Tag: SAR

Lets go by train

In 2012 I wrote a piece about traveling by bus, and it was quite a jolt remembering all of those trips I made as a youngster, but I really wanted to do a similar one about going by train, and here is the first part (warts and all).
 
There were two types of train travel in my day, the first being suburban, and the other mainline (aka “the holiday train”). Bear in mind that my experiences fall roughly between 1963-1989, this is not a comprehensive history of rail travel in South Africa.

Typical suburban train

 The Bethlehem Train.

My grandparents lived in Bethlehem and occasionally we would pack our goodies and catch the train to Bethlehem. I do not know whether it was completely by steam, it is possible that part of the journey was behind electric traction and then somewhere along the line we would be attached to the steam engine which would take us to that city in the OFS. Bethlehem was not been electrified in those days so a steamer was the only way to get there. The coaches were balconies mostly, beautiful wood and leather furnished with a unique smell that tended to remain with the senses just waiting to leap out at you the moment you stepped into a wooden coach again. They were also painted in Imperial Brown and I was fortunate enough to find a very good example (1st/2nd class D-15 mainline passenger saloon 1044.) at the defunct Heidelberg Transport Museum .
 
 

We travelled 2nd Class and I seem to recall that the upholstery was green leather (as opposed to blue used in 1st Class). The coaches also had a crossover in the middle, and once we had left Johannesburg the “Bedding Boy” would take our order for bedding and he would later come to make up the bunks in our compartment. The ticket examiner would also pay everybody a visit and double check that everybody was where they should be. I don’t recall whether there was a dining saloon on the train, but we always had a packed hamper of food for the trip to scoff along the way.  That could include sandwiches, fruit, boiled eggs and the flask of coffee or tea.

The compartments all had a fold down table that covered the stainless steel basin set up between the windows. There were wooden shutters that were raised by pulling on a leather strap and the top bunks folded down from the compartment wall. My brother and I always had those top bunks while my parents took the lower ones. I always remembered that some of the coaches had thick black leather straps that rang across the roof of the compartment as well as a small reading lamp in each corner. The coaches were of the clerestory type and they had vents in the ceiling that wound open when you turned a small handle. I don’t really know how successful these were, but I do know that travelling down to Bethlehem in Winter was a cold trip. The coaches all had radiators in them, and these would have been supplied by a steam heater wagon behind the traction. I do not know if the steam engine would have needed one of these though because steam was in abundance. The radiators only had two settings and as a result you were either freezing or in a sauna.

The beds would be made up by the bedding boy and they would be warm and the sheets would be crisp and the bed was very comfy, although I could never sleep on a train, there were just too many distractions. At night the train took on a life of its own. In those days the rails were not all welded and the trip would have the all pervading clickety-clack of wheels going over the joints, and of course the steamer would be making stack talk way up front, there was also the sound of sliding doors moving back and forth and the ticket examiner rattling his key in the slot of a door to check the tickets or remind somebody that theirs was the next stop. There was also the creak of the woodwork as it moved with the motion of the train, I suspect staff were also busy during the night because in the mornings the corridor would be clean and the toilets would be as clean as a public facility could be. I think that the poor bedding boy may have had that included in his duties, irrespective though, the trains were something to be proud of.

One of the thrills of the trip was sticking your head out of the window and looking for the loco in front, late at night you could often see the orange glow from the steam engine up front as she powered into the night, the smell of smoke and steam would be unforgettable, and of course once you came back into the compartment your parents would give you an earful because the fresh beds now had specks of soot all over them, and you were invariably covered in soot too.

 

Fortunately there was warmish water on tap although that strange steel basin with its odd taps and small plug hole was an adventure on its own.  Before bedtime all us males would be chased from the compartment while my mother changed into her nightdress. Banished to the corridor we would peer out into the darkness, nary a light would be shining outside and the sleeping countryside was probably oblivious to the creation passing by. Trains were a regular occurrence back then, they went almost everywhere and these old balconies were becoming rare as they were slowly withdrawn from service.
The toilet was at the end of the corridors and it too had a unique smell about it, not to mention that odd noise when you pressed the foot pedal to flush the loo. The small trapdoor would open and everybody held it for just a bit longer so that you could see the track beneath (although whether we actually did is debatable, but as a child you really hoped to see the sleepers rushing by. There was no drinking water in the basins, that was available from a big blue plastic bottle at either end of the coach. When you filled your cup from the small silver tap it would make a “bloop” noise as the water was displaced. Then mum would head off to the loo and the three of us would change into our PJ’s and we would clamber up into the bunks and try to sleep

This would not happen.

