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ISSN 1029 - 2756
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have tried our best in this issue, but
have only skimmed the surface.
Ironically, the only government
department to come to the party that
didn’t take place was the post ofﬁce,
which issued a set of truly magniﬁcent
commemorative railway stamps (see
page 30 in the May Railways Africa).
In 1902, the railways of the Transvaal
and Orange Free State were brought
together in an administration known
as the Central South African Railways
(CSAR). Eight years later – exactly 100
years ago – the CSAR together with
the Cape Government Railways (CGR)
and Natal Government Railways (NGR)
were ofﬁcially combined to form the
South African Railways (SAR). The
historic amalgamation took place ﬁfty
years – less one month - after the ﬁrst
public passenger train in the country
ran at Durban on 26 June 1860.
Last year, aiming for a suitable
commemorative function to be held
in the city, the KZN Railway History
Society and others approached
the municipality with a number
of appropriate proposals. It was
suggested that the Premier of
KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize, would
welcome guests including national
minister of transport Sbu Ndebele to
a ceremony at Durban’s main station
on 26 June. Other names put forward
as important participants were mayor
Obed Mlaba, Passenger Rail Agency
of SA group CEO Lucky Montana
and Metrorail regional manager
The party would embark on a train
of vintage coaches behind a historic
Opinion: Pete the Pundit 2
Ore line 6
Railway Tourism 10
Industry Comment 14
Africa Update 16
SA Rail News 20
First Railway in South Africa 24
Looking Back on 150 Years 28
Mishaps & Blunders 34
Railway Heritage 42
End of the Line 44
Timken – A long &
> Page 4
> Page 18
Ore Trains 4km in
> Page 6
Three locos badly
> Page 36
> Page 14
> Page 24
steam locomotive provided by the
Umgeni Steam Railway for a journey
to the Point. There, where he would
be welcomed by the port manager,
minister Ndebele would unveil a
plaque commemorating South Africa’s
ﬁrst public railway. Guests would
then be conveyed to the international
conference centre where the minister
would give a keynote address,
followed by a light lunch.
And it came to pass, as they say, that
nothing happened. The proposed date
was out of the question, a note from
the Durban municipality explained.
In other words, that crowd 150 years
ago should have known there would
be soccer on 26 June 2010 – the
World Cup or something – and
chosen a better day. So there was no
celebrating 150 years of railways, not
in Durban nor anywhere else, and the
country got on with the usual routine
of strikes, taxi wars, complaints about
Home Affairs (and soccer).
Which is all a great pity. Say what
you will about Transnet, Prasa,
Shosholoza Meyl and the rest - you
can’t take away the achievements of
150 years. They ﬁll a long list, a proud
list of accomplishments that make for
impressive reading; too long in fact
for one magazine to do it justice. We
PS Incidentally, that 25km commemorative steam
train ride would have taken somewhat longer than
it did in 1860. The 3km direct original line was
taken up in 1936 and replaced by the present
electric double track along the Esplanade.
1www.railwaysafrica.com June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA
PETE THE PUNDIT – his take on
HISTORY, PPPs, JVs & PSPs
History can’t be changed. For those who ﬁnd this difﬁcult
to accept, the obvious alternatives are a spot of rewriting –
politicians are good at this - or leaving out bits one doesn’t
like. Neither works, of course: the truth always comes
out eventually and one has to live with it. For instance, if
South African railway history doesn’t appeal to you,
pretending it doesn’t exist won’t get you very far. Nor will
sanitised versions that leave out things you don’t wish to
know. In short, you’re stuck with it, those warts they talk
about and all.
And if you think no one could conceivably dislike South
African railway history – think again. Unhappiness with it
is there, good reason for it exists and one has only to look
at recent history to work out what that is. The situation is
unfortunate because if we wait until the problem dies
out – and this is going to take a good two or three decades
– any tangible railway history left today will have rusted
Tangible history is what other countries strive to look after
and build upon. Beautiful old stations, signiﬁcant
locomotives, antique coaches, characterful steam-hauled
trains. Agreed, conservation costs money, but when what
you want to conserve has a sizeable earning capacity, it
makes no sense throwing it away. Relics they may be, but
railway relics are what tourists pay pounds and dollars to
see, ride on and photograph.
On page 10 of this issue, Bruno Martin visits an old railway
in Tasmania: a 35km scenic line, not only magniﬁcently
restored but one which functions as a lucrative public
carrier, running two passenger trains (sometimes three)
every day of the year. Signiﬁcantly, the Federal government
of Australia helped with funding the line’s revival, starting
with an initial grant of A$24.45 million. Tourists stream to
see and experience this popular attraction.
Similar stories from across the world are common in
international rail news. Encouraging examples can be found
in Germany, the Czech Republic, England, Switzerland, the
USA - and many others. Two narrow-gauge lines in India
have been declared world heritage sites. In the UK, many
lines have been restored with support from the national
At nearby Portmadog, a more modest enterprise, the
Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (WHHR), which has
carried nearly half a million passengers since its ﬁrst train
– a one-engine, one-coach affair – is commemorating the
event this year. In South Africa, we didn’t even get around
to celebrating the 150th birthday of the country’s national
PPPS: MORE THAN JVS, OR LESS THAN PSPS?
With accolades still pouring in from all around in the
afterglow of the recent successfully hosted Soccer World
Cup and the smooth launch of South Africa’s much vaunted
rapid rail train, analysts and media representatives have
yet again contrived to spin a new abbreviation to add to
their growing list: PPPs.
At least this one’s not too hard to memorise, and no, a
PPP is not a stutterer’s mantra. PPP is short for public-
private partnership. Rather like a JV (joint venture), except it
refers to a mutual enterprise between the state and one
or more private business entities. But what then, you may
ask, of the oft-reported PSPs? No, it isn’t something to do
with play stations... a PSP – so I’m told – refers to a private-
Not being part of Transnet’s core business, the future of the George-Mossel Bay
Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe is in doubt. Photo: Peter Rogers.
In Wales, restoration of the 610mm-gauge Welsh Highland Railway (WHR),
opened originally in 1923 and closed in 1937, is a landmark achievement.
The Garratt locomotives and much of the rolling stock – even rails – came
from closed lines in South Africa. Funding for the first section came from
the Millennium Commission (£4.3m), European Regional Development Fund,
Welsh Development Agency and the Wales Tourist Board. In September 2004,
funding of £5m was announced from the Welsh Assembly and the European
Union. Photo: Andre Dreyer.
The only steam locos built completely in South Africa (at Salt River in 1947,The only steam locos built completely in South Africa (at Salt River in 1947,
by the forebears of today’s Transnet Rail Engineering) were 0-8-0 heavy-dutyby the forebears of today’s Transnet Rail Engineering) were 0-8-0 heavy-duty
shunting engines of Class S1, nos 374-385.shunting engines of Class S1, nos 374-385.
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 20102 www.railwaysafrica.com
Right now PPPs are the talk of the town. Just look at
all those fabulous architectural wonder-stadiums that
wowed worldwide audiences during the World Cup: proof
positive, they say, of the power of PPPs. So too the state-
of the-art, 160km/h intercity Gautrain, carrying over 200,000
passengers in its ﬁrst month and labelled by international
auditors KPMG as a Top 100 global project.
PPPs have also been deﬁned as the concessioning
of infrastructure and, in the case of the Gautrain, the
project would probably have been too difﬁcult to procure
conventionally. Even though it was funded by government
to the tune of about 90%, the additional private sector
skills proved to be invaluable.
In the transport business, however, PPPs have not always
been the ﬂavour of the day. Transnet has a long list of
high capital expenditure projects lined up for the next few
years, including the expansion of its critical export mineral
freight routes, a new freight hub and a proposed freight
ring in Gauteng province – all running into very big numbers.
Possible PPPs for such projects are, however, expected to
be opposed by the governing political alliance of the ANC,
the SA Communist Party and Cosatu (especially the
latter). They are fervently against any move even remotely
perceivable as a move towards privatising the country’s
rail, pipelines and ports.
Recent reports cite Transnet acting CEO Chris Wells
admitting that Transnet Freight Rail is largely to blame for
underperformance on the export coal line to Richards
Bay. Similarly, the iron-ore and manganese miners would
like to increase their annual exports, but they also point to
rail capacity as one of their main restrictions.
Naturally, Transnet does not like being an impediment
to growth in mineral exports, as it has been of late - due
Acting Transnet CEO Chris Wells.
mainly to constraints in funding. The company is hoping
to pursue upgrades and expansions for these key export
routes by going the PPP route, but, of course, it requires
sanction from its shareholder.
Actually, according to Transnet National Ports Authority
(TNPA) head of infrastructure Chris Matchett, the climate
for PPPs is rapidly changing. About R230 billion will have
to be invested in port infrastructure, he says, within the
next 30 years, and Transnet will not be able to afford it.
PPPs could help foot the bill and also spread the risk of
such ventures, as well as encouraging healthy incentive
from participating partners.
Although PPPs are an efﬁcient way of procuring
infrastructure, they don’t automatically ensure that the best
economic model is selected. As in the case of Gautrain,
the secret seems to be in the right mix of funding and
skills and the calculated courage to embark on ambitious,
society-improving projects. PPPs may very well be the
golden keys that unlock business investments which meet
social needs, including drives to lower unemployment
and provide more ready access to healthcare, as well as
building important transport infrastructure to improve the
overall quality of life.
UK HIGH-SPEED LINE FOR SALE
The 109km high-speed line from London St Pancras to the
Channel Tunnel at Folkestone, used by Eurostar trains to
Paris and Brussels and which cost more than £5 billion to
build, is up for sale. The successful bidder will become the
owner of HS1 Ltd, with a 30-year concession to run the line
Gautrain - the right mix of funding and skills.
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 3www.railwaysafrica.com
TIMKEN – A LONG & PROUD HISTORY
Rail industry customers have trusted Timken since the 1920s
to deliver solutions that give them a competitive edge. With
a long history of involvement in the rail industry and a focus
ﬁrmly set on innovation, product development and process
improvement, Timken has uniquely positioned itself to serve
the needs of railways, rolling stock builders and rail operators
across the globe.
