Monday, 20 June 2011

Vereeniging area

Hi there,
Spend my Sunday morning at Leeuhof yard on the 19/6/2011. Not much to report at all, the loco area had a long row of class 18E locomotives, all pantos up but nowhere to go. There was an occupation on the mainline at Fochville station as well as somewhere near Skansdam, so most of the trains were staged along the mainline. 4 Class 36 locomotives shunted around the yard area picking up and dropping off cement wagons and dz wagons loaded with scrap. There were also 3 class 10E locos parked, one in the new TFR colour scheme. Redan had no trains at all.
Logan Stone

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bushveld Train Safaris

Picture from Robert Adams, taken in George when the train used to run.

Bushveld Train Safaris

Some wonderful pictures from Hennie Heymans. From a trip to Namibia with BTS. The pictures are in honour of the late Boon Boonzaaier who passed away this week.

Boon Boonzaaier - BTS

Boon Boonzaaier passed away on the 14th of June. He was the founder of Bushveld Train Safaris.

Thousands of tourists and enthusiasts travelled with Bushveld Train Safaris. The train service was truly wonderful and offered passengers the chance to travel around the country by train travelling over lines that no longer carried passengers. It supported the locals when the train stopped in the town, created jobs for many different people of all income brackets and races.

I was planning on catching BTS with my wife but unfortunately the government closed down BTS before we were able to enjoy his wonderful service.

He also produced a wonderful book which all lovers of trains should have in their collection.

Will leave the final words to Hennie and Quinten.



Dear friends

I have spoken to his daughter Adrie at 1453 - then it was very bad. I did not want to issue a bulletin.

She has just phoned at 1715 me and I regret to inform you all that Boon has just passed away!

May his Dear Sole Rest In Peace - "Ou Boon" was my train friend for many years!

Kind regards

Hennie Heymans


Hi all

Seeing as one of our very great friends left us, I felt it appropriate to just stand still and remember a few things, I'd like to share with you.

Boon knew thousands and thousands of people, and he had many, many friends, literally all over the world.
Despite the fact that he had so many friends, he always managed to make you feel very special when he spent time with you. He somehow made you feel as if he had all the time in the world for you, and that nothing else mattered.
I was fortunate to record many, many incidents and interviews which involved Boon.
His sense of humour, his knowledge about so many things, his love for his country, his absolute love and worship for his wife, and above all, his closeness to his creator are but a handful of things that always stood out.
I remember how, on all his trips, he always would say grace before every meal, not one bit ashamed of his religion.
He could point out so many interesting things along the road. I guess he must have had hundreds of thousands of pictures taken of anything and everything as they travelled.
It never was a problem for him to have that whole train stopped only so Hendrik or Manie could go and take a picture of a specific flower growing somewhere.
I remember fondly how proud he was of his trains. He took us where no car could ever go. He showed us things that no one else could even dream about.
And also, he cared for local communities.
How many times didn't he just have his train stop over at a certain point so passengers could get off and buy stuff from the locals at a place.

I remember how innovative Boon was, with his tours. How many people would ever be so lucky as to have a bbq under millions of stars, surrounded by nothing, ... Humefield?
Or, what about those nights when Boon made the train park right next to the ocean at Santos Beach, Mossel Bay?
The train were so close to the sea that, if the wind blew in the right direction, you could feel the spray of the waves come through your window.

I remember fondly, and am so thankful about so many interviews i did with Boon. There was one we did, him, I, Les Smith, and the late Bob Deysel, in Boon's compartment, and, there was a 34class shunting, kept on interrupting us.
How wonderful it was!
Then, there was the time I just started up my audio podcast, Train Talk.
My very first interview i ever recorded, was with Boon, over the telephone.
I remember how nervous I was.
And, funnily, after i recorded and saved the interview (of about 15 minutes), i somehow managed to delete it! :@
I remember how, when i called Boon the next day, explaining to him what happened, he just laughed and said "no problem, we can just do it all over again."And, we did, almost with more detail than the first try.
I remember back in 2005, how Boon arranged 3 extra coaches to be connected to the train going to the Cherry safari in Ficksburg, for all the SAR listees.
Ironically, that trip Boon himself couldn't make, due to illness.
On his trips, when he had a hard time walking, Boon used to sit in the lounge car with a microphone, and this way, he could still communicate all kinds of info to all the passengers.
I remember 1 afternoon, after lunch, when most people were eaten to the brim, how Carin and i went to lay down in our compartment.
Carin tried to take a nap, but, some how, Boon had the microphone on in the lounge and he wasn't aware of that, so, all the jokes and stuff somehow came through on the speakers, for all to hear.
I remember how i decided to go join Boon and the laughter in the lounge, how Carin got a bit irritated, and, said to me "just go kill that microphone!"
Upon arrival in the lounge, I told Boon jokingly what she had said, that the mic was also on. He just laughed his usual way and said "Well, you can't fight a guy with a microphone. hahaha."
Then there was, on that same trip, the Currie Cup final between the Bulls and the Cheetahs.
Boon, as you know, was a die heart Bulls supporter.
I on the other hand, supported the Cheetahs. I remember how we were all in the lounge car, travelling back from Springfontein to Bloemfontein, and how Boon had a little portable radio, which he held the microphone against, so all in the train could listen to commentary on the match.
When the Bulls scored, Boon and the bulls supporters chanted and cheered. When the Cheetahs scored, the rest of us freaked out.
Ironically enough, that match ended in a draw, 28 all.
But, during these train trips, things weren't always moonlight and roses. Sometimes there would be impossible passengers on the train, moaning and groaning about anything and everything.
Boon always managed to handle situations and people like those with the utmost gracefulness.
I remember Toorwaterpoort. That must have been the single 1 place that left the biggest impression on me of all the places i ever went to.
If it wasn't for Boon, I would never ever have been able to experience that place.
Then there is Sandstone Estates. If it wasn't for Boon, I would never ever have been privileged to be exposed to, and to experience it.
I remember back in 2006, when the struggle was on to keep the contract trains running. Boon stayed positive about the future of these trains right to the very end. When the railways told him that they were gonna shut them all down, Boon remained positive, despite the devastation.

