Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 260 - Friends of the Rail Newsletter - June/July 2006

5th October 2006

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! #$%& '($) %*& &+,%$(-----
Photo: Eugene Armer
The month of June saw the return to steam of class GMAM garratt no. 4079, in service with Rovos Rail while
on lease from Sandstone. Resplendent in the green Rovos livery, the locomotive is seen here at Capital Park
on Friday 16th June, ready to work the Cape Town train as far as Centurion. The loco also worked the Railway
Touring Co. charter from Springs eastwards to Witbank, and again from Tzaneen to Pyramid.
It is ironic that the operation of this train was taking place while news reached the media about Spoornet’s
decision not to make locomotives available for contract or tourist trains in 2007. This has placed the whole
issue of rail tourism under the spotlight and media reports indicate that the matter has already reached
ministerial level. What the eventual outcome will be is anybody’s guess. We can only hope that sanity will
prevail and that the rail tourism operators will continue to be significant contributors to South Africa’s tourist
industry as a whole.
- 2 -
The monthly meeting on Wednesday June 14th was attended by about 20 members. After a short special
general meeting to approve the budget for this financial year, those present enjoyed a video presentation by
Chris Janisch of steam in motion over the past 12 months. Thanks Chris, a great show!
Steve Appleton reports:
Cellphone pics taken last night (11th June) of the Hercules 1:87 HO site model kindly being built by Chris
Becker. He has done an excellent job in my view. When completed and professionally photographed, this
certainly will provide a concrete depiction of our dream that will help to sell our cause (and raise money and
convince Spoornet to allow us to relocate some trackwork, etc). Still to add are some fine details, like grass
and trees. The representation of the existing buildings and the relocated CSAR shed from Pretoria station
number 1 yard are stunning.
In the model, Chris has stabled clerestory coaches on the platform, but in practice this road should normally be
empty, except for departing or arriving trains.
Steve A
Miemie Wolmarans reports:
Early morning sunrise. Winter 2006, Fathers Day. Everyone is up and running at the shed in Capital Park,
doing the necessary preparations for the privileged people who are coming out to the Park to get the real feel
of a steam locomotive. Not only the feel, but also the experience, a real live experience of how to drive one of
these big ladies.
Nathan and Spikkels looked after the loco through the night and she was ready to move around six, when
John Ashworth came to do the necessary oiling and grease. Mike Haslam handled the duties inside the cab ]
and made sure that the footplate was nice and tidy - all in preparation for the "drivers" that had booked before
On the subject of Nathan and Spikkels on fire lighting can only wonder! If we must judge by
the sound clip Nathan made when they moved the trolley from one track to another - they had a huge party -
and just between the two of them. Spikkels singing "Tran Karoo" at the top of his voice and Nathan Toooot
tooot in between, "blowing the whistle".
Unfortunately the same cannot be said
of my photography. The low light
combined with a lack of close up focus
on a cell phone camera has created
some pretty blurry pics. Still, this is
good enough to show the general
effect. Whilst the model has been
slightly shortened to save space (the
width is exact), one thing that becomes
evident from the model is the (overa)
emphasis on maintenance facilities and
a consequent lack of rolling stock
storage lines. I think we need to take a
look at this aspect very soon,
particularly if we intend to stable
additional coaching stock.
- 3 -
All was ready when the first "driver" arrived. As soon as they arrived, Eric was ready to greet and welcome
them with a lekker story and direct them to Steve. Steve took him to the 24 class to teach him the controls
etc, whereafter Mike and John Ashworth took over on the 19D class. Steve Appleton did the train safety officer
duty in the last coach - helping the "drivers" to stop at the correct place and changing of the points.
The smiles on these faces show that boyhood dreams certainly came true at the ?athers @ay
AHands-DnE experienceG Photos: Miemie Wolmarans
Quite a few men went through these capable guys’ hands and all's well that ends well. The men were very
happy with what they experienced, donations came in for the club and they are very proud of the certificate
they earned.
The Hands-On is a very good way of making Friends of the Rail more well known ] and personally I feel that
once a year is not enough. This can be done more often - what about something for the ladies - or a challenge
to the radio stations to send their presenters - something BIG!
This experience is a privilege - and more people should know about it.
With the imminent closure of the ?riends
of the Hail site at Capital Park, L thought L
would send you this photo L took with a
MMik and @rukM (pont O shoot) camera on
24th July 2004, at 08h00 in the morning.
L was really surprised at the result of the
photo, with the sunWs rays and loco
steam playing along together.
