National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has awarded a contract to Russia’s United Wagon Company (UWC) to supply 100 freight cars.

Delivery of the 1,067mm gauge railcars is scheduled within 12 months of NRZ, concluding an export loan with the help of the Russian supplier. The United Wagon Company will deliver 100 gondola wagons with solid bottoms.

These railcars will be used to transport cross-border shipments of coals, chrome ore and grains in large bags.

UWC said that its research and development centre will design the solid bottom gondola cars in compliance with international standards for subequatorial and tropical climate zones.

These freight cars will have a 54t loading capacity, a body volume of 65m³ and will also feature 18.6t axle load bogies. UWC will also provide spare parts, special tools and testing equipment, as well as after-sales training, such as maintenance training.

UWC commerce and marketing deputy CEO Boris Myagkov said: “The United Wagon Company is known as a universal manufacturer on the global market: we can design and produce railcars for any railway gauge and compliant to any railcar construction standard.

“Despite the African market being highly fragmented, we already have an understanding of its rules and options. The region now witnesses its transport arteries developing rapidly, railways included. In this context, we will continue expanding our exports in the African continent.”

NRZ general manager Lewis A Mukwada had this to say: “We look forward to expanding our partnership with UWC, as we plan to renovate our railcar fleet, which is quite old.

“In the mid-term, we will be ready to negotiate more supplies of different railcar types, including tank cars, flat cars and boxcars, as well as terms and conditions of setting up a network of railcar maintenance and assembly facilities. The assembled railcars will be operated in the Southern Africa region.”

In February last year, UWC shipped its first batch of vehicles under a contract to supply freight cars to the Republic of Guinea.

UWC won this deal via an international tender process that was organised by aluminium producer UC RUSAL.