Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Quick visit to Braamfontein workshops

Some interesting vehicles seen at Braamfontein Rolling stock. Had heard of Casspir like vehicles having worked in the Apartheid era on the rails around the Reef. Later on I saw a picture of a similar vehicle which is plinthed at a railway Museum in Namibia. Was never able to locate or find out what happened to the reef armoured patrol vehicles. Until I was given these pictures. The vehicle is painted in Metrorail livery which was a surprise. So it has obviously seen action in recent years. Anybody got pictures of this vehicle around the Reef?

Monday, 5 October 2009

New station at Rhodesfield

About 1.5 km from OR Tambo International Airport, the Gautrain line from Sandton crosses over Metrorail's Germiston - Pretoria line at Rhodesfield, between the existing Isando and Kempton Park stations. Gautrain's Rhodesfield station platforms are elevated, directly above Metrorail. PRASA is building a new station next door to the Gautrain facility, which will provide commuters with a transfer point between the Gautrain and Metrorail systems.
On Saturday, 19th September, a Metrorail 5M2A EMU set passes under the Gautrain construction as it heads north towards Kempton Park. Here is another view of the construction, with the new Metrorail platform clearly visible on the right.


Saturday, 3 October 2009

Free State & general news

Hi all.

Here is a report of the last couple of days.

On Friday morning we caught blue 34 037 shunting at Hennenman station and the silos. Then she headed for Welkom.

Later in the day we caught RRL 35 01 & 35 02 crossing in Welkom station with ore hoppers. A short while after this orange 34 031& Spoornet maroon 34 067, headed through towards Kroonstad with a long load of mielies and one Anhydrous Ammonia tanker at the rear.

Over the weekend it was the normal RRL ore haulage.

Today we caught blue 34 037 just before Wesselsbron. She had a load of mielies and the Weigh Bridge test wagon directly behind the loco. This had come from Losdorings and was now destined for Wesselsbron. At Wesselsbron the driver gave a hoot and flashed his headlight, so we knew it was a familiar driver. Soon we were invited onto the footplate for a couple of shunting movements and back into the station. The Weigh Bridge wagon was dropped off and the train headed to Bultfontein, we headed towards Bloemhof.

At Bloemhof we caught orange E 1185 "CW" and SAR E 1507 still with numberplates - "N" above the numberplate and "K" above the number on the front door. They spent an eternity shunting mielie trucks in and out of the silos. Finally when this was completed they coupled up to a load of AY ballast hoppers and one DZ full of old wooden sleepers and headed North.

J & J.

Natal North coast news.

Hi all.

We left Welkom Friday afternoon for the North coast.

As usual we took the Kaallaagte road all along the line, no trains. We did however notice an old sandstone platform that now has a corrugated iron store on it, the old Kaallaagte platform.

Near Harrismith we admired the large concrete viaducts on the main line. Again in the veld the old allignment and platforms from the old line are still visible. Rivierdraai is no more, here the line to Industriqua branches off, the line seems overgrown and unused.

The first trains we saw was at Cato Ridge - Metros.

Saturday was spent visiting several Metro stations from Stanger down to Durban, all are neat. Did not see too many Metros. Stanger had a staged Metro set, 3 orange 36 classes and some goods wagons.

At Shakaskraal we noticed what looked like the bridge maintenance train, there was also a bridge piece lying on the platform. A 6E and a short load was staged there.

Tongaat also had a staged Metro set, a long load of coal wagons and a couple of DZ's.

At Compensation we caught orange 36 246 & 36 2XX heading through light loco.

Sunday was spent with only Metros on the North Coast.

Monday we visited Verulam with quite a high viaduct just before the station.

Canelands was visited next and we caught a Metro heading through. Then 2x orange 6E's headed through on a pick-up. Not to long after that another Metro. Then a blue 6E leading a SAR maroon sister headed through on a load of coal. Before we left another Metro came past.

On Tuesday we left the North Coast and headed inland to Kranskop. The station building still stands and is occupied by locals. There still is a Station Master sign on the wall. ALL the point tumblers have been removed / stolen. The goods shed still stands and the track looks rusted. Cattle were grazing in the goods yard area.

From here we moved on to Greytown. Almost all the halts along the line have had their nameboards removed / destroyed. We noticed several timber trucks standing at various sidings along the line. The line does not look to bad.

Greytown in destroyed. This "dead end" station has not seen a train for years and the line now completely by - passes it. The only name we found was Greytown PX. Some timber trucks were standing a way off in the goods yard.