Hudi Kruger
A uniYue shot Hudi, thanks for sharing itG
" # "
Dear Members
The Board is happy to announce the appointment of Billy and Polla Victor to the Friends of the Rail Sales
position, which has become vacant because of the resignation of Joy Hodgson, who is moving to Warmbaths.
They will work as a team, with IT support from their son. Billy and Polla are both retired and live in Montana.
Billy was a life-long employee at Transnet, where he retired as Senior Manager for Housing, while Polla spent
her working life as a teacher. They lived in Uitenhage for most of their married life, where they raised a family
of five.
The handing over process is taking place during the last two weeks of June and their formal appointment will
be as from 1st July 2006, when the Friends of the Rail office will move to their home. They may be contacted
on (012) 548-4090 at the moment. Should a dedicated FOTR new office number become available, this, as
well as all other relevant contact details, will be communicated to all members in due course.
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT Submitted by Nathan Berelowitz
This month we sadly bid farewell to the services of Mike and Joy Haslam from our Board of Directors, as they
are relocating to Warmbaths. We now welcome Billy and Polla Victor to the position of Marketing and booking
of trains. They will carry on with the good work that the Haslams began, and endeavour to take the club further
along the main line of success.
Kevin Wilson-Smith, as well as the rest of the committee, help with marketing and will be there to assist the
Victors, until their feet are firmly on the ground.
On the home front, we have been busy once more assisting Rovos Rail, with our loco being used to shunt their
stock and posing on their train, while all their locomotives were in use on the Railway Touring Co. steam safari
from the U.K. It was great to see their GMAM freshly painted go out on trial trains, and finally run. This safari
has seen Rovos run in all directions, and reports will no doubt appear elsewhere.
John Dadford was away on leave, and now that he is back, we will be working hard on getting the bushes
done on our 24 class, as she will be hauling the Witbank Marathon train, with the 19D in August. All help
needed down at the site again, folks.
We now have four Honourary members of FOTR, they are Robert Dadford, Mike Haslam, Joy Hodgson and
David Shepherd.
During this last month, we have had a most successful two days with the Driver Hands-On experience at the
site. This was well handled and thanks to all who got stuck in. Much revenue was raised.
At the new site, the platform and future parking area have been graded and look good. Work on track lifting will
have taken place by late June, but there is still no lease signed from the Spoornet end.
And so we trek on through the dusty, leafless winter months. The site is slowly being packed up and away,
work goes on, but we would so love to see more help down there. Evening classes for the Train Assistant’s
refresher course are ongoing every Thursday night at the home of Cliff Avis, and two budding future firemen,
are rearing their heads - Dewald Heydenrych and Johann Bronkhorst.
Thats all folks, CU at the meeting!
- 5 -
Mention is made elsewhere in this issue of my resignation from FOTR’s Board of Directors. My partner Mike
and I are moving to the bushveld near Warmbaths on the Thabazimbi road, where we will be establishing
"Paradise Regained"............... a place to come and find yourself once more.
We envisage a retreat and rejuvenation centre, rustic bushcamp, organic gardening, vegetarian meals,
drumming, courses in the art of living healthily, herb growing, aromatheraphy and Indian Head massage etc. In
short, a rustic getaway, where you can get back to nature and refresh your soul. Paradise will only be 2 hours
from Johannesburg, one hour fifteen minutes from Centurion and 20kms from the hotsprings resort in
Warmbaths. Developing our property has necessitated resigning from FOTR as from 30th June 2006.
Should you wish to know more about what courses and facilities we are planning to offer and when we will be
up and ready to start receiving guests, please send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Take care of yourselves and live in the moment!
Kind regards
L am sure all ?DTH members join me in wishing Joy O Mike all the very best in their new ventureG – Ed.
Richard Whitehead (3rd); Kevin wilson-Smith (4th); Chris Koch (8th); Allen Snow (13th); Sherrie Mansour (25th);
Nathan Berelowitz (30th) and Alec King (31st). Best wishes to all these members!
Wednesday, 12th !uly 2006:
Nathan Berelowitz will present a video show titled “Over the rails of far away - Foreign steam and trains as
seen through my lens”. It will include French electrics at 160kph, German preserved steam in Holland, Polish
steam, Trams, Czech steam. Train Tattooing, Canadian metro, French Metro, etc. It should be good, so don’t
miss this one!
Tshwane Explorer –
Sunday, 30th !uly and Sunday, 27th August
Bring your Sunday picnic basket and board our train,
surrounded by railway history, for a nostalgic steam train trip
around Pretoria, to see the city as you never see it from the
road. It's like travelling back in time as you sit in our restored
coaches and listen to the steady beat of the steam locomotive
at the head of the train. The trip takes you to Pyramid South
and around the City of Pretoria. An information leaflet
(available on the train at a minimal price) explains the various
sights along the route. Learn some history and interesting
facts about our home city! What could be better than to relax
with a full tummy and watch the world go slowly by.
