Tourist 'express' began as reader's idea - E P Herald - October 8th, 1970

Tourist 'express' began as

reader's idea


LEFT: The Apple Express pulls into Loerie station, destination of the Saturday passenger trips, 45 miles from Port Elizabeth. By then the train has covered the most interesting fea-tures and to go further would be tedious.
RIGHT:  ONE OF THE great experiences of the Apple Express ride to Loerle is the crossing of the famous steel trellis bridge over Van Stadens River gorge. This is one of the highest railway bridges in the world. The picture was taken during an early passenger expedition, organised by the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth, just after interest in the quaint railway had been aroused in 1965.


NEARLY six years ago the Herald invited readers, including visitors, to suggest ways of making Port Elizabeth more attractive as a holiday resort.

One of the best ideas put forward was that the Apple Express then carrying very few passengers, should be developed as a tourist attraction.

The public soon began booking trips on this novel transport through picturesque countryside and today the Apple (Passenger) Express is an institution.

International curiosity, which has brought people from far parts of 
the world to ride the slow train to Loerie, has led to national recognition..

Hence the special role of the Apple Express in the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the South African Railways. On Wednesday, October 21, a special train from Johannesburg will bring about 80 people to Port Elizabeth for a commemorative trip on the narrow gauge line on October 22. In tribute to the Historic Transport Association, which has organised the event, this set of pictures is published.


RIGHT: Interior view of an old-time dining saloon, with round-backed swivel chairs fixed to the floor. This is another picture from the archives of the South African Rail- ways and Harbours.

ABOVE and RIGHT: Historic pictures from the S.A.R. and H. archives give two views , of the Walmer branch line, which used to carry commuters from the small, scattered village into Port Elizabeth daily.

The line was closed and replaced by a bus service in the 1920s.

The picture above shows an engine pulling a short train of three passenger coaches through leafy Walmer.

The picture on the right  shows a train crossing Jetty Street at the start of the journey. The narrow gauge station used to be opposite the present main station.