Trains: Richmond line closure enrages steam enthusiasts

2008-10-07 00:00

Steam train enthusiasts are steaming after Spoornet announced that it has closed the railway line to Richmond. This means that the scheduled steam train ride to Baynesfield this weekend has had to be cancelled.

A source within the rail industry leaked information to Umgeni Steam Railway, saying the line has been declared unsafe following more thefts of track components from the line.

The source said the line will be inspected again on October 15 or 16 after which a decision will be made on its future – but it is believed that the line will most likely be permanently closed.

Umgeni Steam Railway members Andy Anderson and Grant Fryer told The Witness that this leaves them high and dry.

“We are trying to preserve this heritage, but Spoornet is trying to put a stop to this,” said Fryer.

He said German tourists who came to SA in 2007 to experience steam trains bought R1,7 million into the local economy. He said Spoornet does not see the potential for rail tourism. Anderson said SA should look at privatising rail, to improve the service and get trucks off the overcrowded roads.

Questions were sent to Spoornet, but no response had been received late yesterday.

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