From here we headed down the line. Same story all the way. New ballast on some sections.

Our plan was to have lunch at the Station Masters Arms in Mooiriver - but this has closed. Mooiriver does not look to bad. The signal cabin has been vandalised. Goods shed still stands with a TFR sign on the wall. The signal was green inland, but we could not wait to long.

Next was Winterton and then on to Bergville. Again the station is used as a house and washing was hanging all over the platform. Plenty of concrete sleepers are stacked in the station area and some lengths of rail. No sign of any traffic / goods trucks along the line.

From there we had a stop for lunch at Little Switzerland, over Oliviershoek pass, via Golden Gate and to Bethlehem, which was devoud of any traffic. All the loops in the station have been uplifted. Just before Meets we found a Bethlehem bound mielie train behind 2x orange 6E's.

No other sightings.

John & Jacque.

Sunday morning at Leeuhof yard

Was at Leeuhof yard on sunday,No electric locomotives were present at the locomotive depot, Which I would say is good as they were all out on the road. 4 class 6E1 locomotives left the yard before nine with a train of cement wagons heading towards Colligny. Then one 6E1 locomotive started up,there after they coupled up to a train of empty dz wagons and they departed the yard heading towards Warrenton. As i heard Potchefstroom station will now be controlled from the CTC at Leeuhof.
Logan Stone

Free State and other news.

Hi all.

We left Welkom this morning for Bloemhof, no trains.

On arrival at Bloemhof we noticed the Northbound signals were green. The yard area and silos were full of goods wagons. On some of the mielie trucks we noticed stuck on signs: "Danger Poison Gas. It is unlawful to remove this sign. Phosphine Gas. Fumigated 15:00 18/09/2009, Do not open before 15:00 25/09/2009." As the station was "full" we decided to head out for a better view.

About two kilometres out of town we caught a glimpse of the Northbound train - the Trans Karoo Tourist, running quite late. This was behind orange E 1434 OFS, still with a steam car attached. We noticed the train was very empty.

Near Grasslands we noticed the signals were red. On further inspection we found the "Bobaan" guys working on the catenary on the main line. The Trans Karoo was looped and proceeded through the station very slowly. Soon after this we struggled to keep up, she was now going at quite a lick.

We headed to Makwassie, here she sped through very fast, the driver definitely trying to make up some time. A friendly wave and hoot and past she went. Here we also found orange E 1230 K, on pick-up duty, shunting at the silos.

We decided to give chase again towards Leeudoringstad. Here we noticed the signals were still green, so we hadn't missed the train. Plenty of mielie trucks standing at the silos. Soon we heard a hooter and E 1434 sped through at an incredible speed in a cloud of dust and weeds, again the crew giving us a hoot and wave. In a matter of seconds we watched the car carrier disappear down the line.

Our next stop was at Ancona / Rooiblom. Here we caught orange 34 036 coming in from Bultfontein. The points were changed and soon she roared beneath us on the road bridge. We caught up with her again later near Friedesheim.

The usual RRL ore traffic was also noticed.

John & Jacque.

Sheltam Visit

Catching up on articles sent.

20 September 2009

Hi all.

Yesterday morning early while the pensioner was still fast asleep I left for the Sheltam sheds for a ride on the mine systems.

On arrival I was met by all the friendly staff and felt most welcome.

On shed were 31 class no.22 and 32 - 200 no. 2013. Soon we were heading off for our first load of the day. We were booked on the 32 class to work the old Saaiplaas 5#. I have never travelled on this lined before and so another line to mark on my list. We had a couple of trips up and down all day and not once was any Transnet traffic observed. We did almost 100Km's on the mine systems in a 12 hour shift. I was told that normally this is much more during the week or when the ore traffic is heavy. We travelled between the shafts and the "exchange yard" and even had a crossing with no. 22 near the old Saaiplaas 3# loop. Comparing the 32 to the previous flatnose diesels - the 32 makes light work of nine loaded hoppers, even up the steep gradient at 5# where the mine line crosses Transnet's line.

No. 2013 has been redone and looks smart with a shiny coat of paint inside and out. Me, being used to footplating on 34's & 35's took quite a while to get use to the long nose / hood. What struck me was how quiet it was inside 2013, much more quiet than other locos I've been on. On the assistant's side of the loco there still is a window marked "SAR - SAS Hardglass" and the original blue vinyl armrest, no showing it's age.

Again I was told that it seems likely that 2x34 classes will replace these locos soon.

