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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 13:11:43 +0000 
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Here it is - is this not possibly the real end of the line for the OCT?
Quote:
MEDIA STATEMENT - for immediate release

19 August 2010

STATEMENT BY MINISTER ALAN WINDE - Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Finance

Despite Transnet’s announcement (see below) that they will terminate the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train service, I remain resolute in my commitment to reviving it and ensuring that it remains a vital part of the South Cape’s heritage and tourism offering.

The Choo-Tjoe railway line between Knysna and George was built in 1922 and was handed over to the Transnet's Heritage Preservation unit in 1993. It carried an annual average of 115 000, mostly foreign, tourists until 2006, when severe storms damaged the line.

Since then, the Choo-Tjoe has operated between George and Mossel Bay, and has continued to generate international interest from rail enthusiasts, as well as economic spin-offs in the Garden Route area.

In a statement today, Transnet reported that they are left with no option other than to terminate the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe service in its entirety. Their decision came after an open tender process did not yield any positive applicants to take over its operations, which they state have become financially unviable.

Transnet hoped to privatise the Choo-Tjoe in line with their policy of moving away from non-core business.

I am eagerly awaiting the final outcome of our negotiations with Transnet to take over the George to Knysna line. I will also keep a close eye on further developments regarding the privatisation process of other branch-lines.

ENDS
_____

Transnet statement issued today:

Transnet statement on the Choo-Tjoe

In 2007, Transnet Limited identified the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train service operating between George and Mossel Bay as one of its non-core assets. Following extensive studies and stakeholder consultation, the company decided to follow an open tender process to find a new operator for the service.

Unfortunately, this process could not identify a new operator and as a result, Transnet was left with no option other than to terminate the service subject to the required approval by the Minister of Public Enterprises in terms on the Public Finance Management Act – this has since been finalised. The Outeniqua Transport Museum in George will remain open to the public.

The requisite consultation with organized labour has taken place through the company’s engagement structures.

The George-to-Mossel Bay Line, on which the Choo-Tjoe service is currently operated, is part of the Southern Cape cluster of branch lines that have been identified to be concessioned to a private operator. This concessioning process is being undertaken by Transnet through an open, competitive process. Further announcements on branch line concessioning will follow in due course.

Transnet and the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, have been in discussions regarding the George-to-Knysna railway line, which was severely damaged in 2006 by seasonal floods. The intention is to ensure that tourism and other opportunities are unlocked on this line through the facilitation of the Provincial Government. Further details of this process will be announced in due course.

Issued by Mboniso Sigonyela on behalf of Transnet Limited

--
Via: Tammy Evans
Media Liaison Officer to Minister Alan Winde
Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism

Cell: 082 378 2235
E-mail: tevans@pgwc.gov.za



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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 13:23:34 +0000 
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What a waste of money, time and effort to reach such a result!
This means its probably goodbye to Voorbaai and the 20 odd locos stored there.
Now there is only one operational steam loco in the entire Western Cape!


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 13:33:17 +0000 

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A waste indeed, but this was always the plan- they make the line and the train available, but at such ridiculous terms that no bidders will be forthcoming. Then they ditch it all, and they can say that they tried their best to save it, made offers, consulted etc, but the market did not respond. Case dismissed.
Expect all the branch lines to go the same way. Concessioning is a synonym for closure.


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 13:38:17 +0000 
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Yup u are right. They make branchlines available but the terms and conditions are impossible to fathom. They then have the right to close each section.

What happens now to all the operational locos and coaches? Fill up the Outeniqua Transport Museum with the operational locos before they are stripped!


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 14:06:41 +0000 
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Dylan,
As we know stationary railway equipment does indeed get quickly stripped and/or vandalised. If not carefully preserved in safe and secure locations, those locos and coaches will be beyond economic repair within months, if not weeks. You have expressed a real worry which could actually prevent this train for ever running again (certainly in its present vintage steam form), no matter what Minister Alan Winde says or does.

