IMPORTANT - Terms and Conditions of Booking and Carriage and Limitations of Liability - IMPORTANT
The Friends of the Rail Association, a not-for-profit organisation registered number 1995/009790/08 (hereafter “FOTR”), strictly limits its liability for injuries, losses or damages towards the members of the public and passengers whilst aboard its trains or using any of its facilities. FOTR accepts seat reservations, runs its train services, carries its passengers and provides all services and facilities subject to the “Terms and Conditions of Booking and Carriage and Limitations of Liability” as listed in this document and as provided in South African law.
All passenger reservations, bookings, tickets, vouchers, coupons, invitations, boarding passes, verbal or implied assent or any other form of permission or authority to board or travel on an FOTR train or to use any facility provided by FOTR, whether such tickets are printed, digital, verbal or implied (hereafter “tickets”), paid for or complimentary, are issued subject to and including all of the following “Terms and Conditions of Booking and Carriage and Limitations of Liability” (hereafter "terms and conditions”). As the purchaser, acquirer or user of such tickets, you acknowledge and accept that these terms and conditions form an inseparable and integral part of the purchase or acquisition and use of any ticket/s to travel on a train or use any other facility offered or sold by FOTR or its agents, resellers, charterers or contractors.
Except as may otherwise be provided in law, persons travelling on FOTR trains or using any facilities sold or provided by FOTR may not alter, contract out of or exclude any of these Terms and Conditions or Limitations of Liability.
- AGREEMENT TO CONDITIONS: When you make a booking or reservation, accept an invitation to travel, acquire or purchase tickets (whether from FOTR or through an agent, reseller or charterer and whether at full price, at a discount or for free) for use on an FOTR train or for any facility sold or provided by FOTR, you as the “purchaser” or acquirer and all other persons in your party freely acknowledge that you and all those persons have read, understood, contracted to and accepted, without alteration and in full, all of the following “Terms and Conditions of Booking and Carriage and Limitations of Liability” (hereafter “Terms and Conditions” or "Ts and Cs"). You also acknowledge and accept that FOTR will deem that you have the full consent to make bookings or to purcahse or acquire tickets on behalf of all other persons in your party for them to travel or use any facility sold or provided by FOTR or its contractors that includes all these Terms and Conditions and that all these Terms and Conditions will apply jointly and severally to all persons (including minor children) in your party and to yourself as the purchaser or acquirer.
- NO EXCEPTIONS: Note that all tickets including those sold by any agent or reseller, including Quicket or Computicket (or any other ticket sellers or resellers), will automatically incorporate all these Terms and Conditions without exception and that you will be deemed to have read, understood and agreed to them at the time of purchase or acquisition.
- MINOR CHILDREN: A purchaser who purchases or acquires tickets for minor children will be deemed to be the "de facto" parent or guardian of those children and will be deeemd to have received the legal authority of the parents or guardians to contract for and accept all these Terms and Conditions on behalf of all minor children in their party.
- ACCIDENT OR INJURY: VERY IMPORTANT -- LIMITATIONS of LIABILITY. FOTR carries strictly limited public liability insurance. All passengers are therefore carried entirely at their own personal physical and financial risk. FOTR will not be liable for any injuries, losses, damages, medical costs, hospitalisation, support or compensation in the event of any incident, accident, injury or death of any person or passenger by any cause whatsoever, including whilst travelling on its trains, alighting or boarding its trains, whilst travelling on any alternative transportation or whilst present on any Transnet Freight Rail, PRASA, Metrorail, FOTR or other property or at any venue or facility booked or sold through FOTR; whether through the error, fault or negligence of FOTR, its passengers, directors, volunteers, employees, service providers, suppliers, contractors or agents or not. In addition, FOTR will not be liable for any losses, consequential damages or any third party claims or claims brought by any heirs, successors or assigns arising from any such incident. FOTR will not be bound to investigate, pursue, provide evidence for or support any litigation or claims, monetary or otherwise, instituted by passengers or other persons or entities against their insurers or any other parties. All passengers are therefore required to ensure that their own personal insurance, personal accident, medical aid or health policies adequately cover and protect them and their possessions whilst travelling on FOTR trains. If necessary, additional suitable insurance should be purchased in advance from an insurance company or broker if needed.
