Overnight train service to be introduced

According to the CEO of TransNamib the parastatal loses out on 12 hours of passenger train services a day - time which could be turned into revenue.

05 March 2019 | Transport

In order to boost our revenue collection and become a profitable company, our focus must only be railway services. – Johny Smith, CEO: TransNamib

ILENI NANDJATO - TransNamib wants to borrow N$2.5 billion in order to successfully implement its five-year strategic business plan, which is aimed at making the railway company profitable and doubling its revenue collection.

On Friday, TransNamib chief executive officer Johny Smith held a consultative meeting with traditional, local and regional authorities affected by the railway line in the north, informing them about the introduction of an overnight freight service on the Tsumeb-Oshikango railway line.

In an interview with Namibian Sun, Smith said they would like to increase train services in the north.

“In order to boost our revenue collection and become a profitable company, our focus must only be railway services. We have to double the volume of freight that we transport by rail throughout the country within the next five years. So, we have to look at where we can improve,” Smith said.

“That is why we are here today to focus specifically on the Tsumeb-Ondangwa-Oshikango railway route. We want to implement a night service.

“At this stage our trains only run during the day and we are losing out on more than 12 hours a day...”

Smith said by introducing a night service TransNamib would be able to move more goods between Tsumeb, Ondangwa and Oshikango.

In 2002 the government embarked upon the N$1.4 billion Northern Railway Line Extension Project. This was a three-phase project, with phase one (the 246 km Tsumeb-Ondangwa railway line) and phase two (the 60 km Ondangwa-Oshikango railway) already completed.

Phase three, the 28 km line between Ondangwa and Oshakati, is currently under construction.

INVESTMENT

Smith said this is a very important railway connection for TransNamib because the northern part of the country has a larger population, and in order to benefit from it the company has to upgrade its services and infrastructure.

“We require N$2.5 billion, which we have to borrow from banks or financial institutions, to support our business plan. We have to make sure it is viable and we will recover the money.

“We will use this money to buy new locomotives, new technology as well as new assets, and the rolling stock that we require.

“There is also a lack of certain skills. We have to provide for training and capacity development for staff to upgrade their skills,” he said.

The local authorities welcomed TransNamib’s new business plan but appealed to the company to introduce a reliable passenger train service to the north.

Smith said currently passenger trains ran three times a week between Tsumeb and Ondangwa.

“In order for us to have a complete passenger service between the north and Windhoek, or the north and the coast, those are plans that we are developing,” he said.

Oshikoto governor Henock Kankoshi urged TransNamib to make sure that bushes along the railway line are cleared.

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