Thursday, 19 February 2009

Transnet sees job cuts as last resort in cost saving

Lets hope that Transnet is able to keep skills as they have last so much in the past few years.


THE RAIL arm of Transnet sees job cuts as a last resort when trying to save costs in light of the financial crisis, the company said today.

Transnet Freight Rail said it had met with unions to agree on a way forward that would cause the least harm to employees.

“All efforts will be made by management and staff to ensure that there are no service disruptions and that employees are not adversely affected by the current economic climate,” it said in a statement.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Metrorail accident in Springs - Gauteng

Pictures come from transnet, taken after the accident near Springs.

More "OVS" news

Hi all,

More sad news from the "OFS".

Have learnt that the old Railways have more woe's on
the way. Madame wanted to sell everything now a big
deficit is expected, which will affect staff & services.

At the present moment Monday 15/02/2009 there are
only two revenue earning trucks of lime on the Goldfields.

The car train is now routed via Kimberley, not
through Kroonstad, why no one knows? Only Shosholoza Meyl
running staff will man their own locomotives on Sundays.
All other Transnet [Spoornet] staff off Saturdays 14h00
until Sundays 22h00. Operating will close Saturdays
14h00 to Sundays 14h00, & then only open to serve the
few S/M trains.

No overtime & only 2 hours Sunday time for Transnet staff.

It would seem that the old Railways, we all knew & loved,
has finally come off the rails & possible more line closures
are on the way. Starting with the few branch lines still in use
& then some of other "main lines"?

John & Jacque.

Kroonstad - Bethlehem update

Hi all.

Left Welkom this morning for Bethlehem and Kroonstad.

First stop was at Hennenman, a few FZ mielie trucks, an orange air-braked van for shunting personnel and the runaway caboose were standing in the station area. Passengers waiting on the platform was the evidence of a very late running economy train to Johannesburg. All the signals were red.

Next stop was Ventersburg, old RTS depot.

Then we had a short stop at Senekal, still no evidence of any trains although operating states the line is open and does see at least one train a week.

Bethlehem station has the Shosholoza Meyl palisade but access to the platform was granted, the ticket office was open but no-one at home. The station building, a lovely sandstone one looks quite good, although "To Let" signs are all over the windows. The platforms were clean but plenty of weeds are growing on it. The board still reads " Bethlehem. Junction for / Bloemfontein, Kroonstad, Durban, Frankfort." New concrete sleepers have been laid on the line next to platform two. The last time we were standing on the platform we were waiting for the crew to take us to Kroonstad on BTS safari from Natal. The Economy Trans Orange was only due here tonight at 21:30.

A quick detour to the yard, one container train with 3x 6E's upfront - pantos down, also plenty of petrol tankers and staged electrics. The coal stage is gone and as you know all the staged steam locos - infact all that was standing at the loco was one 36 class shunter. There is a DE short standing at the entrance of the old carriage and wagon work shops.

Meets was visited next - only a nameboard left, all else has been demolished. Most tracks, even the one into the silos look rusted.

We saw the line disappearing into the only one of two tunnels in the Free State between Meets and Valsriver. Come what may there was no way we could get close to the tunnel without some serious walking.

Then it was on to Valsriver, 316 Miles to Durban, 5218 Ft above sea-level. The station has been demolished, the goods shed still stands and some track has been uplifted. The yard area is very overgrown and the tracks look rusted, except for the main line, which is shiny.

Next was Kaallaagte, 1642m above sea-level. Here too as all along the line to Kroonstad the station building is no more. Almost the entire goods yard has been lifted. Basically only the line into the silos remain. The goods shed still stands with an inaccessible line to it. Got Transnet working along the line here.

Then it was on an almost non-existent road past Ooreenkoms, just a name, on towards Arlington. Same story here - no more station building, the corrugated iron goods shed is also disappearing. Under the foot bridge we found the board "Arlington. Junction for / Lindley - Petrus Steyn - Heilbron - Wolwehoek - Senekal - Marquard." Not one of those places can be reached by a passenger train anymore, except Wolwehoek on the mainline. The line from Heilbron has been uplifted. And the line from Senekal to Marquard has since been closed. The line to Heilbron looks very rusted, but again operating stated that the line is open and still sees traffic. Three years ago we got a train at Petrus Steyn, since then our visits have not been so lucky again.

Now we were sick of gravel roads, so we opted for tar to Lindley and Kroonstad - big mistake, as the tar road was worse than the gravel road due to sinkholes - not potholes !! We gave Lindley a miss, on our last visit the station was ruined, so if it is still standing probably not much left. The line runs close to the road and looks very rusted.

The stations along the main line are demolished in any case, so we gave them a miss - will visit them some other time.

Picked the line up again near Steynsrus, This station as the others, Wonderkop and Featherstone are no more. Caught the pick-up near Patrysdraai behind one SAR maroon 6E and a short load of mielie trucks heading for Bethlehem.

