 2-8-2 + 2-8-2
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways.
Present owner: Zambia Railways (on loan to museum).
Notes: In 1967 (following independence) this was one of the locomotives assigned to Zambia.

Class: 20th

Running nbr: 708 (The Museum gives the running number as 70)
Built: Beyer Peacock
Works nbr: 7693
Date: 1954
Arrgt: 4-6-4 + 4-6-4
Livery: Black + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Rhodesia Railways. Intended for Wankie and Kabwe coal trains.
Present owner: Zambia Railways (on loan to museum).
Notes: At 233 tons, this was the heaviest Rhodesia Railways loco. In 1967 (following independence) this was one of the locomotives assigned to Zambia. Withdrawn in the late 1970s when diesels were introduced.

Class: ?

Running nbr: 1
Built: Hunslet
Works nbr: ?
Date: 1924
Arrgt: 2-6-2 Side Tank
Livery: Yellow, marked 'NCCM'+ Black smokebox
Orig owner: ?
Notes: In 1929 worked at the Bwana Mcubwa Mine and nicknamed '1-2', then worked at the Nkana Mine and then at the Nchanga Mine. Used for stores distribution in 1958.

Class: G

Running nbr: 57
Built: North British
Works nbr: 27779
Date: 1957/58
Arrgt: 2-8-2
Livery: Green + Silver smokebox
Orig owner: Nyasaland Railways (Malawi)
Acquired ZSR: Cost K5,000 + K322 delivery.
Notes: Development of 'River' class supplied to Nigeria Railways and East African Railways. Part of last batch from North British with RSH boiler. Nicknamed 'Jubilee'.