- BOOKING AND PAYMENT: Full advance payment is required to confirm a reservation. No persons may board or travel on an FOTR train without both a reservation AND the prior purchase of a ticket. Unless advised to the contrary, all reservations are provisional and may be cancelled without notice if full payment is not received before a date and time advised or, if not otherwise advised, within 48 hours of making a reservation. No reservation will be guaranteed or held on deposit and no ticket for travel will be issued without such payment in full.
- TICKET VALIDITY: Each ticket issued by FOTR is only good for carriage to or from the destination and on the date and time stated on that ticket unless otherwise provided for in the ticket. Where a cancellation or a change in reservation date is permitted, it will be at FOTR’s discretion and may be subject to payment of an administration fee or other charges in respect of such a cancellation or change of reservation.
- SEATING: Pre-allocated, reserved seating is provided on most FOTR trains. FOTR will endeavour to seat families and known groups of passengers together wherever possible and practical. However, for operational and other reasons this may not always be possible. Seating changes may have to be made, occasionally even after boarding. FOTR therefore cannot guarantee any seating requests and will not entertain any discounts or refunds if preferred seating is not available or if groups of passengers are not able to be seated together.
- CANCELLATION and REFUND POLICY: Once a reservation is made and tickets are purchased, no refund will be issued unless the service is cancelled by FOTR or otherwise does not run. The provision of an alternative steam, diesel or electric locomotive or late running due to change in scheduling, change of route or for any other reason will not constitute a cancellation of the service for these purposes. Should a refund be offered, it will not exceed the ticket price actually paid and FOTR shall not be liable for any additional losses (including consequential loss) caused by any delay and/or cancellation of the service, or for any missed connection due to breakdown, late running or closure of the railway.
We will however consider (at our sole option) reasonable, substantiated and motivated requests for cancellation refunds or postponements provided that such a cancellation or postponement can be fully demonstrated to have been entirely beyond the control of the traveller. Late cancellations or requests for postponement made within 48 hours of departure, late passenger arrivals or no-shows will be forfeited and will not qualify for consideration of such refunds or postponements.
- RIGHT of ADMISSION RESERVED: FOTR’s trains, its depot and station are all private property. Furthermore all railway infrastructure over which FOTR travels (including stations and platforms) are also private property (of either Transnet Freight Rail or PRASA). FOTR, TFR and PRASA reserve the sole right of admission thereto. All persons travelling on FOTR trains are required to be in possession of valid tickets, boarding passes or other permission to travel, issued or validated by FOTR. FOTR reserves the right to deny permission to any person to board, travel or remain on its trains or access its property or the property of TFR or PRASA should circumstances dictate without necessarily giving reasons. FOTR also reserves the right to disembark any person at any time en-route who does not possess a valid ticket or who fails to comply with provisions relating to behaviour including smoking, drunkenness, anti-social behaviour, destructive, rowdy or abusive acts, contravening public decency, vandalism, or endangering the safety of the train and its passengers, etc.
- BEST EFFORTS: FOTR will use its best efforts and make all reasonable endeavours to run its services in accordance with the published schedule and timing. However this may not always be possible. Whilst breakdowns are rare, the reliability of heritage steam equipment is inevitably less than for more modern trains. Furthermore FOTR runs over tracks belonging to Transnet Freight Rail and/or to PRASA and Metrorail. In terms of access agreements signed with those companies, the acceptance and passage of heritage trains is not those companies’ highest priority. For technical, operational or other reasons this might result in delays, re-routings or cancellations for which FOTR cannot be held responsible but will endeavour to ameliorate as much as possible.