Went through a refreshing thunderstorm in Kroonstad, no movement and the industrial sidings look disused.

On the way back we got the pick-up heading for Kroonstad behind a Spoornet maroon 34 class with a short load of FZ's going through Bosrand.

Geneva still stands, although now CTC controlled from Kroonstad.

Holfontein is destroyed.

This trip just confirmed the run down state of our railway system and the dwindling rail traffic...

Back in Welkom we saw the RRL ore haulage behind a blue 35 class heading for Odendaalsrus.

Sighting greetings.
John & Jacque.


I assume this rail will be used with the new concrete sleepers lying next to the line? New ballast can be seen along the line.

Pictures by Allan Roy - 15 February 2009
Diesel locomotive is busy delivering new railway track on the coast line between Fish Hoek and Simons Town
Allan Roy

Truck on the tracks

Allan will now be the contributing from Cape Town, many thanks Allan.

Pictures and text below from Allan, taken from the Simons Town line, Cape Town.

This specially adapted truck which has an electric motor while running on the railway track. The guy in the cherry picker is checking the thickness of the overhead power cable and is controlling the truck

Allan Roy

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Free State news

Hi all.

On Thursday we caught orange 34 048 leading 34 047 at Wesselsbron, heading for Bultfontein. Also caught one of Harmony's locos on the old St Helena system, light loco only, heading towards the exchange yard near the showgrounds.

Yesterday we visited Theunissen station and the old loco and coaling stage. The coaling stage has track lifted and is very overgrown. The triangle is still there but is no longer used as the Winburg line is closed.

Then we headed for Kareefontein on the Winburg branch, this took some finding as the service roads are no longer visible. Eventually we found the halt, no more name board left. The loop next to the goods platform has been uplifted / stolen as has the point tumbler on one side. We always carry a points key with us just in case of locked gates and the like. The old 1955 SAR brass Chubb lock on the other points took some hammering but eventually opened and we could throw the points for the loop - something which probably hasn't been done for years, the wooden sleeper disintegrated with this movement, hence no trains due to maintenance as reported before. A fence has been erected over the line here. The line is very overgrown all the way but at least still intact. Found a rail on the loop "Cape Government Railways 1891".

Then it was back to Theunissen and just missed a Northbound goods going at quite a speed. We only caught up with her at Welgelee, 2x orange 6E1's leading was E 1321. The load was scrap trucks of CALJ, BALJ and SMLJ, stencilled on the side of some of the wagons were "Not for service". The train was going at such a speed that we struggled to keep up on the service road. We followed her to Virginia and across the Sandriver bridge. The river was flowing quite strong after all the good rains we had and the water was a muddy brown colour, thus the name Sandrivier. The train started slowing down and at Hennenman was stopped - the driver probably being reprimanded over his high speed with a load of scrap wagons. From here on the train left at a walking pace towards Kroonstad.

John & Jacque.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

More Free State news

Hi all. Yesterday we visited Senekal station. The station is ruined, no roof and no door/window frames. The goods shed is still standing. Operating told us that the line sees at least one train a week. The line to Marquard is closed and getting very overgrown.

Winburg was also visited and the same story here but still has a roof. Some of the loops in the station area are laid with ANCIENT rails with a round crown, we spotted N.G.R. and C.G.R. 1888 !!!! The line looks fair but operating states that it needs maintenance as it is not safe to send a train down the line.

Just returned from a nice visit at Sheltam and a footplate ride on the mine system. Saw the cabooses being fitted for Their African operations.

Booking off.
John & Jacque.

Derailment - West of Belfast

08 February 2009

Returning this morning from Waterval Boven, after an overnight stay, we witnessed a scene recorded on the photos. Just west of Belfast, the railway runs close to the road and we saw the derailment. We left the car on the side of the road and walked a few hundred metres to the crash site. The recovery guys told us what had happened. Previously, 4 locomotives were parked on the spur line next to the main line without any power. A coal train passed at about 4am and the vibration of the passing train set the parked unit into motion. We find it difficult to imagine that locomotives do not have the equivalent of a hand brake, but this seems to be what happened. Because of the slight gradient the locomotives gained momentum and jumped the points onto the main line hitting the rear wagon of the coal train. The results, as they say, are history.
This event will quite probably not be a news item, as there were no casualties.

Mike Allan / Les Wallace

Great to see more people active with report/pictures. Thanks guys

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Free State update

Hi all.

We been to some more places today and saw plenty of trains.

We left Welkom this morning and saw one of RRL's new locos on an ore train heading for the exchange yard at the old showgrounds.

