Held one week later than usual in November 2019, the annual Cherry Festival in Ficksburg was a great success. Sandstone joined the event by running a train service on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd for visitors. Two private charters were also run on Thursday 21st for two school groups and a Senior Citizens Tour group. Visitor numbers over the three days totalled almost 1000 boosted by groups from JB Tours and Savannah Tours.
NGG16 Garratts numbers 88 and 153 provided the motive power for the duration with visiting driver Andries Keyser from the Winelands Light Railway joining Sandstone’s Gert Jubileus at the regulator. Trains ran between Hoekfontein, Grootdraai and Mooihoek for a 50 minute round trip between 10h00 and 16h00 on each day. Sandstone also displayed some of its heritage collection and the famous Sandstone oxen were on hand to give Ox Wagon rides. Our photo gallery shows a good time was had by all our visitors!
Fouriesburg Country Tours made their second visit to Sandstone in 2019. The tour company caters for Senior Citizens offering them guided tours over the whole of Southern Africa and they always include Sandstone in their tours.
1897 built Lawley No 97 was steamed up for a trip to Grootdraai while 24 oxen were in-spanned alongside the trip to Grootdraai. The tour concluded with an extensive trip through the display areas to view the Sandstone Heritage Collection.
A good time was had by all judging by the comments from the Visitors Book.
“Highlight of the tour”
“Fantastic Experience, will be back!”
Questions relating to the security of the Sandstone Heritage Trust’s locomotive assets.
The collection of assets at Sandstone Estates is very securely housed, maintained and operated where necessary. At present we are involved in a high level dialogue with the Rail Safety Regulator concerning the need to adopt a Heritage Railway specification in South Africa, more specifically for 2-ft Narrow Gauge railways that are ring-fenced or isolated from any other railway network.
The Rail Safety Regulator has only one specification in South Africa and we are being treated as a Main Line railway and therefore we are having various restrictions placed on our operations and we are having to upgrade parts of our infrastructure at enormous costs to levels that we believe are entirely unnecessary for the axle loading and speed of operation of our railway.
Our current Rail Safety Regulator permit expires at the end of 2019 but going beyond that we have advised the RSR that we cannot comply with the demands being made on us with regard to Civil Engineering issues, nor can we comply with the requirement that all repairs to locomotives be placed under their control and be subjected to inspections.
One should appreciate that there are enormous costs which accompany each and every one of these regulations which are currently being promulgated quicker than we can deal with them.
We have worked hard for many years to accommodate the Rail Safety Regulator’s long list of demands but we have reached the stage where it is unsustainable for a railway that operates at slow speeds like ours.
We have forwarded copies of the British Heritage Rail specifications to the authorities with a strong recommendation that they implement something similar in South Africa.
The rumours that are going around regarding the disposal of Heritage assets etc. are entirely incorrect. We are simply in a state of limbo while we negotiate with the authorities to take a more realistic view of operations like ours.
This well-known photographic location for the Sandstone Steam Railway has benefited from recent heavy runs and is now full and overflowing for the first time in around three years. For our photographers, don’t stress! The foliage will be cut back for the Stars 2019 event so that this magnificent photo spot will be restored to its former glory. Our pictures show the Dam on the 10th December and our feature shot is by Aidan McCarthy with NGG16 number 153 crossing the dam some years ago with a mixed train.
Our drone camera has been very active after the recent rains and we thought you would enjoy some stunning images of Sandstone Estates as we move forward to 2019 and the Stars of Sandstone event in April.
Open Days at The Cherry Festival. Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November 2018.
November is Cherry Festival time in Ficksburg . To celebrate The Cherry Festival Sandstone will be holding Open Days on Friday 16th November and Saturday 17th November coinciding with this classic event.
Train rides from Hoekfontein to Vailima Siding will operate at 10h00, 12h00, 14h00 and 16h00. Other attractions will be Ox Wagon rides and Military Vehicle rides while the famous Sandstone Heritage Collection will be open to view. Refreshments will be on sale with the Sandstone Shop open for memorabilia.
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In the Press Article Count: 78
We have received an influx of articles appearing which covered various aspects of our heritage programme here in South Africa...
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