Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Free State sightings

Hi all.

Today our first sighting was at Theron. Here we got the yellow & blue Plasserail Infrastructure Measuring Vehicle heading North. Even the Plasser staff have started greeting us lineside with a couple of blasts of the siren / hooter.

Next stop was at Brandfort, here we got SAR maroon E 1613, heading North - light loco.

Then just before Tierfontein we got the Matiza - Ballast Tamping Machine, busy just after the bridge over the Vet River.

Last sighting was at Wesselsbron. Here the station had 3 lines filled with mielie trucks. A train was standing on the main line, pointing towards Ancona. Orange 34 043 & orange 34 058 were at the head, orange Shunting Personnel Kroonstad van at the rear. On closer inspection this train was devoid of any crew, staged for the night. We noticed that the points now all have a spring-loaded "safety bar" across the arm that connects to the blades - this is to stop the train movements / vibration from moving the point blades underneath a truck. This was first seen on the mines in our area some time back already.

We headed back via the line towards Allanridge. At Ancona / Rooiblom we noticed a yellow sign before the points at the warning board: " No Simultaneous Entry / Geen Gelyktydige Binnelating." This was next to a 20Km/h speed restriction board. At Rooiblom the line branches off towards Bultfontein and Vierfontein. Many years ago there was a triangle here, the top leg has been lifted. This used to be Rooiblom / Rooiblom Oos / Rooiblom Wes. We will have a look in the OFS Local Appendix and find the operating instructions for this triangle, quite interesting.

J & J.

Long weekend sightings - Part 3

Long weekend sightings - Part 2

Long weekend sightings - Part 1

Hi all.

Hopped into the Landy and headed from Welkom to the Western Transvaal. More trains on that section than here on the Free State main line. First sighting for the day was RRL 91 class on a load of ore heading towards Welkom.

We remembered that the Blue Train is supposed to leave Pretoria at 08h50. On enquiring when she was expected at Klerksdorp, we were told that right time was 13h32. We then phoned Coligny for more details, but being told "Nie op my trajek vandag nie, probeer Potchefstroom". Not on my section today try Potchefstroom. Here we were advised to try CTC Vereeniging. Then we were told the Blue Train was travelling via Sentrarand due to the Pretoria accident. On contacting Sentrarand, told "Nou eers naby Springs", now only near Springs. 10h32. To join the Vereeniging line at Skansdam then via Leeuhof, Fochville, Potchefstroom onwards. Will be running late.

No trains all the way from Welkom to Orkney. Some mielie trucks at Allanridge and Schuttesdraai, none at Bothaville. Allanridge had some DZ's standing in the station.

First train on the main line was 2x blue 10Es hauling a short load of Southbound ore hoppers near Harrisburg. E 10 024 & E 10 017.

Our next sighting was just South of Leeudoringstad. This was a Southbound load of BA / CA trucks, DZ's and Lime tankers. Up front were 3x 18 E's, 2x blue and 1x TFR livery. Leading was E 18 352. We got this train again just before Makwassie. Here it started raining softly and it got quite chilly.

Just North of Grasslands we got a Northbound load of ore hoppers going at speed. This was also behind 3x 18E's, 2x blue and 1x TFR livery.

Between Bloemhof and Grasslands we got blue 35 217, heading North with only one tarpaulin covered truck.

Bloemhof station area was overflowing with mielie trucks. Of interest was a short load of which the truck cards read; "From Wolmaransstad silo to Maseru bridge." We had an interesting chat with TCO Klerksdorp. He told us that the line from Makwassie to Wolmaransstad is still open. Work is being done to widen the road / rail bridge near the squatter camp at Wolmaransstad. When completed this line will probably be re-opened to Ottosdal. Still traffic on the Klerksdorp to Ottosdal line and then onwards to Vermaas. Strange another TCO had just mentioned he works the signals only and has no knowledge of lines opened or closed. He also mentioned that the maize could go via Kimberley / Bloemfontein or via Klerksdorp / Fochville / Kroonstad / Bethlehem. (We were told recently by a TCO that the line from Bethlehem to Balfour North is actually still open.) If the Orkney - Vierfontein line was not uplifted, this traffic could have come via Westleigh.

At Bloemhof a Northbound load of mielies came through behind 2x 6E's, one orange and one SAR maroon.

