Cullinan Train 25th June 2000 Report and Photos
|It was certainly a case of locos in the mist on Sunday (25th
June), as we ran our first regular monthly train to Cullinan.
Pre-sunrise at Capital Park was very moody, the thick fog blanketing
everything. I could hear the 15F there somewhere but couldn't
actually see it! Turned out it was taking coal, very nice seeing the
loco moving up to the column, the headlight piercing the fog with a
yellow beam. This train was also the maiden voyage of our second
swing-door suburban coach, the short consist comprising of 15F 3094,
feeder tank, and two suburbans.
Departure from Capital Park was around 7:00 a.m., the fog still heavy and the exhaust steam hanging in the air long after the 15F had gone. After quick trip home for breakfast and to collect the family, we headed out to Panpoort to wait for the train. It was more like something from the Scottish highlands than Gauteng! Low mist swirling around the cliffs and through the valley, sometimes so thick that the mountains were even obscured. It was quite eerie to stand in the fog, listening to 3094 barking up the grade from Greenview. The first sight of the train was a tower of exhaust steam from over the hill, which soon came through the valley. This was also quite strange, it was difficult to make out the train itself through the fog, but the white exhaust stood out clearly from the grey of the fog. 3094 came cruising up the grade at a leisurely pace, clouds of steam rolling through the valley, the mist not managing to muffle the many echoes of exhaust and whistle from the rock walls either side.
Driving on to Cullinan, the fog persisted to provide a really nice arrival setting at the station, with driver Manie Neethling being greeted by the PR man from the Premier mine on the platform. The train moved on to the green where the passengers disembarked, with a group of traditional dancers putting on a great performance for the passengers. After everybody inspected the engine and blew the whistle etc., they adjourned to the nearby Oak Tree restaurant for lunch. At this point the fog suddenly lifted, revealing the perfect highveld winter's day that was lurking above! The loco was turned and taken back to the station for fire cleaning and water. It seems there was a bit of a problem with the fire on the way up, with the 30 km/h speed limit it would not draw properly, so I guess the fireman had some cleaning to do!
The nice thing about Cullinan is that it's not that far from Pretoria, so it was not too far to go to take my family back there, the morning activities being way too much for the kids, both sleeping soundly within a few minutes!
I got a phone call from a fellow list member Peter (from France?) who was at Cullinan, but on my return there I couldn't find him anywhere - where are you Peter?! Took the standard shot from the cutting outside Cullinan as the 15F heaved up the grade, then a quick drive to Zonkolol crossing to get a nice sunny shot as the train crested the grade there. For something different I drove from there to Panpoort, to get an afternoon shot which I haven't done for a long time. The long grass limited the opportunities there somewhat, but in any case, a warm afternoon, pleasant setting, steam loco... who's complaining?
The 30km/h limit certainly has its advantages for a linesider, as I was able to get to the convergence of the two main lines at Pretoria Station in good time to see the train. A nice shot with the UNISA building in the background. The low sun was glowing gold, and was promising good photographic opportunities for the return from the station to Capital Park. I headed for the line that runs East from Hercules to Capital Park, hoping for a glint somewhere. I eventually found a spot, not ideal as there were a few things between me an the track (grass, poles, fences etc.), but in any case the 15F duly appeared and glinted gold for a few seconds, smoke and steam tinted by the setting sun - very pleasant. Whilst returning to the car, another lovely opportunity presented itself with the train on the low embankment and the sun directly behind, a great silhouette shot of the train reversing around the balloon into the shed area.
The sun had now gone, a few more snaps of the train arriving at the shed, the weary FOTR train crew disembarking and packing up. Seems like the train was a success, bigger and better things are planned for next month's trip, so why not join us for a great Sunday outing behind steam, a pleasant lunch and a relaxing day?
Photographs © 2000 Trevor Staats.
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