Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Not much this week, movement wise.
Blue 34 409 was caught between Hennenman and Holfontein on a short load of mielies bound for Kroonstad, greetings from the crew. Blue 34 xxx was seen heading through Mothusi with the timber train for Friedesheim.
Nothing is left at Ferreira station, not even a name, just the rails remain. At least the tracks looked shiny.
Orange 34 052 was shunting the sidings at Hamilton with plenty of hooting for the busy level crossings. Hamilton had no traffic at all.
A quick visit was paid to Bloemfontein loco sheds. The guys from Sandstone were busy on the NG locos in the shed. Once again we missed Lucas Nel. Not much has changed 3'6 steam wise since our last visit. All the locos are still there, secure and locked up. Even the scrapped ones are still as we saw them last year. On the diesel side however, the rows of serviceable locos has disappeared and the rows of scrapped unserviceable locos has grown. TFR are soon going to run out of locos if they carry on like this... Blue 35 224 was standing totally destroyed, either a head on or a rear end at speed - if the crew did not manage to jump... On the scrap line we found, orange ST 34 697 LOG Tracao, orange 35 282, SAR Maroon 35 471, orange 37 xxx, blue 35 301 and other blue 35's in various states of disrepair. Maybe this line is the - "I have friends at TFR and can buy working locos at scrapped loco prices line". Also idling away in front of these locos, looking very smart, we found RRL 32 02, so they now have two 33's. Remember these "scrapped" loco numbers as they might be seen again in a different livery somewhere near you quite soon... Plenty of steam cars are also here on the scrap line, mostly in blue, one orange and a distance further, all on its own, a Gulf Red "Bellville steam car stands rusting. A Gulf red and Quaker Grey baggage van "Breakdown Train De Aar" is also staged here. Further down two diesel hulks are being reclaimed by nature. In the Shosholoza meyl part of the loco we found purple 34 102 & 34 108. Another two purple 34's were standing in the shed. Here too are several blue steam cars awaiting their fate as the passenger trains get less and the generator cars take over. 3x 34's, orange and maroon were shunted for refueling. Orange 36 068 was idling away at the other end of the loco.
Near Kerelaw station we just missed a Bloemfontein bound goods train. Kerelaw's name and two overgrown platforms still stand. Only one line remains and a short piece at the old goods platform. All buildings have been destroyed / flattened. Track looks shiny. The next stop was at Bloemspruit, basically the same story as above except both platforms and the loop at the old goods shed are still intact. The footbridge is being carted away as scrap.
Shannon still has a very overgrown platform but the steel name boards are long gone, only one line remains. At De Bloem we got the northbound car train behind 2x orange 6E's. The rain started coming down quite hard here. Here too the name boards are missing. Only the overgrown platform remains. The colour light signals still stand but with white crosses on them - not in use any more.
Back on the N1 the endless procession of trucks carried on...
J & J.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
First sighting for the week was blue 34 093 heading towards Friedesheim with timber trucks for Mondi. Later we got the return working at Whites. At Virginia we got Maroon 34 453 on the return working of the Welgelee pick-up running backside first. Then at Brandfort we got a strange working. The Theunissen / Brandfort pick-up was heading back to Bloemfontein behind orange 36 069 & 36 066, normally this is either a 34 or 2x 35's. Friendly greetings from the crew.
We got the Johannesburg bound Premier Classe at Bloemhof behind orange E 1417 OFS & orange E 1455. This train should pass Bloemhof at 0500; we got it at 1200 - 7 hours late... The crew was bent on making up time, greetings were exchanged. Near Grasslands a southbound ore train of 110 wagons headed past behind 4x blue 10E's, leading was E 10 022, trailing was E 10 012, hoots from the crew. At Makwassie all the signals were red. Here the service road and rails leave each other due to the Makwassie spruit. Nearing the line again at Eersteling we caught the back of a southbound container train, normally 2x 6E's would have been upfront, she was going too fast to try and catch up. Close to Daalder we got a southbound Lime train behind blue E 10 042 and blue E 10 029, again hoots from the crew. Between Harrisburg and Regina we caught up with a northbound train of Lime. Upfront were 3x 18E's. Blue E 18 191 Natcor Imex, blue E 18 xxx & TFR E 18 508, friendly greetings and hoots from the crew.
