Friday, November 16, 2018

Getting train nerdy in the Eastern Cape

Maybe of interest to some. I meant to have a look at the train line mentioned in yesterday's post and today I found some time and I did, and I found it quite interesting. This terrific map from Wikipedia shows the line, from Port Elizabeth in the east to the country terminus at Avontuur, or Avontour if you like.

 

The line seems to have primarily been built to get farm produce to the port, specifically fruit from orchards.

From my understanding it is a long time since trains have run on the brown bit of the line. Where we stopped for morning tea was at Louterwater and I think the line is still serviceable to that town. The line ran a tourist train called the Apple Express for some years. It seems a short tourist trip was run in January this year. It really would be good to take a slow trip for the full distance, lazily staring out at the passing African countryside. 

Here is a video, and if you are like me, you will have low boredom threshold for such videos, but do at least watch the bit of Van Staden's River Bridge and the gorge the train travels over on a very high bridge at about 5:20. I think I made have even made the video below start at that point. 



11 comments:

  1. Oh, how amazing is that? I thought one of your pictures the other day showed a narrow gauge rail. In New England, most are regular gauge. So exciting to see the video.
    What an awesome rail line. I do so love a rail trip. We did the Durango to Silverton trip a few years ago and that was narrow gauge. You can check it out here.
    http://www.durangotrain.com/

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    1. Maribeth, I think I have looked at the Durango train before. It looks amazing in the snow and ice. I think all of South Africa is narrow gauge. I should check properly.

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  2. The bridge is just awesome Andrew, reminds me of the old bridge that the train from Queenstown to Strahan here in Tasmania, but of course the one is SA is so much higher.

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    1. Margaret, I just had a look at the bridge you mention, and while it is not as tall, wow! It is impressive. Old Lower Shotover Bridge, it seems it is called.

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  3. I like the video and I think you might be right about a long slow trip along the full route. The bridge is amazing, what a view!

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    1. River, I think it would be nice, as long as the train keeps moving. I hated it on the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada when it stopped for ages.

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  4. I think a lot of the African countries have narrow gauge rail, at least South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola have.
    My husband would know more about it as he works in railway signalling.
    Never did a train trip but they must be nice, if you have the time.

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    1. Sami, I think it is about tight curves for trains. Narrow gauge allows tight curves. Confirm with Jose.

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  5. It won't play for me Andrew, will have a look tomorrow ✨

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  6. That made me quite Africa homesick Andrew 💙

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