Using the various facilities and equipment, the Authority is currently able to provide different kinds of products and services at the various stations and workshops along the line, in accordance with the establishing statute.
TAZARA operates two types of freight trains i.e. through traffic and local traffic trains. Through traffic trains convey cargo originating from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia and vice versa. Local traffic trains convey intermediate cargo and may or may not cross the border. TAZARA also provides block train services and mixed train services which are designed to meet particular needs and requirements of the clients.
The TAZARA railway line is designed with a 1067mm-gauge, which allows through traffic operations with other Southern African railways, such as Spoornet of South Africa, Botswana Railways, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zambia Railways Limited Namibia Railways, Mozambique Railways and Societe Nationale Des Chemins De Fer Du Congo Sarl (SNCC) of the DRC. Essentially, all railway networks in the Southern part of Africa can be accessed by TAZARA. With a designed capacity of five (5) million tonnes of freight per annum, TAZARA has been handling traffic for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), thereby providing a vital regional link amongst Southern, Eastern and Central African regions with the rest of the world through the port of Dar es Salaam.
TAZARA has modern cargo terminus, complete with gantry cranes and other handling facilities at New Kapiri Mposhi, Kasama, Makambako and Dar es Salaam stations. These facilities provide a quick and efficient means for exporters and importers from different regions of Africa to load and offload cargo onto and from TAZARA wagons. New Kapiri Mposhi handles cargo to and from the Southern and Central African regions, whilst Kasama covers the Great Lakes region. Similarly, Mbeya and Makambako cater for cargo from Malawi and some parts of the Great Lakes. With such spread of the TAZARA terminus, cargo is easily relayed from region to region. In addition, there is a privately owned trans-shipment facility at Kidatu that handles the transfer of cargo from the wider gauge (1,067mm) wagons of TAZARA onto the narrower gauge (1,000mm) wagons of the Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) facilitating interconnectivity amongst Southern, Central and East Africa.
TAZARA runs three types of passenger trains, i.e. Express, Ordinary and Special Trains. Apart from conveying people, passenger trains also transport parcels and luggage using the parcel vans attached to the passenger trains. Each parcel van can carry up to 15.7 metric tons of parcels and, depending on the demand, one or more vans can be attached to the train at a time. Each passenger train has dining cars with sub-contracted professional caterers serving international cuisines at very reasonable prices.
On 26 August 2014, the passenger services of TAZARA were re-organised and new timetables came into effect on that date. The re-organisation entailed a different approach to passenger services with no more cross-border through trains. In effect, all passenger trains begun operation as local trains, running within the respective borders of Tanzania and Zambia as opposed to previous arrangements where the trains used to cross the borders. From 26 August 2014, the Kilimanjaro Train (operated by the Tanzanian Region of TAZARA) and the Mukuba Train (operated by the Zambian Region of TAZARA) started operating separately.
TAZARA now operates one pair of cross-border express passenger trains every Tuesday between Dar es Salaam and Nakonde on the Tanzanian side and another express train between New Kapiri-Mposhi and Nakonde on the Zambian side.
The Tanzanian Express Trains in Tanzania is known as the Kilimanjaro Express and whilst in Zambia it is called the Mukuba Express. Both the Mukuba and Kilimanjaro intersect at Nakonde, the border station in Zambia, where they u-turn and begin the reverse journey to New Kapiri-Mposhi and Dar es Salaam, respectively. The trains are timed in such a way that the Mukuba arrives earlier at Nakonde and allows for passengers from the Kilimanjaro to arrive and swap the trains if they are proceeding onwards. (See timetables for departure and arrival times).
On the Tanzanian side, passengers have the rare treat of viewing a variety of game along the way. When traversing the mountainsides, passing though the tunnels, crossing rivers and gorges, passengers have a chance to appreciate the awesome and inspirational engineering works of the Chinese, who constructed the railway between 1970 and 1975.
Express trains are recommended for international travelers.
A pair of Ordinary Passenger Trains, on the other hand, runs from Dar es Salaam to Nakonde and from New Kapiri-Mposhi to Nakonde every Friday, intersecting as well at Nakonde and u-turning and proceeding with the reverse journey to Dar es Salaam and to New Kapiri-Mposhi, respectively. The ordinary trains stop at every serviceable railway station in the respective regions of Tanzania and Zambia and takes slightly longer time to complete the journey. (Please see the timetables for further details).
On 29th October 2012, TAZARA introduced Commuter Train Services in Tanzania’s port city of Dar es Salaam, covering a distance of 30km from Dar es Salaam main station to Mwakanga, on the outskirts of the city. The Commuter Train Service was introduced at the request of the Tanzanian government, keen to ease the transport challenges in the city, especially during peak hours. The government financed the initial costs of refurbishing the dilapidated coaches and locomotives to put them back into service having been discarded for years. The Commuter Trains utilize TAZARA’s main track, transporting some 9,000 passengers every day, except weekends and public holidays when the service is not available.