Today, Timken products can be found in freight, locomotive,
passenger, tram and high-speed rail markets in Europe, Asia,
North and South America, Australia, the Middle East and, of
course, Africa. In fact, Timken has operated in South Africa
since 1932 and has played a major role in the development
of the rail industry in the region, having supplied more than
900,000 locally-made bearings.
Timken South Africa (Pty) Ltd (TSA) is supported by eight
technology centres worldwide, where skilled technicians,
engineers and scientists study all aspects of rail operation.
The company’s commitment to research and development
leads to continued improvements and products that can
withstand even the harshest African climate.
A leader in innovation, TSA is proud of its many “industry
ﬁrsts.” The company was the ﬁrst to develop a method of
delivering a bearing reconditioning service to the doorstep of
the customer with the introduction of its Mobile Rail Service
(MRS) units. These MRS units are operated by a crew of
eight and ﬁt a standard 12-metre-long container, making it
possible to transport the unit to any rail depot in the world.
Secondly, TSA was the ﬁrst supplier in the rail bearing
industry to become black economically empowered (BEE)
through its groundbreaking deal in 2005, partnering with
Bokomoso Investments. A newly registered company,
Timken Bearing Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd (TBSSA),
a subsidiary of TSA, was formed and continues to provide
growth opportunities for the business throughout Southern
The proud history of Timken rail and other “ﬁrsts” can be
summarised as follows:
1929 To demonstrate that tapered roller bearings can
be successfully used on locomotive axles, Timken
commissions the “Four Aces” – the ﬁrst steam
locomotive equipped with Timken®
1932 British Timken is established. Its facilities include
a sales ofﬁce and warehouse in Johannesburg.
Successful trial orders of Timken®
bearings prior to World War II lead to their use by the
South African Railways after the war.
1952 The Benoni plant is established to manufacture
railway axle boxes. Following the purchase of the
balance of British Timken share capital in 1959,
the Benoni plant is renamed Timken South Africa
(Proprietary) Ltd in 1960.
1954 As a replacement for the widely used friction journal
bearings, Timken introduces the ﬁrst self-contained,
pre-lubricated bearing package in 1954. The new
Timken “All-Purpose” (AP™) bearing quickly becomes
the design of choice for the industry.
1967 South African Railways standardises on Timken
1970 Timken South Africa begins manufacturing the AP™
bearing at its Benoni facility.
1982 Timken South Africa celebrates the manufacture of its
500, 000th AP™ bearing.
1986 Timken tapered roller bearings are incorporated in
the gearboxes of the newly developed 18-tonne, high-
speed, fully ﬂameproof colliery locomotive used in
the mining industry.
1994 Aware of the greater demands being placed on
freight wagon bearings by heavier loads, higher
speeds and extended wheel lives, Timken develops
the AP-2™ bearing for freight rolling stock. Today,
more than a quarter million AP-2™ bearings are in
1999 Timken in South Africa opens a railway bearing
2001 Timken introduces its TracGlide®
intelligent, on-board friction management solution
that applies an innovative and environmentally
friendly modiﬁer to the top of rails once the last axle
on a locomotive has passed.
2001 Timken in South Africa launches its ﬁrst Mobile Rail
Service (MRS) units targeted at the rail industry.
2005 Timken concludes the ﬁrst BEE deal in the bearing
industry. Timken Bearing Services South Africa (Pty)
Ltd is created, incorporating the Southern Africa rail
division of TSA.
2007 Timken’s SureFit™ Universal Backing Ring offers a
solution to loose backing rings, a problem that has
plagued the global rail industry for more than 30
2008 Timken offers the only true non-contacting labyrinth
seal – EcoTurn®
, a revolutionary design that
signiﬁcantly reduces seal torque. EcoTurn received
a top 100 award (from R&D Magazine) as one of the
most technically signiﬁcant innovations introduced to
the general marketplace in 2008.
With this history, the unbeatable product line and industry-
leading technical support, it’s little wonder Timken is where
the rail industry turns for quality products and services to
help optimise performance.
How can we help you? For more information on Timken rail solutions for your application, contact a Timken sales
representative on +27 11 741-3800 or visit www.timken.com/rail.
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 20104 www.railwaysafrica.com
One of the new 4 km long trains operating on the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore line
following the upgrade of the class 9E locos with integrated electronic braking
and radio distributed power (RDP) control systems.
ORE TRAINS 4KM IN LENGTH
Every week, 35 extra-long trains, each measuring more than 4km, carry iron ore
from Sishen in the Northern Cape to Saldanha Bay on the Cape West Coast.
These new trains - about 50% longer than their predecessors
- have been phased in since July 2009, when Transnet Freight
Rail began commercial implementation of Radio Distributed
Power (RDP) control systems on the class 9E electric
locomotives and class 34 diesel locomotives deployed on
the 861km Sishen-Saldanha line.
The RDP systems provide the overall control required to
enable the new long trains – each consisting of 342 wagons
hauled by three electric and seven diesel locos – to operate
efﬁciently. Prior to the introduction of RDP, train length was
limited to a maximum of 228 wagons.
The need for Transnet Freight Rail to run more or longer
trains arose from having to meet the higher tonnages and
ramp-up requirements that resulted from substantially
increased output by the two major open-cast mining
operations producing the ore – Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen
Mine and Assmang’s Khumani Mine. As part of the
improvements to meet this need, the line was upgraded
to handle the increased throughput of more than a million
tonnes of iron ore per week.
Improvements to the locomotives started with an upgrade
and general overhaul contract awarded in 2000 to
Germiston-based Actom Transport Equipment & Projects
(TEP) – then known as Alstom Transport Equipment &
Projects. The key portion of this contract was installation of
state-of-the-art Agate (Advanced Generic Alstom Traction
Electronics) control systems on each of the 31 electric
locomotives operating on the ore line.
The Agate systems, produced by Alstom’s electronics
systems centre of excellence in Villeurbanne, France,
control the operations of each electric loco individually.
Subsequently, in 2006, Transnet Freight Rail assigned to
TEP the task of installing and integrating Phase 1 of the new
electronic brake and associated RDP systems on the class
9E locos. TEP was supported in this by Alstom in Preston,
responsible for the project and technical interfaces, and
Alstom in Villeurbanne, which provided technical backup on
interfacing the Agate systems with the wireless RDP system,
supplied by General Electric of the United States.
“The RDP technology was initially implemented and tested
on some trains back in December 2007, while full commercial
use of the system went into operation in November 2009
- after all the electric and diesel locomotives had been
upgraded to RDP conﬁguration,” TEP’s 9E project manager
Frans Weygertze explains.
“In addition to the new electronic brake system, the
challenge was to interface the Agate and RDP control
systems, to enable the RDP system to manage and co-
ordinate the operation of the independent control systems
of each of the electric locos in the train, with improved fault
reporting and fault handling features.
“The control system of each locomotive feeds the required
instructions and messages to the RDP system, which in turn
sends and receives messages from the lead locomotive to
the locomotives in the remote consists.
“The RDP technology combined with the electronic brake-
racks ensures high braking efﬁciency as well as increasing
the drawing power of the locomotives by enabling the
locomotives to be spread evenly at strategic positions
within the train, instead of all together at the front,”
The installation and interfacing of the RDP control systems
and electronic brake-racks, plus other enhancements,
were added to the original main contract as variation
orders, bringing the value of the contract in total to over
R400 million - by far the largest upgrade contract
undertaken by TEP to date.
Actom (Pty) Ltd is a black-empowered electrical engineering
company employing over 6 000 people and has an annual
order intake in excess of R5bn. It has 27 operating units, 22
production facilities and 25 distribution centres throughout
Actom partners Alstom France for environmental equipment
and in serving the maintenance, upgrade and retroﬁt market
for larger boilers, as well as for railway transport activities.
Actom holds exclusive distribution, technology and
representation rights for Areva T&D in Southern Africa and
maintains management, technical and commercial links to
Areva T&D business units in Europe.
Actom formerly traded under the name Alstom South Africa.
It was rebranded as Actom in September 2009.
For further information contact Frans Weygertze,
Actom Transport Equipment & Projects
PO Box 4583, Germiston South 1411
Tel: (011) 878-3000 Fax: (011) 878-3301
The console in the cab of the lead loco of one of the new long trains.
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 20106 www.railwaysafrica.com
LET THERE BE LIGHT
There’s PELI™ light in the tunnel
Ultra-efﬁcient, self-contained PELI™ lighting systems were
recently used underground to assist in the production of a
video showing the installation of purpose-designed turnouts
on the Gautrain rail track.
These remarkable ﬂoodlights proved invaluable under low-
light conditions in the tunnels. According to Barbara Sheat of
Rail Link Communications, the company that shot the video,
the PELI™ lights exceeded all their expectations.
The lighting systems are self-contained, highly portable,
virtually maintenance-free, silent - and they eliminate the
need for external generators. Having efﬁcient lighting for
shooting detailed video scenes in these underground
situations, without the hassle of cables, hazardous fuel
or fumes, heat issues or fragile globes, was a great boon
she explained. Moreover, there was no need to assemble a
jumble of kit to do the job.
“We would like to thank Yale Engineering Products (Pty) Ltd
for the use of their PELI ™ portable lighting system, without
which we would never have got clear footage. The process
included the physical installation of the turnouts as well – a
daunting task. Although there was lighting in the tunnel, it
was not nearly sufﬁcient for the job at hand.”
“The PELI™ portable lighting systems are fantastic in that
they do not require anything other than to be charged, which
will give you between 8 and 60 hours of use depending on
the conﬁguration of the system – as well as 2,000 lumens per
lighting head at full power,” she explained.
Yale is now a major supplier of maintenance-free, “green”
and low carbon-footprint ranges of heavy-duty, LED-based
ﬂoodlighting to a variety of industries, including safety and
rescue, railways and mining.
The lighting systems utilise 12V maintenance-free, sealed-
gel, rechargeable batteries. The light colour is 6,000 Kelvin
and their fully extendable masts can be positioned as
preferred. Some systems have up to four heads, illuminating
in four directions at once. The base is made of super-impact,
absorbent elastomer and is considered to be virtually
Ultra-efﬁcient, self-contained PELI™ lighting systems were recently used
underground to assist in the production of a video showing the installation of
purpose-designed turnouts on the Gautrain rail track
LET THERE BE LIGHT
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 7www.railwaysafrica.com
EMD IN AFRICA: 2010
Railways Africa had the privilege of interviewing John S Hamilton, president and
chief executive ofﬁcer of Electro-Motive Diesel, inc (EMD).
RA: EMD HAS BEEN AROUND FOR MANY YEARS. WHAT
ROLE SPECIFICALLY HAS IT PLAYED IN AFRICA, OVER
AND ABOVE THE CLASS 39-200S?
EMD’s ﬁrst exports outside the United States started
around 1949. EMD has been in Africa starting in the mid-
1950s with large ﬂeets in Egypt and South Africa leading the
way. We produced locomotives in Port Elizabeth from 1971
RA: HOW MANY LOCOMOTIVES DOES EMD HAVE RUNNING
Approximately 2,000 units in the following countries:
Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal,
Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana,
Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana,
Most of the locomotives are the GT22 model (12 cylinder,
645 engine), built by EMD in Port Elizabeth, but some are the
GT18 and even the GT26 (16 cylinder, 645 engine) operated
by Transnet in South Africa – their classes 34 and 37.
RA: HOW ARE THEY SERVICED AND MAINTAINED?
Typically, the customer services and maintains them, many
with parts supplied by EMD, using EMD maintenance
instructions. EMD training is provided at the delivery of
the units. EMD provides on-site service support during the
RA: THE CLASS 39-200 PROJECT HAD A ROCKY START,
BUT IT CAME TOGETHER IN THE END. WHAT ARE YOUR
THOUGHTS ON THE PROJECT?
This was a major project for EMD, building locomotives
outside our normal process. It was a very complicated
project, involving not only the creation of a locomotive build
facility, but training local workers on locomotive assembly,
establishing a local supply chain, and adapting to local
customs and cultures. EMD’s initial involvement on this
project was to supply parts to another organisation that
would build the locomotives for Transnet, but this changed
during the course of the project, placing the ownership for
building the locomotives on EMD and the selected build
partner, Transnet Rail Engineering. This project allowed us
to test the strength of our design, build, and support
processes in an environment outside the norm. Many
thought we would not be successful and counted on
our demise. But we persevered with our build partner
to overcome all obstacles. We completed the design in
six months and the ﬁrst locomotive was produced three
months later, with ﬁnal production of 50 units being
completed in 12 months.
RA: OF ALL THE ACHIEVEMENTS SPECIFICALLY WITH
THE CLASS 39-200, WHICH STAND OUT FOR YOU IN
Aside from a programme in China, this was the ﬁrst time
we had built locomotives outside our London, Canada
facility in recent history. This is a milestone in and of itself.
RAIL INDUSTRYRAIL INDUSTRY
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 20108 www.railwaysafrica.com
We worked with our partner, Transnet Rail Engineering, to
produce the ﬁrst locomotive by them, fulﬁlling their long-
term vision. We completed the design in six months and
began production concurrently, where our normal design
cycle takes a year or more. This locomotive set new
standards for fuel economy, emissions, tractive effort, driver
comfort and safety, noise levels, and ease-of-maintenance
in South Africa.
RA: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SKILLS TRANSFER,
ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE NOW COMPLETED
We trained an entire workforce from Transnet Rail
Engineering (TRE) on how to build a world-class locomotive
from the ground up. This involved training South African
workers on the stringent EMD standards for welding and
assembly. We taught TRE how to build the sub-assemblies
such as the high voltage cabinet, the bogies, the cab
structure - the entire locomotive. We also helped them build
a world-class facility capable of producing 100 or more
locomotives a year. We developed over 700 local suppliers
utilising our stringent supplier quality standards. The whole
idea of teaching TRE how to build locomotives was to
make them better at maintaining their ﬂeet. We often
overlook this important transfer of skills.
RA: WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VIEW OF THE RAIL
INDUSTRY IN SOUTH AFRICA - AND IN AFRICA?
The ﬂeet of locomotives in Africa and South Africa is aging.
The 50 class 39-200 locomotives that were just built and
delivered provided Transnet with new equipment and
technology that had not been updated in over 20 years.
The Class 39-200 locomotive offers improved horsepower,
fuel economy, emissions, and tractive effort. The potential
market in Africa appears strong. We are entertaining bids for
new or refurbished locomotives throughout Africa to include
Botswana, Mozambique, and Namibia. Once these other
countries see the performance of Transnet class 39-200
locomotives in South Africa, interest will peak even more.
The market appears strong for new locomotives, rebuild
locomotives, and locomotive parts.
RA: WHAT IS EMD’S LONG TERM VIEW IN THE SOUTH
We have met with Transnet executives and have determined
their ongoing need for locomotive power. With a growing
demand for more power, Transnet is also faced with the
need to update its aging ﬂeet.
These 50 locomotives were just a start and have whet
Transnet’s appetite for more. We trust we will be their
partner of choice for more diesel electric locomotives.
RA: A CLOSING STATEMENT OR PASSING THOUGHT?
We should all be proud of what was accomplished with
the production of 50 class 39-200 locomotives in South
Africa. It turned out to be a successful partnership for both
EMD and Transnet, strengthening the relationship of not
only our two companies, but between South Africa and
North America as well.
6 – 8 April 2011
EXPO CENTRE – JOHANNESBURG
JOHN S HAMILTON
President and chief executive
Electro-Motive Diesel, inc
9301 West 55th Street
LaGrange, Illinois 60525
Unitedb States of America
John Hamilton became the
president and CEO of Electro-
Motive Diesel (EMD) upon the
closure of Berkshire and Greenbriar Equity’s acquisition
of the company in April 2005. He had been an integral
member of the deal team pursuing this opportunity for
the prior two years. EMD is a leading manufacturer of
diesel-electric locomotives, serving railroads across the
world. Prior to working with Berkshire and Greenbriar, John
served as president and CEO of Tokheim Corporation,
a provider of fuel dispensers, electronic point-of-sales
systems, and after-market services.
Before joining Tokheim, John’s career had been spent
improving underperforming businesses, both as the
business unit manager, and as an operating executive for
a private equity ﬁrm. His previous positions include group
president for The Harbour Group, a private equity ﬁrm,
senior vice-president and chief operating ofﬁcer of The
Fairchild Corporation, a manufacturer of fasteners to the
aerospace industry, and a number of senior management
positions for Allied Signal Aerospace. John has a BSE
in electrical engineering and computer science from
Princeton University, and an MBA from the University of
RAIL INDUSTRYRAIL INDUSTRY
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 9www.railwaysafrica.com
So easy to attract, so easily thrown away
Every country loves tourists. They bring lovely foreign
money with them, money they are determined to spend.
For a very special brand of tourist – the railway enthusiast
– South Africa has always been a favourite destination.
Minimal effort was needed to attract and entertain rail buffs
from around the world - the country’s spectacular scenic
lines and photogenic rolling stock saw to that.
In recent years however, even minimal effort has been too
much. The amount of enthusiasm shown by most South
African authorities towards railway tourism has tended to
vary between zero and downright negative. Opportunities to
earn millions of Pounds, Dollars, Deutchmarks, whatever –
have been thrown away.
What could have been is illustrated in an enlightening
analogy from Down Under. See what Bruno Martin found and
photographed during his recent visit to Tasmania:
“Many of the small towns in Tasmania have beautifully
maintained old buildings dating back to when the British
ﬁrst settled the island. Hobart, apart from being the second
oldest city in Australia, has something in common with
Cape Town: it lies at the foot of an imposing mountain
(Mount Wellington), apparently ﬁrst also named Table
Mountain -although its shape does not resemble its famous
counterpart at all. At 1,271 metres, it rises a little higher than
Table Mountain and the top can be reached by road.
“One deduces from the shiny rails encountered at level
crossings that the main-line from Launceston to Hobart is
operational, and the branch from Launceston to Devonport
and Burnie appears to be in use. In any event, I saw only one
train – carrying containers – in the distance.”
THE WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY
“There are only freight trains on the government railway
in Tasmania - scheduled passenger services were
discontinued some 30 years ago. However, the highlight of
my trip was a ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway,
operating between Queenstown and Regatta Point. This
1,067mm gauge line – like those in South Africa - was
originally built between 1896 and 1899 by the Mount
Lyell Mining and Railway Company Ltd. It incorporated a
section of rack (Abt system) graded at 1:20 (4.42km) and
1:16 (2.2km) while the remainder of the adhesion-only line
was graded up to 1:40 with a minimum radius curve of 100
metres. The rack section was operated by a ﬂeet of ﬁve
0-4-2T rack-adhesion locomotives. Four came from Dübs
& Co and the last – no 5 - was delivered by North British as
late as 1938.
“On the adhesion-only section, a ﬂeet of seven steam
locomotives hauled the trains to the wharf at Regatta Point.
These were joined in the 1950s by two Vulcan/Drewry
diesels. The whole operation was shut down in 1963,
having succumbed to road competition, ﬂooding and
landslides. The permanent way was torn up, most of the
line’s 50 timber trestle bridges collapsed and the rain
forest reclaimed the track bed.
“Fortunately, four of the ﬁve rack locomotives were saved:
three were stored at various museums while Abt no 1
was plinthed under cover at Queenstown. Engine no 4 is
believed to be buried at the Mount Lyell limestone quarry.
“Fast forward to 1998, when a Federal Government grant
of A$24.45 million was allocated to funding the
reconstruction of what is now purely a tourist railway.
Additional funding by the Tasmanian state government
was used to acquire and restore to working order three
rack locomotives (nos 1, 3 & 5), together with both Vulcan/
Drewry diesels. In addition to the locomotives, new purpose-
built passenger carriages were ordered to resemble the
Mount Lyell “O class” saloon cars. The 35km of line was
ofﬁcially opened for tourist trafﬁc on 27 December 2002 -
the ﬁnal cost to restore the railway having come to around
A$35 million (ie $1 million per kilometre).”
