Chugging through townships, maize fields and scrubland as the sun rises, Zimbabwe’s only commuter train is cheap and reliable – two qualities that its passengers cherish in a downwards-spiralling economy.

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Each morning sleepy travellers walk to the tracks and clamber aboard before the train leaves the Cowdray Park settlement at 06:00 on its 20-kilometre journey into Bulawayo, the country’s second city.

This service was suspended for 13 years under former president Robert Mugabe’s rule and was only revived in November.

Zimbabwe – once known as the breadbasket of Africa – saw its economy crippled during Mugabe’s decades-long rule, contributing to his downfall in 2017.

Despite new leadership under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the cost of living has continued to skyrocket, boosting demand for the newly-reinstated train from commuters desperate to make it to work.

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