The development of the Railways in Zimbabwe was
directed by several considerations, among which
was the need to serve the towns, mines and farms
which were fast being established before the turn of
the century, and to link the landlocked country with
sea-ports in Mozambique and South Africa.

Line construction began from Fontesvilla, 56km
inland from Beira, to Umtali (Mutare) in Septernber
1892, and from Vryburg in the Cape Province to
Bulawayo in May 1893. The Bulawayo line was
completed in October 1897 and the Mutare line in
February 1898. The link between Salisbury (Harare)
and Bulawayo was finally completed in October
1902 after initial construction was brought to a halt
by the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in October
1899, when materials had to be brought in on the
Beira line.

The next stage was the line northwards from
Bulawayo, which began in 1903, crossed the
Zambezi River at Victoria Falls in September 1905
and reached the Congo border in December 1909.

For several years this whole system was operated
by the Mashonaland Railway Company under the
title Beira and Mashonaland and Rhodesia
Railways, but on 1 October 1927 Rhodesia
Railways Company became the working company.
On 1 October 1936 Rhodesia Railways Limited
became the owners of the whole railway system in
Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as the
Vryburg-Bulawayo section. The line from Vryburg to
Ramatlhabama on the Botswana border was
acquired by South African Railways in December

On 1 April 1947 the then Rhodesian Government
acquired the assets of Rhodesia Railways Limited
and on 1 November 1949 the undertaking became
a statutory body known as Rhodesia Railways. On
1 July 1967 the system was divided at the Victoria
Falls bridge, with Zambia Railways in the north and
Rhodesia Railways in the south.

The Rhodesia Railways was re-designated
Zimbabwe Rhodesia Railways on 1 June 1979 and
finally National Railways of Zimbabwe on 1 May
1980 soon after the attainment of national
Building the Victoria Falls Bridge
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