Thanks to Dries, Gertjie and Thys for a most enjoyable day, much appreciated.

Jacque & John.

New locomotives for Transnet Freight Rail

It's been more than 20 years since new locomotives were delivered to the SAR/Spoornet, these being the class 14E electrics (dual voltage). The motive power shortage has received wide publicity and has not cast the national operator in a positive light. At last the decision to invest in new locomotives is producing results and, for anyone with an interest in the railways of South Africa, there is a lot to look forward to. All the new locomotives are being delivered in the new TFR colour scheme, which is quite different to anything we have seen before.

At the UCW Partnership factory in Nigel, class 15E and 19E electrric locomotives are being built for the Orex and Coalink lines respectively. During a Railway Society of Southern Africa (RSSA) visit to the UCW Partnership factory at Nigel on 20th June 2009, the first 15E, E15001 was photographed on the traverser, being moved to the electrical test bay.

32 of these 50kV AC Co-Co locomotives are being built for the Sishen - Saldanha line. Here is a shot E15002 nearing completion on the production line, taken on the same visit.

The class 19E's are being built for the Ermelo - Richards Bay line. They are 25kV AC Bo-Bo locomotives and 110 of these have been ordered by TFR. The RSSA group was able to photograph E19006, which was ready for delivery to TFR the following week.

On the 19th September the RSSA visited Transnet Rail Engineering's Koedoespoort workshops, where the class 39-200 diesels are being built. These are EMD model GT26CU-3, 3000hp and Co-Co wheel arrangement. Unlike the first five class 39's, which were rebuilt from GM class 34's, the 39-200's are essentially new locomotives, but with refurbished prime movers. Four of these loco's were tested on the Steelpoort - Lydenburg - Belfast line in August. Apparently three of them can handle the same load as 5 class 37's.

In the workshop adjacent to the class 39 production line, the class 18E electrics are being rebuilt from class 6E1's. Here are three of the completed loco's, ready for delivery to TFR.

As more of these new locomotives are released into service, I am sure there will be some interesting photographs to be had! It will also be interesting to see where the class 37's will be sent, once the 39's have taken over on the Belfast - Lydenburg - Steelpoort line. Maybe they will put in an appearance on the Krugersdorp - Mafikeng line, who knows?


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Colour Purple

Three class 6E1's have been repainted in Shosholoza Meyl's purple livery at Transnet Rail Engineering's Koedoespoort Workshops in Pretoria. They are E1397, E1464 and E1654. All three locomotives were seen at Koedoespoort on Saturday, 19th September. On Wednesday, 23rd September, E1397 and E1464 each worked the East London and Port Elizabeth Shosholoza Meyl trains from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein.

The following day (Heritage Day) E1464 worked back to Jo'burg on the point of a freight train, despite the fact that these loco's are supposed to be ring-fenced for Shosholoza Meyl duties. E1464 teamed up with two more 6E1's, in old SAR red and Spoornet orange - an interesting lash-up!

E1397 worked the East London - Johannesburg "Economy", train 47014 and looked really smart in its new livery, matching the Shosholoza Meyl passenger cars. The train is seen north of Rooiwal station, passing the outer home and distant signal, which is still operational.


Friday, 18 September 2009

Railway news

Have been away travelling and internet access has been limited for updates. Will start updates in October. People have sent me plenty of news, so please be patient, the wait will be worth while.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

Natal & Free State news.

Hi all.

We left Welkom on Tuesday afternoon for Natal. No trains at Hennenman, all signals red. Onto Bethlehem, again no trains. From there we saw Kransfontein in the distance. Warden was passed in darkness and the same at Vrede. At Newcastle we saw plenty of red signals illuminating the night. From there it was on to Utrecht and onto Vryheid.

Wednesday morning we left Vryheid for Pongola. We passed Hlobane rails gone.

From Pongola the plan was to visit Piet Retief and Back to Vryheid via Paulpietersburg. Unfortunately due to the TERRIBLE state of the N2" we lost several hours due to stop / go road works and these places were only reached after dark.

Thursday was started of with a visit to Vryheid station. The station still looks neat and is used by private woodwork contactors. The cabin is still manned. All the signals were red and all the tracks very shiny. Faded nameboards are still on the platform with a couple of intact lights. On entering the station from inland by rail there is a blue board "Welcome to Coallink. Have a nice journey."

