Friday, 29 May 2009

Free State main line

Hi all,

Whilst we were at Hennenman this morning we saw that
a down line, signal had a green aspect. On calling Kroonstad
CTC, we were told that it was for train 9701 hauling dead 37 031
class diesel locomotive (blue), with accident damage. When
we called it was at Bosrand. Speed restriction only 30 km/h all
the way to Bloemfontein. We waited and met it between Holfontein
and Geneva, also had a couple of DZ's for braking power.
Leading was SAR maroon E 1468, still with Union Carriage

We were told that there was a track brakeage on the line as well,
also slowing trains working. [The Free State has had some lovely
24deg c days, but with low 6 deg c nights, this could have caused
the track to failure]. The PWI chaps were busy on the line near
Holfontein station.

From there we headed to Ventersburg and Winburg via the N1.
Just before Winburg we saw the road sign indicating Winburg
station with a metro 8Km distant - what a disappointment awaits
an unsuspecting person !

We headed over Bell's pass 1400m just outside Winburg and our
next stop was at Brandfort - all signals red.

Then we headed to Theunissen. Here the Southbound signal was
green. We have heard rumours that Transnet were busy on the
Winburg line - probably uplifting - the line is still intact and there
for now. We plan to walk along the entire line soon.

Back to Welkom via Virginia, no trains. Only caught blue RRL 35 at
Friedesheim heading to the mine at Odendaalsrus.

Winter greetings,
John & Jacque.

Free State news

Hi all.

We headed to Bloemhof today and upon arrival at the station we caught orange E1447 and Spoornet maroon sister heading South on a short load of containers. She was still heading through the station when we heard the hooter of another train. This turned out to be orange E 1678 on the Northbound Trans Karoo tourist. She was going at an incredible lick, the baggage van was hopping to - and - fro from the speed. The driver gave us a hoot, looks like we are becoming familiar even on this line now. In addition to the normal car carrier, there was another purple car carrier coach attached to the train, lower than the normal car carrier and stencilled in white "Car Carrier".

Then all the signals were red and we noticed some maize traffic being shunted in the silos with the small black diesel shunter.

A while later the Northbound signals were green again and soon orange E 1416 "OFS", SAR maroon E XXXX and a "dead" blue 10E headed through on a long load of Lime tankers and open wagons.

What was strange is that all the trains were operating "Wrong road working", probably track maintenance somewhere.

Then we headed back to Welkom. At Friedesheim we noticed blue RRL hire 35 262, waiting for orange 34 031 to clear the section with a load of mielies for Kroonstad. We also noticed plenty of Transnet Perway staff working on the line.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with the friendly guys at RRL, Welkom station. They informed us that in the wee hours of this morning a rail broke between Friedesheim and Odendaalsrus. The rail had been fixed with a temporary speed limit over the section. There had been quite a backlog of trains waiting to clear the section.

At Welkom station Transnet fitters from Kroonstad were busy servicing blue 35 257. RRL's own two locos 35 01 & 35 02 were standing alongside. Soon 34 031 headed through. A while later 35 262 returned and was attended to. They are negotiating to get 35 252 back in stead of 35 262.

The manager told us that they have two more locomotives ready at Bloemfontein, another 35 class and a 36 class as well. He could not tell us if they were coming to Welkom or not. They still have plans to construct a diesel shed in the old Welkom goods shed, also they are to hire their own diesel fitter soon. He also told us he started his career as a diesel assistant in Lydenburg, from there on he progressed to driver at Bloemfontein. He fondly recalls his time heading the Algoa. Amatola, Orange and Diamond expresses. From driver he further progressed through the ranks.

Sighting greetings.
John & Jacque.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Shosholoza Meyl new livery

Stefan Andrzejewski sent me some pictures of the new Shosholoza Meyl livery. Photographed from Century City in Cape Town. This is a revised livery that has the same pattern but now has more purple and less yellow.

You can see the original livery HERE.