TWO TRAINS MOST DAYS, SOMETIMES THREE
“Two trains are run most days (plus a third during the
summer peak season), with simultaneous departures
from Queenstown and Regatta Point all year round except
Christmas Day. Two levels of travel are offered: Tourist
Class ($110 one-way) and Premier Class ($210 one-way)
which includes a generous packed lunch. Premier Class
passengers are pampered with complimentary food and
beverages during the journey, have fully upholstered seats,
a rear observation balcony and a dedicated tour guide. The
trip takes 5 hours (one way!), with the train making several
stops en route.
“At the ﬁrst station out of Queenstown, Lynchford, it stops
for 30 minutes to allow passengers to visit a nearby mine,
where they learn how to pan for gold. The rack is engaged
after the next stop, Halls Creek, where the grade steepens to
1:16. On this stretch the loco works very hard to pull its load
of 3 carriages at a snail’s pace to the summit at Rinadeena.
Here another brief stop is made.”
LUNCH-TIME AT DUBBIL BARRIL
“From here the train proceeds cautiously down the 1:20
grade to Dubbil Barril - the end of the rack - and the cross-
over station (not for the trains, but for the passengers).
Within ﬁve minutes of arrival, the diesel-hauled train from
South Africa’s vintage Union Limited, extremely popular with overseas tourists
until sidelined: this is what the historic dining car “Protea” looks like today.
Photo: Dylan Knott.
“In 1998, a Federal Government grant of
A$24.45 million was allocated to funding
the reconstruction of what is now purely
a tourist railway. Additional funding came
from the Tasmanian state government.”
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201010 www.railwaysafrica.com
Carswell Park Depot
1 in 40 (2.5%)
1 in 40 (2.5%)
1 in 16 (6.25%)
1 in 20 (5%)
CCOMPILED BY BRUNO MARTIN 3/2010
H A R B O U R
M A C Q U A R I E
1 in 20 (5%)
1 in 16 (6.25%)
Mount Lyell Mine
H A R B O U R
M A C Q U A R I E
WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY
34.5 kmCarswell Park Depot
1 in 40 (2.5%)
1 in 40 (2.5%)
1 in 16 (6.25%)
1 in 20 (5%)
TASMANIA - AUSTRALIA
CCOMPILED BY BRUNO MARTIN 3/2010
1 in 20 (5%)
1 in 16 (6.25%)
WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY
Mount Lyell Mine
Map by Bruno Martin.
0-4-2T rack/adhesion loco no 5 at Queenstown.
Loco no 5 at Lynchford.
Abt rack section, looking towards Rinadeena. Sign warns against walking along
track: “Limited clearance”.
Abt rack section, looking towards Rinadeena. Sign warns against walking along
track: “Limited clearance”.
Regatta Point pulls up. Passengers on the diesel-hauled train
change over to the carriages from Queenstown, and
vice versa. Attached to the train from Regatta Point is the
counter car which provides packed lunches and sells
beverages and souvenirs. The platform is sufﬁciently long to
accommodate two trains and provide seating for all to enjoy
their lunches. During the one-hour stopover there is ample
time for a short walk through the rain forest.
“While the passengers are enjoying their lunches the
locos are turned on the turntable, and re-attached to their
respective trains. The continuation to Regatta Point is now
behind the diesel while the steam loco returns its train to
Queenstown. For the remainder of the journey the diesel
trundles at a sedate pace along the King River. A short
stop is made at Teepookana where passengers have the
opportunity to taste and purchase Leatherwood Honey,
a speciality of Tasmania, before reaching the terminus at
Regatta Point. A courtesy road coach service is provided
to return passengers to their respective points of origin. The
rail trip runs through spectacular mountain scenery, across
wild rivers, through deep gorges and dense rain forests.
Not cheap by any means, but well worth doing.”
/ / /www.railwaysafrica.com
RAILWAY TOURISMRAILWAY TOURISM
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201012 www.railwaysafrica.com
Transnet Rail Engineering
Specialists in maintenance, repair, upgrade,
conversion and manufacture of rolling stock,
components and rail support services.
Tel: +27 (0)12 391 1304 Fax: +27 (0)12 391 1371 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A TAKE ON THE STATUS QUO
The writer does not address this article to those who
believe that the general decline of railways in Sub-Saharan
Africa will spontaneously turn around and all will be well
again. Of course, serendipity may play a role, but
pragmatists will mull over what they can and should do
to sustain its railway industry, and hopefully to achieve
The largest network on the continent, South Africa’s,
attained 150 years of railways in 2010. Customarily a cause
for hearty celebration, the event seems to be low-key. Is that
because the Soccer World Cup has overshadowed it, or
does the state of railways not justify hearty celebration?
Perhaps the latter – a media report revealed that key role
players had recently received a drubbing from parliament.
South Africa’s only railway celebration to date in 2010, and
a worthy one at that, has been Gautrain’s commencement
of operations. What irony that a project that initially
attracted scorn should provide a solitary ray of light in an
otherwise gloomy railway year! What lesson does the only
railway in South Africa now built to standard gauge, with
contemporary technology to match, teach us?
Research on railway corporate citizenship has found
Fortuitous, Insecure, Enlightened, Progressive, and
Assertive railway clusters. No railway in Africa has yet
transcended the Insecure cluster, while elsewhere in the
world Enlightened, Progressive, and Assertive railways are
enjoying renaissance (to be objective, several countries
in Asia, Europe, and South America also do not make the
upper railway echelon). Research by Railway Corporate
Strategy has found many reasons: In the African context,
a colonial legacy unquestionably represents a substantial
Corporate citizenship embodies the mutually enriching
interchange between railways (and many other entities too,
including other transport modes) and society. Railways
essentially shoulder the heavy lifting component of the
national transport task, both logistics and mobility. In so
doing, they contribute jobs, not only directly in operations
and maintenance, but also in the collective life-cycle
activities between conception and ultimate recycling.
They also add collateral value - in design, construction,
and manufacture; provision of energy and ﬁnancing; and
logistics - and mobility integration. When pitched
competitively, railways can minimise a country’s logistics
and mobility cost function, thereby
stimulating economic growth and
national competitiveness. In addition,
they provide substantial general well-
being. Why would anyone not want
railway renaissance in Africa and South
DRIVERS OF CHANGE
By way of recognising Railways Africa’s continental
perspective, this article upholds South Africa, the leading
economy in Africa, as example of how railway renaissance
might start and ripple out to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.
One can reasonably expect railway renaissance to stimulate
a substantial shift to rail of trafﬁc from other modes, primarily
road, but also air in some corridors. Such a shift would
compound the challenge of achieving renaissance lift-off:
Railways would need to catch up on many fronts, while
concurrently growing vigorously. These thrusts would
demand solid support from all stakeholders. Consider the
following categories of people who hold the outcome in
Leaders who are intimately in touch with positioning railways
for competitiveness and sustainability are rare, even in the
global situation. This is not because of ignorance or decline,
but because the very fabric of the industry is changing in
an extraordinary way. The nature of the challenges, and
the insight and skills required to position railways to meet
them, reside on a higher level than applicable to protected
state railways. Dare we entertain the notion that those who
still struggle to manage the latter railways, who have not
learned to recognise and to deal with the challenges of
the globalised railway industry, might relegate their railways
to a backwater?
Young people are the future decision makers. Speak to
them, and hear that South Africa has raised a generation
of people who have not experienced good railways - the
country has essentially lost its community memory in that
regard. Most young people have not had an opportunity
to travel overseas and so to experience well-positioned
railways ﬁrst-hand either. At best, they are uninformed
regarding railways and at worst, they have acquired
negative perceptions. Therefore, they make their decisions
on what they see around them. If buses and taxis have
established their frame of reference, it is axiomatic that
they will aspire to their own cars as a priority. The alternative
solution, namely an effective rail-based mass mobility
system integrated with and supported by other transport
modes, must be simply unimaginable to them. The same
goes for freight logistics. Hard-nosed business people
at best have no emotional attachment to rail and at worst
have no tolerance for unacceptable performance. Once
more, South Africa has produced a generation of logistics
managers who instinctively turn to air and road, even when
they need to move heavy bulk commodities.
Skilled resources are at a low ebb: A critical South African
challenge is to nurture skills and to raise their levels faster
than they atrophy. From where will it recruit resources
to support a railway renaissance? Develop its own? Yes!
Great in principle, but railways employ unique technologies
that both set them apart from other transport modes and
give them their competitive advantages in market spaces
Achieving railway renaissance
Dave van der Meulen, managing member, Railway Corporate Strategy CC
South Africa’s very first passenger train, between Durban and the Point on 26
June 1860, was not the first on the continent. This colourful early locomotive ran
in Egypt, which operated its first train in 1854.
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201014 www.railwaysafrica.com
where railways stand strong – eg heavy-haul, double-
stacking, high-speed intercity, and heavy metro. Traditionally,
railways have therefore recruited good people and then
developed them into skilled resources.
However, a declining industry is unlikely to attract the best
job market entrants for development into skilled resources.
While one can instil basic operating skills, deeper insight at
higher levels associates with self-development in a vibrant
environment. Absence of a stable indigenous railway human
resources foundation lays a country vulnerable to foreign
opportunists. Having shaken off the yoke of colonialism,
but still being burdened by elements of its railway legacy,
Africa should be wary that unsustainable railways do not
become the weakness that admits the thin end of the wedge
of re-colonisation. China comes to mind, because it is
conspicuously active in African railways and resources.
Workers who make a railway function efﬁciently generally
have the right to organise and to negotiate the best deal
they can from their employers. It is however salutary to note
that, around the world, when railways have gone into deep
decline, organised labour has passionately endeavoured
to protect the faded glory and the jobs that went with it.