From here we headed to Vryheid East - Coallink. Arrival here was met with the tail-end of a two kilometre coal train waiting to head inland. Operating told us that a full load was on its way within 30 minutes or so and would change crews here. She was due in on road 5. While we were chatting away a diesel hooter was heard. This turned out to be orange 35 660 shunting a very long load of timber trucks. We were informed that the crew change would take place at the other end of the yard so we headed of in that direction. Along the way we noticed a BTM busy on the line, also some semaphores used as decoration in front of some of the offices.

At the other end we were met by a small little blue diesel shunter busy with empty coal hoppers in the repair area. The business end of the coal train had 4x blue 11E's up front, leading was E 11034, with 3x filthy sisters. Just alongside this train was SAR maroon 7E with numberplates also on a short load of coal trucks. Then light E 7256 N (orange) and blue E 7220 headed through.

We decided to head up the hill for a better few of the incoming train as one cannot take in the length of these monsters standing next to them. Soon this came into view also behind 4x blue 7E's. By the time we headed to Ulundi via Nongoma the end had still not come over the bridge we went underneath !

At Ulundi we joined up with the coal line again at a high rail over road viaduct. All along the line we were amazed at the engineering feat that had gone into this line, a real tribute to the good old SAR...

We were in the area so we decided to visit Umgungundlovu, Dingaan's kraal where Piet Retief and some of his Voortrekkers were murdered by Dingaan.

The first coal train we came across was a coastal bound one near Nhlazatshe. This was behind 3x blue 11E's. One could hear them working hard across the veld. Next was another load of coal behind 3x blue 11E's just before Dassieshoogte. At Dassieshoogte we saw a 11E standing in the yard area with plenty of coal wagons. Then another long train just past Dassieshoogte behind 4x blue 11E's. Then again past Vryheid East with plenty of coal wagons.

On Friday morning we left Vryheid for Ladysmith. At Bloodriver station we turned left and visited the famous site of the Vow and the laager of ox wagons. This is where the might of the Zulus was broken by the almost 500 trekkers against 12 000 Impis. Quite awe inspiring to stand there in the middle of the laager...

Back at Bloodriver station we found the station looking not to bad and inhabited by some locals. The platform is very overgrown and the nameboards have lost their names. A single intact platform light still bears the name Bloedrivier. The goods shed still stands and all track is still in place, although some of the points have been clamped. There is a steel footbridge over the lines. The old railway bridge still stands over the river. Also a semaphore signal gantry still stands as well. No trains were seen and our next stop was at Talana museum.

Here we found a green steam loco and a pink mainline coach.

Next stop was Talana station. The station is no more with all the buildings gone and an overgrown platform. The names still stand. WE found a long load of fine coal staged here. the line next to the platform has been uplifted.

Then we headed to Dundee. The station is fenced off and looks neat, it is still manned. The goods shed still stands and all the track is still there. Here we found another load of fine coal behind 5x blue 18E's. E 18 242 NATCOR CAR, E 18 084, E 18 182 were the only ones we could identify.

Then just before Danskraal we found an inland bound goods train behind Blue 18 E and purple Shosholoza Meyl 18E to far to get numbers.

Danskraal was full of traffic, Ladysmith was empty.

Our next stop was at Van Reenen station. The station still stands but is badly vandalised. The goods shed still stands and all the lines. The platform is overgrown. We found a sign "Lampkamer Lamproom" still on the building. The tracks are shiny and all the signals were red. This station building was once used as a tavern and the sign is still up.

Then it was onto to Swinburne. Basically just one building and a platform, the goods platform also still exists. Here we found an ancient 8 - sided "W" whistle board. All the signals were still red. There is a nice bridge just before the station.

Harrismith was void of any traffic and so was Bethlehem station. The yard had one orange 6E and some goods traffic.

We headed back via Kaallaagte. At Meets we just missed orange E 1466 on a short load of mielies. We stayed with her and followed where she entered the tunnel until we reached Kaallaagte, where the road leaves the line. From there it was back home with no further sightings.

John & Jacque.

Bloemfontein loco.

Hi all.

On Tuesday we left for Bloemfontein, the only movement we saw was a yellow BTM just before Brandfort.

We paid a quick visit to Transwerk, here we noticed plenty of brand new Shosholoza Meyl coaches standing in the workshop area, some Metro coaches as well. There was plenty of scrapped coaches and goods wagons scattered all over the place. Security is very strict and we did not really have an appointment so we moved on.

Next was a quick visit to Hamilton station. Here we just missed the Southbound car train heading through behind 2x blue 34's. A short while later a very smart looking white inspection trolley sped past and then the SPENO track grinding train left. After that, nothing. Hamilton does not look to bad, it still has some staff on the station. All the catenary has been removed.