Cash bar & kiosk available on train.
- 6 -
Prices: [Train trip] Adults R110, Children 4 to 12 years R75, children under 4 R45
Booking closes at 12:00 (noon) on the day before the trip
The Heritage Day History Fun Train – Monday, 25th September
In association with the Cullinan Historical Society we ask you to pack the kids and have a great day's getaway
on our heritage steam train. Choice of three different venues for your own enjoyment. Enjoy an outing as in the
golden era of steam powered transportation and let your troubles drift away like the clouds of exhaust smoke
from our lovely engine.
Prices: [Train trip] Adults R120, Children 4 to 12 years R85, children under 4 R50
For more details of these, as well as all our other trains, please visit or contact the
FOTR sales department: Telephone (012) 667-4845, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tuesday 23 May 2006
The highveld is covered in an icy blanket as I make my way through the early dawn to the East Rand. The first
pale throes of light silhouette the electric masts of the railway flyovers as I slip into Springs. I head for Largo
station, the first out on the line to Bethal. The last time I was here was in 1990 when the pick-up goods was
occasionally rostered for steam. It was here that I photographed 15F 3135 crossing with a class on a freight.
Imagine my shock to find the platform completely overgrown with weeds, the buildings derelict and the passing
loop removed. Even though this is happening all over, it never quite sinks in.
I walk up the line towards Springs, feet crunching the ballast and thick frost-covered ground. Rounding a curve
the old distant home signal stands forlorn, shorn of its arms and a tree thrusting its way through the frame. A
trio of light engine 35’s grumble past westwards and I settle down to enjoy the view of the wetland in front of
me. There is no sign of the steam train expected from Springs at 7.30, but in due course two 35’s growl
through with a lengthy goods to Bethal. The sun is rising above the cutting above me and is now gradually
warming up the icy rails. A phone call reveals that the Rodgers train is still standing in Boksburg East!
I pack up and head towards Strubenvale, near the abandoned Grootvlei Mine Railway. On a long sweeping
curve leading to an overbridge, I meet up with some other enthusiasts and after a chat we decide to do some
gardening for the runpasts. Soon steam is seen rising in Springs yard and we ready ourselves. A chilly wind
begins to pick up from the south, negating the warming effect of the sun. With safety valves lifting, 12AR 1535
and 15F 2914 hover into view. Two long whistle blasts and the passengers disembark for a series of runpasts.
The day is getting on and the light is not so good, the breeze blows smoke back over the engines.
12AH 1535 and 15? 2914 team
up to perform a photo runpast
near Springs, for the @avid
Hodgers tour train.
23rd May 2006
Photo: Chris Janisch
- 7 -
Then it is on a little further up the line for another runpast. A fire is started which is quickly obliterated by the
water hose. We then chase the train eastwards to the little river crossing near Largo. From the road
overbridge, we can see a dead pig wallowing in the green waters, no doubt a convenient disposal point. The
locos look good smoking over the bridge, and then we move on to Endicott, reached at about midday. A
protracted service stop is held here, as the short tendered locos are replenished from the feeder tanks and
fires are cleaned. The crew of the F have a hard time of it, as poor coal layered up from runpasts has turned
into devilish clinker. The driver and fireman work the fire-irons doubleheaded to clear the lumps. Having not
slept all night this can hardly be a pleasant job. As a westbound freight ambles through, I can understand why
diesels were a much easier option.
After almost 2 hours the fire is clean and the 12AR performs a solitary runpast, before the train consist is
lashed together again. We wait again as a heavy freight behind triple 35’s smokes upgrade towards Bethal.
The shadows from the surrounding gum trees are folding over the tracks as we finally whistle up for departure.
The locos are in a hurry and the train descends rapidly into Devon. This was once a pretty agricultural town
with a well-kept station and watering columns. This is no more. The streets are filthy, the station overgrown
and the old semaphore masts stand out starkly against the bleak windswept horizon. The train makes the
briefest of pauses here before powering away under the overbridge. I last stood here 16 years ago and it all
looked so different then.
