- Category: Frequently-asked questions (FAQs)
1. Where does the train depart from?
We depart from our own private Hermanstad station in Michaelson St, Hermanstad, Pretoria (just off van der Hoff Road). Directions are available on this website here.
NOTE: Unless otherwise advised, we DO NOT depart from Pretoria station, Hercules Metrorail station or from Capital Park. Bus transport for groups from Pretoria Gautrain station, Johannesburg, Sandton, etc, can be arranged at extra charge on advance request.
2. How long do we have in Cullinan?
Normally you will have about 4 hours at leisure in Cullinan. Arrival will be at about 11:00 and departure is at 15:15. Please note that we cannot guarantee arrival times. We run on a real working railway and occasionally things can happen that may cause delays over which we generally have no control.
3. What can we do whilst in Cullinan?
Walk to village (or book your own transport):
Most of the village is within walkable distance for the average reasonably fit person. In fact, about 95% of our passengers do walk to the village. However if you don’t want to walk or are disabled, you can book transport on a classic game viewing truck with Cullinan Tourism and History, 012 734 2170, or you can book a local minibus taxi with JJ, 073 264 1961, but please note that these bookings must be done in advance.
The venues located outside Cullinan will arrange transport from the station if you have booked with them and told them that you will be arriving on the train.
Cullinan is not a large town and you are advised to decide on and book in advance for those activities you would like to do. We advise that you choose and book a lunch venue too because most estabishements are small and have limited capacity.
Selected available activities:
Surface mine tour – run by Cullinan Tours, Premier Diamond Tours and Fundani Tours – No children under 10yrs – Normal price R120-R125 per person.
Motorized mine tour – run by Cullinan Tourism and History – No children under 10yrs.
Village tour – Do the “What can we do in Cullinan today?” self-guided tour printed on the Cullinan map.
Village tour – Guided and with a game-viewing truck – great for groups with children.
Spa packages – "Cullinan Diamond Spa" (Maudie 083 6012494) and "Zau Spa".
Golf packages – Cullinan Golf Club.
Own activities – Large open area with shady trees alongside Oak Avenue where you can picnic and play a game of cricket, etc.
Activities associated with specific restaurants – for example:
Artisanal beer tasting at "The Cockpit Brewhouse", beer home-brewed on the premises.
Baking your own pizza at Piacere Italian restaurant, great for kids.
Greek music, plate-breaking, etc at "As Greek as it Gets" restaurant.
Garden View – Swimming pool, volley ball court, soccer field, braai facilities, etc.
Diamond X Ranch – Cowboy fun with and without horses – www.diamondxranch.co.za
Windybrow – Groups of 60 people and more – Swimming pool, game drives and walks
Cullinan Adventure Zone - Gorge sliding, abseiling, quad bikes – www.azcullinan.co.za
Braai - Friends of the Rail provides free braaifires in the park for those who would like to braai.
Picnic - Two picnic areas in Cullinan Village (self-catering or pre-order baskets from Garden View.)
Cullinan Cafes and Restaurants: See the current list: click on here.
Outside Cullinan (you will need to arrange transport in advance with the venue):
Garden View – Braai facilities and/or catered – 083 4284731
Diamond X Ranch – Catered only 079 4951605
Windybrow – Braai and/or catered – 082 9366979 (large groups of 60+ people only)
4. Does FOTR go to Magaliesburg?
No, our primary destinations are Rayton and Cullinan. We also do an around-Pretoria trip called the Tshwane (Jacaranda) Xplorer some of which include Irene village. Magaliesburg is served by a companion club, Reefsteamers, that departs from Johannesburg station.
5. Where do we park and is it safe?
We provide free on-site parking at our Hermanstad station premises. The station area is fenced and gated. We have car-guards on duty too.
6. May we bring a picnic basket and cooler box?
Yes, you are welcome to bring your own food and drinks, but please be aware that space on-board is at a premium so please limit their sizes so that other passengers are not inconvenienced. Very large cooler boxes block the aisle and are anti-social. We have a refreshment kiosk on board the train, too (pancakes, hot-dogs, crisps, candies, cool-drinks, tea and coffee usually available). Your larger baskets, cooler boxes and other items may be safely left on the train at the destination.
7. Can we sit where we like?
Regretably NO. For the comfort of our other passengers and to ensure that larger groups can sit together, we allocate seating. Please check-in at the reception desk on arrival at Hermanstad Station before boarding the train. If you have any special seating requirements or people with disabilities, please call to arrange with our marketing team in advance. To provide adequate time to check-in and locate your seats, please aim to be at the departure point at least 30 minutes before the advertised departure time. We run to a strict schedule and cannot wait for late or lost passengers, for which no refunds will be made.