Then we headed to the old BFX steam loco depot for a visit to Lucas Nel. Unfortunately he was not there but the friendly staff made us feel most welcome and let us wander around everywhere. Thanks guys - much appreciated. It was unfortunately a short visit and if we have got some numbers and classes wrong or if we've missed something, please rectify us.

In the workshop area we found supershine 19D 2654 - City of Bloemfontein on the tender. Work was being done on various narrow gauge locomotives and wagons.

Also here was 15E 2878 - Bethlehem on the smoke deflectors. Transnet National Collection.

Outside, derelict - GMA/M 4129 & 4090 (R) white painted numbers. Plenty of auxiliary water tanks and DZ wagons, a steam car and cabooses standing around. Also green 15F 2928 Johan Uys.

6B no. 524 white painted nos., class 7 no. 981 (green livery) white painted nos., 14R 1914 white painted nos. and 19D 3327 white painted nos..

Under the loco roof and fenced off in good condition - 19D 3332, 24 3688 Transnet National Collection, 16DA 876 TNC, 16E 875 TNC Bloemfontein,class 23 3300 Mandy TNC, 15F 2976 white painted nos.

Also under the roof not fenced off were two locos with no numbers, a 11th class and 24 if we checked correctly.

Outside again, 15AR 1850 SAR number plate. GMA/M REGM 12 / 4136 white paint, 25 NC 3410 TNC, GMA/M 4114, 15F 3040 TNC, 25NC 3454 BI Ebing TNC, on the tender SAR rebuilt at Salt river 1978 - City of Kimberley on the smoke deflectors. 25NC 3479 & worshond tender 3466.

11 classes 929 & 932 (Freegold livery) and a Cowans Sheldon steam crane circa 1890.

Also noticed in the diesel depot. Accident damaged SAR maroon diesel staged scrapped. Blue 35 265, Orange 34 033, Blue 34 607 accident damaged, Spoornet maroon 34 063. Plenty of blue steam cars standing at the far end of the shed. Also noticed two of RRL's new locomotives in their own colour scheme - a 35 class and a 36 class 36 01.

We will give you a write up of our Natal trip soon.

John & Jacque.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Zephir Battery operated CRAB locotractor

Last week, at Firgrove where a private company refurbishes Metro sets under contract.

Zephir locotractor did a shunting demonstration at the facility. Dylan Knott was in attendance and snapped a few pictures.

Pic 1
Zephir Battery operated CRAB locotractor. Can haul 500 tons on level gradient. 8 hrs continuous battery life. Fitted with road wheels as well. Pneumatic rubber tyres propel loco on rails. Rail wheels are a guide only.
Pic 2
New Zephir battery operated shunter. 8M EMU behind.
Pic 3
Zephir CRAB shunts at Firgrove.

The company has a webpage, click HERE.


After I was sent great pictures of Rhodesfield Station of the new interchange between Metrorail and Gautrain. I looked at www.gautrain.co.za and they have a lot of impressions of this new interchange.

The description below is from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/

The pictures of the interchange taken from the Business Express can be found HERE.


The Rhodesfield station is situated immediately to the south of the
Kempton Park central business district, and close to the R21 freeway.

Station platforms are elevated and located around one-third along
viaduct 15, which is directly above the existing Metrorail railway
lines, running between Isando and Kempton Park.

The station entrance, concourse and parking area are located at ground
level. There are 1 400 parking bays at the station, with provision
made for bicycle storage as well.

A new Metrorail station is being constructed and linked to the
Gautrain station at Rhodesfield, to extend the catchment area of the

While Sandton is already a high-density precinct, development of this
kind is still in its infancy in Rhodesfield.

Several residential properties have already been sold to commercial developers.

The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has received several
applications for commercial developments, including three hotels, in
the Rhodesfield area.

The first hotel is already being built close to Rhodesfield station.

Another development is a R600-million mixed-use development proposed
for the remaining residential erven next to the station.

Bellville Loco depot - Part 2

The last of the pictures. Thanks Stefan.

Bellville Loco depot - Part 1

Sorry, Stefan sent this 2 weeks back. Have been catching up on a few things. Enjoy the depot.


My son and I visited Bellville Loco depot this afternoon. We were taken around the whole depot and were not restricted in what we could take photos of or not. We watched a set of 6E’s been prepared for the road, departing for the goods yard next door and then departing for the North.


Stefan Andrzejewski