- LATE OR NON-RUNNING: Due to the use of third party facilities provided by TFR, PRASA and Metrorail that are beyond FOTR's direct control, all dates and timings advertised or provided are provisional and are subject to change or cancellation without prior notice. FOTR will not be held liable for delays, changes or cancelations made to its schedules by TFR, PRASA, Metrorail or other parties not under its control. FOTR will make every effort to contact all booked persons at the contact numbers and/or email addresses provided as soon as possible should a change or cancellation be necessitated, but will not be liable for any losses, damages or fare refunds should the designated contact person not be available or be un-contactable (please ensure that we have at least the purchaser’s email address, cellphone and one other contact telephone number).
- ACCURACY of INFORMATION: FOTR reserves the right to make changes to its published running dates or to alter published train times without necessarily giving prior notice. FOTR makes every effort to keep its own published information on its trips as up to date as possible. Please check the FOTR website regularly to be advised of any timetable changes (including cancelled or additional trains) that may have been made by FOTR. Where timetable changes affect an existing train, FOTR will use its best endeavours to contact all booked and confirmed passengers to advise them of the changes. FOTR will not accept any responsibility or liability for outdated or incorrect train or timetable information published elsewhere or provided by external third parties.
- MOTIVE POWER SUBSTITUTION: In the event of a locomotive failure and at periods of high fire risk, FOTR reserves the right to change locomotives or operate the service with alternative steam, diesel or electric traction or to cancel the service entirely without necessarily informing passengers in advance. Note that some trips, where indicated, may already be scheduled with such alternative traction. If necessary, in the event of breakdown or when suitable rail transport cannot be provided or operated, FOTR reserves the right at its own discretion to provide alternative transport such as coaches or buses.
- ON-TIME DEPARTURES: FOTR's trains operate in reserved time-slots, so prompt departures are essential. FOTR will not wait for late or lost passengers. No-show passengers will forfeit the entire fare paid. FOTR will not entertain any refunds and will not be liable for any consequential losses arising from missed departures.
IMPORTANT: To avoid being left behind, passengers are advised to ensure that they know how to get to the correct departure point, what the scheduled departure time is and plan to arrive and check-in in good time (i.e. not later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled outward departure and 15 minutes prior to the return departure). Late-arriving passengers may be denied boarding and forfeit their tickets after the doors have been closed even when and if the train is still standing at the platform.
- DISABLED ACCESS: FOTR welcomes disabled persons aboard its trains. However, due to the nature of the heritage coaches used, we regret that there is difficult and restricted access for frail or disabled persons and wheelchair users. We also regret that due to space constraints, no disabled or special access toilets are available on the train. Many remote stations used by FOTR do not have raised platforms or good wheelchair access. Please contact the FOTR sales team on 012-767-7913 during office hours to discuss your special needs requirements. FOTR will try its best to accommodate you. Whilst FOTR’s staff will do all they can to help, frail or disabled persons must be accompanied on board by one or more able-bodied persons who are fully able to assist them during the boarding and during the journey.
- BAD WEATHER: FOTR takes absolutely no responsibility whatsoever for any inconvenience, damage, injury or loss of any nature or any difficulties arising from adverse weather conditions. During periods when thunderstorms or inclement weather can be expected, passengers should ensure that they bring suitable protection such as umbrellas and raincoats. FOTR's trains are not heated, so please bring adequate travel blankets and warm clothing for the early morning starts and late afternoon or evening returns, particularly in the winter months.
- VENUES, etc.: The destinations, venues, side-tours and other off-train facilities are not operated nor under the direct control of FOTR. FOTR regularly checks chosen venues and will use its best efforts to ensure that they and their service are of a suitable standard, but cannot be held liable for any problems or deficiencies at venues. FOTR would, however, like to know about any problems so that these can be addressed with the venue operators. Note also that stations, platforms and facilities, other than at Hermanstad, are not under the control of FOTR. FOTR cannot be held liable or responsible for the state of such facilities nor for any accidents or injuries that may occur whilst using them.