This set photographed by Stefan is the Cape Town > Johannesburg sitter. Its one of the new complete air conditioned sets fresh out of Transnet Rail Engineering.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

A day at "Bosrand"

Hi all,

Five rail "nuts" departed from Riebeeckstad at 10h00 via the
various mines railway systems & Virginia, Whites, Hennenman to
Bosrand. At 10h15 we met our first train, a Sheltam hauled empty
ore train on it's way to "Saaiplaas" no. 4 shaft. A friendly wave &
hoot from the driver. Then onwards to the lovely old main line girder
bridge now carrying the Glen Harmony line arriving there at 10h39.
Then onto Whites, Hennenman & Bosrand. A call to Kroonstad
operating told no trains till the afternoon in both directions.

Arrival at Bosrand 11h30, two fires lit & leisurely walk around & chat
whilst sitting on the "up" line. By now the fires were just right, plenty
of wors & chops on the roosters. Then the great aroma of braaing meat
floated over the Vrystaat vlaktes.

After a tasty meal, Jacque noticed that the "down" signal had a green
aspect showing, at 14h45. A call to Kroonstad advised a goods train was
ready to depart Gunhill yard to Bloemfontein. At 14h40 the approaching
train could be heard coming up the incline towards Bosrand. Then it came
into view. A very audible notching down heard. The driver & assistant worried,
"Who are these persons in reflective jackets". A friendly wave & acceleration
past us, on recognising the photographers. 6E1's 1553 & 1669 sped past with
a very long string of loaded "Maersk" refrigerator containers, a large number of
empty SLJ's bringing up the rear. Quite a few "square" wheels heard. Only a quarter
of a marker hanging on a piece of wire completed the train. Had a telemeter on.

We started to pack up and arrived home at 16h00 after a lovely hot 25c windless

Braai greetings,

John, Jacque, Steven, Dawid & Gert.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Free State and Bloemhof wanderings

Hi All,

On a cold morning we saw the pickup leaving
Welkom station yard with a load of grain trucks on the
way back to Kroonstad.
Again at Welkom station yard two TFR Blue 35's
& one of RRL's own 35 locomotives were standing
next to each other.

Then it was on to Bloemhof again.

We noticed that the points had been set up for the
yard and the de-railer was off the shunt neck.
Here we found E 10 140 & E 10 043 (as on Monday)
Shunting at the silos, again this was a lengthy task,
pushing and pulling the FZ's up and down.

We decided to make ourselves some lekker
Railway stew under the roof of the old PWI inspector's
office. While this was simmering away, we heard the
points move and set back to the main line. Soon the
signals were green Southbound. A short while later
3x orange 6E1's headed through at a tremendous speed
with a load of beer trucks and containers.

We enjoyed our stew and watched the shunting movements.
Soon the load was ready and the 2x 10E's headed North.
After that all the signals remained red.

We headed to Makwassie and noticed green signals
just before Kingswood, here the line starts moving
away form the road and by the time we reached Makwassie
all the lights were red again, so we missed a Southbound train.

The branch to Ottosdal and Vermaas seems to have had a train
over it as the line is full of flattened weeds. Makwassie station
had not been destroyed more since our last visit. A couple of months
ago we noticed that all the old railway houses across the station
were occupied, today we saw they have all been demolished ????
Wonder if the station is going to be next...
Also noticed that some of the roofing has been loosened,
so not to long now and Makwassie is no more.

Next stop was at Leeudoringstad, the same story here, all red
and no trains.

On to Bothaville, Schuttesdraai, here we found the FZ's
from the head-on collision still standing there bunched together.

Back to Welkom via Allanridge, Odendaalsrus and Friedesheim -
no further trains were seen.

John & Jacque.

Tshwane Business Express - Early pictures

Tshwane Business Express - 2nd set.
Leon Croukamp had his finger on the pulse.

Some points to note, the 2nd set has toilets now. A very positive step. I wonder if the 1st set is going to get some toilets. This could be done by mixing stock with the 2nd set or doing an upgrade to the existing 10M5 module.

Interior is very similar to the 1st set but there seems to be an area around the toilet that is wheel chair friendly. Not sure if the 1st set has this layout. Will ask a friend and fellow passenger of the express.

SA Rail news will follow this project and will hopefully have some launch pictures and timetable information soon.