8. Do we have wheelchair and disabled person facilities?
We have limited facilities. The coaches we use were not originally designed for disabled people. However, we do welcome disabled passengers and we have created space on board the train for a few wheelchair passengers. The platform at Hermanstad is nearly level with the train, so boarding is not too difficult. Unfortunately at Cullinan we have to download disabled passengers by hand because the platform is at a very low level. The toilets on board are very small and are not wheelchair accesible nor disabled-friendly, so please bear that in mind when booking and before boarding the train. Please consult with and advise our marketing people about the needs of any disabled passengers when making a booking. We do request that disabled passengers are accompanied on board by a person or persons who are able to assist them.
9. Is there anywhere on the train where we can smoke?
Unfortunately, NO. Government regulations totally prohibit smoking on public transport and we are required to abide by those at all times. This restriction is also in place for the comfort of fellow passengers and to minimise any fire-risk. So, we regret that we cannot provide smoking facilities on the train. Please note that standing between the coaches is dangerous, not to mention very inconvenient for passing passsengers. We cannot permit you to stand and smoke there.
10. May we visit and climb aboard the locomotive?
YES, you are welcome aboard the locomitive at your own risk whilst we are stationary at Hermanstad, before and after the journey, and at Cullinan during the stand-over period. Please first ask the driver or fireman for permission. They love to show off and will be happy to oblige whenever it is safe to do so. Railway Safety Regulator rules state that nobody except authorised train crew may ride on the locomotive at any time it is in motion. You may take pictures at any time, but please be aware of your safety at all times. Standing on the tracks or too close to the loco is dangerous when it is in motion. Camrea view-finders can often distort or lengthen the view and the loco may be dangerously closer than you think.
11. What coaches do we use?
Most of our coaching stock comprises wooden-bodied ex-SAR suburban sitter stock built in 1949 and 1950. Each of these is fitted with two "railway-style" toilet cubicles at one end.
We usually marshall an open "lounge" coach which sells refreshments, tea and coffee into the middle of our train-set.
You can book any of our coaches for your party's exclusive use -- rates are available from our marketing team. We also have a main-line compartment sleeper coach and a luxury private coach which are available for private hire. Large groups and companies can also rent or charter an entire train if they want total exclusivity for product launches, company incentives, parties, weddings, film shoots, etc.
12. Do we go to other destinations like Bela Bela or do overnight trips?
Unfortunately our steam locomoitives are no longer permitted to use Transnet Freght Rail's 'core' and 'main' lines. This severely restricts our ability to go to many destinations like Bela Bela (Warmbaths) and to do longer, overnight trips. Such trips are still possible, but only behind hired diesel or electric traction, which is prohbitively expensive at present. For overnight trips (at varying costs) we recommend you contact one of the tour train companies like JB Train Tours, Premier Classe, Shongololo Express, Blue Train or Rovos Rail.
13. Can we do a one-way trip?
Yes, you can at 70% of the round-trip fare. Please arrange this in advance directly with FOTR's marketing team by phone or email. At present, such bookings cannot be made on-line or at Computicket.
14. Can we stay overnight?
Towards the end of the year when we have trains scheduled to run on consecutive days, you can certainly stay overnight in Cullinan, returning on a train scheduled for the following day.
15. I am an events organiser, can I charter the train?
YES you can. We can arrange private steam train charters suitable for tour groups, private parties, charity functions, weddings, product launches, corporate incentive trips and film shoots. These are usualy "tailor-made", run to order and therefore costs can vary. Please contact our marketing team for a quotation or to find out more.
16. Are children allowed? How safe is the trip?
YES. We encourage the whole family to come along, including children of all ages from 0 to 100+! Our trains only carry booked FOTR passengers and the doors are locked when we depart, preventing any non-passengers from boarding. All our trains carry volunteer staff: a Guard, a Train Manager and several Coach Controllers to look after your comfort and safety. Our locos and rolling stock are inspected, checked and serviced to a schedule approved by Transnet Freight Rail and the Railway Safety Regulator. Our volunteer staff are fully trained and qualified to the same high standards that are implemented for all local train operators such as Transnet Freight Rail and Metrorail.
17. Are there cancellation or no-show fees?
Like all tourism operators, departing with empty seats would mean a loss of revenue that usually cannot be re-sold at short notice. We therefore do have a cancellation and no-show 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, emergency bus transport, delays 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, failure and/or cancellation of the service, or for any missed connection due to breakdown, delays, 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.
18. Does FOTR have "terms and conditions"?
YES we do. Like all transport service providers we do need to have some rules and guidelines. We also have to ensure that our passengers understand exactly what we are offering and that they know and understand the limitations of our liability. You are strongly advised to read them here: "Terms and Conditions".
19. I have some more questions: