Are the Northbound Train Journeys Still Valid Now?

Return of the Engines: Trains get new lease of life on the Northern Tracks during Holidays (Tanzania Times)

Tanzania has a northbound railway line which connects the Port City of Dar-es-salaam to the Northern Regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro.

Trains, which occasionally uses route, have been active during the end of year holidays as the number of northbound travellers always surge during festive times.

The rather aged locomotives have always been helpful in handling majority of passengers that would have otherwise left stranded with all the buses being fully booked during holiday times.

Tanzania Railways Corporation which recently imported additional wagons somehow also wants to maintain rail transportation services even after the holidays.

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 has also been dusting off its old diesel engines ready to give them a holiday-driven, new lease of life.

But now the holidays are over, the Tanzania Railways is left with the decision to either park the engines until December 2023 or find ways to keeping them active throughour the years, even though this mode of transport is slower than road transport.

It is also cumbersome to secure train tickets compared to buses that can now be even booked online from the comfort of one’s home or office.

With trains one has to phyisically trek to the railway station and be patient enough to wait for somebody to appear at the ticket office to handle the would-be passengers.

And while people can board the buses from practically anywhere along the routes, trains have only one boarding point.

Also, while the road transport has the convinience of dropping passenger on nearly their doorsteps, those on train wagons must disembark at the railway station then find other means to reach their homes.

The only advantage that trains have over buses is the comfort and assured safety if one is willing to trade convenience and speed for them.

TRC has also been outfitting 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 the buses are fully booked or if one has no hurry to get to his or her destination.

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.

An old Tanzania Railways bus, these used to transervese the country in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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