Without deprecating constitutional rights, intractable labour
relations in declining industries usually signals imminent
change – arguably the last straw that breaks the camel’s
back. Will labour unions be a positive driver of railway
renaissance in South Africa, or an impediment? Will they
contribute to building a competitive, sustainable railway
industry, or will they mount a rearguard action that will
frustrate or prolong the passage to renaissance? Appreciate
that one measure of good corporate citizenship is the value
of jobs that an industry creates in a competitive setting.
The global consulting community has mastered performance
metrics and can fettle a railway by the numbers. However,
it seems not to appreciate that one cannot omit track
gauge from the analysis, most likely because it takes this
parameter for granted in its native setting. All other things
being equal, the difference in track gauge will force narrow
gauge railways to underperform while concurrently attracting
a capital premium, both proportional to that difference. Thus,
despite the best efforts of the global consulting community,
this double whammy prevents narrow gauge railways
from approaching the capital- and operating efﬁciency of
standard gauge railways. If Africa does not cultivate people
with the requisite insights to deal with this question, and
they are not available in the global market, to whom should
The investor community is willing to come to the railway
renaissance party in South Africa, and is pursuing railway
opportunities in South Africa and beyond. In many
countries, various types of participation models have
evolved as workable instruments for attracting private
investors to extend the spread of government funding.
However, investors are averse to risk beyond their control.
The type of investment instrument envisaged can moderate
that control, from relatively small in PPPs, to relatively large
in unsolicited bids. Appreciate nevertheless that while
relatively small participation in a PPP may minimise risk to the
private investor, it leaves most of the strategic freedom with
the host government. Unsolicited bids can allow the private
investor greater strategic freedom to determine direction, in
return for a higher level of investment.
Governments or authorities have the prerogative to
determine what share of project funding they will allow
private investors to take up. However, increasing private
funding tends to bring with it decreasing government
inﬂuence on strategic direction, and vice versa. Given the
investment backlog in South Africa’s railways, one might
think it attractive to maximise the quantum of private
investment. On the other hand, government does have
its development priorities. Because government and
private objectives may not naturally align, to the extent
that a government wishes to inﬂuence strategic direction,
it will need to put its money where its mouth is. Can all
stakeholders have their cakes and eat them? Alternatively,
should they rather seek a pragmatic compromise that will
maximise the size of the cake available to share among
Readers will note that this series of articles questions the
status quo, and the established beliefs and wisdom on
which it rests. Having calibrated that status quo, on a scale
of effective to ineffective railway positioning, insight with
which to set railways in order in South Africa and in Africa
should follow. In the meantime, South Africa needs to heed
the wake-up calls.
First, the railway industry will need to recognise and
demonstrate whatever inherent competitiveness it has in the
South African situation. The alternative, that those who do
not appreciate its strengths, or who have not successfully
revitalised comparable railways, will spontaneously engineer
its salvation, seems improbable.
Second, rail’s contribution to the national economy and the
national transport task is below par. One consequence is that
the cost of logistics in South Africa is inordinately high. This
writer is on record regarding the inefﬁcacy of narrow gauge
railways, as well as the downside of state ownership. The
country needs to align railway technology and institutional
arrangements with the global mainstream - it is simply way
out of line.
Third, government will need to match rail funding with that
applied to other modes, particularly road. Absent such
matching, the likes of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement
Project sends the unmistakable signal that South Africa
is road domain. At the poles of a funding continuum,
government will need either to pony up what is required,
or to allow the private sector to do what it does best - get
sustainable projects moving. The ideal, pragmatic, solution
probably lies between these poles, a trade-off between
ideological objectives and effective implementation.
What hope has Railway SA if these questions are not
resolved? No movement seems possible if all stakeholders
stick to their going in positions. The ﬁrst few years of the next
150 would appear challenging without some give and take.
Even if it comes in year 151 or 152, breaking the logjam that
impedes railway renaissance in South Africa would justify a
The Gautrain fleet exemplifies advanced overseas technology.
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 15www.railwaysafrica.com
The Angolan government has invested more than $US89
million in the acquisition of new equipment for the Benguela
Railway, according to Caminhos de ferro de Benguela
(CFB) managing director Daniel Quipaxe. Speaking during
the signing of a contract between the CFB board and
the Chinese Machinery Equipment Import and Export
Corporation (CMEIEC), he said this amount is earmarked for
the acquisition of eight locomotives, 66 passenger coaches
and 94 freight wagons. As part of the investment, Angolan
technicians are to be trained in China.
According to Angola’s deputy minister of transport Jose
Joao Kuvingwa, speaking in Huambo on 26 July, CFB may
be able to resume full operation during the ﬁrst half of
2011, one year earlier than the schedule previously set.
The government is investing some $US200 million in
rehabilitating the line, he said.
Caminhos de ferro de Luanda (CFL) has begun a twice-
weekly goods service between Luanda and Dondo (190km).
Intermediate localities served include Viana (Luanda),
Catete and Maria Teresa (Bengo), Zenza do Itombe and
Cassualala (Kwanza Norte). Public service along the entire
line from Luanda via Ndalatando to Malanje is scheduled
to start in December this year.
A test train arrived in Malanje, endpoint of the 424km line
from Luanda, on 25 July, conveying a party including CFL
president Osvaldo Lobo do Nascimento. The delegation
visited the CFL stations at Catete, Zenza do Itombe,
Ndalahui (ex-Bela Alta) Luinha, Canhoca, Lucala and
Ndalatando (Kwanza Norte), Kizenga, Cambuze, Cacuso and
Lombe as well as Malange. Destroyed during the years of
armed conﬂict, all have been rebuilt. Extensive rehabilitation
of the line began in 2005, following 13 years out of operation.
Assistance from the China International Fund (CIF) made it
possible to rebuild 600 culverts, 16 stations and 40 bridges,
as well as clearing land and easing gradients. The stations,
all with two ﬂoors, have an administrative area, restaurant,
Recommendations adopted at the recent meeting in Algiers
on the development of rail transport in the countries of
the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) are to be submitted to the
Maghreb Transport Ministers’ Council (MTMC). Participants
called on AMU member governments to speed up work on
the Trans-Maghreb high-speed rail project from Morocco
to Tunisia. AMU representative Abdelakader Bouchentouf
recalled that the MTMC approved the route in 2007. Algerian
transport minister Amar Tou noted the signiﬁcant budget
allocated for modernisation and development ($US24bn
during the 2005-2009 plan and $30bn during the 2010-2014
NEW ALGERIAN LINE
Inaugurating the new 580km railway west and south-west
from Algiers on 2 July, transport minister Amar Tou said
commercial service is to start “very soon”. The line crosses
the regions of Tabia, R’jem-Demouche, El Biodh, Mecheria,
Naama, Ain-Sefra, Beni-ounif and Bechar. Trafﬁc is projected
at some 650,000 passengers and 700,000 tonnes of freight
ALGIERS – ELECTRIC DEPOT
Algerian transport minister Amar Tou inspected the DZD
8.7 billion new electric rolling stock maintenance centre in
Algiers on 30 June, announcing afterwards that it is 90%
complete and due to be ﬁnished within four months. A ﬂeet
of 64 electric coaches will be maintained at the facility,
“using the most advanced technologies.” The minister
stressed the importance of meeting delivery deadlines set
by Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviares (SNTF - the
state railway of Algeria).
PROGRESS WITH CFN (MOÇAMEDES)
Speaking on 16 July in Lubango, southern Huila Province,
after a 700km journey on the rehabilitated Caminhos de
ferro Namibe (CFN – formerly the Moçamedes Railway),
Angolan deputy minister of transport José João Kuvingua
said some 600 families have to be relocated from railway
land in Lubango City and 32 others in Menongue. Reopening
of the line throughout to Menongue, scheduled for 2011,
will speed development of the region, he said, by virtue of
the cheap transport offered for large quantities of goods.
Map courtesy Railway Gazette International.
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201016 www.railwaysafrica.com
90% of funding being made available under a World Bank-
backed multimodal transport project.
The World Bank agreed a $US255m grant on 29 June,
warning that an SNCC collapse would have “incalculable
consequences” for the economy, including the potential
growth of the mining sector. The government is to provide
a further $US373m for the SNCC recovery plan, and
$US25m is coming from the World Bank’s private sector
development & competitiveness project.
TUNNEL UNDER SUEZ
The Egyptian government, keen to encourage investment in
the Sinai peninsula and in the cities along the Suez Canal,
intends to construct a $US1bn tunnel beneath the canal
near Port Said, carrying a rail track and two road trafﬁc
lanes. The planned location is 19km south of the canal’s
northern entrance. Existing crossing points are restricted to
a rail bridge, a road tunnel and a road bridge near Ismailia.
EGYPT SEEKS PRIVATE PARTNERS
Egypt plans to offer road, rail and other projects worth 10
billion Egyptian pounds ($US1.8 billion) for public-private
partnerships, it is reported. Investment minister Mahmoud
Mohieldin is quoted saying: “The public budget does not
have enough allocated, meaning the private sector needs
to join in completing projects.” The daily Al-Masry Al-
Youm comments: “A series of road, rail and sea accidents
in Egypt in recent years have triggered an outcry over the
government’s handling of transport safety and prompted
calls for increased spending on improving infrastructure.”
The transport ministry, the paper says, is considering a
project to extend Cairo’s underground metro to suburbs not
now on the network. Cairo currently has two metro lines.
INDIAN INTEREST IN ETHIOPIAN RAILWAY
According to a report from Delhi, India has been interested
in the 781km Ethio-Djibouti Railway, CFDE (Chemin de fer
Djibouti-Ethopien), since 2006 when Rail India Technical
and Economic Services Ltd (Rites) bid for the right to
rehabilitate and operate the line. In the event, Comazar
from South Africa was awarded the concession, but did not
take it up. An Italian concern was then commissioned but
the Ethiopian government felt “the pace and quality of work
A new concession is now in the ofﬁng and this time Rites
appears to be competing with China. In the words of the
Delhi report, “As India waited for Ethiopia to come with a
speciﬁc request for help, the Chinese moved in quickly and
offered cash upfront for rehabilitating the crucial 100-year-
old imperial rail link to the port of Djibouti.” The metre-gauge
line requires urgent upgrading, with several derailments
reported every month. Many bridges along the routes are
medical clinic, ofﬁces, residences for ofﬁcials, area trafﬁc
control and waiting rooms with capacity from 200 to 500
The Luanda railway opened in 1909, covering a total
distance of 479km, including branch lines. After the
country’s independence it fell into a long period of decline,
suffering the loss of qualiﬁed staff, ﬁnancial difﬁculties
and lack of investment. Cargo transported dropped from
301,000 tons in 1973 to 54 tons in 1990.
