National Railways of Zimbabwe

(Redirected from NRZ)
National Railways of Zimbabwe
PredecessorRhodesia Railways
HeadquartersNRZ Parkade Centre Corner 9th Avenue and Fife Street, Bulawayo
Parent organization
Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development

National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is the parastatal railway of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). The Zimbabwean railway system was largely constructed during the time of British colonial rule and was called Rhodesia Railways (RR) until 1980. Segments of its systems were intended to be part of the Cape to Cairo Railway.


In the colonial era, Rhodesia Railways was the state railway operator in both Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Although Zambia gained independence in 1964, it was not until 1967 that Rhodesia Railways surrendered the 1,300 km (810 miles) of route and 80–90 locomotives to Zambia Railways.

Rhodesia Railways was a heavy user of the Garratt locomotive. In June 1976, 100 of its 109 steam locomotives were Garratts. For operational purposes, Rhodesia Railways was divided into two areas: those lines north-east of Gwelo (now Gweru) fell into the Eastern Area, with all other lines in the Southern Area.


NRZ operates about 4,225 km (2,600 miles) of railway lines, all of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) providing passenger and freight services. The gauge is standard for all of Southern Africa. NRZ has an important transit function in the southern part of Africa and is well linked with neighboring countries: toward the north, at Victoria Falls the system links to the Zambia Railways, crossing the Victoria Falls Bridge. Toward the Indian ocean the system links to the Beira Railroad Corporation in Mozambique. A second line toward Mozambique reaches Maputo. To the west, a connecting line links up to Botswana Railways to reach South Africa, eventually reaching Durban and Cape Town. A direct line to South Africa from Bulawayo was opened in 1999 by the Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway. The 313 km (194-mile) Gweru-Harare section was electrified at 25 kV AC. The section was extensively vandalised and the copper cables stolen. The line is no longer functional.

Major Accidents

  • On 27 August 2006 more than 60 people were killed in a head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Victoria Falls.
  • On 3 June 2006 five fatalities occurred in the Ngungumbane rail crash.
  • On 1 February 2003 40 people died in the Dete train crash.


The Zimbabwe National Railways Museum is in Bulawayo; it has a selection of locomotives, railway carriages and other interesting things. One of the exhibits is a Rhodesia Railways class DE2 diesel locomotive.

Well known former employees

  • Former Vice President Joshua Nkomo worked there as a social worker in 1948.
  • Sir Roy Welensky, the last Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, worked as an engineer for Rhodesia Railways before entering politics.
  • Frank Edward Hough, Esq., O.B.E., was Chief Mechanical Engineer for Rhodesia Railways, from which he was appointed a C.B.E. in 1953.