By NIZBERT MOYO
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has begun installing solar power on its coaches to ensure uninterrupted power supply and improve safety of passengers.
Most of its coaches have been vandalised by criminals who advantage of the poor lighting system in the trains.
NRZ acting spokesperson Martin Banda yesterday told NewsDay that four coaches were already solar-powered.
“We started the project last year and we have fitted solar panels on one of the cabooses used for cross trippers as a pilot project.
“We replaced the generators used by the crew for lighting by solar-powered ones.
Installation of the solar panels will allow crews on cross trippers to have power throughout the year without fear of breakdowns,” he said.
“The panels on each caboose can provide enough power to run a refrigerator, lighting, fan, television and microwave ovens.
In the past, there were instances where crews worked in the dark after a generator failed.”
Banda said the solar power project would cost US$64 000 for the eight cabooses earmarked to be fitted with panels.
He said they would be harvesting solar during the day and it would be stored in batteries for use during the night.
However, he said the challenge the rail company could face would be unavailability of parts for refurbishment of coaches.
Banda told NewsDay that NRZ was experiencing a lot of accidents, particularly at level crossings.
“Once accidents happen, it means we have to pull out all damaged property from the business and try to replace it with new parts.”
Recently, police pledged to work closely with the NRZ to combat vandalism of railway infrastructure.