Tag Archives: train

Spoornet’s springbok window

Spoornet's springbok window
Way back, when the railway systems were owned by the state, the company known today as Metrorail used to fall under the banner of the South African Railway Services, aka SARS. Then one day the South African Revenue Services (our income tax government department) decided that they wanted the name "SARS" and instructed the government privatise and change the name of the South African Railway Services. They were a bully, and so now the South African Revenue Services is know as SARS.

I'm lying about the reason for the privatisation, and the involvement of our tax department, of course. The little lie explains however how strange it is to some of us to see all the old trains and old equipment labelled "SARS", and I figured this may clear it up for those who weren't around at that time - no, SARS isn't in the business of owning trains. :)

Back then, since the rail services were owned by the government, it made sense to use the springbok (our national animal) as an emblem - hence the springbok on this old train window.

Tunnel beneath the rails

Tunnel beneath the rails
Instead of a bridge for pedestrians to cross over the train tracks at Kalk Bay station, there's this short subway that leads commuters below the tracks between platform 1 and 2.

If you catch yourself traveling the "tourist route" from Cape Town to Simon's Town, then you may like to climb off at Kalk Bay to spend an hour or three visiting restaurants like The Brass Bell and Cape to Cuba; or perhaps spend some time browsing the small shops that line the main road, and then wander over to Kalk Bay harbour to see the fishing boats and watch the sea-hardened fishermen offload their catch.

Kalk Bay's a great place to visit and comes highly recommended - even if you decide rather to visit by car (and perhaps stop there for breakfast before heading on to Cape Point).

The blue light that you see at the end of the tunnel isn't the result of artistic photo-manipulation, it's rays of sunlight being filtered through the weather-proof structure that leads from the platform to the stairway. It does look kinda awesome in a photo, now doesn't it? :)

Train with a sea view

Train with a sea view
The metro train route that leads from Cape Town Station to Muizenberg and along the coast to Simon's Town is the most popular tourist train route in Cape Town. Well... I guess that's because none of the other routes are frequented by tourists - probably because none of the other have such beautiful views!

The train itself is crummy inside - nothing much to behold, and it's a little dirty inside and (as you can see) especially so on the outside!

On the plus side, locals and visitors are able to buy a special tourist ticket that costs around R20. The specific ticket is a day pass that allows for traveler to hop on and hop off at any station along the route from Cape Town to Simon's Town. Isn't that awesome!?

A picture from a train window

Train Window
I use to travel by train to work - many years ago - but since our offices moved far closer to home I've taken the car to work each day; and had the pleasure of parking in our building's basement parking garage!

Commuting by car and parking in my company building is a cry from the tiresome rushing to make it to the train on time or the boredom of waiting for it to leave Cape Town station on the way back home in the evening. I'm even more grateful this wintery time of the year when I think of the times that I sat in that drafty train with the ice-cold breeze blowing down my neck and the long walks to and from the train stations. Sometimes, when I get irritated by morning traffic, I think of those days and how much better it is to be sitting in my warm car listening to music. It makes traffic seem a whole lot more bearable.

Incidentally, this photo was taken in the Woodstock area... and the reason why you see so little of the scenery is that some time back Metrorail decreased the size of the windows dramatically to reduce the chance of people exiting the train by unconventional means. And, besides for this, I kinda liked the photo just like this; window an all.

On the Cape Town metrorail

Cape Town Metrorail
What do you say, vandalism or keeping things interesting?

What I noticed about this "LO$ER" sign is that there are two of them, placed almost perfectly on each door of this metrorail train. Isn't it just awesome that the vandal that put them there went to the trouble of neatly aligning them? I can just see the thought running through their mind - hundreds of people jam-packed in the train at rush-hour, with the few standing near the door being made to stare at a sticker calling them losers.

For some reason I find this amusing. :)

That’s some attitude

That's some attitude
I waited for the train to stop and for people to start disembarking. While I was down on one knee (not "down on one knee" like that though) the guy to the left stepped out of the train onto the platform, keeping his eyes fixed on me all the while that the train stood still. I, of course, doggedly pretended not to see him.

I wondered at the time what he may be thinking. I could just imagine that it was something like "WTF? Crazy white boy!". (Said in a BA Baracus accent of course.) :D

Cargo coaches

Cargo coaches
I did say in my previous post that diesel trains pull many (many) coaches. Although the train whizzed past I swear that I'd have had enough time to finish a tall cup of coffee while it passed by.

According to southafrica.co.za, 87% of freight is transported by road whereas the remainder is the small percentage transported by rail. The interesting thing is that rail transport is apparently between 30% and 50% cheaper than transport by road!

I wonder why more people don't make use of rail transport. Could it be because not enough of the country is covered by heavy-duty railway lines, or could it be because of logistical problems with freight rail?

All stations to Cape Town

All stations to Cape Town
As I said in my first post about this train station - the journey from Brackenfell to Cape Town station is an extremely monotonous one when taken every day. I pitty the poor souls who travel from Wellington to Cape Town each day.

With the exception of one or two, rush hour trains (which I guess are the ones between 06h30-08h30 and 16h00-18h00) stop at every station along the way! Each time that they stop the doors open and, at this time of the year, in blasts cold winter weather like that which we're experiencing right now.

I certainly don't miss the days of commuting on the train, but perhaps I do miss the 45 minute snooze that I sometimes managed to squeeze in on those big blue vinyl seats. :D

Train to Kraaifontein

Train Station
Continuing with my theme of train stations and tracks, this is a 180° turn from my previous photo, with the next stop in this direction being the small station of Eikenfontein (Ache-en-fawn-tain), followed by the next major station, Kraaifontein (Cry-fawn-tain).

In case you're interested, here's a Metrorail route map.

A West Coast goods train

A goods train

This photo nearly cost me my camera. :) I took the shot by holding my camera out the car window, with one hand, while travelling at about 110km/h. Fortunately I had a reasonably good grip as the force of the rushing air hit, trying to pluck it from my hand.

This train line crosses the N1 highway near the perpendicularly-running N7 highway (map), and is (to a great deal) used to transport cargo up and down our West Coast. I've always wondered exactly where it leads to, so I tracked if for a while on a map using Google Maps. If I'm not mistaken this line is the same one that takes passenger trains to well-known places like Evita se Perron in the little town of Darling.

If you're into small and intimate theatre experiences, I'd encourage you to see a performance by Pieter-Dirk Uys at Evita se Perron, his little West Coast theatre.