BENIN TECHNICIANS ON COURSE IN INDIA
A railway technical team from Benin recently underwent
comprehensive training in diesel locomotive maintenance
at the Golden Rock Railway Workshops in Tiruchi, India. The
facility has exported metre-gauge locomotives to Benin and
other third-world countries after necessary modiﬁcation. A
group of eight received theoretical and practical training on
various aspects such as diesel locomotive design features,
layout, system working, stripping and overhauling of Alco
engines and troubleshooting. This was the second batch
of technical personnel from Benin to undergo training at
Golden Rock. An earlier team went for training in 2008.
Other visitors to the facility have included railway technical
personnel from Tanzania, Senegal, Mozambique and Sudan.
RAILWAY FROM BOTSWANA TO MAPUTO
On 16 July, the governments of Mozambique and Botswana
signed a memorandum of understanding for the developing
of a deep water port at Techobanine Point, in Mozambique’s
southernmost district of Matutuine, and the building of a
1,100km connecting railway through Zimbabwe from Serule
in Botswana. The estimated cost is approximately $US7
billion. The main cargo would be coal, Botswana having
an estimated 212 billion tonnes of coal reserves. Both
governments believe that the port and railway could be
leased out to private management and that private ﬁnance
will be forthcoming.
The envisaged port, which would be able to handle bulk
mineral ships, oil tankers and passenger vessels, would
free Botswana from dependence on the harbours at
Durban and Richards Bay which give priority to South
African exports and experience congestion problems.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC),
says executive secretary Tomas Salomao, will give its full
support and would encourage other member states, much
as South Africa (“just 30km from Techbanine”) and
Swaziland, to participate in the initiative.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)
WORLD BANK GRANT FOR DRC’S SNCC
In terms of a recovery plan to restore the ﬁnancial and
operational viability of Société Nationale des Chemins de
fer Congolais (SNCC – the state railway in the Democratic
Republic of Congo), the department has been allocated
Belgian-built (1960) 1,067mm gauge Ragheno diesel railcar at Kinshasha in
1991. Photo: Martin Welzel.
The remains of a “Littorino” railcar at Dire Dawa, one of three built by Fiat for
CFDE (Chemin de fer Djibouti-Ethopien). Photo: Dietmar Fiedel.
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 17www.railwaysafrica.com
Ofﬁce National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF – the national
railway of Morocco) has awarded a $US2.3 billion rail
contract to a consortium of France-based Egis and
Moroccan partner Ingema. The project, to be completed in
2015, involves the design and construction management
of an 87km portion of the Kenitra-Tangiers high-speed line.
The Moroccan government is expected to contribute some
$541 million towards the cost. ONCF plans to order a ﬂeet of
Alstom Duplex double-deck high-speed trainsets.
From an article in The Namibian by Jana-Mari Smith
“TransNamib is determined to overhaul its image as a
battling state-owned enterprise and to revive the ‘glory days’
of railways in Namibia. Senior managers of TransNamib
met with high-ranking ofﬁcials from the ministry of works
and transport and members of the TransNamib Board
to clear the air on the company’s past, current and future
challenges and to persuade the public that TransNamib
was committed to becoming a vital part of the country’s
CEO Titus Haimbili said Trans-Namib acknowledged
the “legacy of challenges” it had to overcome and was
committed to address. He added that TransNamib was
“not promising miracles” but was ready and willing to “lay
a sound foundation for the railways in Namibia”. A well-
functioning railway can be a critical asset, as the uranium-
mining industry continues to grow and rail trafﬁc volumes
The company had to battle “an image of being a non-
performing state-owned enterprise (SOE)”, Haimbili said,
and had been “haunted by a stigma of secrecy and a lack
of active stakeholder involvement. TransNamib employs
FUNDING FOR RIFT VALLEY RAILWAYS
Rift Valley Railways (RVR), holders of a 25-year concession
to operate some 2,200km of track linking the port of
Mombasa in Kenya with the interior of both Kenya and
Uganda, is to receive about $US250 million to fund its
capital expenditure programme. The ﬁnancing structure for
the funding is still under negotiation with various institutions,
but is likely to comprise a 2:1 debt to equity ratio, according
to the Financial Times. In February 2010, Citadel Capital
of Egypt acquired a 51% holding in RVR through its
subsidiary Ambience Ventures Ltd. The Trans-Century
group has a 34% stake and an Ugandan investor owns the
NEW RUSSIAN RAIL-WELDING PLANT
President of Rossiiskie Zheleznie Dorogi (RZhD – the
Russian State Railway) Vladimir Yakunin was present at
the opening in Tripoli of Libya’s ﬁrst international railway
exhibition and conference, Lirex 2010, where railway
companies and administrations of virtually every major
country were represented. Yakunin also attended the
ceremonial opening of a rail-welding plant in the town of
Ras Lanuf, built under Russian Railways’ contract for the
construction of the Sirt - Benghazi railway line. The maximum
capacity of the plant is 700km of track per year.
On 17 April 2008, an agreement was signed by Libyan
Railways and Russian Railways for the construction of a line
linking Sirt and Benghazi, after RZhD won the tender.
Changamwe West 7.2
Container Port 4.5
Beach Line Jn 3.2
2. Kilindini Road
3. Fort Jesus Road
4. Post Office
5. Treasury Square
Railways in Mombasa – From World Rail Atlas, vol 7, reviewed on page 40 in
this issue of Railways Africa.
TransNamib GE U20C no 457 at Holoog is one of the locomotives of the class
already refurbished. Photo: J Batwell.
TransNamib is now able to procure spare parts more expeditiously for its
Chinese-built SDD6 units. Photo: J Batwell.
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201018 www.railwaysafrica.com
1,636 people, making it one of the largest SOE employers
in Namibia.” Introducing the company’s top management
team, he said their qualiﬁcations and crucial roles should
be enough to refute criticism describing them as
“incompetent” and “political appointees”. Other challenges
include an aged railway network, which is approximately
100 years old. Its trains are past their sell-by date too, and
the recently acquired Chinese locomotives have been
“Proﬁts since 2000 have been ‘elusive’, Haimbili said. He
added that ‘this negative proﬁt trend’ could have been
inﬂuenced by the lack of updated annual ﬁnancial reports
and ‘unaccounted asset register and evaluations’.
“On the other end of the scale”, major achievements include
an agreement with the Ohorongo Cement factory outside
Otavi (projected to “rake in” N$60 million annually) with
TransNamib responsible for transporting the coal and
cement. Also, GPT Infraprojects Ltd has agreed to set up a
factory in Tsumeb for the manufacture of concrete railway
sleepers, for use in upgrading lines across Namibia.
An important milestone is a reworked agreement with
Beijing Zongs Railway Supplies. Cash settlement in
advance is no longer stipulated and the delivery of parts
should improve. Haimbili also highlighted an N$80 million
programme to refurbish 18 General Electric locomotives.
ENUGU SERVICE TO BEGIN
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) is set to
commence the Enugu leg of its intra-city mass transit train
service on 26 July 2010. This followed the inauguration
of service at Kano on 5 July, where patronage has been
excellent. Three new halts have been provided and three
existing stations renovated. The corporation has completed
rehabilitation of rolling stock and all infrastructure including
level crossings. The commuter train makes six daily trips
between the main station in Enugu and Agbani in the Nkanu
West local government area. It is to stop at the Zik Avenue,
Timber Shed, and Orie Emene halts and at Emene station.
HARD TIMES FOR TRL STAFF
In December 2009, according to East African Business
Week employees of Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) were
placed on paid leave following serious washaways during
the El Nino rains in the Morogoro region west of Dar-es-
Salaam. Repairs to the most badly damaged bridge were
completed recently and train services on the Central Line
resumed after a break of almost six months.
In March, since it was receiving minimal revenue, TRL
announced its intention to place about a thousand people
on unpaid leave for six months. Predictably the move
was opposed by labour and subsequently the government-
Rites joint concession was cancelled.
The metre-gauge railway, the paper points out, has been
the main “lifeline” for transporting produce from the
country’s hinterland to Dar-es-Salaam since the beginning
of the previous century. The Central Line is the main artery
for the landlocked countries of Rwanda and Burundi, as
well as the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of
[The report incorrectly includes Zambia and Malawi in
the list. In fact, these are linked to Dar-es-Salaam by the
completely separate Tazara railway, which is not even
the same gauge as the Central Line. Uganda is listed too,
though most of that country’s imports and exports move
through Kenya’s Mombasa. – Editor]
CHINESE RAILCARS FOR TUNISIA
Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (SNCFT
- the Tunisian National Railways) has ordered 20 diesel
railcars from China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock (CSR).
Starting in March 2011, Voith Turbo is to deliver 42 rail
packs with T212bre turbo transmissions, SK/KE 485 ﬁnal
drives, roof-mounted cooling systems, cardan shafts and
Schaku couplers for the project. Each vehicle has two Voith
Turbo power packs rated at 530kW.
The vehicles, all to be delivered by 2012 for use on routes
around Tunis, will be manufactured in Nanjing, China, with
the ﬁrst prototype railcar set scheduled for testing in Tunisia
STANDARD GAUGE FOR UGANDA
It has been ofﬁcially announced, East African Business
Week reports, that the Ugandan government intends to
build a standard gauge railway from Kampala to the border
at Malaba, to connect with one envisaged by Kenya, running
from Mombasa via Nairobi. Design work by consultants is
expected to take “at least a year before building can start”.
