http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.04Change: -0.16
R/$ = 12.07Change: -0.10
Au 1204.60 $/ozChange: 1.40
Pt 1170.50 $/ozChange: 4.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Nov 23, 2007

South Africa features prominently in history of rail transport

Back
Construction|Harbour|Africa|Building|Gautrain|Locomotives|PROJECT|System|Trucks|Africa|Gautrain|Service|Gautrain|Gautrain|Power|Rail|Locomotive|Locomotives
Construction|Harbour|Africa|Building|Gautrain|Locomotives|PROJECT|System|Trucks|Africa|Gautrain|Service|Gautrain|Gautrain|Power|Rail|Locomotive|Locomotives
construction|harbour|africa-company|building|gautrain-company|locomotives|project|system|trucks|africa|gautrain-facility|service|gautrain-organization|gautrain|power|rail|locomotive|locomotives-product
© Reuse this When driving between Pretoria and Johannesburg, I have passed large construction sites that penetrate deep into the ground – they are the start of the Gautrain project.

I am pleased to see that the digging has begun.

Also in the last few days, in London, Queen Elizabeth officially opened St Pancras station as the new hub of the extended Channel Tunnel train. One can now take a taxi from a London hotel to St Pancras station, then travel to Paris by train, under the English Channel, and then take another taxi to a Paris hotel.

So, although trains have been around for a while, they certainly are not out of date. In fact, the first recorded use of rail transport was circa 500 BC, when ancient Greeks operated a rail system to carry boats across the approximate route of the current Corinth canal. They probably used horses or humans as the power source.

Modern railways developed from wooden mine railways, on which wagons were pushed by hand or pulled by horse. The first recorded were in Germany, about 1430. The first use of iron rails was on the Coalbrookdale–Horsehay railway, in England, in 1767.

By 1804, Richard Trevithick, of England, had built the first steam locomotive and it ran on the Peny-Darren ironworks railway. In 1830, in England, the world’s first regular steam railway passenger service was inaugurated by Canterbury & Whitstable Railway.

In 1860, South Africa’s first steam train ran from central Durban to the Point, in the harbour area. The large Durban station that was built years later is still visible, in that its main building is preserved as a national monument.

I travelled by train from that station often. Next time any reader goes near that old station building, he or she should have a look at the roof – it is very steep, and was built that way so that snow would not build up on the roof and cause a collapse. The architects were Canadian!

Three years after the Durban train, in 1863, the world’s first underground railway line opened in London. They must have been courageous engineers to take steam locos underground. Anyway, in the same year, the Cape Town–Wellington rail line was completed.

There were other South African innovations and, in the Eastern Cape, a crippled signalperson trained a baboon named Jack to operate the signal system, which he did most days. Part of Jack’s wages included two glasses of brandy over the weekend.

In 1890, the first railway on the burgeoning Witwatersrand goldfields, known as the Rand Tram, ran from Boksburg to Randfontein. It was called ‘tram’ to try not to threaten the many horse-drawn tram operators, who felt very edgy about the new steam machines.

By 1892, only seven years before the Boer War started, the line between Cape Town and Johannesburg was opened to traffic. There certainly was no such long line in England at the time – that was one huge South African achievement.

At the same time, the line from Beira, in Mozambique, to Zimbabwe was being built, but the death rate from malaria was staggering. In 1892, and also again in 1893, 60% of the workers died each year, mainly from malaria, but some were eaten by wild animals. It was much easier to build the London–Liverpool line.

The guys worked on rail like crazy in those days and, at the same time that the Beira line was being built in 1893, the railway line from Maputo, in Mozambique, crossed the Transvaal border into South Africa. Transvaal President Paul Kruger later used this line a great deal to bypass the British forces.

As the Boer War broke out in 1899, Charles Brown, of the company Brown Boveri, in Switzerland, built the first ac electric locomotive. In 1925, the first South African electric locomotives came on line, while we were also running some of the biggest steam loco- motives in the world, pulling some of the biggest trains.

Worldwide, the train business continued to develop and South Africa now has some of the best railway engineers in the world, guys as straight as a rail, and as tough as . . . well, rail nails.

South Africa now runs the world’s largest and heaviest train on the 860-km Sishen–Saldanha line. In 1989, it set a world record when it comprised 660 wagons plus tank and caboose and 16 locomotives. It was 7,3 km long.

I made a TV movie on this train and recall that the locos would start moving and, quite some time later, the caboose at the end would move because of all the slack in the coupling, that had to be taken up.

It also had radar-controlled brakes. The radar watched the sleepers – the idea was that all the locos and trucks had to brake at the same time. You could not have the front stopping before the back, with 69 393 t rolling along.

I can’t wait to travel on the Gautrain, so maybe Jack van der Merwe, of the Gautrain, should offer free soccer tickets to any crew that finishes ahead of schedule.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Dr Kelvin Kemm News
For a long time, I have been saying that, invariably, new technology developments bring with them not only highly tangible benefits, but also, quite frequently, undesirable side effects that are not that tangible at first.  I have said that it is the duty of...
I was really disappointed at the University of Cape Town's (UCT's) decision to move the statue of Cecil John Rhodes.  I saw the vice chancellor of UCT on TV and, quite frankly, he looked like a scared rabbit.  My opinion of him plunged.  Where is the pride of UCT, a...
Very sadly, a Cabinet Minister and his two bodyguards were killed in a motor car crash in which their car hit a truck on the freeway. Reports state that the truck was doing a U-turn on the freeway and the Minister’s car was travelling at a high speed.  In addition,...
More
 
 
Latest News
South African mining and energy adviser Ted Blom has raised a litany of concerns about the state of power utility Eskom and has warned of runaway costs and shortfalls in coal and water, as well as rail capacity. Blom was surprised by the recent buoyancy shown by...
JSE-listed Astrapak will sell specialised packaging systems manufacturer Knilam to Mapflex SA for R17.7-million. The proceeds would be used to reduce Astrapak’s current level of gearing.
The last of the 26 mooring units comprising the Port of Ngqura’s automated mooring system (AMS) have arrived at the port and are expected to improve port efficiency and safety, further driving the Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA’s) objective of establishing...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
Sappi Southern Africa CEO Alex Thiel
Forest products group Sappi has confirmed the selection of its 25 MW biomass-to-power project, to be erected at its Ngodwana mill, in Mpumalanga, as a preferred bidder under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement...
Information and communications technology (ICT) distributor DCC is making Windows- and Android-operating systems tablets available through retailers and education equipment suppliers to provide school children with affordable, high-performance education tools. The...
Another cement manufacturer is set to enter the Ugandan market, raising hopes that prices will come down and spur growth in the construction industry. National Cement, a Kenyan manufacturer, has unveiled plans to invest $195-million in a new manufacturing plant in...
With growth rates exceeding that in the developed world – at an average of between 4% and 5% between 2002 and 2014 – African countries provide investors with ample reason to tap into booming consumer demand says Manufacturing Circle executive director Coenraad...
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) Business Confidence Index (BCI) decreased by 3.7 index points month-on-month to 89.1 in March.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96