Just before Virginia we got orange E 1547 on a northbound load of empty container wagons, a couple of petrol tankers and one Slagment (Marked between NCS, Newcastle - MTV, Mount Vernon) vertical x 4 tanker wagon. According to the 1980 Clause 189, book and list of Private Sidings on the SAR and CFM the only siding at Mount Vernon was a kilometer from the station, belonging to "Stainbank Brothers". Slagment is used in the production of cement. Is this company still there? The ballast tamping machine was standing at Hennenman.
Orange 34 043 was shunting the timber siding at Friedesheim. At Wesselsbron we got orange 34 058 heading back to Kroonstad with a couple of FZ's and some Ammonia tankers, had a quick footplate trip. We were told that a speed restriction of 30Km/h is now enforced where ever the railway runs past squatter's camps - due to theft of rail fasteners. On some weekends up to 2000 - 3000 fasteners are stolen in our area. From Allanridge to Whites all points are lying open, unlocked due to the theft of brass locks. The guys were busy all along the line from Kaallaagte to Bethlehem. At Kaallaagte the veld has burnt quite badly and for the first time one can clearly see the old alignment.
We have been told that 115 Rail Companies have put bids / tenders in to operate the branch lines on offer. Even an Australian company has shown interest in the Whites - Bultfontein and Westleigh - Vierfontein sections. The plan is to establish a depot at Welkom for the operation Whites - Bultfontein and another at Viljoenskroon for the Skoonpruit - Bothaville - Vierfontein - Westleigh sections. The new company wants to re-lay the section from Vierfontein to Orkney. At Whites a huge exchange yard is going be built if the branch goes private. Operating from Whites to Welkom will be WOODEN STAFF!!!! At Welkom a TBA will be stationed for RTO working into the Sandveld. TFR will supply the rolling stock and shunters. We have got a good idea who might end up running this branch... This has to be done in a 36 month period - so quite a long wait.
The orange shunting vans are going to start running on trains again in our area.
RRL is getting another 35 class, seems like the 33 is not coming our way after all. (No, they won't take over the branch).
J & J.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Spoornet maroon 34 067 was shunting mielie trucks at Hennenman station. We had a look at the remains of the old coaling stages at Odendaalsrus and Allanridge.
Near Makwassie a load of CAR wagons came past heading north. Up front were 4x 18 E's, leading was TFR E 18 619, followed by 3 blue sisters. Just outside Kingswood we got a Lime train behind 3x 6E's, leading was SAR Maroon E 1507 Kaap, still with number plates on, two orange sisters followed. We picked up a receipt book from the Premier Classe lounge car lying along the line. The Makwassie Wolmaransstad section is very overgrown, no FZ's at Wolmaransstad.
The spoorbaan were busy close to Wonderkop. The Gunhill petrol shunt was blue 34 406, again plenty of tankers present. Gunhill yard was void of any traffic or motive power. The orange shunting vans have been staged on the same line as the cabooses we reported about earlier. Blue 34 037 came past near Bosrand with the Welgelee pick-up. At Holfontein we got orange 34 058 on a Kroonstad bound load of mielies. A white inspection trolley headed through Hennenman en-route to Kroonstad. Sheltam no. 4 was seen on the mine system.
Quite a few passengers at Hennenman. But on phoning the TCO, and asking if a train was due, due to persons on Platform, she answered "I am not aware of the passengers, my first train is 47... around 16h00", Were these friends or family visiting her to pass the time? Same at Welgelee all signals south showing a green aspect, on phoning Virginia she gave the same answer. "Only train today at 16h30". Staff on duty for 12 hours and no trains since 10h00 till 16h00! As there were no trains we went to have a look at where the passenger coaches had been set alight several months ago. This was when the passengers burnt part of the Zastron Bombela. This was between Welgelee and Virginia, close to Cronnel. Plenty of melted aluminum has fused to the ballast, burnt out vacuum pipes and bent glass, due to the heat, lie all along the line. Totally by coincidence, next to the line here, we found three graves dating from 1919, all writing in Dutch. On enquiring around 15h00 we were told train was now due to leave Kroonstad at 18h30. Also mentioned very worried, hardly any trains on Free State main line north or south. Transnet - a great place to work for. The old uplifted railway lines at the St Helena shafts are now being mined by Zama-Zamas. All the years of gold dust / ore falling from the hoppers has created a booming mining activity, luckily the police are kicking their backsides and getting rid of them, good one!