- NO SMOKING: In conformance with the laws prohibiting smoking in public places, on public transport as well as for the comfort of other passengers, smoking is NOT permitted anywhere on FOTR trains. FOTR also has valuable wooden coaching stock and sometimes travels when environmental conditions are such that there may be a risk of grass or veld fires. Line-side fires can cause delays to our trains and can cause damage to our rolling stock and to the property of others (including the livestock and the beautiful game animals often seen on farms alongside the tracks). As a heritage operation FOTR tries to be ''good neighbours'' with the people who live and farm alongside the lines we travel over. FOTR and its passengers really appreciate your efforts in not smoking on our trains. Note that it is especially dangerous, not to mention inconvenient for people passing through, to stand and smoke in the gangways between coaches. Standing and smoking is therefore not permitted between the coaches. The no smoking rules are strictly enforced and persons not complying may be fined or put off the train at the first available opportunity. In the event that a passenger refuses to comply or cooperate, FOTR will take whatever action it is lawfully entitled to take and may invoke the assistance of the Police.
- PASSENGER CONDUCT: Anti-social conduct, including rowdiness, swearing, drunkenness and smoking, will not be tolerated and may result in the offender being put off the train. Passengers may not interfere with the safety of the train nor endanger the lives of themselves or other passengers. Passengers are required to comply with all reasonable requests from the train staff relating to passenger and train management and safety. In the event that a passenger refuses to comply or cooperate, FOTR may take whatever action it is lawfully entitled to take and may invoke the assistance the Police to remove such offender from the train.
- LINESIDE BEGGING: FOTR actively discourages line-side begging for safety reasons. FOTR trains often pass through and sometimes stop at signals in areas where there are "informal settlements". Some of the residents, mainly children, beg for money, sweets and food from passengers on the train. This is extremely dangerous because those persons frequently stand next to the train directly on tracks which are in use by other passing trains. Please obey the FOTR train staff. Do not hand over gifts and do not encourage this begging. It may be difficult and may seem cruel, but by not passing out sweets, food or money to these people you could avoid a serious accident and thus save lives.
- ON-BOARD SAFETY: Please take great care as you cross from one coach to another. Do not linger or stand in the gangway, but cross quickly from one coach to the next. Bare feet are a great risk, so you and your children are required to wear proper shoes or sandals at all times whilst on the train. No "heelys" or skates are allowed. In addition, some station areas where FOTR stops may be littered with broken glass, thorns and other sharp objects which could cause serious injury to bare feet.
- DETRAINING (disembarking): Passengers may not "detrain" at any point on the journey except when authorised by FOTR personnel. Passengers must detrain carefully, especially where there is no high-level platform. Turn around and climb down backwards. Make use of the help and advice of the FOTR staff when detraining. Once off the train, passengers must be aware that they are on the premises of a real working railway. Passengers must watch out for other trains which may approach silently (electric Metrorail trains are surprisingly silent). Passengers may not leave an established public area (station or platform) nor cross over or loiter on any railway tracks. Use the footbridges and underpasses where provided or cross tracks only under direct command and supervision of qualified FOTR staff.
- WINDOWS: Do not lean out of widows. Leaning out of the windows whilst travelling is dangerous not only because of the possibility of falling out, but also because in some places line-side tree branches and other vegetation are not regularly cut back and can cause serious injury to projecting body parts. Smaller children, by virtue of their size and their ability to climb on seats and arm-rests are especially vulnerable to overbalancing. Parents must take extra care and ensure that windows next to children are not fully opened and that children always remain seated.
- CHILDREN: All children must be accompanied and supervised throughout the journey by a responsible adult. Parents, adults and other carers accompanying children are reminded of their serious responsibility and the need to adequately supervise and control those in their care. Under-age children (less than 18 years) are not permitted to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages on the train.