My guess is that the OCT assets still belong to Transnet Foundation, presumably through the Museum, and that the Western Cape Government will have no control over them, their storage or their disposal. A conundrum indeed for Provincial Minister Alan Winde.

I also worry about another treasure - forgotten and rarely mentioned anywhere, and that is the ex-Union Limited train set at Voorbaai. If the Voorbaai depot is left to rot, so will that irreplaceable suite of heritage passenger coaches (not that they are not rotting even now), let alone the other locos, etc that are stored there.

Another nail in a national heritage coffin at a funeral that Transnet will not even bother to attend, let alone shed any tears.



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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 06:45:59 +0000 
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The end of the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe?

Southern African Tourism Update
26 Thu, Aug 2010

Transnet Limited has announced that the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train service operating between George and Mossel Bay will be terminated.

In its announcement Transnet said that it identified the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe service as one of its non-core assets in 2007. Following extensive studies and stakeholder consultation, the company decided to follow an open tender process to find a new operator for the service.

”Unfortunately, this process could not identify a new operator and as a result, Transnet was left with no option other than to terminate the service subject to the required approval by the Minister of Public Enterprises in terms on the Public Finance Management Act – this has since been finalised.” the statement said.

The Outeniqua Transport Museum in George will remain open to the public.

The George-to-Mossel Bay Line, on which the Choo-Tjoe service is currently operated, is part of the Southern Cape cluster of branch lines that have been identified to be concessioned to a private operator. This concessioning process is being undertaken by Transnet through an open, competitive process. Further announcements on branch line concessioning will follow in due course.

Transnet and the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, have been in discussions regarding the George-to-Knysna railway line, which was severely damaged in 2006 by seasonal floods. The intention is to ensure that tourism and other opportunities are unlocked on this line through the facilitation of the Provincial Government. Further details of this process will be announced in due course.

Commenting on the announcement Alan Winde, Western Cape MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Finance said that despite Transnet’s announcement he remains resolute in his commitment to reviving the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe service and ensuring that it remains a vital part of the South Cape’s heritage and tourism offering.

Winde continued to say that Transnet’s decision comes after an open tender process did not yield any positive applicants to take over its operations, which they state have become financially unviable.

However, Winde said that he is “eagerly” awaiting the final outcome negotiations with Transnet to take over the George to Knysna line. He concluded by saying that he will also keep a close eye on further developments regarding the privatisation process of other branch-lines.



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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 11:10:21 +0000 
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I don't understand why they cannot simply repair the section Knysna - Keytersnek and run a limited service there. At a later stage they could open the section to Goukamma and then eventually Sedgefield. There does not appear to be too much damage this side. Two 24's and 5 coaches is all that is required!


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:13:52 +0000 

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Simply because they are not interested and are shutting down all ops!


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 14:19:54 +0000 
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And what of WCape Gov taking over the line?


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 10 Sep 2010 14:30:32 +0000 
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Mossel Bay Takes Drastic Steps To Save The Choo Tjoe

GardenRoute.org.za
9th September 2010

The community of Mossel Bay has swung into action to try and save the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe, which has been slated for closure later this month.

This follows a meeting Tuesday between Transnet, the board of Mossel Bay Tourism, representatives of the Municipality of Mossel Bay, and local businesspeople.

The meeting was called so that Transnet could explain the procedures and reasons behind its decision to close the service which has been running on the George-Mossel Bay line since the floods of 2006 closed the George-Knysna line.

“At a subsequent meeting, held later in the afternoon, it was decided to urgently seek a meeting with the Acting CEO of Transnet (Pty) Ltd., Mr. Chris Wells,” said the chairman of Mossel Bay Tourism, Neels Zietsman.

He said that, prior to deciding to close the service, Transnet had entertained two tenders for the operation of the Choo Tjoe, but that neither had fulfilled the company’s requirement that the operation should be taken over as a going concern.

