Saturday, 29 May 2010

Quiet day in the Free State

Hi all.

Funny, the strike is over and now there are NO trains to chase ?? When the strike was on there were plenty...

Yesterday we got 2x orange 34's on a load of mielies near Bultfontein.

Today 2x blue 34's 34 093 & 34 037 were seen near Protespan on a short load of FZ's.

All signals were red from Bloemhof to Leeudoringstad. Only at Leeudoringstad we missed a southbound load of ore behind 2x Spoornet maroon 10E's E 10 003 & E 10 047.

The FZ are now cut up at Scuttesdraai.

We have noticed that the orange shunting vans are not on the trains anymore here in our section. On enquiring we were told it is a temporary measure as all the gas-heating equipment has been stolen from the vans and they are awaiting quotations for new sets. If they were not removed for scrap by TFR employees in the first place they would not be getting cold in their vans...

J & J.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Free State sightings - more pictures

Free State sightings

Hi all.

Only movement today was Sheltam and RRL.

We decided to pay a visit to the remains of the stations between Hennenman and Welkom. At Hennenman the down line is now out of action and being lowered. Still plenty of AY hoppers in the station.

First stop was at Whites West. Here a burnt out re-lay room survives, basically everything inside has been destroyed or stolen. The signal cabin still stands basically also in the same condition as the re-lay room. The remaining signals along the line have also started to disappear.

Next stop was at Mooiveld. Here the line once branched off to the dynamite factory siding at Zomerveldt. Only a through line remains, all other rails have been uplifted. The only reminder of the siding is a short section of rail still in the road at a level crossing. The re-lay room has also suffered at the hands of the arsons and vandals. All telecoms equipment along the line has been destroyed. Only the fibre optic remains on the old catenary masts.

Since our last visit, Kaalvlei has been engulfed by 10 million shacks. the only reminder of this place is the catenary masts that point out the crossing loops. They won't be around for long...

Mothusi has an overgrown platform and a couple of destroyed buildings left. The foot bridge has basically been carried off for scrap.

Reports from Kroonstad state that they have received news of special passenger trains during the soccer. We also heard that a special explosives train was on it's way to Bloemfontein from Kroonstad. A load of containers, origin and destination unknown.

J & J.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Free State sightings

Hi all.

The first sighting for today was at Welkom station, RRL 36 01.

Wesselsbron silos had plenty of mielie trucks for a change and all three Senwes locos were busy shunting the trucks up and down.

Just after Losdorings we got orange 34 031 on a short load of mielies heading to Kroonstad, orange van at the rear. All the silos from there to Bothaville had traffic.

At Schuttesdraai the two accident damaged FZ's are in the process of being cut up. Only the bogies of one remains and a "skeleton" of the second.

At Leeudoringstad the Spoorbaan were busy on the line, also for some reason the grass was being cut all around the station area. Just after Leeudoringstad we noticed the Southbound signals green. Near Daalder we got 5x 6E's on a long load of coal, leading was orange E 1634 and two more orange and two SAR maroon siblings.

We got this train again at Makwassie, from here on no more trains. Only near Kingswood a northbound Isuzu bakkie on the rails heading to Klerksdorp. Plenty of mielie trucks at Bloemhof.

J & J.

Free State sightings

Hi all.

Not much to report.

No trains here on the Free State mainline. Only RRL, Sheltam and Harmony. At least there is some activity !

Bloemhof had a couple of mielie trucks. All signals red.

Near Kromellenboog (Rich - pronounce that one !!) we got the staff combi changing drivers on a Southbound load of fine coal. The per-way chaps and grass cutting contractors were busy and there was a temporary speed limit of 30 Km/h. To our surprise we got 3x 18E's up front on this rather short train, leading was Shosholoza Meyl purple E 18 419 and two blue sisters.

We got this train again at Christiana which also had some goods trucks in the yard and silo area but all further signals were red.

J & J.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Today in the Free State

Hi all.

Today all TFR traffic was a pair of light 6E's heading North just after Theunissen, we missed them.

We paid a visit to what is left of Gewin halt just after Vetriver, all broken down and overgrown.

At Brandfort both South and North signals were green. On enquiring we found Brandfort station closed.