We found out that the Blue Train was on it's way. Between Kingswood and Grasslands the load of mielies we got at Bloemhof was re-routed onto the loop. This was to cross a South bound load of B - bogies and Lime, going at full lick. The load was behind 2x Spoornet Maroon 10E's, leading was E 10 015, a friendly hoot and wave from the crew.

Near Kingswood there is a temporary speed limit of 30km/h, new ballast has been laid.

We followed the Northbound mielies on the dirt road next to the line. As soon as she picked up speed she was slowing down to be looped again at Kingswood. This time to cross a South bound load of containers. This was behind 2x orange 6E's, E 1580 & E 1407.

We followed the mielies to Boskuil, quite strange to see an orange 6E bearing down on you in the Landy's rear view mirror !!

Operating informed us that the Blue Train has just left Leeudoringstad and was on it's way to Makwassie. Just after Makwassie we spotted the Blue. This train travels at such a pace that we only got ahead of her near Grasslands.

Just South of Grasslands she sped past , the roof of the Landy making a perfect vantage point high above all the trackside khakiebosse. She glided past behind 2x smart looking 14E's, E 14 110 & E 14 107, greetings from the crew with short blasts of the hooter. We remember seeing the Blue Train hundreds of times at Worcester, what was different was that the roar of the generator car's engines could not be heard as usual. We followed her to Bloemhof at quite a pace.

The long haul back to Welkom started and the last sighting for the day was RRL's 91 class at Frieddes 5# getting the hoppers loaded with ore.

We had great co-operation from the many CTC/TCO offices we contacted to get the latest train movements. Have contacts from Pyramid South, Sentra Rand, Union, Kimberley, Bethlehem, Bloemfontein, Noupoort plus most in-between offices. Staff know us, others when hearing our interest, helped - all most helpful with latest train movements on the sections they control.

J & J.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Free State sightings - Thursday Part 2

Free State sightings - Thursday Part 1

Hi all.

Yesterday we got the Northbound car train near Whites behind 2x SAR maroon 6E's, leading was E 1616. Near Virginia we got a Southbound pick-up behind orange and maroon 6E's.

Our first sighting for today was RRL.

At Gunhill we got orange 34 028 shunting a load of yellow jet fuel tankers and a staff van. The yard was quite full of traffic.

The old watering column at Hennenman is still standing as is the now disused triangle. At the silos we got blue 30 037 shunting mielie trucks.

Then we headed to the Winburg Theunissen branch. A trek of about 1 km through the veld brought us to Deelspruit, 31 km from Theunissen. Just a very rusted nameboard remains (rails on nameboard CGR 1890) and overgrown track. It is quite sad to stand there with the cool autumn wind blowing trough the trees and knowing that the chances of a train on this line again is non-existent...

All along this branch the farmers have closed the line with fences. This line will most probably never be uplifted, as the cost of recovering such light track and not being able to use it anywhere else would not be justified.

Meyershalt's nameboard is just rusty brown - no name remains. Same as Deelspruit track wise. The rails date from 1891 and the nameboard's are from 1880 all CGR.

The bridges / culverts on this line are made of Sand stone.

Last sighting for the day was again the North bound car train near Theron behind 2x orange 6E's

J & J.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Free State action

Hi all.

First sighting for today was blue 34 037, heading light loco towards the exchange yard near Welkom showgrounds.

Next stop was at Bloemhof. While waiting for a North bound train we noticed the ballast tamping machine had been past recently. This action has "unearthed" a lot of broken pieces of crockery. We found a piece of a SAR plate with a green Coat of arms, a piece of a cup with green Flying Springbok "Vlermuis", a piece from a porridge plate with blue Spoornet trim. A another piece from a cup with a yellow rim and the bottom part of a plate with "Royal Albert England" on it. All our crockery is made by Continental and some ancient pieces from England - but nothing from Royal Albert. Les P, can you help us here ??

Soon 3 x blue 18E's came past on a long load of mielies, hooting from the crew. Leading was E 18 070 and trailing was E 18 063.

Last sighting was a pair of orange 6E's on a South bound load of containers. Leading was E 1252, again hooting form the crew. In this load we noticed open containers - containers with no roof, carrying some sort of bulk mineral ??

J & J.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

North West Sightings - Part 2

North West Sightings - Part 1

Hi all.

First sighting for the day was at Leeudoringstad. Here the Khakiebosse have also taken over the station platform, at least the station building is still standing. An almost right time Tourist Trans Karoo headed through en-route to Johannesburg behind SAR maroon E 1467. Again the train did not look too full. She was stopped at Leeudoringstad for a red signal, probably something ahead in the section. Slowly she departed, extra car carrier in front of the normal one.