- ON-BOARD HEALTH: To maintain a clean and healthy environment, please do not use the toilets on the train while it is standing at the depot, in a station or at one of the stopping places. Toilets are available at the Hermanstad station and at most venues. Either qualified first responders or a paramedic travels on most public trains. Please ask the staff to call for a medic should the need arise.
- OVERHEAD WIRES: WARNING. Stay well clear of the overhead traction wires. Much of the track that FOTR traverses is equipped with overhead electrification catenary wires. Most of this is at 3000 volts DC, but on some routes it is at 25000 volts 50Hz AC. Both will be instantly lethal if touched. Passengers must avoid any form of contact with these wires. Passengers may not climb onto or over any rail vehicles anywhere there is electrified track.
- DANGEROUS GOODS: Carriage of any dangerous goods on FOTR passenger trains is prohibited. FOTR may require that certain dangerous items which may present a safety risk to the train or its passengers, such as firearms, liquid fuel or gas cylinders, must be carried in the guard's van or service vehicle or, at FOTR’s sole option, not be carried at all.
- FIREARMS: The open display, brandishing or use of firearms or other dangerous weapons is prohibited on-board FOTR trains. In the event that a passenger refuses to comply or cooperate, FOTR may take whatever action it is lawfully entitled to take and may invoke the assistance the Police.
- BAGGAGE: Storage space on board is strictly limited. FOTR will permit passengers to bring on board a limited amount of hand baggage, including a small or medium-sized cooler box. However large cooler boxes and large prams constitute a special nuisance and they may need to be stored elsewhere on the train. Passengers may not place items of baggage or “overflow” onto any seats allocated to other passengers nor, for safety reasons, may they block the main aisles or exit doorways with excess baggage and cooler boxes. FOTR personnel may deny permission to bring large items and excessive amounts of baggage on board or request that such items be stored away from the passengers in an alternative location on the train, including a guard's van, caboose or baggage area.
- PASSENGERS’ PROPERTY: FOTR will not be liable for the theft, loss or damage to any personal property or effects whilst on FOTR trains, on any alternative transport or whilst at any of the venues. FOTR’s staff endeavours to ensure that the train is secure when stationary. Non-valuable personal items may be left on the train at the destinations at the passenger's own risk. Note that it is not possible to stop for items that are dropped from the train, so please be extra caerful when holding cameras and cellphones at the windows.
- CUSTOMER PRIVACY: FOTR will use its best efforts to keep all customer information and personal data, including names, telephone or cellphone contact details, e-mail and postal addresses and any other personal information confidential. All personal data provided to FOTR will remain the confidential property of FOTR and/or its agents and/or employees. No such information will be released or divulged on a public basis nor be provided to any person or organisation not related to FOTR unless specifically agreed by the customer or else requisitioned by a competent legal authority.
- TRAIN OPERATOR: Unless otherwise communicated, “The Friends of the Rail Association” is the sole train operator legally responsible for its train excursions; and NOT “Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)”, the “Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)” nor “Metrorail”.
- NO WAIVER: No changes to or waiver of any of these Terms and Conditions shall be of any force or effect unless authorised by and agreed to in writing by the Board of Directors of FOTR.
- SEVERABILITY: Each of the conditions in this document is an individual entity in its own right. Should any of these terms or conditions be found to be unenforceable at law, the remainder shall continue to exist and will remain both individually and collectively enforceable.
- TRANSACTION CURRENCY: The sale of all tickets and charter fees will be in South African Rand (ZAR) and will be converted using a currency exchange rate in use by FOTR’s bankers at the time of payment. Any refunds offered will also be quoted in South African rand and converted to foreign currency at a rate current at the time of refund. In all instances, the risk in currency fluctuations and all bank charges or commissions incurred will be for the account of the purchaser.