When the train pulled into a station the comforting noises would stop, to be overtaken by those outside the sleeping train. A lot of people would travel by train so there were passengers boarding and doors slamming as well as the occasional safety valve lifting up in the front. Naturally everybody was shouting at everybody else and it sounded as if people were dropping boxes of plates just outside the compartment. Then the loco would blow its whistle and you would feel the initial tug, then a slow acceleration as the train once again started to move and then the first rail joint, and the second, the noise increasing as we picked up speed. If you were unfortunate something under the coach would squeak or rattle and you would just have to grin and bear it.

 

As the morning came closer it would be time to get up and usually we would be kicked out of bed quite early,  Mum would head off to the loo and we would change and then we would swap places and be banished to the corridor and loo once again.

The train would then start winding down towards Reitz, and I was told that the train did a large circle to get to Reitz, and we would watch this from the corridor, along with other males who had been banished to the corridor.

Eventually we would be allowed back into our compartment and would dump all the bedding on the top bunks and be able to re-use the seats once again. Somewhere along the line a steward would have brought coffee if there had been coffee making facilities on board, or the remnants of last nights tea from the thermos would be shared between the four of us.

The light outside would be improving and the little SAR Bokkie engraved on the window would look benevolently down on us as this fine example of the proud SAR neared its destination.

 


My grandfather worked as a guard at Bethlehem, and he would be waiting for us when we arrived at the station. He knew everybody there and would exchange greetings as he strode down the platform, resplendent in a suit. He always dressed up in a suit, and his only concession to comfort would be when he removed his jacket and took off his hat. We would pile out and head off the platform to the house. Our train was rapidly emptying behind us, the steam engine would be huffing and steaming at the front and we would leave it behind until our return trip. At the back the guards van was being emptied of its cargo too, mail, packages and all manner of assorted bits and pieces that were often moved by rail.

Bethlehem was a busy station back then, it had its own steam loco, and most of my family worked there. When electrification came along the loco was almost redundant, and the staff got cut back. Then they stopped the passenger trains and the station became a ghost station, with empty platforms and a slowly decaying building.

 


I went back there in 2011, and could not believe that this once busy station had become an empty shell. The death of the railways in that town was a disaster, because employment plummeted and the town was literally cut off, dependent on lumbering trucks that would disturb the silence as they passed through. Bethlehem was always known as a one horse town, now it was a no horse town.

I was fortunate to find a scrap of 8mm film that had a bit of footage from those days and had it converted, All that was missing was the smell of wood and leather, steam and smoke.
When our visit was over we would duplicate the train trip, only this time in the other direction, and probably the last part of the trip would have involved an electric unit as steam had been banished from Park Station. I know I always hated that return trip because I had to leave that beautiful train behind. If we were lucky we would be able to ride in one of the newer coaches, although they weren’t really new as they had been superseded themselves. The balconies would fade into memory, and eventually they would be completely replaced by other wood and leather creations, very similar to the 2nd class E13 sleeper that I saw at SANRASM.

That coach had the leather and wood smell about it, and when I explored it I was amazed at how much of it was as I remembered. The last time I would travel on a wood and leather coach like this would be in 1980 when I travelled on one to Potch to do my national service, but that’s another story for another time.

Part 2:  In which we travel on the Trans-Natal. 

 

We seemed to go to Durban every 7 years, and we stayed at the “Coogee Beach Hotel” which was if I recall in Gillespie Street. The overnight train trip (aka “The Holiday Train”) was part of the holiday, and about 6 weeks before we were due to leave my father would go to Park Station to book our compartment on the Trans-Natal. It was a very formal occasional too, the bookings for main line trains was run almost like a travel agent, and you bought the tickets as well as bedding tickets and meal tickets there.

Then the long wait which would involve endless imagination, careful choice of clothing and end of year exams. Eventually the big day would arrive and one fine day in December we would pack the red samsonite suitcases and head off to Park Station and down to the main line platforms where we would eagerly wait for the pair of red electric units bringing in the train.

Postcard view of the "European" concourse

Postcard view of the “European” concourse

The concourse at Park Station was somewhat of a cathedral with its high ceiling, polished floors and islands leading down to the platforms. It was also segregated and in later years I got to know it reasonably well. I revisited it in 2012, and posted about that on my blog.