“One of the tenderers, Classic Rail Preservation (Pty) Ltd., has now decided to submit an unsolicited bid for the operation of the Choo Tjoe on the line between Mossel Bay Station and Hartenbos - both as a tourist attraction, and as a commuter train - and all of the parties present at the meeting gave this proposal their unconditional support,” said Mr. Zietsman.

The Mayor of Mossel Bay, Alderlady Marie Ferreira, said that, “The recent announcement by Transnet that it will terminate the operation of the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe between Mossel Bay and George on the 17th of September has come as a big disappointment, and is a matter of concern to the Council, the Municipality, and the community of Mossel Bay - both because of the historic value of the train, and because of the negative impact that the termination of the service will have on the local economy.

“I have no doubt that, from Transnet’s point of view, the decision was well-considered, and that it was based both on the economic viability of the operation in its current form, and on the company’s stated objective of focusing on its core business of carrying freight.

“But, while I fully respect the decision, I would nevertheless like to appeal to the company to consider phasing the operation out over a longer period, to coincide with the end of the current tourism season that will end at the end of April 2011.

“Many international tour operators, unaware of the imminent termination of the service, have included the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe in their packages offered for the area until the end of the season. This period also includes the year-end holiday season when thousands of holidaymakers - and therefore potential clients for the Choo Tjoe - flock to the area.”

Mr. Zietsman said that this would buy time during which alternate arrangements could be made, and that Classic Rail has invited other interest parties to join them in the proposed project, which, he said, has the potential both to become Mossel Bay’s biggest attraction, and to make a significant contribution to the local economy.

“It will position Mossel Bay as a must-visit destination for tour operators,” he said.

“It also gives specific attention to the Government’s requirements for broad-based black economic empowerment, and will solve various challenges that we face as a town - like creating job opportunities, and even the growing problem of traffic congestion that occurs during our summer holiday season,” he said.

He said, too, that the window of opportunity was small, and that quick action was required. “We need to do everything possible to ensure that the steam train service is preserved - not only for Mossel Bay, but for the country as a whole.”

Martin Hatchuel for Mossel Bay Tourism
http://www.visitmosselbay.co.za/



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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 10:00:49 +0000 
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Update from Alan Winde, 16 September 2010.
Quote:
Media statement

MEC ALAN WINDE
Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape Provincial Government.

16 September 2010

OUTENIQUA CHOO-TJOE TO TAKE FINAL JOURNEY – FOR NOW

Tomorrow (Friday, 17th of September), the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe’s licence to transport passengers expires and the train will take its last voyage as a Transnet asset. However, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde is confident that the Choo-Tjoe will take to the tracks again soon.

After a long period of silence, Transnet revealed last month that because they had not found an appropriate bidder to take over the train’s operations, they had no option other than to terminate the Choo-Tjoe service. This is in line with their policy of shifting away from non-core business.

Because the service is being terminated, the train will not be sent in for the maintenance service it needs for its passenger safety licence to be reinstated. Instead, it will stand idle.

Because the Choo-Tjoe is a major tourist and heritage icon of the Garden Route, Minister Winde is determined to get the train chugging again as soon as possible.

“An asset this valuable should not be left to rot. The provincial government has applied to Transnet to take over the train and the line from Knysna to George. Because of its special place in the hearts of locals and steam enthusiasts around the globe, we are confident that Transnet is considering our request seriously. We hope to have a response to our application soon”, said Winde.

Because it is a national asset, the transfer would have to go through strict Public Finance Management Act regulations.

If all requirements are met and the train is transferred, Minister Winde will immediately seek a private operator to run the train in line with its intended purpose, promoting tourism and preserving our rail heritage.

ENDS
For media or interview enquiries, please call Tammy Evans on 082 378 2235.



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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 11:30:16 +0000 
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I have heard this all before. Didn't Lynne Brown and former MEC Strachan say the same thing?
Lots of talk and ideas, but little action!


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 Post subject: Re: Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe reaches end of the line
PostPosted: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 14:50:48 +0000 
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And has there been any progress to date? Lots of dithering but no actual action.


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