- JURISDICTION: Nothing in these terms and conditions shall be construed as limiting or restricting any parties' rights to defend themselves, their servants and suppliers or to pursue whatever legal actions they may require or desire in full compliance with and to the extent as permitted in law. All parties to these terms and conditions are deemed to have chosen and agree to the sole jurisdiction of the laws and courts of the Republic of South Africa.
- ARBITRATION: Any dispute of whatsoever nature arising out of these terms and conditions concerning any of the rights and/or obligations of any party thereto including any dispute as to the validity of these terms and conditions, shall be referred in the first instance to the arbitration and final decision of a single arbitrator and the parties agree to accept his award as final and binding upon them. The arbitrator shall be selected by agreement between the parties, or failing such agreement, appointed at the request of either party by the Chairman for the time being of the Association of Arbitrators.
Departure Hermanstad: 08:00. Arrival Cullinan: Approx 11:15.
Departure Cullinan: 15:15. Arrival Hermanstad: Approx 18:15.
Times valid unless otherwise informed or advertised. Confirm ahead of travel. Arrival times are approximate.
FOTR's full-day steam train excursion to Cullinan and Rayton departs from FOTR's own private "Hermanstad Station" at 08:00 sharp unless otherwise advertised. Safe, free parking is provided on site. Please ensure that you know where our statiion is located and plan to arrive there at least 30 minutes before departure to check-in and locate your seats. We are allocated a pre-booked running slot and cannot wait for late or lost passengers. Click here for directions to our Hermanstad Station.
The FOTR's Hermanstad station is a safe, private facility located in the Pretoria suburb of the same name. This heritage facility has been restored from what was once an old goods depot. Plenty of free, secure parking is available on site -- and we take precautions to ensure that your car will be safe with us.
Our trains are very popular and often fully-booked, so to avoid crowding in the coaches and prevent splitting up larger groups, we pre-allocate seats. After being directed to your parking, we ask that one of your party checks-in with our marketing people at a desk located in the parking area close to the platform and close to the table which sells railway souveniers and memorabilia, as well as cool-drinks, tea and coffee.
Please do NOT board the train and simply sit anywhere. If you are not happy with your allocated seats, please talk to one of our volunteer train staff who will attempt to find alternative seats for you, if available. Please be assured, though, that we do not fill the coaches to their originally-designed capacity. We do leave a number of empty seats scattered around to give our passengers room to move and breathe!
Our journey normally starts off with the locomotive pushing the train backwards out of our depot into one of the busy mainlines at Hercules Station. We usually have to wait for a few minutes at the yard exit colour-light signal to allow the frequent Metrorail trains to pass by before we can cross over their tracks. Once out on the mainline, we will be given the signal to pull forward around a sharp curve to the right, pasing the PPC Cement factory, to head eastwards across the Apies River and through Capital Park, the site of the local Transnet locomotive depot and a large marshalling yard.
We travel at a leisurely pace (maxmum 60 km/h) so as not to tax the vintage steam locomotive and to give you plenty of time to sit back and relax, watching the trackside scenery go by. The outbound journey normally takes about 2.5 to 3 hours but, because we travel on a real operational railway, operational delays can occasionally occur. Please be patient if any delays do happen and understand that such delays are usually beyond our control. However we will do all in our power to get going again as soon as we can and we will do our best to keep you informed. Please note that at present there is construction work taking place on the line between Eerste Fabrieke and Pienaarspoort stations where single-line, pilot-working is in force. Waiting at Eerste Fabrieke station for on-coming trains to cross may cause the journey time to be slightly longer.
Soon after we get under way is probably a good time to walk through the train to visit the "lounge" coach near the centre of the train where you will find a refreshment counter stocked with ice-cold drinks, food and munchies and, especially welcome on the cooler mornings, hot tea and coffee.
On our normal direct route, leaving Capital Park behind, our train takes you through the pleasant old suburbs of Gezina, Villieria and Queenswood to meet the lines joining in on the right from the Pretoria Station just before Koedoespoort station. Here, on the left you will see the massive workshops belonging to Transnet Rail Engineering; one of the largest railway workshop complexes existing anywhere.