The first thing we had to do was check the passenger plan on the board at the platform, this would indicate which coach and which compartment your family was placed in. the coaches had a spring clip outside the windows of each compartment or coupe, and a small tag would be affixed to that clip with the passengers names on them. My father was never one for being late so invariably we stood around for hours waiting for the train to arrive. Eventually the electric units would come through, big red heavy machines that made a wonderful noise that is still characteristic of the 6E’s today. Sadly  the wonderful wooden coaches had been replaced by the all new Formica clad oval roof saloons on these “crack” mainline trains so part of the fun was gone. 

The train would be packed during the holiday season and people would throng the platform and windows, waiting until the departure bells rang and the units suddenly turned on the blowers as they started to inch forward out of Park Station. Some of the images I am using are of a trip I took with Reefsteamers in 2010 when we passed through Park Station en route for Magaliesburg. 

 

We would wend our way through the peak hour suburbans that headed in and out of the station, the Trans-Natal would leave in the late afternoon, heading east and pause at Germiston to pick up coaches and then head on its way to Natal, arriving after 9.00am the next morning.

We never ate in the dining saloon of the train, but always had a huge hamper of sandwiches, boiled eggs, tea and fruit to munch on. Invariably we were hungry immediately after leaving Johannesburg. Then the ticket examiner would call, and then the bedding boy who would take orders for beds in preparation for making the beds in the traditional blue SAR blankets and starched sheets. A steward would also come around and take orders for the dining saloon.  At Germiston they would shunt on coaches from Pretoria and we would be able to watch the steam engines in action. In 1986 during my last trip on the Trans-Natal the shunt would be done by the steam pilot loco of Germiston, class 12AR “Susan”, who is still around and used by Reefsteamers.  Then the blowers would start up and the train would start to move, nary a jerk would be felt and it usually felt as if the platform was leaving the train instead of the other way around. 

The journey would formally commence and we would trundle towards Durban. After or during our packed supper the beds would be made up by the bedding boy, and that meant that the bench seats were no longer available to sit on, but we would still lean out of the windows watching the scenery go past. Sleep did not feature in our plans, after all we only did  this every 7 years and only had 7 days to do it all in.

The Trans-Karoo headed by a pair of 5E's

The Trans-Karoo headed by a pair of 5E’s

Eventually my parents would pack us all off to bed, first banishing us to the corridor while she changed. My brother and I always in the upper bunks. Alas, sleep never came to me on those trips and it would be a long night of listening to the unique noises of a train and feel the swaying motion as we journeyed to Natal.

A typical SAR sleeper coach. (Reefsteamers)

A typical SAR sleeper coach. (Reefsteamers)

The modern coaches were very close in design to the wooden coaches although the clerestory roof was gone and the woodwork had been replaced by easy to clean Formica, although the leather seats were still there. The difference between 2nd and first class was that in 2nd class 6 bunks could be made up whereas in 1st only 4 were, and the leather was blue and there was a shower in the first class coaches.

Typical 2nd class compartment

The strange basin was still the same, as was the steam radiator and of course the blue water bottle which stood at the end of the corridors still dispensed water from a silver tap. There were also 3rd class coaches which were mostly sitters, and of course strictly segregated from the rest of the train.

Once again sleep would evade us and the night would drag on, the Trans-Natal was an express so did not stop at each and every station, so occasionally the outside light that shone through the steel shutters would change as we hurtled through a station. Every now and then a sliding door would open as somebody headed off to the loo down the passage, and occasionally the units in front would sound their horns. We were safe in those trains, we knew the driver and his assistant were awake and secretly I really wanted to be a train driver driving the units, although I ended up in the Telecommunications Department instead. 

The next morning would see us meandering down the long hills of Natal, calling at some of the sleepy stations along the way. Marionhill was very memorable because the train seemingly stopped in the middle of nowhere, and heaps of African children would throng around the train hoping that people would throw coins or sweets for them. Then we would slowly pull away again and continue on our journey to Pietermaritzburg with its circular platform and strange unfamiliar steelwork. It was a very pretty station, and nothing like the concrete monoliths in Durban and Johannesburg.

Then we were off once again on the final downhill stretch to Durban, by now the air felt very different, a touch of humidity and heat? those trains were not air conditioned and opening a window was the best way to keep cool. The holiday feel was in the air.

The cuttings and greenery started to give way to houses and industry and soon we were wending our way into Durban Station. I think I only went into the new station in 1986, our other arrivals may have been at the old station.  Our holiday had begun!.

