Elizabeth Apple Express - NG Express Bi-monthly Newsletter - February 2006
The Port Elizabeth
NG Express Newsletter
OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE PORT ELIZABETH APPLE EXPRESS
Postnet Suite 124, Private Bag 13130, Humewood, Port
SUMMER HOLIDAY SEASON
The summer holiday season has come and gone. From
the first week in December until the first week in
January we ran 10 trains with a total passenger
loading of 1368. An average of 136 passengers per
trip. A good revenue earning season although a bit
down on the possible maximum loading of 150
passengers per trip. Unfortunately for the steam
enthusiast, the season was marred by the dry veld
conditions which resulted in the majority of trains
having to be hauled by diesel locomotives.
Sufficient rain enough to dampen the dry ground
arrived early January and only then was permission
given to use the steam locomotive. By this time
though, most of the tourist trade had already left
for home. For the steam enthusiast this was a bitter
pill to swallow but for the majority of tourists a
restful day out on the train was all that mattered.
Whether there was a diesel loco or a steam loco in
front did not make much difference to Mr. Average
riding on the train.
The end of year holiday season is the busiest time
of the year for the volunteers who man the train and
as a way of saying thank you, the Apple Express Co.
invited them to a light lunch on the Humewood Road
It was a nice warm summer’s day and everyone enjoyed
themselves tucking into the delicious cold lunch
between the running of the morning and afternoon
trains to Chelsea.
Barbara Burton, Lesley Lowe and Peter Burton
enjoying a cool lunch on a hot day
BEAUTIFYING THE SCRAP
What do we do with all
the old scrap and rusting locomotives parked at the
Humewood steam depot. OK so they are a useful source of
spare parts but the rusting hulks do look rather ugly
all lined up on the skyline. It seems that some creative
soul also noted the unsightly skyline and decided to do
something about it. So armed with a can of spray paint
he/she decided to beautify the hulks or as in this case,
– graffiti them. Unfortunately he/she did not finish the
job, with only two of the string of locos being daubed
with the aerosol can. Maybe we should organise a
competition with a prize of a free trip to the person
who does the best paint job on the locomotives.
restoration work on the Kalahari No. 119 has exposed an
interesting part of her history. During 1982 when this
loco was still doing service for Spoornet, it was
involved in an unfortunate accident. As far as can be
established the train was on its way to Port Elizabeth
with a consist of fully loaded apple wagons. Near the
Heights Bank it left the rails and overturned.
Apparently the train was running late and in an effort
to make up time the driver increased the speed of the
fully loaded train to beyond its ability to remain on
the curving track.
The ensuing accident caused the unfortunate deaths of
the driver, fireman and the guard who also happened to
be on the footplate at the time.
The damaged locomotive was later repaired by Spoornet
and put back into service until steam eventually gave
way to diesel power and it was withdrawn from service.
Now 38 years later No. 119 has revealed her secret.
After the cladding was removed, the securing metal bands
on the boiler were found to be flattened on one side and
Sydney our fitter can only put this down to the bands
not being straightened (curved) when the loco was
Current rumour has it that because of
its unfortunate history the locomotive’s cab number
could be changed when it is brought back into service.
Bent boiler bands
Railwaymen like sailors are a
superstitious lot and because a death had occurred on
the footplate, the loco crew who will eventually be
driving the loco have requested that the original cab
number plate be replaced with a number plate from an
already scrapped loco. I doubt whether the official
asset number will change but just remember that 119
might not be the number that you see on the cab side
when she eventually steams past your lineside point.
experiment the Apple Express Company decided to try a
short round trip to Chelsea Junction and back. The idea
being to give a lot of families who could not afford the
cost of the Thornhill trip, a chance to ride the train.
On the first trip the response was
overwhelming and the first run on the 14th January was a
sellout. Because the trip takes about 2 hours to
complete, the train is able to do two runs in a day. On
the first run the train carried 150 passengers and on
the second run 159 passengers. Because of this success,
we arranged for a second Chelsea run on the 11 February.
Unfortunately the response on this
day was not as good. The morning run had about a 80%
passenger capacity but the afternoon run had very few
Subsequent Chelsea trip have had a
mixed response from the general public but it seems that
the morning run is more popular than the afternoon run.
It has been decided to do one Chelsea
run and one Thornhill run a month. The Chelsea trip will
be at the beginning of each month.
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