Also at Koedoespoort, we join the realigned route of the original NZASM railway, commisioned by Paul Kruger in the late 1880s to link Pretoria to Delagoa Bay (now Maputo). With Boer-British relations soured at the time, this link was intended to elliminate the old South African Republic's transport dependence upon the British-controlled Cape and Natal colonies. This historic railway line hosted both the escape and flight of Sir Winston Churchill from Boer custody on 12 December 1899 during the second Boer war and, towards the end of that war, the final trip nto exile of the Republic's president, Paul Kruger himself early in September 1900.
The line runs through the eastern industrial areas of Waltloo and Silverton before diving through Deneboom station and emerging into the first of many sections of the large Mamelodi suburb starting around Eerste Fabrieke. The track is being doubled here and new stations are being built to serve the many commuter trains using this section. We leave the last "informal" settlement section of Mamelodi behind at Panpoort where the railway climbs through a pictuesque gap in the hills up into the rural farming areas of van der Merwe (now marked only by an electrical sub-station) towards Rayton. Several farmers along this section keep game animals. Look out because, through here, bontebok and other antelope are often spotted amongst the cattle and sheep.
At Rayton station, we make a short stop to collect the "token" (an enscribed wooden train staff) that controls safe access to the 11 km-long Cullinan and Zonderwater branch line. This branch is not signalled, so this simple device ensures safety by allowing only a single train to use the line at any one time. No token, no go! At Rayton we also disembark any passengers who are going to local resorts and attractions such as Getaway Farm in the immediate vicinity.
Onward to Cullinan
With the token on board the loco and the authority to proceed issued, its a gentle pull out, turning left onto the branch line which starts with a highly photogenic tight left-hand 180-degree curve. With the wheel-flanges squealing, our passengers get a superb view along the train towards the locomotive. As that curve ends, this is repeated on the right-hand side with a similar but shorter 90-degree curve. These curves form part of a 1960s deviation created when the mainline was upgraded, relocated and the Rayton station layout was completely remodelled. After these two curves we join the orignal alignment through the pretty suburbs of Rayton -- the old, jointed track rocking the train and click-clacking underneath.
This branch line was built in 1905 to serve the then new Premier Diamond Mine and the rapidly growing village of Cullinan. The line was never built to mainline standards so we take it easy through here: only 20 to 30 km/h. The 20-minute trip gives plenty of time to look around at the rural farming landscape.
Near Zonderwater we cross the tarred Rayton to Cullinan main road on the level, followed by a short climb up through a small pass before descending into Cullinan village. Shortly after the road crossing, we pass the large "Somabula" private game farm on the left which has a variety of game animals that are often spotted from the train: kudu, impala, bontebok, giraffe, rhino, etc. The top of this pass was the site of a major ammunition depot taken into use during the second world war when the entire area was a large military logistical depot serving the South African troops in the East African campaign. Only a short railway embankment heading off on the left, almost hidden amongst the tress, marks its location today.
Finally, and all too soon, we bring the past to life as we drift down into the old wood and corrugated iron-clad station at Cullinan, which although now leased as a restaurant, still comprises the original buildings and platform. Our steam train arrival in Cullinan is an almost exact recreation of how it was in 1905 when the line and station were built.
At Cullinan all passengers disembark to do whatever they wish or have planned. Lunch can be taken at one of the several cafes and restaurants (pre-booking is strongly advised for many of them) or you can picnic and braai on the free fires provided in the park just a short walk away. Transport for those who have booked to go to nearby resorts departs from here. Also, various forms of transport are available for those who prefer not to walk the few hundred metres into town or to the picnic area. Passengers may leave their heavy stuff like blankets, coats and cooler boxes on the train. The train is manned and kept reasonably secure. Please do not leave valuable items though.
