About Us / History of our No.512 locomotive
The Victoria Falls Steam Train Company was established in 1996 after a joint agreement between Zambia Railways and National Railways of Zimbabwe to allow a private operator to run excursions between Victoria Falls and Livingstone.
The locomotive we use today, one of the few authentic steam trains still in use in Africa, is a class 14A Garratt, designed and built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1953. She has a 262+262 wheel configuration, 3 600 gallons of water and 7 tons of coal culminating in a total weight of 131.67 tons.
Garratt steam locomotives consist of three parts. A boiler is mounted on the centre frame, and then two steam engines are mounted on separate frames on either side of the boiler.
The Garratt steam locomotive, otherwise known as a Beyer-Garratt, was developed by the British engineer Herbert Garratt during the early 1900s. It was named after him and the firm of Beyer, Peacock and Company, which acquired rights to the patent in 1909. After the original Garratt patents expired in 1928, Beyer, Peacock and Co. continued to market Garratts under its own brand, Beyer-Garratt. With the continuing development and patent improvements, they maintained their leadership with the Garratt and produced almost two-thirds of all Garratt locomotives.
Garratts were mostly used in Africa, with a large proportion in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Algeria, with Zimbabwe importing a total of 246 Garratts.
Diner 680: a 24-seater diner built in 1905 Lancashire, England and assembled at ZECO in Bulawayo for Rhodesia Railways. Decommissioned in the late 1980s and retired to the Railway Museum, it is still attached on every trip due to its vintage style and for housing the main bar.
Diner 660: a 40-seater diner built in 1913 Lancashire, England, and kept in its original state.
Lounge 4096: a 37-seater built in 1952 Gloucester, England. Originally a third-class coach, refurbishment in 2000 upgraded it to its present comfortable level, aptly named the David Livingstone Lounge.
Lounge 4108: a 43-seater refurbished coach, sister to Lounge 4096 and built at the same time.
Baggage 264: originally the old baggage van used for passenger trains, this carriage offers extra seating, another bar and has been converted into the Zambezi Lager Party Express. It also still houses the original safe that was used to safeguard valuables and important mail stored on the train while travelling throughout Southern Africa.