Can clearly remember how angry and rebellious I was towards the railways. At the time I felt like I would take them all on, blow them all up or something drastic. I was so, so bitter towards the railways, and yet, Boon always, always managed to let one see things from a different perspective.

He always looked for new opportunities to bring the railways to people. Those of you who are lucky enough to have his book, Tracks Across the Veld, will know exactly what i'm talking of.
Back in 2007, Carin and I were lucky enough to visit Boon and Lana up in Warmbaths for a weekend. Late the Friday night, while I was in the bath, Lana discovered a snake in the kitchen. Naturally, she were very frightened. Now, remember, at the time, Boon were mostly lying in bed, it was very hard for him to move.
Despite all of that, Boon reassuringly told his wife "Don't worry about the snake, Quinten and I are here to protect you".
I on the other hand, am soooo afraid of snakes, I decided to just lock myself up in the bathroom, just in case that snake could find a way of coming for me. hahaha
So, there they were, Carin and Lana, fighting the snake, while the 1 guy was lying in bed, unable to move, and the other (blind guy), locked up in the bathroom.
I remember how, when Boon said that him and me would protect the women, I thought to myself "Speak for yourself". hahahaha
The very next day, all Boon's staff from the train came to see him, his wife had organised a meal and a get together.
When it was speech time, a very emotional Lana thanked everybody for taking such good care of Boon while he was on the train.
She said that, with Boon being in such good care and being helped to live out his dream, she, Lana, could also live out her dream of teaching.
Boon on the other hand, said to everybody present there, that the picture of the trains were completed, but, that they were on the brink of starting something new. He assured everyone of his staff that he was gonna try and find some means of accommodating them all.
And that was just 1 of the many, many virtues of Boon: how he always cared for the next person, never bothered to put his own interests first.
And let's not forget Lana.
The last few years must have been tough on both Boon and her. Yet, Lana always stood by Boon, she always was positive, always practical. Boon trusted Lana so much, he relied so much on her.
As I said earlier, i think he worshipped the ground Lana walked upon. Those occasions when Lana could join him on his trips, he was always so proud and delighted to have her with him.

The last 9 months or so must have been extremely tough on both Boon and Lana, what with Boon unable to move, always being connected to that oxygen thingie. Yet, when you came to see them, Lana always was prepared for you, you were always welcomed, and Boon always looked fantastic. She took such good care of him.
And when she wasn't around, then old Jan was. I must spare a thought for Jan, who was Boon's right hand on the trains.
On a serious note, I remember how, until very very recently, when I had problems with family and other matters, how i could phone or email Boon, how he would spend all the time in the world, listening to you, and, how, almost fatherly, he would come up with such practical advice.
I remember how he would always make you see things from a positive angle again, how he made each and every problem seem manageable again.
The last time Carin and I went to visit them, him and Lana spent so much time with us, almost like our parents, hearing us out, trying and trying to help, to give advice, to give us courage.
I will never forget it.

Yes, I probably could go on and on, cause there are just so, so many things one can say about Boon. And, i'm sure that, once I posted this email, I will have forgotten to mention this and that and this and that.
But, now, with that old body finally giving up on Boon, I'm sure that where he is now, he is free, he is a very, very happy man now, able to walk normally again, able to breathe normally again, and, very close to his Creator.

Thanks for hearing me out.
All the best
Quinten Pendle


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Ancona Rooiblom

Great sequence from J&J. Two class 34 diesels on a grain train.

Brandfort and demolished stations.

The bottom picture is Houtenbeck Station or what is left of it.

Maintenance train at Brandfort.