Back in Welkom we got RRL 91 03 in the station. (91 01 & 36 01 were also there and for a brief moment the 36 had two 91's on either side of her. There are talks of a 33 class also coming our way. Their 39 class is doing very well in the Northern Cape we were told. RRL seems to have plenty of locomotives coming and the Welkom area is to be used for testing them all, NICE...

J & J.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Car train near Noupoort

Hi there all,
Over the Easter weekend I drove down to Port Elizabeth. Between Bloemfontein and Springfontein I saw 2 goods trains headed to Springfontein. One was a mixed goods and the other a load of grain. Unfortunately no photos available for them. Near Noupoort I was lucky enough to catch the car train heading to Gauteng behind two class 34 000 locomotives. Sadly no 7es or any other trains seen all the way to P.E.
Logan Stone.

Yesterday sightings - picture set 2

Yesterday sightings - picture set 1

Hi all.

Yesterday we visited Hennenman. Here we had a look at the work being done (not being done...) at the road over rail bridge. The entire line has been uplifted for several hundred meters. Then the ballast is removed and the track bed dropped for about 500mm. If the strike ends soon and the trains start running again, there is going to be a "bottle neck" here. as diesels are used over this section. All signals red.

At Theunissen we got the Southbound signals green. Soon a petrol train came through behind maroon E 1307 & SAR maroon E xxxx. No further TFR movement for the day.

Back in Welkom we got RRL 36 01 at Friedesheim, coming in from Frieddes 5 shaft. Soon one of the 91's came from Welkom and exchanged loads with the 36. The 91 then headed towards the Gold plant and the 36 back towards 5 shaft. We have heard that RRL 91 03 has arrived, also that 91 01 has had an axle break again.

Today we paid a visit to the old Western Transvaal system, seems like they are not on strike ! No less than ten trains were noticed today. All the "older" guys were on the footplate and at operating, all greeted us friendly and it seemed about 20 years ago but for the liveries... Nothing happening here in our area but for the mines. Some guys have told us it is such a pleasure to have someone to talk to and who understands the work on the footplate for a change. (Plenty of drivers acting as assistants.) On the subject of the strike, some monkey with standard three (an economist nogal), on the radio - when asked about the strike, replied: "I did not know that there are still trains running in South Africa !!!!"

First sighting was at Bloemhof with the Southbound signals green. A short wait and a train of ore wagons headed through behind blue E 18 290 & TFR E 18 500.

Next train was near Grasslands, Southbound load of mielies. This was behind 2x SAR maroon units, E 1532 still with UCW makersplates and E 1520 K still with numberplates and UCW plates.

Then between Kingswood and Drie Ruiters we got another Southbound ore train behind, 2x blue 10 E's, leading was E 10 034.

Another Southbound train of ore wagons came past near Boskuil. This time behind 4x blue 10 E's, leading was E 10 042, trailing E 10 005.

Still the Southbound signals kept on showing green aspects...

Between Boskuil and Makwassie we got a white Isuzu bakkie heading past.

On arrival at Makwassie we were greeted by the rear of a very long Northbound load of ore. On further investigation the train turned out to be staged next to the platform with all pantos down and no crew. The train's units were all Spoornet orange E 1406 OFS, E 1421 NATCOR HAULER (covered in a whitish sludge) and E 1217 ST. The leading unit's bogies had 1974 and 1972 SAR/SAS SCAW cast on them.The rail bolster wagon is still standing here. We noticed that the signals on the loop were yellow for the road North. A while later 2x light locos headed back towards Klerksdorp. This was E 1520 and E 1532. Now why these locos did not combine and take the staged train North is anyone's guess.

Between Eersteling and Daalder the Southbound signals were green again. This turned out to be another load of ore wagons behind 4x 10E's, leading was SAR maroon E 10 103, 2x Spoornet maroon and a very faded Spoornet Blue unit.

Close to Leeudoringstad the Northbound signals were green again, yet another ore train behind 4x 10E's, 3 blue and one orange, leading was blue E 10 026. Noted on some of the ore trucks sides was white stencilled lettering "Transnet rail Engineering".

This train was looped and stopped at Leeudoringstad with the Southbound signals green yet again. A very long air braked load of mielies headed past us behind another 4x 10E's leading was Spoornet maroon E 10 015 and three blue sisters, trailing was E 10 032.

This train was kept standing in the station at the signals. Strangely the Southbound signals were also red. Then another Southbound train appeared and was authorised to pass the signals at danger. This was a load of containers and lime behind SAR maroon E 10 115.

