By Praisemore Sithole | NewsDay |
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has converted two diesel electric D6 locomotive models to mainline locomotives to circumvent capacity challenges on traction power and reduce recurring hiring costs for the parastatal.
NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika told NewsDay yesterday that the organisation had been hiring locomotives at US$1 500 per day, which is very costly.
He said it cost them US$100 000 to convert the two diesel electric D6 locomotives to mainline ones, a move anticipated to save money.
“This conversion project has so far seen the NRZ engineers equipping two D6 locomotives (1606 and 1609) out of the targeted nine with programmable logic controller (PLC), which is a transition gear that enables them to switch speeds,” Maravanyika said.
“This makes them run long distances at an alternating speed with more load compared to the normal D6 models which are mostly used for shunting purposes only in our yards because they have a constant speed.”
Maravanyika said it took them about a month to work on the two locomotives so far converted for use on the mainline.
“Locomotives 1606 and 1609 have since been deployed on the mainline, with the former operating in the low-veld ferrying sugar and the latter doing sub-run tests between Harare and Gweru,” he said.
“Locomotive 1606 is the oldest among the D6 locomotives and it was manufactured in 1965 with an axle generator and transition cards, of which most of these components are now obsolete, hence the decision by the engineers to change the components of the traction motors to a PLC during the conversion.”
Maravanyika said converting D6s to mainline locomotives meant facilitating the D6 locomotives to be utilised on the mainline where they ferry different freight cargo for longer distances.