There are at least 3 reels of 8mm footage from our Durban holidays that have survived. Unfortunately though, they are random and don’t seem to have any real theme. Just a family, on their holidays. Actually its more about 2 boys on their holidays with the occasional shot of my father in them. That means my mother must have been playing cameraperson.  There is one image that came out which I am particularly fond of, and which I would love to have as a still image.  

  
Naturally there are no images of the train trip itself, but then film was an expensive commodity and while I do recall taking photographs one year, they were never developed and the film was lost forever.
Those seven days flew by in 2 days, and eventually we would be dropped off at the station by my uncle and board the train for the trip back to Johannesburg. It too was a identical trip, except for one odd thing which always confused me. In the morning it always felt as if we were heading in the wrong direction, instead of going towards Johannesburg it felt as if we were heading back to Durban. I always secretly hoped that this was the case, but it never was.  Arriving at Park Station was an anti-climax. It did not feel good to be at home, although none of us missed the heat and humidity. The only real thing we brought back was sunburn, sand in strange places and a bottle  of sea water for the maid. It was really time to start counting off another 7 years on the calender. But first it was Back to School!
  

1982 Print ad for the SAR

The last time I caught the Trans-Natal was in 1986, I had resigned from Transnet (as the SAR was now known) and had a weeks holiday. I travelled 1st class on my annual free pass and it was almost exactly as I remembered it from my childhood, the only difference was that I ate breakfast in the dining saloon.  It was also the last time I travelled on a mainline train in South Africa. 
 
Reefsteamers still operates two sets of original ex SAR coachsets in their original livery. They have saloons and sitters and the experience is very good for nostalgia sake. 
 
Train travel as part of the holiday was fun when you were young, although I do not know how my parents coped with us in that compartment, fortunately the trips were only overnighters. We never went on the Blue train, or even the Trans-Karoo, so those experiences are not in my field of knowledge. I did use the train when I was doing my national service, traveling from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, Kimberly and Jan Kemp Dorp. That one involved a change at Warrenton and a 4 hour wait for the Mafeking train with its steam loco in front. I wish I had paid more attention to those trips but then we were more interested in getting home to civvy street. I also saw a troop train leave Johannesburg bound for the border, and it was a very memorable occasion, long lines of uniformed soldiers waving as the train pulled out of the station, the noise and emotion were very tangible, and very sad too. 
 
Those days are gone. The railways that I knew no longer exists, it has moved on, but whether it has improved I cannot say as I have never travelled with Shosholoza Meyl, I believe that it is still fun, it is just slightly different. 
 
Special credit must go to Reefsteamers who has managed to maintain their fleet of nostalgia which helped me so much to recapture some of my lost memories. SAR Menus courtesy of Brian Bunyard.
 
© DRW. 2014-2018. Created 24/08/2014. Images recreated and posts merged 19/04/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 09:03

They have gone and destroyed it

Regulars to my webpage and blog may remember the SANRASM debacle, and how a collection of valuable railwayana was reduced to so much scrap metal. It was a messy escapade, and the final outcome saw a new team placed in charge and some sort of rationality happening that seemed to signify that parts of the collection would survive. 
 
The last time I visited there was in June 2012, although I really posted that information backdated to the blog in December 2011. Like so many others I hoped that things would now progress from wreckage to preservation and finally to a fully fledged museum. 
 
That never happened.
 
The reality is that somewhere along the line (April 2014?), the scrap vultures entered the premises and cut the frames of some of the locos to get at the bearings, rendering the locos irreparable, and only fit for the scrap. Once that damage has been done the loco will never move again. I saw it happen at Chamdor, and it happened at Sanrasm, and has now finally killed Class 19D-2644, aka “Whardale”. This historically valuable loco was the only one of its kind, and was historically a very significant machine. 

I hope that one day these vultures will become victims of their own greed. When there is nothing left to steal then what will they do? Our steam locomotives, like our Rhino, will be extinct very soon.

What was saved? It is hard to know because I do not have all the information. But I know that both Class 6 loco’s were saved, although Class 6A No.454 has had her frames cut to steal the bearings off it. Fortunately the decision was made to rescue the loco and she is now privately owned and may end up on the rails again one day

6A-454

6A-473

The tender from Wardale was also saved and  I do know that one diesel was also saved. but do not know what happened to the other two.

Various parts from other loco’s were saved to keep the pool of steamers running. I do not know which coaches were saved.  

