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It is the season again and it seems like the ‘Santa Claus’ who dishes out gifts in Tanzania has once more decided to grant the residents of Arusha and Kilimanjaro rides on a revived locomotive.
With buses plying between Dar-es-salaam and Northern Regions becoming overbooked from late November to the first week of January, the Tanzania Railways Corporation is dusting off its old diesel engines ready to give them a holiday-driven, new lease of life.
The Director General of TRC, Masanja Kungu Kadogosa doesn’t hide his firm’s intention to capitalize on the current holiday rush among Tanzanians.
We are specifically launching new train journeys between Dar-es-salaam and Arusha (Via Moshi, in Kilimanjaro) this November to ease travel during holidays’ season.Kungu Kadogosa
He foresees that trains will be making at least four return trips, per week, this holiday season. TRC has also outfitted what the company describes to be ‘Deluxe’ wagons (whatever that means).
Passenger wagons essentially comprise of Second and Third Classes cars. Nothing to write home about, though probably something to take you home when it is about time for Christmas and New-Year festives.
When it comes to long-distance travel across the country using public transport, Tanzanians prefer to ride on buses, as they are regarded to be more reliable and move faster (Accidents notwithstanding).
Plus, one gets to choose from variety of companies, types of vehicles and what time exactly to depart.
With trains, however boarding time, type of cars and carriages are fixed. No flexibility.
At least 70 buses commute between Arusha and Dar-es-salaam on daily basis, taking with them nearly 3500 passengers. This number usually double in the months of November, December and during the first week of January.
Scramble for bus seats are normal sporting activities during end-of-year travel rush. It takes muscles, fat wallet a bit of influence and even threats, in order to secure a seat in respectable bus.
A bus takes eight-hours to travel between Dar and Arusha. The train on the other hand consume 16 hours on railways tracks. But when there is no other option to get home for holidays, this speed becomes acceptable.
In the past, the Tanzania Railways Corporatioin also used to operate bus transport. However, this segment seems to have been deleted from the firm’s current life.