http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.26Change: -0.03
R/$ = 11.29Change: -0.07
Au 1207.65 $/ozChange: -10.32
Pt 1300.70 $/ozChange: -8.30
 
 
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 Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Nov 23, 2007

South Africa features prominently in history of rail transport

Back
Canterbury|Cape Town|Construction|DURBAN|Harbour|Johannesburg|Liverpool|London|Maputo|Paris|Pretoria|Queen Elizabeth|Wellington|Africa|Gautrain|Locomotives|PROJECT|System|Africa|Germany|Mozambique|South Africa|Switzerland|United Kingdom|Zimbabwe|Channel Tunnel|Corinth Canal|Durban Station|Gautrain|London Hotel|Paris Hotel|St Pancras Station|Building|Service|Then Travel|Transport|Malaria|Cape Town–Wellington|Eastern Cape|English Channel|Gautrain|Charles Brown|Elizabeth|Gautrain|Jack Van Der Merwe|Paul Kruger|Power|Rail|Richard Trevithick|Locomotive|Locomotives|British Columbia|Eastern Cape
Construction|Harbour||Africa|Gautrain|Locomotives|PROJECT|System|Africa||Gautrain||Building|Service|Transport|||Gautrain|Gautrain|Power|Rail||Locomotive|Locomotives|
canterbury|cape-town|construction|durban|harbour|johannesburg|liverpool|london|maputo|paris|pretoria|queen-elizabeth|wellington|africa-company|gautrain-company|locomotives|project|system|africa|germany|mozambique|south-africa|switzerland|united-kingdom|zimbabwe|channel-tunnel|corinth-canal|durban-station|gautrain-facility|london-hotel|paris-hotel|st-pancras-station|building|service|then-travel|transport-industry-term|malaria|cape-townwellington|eastern-cape|english-channel|gautrain-organization|charles-brown|elizabeth-person|gautrain|jack-van-der-merwe|paul-kruger|power|rail|richard-trevithick|locomotive|locomotives-product|british-columbia|eastern-cape-province-or-state
© 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
I went to Port Elizabeth for a couple of days. I had received various requests to travel to the coastal city. So, accompanied by my project coordinator, I went.
The obsession that some people have with the renaming of places, streets and institutions is one of the most unreasonable sets of actions to have come out of post-1994 South Africa. Who are the people doing this?  If one has a look, it is only some politicians.
Recently, a number of people around me have been the victims of robberies. These incidents are irritating, not only because of the value of the items stolen, but also because of the amount of subsequent work required to replace them and to mend the damage caused by...
More
 
 
Latest News
Updated 4 hours ago Information and communication technology services group Gijima on Tuesday announced that it would undertake a rights offer and restructure its existing trade receivables securitisation funding programme to ensure that it had sufficient working capital to underpin the...
Lynne Brown
Updated 5 hours ago Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has urged that the best candidates be nominated to serve on the boards of State Owned Entities (SOEs). “Help me identify your brightest and our best,” said Minister Brown as she launched an initiative to obtain the best pool of...
Updated 5 hours ago The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has brought art and science together in an exhibition celebrating ancient humanity’s appreciation of the night sky. In a first for the SKA Organisation, indigenous and local artists from South Africa and Australia have collaborated in...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
The South African new vehicle market is likely to reach around 630 000 units in 2014, down from the 650 000 units recorded in 2013, says Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) president and CEO Dr Johan van Zyl. Van Zyl is also president of the National Association of...
Efforts by the Kenya government to increase energy generation by 5 000 MW over the next three years received a major boost following the award of a $2-billion contract to build a coal power plant in Lamu.  Despite allegations of irregular tendering process, the...
Using crafty wordplay on a well-known Internet meme, brilliant South African-born US entrepreneur and businessperson Elon Musk announced that Tesla Motors would not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wanted to use its technology. Instead,...
August new vehicle sales declined by 1.4%, to 55 722 units, compared with the same month last year. Assisted by the car rental market, the South African new passenger car market, at 37 953 units, contracted by 1 047 units, or 2.7%, compared with August last year.
With South Africans facing the challenge of reducing electricity consumption, the biennial Eskom Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition, to encourage the integration of energy efficient lighting in architectural, engineering and interior design, received a...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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