We move on to Leslie, surrounded by smoke-smudged shacks for miles. Just before the station the light has
improved and an impressive runpast is held with the doubleheader tearing around a curve, a smoke and
steam cacophony. The once busy yard at the station contains only a few grain trucks. Upgrade out of Leslie
the sun is sinking rapidly, and a suitable spot is found for the evening glint shots. Golden sunlight reflects off
the train as she performs two successful runpasts, and all too soon the sun is falling into the haze-covered
horizon. The train is posed while shots are taken and then gradually pulls forward to embark the passengers.
An icy chill washes over the land as the sun disappears and I am glad of my warm car. A final silhouette shot
is taken further up and I watch the train hurrying on into the darkness, heading for Kinross and Bethal. As
I drive home after a good day, I spare a thought for the loco crews who still have a long hard run ahead into
the night.
DAMRAIL UPDATE Colin Hoberts : @irector, @amHail (Pty) Ltd.
We'd of course like to call this a 'Progress Report', but that would be stretching the description.
As a reminder, the four governmental parties in the Heritage Train Task Group were told in March 2005 that
the Ministry of Public Enterprises had placed a moratorium on leases of land by the parastatals (including of
course, Transnet) in November 2004. It had taken that long for the news to filter through to the North West
Parks & Tourism Board. The Board and its three Municipal partners decided to prepare a motivation for the
lease of the Hercules - Magaliesburg line to go ahead. They dithered and dithered and did nothing.
Meanwhile, in the second half of 2005, Spoornet through Transnet decided that it would itself submit such a
motivation, considering that the lease of these three rail lines had already been mentioned by the Minister
in Parliament and announced at Transport Conferences. So there was a motivation sitting with the Ministry of
Public Enterprises. What happened to ita
To find out, I e-mailed the Minister of PE on 16th February 2006, and got a prompt response from one of the
officials who said that any motivation of this kind would cross his desk. How would he identify this one among
the 600 or so that Transnet had submitteda I told him how he could expect to find it, submitted much earlier
than the others he could recall. It took him weeks to find - it had apparently been 'mislaid'. I kept Simon
Hubinger at Spoornet up to date with this, suggesting that it would be worth his while also chasing it (I don't
know whether he did).
The official has been working on it ever since, intermittently I imagine, judging by the speed of the results.
Yesterday (1st June) he told me that it had finally been looked at by everybody who needed to look at it and
comment (and get any changes done), and submitted to the Director General who had signed it. I'm chasing
him for confirmation that it's gone to the Minister for a final OK for the lifting of the moratorium, and for that
decision to be advised to Transnet.
- 8 -
Geoff Pethick supplied an article from one of the financial papers, reporting on a decision by cabinet approving
a policy of allowing the parastatals to agree 'long-term leases' of state land. We sent a copy of this to the
Ministry official and to the NWP&T Board, pointing out that this should now be applied to the Lease
Agreement. We have had several discussions with the Gauteng North Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
who are very supportive, and had prepared a short, very readable project motivation. They say they have
access to Transnet honcho Maria Ramos, and would take the motivation to her soonest. That was some
months ago and nothing has happened. Friends of the Rail were given notice to move from Capital Park and
are relocating to Hercules, with an official [signed] Spoornet agreement. This is very good news for DamRail,
as it means there will be a credible operator, with steam locos and good rolling stock, just waiting to move onto
the line from the Pretoria side. We have had discussions with them about co-operating and linking up their
southern part of the Hercules Yard directly with the Magaliesburg line on the north side of the yard. This
should avoid having to use any Spoornet track. They will have some influence with the Tshwane Municipality
when it comes to fixing up that section of the line.
We flirted for some time with getting an Access Agreement out of Spoornet. This would be an Lnterim
Agreement pending their Lease of the line to the NWP&T Board. Charles Chinyavanhu and Mike du Plooy
came out to Pecanwood, and we took them out in the Funkey loco to the breaks in the line in each direction.
These discussions fizzled out, with Spoornet trying to apply a major agreement to a small interim operation like
DamRail. So we quietly let the idea drop. [They said they were waiting for us, and we know that we were
waiting for them. That's what you get with no record of meetings.]
The North West Parks & Tourism Board has set aside R 1-million officially in its budget for the project. They
will be going to Transnet as soon as they hear that the MPE has given the go ahead for the Lease. Madibeng
Municipality has included the Train service in its most recent Budget and Development plans. One of our
Directors is now a Representative Councillor on the Municipality, though of course she has recused herself
from any discussions or decisions regarding the Heritage Train Project.
The awards for redevelopment of the areas around the dam have reportedly been made, but there may be
some rethinking due to some bidders objecting on various grounds. This includes major redevelopment at
Kommandonek and Oberon, and we think Meerhof near the station, with big money available.
