Picture: for illustration purposes

Heritage Day Ushers in the Resurgence of Steam Trains in Western Cape

Published September 25, 2023
9 months ago

On the 24th of September, Heritage Day was not just a celebration of multiracial diversity in South Africa but marked the revival of a significant symbol of our past- the Steam Train. Southern Cape Railway, a driving force in this resurgence, re-introduced 'Jenny', a classic steam locomotive to the region of Garden Route, Western Cape.

Over the Heritage Day weekend, the railway heritage rich region saw the successful inaugural journey of Jenny between Hartenbos and Great Brak River in Mossel Bay. This event signified the first of many such rides to follow, urging locals and tourists to embrace their historical roots in the era of steam-trains through this unique experience.

While reminiscing, it is worth noting that years ago, steam trains served as a popular transport mode in the region, with the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe being one of the most celebrated ones. It used to ply between George and Knysna, offering passengers the splendid views of Western Cape's beauty. But with changing times, steam-trains were phased out. The region's history with steam railways is proudly presented in the museum at George.

Souther Cape Railway's initiative in steam train revival has rekindled an array of emotions. Around 1500 passengers embarked upon a nostalgic trip on the Mossel Bay coastline aboard Jenny during the Heritage Day weekend. Despite the cold and rain, travellers like Ria Potgieter and Eliizma Ludick relished the nostalgia and the picturesque views.

In her renewed avatar, Jenny also serves as a testament to the resilience and elegance of our past. This class 24 steam locomotive, built in 1943, once worked on the scenic Cape Town, Simon's Town route as Atlantic Rail's tourist train. The revival of Jenny promises a boost in tourism for Mossel Bay and the Garden Route. Southern Cape Railway's co-owner, Sean Ekstrom, expressed joy and anticipation for the future of such initiatives.

As Southern Cape Railway continues to revitalise the region's railway heritage, Mossel Bay and the Garden Route will witness this magnificent steam locomotive's journey once every month and daily throughout school holidays.

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