Tourist and Special Trains
TAZARA also runs special tourist trains for specific events and special groups. The most common of special trains is the tourist train to the Selous Game Reserve, about 200 kilometers from Dar es Salaam. Selous Game Reserve is the largest unexploited wildlife reserve in Africa covering 54,000 square kilometers, named after the famous hunter, Fredrick Courtney, killed and buried there during World War One. The TAZARA rail cuts through the Selous Game Reserve. Tourist trains are usually run during Christmas, Easter, New-Year and other public holidays. Tour operators also use the regular passenger services for special tourist excursions to the Selous Game Reserve. The Rovos www.rovos.com is one of the world’s renowned luxurious tourist trains which regularly runs on the TAZARA line between Cape Town in South Africa and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, offering tourists special excursions along the way. The Shongololo Train www.shongololo.com, another tourist train from South Africa, has also recently been re-launched and is primed to be plying the TAZARA line at least once every year.
TAZARA has two quarries, Mununga Quarry in Mpika, Zambia and Kongolo Quarry in Mbeya, Tanzania, each with the capacity to produce more than 2,000mt of quarry products per hour. The two plants produce high quality ballast as the main product for railway maintenance whilst aggregates, chippings, boulders, quarry dust and crusher dust are produced as by-products for sale to the public.
Concrete Sleeper Plant
The Kongolo Concrete Sleeper Plant (KCSP) was set up in 2001 to equip TAZARA with the ability to manufacture its own railway reinforced concrete sleepers. Conveniently located next to the Kongolo Quarry some 45km from Mbeya, KCSP has an installed capacity of producing 60,000 sleepers per year. Fully equipped with a certified laboratory, KCSP has the capacity to manufacture other construction products such as culverts, concrete tiles and poles for internal use and for public consumption.
There are three engineering workshops, located in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya and Mpika. The Mbeya workshop was specifically set up to undertake the maintenance of General Electric/Krupp (Diesel Electric) Locomotives and all scopes of repair, including the rehabilitation of locomotives from serious train accidents. DE locomotives are TAZARA’s mainstay, employed mostly in mainline operations. The Dar es Salaam and Mpika workshops, on the other hand, are exact replicas and were particularly established to conduct wagon and coach maintenance and repairs and to offer general engineering services and works that the railway may require including:
- Steel casting
- General purpose and light metal casting
- Forging services
- Coiling of springs
- Crankshaft grinding (up to 3m length and 600mm diameter)
- All basic machining processes, including planing, grinding, turning, shaping and more
- Gear manufacture
- Heat treatment and electroplating
- Laboratory services
- Equipment maintenance, repair and overhaul
- Manufacture of component parts for factories
In addition, TAZARA has six locomotive depots and four rolling stock repair sheds for day-to-day maintenance, fueling and light repairs.
TAZARA Training Centre
The TAZARA Training Centre (TTC) was constructed at the inception of TAZARA in 1975 for the purpose of equipping In-service staff and new entrants to the Railway Industry with skills required by TAZARA to support its operations. TTC is situated in Mpika District in Muchinga Province of the Republic of Zambia, about 600 Km North East of Zambia’s Capital City Lusaka, on the Great North Road linking Zambia and Tanzania. The Training Centre is strategically located TAZARA’s Regional Headquarters in Zambia with accessibility to the vast Workshop Engineering facilities capable of undertaking almost any kind of engineering works.
TTC has over the years produced graduates in various railway skills, who have kept TAZARA running up todate. TTC is an Internal capacity-building Institution without whose existence railway-based training, which is hard to find in the Sub-region, would have been very difficult to keep TAZARA running. Thousands of trainees from Tanzania and Zambia have gone through TTC and are contributing or have contributed to the national development of the two countries.
TTC conducts railway-specific training for:
- Locomotive Drivers,
- Station Masters,
- Station Foremen,
- Train Guards,
- Permanent Way (maintenance) Staff),
- Signaling and Telecommunications Equipment maintenance Staff.
Other Railway Courses offered include:
- Station Accounting,
- Train Conductors,
- Materials Management,
- Machining and Artisan Courses up to Certificate Levels (plans are underway to upgrade these to Diploma Level).
TTC has also diversified training into other fields of management and tailor-made training programs from outside TAZARA such as Diploma in Human Resources Management, Public Relations, Marketing Management, Business Management in conjunction with Association of Business Managers and Administrators (ABMA); ZICA Technician and Licentiate Levels in conjunction with Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA). Others are Diploma in Metal Fabrication, Automotive Mechanics and Power Electrical and Computer Application Skills under TEVETA, as the Institution is now registered with TEVETA.