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 and they have a lot of impressions of this new interchange.

The description below is from

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

Ubuntu Kraal, Soweto

This coach was found at Ubuntu Kraal in Soweto. Have included some links so you can read up on the facility.

Good to see the coach in such condition and is clearly cared for.


Some very positive news coming out if PRASA today. Will visit the area in September and hopefully will see the service up and running.


Metrorail will introduce a new train service between King Williamstown and East London on Monday the 3 of August 2009. “The introduction of this service is a significant development in Public Transport provision in the Eastern Cape, and congratulations are due to the Metrorail team under the leadership of Mr. Sisa Mtwa. We have seen how poor Public Transport provision in that corridor has forced citizens to hike along the roads. This service will address this situation and ensure that our people travel in dignity and have access to socio-economic opportunities in one of South Africa’s rural provinces. Civil Servants who live in East London and working in Bisho stand to benefit as well from this service”, said Mr Montana. The users of the service will also benefit from the use of the recently refurbished King Williamston train station. PRASA spent R14 million to refurbish the station and R180 000 to re-spray the coaches. The service will cost Metrorail R11000 per day in running costs.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Signal box at Muizenberg station

The remains of the signal box at Muizenberg station

Allan Roy

Bubble cars

Pictures taken from the Business Express. These are rare beasts and I will give more information about them when I get a chance.