I had always had a hunkering to go on a Friends of the Rail trip, but never seemed to do it, until one day Reefsteamers was offered seats on the 150th Celebration of Steam Railways in South Africa trip to Cullinan.
This trip took place on 26 September 2010 from Hermanstad to Cullinan, and I was really looking forward to seeing their train as it had magnificent vintage slam door suburban coaches. I had always wanted to ride in one of them and this was my chance.
The loco up front was 19D-2650 “Cheugnette”. We were blessed with great weather were soon ready to go.
Friends of the Rail (aka FotR) operates out of Hermanstad in Pretoria, and they have a very nice collection of rolling stock and loco’s at their disposal. Unfortunately though, Pretoria is a bit out of my range, and I had only visited their site once before (and nobody had been home).
And then we were off. I do not know the route that the train takes, although I do recall we went past Capital Park and Hercules, although where they fit into it is beyond me. I had also never ridden behind a 19D and she was really romping up front, she had a wonderful whistle too and the coaches were a pleasure to travel in.
At some point we stopped. The line is a busy commuter line too, and naturally precedence is given to Metrorail. We were passed by a 10M5 here, and it was interesting to see the difference between two the generations of suburban traction.
From here we had a clean run to Reyton where we collected the Staff which gave us permission to use that line. A few years ago a 15F operated by FotR derailed on the way to Cullinan after sleeper theft, but we were fortunate that all sleepers were intact as we wound our way into the sleepy mining town. Once we were alongside a short ceremony was held to celebrate the 150th Celebration of Steam Railways in South Africa. It also gave me an opportunity to have a look at the whole train without a platform in the way. Unfortunately the light post I could do nothing about.
And there were photo opportunities with Cheugnette.
At this point I headed off to the local cemetery and to do some sight seeing. The town isn’t really very big, and one of the major attractions is a large hole (and you cannot even see that properly). There is also a very strong military heritage to the town, but I did not have the time to explore it.
I soon ran out of things to see so headed back to the station where our loco was being serviced and having a drink of water.
Once that was completed she was turned around and then ran back down the line to be at the front of the train in readiness for our return.
A few last minute photo opportunities were provided and then we were ready to leave.
There were quite a few linesiders on the way back and I bet they got better pics than I did, the curvature of the track did not give me enough of a view of the loco ahead, so opportunities were few and far between.
And of course as we got closer to Pretoria we started to encounter many of the Gautrain works that were extending to Hatfield. The Gautrain was still a few months away from being in operation, and I believe that some great images have been taken on this stretch of track of the Gautrain since it opened.
And there are still remnants to be seen of the old South African Railways along this route, even if they are long disused watertanks and SAR liveried coaches.
The end destination was in sight, all that was left was to shunt into the Hermanstad and disembark.
It was over. Time to head off home. I had a long drive back to Johannesburg, and it was getting dark quickly. Hopefully my GPS would not get me lost like it did last time I was here. Well done Friends of the Rail for great trip, and long may you go on preserving this heritage.
DRW © 2010 – 2021. Images recreated 10/03/2016