After pushing the train clear of the platform, the locomotove is uncoupled. Steam enthusiasts might like to watch as the loco pulls forward over an ash-pit to drop the accumulated hot ash and clean the fire. Photographers can get great close-up pictures of the red-hot ash dropping, water and steam spraying and of the crew busy with their fire-irons and rakes. When it is safe to do so (the crew must give permission and at your own risk) kids and adults alike can climb up into the cab for a close up look at the locomotive crew's "office" -- even sounding the whistle. In due course the locomotive will be taken a few hundred metres down the track to turn around on a triangle (or "wye" as it is known in the USA) -- the railway equivalent of a three-point turn. Good pictures can be had as the loco crosses the jacaranda tree-lined Oak Avenue twice.
The return journey
We are normally scheduled to leave Cullinan at 15:15 sharp for the return to Hermanstad where we usually arrive between about 18:00 and 18:30. Please aim to be at the Cullinan station and on the train about 15 minutes before departure. No return roll-call is taken and we cannot wait for late passengers.
Unfortunately all arrival times are approximate. We cannot guarantee timings because of the possibility of unexpected en-route operational delays over which we often have absolutely no control, so please allow for that in your planning. Remember to bring a warm wrap for the cool autumn and winter evenings and ensure you have sufficient baby requisites available for the evening feed if we are delayed.
Now that you have read about it, we invite you to join us and experience the real thing! You can book your genuine vintage steam train trip to Cullinan directly with FOTR sales online by clicking on the BOOK NOW button (parties of 15 or more passengers get a 10% discount on-line) or you may book using your credit or debit card (or EFT) via Quicket online - click on the Quicket logo)
Book via our sales office (EFT only):
Or, you can book on-line at Quicket.co.za using your credit card or EFT:
or book at any Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers Money Market counter.
We welcome private parties, product launches, corporate and charter groups who can even rent their own private coach or a complete private train if they wish. Larger groups and people with special needs (such a wheelchair) should please first directly contact us by phone or email to confirm sufficient space and availability of correct facilities before making any booking.
FOTR maintains a list of cafes and restaurants in Cullinan, click the symbol below to view this list:
For additional local information about Cullinan, its history, heritage and its facilities please click on the link below:
FOTR uses veteren side-door suburban coaches buillt in the late 1940s that were unfortunately never designed with elderly or disabled persons in mind. Nor were they really designed for places with low-level patforms. Regretably, some FOTR destinations do not have fully-raised platforms (for example: Cullinan) and a few lack platforms altogether.
Despite these difficulties, we gladly welcome disabled and mobility impaired persons. We have modified two coaches. Our 'lounge' car features a wide-opening double-door, movable seats and open space. One of our other coaches also features a double-door and sufficient open space to take two wheelchairs.
Climbing up or down from the train where there are low-level platforms can be a challenge for some people. We make every effort to assist elderly or disabled persons who are not easily able to board and alight on foot.
But, please first communicate with our sales office before booking should any member of your party be impaired or disabled in any way or need special attention so that we can make suitable arrangements in advance and be ready for you.
We also welcome blind and sight-impaired travellers. The smells, sounds and motions of the steam locomotive and the train will create fanstastic, exciting and lasting sensations, remembered for evermore. As an exception to the 'no pets' rule, guide dogs are also free to travel aboard our trains.
In all instances, we require that at least one suitable able-bodied person accompanies and assists any passenger who has any sort of impairment or disability.
Friends of the Rail is a highly "Safety Aware" organisation. The Association annualy appoints a board member whose primary portfolio is to look after all aspects of health and safety within the club and on its trains. Click the "read more" button to learn more about your safety on FOTR.
Friends of the Rail's Privacy Protection Policy
Friends of the Rail (FOTR) undertakes to keep as strictly confidential all personal information in repect of its clients, customers and passengers that it may acquire or collect during the course of its business activities Except as outlined below, FOTR undertakes not to disclose or share any of your personal information, transactions or activites with any person or entity not having proper legal right or authorisation to access to such information.