Zambia: Mulobezi Train - Sign of a Failed Concession Deal

IMPROVED railway transport has the potential to boost the economy.
In addition to being a cheap and an affordable mode of passenger and freight transportation to most people, especially those in rural areas, improved railway infrastructure could enhance the transportation of people and goods within and outside the country.
Mulobezi Railway line is one such infrastructure which has potential to promote trade and other economic activities in the country.
The railway line, which stretches for 163 kilometres from Livingstone in Southern Province to Mulobezi in Western Province, was established between 1905 to 1930, but it has not been upgraded since its inception.
Despite the poor state of the train and Mulobezi Railway Line, the train has continued to transport people, goods and livestock stretch in separate coaches and wagon.
The stations where the train stops to drop and pick passengers along the Livingstone to Mulobezi stretch include Sawmills, Simoonga, Ndrevu, Kalamba, Makunka, Manono, Ngwezi, Kanema, Manzianzena, Saala, Bombwe, Katemwa, Mulanga, Situmpa and Mulobezi.
The train moves for about two days on a journey of 163 kilometres from Livingstone in Southern Province to Mulobezi in Western Province due to its poor state and obsolete rail infrastructure.
Some people sit on the floor inside due to poor sitting facilities, while the train has no lights inside thereby making travelling in the night unsafe.
In certain areas, some rails are not seen clearly as they are buried in the soil, thereby making the train to move slowly as a way of avoiding derailments.
According to Mulobezi Railway train supervisor Evaristo Muntanga, the train moves at permissible speed of 15 kilometres per hour.
Mr Muntanga said most residents were using the train as a mode of transport, especially in the rainy season when most roads were impassable.
He explained that on each journey carrying an average of 200 passengers in coaches and some livestock in the wagons.
Mr Muntanga said it was not correct to insinuate that people and livestock were sharing the same wagons because there were separate coaches for people and wagons for livestock within the same train.
In terms of charges, adult passengers pay K31, 000 from Livingstone to Molobezi, while children pay half of this amount on the entire journey.
Adults who wish to rest in the sleeping rooms pay K50, 000, while children pay half of this amount.
Each animal transported, usually from Mulobezi to Livingstone, is charged at the cost of K60, 000.
In 2003, the Government through Zambia Railways engaged a concessionaire Leonard Sifuba to manage the operations of the Mulobezi Railway Line.
Mr Sifuba is the director of Larsons General Contractors Limited, a company which has been hired by Zambia Railways to operate Mulobezi Railway Line.
Speaking in an interview in Livingstone, Mr Sifuba said his company received a draft contract to run Mulobezi Railway Line from 2003 to 2012.
In 2010, Mr Sifula said his company was given another one-year contract up to 2011 and he contract expired last year although his firm was currently still running the railway line legally.
As part of its social responsibility, Mr Sifuba said the Mulobezi train was currently carrying 26, 000 litres of water weekly to supply to communities along the rail line who lacked drinking water.
Zambia Railways senior engineer Ernest Silwamba urged Government to provide adequate funds to upgrade the Mulobezi Railway infrastructure the same way funds had been provided for the Mchinji Railway Line in Eastern Province.
Mr Silwamba said the infrastructure had collapsed as there had been no maintenance since the early 1900s when it was established.
He said the population along Livingstone-Mulobezi stretch had increased, hence the need to upgrade the rail infrastructure as a way of enhancing the rate at which economic activities were being carried out.
Former Livingstone member of Parliament Lukulo Katombola said there was urgent need to upgrade the train and rail infrastructure to improve the provision of passenger and cargo transportation by Mulobezi Railway Line.
Mr Katombola said some tourists who were recently filming the Mulobezi train couldn't believe that the train was functional.
"The poor state of the Mulobezi train creates a bad image in the tourist capital, hence the need to upgrade its infrastructure.
It is expensive to travel using Mulobezi train because people have to eat and sleep on a shorter journey which takes about two days for the passengers and goods to reach their destinations," he said.
Recently, Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Deputy Minister Mwenya Musenge and Southern Province Minister Obvious Mwaliteta boarded the Mulobezi Railway train on a 25 kilometre stretch to get first hand information on the matter.
After the tour, both Mr Musenge and Mr Mwaliteta were not impressed with the state of Mulobezi Railway Line infrastructure.
Mr Musenge said the Government would review its contract with Mulobezi Railway Line concessionaire Leonard Sifuba to improve the operations of the rail line as Mr Sifuba had allegedly failed to run it properly.
He said the Government will consider taking back the ownership of the Mulobezi Railway Line to Zambia Railway because the infrastructure had currently deteriorated since Mr Sifula was contracted in 2003.
Mr Musenga said it was sad that 48 years after Zambia attained independence, people were travelling for about two days on a 163 kilometre journey from Livingstone to Mulobezi.
He said the Government was providing K368 million per year to Mulobezi Railway Line for operational costs but the money was not properly accounted for as its infrastructure had remained in poor state.
"I agree that we need more funds to upgrade the rail infrastructure but my concern is that you have failed to even do maintenance works from K68 million which Government releases every month.
You couldn't even do a kilometre stretch from the K368 million you receive every year? You come up with a proper plan to improve the infrastructure with the little funds you receive," Mr Musenge said.
The deputy minister also took a swipe at Zambia Railways for not taking measures to address the poor operations of Mulobezi Railway Line.
"When you look at the wagons and coaches, they are not fit for human and livestock transportation.
Zambia Railways should become proactive and closely monitor the situation instead of sitting back. We need to change the mindset because there is an 'I don't care altitude' in Zambia Railways," he said.
Southern Province Minister Obvious Mwaliteta, who also accompanied Mr Musenga during the tour, blamed the previous members of Parliament (MPs) for Mulobezi and Livingstone for not addressing the problem over the years.
Mr Mwaliteta said there was no political will among the MPs, hence the facility had remained dilapidated for years.
Apart from reviewing the contract, there is need for the Government to upgrade Mulobezi Railway Line infrastructure as a long-term measure.
Improving the state of the rail infrastracture and rehabilitating the wagons and coaches would boost economic activities of Livingstone and Mulobezi and ultimately rejuvenate Zambia's economy.

Zambia Railways re-acquires Mulobezi


ZAMBIA Railways Limited (ZRL) has repossessed Mulobezi Railway from the concessionaire to rehabilitate it and ensure it becomes an integral part of the firm.

ZRL chief executive officer Muyenga Atanga said the railway line has been neglected for a very long time and is in bad shape.

“We have taken over the running of Mulobezi Railway this month and we are taking four new coaches to ensure passengers are well served and comfortable,” he said.

Prof.Atanga said this at a press briefing in Lusaka on Thursday last week.

He said there is need to rehabilitate the line and the rolling stock so that it can meet the aspiration of the customers’ needs.
Meanwhile, Prof Atanga said the money from the Eurobond is strictly for rehabilitation of the tracks and locomotives.

“The issue of the Eurobond has been controversial, I want people to understand that whenever you see a train moving it means that ZRL is generating revenue which will be used to manage the operations of the railway line,” he said.

He said the company’s focus is to move six trains a day to increase revenue to provide for the line’s expenses such as salaries, spares and day to day running among others.

He said out of all the cargo on the market, 85 percent is on the road while ZRL only handles a bit although he was quick to point out that  plans to increase the customer base is underway.

Prof Atanga, however, said the company’s focus is to increase cargo traffic by 50 percent after the rehabilitation of the tracks.

Government has pumped US$125 million into the operations of ZRL. The national railway firm needs to ensure that locomotives and trains are moving and that its track feeds into the TAZARA network.

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