When Botswana’s Blue Passenger Train hits the track on March 31, it will only have six stop stations instead of the previous 19. The much awaited train has been in hibernation since 2009 when Botswana Railways and Government felt it was no longer profitable to run.
This week, transport minister Tshenolo Mabeo was inspecting infrastructural developments at the Gaborone train station that include the construction of a modernised passenger terminal that should be ready for the train service by the end of March. Mabeo expressed satisfaction at the pace of the construction, saying the developments will be completed in time.
The other five stations are also undergoing a face lift with installations and upgrading of ticketing facilities and improved passenger reservations systems. It is expected that tickets will be sourced both online and physically from various retail outlets and other ticket logistics companies. The project, according to Mabeo, will cost P280million.
The passenger train will run daily between Lobatse and Francistown with stop stations in Lobatse, Gaborone, Mahalapye, Palapye, Serule and Francistown. Previously, the Lobatse- Francistown stretch had 19 stop stations, among them Otse, Ramotswa, Pilane, Artesia, Topisi and Shashe among others.
The need for improved service in relation to efficiency and timeliness were the reason the stop stations had to be reduced according to the minister. The train took too long to reach its destination because of the several stop overs, and the latest changes are meant to ensure passengers o not have to worry about time.
Pula24 is informed that a total of 37 passenger coaches will be provided in batches by South Africa’s rail, port and pipeline company Transnet SOC Ltd. All coaches are expected to be delivered by April but the service will begin earlier with those already delivered. New jobs have already been created, including that of a Passenger Services Manager who has already started work.
The Blue Train is set to reduce congestion on Botswana roads