The former 4-10-2T North British Loco No.23722 was saved and is now plinthed at the Rand Society of Model Engineers site in Len Rutter Park, Florida. (2014)

More images from the disaster that was Sanrasm may be found at my allatsea blog

© DRW 2014-2018. Image recreated 17/04/2016. Updated 12/03/2017, added 10 wheeler 26/03/2017

Updated: 30/12/2017 — 20:45

Johannesburg Park Station. A 2012 view.

On 2 January 1980 I started to work for what was then known as “South African Transport Services”, it was only for 2 weeks though as I departed shortly thereafter for my 2 year sojourn in the SADF. But, being a member of SATS, I was now entitled to all the privileges that went with working for a bloated organisation that was responsible for moving large amounts of people in various states of comfort or discomfort. I was employed as an “apprentice telecommunication electrician” in the Telecoms department, my depot being on Johannesburg Station in what was then the telecoms building. The theory was that we would do our practical training there until we qualified and would then be posted to the depot as a fully qualified artisan.  The Telecoms building was part of the North Station complex and had a large South African coat of arms on it.  Access was gained through a lift tower on an island just outside where the plinthed steam loco was. 
The Telecomms Building (aka North Station Building), with Paul Kruger Building behind it

The Telecomms Building (aka North Station Building), with Paul Kruger Building behind it

The building housed a 10000 line electro-mechanical exchange as well as a telex exchange that served the many railway and SAA offices that were scattered around Johannesburg city.  The local section I eventually ended up working at had offices in 22 buildings. There were also dedicated technicians at Airways Centre, Union Square and Paul Kruger Building. Between when I qualified and when I came out of the army I learnt a lot about the interior of the station, but never really viewed it as a place of interest. 
Many of the offices were  old dingy spaces, and the concourse was a cold impersonal place that we used to catch trains from. The best part about catching a train was when you caught a main line train at platform 15, 16 or 17, but that only happened on rare occasions.  
The image above is interesting because parts of the concourse have not been built and the platforms not been decked over, neither has the steam engine been plinthed outside the North Station Building. I do know that by 1972 the engine was in place so this image pre-dates 1972.
 
Rissik Street runs past the station as the western boundary with the South Station Building entrance facing Eloff Street. Wolmarans Street formed the northern boundary of the station precinct, and Wanderers the eastern boundary.     
Rotunda and Airways Centre were on the opposite side of Rissik. These were home to South African Airways and Rotunda was also the main booking area. Towards the end of my days at SATS they also acquired Airways Centre which was on the corner of Wolmarans and Rissik.  
 
The main “entrance” to the station was at South Station building, which was somewhat of an odd building, its original use no longer in context with what it was at the time. Part of the original Park Station was a wedding cake of glass and steel that can still be seen in Newtown.  
 
The original vision of the architect was of a grandiose structure festooned with themes depicting animals and transportation, but the finished structure really ended up as being somewhat of a tired hodge podge instead. Granted, it may have been a different story when the original station existed. But from 1955 till 1959 a whole new platform and station complex was built which rerouted lines and  must have caused havoc. The end result was what I grew up with, and which is still a close approximation of what can be seen today. 
  
Strict segregation was in force and the “European” concourse was generally a very quiet spot except during rush hour when hordes of white passengers descended onto the islands that led down to the platforms. The general hubbub being punctuated by the voice of the heavily accented announcer who would breathless announce: “dietreinopplatform5isdietreinnaflorida“. The “Non-European” concourse must have been chaotic all the time, with thousands of Africans trying to catch their overcrowded 3rd class suburbans to Soweto and environs. These trains departed mainly from Platform 1 and 2, and were sometimes overflowing with humanity in transit. 
The main “European” concourse hall was a large open space punctuated by the islands for the platforms and a “restaurant” on a small mezzanine that had a spiral staircase situated in a wishing well, leading up to it. “Pie gravy and chips” being a house specialty. 
Postcard view of the "European" concourse

Postcard view of the “European” concourse

Of course, being the “old South Africa” the whole station would literally die as the country stopped work at 1pm on a Saturday. The only people to be seen were those who came into town to visit the bioscope, catch a train or who may have been working weekend shifts. The irony is that the biggest user of some of the trains were railways workers and we got our tickets cheap. 
 