The Lease Agreement between Transnet and the NWP&T Board has been agreed and signed by both parties
but not exchanged. A version of the Concession Agreement between the Board and DamRail has been tabled
and generally agreed by all five parties. However, it will probably be queried before it's signed, especially if any
of the terms need changing because of the terms of the Lease Agreement (although we took great pains to
make the Concession Agreement align with the Lease).
We still have the option to pull out at any time before we sign the Concession Agreement, selling off the assets
and shutting down. We might consider this if the other parties want to change the Concession Agreement, so
that on paper it would enable them to micro-manage our operations. This would be totally unworkable in
practice. Or if they expect us to carry all the costs of line repairs. Or if the period of the Agreement is still shortterm.
Geoff Pethick reports that our Temporary Operating Permit from the Rail Safety Regulator will not be extended
beyond the end of June 2006, and we'll need to meet the standard requirements to get a proper one. This
would include such things as a 'Safety Management System', which sounds like a good idea in principle, but
Geoff is finding out what it will mean in practice. We suspect that it will also require all sorts of technical
documentation that it will be impossible to obtain from Spoornet.
Meanwhile, on a lighter note, Hekpoort Laerskool asked if they could use part of the line to run a Quad Bike
Adventure Day on 3rd June. We said qyes’, provided we're indemnified etc. Spoornet got a copy of the
exchange and didn't object. It turns out that they changed the route and in the end will only run on railway land
for about 200 metres - no big deal, but some goodwill for us in the local Afrikaans community.
- 9 -
The following 10 questions test our reader’s knowledge of the railway line between Pretoria and Germiston.
How well do you know that linea Answers will appear in the July newsletter.
Yuestion 1
What is the origin of the name Germistona
a) it is an adaptation of the name Germishuysen, the surname of the original owner of the farm on which
Germiston was built
b) It is named after a farm with the same name that was situated near Glasgow, Scotland.
c) It is an English corruption of the name Germishuyse’s Dorp (Germishuys Town). Germishuyse was a
local Field Cornet
Yuestion 2
What is the present day name of the farm Elandsfontein that was crossed by the rails of the Rand Trama
a) Kaalfontein
b) Isando
c) Kempton Park
d) Germiston
Yuestion 3
Where was Droogegrond Junction situateda
a) At the present day Knights Junction
b) At the present day Germiston
c) At the present day Olifantsfontein
d) At the present day Centurion
Yuestion 4
What is the present day name of the station once known as ruurfonteina
a) Oakmoor
b) Kempton Park
c) Birchleigh
d) Isando
Yuestion 5
Where would you search for the remains of a station named Ashburya
a) between Fountains and Kloofsig
b) between Ravensklip and Knights
c) between Birchleigh and Kempton Park
d) Between Olifantsfontein and Kaalfontein
Yuestion 6
What is the origin of the name Kempton Parka
a) it is named after the horse racing track in England
b) it is named after the town Kempen in Germany
c) it is named after a plantation of eucalyptus trees (referred to as a “park” in Victorian England) that
grew on the farm Kempen, that was situated within the present day borders of Kempton Park
Yuestion 7
On which date did the first train arrive in Pretoria from Germistona
a) 17 December 1892
b) 1 January 1893
c) 1 January 1895
d) 1 November 1895
- 10 -
Yuestion \
Which station on this line was built specifically to serve a black townshipa
a) Olifantsfontein b) Van Riebeeck Park c) Oakmoor d) Sportpark
Yuestion 9
How did Irene get its namea
a) it is named after the estate on which the village was developed
b) it was named after Irene, the daughter of Nellmapius
c) in commemoration of the signing of the peace treaty of Vereeninging on 31 May 1902, Irene means
d) named after the Dutch queen Irene who reigned from 1895 ] 1910
Yuestion 10
In what year was the railway line between Germiston and Pretoria doubled and electrifieda
a) 1928 b) 1934 ] 38 c) 1960 d) 1965
Newsletter Editor:
Eugene Armer / e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Telephone: 0832607850 / Fax: (011) 789-9690
Postal Address: P.O. Box 1362, Randpark Ridge, 2156
Contributions from members are always welcome!
Deadline for contributions to the next newsletter is 21st July 2006.
Tuesday, 9th May 2006 sees
Class 24 no. 3655 ACity of Cape
TownE with a private charter for
Stellenbosch, waiting for a Metro
set to pass, before heading
@river - Les Labuschagne
?ireman – Nathan Berelowitz
Photo: Nathan Berelowitz
Hichard eillatt captured this
sunrise silhouette of class 19@
no.2650 departing from our site
at Capital Park on Saturday, 27th
May 2006.