Steam train fans may yet get a ride

2013-05-15 00:00

THERE could be light at the end of the tunnel for the international tourists whose holiday plans were derailed by Transnet’s closure of the line from Creighton to Pietermaritzburg.

This follows an approach to the CEO of Transnet Siyabonga Gama by Miranda Skuy, chairperson of Heritage Railway Association of Southern Africa (HRASA).

“Transnet have got a whole team on the line today,” Skuy said, “and it’s hoped the line may be opened this afternoon or for Thursday — on Wednesday the group are being hosted by Umgeni Steam Railway.”

Transnet said the line had been closed since last July. However, when asked for a quotation in March for use of the line by local operator Julian Pereira of Paton’s Express Adventures on behalf of international tour operator Geoff Cooke, Transnet provided a quotation and later invoiced Pereira for a sum of R111 893,60. This was paid and it was assumed trains could therefore operate on the line.

Asked why an invoice had been issued for a line that was closed, Transnet spokesperson Sandile Simelane responded: “It must be emphasised that Transnet Freight Rail takes safety in our railway lines seriously hence the line was closed for safety reasons. We have no further comments on this issue.”

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Cooke of Geoff’s Trains, who is leading the tour, said: “Things seem to have been stirred up. A Transnet inspector is walking the line and an engineer is coming from Durban to trolley it. We are hopeful it may be opened this afternoon or be ready for Thursday.”


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