The 1,435mm gauge, Business Week notes, is “the preferred
mode for 80% of the world’s railways. Industry sources quote
speeds up to 120km/h on freight trains and 160km/h on
The paper explains: “The Uganda and Kenya railway
services …… fell into disrepair following the break-up of
the East African Community and were characterised by a
lack of maintenance, no investment and poor coordination
between the owners, so of course nobody could invest in
“NRZ FACES COLLAPSE” - GM
Speaking on 7 July, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ),
general manager Mike Karakadzai said the entire rail
network “is fast deteriorating and on the verge of collapse
due to lack of periodic maintenance. NRZ has limited
resources to maintain the rail network and we don’t have
enough ﬁnancial resources to undertake such a huge task.”
He said the government should speed up the opening of
the country’s rail sector to private players. NRZ is reportedly
operating at between 30% and 50% capacity.
In terms of a plan put forward by NRZ, private players
would be charged a rail access fee similar to airport and
port tax. All players, including NRZ, would contribute
funds that would be channelled towards maintenance of
Class 14A NRZ 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 Garratt loco, dating from 1953.Class 14A NRZ 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 Garratt loco, dating from 1953.
(from a Farrail photo).(from a Farrail photo).
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 19www.railwaysafrica.com
SA RAIL NEWS
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) achieved a better-than-expected
increase in revenues in the most recent ﬁnancial year,
despite a decline in export coal trafﬁc and general freight.
Revenues rose by 11.8% to R20.6 billion in the year ending
31 March, buoyed by an increased share of the intermodal
market and rising bulk volumes in the latter part of the year.
Export coal volumes decreased by 0.2% to 61.8 million
tonnes, principally because of operational issues on the
railway. However, export iron-ore volumes continued their
strong upward trend, rising 21.5% to 44.7 million tonnes,
a 41% increase over 2005 levels. General freight declined
from 78.4 to 72.1 million tonnes.
A cost cutting campaign bore fruit with net operating
expenses rising only 3.2% to R13.4 billion.
TFR hopes to strengthen its ﬁnancial performance
by concessioning under-utilised freight lines to other
operators. Expressions of interest were invited recently for
the operation of 7,300km of branch lines, only 3,928km of
which are currently operational. The parastatal is assessing
the possibility of leasing locomotives and rolling stock to
PRASA’S NEW NASREC STATION
The new Nasrec station in Johannesburg was refurbished
at a cost of about R70 million, to handle thousands of
people going to the Soccer City stadium during the Soccer
World Cup event. The station was at the centre of rail, bus
and taxi hubs to cope with 20,000 people expected to
stream though every hour during peak time.
The upgrades to the station include:
• “Super-wide (9m)” platforms with a 3m wide, centrally
• Three stairways, wide entrance ramps and a lift for
passengers with special needs;
• Adequate lighting and CCTV cameras; ,
• Ticket sales and veriﬁcation points sheltered from the
• An integrated control system that allows train arrivals and
departures to be monitored via the internet; and
• A standby generator and UPS in case of power failure.
INTEGRATED RAPID PUBLIC TRANSPORT
More than R14.5 billion is to be spent on developing
integrated rapid public transport networks (IRPTNs) in
South Africa over a three-year period, transport minister
Sibusiso Ndebele has announced. More than R6 billion
has been committed during the 2010/11 ﬁnancial year and
a further R85 billion will probably be allocated in the two
years after that.
This would be in addition to the R25 billion to be spent on
improving South Africa’s passenger rail service over the next
The IRPTNs are at the core of South Africa’s public
transport strategy (PTS), which is aimed at accelerating
the improvement of public transport services for more than
half the country’s population. Priority rail corridors and bus
rapid transit is to be introduced in the cities. In the long
term, the aim is to have 85% of all metropolitan residents
within a kilometre of such a network.
DUAL PURPOSE HIGH-SPEED JBG-DBN LINE
If a high-speed railway is built to link Durban and
Johannesburg, as recommended in South Africa’s rail
master plan, it would not be ﬁnancially viable unless it carried
both freight and passengers, says Passenger Rail Agency
of South Africa (Prasa) CEO Tshepo Lucky Montana. His
statement is based on a “pre-feasibility” assessment. The
next step is a full feasibility study.
As far as passenger trains are concerned, speeds of
between 300km/h and 350 are foreseen, reducing journey
time for the 720km from the current 10 hours to about 3½.
Montana told Engineering News that a public–private
partnership (PPP) would be a possibility, offering a 35-year
concession to a suitable party. “Otherwise, the cost may be
prohibitive.” The paper added: “Montana does not want to
elaborate on the possible rand value of building such a rail
link, which will require quite a bit of tunnelling through the
[One or two terminology deﬁnitions would be useful, eg
“viable”, “prohibitive” and “quite a bit”. - Editor]
PRASA’S NEW STATIONS
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)
upgraded a number of stations around the country to
handle thousands of people going to the various city
stadiums during the Soccer World Cup event. All were
opened in good time. According to Prasa CEO Lucky
Montana: “Modern developments optimise the revolutionary
work being undertaken at stations across the country,
the result of which I believe will bring a renewed sense of
pride to South Africa. An entirely new and aesthetically
pleasing design has been applied to the key stations,
creating a safe and satisfying transport hub for all to enjoy.”
The upgrades were aimed at enhancing the commuting
experience through improving the general physical
environment, safety, security and hygiene of stations.
The refurbished stations include:
South African Rail News
TFR freight near Leeudoringstad, 253km south-west
of Johannesburg. Photo: Jacque Wepener.
Newly completed 4-platform station at Nasrec, Johannesburg.
SA RAIL NEWS
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201020 www.railwaysafrica.com
SA RAIL NEWS
• New Canada and Nasrec (R90 million);
• Ellis Park and Doornfontein (R77 million);
• Orlando (R70 million).
• Loftus and Bel Ombre (R20 million);
• KwaMyandu and KwaMashu (R50 million).
• Reunion (R6 million).
• Athlone, Heideveld and Langa (R60 million).
• North End (R16 million).
“One of the reasons rail use has declined over the years,”
Montana suggests, “may be because people felt it was
unsafe. However; a safe and effective public rail transport
system was paramount to the success of the Fifa World
Cup. This is why Prasa has spent over R160 million to bring
back railway police. We knew we’d done our job when
fans stepped off our trains with a smile, took advantage of all
the wonderful facilities at our stations and enjoyed a gentle
ﬁve minute stroll to their seats in the stadium”.
Prasa boasted its 5-minute-walk-to-all-the-stadiums claim in widely distributed
publicity handouts, all specifically including Cape Town. “A gentle 5-minute
stroll” to Green Point did stretch credulity somewhat: the official distance from
the station is 2.6km.
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 21www.railwaysafrica.com
SA RAIL NEWS
SA RAIL NEWS
HIGH-SPEED JBG-DURBAN “NO PRIORITY”
Alstom says it is interested in a proposed new rail link from
Durban to the King Shaka International Airport, for which
pre-feasibility studies are in progress, but doubts any early
justiﬁcation for high-speed trains between Johannesburg
and Durban. Alstom director for business development in SA
Philippe Roch suggests focusing on metropolitan commuter
needs ﬁrst. “It is absolutely possible in South Africa, not as
a ﬁrst priority, but as a second priority,” Roch was quoted
saying. During June, Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said such a
line would have to be a combined freight and passenger rail
operation to be viable.
According to Roch, combining freight and passenger rail
would result in slower journey times. Passenger trains would
not be able to travel at high speeds of up to 275km/h if
they were to share the track with freight. Freight trains carry
much heavier loads, which result in differing maintenance
and operational requirements.
According to lecturer in politics at the University of the
Witwatersrand Anthony Butler, “KwaZulu-Natal interests
are hoping to replicate the remunerative elements of the
World Cup bid, but on an altogether bigger scale. Instead
of a Gauteng-style toy train, they propose a high-speed rail
link between Johannesburg and Durban. Sceptical citizens
are told not to count the costs because it is all needed for
“The multipurpose Moses Mabhida Stadium was conceived
all along as the plausible centrepiece of an Olympic bid.
According to the adherents of Blatternomics, even bidding
for a mega-event brings economic beneﬁts - albeit ones of the
so-called ‘intangible’ kind beloved of event entrepreneurs.”
HIGH-SPEED RAIL FOR OFS
According to Congress of the People (Cope) representative
in the National Council of Provinces for the Northern Cape
Ken Sinclair, OFS economic development, tourism and
environmental affairs MEC Mxolisi Dukwana announced
a high-speed rail project in his budget vote speech earlier
this year. Sinclair asked national transport minister Sbu
Ndebele to conﬁrm that the Free State provincial government
is negotiating with a Chinese construction company over
plans to build a high-speed railway between Sasolburg and
the Gariep Dam.
Ndebele’s spokesman Logan Maistry told the press that
all rail projects are assessed to see whether they conform
with the national transport master plan. In his reply to
Sinclair, minister Ndebele said the national transport
department was not involved in the reported negotiations,
“However, I have been informally briefed by the Free State
provincial government, through its department of economic
development, tourism and environmental affairs, about a
Chinese high-speed railway project. I have advised the Free
State provincial government to develop a formal business
case and forward it to the Department of Transport.”
Sinclair said the Free State had no need of high-speed
links, the main priority being to improve the efﬁciency of
freight rail to take freight transport off the roads. “It does not
make sense if you look at the bigger developmental patterns
of SA. It is all pie in the sky,” he said.
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT RAIL LINK DELAYED
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) CEO Tshepo
Lucky Montana, quoted by Engineering News, says the
building of the proposed passenger rail line linking the
Cape Town international airport to the city’s central business
district has been delayed owing to “complications” over
“He says the project has been put on a waiting list owing
to difﬁculties in securing the budget and structuring a
funding deal for the 4.6km, R2.1 billion project, as well as
concerns from the city council that the project may diminish
passenger numbers on its newly introduced bus transit
system. Press reports suggest that the buses are carrying
only 10-15 passengers on an average trip.
