MDC President Hon Nelson Chamisa promised us bullet trains in his first five years if elected. I did dig up some information about infrastructure required to have a bullet train service. From that information it is apparent that completely new rail tracks will be required to have bullet trains.

In terms of costs, the information shows that it will cost between $105m and $178m to construct 1km of track suitable for bullet trains.

Harare-Bulawayo is 436km by road. Using that as a surrogate, it will cost between $45,78bn and $77,608bn to put rail infrastructure compatible with bullet trains. I will ignore the cost of acquiring the trains and passenger wagons.

Assuming annual net cashflows of $1bn, the undiscounted  payback period will be between 46 and 78 years. To be able to earn net cashflows of $1bn per year, the project will need to earn net cashflows of $2,747 million a day. Assuming they will charge $50 for one way trip, they will need to ferry 55, 000 passengers per day. If they charge $100, that's 25,000 passengers per day.

It will be a major surprise if that route handles more than 6,000 travellers a day, both directions.

In short the bullet train project is never going to be feasible from a cost and passenger traffic point of view. Any government that wants to have such a project will have to fund from its coffers and be ready to subsidise the facility. Zimbabwe clearly has never reached that point.

Chamisa claims that $15bn is needed to revive the economy, yet one of his envisioned project costs 3 times that much, which costs can easily be more than 5 times their target funding requirements.

Clearly Chamisa does not talk from informed viewpoints but rather just try to find promises that excite the youthful and unsuspecting voters.

Leading a country requires seriousness not this political banter. Wicknell Chivayo