From there it was on to Wesselsbron, only a NAY hopper used as the runner for Omnia's liquid fertilizer was standing in the station. As we were leaving we heard the hooter of a diesel, so we hurried to the level crossing, orange 34 047 & 34 048 came thundering past with a 50-truck air braked block-load of mielies heading to Kroonstad. We chased after her and caught her a couple of times before turning around at Losdorings, the crew giving us a friendly wave. This was quite a sight as the two diesels hammered up grade towards and past us, flanges screaming on the curve...

Then we headed for Bultfontein, nothing at all was in the station or at the silos.

From there we headed to Soutpan (old RMS from Bloemfontein) and onto Brandfort on a very bad gravel road.

Arrival at Brandfort revealed the Southbound pick-up standing looped in the station behind SAR maroon E 1512 and Spoornet orange E 1522. The assistant was fast asleep on the footplate. Brandfort is still open and manned. The track gang were riding the rails in an Isuzu truck. It seems as if there was an occupation as the train was waiting for a Northbound goods to pass. The entire line (both up and down) has new ballast from here to Virginia. The old station building has been demolished and the JCB tractor was still standing there. Only the tall palm trees are a reminder of what once was. An old water tank and the goods shed still stands. The track look nice and shiny. An ancient yellow road sign "3 Lines stop" with marbles as reflectors, guards the level crossing in the yard. The station has the Shosholoza Meyl palisade fence around it and the two name boards are now attached to the fence on the platform.

Next stop was at Houtenbeck. This little station has been destroyed - but not as bad as others we've come across. The re-lay room seems to be used as housing as is the old signal cabin. We think it is because of this that the cabin still looks fairly neat with the stripped mini-panel and telephones still on the walls. We even found the train register still lying open next to the panel at the phone. The last inscription being 2002-02-25 "Klamp alle wissels vir die hooflyn". The goods shed is no more as is the line next to the old goods platform. The old watering place is completely overgrown, with almost all the wooden sleepers stolen. We were wandering around when the Northbound goods headed through behind orange E 1482, SAR maroon E???? still with number plates and orange E1719. This consisted of rail wagons, cement tankers, empty container trucks and petrol tankers - probably the Northbound pick-up. Here we picked up an ancient "Bulldog" clip still marked SAR&H - Made in England. We also found the "Authority Register: Passing Signals At Danger" book in the cabin, last inscription 2001-06-11. Also found a "brand new" unused Spoornet train register lying on the panel.

The road is being upgraded between Brandfort and Theunissen with "Stop - Go" control. Luckily we know the Railway service roads and headed along them to Welgelee. We caught up with the Northbound pick-up again just before Welgelee. While we were waiting for this train, we heard the sound of a 34 class shunting at the station, drifting across the veld. Soon we were heading for Welgelee. Here we found orange 34 030 & blue 34 409 standing looped for the passage of the electric hauled goods. After she sped past the diesels continued shunting the maize traffic at the silos with plenty of bangs and clangs.

We've been invited to footplate on the mine system with Sheltam this coming Saturday.

Branch and Mainline greetings.
John & Jacque.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

RRL class 35 diesel

Considering the locomotive shortage, amazing to see TFR selling locos.

The above picture was taken at Welkom Station, great stuff John & Jacque.

Hi all,

Just spoken to "RRL" at Welkom station & informed that
seven, 35 class diesels have been purchased & are being
overhauled & painted at Transwerk, Bloemfontein. [Dark red,
with their badge at ends & silver "RRL" on sides].

Five are already complete, with one coming to Welkom
early next week. We will make a point to be at the station
to meet this new arrival on the Goldfields railway scene. We
have contacted the "Volksblad" for press coverage.
Numbers, places where they will be stationed, to be obtained
from their Johannesburg HQ.

Also confirmed that the new track from, Friediesheim station
to 5 Shaft, will be completed & handed over, end of the month.
This ore will then be transported to the reduction plant in
Welkom, together with that from the Odendaalsrus mines.

The proposed new line from Allanridge to Loraine mines,
has been shelved till a later date.

John & Jacque.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

North West sightings

Thanks to John & Jacque, they will now supply information to the blog, including a few pictures from each outing. Thanks chaps!

3 February 2009

Hi all.

Had a quick trip to Bloemhof and Kingswood today.

As we arrived at Bloemhof two trains entered the station, Northbound was a long load of CALJ trucks with those orange tarpaulins on them "Lime Acres". This was headed by orange a 6E1and a SAR maroon 6E1, couldn't get the numbers as the other train obscured the locos.

The other train was the pick-up and headed into the silos to clear the mielie trucks there, this was headed by orange E 1359 OFS and SAR maroon 6E1.

Then just other side Grasslands we got a yellow & grey Lennings Rail machine with cabs at both ends, anybody know exactly what this does ????
Also found an intact phone in a yellow box trackside "Maintenance only".

Made a quick turn at RRL again this morning and the friendly staff showed us around the new locos.

John & Jacque.