This was my first train trip with Reefsteamers, and it took place on 7 March 2009 from Maraisburg Station to Magaliesburg.
The loco doing the hard work was 25NC-3472 “Elize” and the consist was daysitters, a catering car, a much used traveling bar, the catering coach “Kango”, compartmented coaches, a power car and a water tanker in case Elize got thirsty.
Then the whistle blew and we were off, threading our way west via Krugersdorp and Millsite to Magaliesberg.
I hadn’t been through Krugersdorp Station since I was an apprentice in 1982 so it was an interesting pause for me, and of course 3 passing 6E1’s just made it so much better.
We stopped just outside Millsite and stood still while something was happening in front of us, the entrance to the loco depot was not too far off, and some of the things I spotted here I would later go investigate,
and of course once you pass Millsite you would come to Sanrasm, and that sad L-14 driving trailer that looked worse each time I saw it. I would do a lot of photography at Sanrasm, and watch it being demolished.
After Millsite it was an almost clear run through to our destination, you leave “civilisation” behind and enter mining, and later agricultural area. The trip is not too long though, it really depends on whether there are any other trains on the line at the time.
And of course once we reached the cutting we were almost there. It was just a matter of going through the level crossing and it would be time to get off. The level crossing is quite a good spot for photography, but you really have to get there long before the loco arrives, or ideally as she leaves, and of course be on the correct side of the track. There is a certain smugness about leaning out of the coach window and watching all the cars with their drivers staring back at you.
I had not made any prior lunch arrangements and really intended dwaaling around town to pass the time. There was an option of lunch at the hotel but you had to disembark at the stop before the long climb into Magaliesberg Station, and I really wanted to see them turn the loco around and clean the fire before thinking about food. I had been through here previously to do some gravehunting, so was not a total stranger to the sleepy town.
Rationally though, there is not a lot happening at Magaliesberg, its the sort of place you can see in 10 minutes. The real history is not in the town, and the places I wanted to see you needed a car, with a GPS and a map to find.
And then we had arrived. Grabbing my stuff I headed for the end of the train to see if I could catch them moving Elize onto the other line. She is a big loco, and as she went past you could see the sleepers sink into the trackbed, and hear the creaks as she passed.
Reversing down the track she would be turned at the triangle and serviced a bit off from the station. I did not follow her to the triangle but headed off in my own direction to find food and do my thing. I would be back by the time she had been turned and serviced.
In fact I was back a bit earlier (I said the town was small), so parked off after doing some photography. There was one interesting building which I photographed:
It was supposedly part of Johannesburg’s original station. However I could not really prove it, but I did see pics of it at Park station when it was used for the Rand Tram celebrations (1989?)
Then the whistle blew and we were off, first collecting our passengers at Magaliesberg Country Hotel,
then over the level crossing, and powering our way home.
The loco has quite a struggle leaving the immediate area of the station as she has to pick up speed to make the grades in this area, this is probably when you get to hear the best stack talk and feel the brute strength of the powerful old ladies of the rails.
I think it was at Tarlton where we stopped to let another train pass, the line is not really suited for heavy two way traffic and there are a number of spots where one train is able to pass another. I believe this line eventually ends up at Mafeking or Zeerust, and is not heavily used, although a number of container and fuel trains do use it.
The line is not electrified either so is home to “paraffin burners” (as steam enthusiasts call diesels).
Just pass the silos is a long downgrade which is quite a favourite spot for line siding, I would stand there myself for quite a few hours in later months, but I had not done that before so did not know about this spot.
We were now close to Randfontein and many of the people were stirring from their alcohol induced slumbers, even the limp children were running around, having catnapped since we left Magaliesberg. It was getting decidedly noisy in our sitter coach.
As we went through Millsite I managed to grab a few shots of the old coal stage that still stood there, and if my memory serves me right it was demolished not too long after I took these images. There was a Garratt standing next to the stage, and I wonder if she managed to survive the breaking up of the coal stage? Then we were going through Krugersdorp once again, passing some toasters along the way.
Our final destination was Maraisburg, and it had been a long and hot day. I was covered in specks of soot and ash, and my camera lens was making odd noises, but it was worth it!
I disembarked and watched the train pull away and carry on with its journey back to Germiston. I would take 3 trips with Reefsteamers to Magaliesberg, and ended up line siding on a few occasions. It was nice to feel the sway of a train beneath my feet, it had been way too long since I had last experienced that feeling.
DR Walker. © 2009-2021 Images recreated 07/03/2016