'Revival' trip for Apple Express - E.P. Herald - [About 1985] - Jenny Cullum


PREPARATIONS are gathering steam for an Apple Express "revival" Grain excursion from Port Elizabeth to Humansdorp next weekend.

The bright green "Granny Smith" and red "Starking" engines which are to pull the train are being polished up in Port Elizabeth, while at Humansdorp - at the station and in the town - preparations are going ahead to entertain the visitors.

Fun events, trips to Jeffreys Bay, items of special Interest to train enthusiasts, hotel accommodation and the trip to and from PE are all included in the special price of R50 for one night or R80 for two nights.

Train fans and trippers will board the Apple Express in Port Elizabeth on Friday, October 24.

They will be marking the 80th anniversary of the narrow-gauge line and helping to promote it.

There is room for 250 passengers and SATS is hoping to attract bookings this week.

A full programme has been planned for Saturday, starting with drum majorette displays. A tug o' war pulling wagons on the narrow gauge line follows, and schoolchildren will cram into mini-containers to compete for a R200 prize.

The train will shuttle to and from Jeffreys Bay during the day, and a barn dance in a goods shed at the station will round off the festivities.

Hotel accommodation is provided for those staying over, and others may return on the train on Saturday night. Those staying over till Sunday will return by bus.

At Humansdorp station, visitors will see a 60-year old double-ender Garratt locomotive.

They will also inspect examples of innovations on narrow-gauge trucks to make them more suitable for modern needs.

Thermit-welding demonstrations, showing joining of tracks, will be given.

At present the Apple Express - the last train of its kind in South Africa - operates at a loss of R8 million a year.

Mr George Engelbrecht, Cape Midlands SATS regional manager, emphasised the importance of the line being supported if it was to survive.

By publicising and demonstrating ways to make the line more profit- able, added PRO Mr Nic de Vries, it was hoped the Apple Express could be kept steaming.

If 100 bookings are made by Wednesday, there will be a draw for two free tickets.

Further information:
SATS reservation office, or 520-2260 or 520-2360.

Visitors to Humansdorp on a special Apple Express train trip next weekend will be shown one of the few remaining 60-year-old double ender Garratt engines. Stationmaster Mr KOBUS VISSER looks out from the cab as his staff get the engine into tip-top order.