Steam trains revived in the Western Cape amid Heritage Day celebrations

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Railway Heritage is being revived in the Garden Route region of the Western Cape. This Heritage Day weekend saw the inaugural trip by Jenny the Steam Locomotive, between Hartenbos and Great Brak River in Mossel Bay.

The steam train revival is the brainchild of Southern Cape Railway.

The trip onboard Jenny is the first of many steam train rides to come. Steam train heritage is big in the area, with George boasting a museum which tells the history of steam trains and locomotives in this region.

One of the most famous steam trains was the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe, which travelled between George and Knysna, giving passengers the most spectacular views. In by-gone years, the steam train was a very popular mode of transport. But, it was phased out over the years.

The revival has brought great excitement for locals. This Heritage Day weekend, Jenny gave around 1500 passengers beautiful views, inspite of the cold and rain, as they embarked on a nostalgic trip on the Mossel Bay coastline.

“This is my first time. I’ve been on a normal train, but never a steam train. The view is nice, it’s unfortunate that it was raining, but it didn’t take away the atmosphere,” says Ria Potgieter.

For Eliizma Ludick, the train ride was a trip down memory lane.

“It’s very nostalgic and I’m very excited for this opportunity to go on this train. It took me back to my past, the last time I was on a steam train was when I was seven-years-old and that’s years ago and that was near Malmesbury. And we once travelled from the Strand to Cape Town as well.”

Jenny is a beautifully restored class 24 steam locomotive, which was built in 1943. For years, she provided service as Atlantic Rail’s tourist train on the scenic Cape Town, Simon’s Town route. Now she will boost tourism in Mossel Bay and the rest of the Garden Route.

Sean Ekstrom, co-owner of Southern Cape Railway, says they’re very excited to be bringing train rides back in the area.

“We’ve tried for many years to try and run something like this. Fortunately, we got that opportunity now. It’s amazing because we’re able to share it with so many people, young and old. The most amazing view is watching a grandparent bring their grandchildren climb on the train to experience this. Long may it last and because of our passion we would love this to continue.”

With the successful Heritage Day weekend behind them, the steam train will operate once a month and every day throughout the school holidays.

Southern Cape Railway reviving railway heritage in the Western Cape: