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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?