Tshwane Business Express set to expand

The information below will be released to the public shortly. Since I received the information, further points have come to light that the train will be branded as the 2nd Tshwane Business Express. Leon Croukamp saw the set a while back in the yards of Metrorail in Pretoria, Metro were busy with interior fittings and ironing out of teething problems.

The picture shows the logo on the side but its possible that this has since changed due to PRASA and other branding factors.

No need to wait for Gautrain – Introducing the Johannesburg Business Express
Travelling at speeds of up to 120 kilometers an hour, the new
Johannesburg Business Express will take commuters from Johannesburg to
Pretoria in under 60 minutes, while its dedicated bus passenger
service will make the trip between Pretoria station and Pretoria CBD a
10-minute breeze.
The 520 - seater, inter-city commuter service will run at least six
trains services/ trips in both directions, complemented by the
existing Tshwane Business express, operating for approximately 14
hours a day, backed up by dedicated buses to transport passengers to
and from stations.
Besides easing traffic congestion and related air pollution in the
Gauteng province – new Johannesburg Business Express, like its
predecessors, will connect with buses and taxis to help create a more
efficient public transport system and thus stimulate economic growth
in the country.
The Gauteng Metrorail Region was the first to pioneer the vision of a
luxury commuter train, with the introduction of the Soweto Business
Express in 2007 which proved a runaway success. Similar concepts have
since been rolled out in Cape Town in the form of Khayelitsha and
Premium Business Express, following closely to the phenomenal success
of the Tshwane Business Express.
The new Johannesburg Business will be launched on the 1st June 2009,
with its maiden trip to Pretoria expected at about 5h20. This will be
an express non stop service to Pretoria and back.
Approached for comment, Regional Manager Nozipho Sangweni said ‘ The
Business Express brand has a solid foundation on our differentiation
and growth strategy , the market offering is adapted physically and
psychologically from competing products in such a way that the
customer regard it as a totally different service and are prepared to
pay a premium for it”
Brand performance, reliability, convenience and superior service
continue to surpass customer expectation creating an unparallel
competitive advantage for the Business Express in the minds of the
“The Business Express brand has certainly placed the rail agenda on
the public platform and it has single handedly elevated the profile of
rail as a key public transport player” Ms. Sangweni concluded.
The upcoming launch of the Johannesburg Business will be a relatively
small media event with a few dignitaries invited. Bookings to the
general public will be opened effectively from Monday 25 May 2009.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Trip to Bloemhof

Hi all.

We had a trip to Bloemhof today and can share the following with you.

Firstly as we arrived at the station we found 2x 10E's (SAR maroon E 10 104 & Spoornet blue E 10 043) busy shunting mielie trucks in and out of the silos. This went on for quite a while and they only left much later, heading North, E 10 034 leading.

Not to long after this we caught the Northbound Tourist Trans Karoo. She stopped at Bloemhof but according to our timetable this is / was not a scheduled stop ? After a couple of minutes she left behind Spoornet orange 6E1 1286, just behind the unit was a blue steam car, blowing off steam through the vent in the roof. The rest of the train was in Shosholoza Meyl colours with the car carrier bringing up the rear. A delicious smell of frying bacon filled the air as the kitchen car passed us.

The rest of the day was spent in the vicinity of the station area but no further trains were seen.

John & Jacque.

Simons Town Station

Some comment and pictures from Allan Roy

Hi Craig

Not much has happened on the Simons Town line lately. Took some photos today while at the beach in simons town.
As you can see in the one photo as well as the signal that only has a red light, Simons Town is the end of the line.

Friday, 15 May 2009

RRL at Friedies 5 Shaft near Odendaalsrus

RRL at Friedies 5 Shaft near Odendaalsrus, loading ore for Welkom gold plant.

Sighting greetings.
John & Jacque.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Further Free Sate news

Hi all.

Just a short one.

Got orange 34 030 shunting the silos at Bultfontein this morning. After completing this she turned on the triangle and left for Kroonstad with a short load of mielies. Later on we got her as she was departing Wesselsbron, the load now much longer.

Today we finally, for the first time, saw RRL's 35 02 on the "new" line from Friedesheim to Freddies 5 shaft, loading ore at the shaft. She was running "gat eerste" so no photos. At least we'll keep an eye open here now.