“However, Montana says passenger volumes at the airport
are expected to grow from eight million passengers a year
to 15 million in a few years’ time. ‘No bus system will be
able to carry this number of people.’” He says the project
has been put on a waiting list, though two bidders have
already been short-listed for the project which “remains one
of Prasa’s top priorities.”
TRANSNET TO RUN TRAINS ON TIME
Transnet says it has set itself a target to improve productivity
by 20% over the next three years. The group admits that
poor operational performance underlies failure to provide a
reliable service. CEO of the Agriculture Business Chamber
CEO John Purchase is quoted saying that many in the
agricultural sector have moved their business from rail to
road transport as they cannot depend on Transnet.
Inadequacies at SA’s ports and rail operations have
been blamed for holding back economic growth by not
providing a predictable service to key industrial and mining
customers. Speaking on 10 June, acting Transnet CEO Chris
Wells said that R74 billion has been spent on infrastructure
over the past ﬁve years, but this “did not translate into an
improved service to customers”. A “focused recovery plan”
is now in place, he explained. Initiatives have been devised
to raise productivity, and improve operating efﬁciency and
safety, “and we have implemented a durable solution to the
lacklustre performance of the coal line.” Export coal had a
compounded 10.4% drop in volume over four years. For this,
Bergvliet Mitchells Plain
The airport lies 19km from the CBD. The proposed 4.6km will be a branch off the
Cape Town-Langa-Bonteheuwel-Bellville line.
SA RAIL NEWS
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201022 www.railwaysafrica.com
SA RAIL NEWS
“operational issues”, cable theft and planning deﬁciencies
are blamed. It is aimed to raise export coal volumes by 4.9%
in each of the next ﬁve years.
Transnet’s strategy to improve customer service has been
dubbed Quantum Leap. It aims for a 20% improvement in
productivity over the next three years. In the next ﬁve years
the group hopes to improve turnaround on rail services by
20% and improve on-time departures by 25%.
Transnet is to spend a further R93.4bn on new infrastructure
over the next ﬁve years. In Wells’ words: “We aim to build
capacity ahead of demand to ensure that we are able to
provide a predictable and reliable service”. The group
plans to increase rail capacity over the next ﬁve years by
32%. Altogether 554 new or additional locomotives are to
be acquired, as well as 7,231 more wagons by 2015.
TOUGH 12 MONTHS FOR ROVOS
In an interview with Sunday Times columnist Chris Barron,
Rohan Vos spelled out some of the problems Rovos Rail
has faced in the past 12 months. First there was the global
recession – and 90% of his customers come from overseas:
“We’re totally dependent on incoming tourism. Every
political event affects that.” Rovos trains ran at an average
37% loading in 2009, down from 57% in 2008.
“It just robbed us of any proﬁt at all during the last year. In
fact, we went into a loss situation,” Vos told Barron.
Then there was the ash cloud, courtesy of Iceland’s volcano.
“We had a total train cancellation because of a group that
couldn’t get out of London. That was the day before the
Pretoria crash. “
World Cup meant potential customers were not able to get
ﬂights or hotels. Prices everywhere were inﬂated (though not
by Rovos which maintained all its normal
fares and schedules).
“What blew it away were the block
bookings or the blanket control of ﬂights
and hotel rooms by Match”.
TRANSNET FREIGHT RAIL AUCTION
At the TFR auction which closed on 27 May 2010, 60
wagons were sold for R1,520,000 together with an historic
(burned out) 1937 2M1 motor coach converted for driver
training. Two class 31 diesel locos (31-025/041, GE U12B,
1958) are believed to have fetched R131,000.
Eight L1T coaches went for R175,000*.
[*These were from the mid-eighties’ “Metroblitz” trainsets
(photo on page 30) which linked Pretoria and Johannesburg
in 42 minutes, reaching speeds of 160km/h. By way of
comparison, Gautrain is to link Pretoria and Johannesburg
in 42 minutes, reaching speeds of 160km/h. – Editor]
The old 2M1 motor coach
SA RAIL NEWS
June 2010 RAILWAYS AFRICA 23www.railwaysafrica.com
150 YEARS OF RAILWAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
It is remarkable that, in 1860, a small town like Durban
had the distinction of operating the ﬁrst commercial steam
railway in South Africa. It was the second on the African
continent, the Cairo to Alexandria line preceding it by four
years. The development of railways in the 19th century as
a more efﬁcient form of transport with improved speed and
carrying capacity, served to extend frontiers and accelerate
development, especially in South Africa and Natal.
The population of Durban in 1862 was 4,313 of which 1,593
were Africans. The ﬁrst indentured Indian labourers for the
sugar farms were only to arrive on 17 November 1860. The
economy was somewhat limited to service industries such
as blacksmiths, carpentry, wagon building, transport riding
and inns. The sugar industry was still in its infancy. Transport
by ox-wagon was expensive and slow, taking some three or
more days to Pietermaritzburg. Roads were exceptionally
poor and the streets of Durban only sandy tracks, making
the railway an extremely desirable option for development.
The ﬁrst semblance of a railway in South Africa, albeit
not with steel rails and a steam locomotive, was the Bluff
wooden track in 1856-57. In January 1859 the Natal Railway
Company was formed to build a line between the harbour at
the Point and the town centre of Durban. The Natal Legislative
Council passed a private law which granted the company
the sole right to provide rail transport for 14 years. Early in
1860 work started on building the 3km long 1,435mm gauge
railway with bullhead rails mounted on “potlid” sleepers. The
rolling stock comprised the 24hp 0-4-0 locomotive named
Natal, six goods wagons and one 4-wheeled passenger
carriage. This had one carpeted ﬁrst class compartment
that seated up to 10 on cane seats and two second class
varnished oak compartments, each seating 20. The Point
station was on the wharf built at a deeper part of the
harbour where the present B and C Sheds are located.
THE FIRST RAILWAY IN SOUTH AFRICA
This article by Michael Cottrell in the Natal Newsletter of the Railway Society of Southern Africa -
with whose kind permission it is reproduced here – has been slightly shortened.
2010 – RAILWAY MILESTONE YEAR
The year 2010 marks three important railway milestones in South Africa – opening of the ﬁrst
railway, the centenary of railway uniﬁcation in the country and the ﬁfty-year anniversary of
the Railway Society of Southern Africa.
Reconstructed 0-4-0 locomotive Natal on Durban’s main station today.
According to the plaque on the Natal locomotive mounted
in the concourse of Durban railway station today: “The ﬁrst
train in South Africa operated between the Point and Durban
on 23 June 1860. This locomotive is a reconstruction on the
original chassis and wheels, which were recovered in the
Umzimvubu River near Port St Johns”.
The very ﬁrst journey, as opposed to the ofﬁcial opening on
26 June, was a test run which took place three days earlier.
The train consisted of ﬁve goods wagons containing 40 tons
of sugar mill machinery and a few passengers, including the
chairman and secretary of the Natal Railway Company.
THE FIRST OFFICIAL STEAM TRAIN JOURNEY, 26 JUNE 1860
Summarising George Russell’s account of the opening:
The inauguration took place at 11 o’clock by His Excellency
Major Williamson after the Rangers and the 85th presented
arms, while the band played the national anthem. Bishop
Colenso invoked Divine blessing on the enterprise while
the wind snapped ﬂagpoles, damaged decorations and
blew off hats. The all-pervading sand made the scene both
memorable and unpleasant. Everyone was thankful for the
chairman’s bow to His Excellency who headed for the ﬁrst
class compartment in the coach. The rest of the guests
seated themselves in the other compartments. Good-
humouredly, they made the best of the circumstances. With
a prolonged, wailing shriek Jacobs turned on the steam,
This watercolour by Natal Railway Company manager Robert Tatham of theThis watercolour by Natal Railway Company manager Robert Tatham of the
ofﬁcial opening of the ﬁrst railway in South Africa gives an interesting glimpseofﬁcial opening of the ﬁrst railway in South Africa gives an interesting glimpse
of this important occasion at the Market Square Station in Durban. On the left isof this important occasion at the Market Square Station in Durban. On the left is
the Natal locomotive, described by George Russell in histhe Natal locomotive, described by George Russell in his History of Old DurbanHistory of Old Durban
as “blowing off steam in fretful impatience,” waiting for driver, Henry Jacobs,as “blowing off steam in fretful impatience,” waiting for driver, Henry Jacobs,
to couple to the only four-wheel passenger coach for the important guests. Ato couple to the only four-wheel passenger coach for the important guests. A
freight wagon that Russell converted temporarily provided additional passengerfreight wagon that Russell converted temporarily provided additional passenger
accommodation. The locomotive was somewhat rustic with no covered cab foraccommodation. The locomotive was somewhat rustic with no covered cab for
the protection of the driver, who felt the weather particularly on this windy day.the protection of the driver, who felt the weather particularly on this windy day.
As there was no turntable or turning triangle, theAs there was no turntable or turning triangle, the NatalNatal ran backwards with thisran backwards with this
ofﬁcial train to the Point. In the background is the original St Paul’s Anglicanofﬁcial train to the Point. In the background is the original St Paul’s Anglican
Church with no other building visible on the vast Market Square. There was noChurch with no other building visible on the vast Market Square. There was no
station apart from a hastily erected platform on which the ofﬁcial guests waited,station apart from a hastily erected platform on which the ofﬁcial guests waited,
including the acting Lieutenant-Governor, Major Williamson; members of theincluding the acting Lieutenant-Governor, Major Williamson; members of the
Natal Legislative Council; W Hartley, Mayor of Durban: and J Ackerman, MayorNatal Legislative Council; W Hartley, Mayor of Durban: and J Ackerman, Mayor
of Pietermaritzburg; Bishop Colenso and clergy; the railway directors, and theof Pietermaritzburg; Bishop Colenso and clergy; the railway directors, and the
Royal Durban Rangers. In the foreground on the left is the 85th Regiment and onRoyal Durban Rangers. In the foreground on the left is the 85th Regiment and on
the right a group of onlookers. Source:the right a group of onlookers. Source: Durban Local History MuseumDurban Local History Museum.
150 YEARS OF RAILWAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
RAILWAYS AFRICA June 201024 www.railwaysafrica.com