After this the Northbound load of ore was also authorised to proceed with the signals at danger. This train was so long that it took over three minutes to slowly pass us by through Leeudoringstad.

Reluctantly we left the main line as the ore train was slowing down and being looped again just after Leeudoringstad.

The two FZ mielie trucks are still standing at Schuttesdraai after the derailment of long ago.

Allanridge has had the Silo's siding cleaned and lifted out of the sand - this line looked as if it could have been near Luderitz.

J & J

Free State sightings - set 2

Free State sightings - set 1

Hi all.

We have heard that RRL is to get two more 91 classes and another 35 class. The 36 class is to be moved to Port Shepstone for the Simuna line. Anyone down there know about this ??

Spoke to our friends at Shosholoza Meyl and they confirm that the Premier Classe and Tourist trains are not going to run to schedule during the SWC.

Yesterday all trains we saw were RRL, Sheltam and the Harmony mines.

Today we visited Senekal again, the thieves have left and the station still stands.

On to Arlington here the grass and weeds have overgrown everywhere, no traffic. The goods shed is disappearing. No station left.

Next stop was at Lindley. Here everything has stayed basically the same - destroyed, seems like the station suffered a fire.. One of the loops in the yard has been uplifted with sleepers and all. The grass has overgrown almost everything. Cattle were crazing all over the lines. Found a "N.G.R. 82" piece of rail in the old goods shed platform.

Between Wonderkop and Patrysdraai we got a Kroonstad bound mielie train. This was behind orange E 1316 "OVS". We stayed with this train until she entered Gunhill yard. The yard was full of traffic but no movement.

Not expecting any other trains we headed back and had a quick stop at Bosrand. Here the Northbound signals were green. We carried on towards Hennenman and near Geneva we got another mielie train behind orange 34 499 & blue 34 409.

Hennenman had plenty of AY ballast hoppers standing in the station, this is for the work at the road over rail bridge.

Whites has had a container truck standing on a loop for several days now with skidded wheels.

J & J.

Lack of Free State news - Part 2

Lack of Free State news - Part 1

Hi all.

On Monday we got blue E 1357 & orange E xxxx on a load of petrol tankers heading North through Karee.

Tuesday was orange 34 058 & SAR maroon 34 453 between Welkom and Whites, going full lick near Kaalvlei on a load of mielies. The diesels sounding incredible.

Today, on making inquires at local FS Signal Cabins, we were told. "Manne daar loop niks vandag nie". Chaps nothing running today. PWI team stopped working at Hennenman. Whites TCO closed his station, after 15 hour shift, too tired.Beaconsfield yard, only Yard Master said to be on duty.Passenger trains ceased running on Sunday. RRL were stuck in Welkom station this morning due to lack of a TCO at Kroonstad. They needed to move their locos onto the main line for re-fuelling. Without RTW - no movement. At about 0930 a TCO pitched up and they could carry on. We were later told that only two trains ran on the main line, one was the container train, nothing on the branch. We were told to fill our vehicles up as the pipeline is also striking and no fuel trains are running. Filtering through, lower graded staff fed up that managers receive large performance bonuses and if they leave service, they receive hefty severance packages. Where as lower grades receive only there pension and leave payments. Heard over the radio that the Durban Johannesburg corridor is virtually void of trains, so is Orex. The Coal line is closed for maintenance so not affected. Eastern Cape Metros were standing as TFR supply their locomotives.

First visit was Fendyke. Only a crossing loop, name and re-lays rooms remain. All signals red,

Just before Bloemhof we got very faded blue E 10 xxx on a short load of South bound mielie trucks.

At Makwassie we got SAR maroon E 1352 "N" & SAR maroon E 1520 "K", still with numberplates. They were busy shunting FZ's at the silos. The triangle's stop block is busy disappearing.

Later on we got them heading through Leeudoringstad, light locos back to Klerksdorp.

Had a lovely visit from Boon, Lana & Jan. Great to have them here and chat away, also visited museum.

Stay away greetings.
J & J.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Free State news

Hi all.

Yesterday we got orange 34 043 at Friedesheim returning with empty timber trucks. RRL had just passed heading towards Odendaalsrus. Later we got orange 34 499 & blue 34 409 at Hennenman, waiting for traffic as the power was still off due to the track maintenance.