The station precinct also was home to Tippet Building, and the Systems Managers Offices, as well as Railway Police,  “Taal Bureau”, Stores and many other minor departments and their offices. All manner of functionality could be found if you knew were to look amongst the many hidden nooks and crannies.  
Tippet Building and the System Managers Offices

Tippet Building and the System Managers Offices


There are portions of the station today that have not changed in years and a recent discovery of old  travel and advertising posters in an unused tunnel makes me wonder how much is still sitting there waiting to be found. 
Between the Systems Managers offices and South Station Building is a courtyard that now houses a KFC as well as an office of the police. In my day the display cases were often used to showcase exhibits that were used in recruiting potential employers to work for SATS. There was also a pedestrian subway that crossed under De Villiers Street and came out next to what is now “Attwell Gardens”, a park that is now used by the many children that live in the area. The subway is boarded shut and an informal market is now found at its exit.
 

The one interesting artefact we found was one of the station clocks that had been manufactured in 1870 and removed from the original station in 1933 and re-erected in 1958. There were 2 sets of these clocks, but the one on the corner of Rissik and De Villiers is gone. These clocks, like all the clocks on the station, would have been controlled from the master clock in the exchange in the telecoms building.    

The original station building (pre-1955) was the work of Gordon Leith and Gerard Moerdyk, and the foundation stone was laid on 11 December 1928.   The ornamental facade and original South Station building still survives today, but the facade seems lost, and the three closed entrances lend this long structure a desolate look.
 
 
If you could go in through this entrance you would find a staircase that leads downwards into what used to be the old concourse that connected to the original 1930’s station.
 

The modernisation of the station rendered this area obsolete, and it became the home of the Museum, Tea Room and Blue Room. This area is beautiful in spite of its emptiness and feel of abandonment.

When I was young and we had time to kill we would come down here and stare at the contents of the museum. There was something exotic about this area, it had an otherness that was quite different to the feel of the station.

The Museum used to be on the right of the staircase and the tea room on the left with a preserved heritage locomotive sitting in the area between the two fountains. This locomotive, the Emil Kessler,  was the original locomotive that ran as the “Rand Tram” between Johannesburg and Boksburg from 1890 until it was withdrawn in 1903. 

Emil Kessler. Photograph by Ronnie Lovemore.

Emil Kessler. Photograph by Ronnie Lovemore.


She still exists today but is now located at the OuteniquaTransport Museum. 

The area of the lower concourse is devoid of anything except dust and shafts of sunlight that penetrate the gloom. The tea room with its blue and white tiles is empty, as is the museum and the bar and toilets.

It is a fascinating area to explore, but a space that realistically would be very difficult to re-open given the change in demographics of the station 

The problem with this particular building is that you could demolish it and nobody would really notice. It’s original use has been superseded a long time ago, and many of the offices could easily be accommodated in other station buildings. My memory of the offices here was of cramped “government issue” styled rooms with poor ventilation and lighting, occupied by rude clerks and minor functionaries.

Bidding this almost Moorish area a farewell, we headed back to the concourse, and from there homewards. Photography is not allowed inside the concourse, although you would struggle to find signage that tells you this if you entered from the parking lot. Today the platform islands are gone, the old ticket office no longer exists, and the train departure board stands empty.  There more people here now, and there is quite a buzz. The old CNA still stands where it did when I was young, but the wishing well is gone, and there is a new mezzanine level around the sides. The former main line booking hall is no longer there, and today people queue for inter city buses or to travel on the Shosoloza Meyl or Premier Klasse.  The old steam loco that used to be plinthed outside the telecoms building was removed to the Outeniqua Transport Museum and the whole outside parking was finally decked over. 

The former “non European” concourse now houses the Metrorail concourse and it is no longer segregated.

On the other side of the Rissik Street Bridge, the old Rotunda stands empty and silent. Today it is easier to book a flight on-line.

The original lettering is still visible around the roof edging


Close to the old Telecoms building is the Gautrain station, and the Reya Vaya stop is within walking distance of the old station and Gautrain. The old gulf red and quaker grey trains are all gone, repainted yellow and grey and many are still in service under a new guise, but a shade of their former selves.

Mainline trains still leave from here, but the service is a shade of its former self too, although some of the original coaches are still in service, as are the 6E electric units.

I left SATS in 1986, and made 3 more trips by train from Park Station, my last probably around 1988. The station is not quite the way I last saw it, it is the same station, just different.

Rissik Street looking south. (Station on the left) (1500×523)

The tour was organised by Past Experiences who operate walking tours in and around the city.  

© DRW 2012-2018 Images recreated 27/02/2015. More images added 14/04/2017, 02/02/2018
 
Updated: 02/02/2018 — 07:34
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