The Resurrection of Loco 204
Ben Costa, Manager of Victoria Falls Steam Railways ltd, watches as his latest resuscitated locomotive pulls out of the station. A massive event & achievement, loco 204 is now the primary engine being used for Victoria Falls Steam Railways Ltd, Royal Livingstone Express dinner train. Ben Costa, Artisan Locomotive Engineer, has been maintaining and reconditioning steam locomotives since 1979. Loco 204's project started from scratch in 2007. The expertise for the repairs were provided by Mr. Costa himself and the loco is now looking like it came fresh out the box. Loved by steam enthusiasts, this is an event not to ignore! Loco 204 is a 12 class loco, manufactured in 1924 by North British Locomotive company in Glasgow. She arrived to start her working life in Southern Africa through the port of Beira, Mozambique, moving on to Gweru in Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe and in later years Northern Rhodesia now Zambia. In the late 1950s Britain stopped manufacturing steam locos as a result of the introduction of diesel engines. A large majority of the locos which were manufactured before this were sent to Africa, most of which lie derelict now due to advances in train technology. In 1992 loco 204 was found in the bush, outside an old Zambian Railways steam shed in Livingstone. She was abandoned and left obsolete, stripped of her parts by theft and harsh weather conditions over the years. Her repair started that same year, desperate for a full rehabilitation. In 1996 she was commissioned to Zambian Railways and used as a shunting loco until 2000. In 2002 Loco 204 was then hired to Victoria Falls Steam Train Ltd in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe where she was the 'stand-by' locomotive however rarely used due to a leaking water tube in the fire box. The year 2008 saw the beginnings of a full repair, where missing parts were either imported, or custom manufactured in Bulawayo by Radiator and Tinning. Victoria Falls Steam Railways Limited in Livingstone then took loco 204 over and started using her in 2009 until the beginning of 2015 when, due to a major fault occurring with the loco’s bogie she was stood down for more repairs. After repairs & replacement of parts, August 2016 saw loco 204 finally back on the rails and taking over from the now retired loco 156 in Livingstone, Zambia.