Next train was a very long Northbound ore train, near Eersteling, behind 4x very faded blue 10E's, leading was E 10 028. Friendly hoot and wave from the crew. No matter how many times we witness this - you have to be moved by this sort of thing... Thousands of tons of steel going at almost 100km/h...

Just before Makwassie we found out where the train load of concrete sleepers had disappeared to. They are all lying along the line for several kilometres. The old sleepers have all got chips out of them, definitely a derailment.
At Makwassiespruit we took a stroll over the bridge. The one side of the gangway is loose and would not be a nice place to stand if a train sped past. Someone is busy opening the pipes over the bridge to steal the cables, we found a hacksaw blade and fresh saw marks on the protective pipe. They won't get their saw blade again without a diving suit.

Another Northbound ore train, near Boskuil, sped past behind another 4x blue and red 10E's, leading was Maroon E 10 031.

Then just after Kingswood another Northbound load of containers went past behind 3x orange 6E's. Leading was E 1204 "Cape Western". Greetings and hooter from the crew.

We got a long block load of mielies just North of Bloemhof. This was behind orange E 1200 "Southern Transvaal and SAR maroon E xxxx "Newcastle". Strangely this train had a marker on the leading unit.

Just South of Bloemhof we got our first Southbound train. She was standing at the signals. The load was quite a long load of fine coal. Up front were orange, E 1633 orange E 1377 and SAR maroon E xxxx.

Last sighting for the day was at Bloemhof. Southbound pick-up on a load of mielies behind orange E 1236.

J & J.

100 mph / 160 kph Ostriches!

Never had overseas stuff on the blog before but this is rather fitting. Thanks Les.

Gatwick Express operated 3rd rail class 460 "Juniper" EMU number 460006 stands at Selhurst Depot in South London after receiving attention on the wheel lathe.
460006's livery is advertising some of Emirates destinations in Africa, i.e. Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Johannesburg and Cape Town, other units advertise destinations in China and Australia.
The 460's spend their life operating the 15 minute interval nonstop shuttle service between London's Victoria station and Gatwick Airport in the South.
Over the next year the 8, 10 year old units will be withdrawn and the coaches reformed in to similar class 458 "Juniper" units operated by South West Trains allowing them to be lengthened by one coach to allow longer commuter trains to be run, during the reforms the driving cars will loose their distinctive "Darth Vader" front ends.
Their duties on the Gatwick Express service are being taken over by refurbished 22 year old units, but that is a different story!
Incidentally the green liveried unit in the back ground is one of the growing family of Bombardier "Electrostar" emu's which includes the new Gautrain units.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Free State sightings on Wednesday.

Hi all.

Today, again the first sighting was RRL 91 class on a load of ore at Welkom station.

Near Kalkvlakte we got a Northbound train of Ammonium Nitrate and petrol. This was behind orange E 1343 "OFS" and another two orange sisters.

Next stop was at Theunissen, here we found the Spoorbaan busy on the points at the North end of the station. Orange 34 043 was standing at the signal cabin, the crew chatting to the TCO.

We paid a visit to Vetriver. Here we stumbled upon a very neatly kept graveyard of about forty graves just to the North of the station. The biggest tombstone has "Canada" on it. All the graves are from 1902 February to May. "Died of disease", others Enteric, are on some of the crosses... Probably water from the river ?

The station's cabin is still locked - but access has been gained through the old semaphore signal wires entrance underneath the platform. Everything is now destroyed. The weeds have basically taken over the platform and station area. Bees have moved into the old chimney in the ticket office.

While heading towards Brandfort we noticed a Southbound train. We decided to wait for it at Houtenbeck. Somebody is staying in the old cabin, thus the place is still intact and standing, although it reeks of smoke. Here we found old pilot working forms and a 2001 "Platform" magazine on the floor. Also picked up a key ring "Houtenbeck Loods".

Soon SAR maroon E 1613 and a blue sister came through on a load of mielies and containers.

No further trains.

J & J.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Free State sightings

Hi all.

The first train we saw was RRL's 91 on a load of ore between Odendaalsrus and Friedesheim. Are these locos going to cope with ore haulage ??