Both concrete name boards at Senekal have been smashed to smithereens to get to the reinforcing steel inside.
Chatting to CTC Kroonstad, we were informed that all Catenary is in the process of being replaced by "Cat/Tiger wire". It is not pure Copper but has an additive, which makes it a very low value item at scrap merchants. Hence the occupation of the Kroonstad - Bethlehem line.
Orange 34 028 returned light loco from Friedesheim after shunting the timber sidings.
Close to Grasslands we got orange E 1165 Cape Western & SAR maroon sister heading north on a load of containers. Then at Kingswood we got a southbound load of CAR wagons behind Spoornet maroon E 10 015 & blue E 10 xxx. Near Drie Ruiters SAR maroon E 1622 & orange E xxxx headed north with a load of empty container wagons. At Makwassie we found SAR maroon E 10 118 staged at the station on one of the loops, pantos down, no crew. At Daalder a southbound container train came past behind 4x 18E's. Leading was blue E 18 193 NATCOR, trailing was blue E 18 039. We got a long ore train at Leeudoringstad heading south. This was behind blue E 10 001 Newcastle, SAR maroon E 10 103, blue E 10 xxx and blue E 10 105. There is a tempory speed limit here. A northbound Lime train sped past at Harrisburg, upfront were 2x orange 6E's. Between Orkney and Klerksdorp a northbound load of coal slowly creeped past yellow signals, motive power was 4x blue 10E's. E 10 044, E 10 043, E 10xxx & E 10 019.
J & J.
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Ex-Johannesburg tram #60 is decorated in the colours of all 32 nations participating at the Fifa World Cup in South Africa. See the video taking at Crich Museum where # 60 runs.
Thanks to Richard for the video and pictures.
Yes Craig is feeling nostalgic and wishes South Africa had trams.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
We got the pick-up at Regina, waiting for a train to proceed south, in front of it. The loco was orange E 1349 OFS. Near Drie Ruiters we got a southbound container train going at full lick, hoots from the crew. Upfront were orange E 1554 & Spoornet maroon E xxxx. This was the train the pick-up was held back for. Then close to Kingswood we got a load of southbound ore hoppers behind 4x 10E's leading was Spoornet maroon E 10 047, blue E 10 xxx, orange E 10 xxx & blue E 10 116, greetings from the crew. This train was over a kilometer long. At Bloemhof two yellow Plasserail machines headed past, northwards bound. There are quite a number of ganger cabooses standing at Bloemhof and new sleepers have been offloaded all along the line.
Blue 34 093 headed past Welkom with a short load of mielies from the section towards Kroonstad. Later we got 34 093 at Gunhill after handing over the load to the shunt, then she headed to the loco depot. We took a stroll over the concrete bridge over the Blomspruit just south of Gunhill. 1960 is painted on one side. The signals were set up for something into the yard. Soon orange 34 043 and blue 34 037 arrived with two mielie trucks in tow. The yard shunt, strangely, was blue 35 259. Then we paid a quick visit to a lone parachute tank, close to where the Bethlehem line takes off. The petrol shunt was blue 34 409, plenty of petrol tankers were being shunted. The Bethlehem line had occupation for the entire day due to catenary maintenance. We got a yellow LRS catenary vehicle near Patrysdraai. All along the line, opposite the old catenary masts, on the other side of the line, new concrete bases have been cast. They are now erecting new catenary masts and moving the overhead wires to the new masts. The old ones are then recovered. Strangely they are steel I beams again, not concrete as on other sections of the line. At Wonderkop we stopped to have a look at the remote controlled signals. Here, in the long grass we found a semaphore signal gantry lying on its side. At Geneva a northbound petrol train, behind orange E 1356 & E 1307, slowed down almost to a crawl, they we "looped" wrong road through the station and then back onto the "right" line to Kroonstad. Probably catenary problems.
Orange 34 043 was seen near Mothusi on a short load of mining timber heading to Friedesheim. Later we got 34 043 shunting the timber sidings at Friedes. Blue 34 037 came past us at Allanridge on a short load of mielies (one truck) and an Anhydrous Ammonia tanker, greetings from the crew.
Near Makwassie we got a 110 wagon train of coking coal, behind 4x 10E's, heading north. Leading was Spoornet maroon E 10 003. Close to Drie Ruiters a northbound load of containers came past. Up front were 2x Spoornet maroon 6E's, leading was E 1671.
J & J.