Johannesburg-Cape Town

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Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:26 pm

The Travel Section of The Times has an article regarding a railroad operated overnight train (the "luxo" Blue Train is either privately operated or has been discontinued) that appears to provide a level of service that can reasonably be expected from Amtrak:

http://nytimes.com/2017/10/25/travel/so ... oweto.html

Fair Use:

I awoke sometime before dawn to the soft, rhythmic clacking of the train, pacing steadily through the heart of South Africa. Poking my face out of the window to take in a breath of cool, dry spring air, I could see stars behind the blue-black shadows of the passing trees. We were somewhere past Kimberley, the Northern Cape Province city where Cecil Rhodes had famously — or, rather, infamously — made a fortune mining diamonds more than a century ago. I remembered a conversation I had earlier that day with Hendrick Stander, an employee of the Shosholoza Meyl train I was riding from Johannesburg to Cape Town, who told me why he fell in love with train travel as a child: “I loved the click-clack, click-clack.”

My train journey between the two South African cities would take 26 hours and cover nearly 1,000 miles before reaching its terminus in Cape Town railway station on the coast. Besides tapping into a new found love of train travel, my trip on the Shosholoza Meyl Premier Classe provided the ultimate in affordable luxury: For 3,120 rand (plus a 75-rand booking fee, for a total of about $235), I had my own air-conditioned sleeper compartment, a shower and a proper dining car serving multicourse meals. And, of course, there were a multitude of vistas, from the grassy, steppe-like plateau in the heart of the country to the craggy Hex River Mountains in the southwest.


If the Paywall Police are on patrol, well all I can say is "sorry bout that".
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby johnthefireman » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:13 am

I've travelled fairly regularly on the Shosholoza Meyl Premier Class train in the last ten years or so. Last time was almost exactly a year ago, if I recall correctly. It's still a very enjoyable trip. The food isn't quite as luxurious as it was a few years ago, but still very acceptable. A great experience.
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby george matthews » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:39 am

I have travelled from Cape Town to Johannesburg at least once, on an ordinary train. It was in the 1970s, so under a quite different regime. I cannot remember much about the journey which seems to have been uneventful.
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby David Benton » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:21 am

Seems like a bargain at $ 235.
Can anyone confirm if the Blue Train still runs or not?
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:24 am

David Benton wrote:Seems like a bargain at $ 235.
Can anyone confirm if the Blue Train still runs or not?


According the website The Man in Seat 61, yes, it does. Once or twice a week.
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:44 am

Well, the Blue Train is there as a privately operated "Luxotrain":

http://www.bluetrain.co.za

With a one-way passage Praetoria-Cape Town for 2 @ ZAR 32800 (US $2350), it's a "better be good" moment.
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby David Benton » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:59 pm

Thanks Rockingham Racer, and Mr.Norman. The name brings up a certain nostalgia for that era, ( perhaps a socially and politically bad era ), nevertheless, it would be a shame to see it discontinued.
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby johnthefireman » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:59 pm

I travelled on the Blue Train from Pretoria to Victoria Falls in 2000 - 48 hours of unadulterated luxury! I got chatting to the loco inspector in the dining car, and that got me a footplate ride on the diesel for one leg of the journey. In Bulawayo the train stood for 8 hours while the tourists were taken by bus to a national park, but I spotted Garratts shunting the station so I stayed behind to watch them - at that time Zimbabwe had started using steam again due to the economic situation in the country - they had no money to import diesel but had plenty of cheap domestic coal. A uniformed railway official approached me saying, "Why are you taking photos from the platform?" I expected a hassle over photographic permits, but he continued, "You'll get much better pictures if you walk onto the tracks over there!" I gratefully obeyed, and just a few minutes later a passing Garratt stopped and the driver called, "Get on!" Again I obeyed, and spent a pleasant hour while he shunted around the balloon up by the loco depot. Then back to the Blue Train where the cook, who had earlier asked the two of us who had remained (me and a bloke with a broken leg) if we would be OK with simple sandwiches, produced a huge plate of gourmet sarnies with expensive delicacies like smoked salmon - I'd been expecting ham and cheese. I recall that the ticket then cost USD 600, far too much for me to have spent on a holiday in those days, but it was a gift from my staff in a job I was just leaving in Kenya.

George, you say you don't recall much about your earlier trip on the Joburg-Cape Town train. I presume it was then wholly or partly steam hauled? I wonder if the Class 25 Condensers were still in use on the Karoo leg in those days?
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Re: Johannesburg-Cape Town

Postby george matthews » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:24 am

George, you say you don't recall much about your earlier trip on the Joburg-Cape Town train. I presume it was then wholly or partly steam hauled? I wonder if the Class 25 Condensers were still in use on the Karoo leg in those days?
I really can't remember. It was just an ordinary journey. I was on the way to catch a plane to Ghana in Johannesburg. A good part of the journey was under the electric wires. Whether any steam was involved I have no idea.
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