Plasserail is still busy in our neck of the woods.

John & Jacque.

Free State news

Hi all.

This morning we found three RRL locos being refuelled at Welkom station, 2x blue hire 35's and their own loco.

Later on we headed towards Odendaalsrus. Nearing the station we heard the sound of a diesel hooter coming in from the section. Standing on the old platform we noticed an orange 34 stopping at the end of the station. Soon we heard RRL's blue 35 heading our way from the shaft at OD with the ore. She too stopped at the points entering the mainline. No we were puzzled, we noticed Plasserail and TFR vehicles at the old goods shed but found no-one. A while later a yellow tamping machine headed into the station from the Welkom side and pulled into the loop. Since all the tracks have been removed where the BTM can be pased in the section, they now have to run into the nearest station / siding for other traffic to pass. Soon enough 34 030 notched up and hooted then passed us towards Welkom, only now could we see the load. It was the Agricura weed killer train, consisting of 2x cabooses, 2x FP parcel trucks, 4x XJ tanker wagons (Agricura Gif / Poison) and 1x green weed-killer-spraying coach.

Only the overgrown platform, palmtrees and a destroyed container (Van Schoor) remains at OD, one loop has been uplifted.

We headed back to Welkom along the service road and found Plasserrail busy about mid-way between Odendaalsrus and Friedesheim, just behind Phakisa raceway.

Sighting greetings.
John & Jacque.

Class 18E Shosholoza Meyl locomotives

SA Rail news was out and about again and photographed the Tourist Class Johannesburg to Cape Town Train. Some great pictures of Shosholoza Meyl livery class 18E locos (18407 and 18408) with steam heat wagon in tow. Also the car loader in action, first time I have seen pictures of this actually happening.

Will be interesting too see when this train changes over to an air-conditioned set.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Gautrain - Park Station

Great sequence of Park Station. This is the new Gautrain Station serving the Johannesburg CBD. Pictures taken early morning. Great stuff!

From top to bottom.
4 May
29 April
25 March
11 March
3 February
28 January

Friday, 8 May 2009

The Phelophepa visits the Free State

Once again, Transnet's Phelophepa health care train is making its way around the country. The early part of the year was spent in various parts of the Free State, including Frankfort, Ficksburg, Koppies, Kroonstad, Bothaville and Thaba 'Nchu. From a photographic point of view, this is a very interesting train, as it travels over sections of line that rarely see any kind of passenger rolling stock. It also usually spends a week at each location and then moves to the next on a Saturday, making it relatively easy for railfans to get out and record the trains movements.

1. DSC0151
At 07h00 on a beautifully crystal clear Valentine's Day, class 35 GM diesels 35-256 and 35-250 snake their way down grade just outside of Frankfort, en route to Bethlehem and Ficksburg. 14/02/2009.

2. DSC0183
35-256 and 35-250 approaching Danielsrus siding at 09h32, en route from Frankfort to Bethlehem. 14/02/2009.

3. DSC0037
A month later, on 14th March 2009, cattle grazing on the Free State plains are oblivious to the passing train as it approaches Ancona Junction at 07h00 in beautiful morning light behind class 34 no. 34-406, en route from Bothaville to Whites and Kroonstad.

4. DSC0067
Class 34-406 at speed on the Free State main line near Geneva, heading for Kroonstad. 14/02/2009, 08h40.

Eugene Armer

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Train 74205

Friday, 1st May 2009

Train 74205, the "month-end Fridays only" Shosholoza Meyl Tourism from Johannesburg to East London is seen southbound near Meyerton behind class 6E1 E1593 in original SAR red livery. The train is ferrying two new coaches to East London for Kei Rail, an Eastern Cape provincial government initiative that has seen passenger rail service reintroduced between Amabele and Umtata.


This is a first time contribution from Eugene Armer. What a great scoop with the Kei Rail coaches attached. Look forward to many more from Eugene as he is very active in the modern scene.

When I get a chance, will put up some more pictures of the Kei Rail project sent from Sheltam.

Friday, 1 May 2009

May Day with Sheltam

Taken from the Sheltam CD calendar 2009. Enjoy, will post more each month.