At Bloemhof we discovered a new dirt road to the South of the station, near the old livestock loading area. Here we found an almost still intact water column. Even the 1971 brass Chubb London lock was still dangling on a piece of chain. (This has now been "donated" to our museum, after all these years one turn of the Chubb key and the lock opened). What was interesting was the piece of isolated catenary above the watering point, still with the following yellow warning / notice attached to the pole. "Switch 25W - TO TAKE WATER - Unlock switch. Place handle to open position. Turn chain-key towards switch and withdraw key. AFTER TAKING WATER - Replace chain-key and turn away from switch. Place handle to closed position and lock." "OM WATER TE NEEM - Sluit skakelaar oop. Stoot hefboom na die oop stand. Draai kettingpen na die skakelaar toe en trek dit uit. NADAT WATER INGENEEM IS - Plaas kettingpen terug en draai dit weg van die skakelaar. Stoot hefboom na die toe stand en sluit."

A short while later, orange E 1411 "OFS", still with a red UCW makersplate on the door, came through on the late running Trans Karoo to Johannesburg. A friendly hoot from the driver startled us ! The train looked very empty.

Next stop was at Makwassie where the Southbound signals were green. As reported previously, the old goods yard has been uplifted and a bolster rail truck was standing on a loop loaded with pieces of rail. Also the train load of sleepers have disappeared to somewhere else. A short wait later 3x orange 6E's came speeding through on a load of containers, leading was E 1261, again a friendly wave and hoot from the driver.

At Leeudoringstad we found the C & W guys attending to two container trucks that had been put off the train we got at Makwassie.

On to Regina, here the Southbound signals were green once again. A couple of minutes later 4x 10E's came through on a load of Lime and ore trucks. Leading was SAR maroon E 10 115 with a huge tumble weed stuck on the cow-catcher. The front door wide open for a cooling breeze. Next was Spoornet blue E 10 xxx, Spoornet maroon E 10 xxx and another SAR maroon 10 E. This driver did not greet as he was to busy slowing down / applying brakes when he noticed us line side. As the train passed the smell of brake blocks filled the air !

Speed trapping greetings.

J & J,

RRL new arrivals Welkom

This is a great scoop J&J. Class 91's working in Welkom on Cape Gauge, gotta love SA rail scene.

Hi all,

Today we got RRL at the Jan Hofmeyer crossing, heading towards the exchange yards near the showgrounds. The locomotive looked and sounded different. What a surprise we got when RRL 91 01 came past on a load of ore hoppers !!!! In passing the drivers told us they have been around for two weeks. We have not been here for two weeks... Off to the station we went to enquire more. Lo and behold - another train came in from Friedesheim and behind 91 02 !!!! Never ever did we think we would see 91 classes in Welkom. According to the fitter they were TFR 91 012 - RRL 91 01 & TFR 91 011 RRL 91 02. They told us that they are not running on 36 class bogies. Also comparing the bogies to their own 36 01 they do indeed look different.

Their DH 01 has been repaired and is ready for use. 36 01 is receiving some attention to the engine and should be running again next week. Also noticed was 35 02 on a load of ore. We were also told that RRL have purchased several more 35 classes and they are at work in the Congo somewhere. All we need now is for their 39 class to make an appearance in Welkom. She is currently somewhere in the Sishen area.

RRL's traffic looks good and is picking up. A while back we heard a rumour that they might even be taking over from Sheltam ??

All know that the good old OFS is known for surprises but NG Diesels in Welkom, takes a lot of beating !

We just need a 39 class to have had all the diesel classes in our area.

Surprised greetings,
John & Jacque.

Some further information about the new RRL arrivals from Ashley Peter.

I understand that two class 35's from Mason's Mill have been purchased by RRL Grindrod and that the first one (35-658) is due to be hauled dead from Pietermaritzburg today en route to Cor Delfos in Pretoria. There is also a loaded DZ wagon on the train - presumably spares. The other one (35-616, I think - but subject to confirmation) is still to follow. Presumably these are either accident damaged locos, or in need of major mechanical overhaul.



Sunday, 11 April 2010

The NEW Flying Dutchman

Dylan Knott spotted the new Flying Dutchman on the road! Will be interesting to see what difference this new funicular will be bring. Anybody know when it will be in use? Assume it will be ready for the 2010 Football World Cup.

Click here for my other report.

New Rhodesfield Station - Part II

Some more pictures taken from the business express, this time from the other side of the new Rhodesfield Station.

The plan is to have this new connection with Gautrain in 2011.

Click here to see PART I.