A Memory of the Trans Karoo

I was making oats for breakfast this morning and suddenly I was transported back in time by my mind’s eye to my very young days on the Trans Karoo – The Mainline train between – at that time – Pretoria and Cape Town (The name has been dropped but is still used colloquially to describe the train, it also departs only from Johannesburg now-a-days).

I wake up at Beaufort West Station (I was always the first to wake) in time to see the Driver uncouple from our train and go stable the lone 7E in Platform 3 (at that time the line was not electrified from Beaconsfield (Just outside Kimberly) to De Aar, so 3 x Class 34 Mainline Diesels would haul us from Kimberly to De Aar where the 7E would couple on – today it is fully electrified (this section is also known as the ‘Steel Kyalami’ by Rail Enthusiasts – named after a Race Track in South Africa. Shortly thereafter, a pair of 6Es with a fresh crew would roll past our window with a friendly wave from the crew and then couple up. After we were on our way again my family and I would freshen up, get ready for the day and pack our things ready to disembark at either Belleville or Cape Town Station in the afternoon.

We would then stroll down to the Dining Saloon three or four coaches down the train. I still see in my mind’s eye the menu above the entrance from where we are seated (for example a Full English Breakfast with Coffee or Tea for a mere R20!).

They used to make oats that you could turn the bowl upside down and it wouldn’t fall out (before adding milk of course). In later years, I made sure to face the direction we were traveling in, as the goods trains waiting for us to cross them in the sidings would give me a fright as we rolled by.

Attached are scans from a timetable for 1985/1986. Thanks to my friend Alexander James Knight for taking the time to dig it out, scan and email it to me!

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2 thoughts on “A Memory of the Trans Karoo

  1. In the late 1960’s breakfast was 75c, lunch R1 and supper R1.50! Then of course Beaufort W was the interchange between 3kV electric and steam, and electrics were picked up again in Kimberley. Funnily enough when coming from Pretoria to CT, we always came through the OFS, Noupoort and De Aar. Unfortunately I have little memory of the Donkerpoort to Noupoort section. Once we were hauled by diesel from Noupoort to De Aar, and it seemed a lot quicker than by steam. Thanks to the SADF for the train travel — and very little else!

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