The International Steam Pages

Steam in Botswana August 2007

The last detailed report carried on this site was of a July 2002 visit which included the then roster at Selebi Phikwe.

Jens Ingemann reports on his visit to the Selebi Phikwe system on  24th.-26th.August 2007:

LO 807 (19D) and LO 810 (14A Garratt) were in active service. LO 806 (19D) had a wash-out and LO 804 (19D) had its cylinders repaired. All other engines were out of use and had not seen service for a long time. LO 810 was doing line service to the interchange yard with Botswana Railways - on the 3 days we were present such a run only took place once. Traffic to and from BR is sparse, only consisting of a few loads to and from the melting plant. Coal for engines is delivered by road. LO 810 also was responsible for trains to/from Shaft 3, - around 1,5 km. away from the engine shed - each train consisting of about 12 freight cars. A number of trips were made each day to this Mine. LO 807 was responsible for line working to Selebi and Selebi North Mines, around 15 km from the engine shed and the centre of the mine railway. Around 2 trips we made to each of these mines every 24 hours. Trains run 24 hours a day 7 days a week. LO 810 was a very bad steamer - it had to stop 3-4 times on the run with empty cars (around 20 freight cars in the Selebi trains) to the Selebi mine in order to build up sufficient steam pressure... and on the last day it had to be repaired, meaning that the 14A was the only serviceable engine and it had to do the shunting at the central off-loading point alone. The operational pattern change very much every day so it is essential to be in daily contact with staff at the engine shed. 

We received a very friendly welcome by security and staff at the railway operation. 

We we told that the mine is expected to last till around 2020 and steam is expected to be used for the next years to come. The main problem is to get the spare parts needed, but we were told a solution to this problem was near. 

Rob Dickinson