After many years out of action, Botswana’s blue train has made a comeback! The government decided to phase it out in April 2009, as it was felt it was not making enough profit then. According to reports, the blue train, so called because of its colour, was brought back in March 2016 by popular demand. There was a huge buzz and excitement around the launch, which was heightened further by the *BOTS50 celebrations. Some cynical people would argue it was more than just coincidence that the train service would rise from the ashes just at the time of the momentous milestone in Botswana’s history.
The train however, is not a commuter train as some know it. It runs from Lobatse, via Gaborone through to Francistown; the stations being Lobatse, Gaborone, Mahalapye, Palapye, Serule and Francistown. Currently, Botswana Railways runs a daily service but mainly at night. For now, the day service is reserved for public holidays. The day service will only run between Francistown and Gaborone, terminating in Gaborone instead of Lobatse.
The ‘new and improved’ blue train promises to be a far better service than the older version, and has standard, business and sleeper coaches. It is fully air-conditioned and offers Wi-Fi onboard. While people used to sit facing each other, and crammed into every nook and cranny, Botswana Railways has promised a more improved service with the new version. The seats are forward facing, with each person sitting in their own seat.
There’s also a catering company onboard, making it easy for people to buy food and drinks throughout their journey. Because people used to complain bitterly about loud and lairy passengers, there’s no bar on the new train. A ‘luggage van’ has also been introduced to make room for passengers in the main body of the train, for a more comfortable journey. All luggage will be weighed before departure.
Security personnel will be provided both on the train as well as at the train station to ensure passengers safety.
Telephone Numbers by Station
Gaborone Station 395 1401
Lobatse Station 533 0312/3
Palapye Station 492 0203
Selebi Phikwe Station 261 0447
Serule Station 242 2331
Francistown Station 241 3444
Mahalapye Station 471 6011 & 471 3575
For more information including fares and bookings
*BOTS50 celebrations – Botswana celebrated its gold jubilee/50 years of independence on September 30th 2016. Activities around the festivities were dubbed BOTS50.
It was officially called BOT50, but Batswana felt BOTS50 rolled off the tongue better.
Photo credit: TheVoiceBW