J & J.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Sar-list sightings

Hi all,

As the list is quiet, so the sightings are also few...

On Monday we got the Northbound car train near Kalkvlakte. This was behind orange E 1554 & orange E 1586.

Tuesday, near Vetriver, we got Southbound light locomotives - SAR maroon E 1467 & orange sister.

Wednesday it was a Southbound load of mielies near Eensgevonden behind orange E 1376 & SAR maroon E xxxx.

Today we were at Virginia, phoned TCO at Hennenman about were the economy Trans Oranje was. Said it was late. On to Theunissen, there TCO said "Nog nie te Kroonstad weg nie". Not left Kroonstad yet. On asking what problem was, were told that after many years of the Ballast Tamping Machine working on main line, problems were now being experienced with clearance at various road-over-rail bridges. Rail height too high, causing Pantographs to have "Hook Up's" with catenary.

Occupation has been taken of down line, with Pilot working on up line, speed restriction also in force. Signal Cabin at Virginia closed. TCO's working at other Signal Cabins, as their staff released to act as Pilots.

CTC Kroonstad phoned, were told she leaves at 10h00,estimated at Theunissen 12h00. But due to Pilot working, speed restrictions, only passed us at 12h30 at the Vetriver bridge behind 2x orange 6E's. Near Theron we got another 2x orange 6E's heading light towards Bloemfontein. At Virginia we got maroon 34 067 also heading light towards Welgelee.

Last sighting was RRL 91 classes at Welkom Station

Occupied greetings,

John & Jacque.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Free State sightings.

Hi all.

First train today was orange 34 031 heading through Welkom en-route to Kroonstad with an empty load of timber wagons after having finished the shunting at Friedesheim.

Next we got RRL DH 01 on a low-bed truck heading North out of Welkom. As we have reported, she is rumoured to be heading to the Durban area ??

All signals red at Hennenman, so we headed towards Senekal for a change.

On approaching Senekal we found lots of FZ mielie trucks at the silo's - the first time in a very, very long while. Locals were busy with hammers and chisels removing Sandstone blocks at Senekal station. The one nameboard has been smashed into a thousand pieces to get the steel re-enforcing out of the concrete. The rails that were used on the goods platform have been ripped out of the concrete platform. When they saw us, some of them ran away. Strangely most of them were wearing smart red overalls - now think - what would squatters want to do with Sandstone blocks ?? Rather their boss wants it for his home... Anyway, we reported it to the section manager. Senekal station won't be around for much longer.

Then we thought we heard a diesel hooter. Then we were sure that we heard a diesel hooter. Strangely it was coming from the closed Marquard section. Soon we heard a 35 class battling uphill. The thieves that were left looked like rats departing into all directions on the sight of the approaching train.

Blue 35 247 came through on the Agracura weed killer train. Now who was more surprised - the crew to see people on the platform - or us getting a train in the section !?! Anyhow, friendly greetings were exchanged. We decided to get it again at Libertas. The speed on the line is only 30Km/h, so a leisurely drive still got us to Libertas with plenty of time to spare. Operating informed us that this train had indeed come from Marquard. The line is officially closed from Senekal to Marquard but officially open from Senekal to Arlington. They also told us that this section is still "Hout Trein Staf" so there would be no other trains. We got her trundling across the bridge over the Sand River just outside Libertas.

At Theunissen the Northbound signals were green. Between Theron and Welgelee we got orange E 1634 leading an orange sister heading light locos to Kroonstad.

At Welgelee we noticed the Southbound signals were green. While waiting for the train we took a stroll around the station. Picked up some more pieces of SAR crockery. Also noticed a very rusted board "Rangeer Grens / Shunting Limit" Then we stumbled upon an orange power box, the following was written on it: "Cable thieves take note - you will be shot on site. Steal the cable, AVBOB will bury you. That is my promise. NB I hope you can read GATVOL vir kabel diewe." The grass has been cut at Welgelee all around the cabin which is still opened when the silos are shunted.

A while later SAR maroon E 1537 leading orange E xxxx headed through on a load of hoppers, B bogies, beer trucks, blue container wagons and a SAR Gulf red and Quaker grey caboose at the back.

We gave operating a call to hear if any more trains were coming. They told us that the train's locomotives that had just passed were to bring the car train back, nothing further. Now why were the two light locos not used for the car train ?

J & J.