The International Steam Pages

Steam in Southern Africa 2012

Geoff Warren reports on the 'real' elements of a steam tour to Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Botswana – BCL, Selebe Phikwe

I visited on 31 May and 1 June 2012, with the tour group of Tanago, Berlin (in collaboration with Geoffs Trains).

As reported elsewhere, two additional 19D locos have been bought from South Africa: L0812 is ex-SAR 2689 and L0813 is ex-SAR 2626.On the visit days, L0806 and L0812 were in steam at the depot. On 31 May, L0812 was receiving attention and was topped up with water and coal. It was said that today would be its first day in traffic, but by dusk it had not made any journey. L0806 departed at about 12:15 with a load to the BR exchange sidings, with a return departure at about 13:25. 

For 1 June, the evidence of whistling heard during the small hours is that at least one trip was run to a mine shaft during the night. During the day, L0812 made two trips to the shafts, and performed well both times. The morning trip was to Shaft No. 2, departing about 09:15, reaching the destination at 10:00, loading, returning about 10:30 and back in the factory at 11:00. The afternoon trip was to Shaft No.4, departing about 15:15, with the return departure at 16:20, arriving at the factory at 17:10

Real steam and real action! It was a very pleasant experience to see steam working well on big “genuine” commercial freights of 20 high-capacity wagons.


Al-fresco metalwork with L0812 watching (left) and L0812 has just started loading at Shaft No.2 on the morning of 1 June (right).

With the driver of L0806 taking a nap, his loco could perhaps have benefited from cleaning

L0806 departing to the BR exchange siding on 31 May

L0812 and L0806 move about the depot yard on 1 June.

L0812 at Shaft No.4 on the afternoon of 1 June, almost ready for departure.

Zimbabwe - NRZ

Bulawayo. At sunrise on 3 June, 519, 611 and 613 were in steam on Bulawayo shed. 519 was for the tour train of Geoffs Trains to Cement that day and 613 for the tour train to Plumtree on 4 June. Presumably, 611 was in steam in case of its need for a shunting duty, but it is not known whether it was required.

Zimbabwe – Hwange Colliery

Operations appear to continue as reported. Loco 11 was in use, and with 10 and 12 under repair and fairly extensively dismantled, there are clearly likely to be problems when 11 requires attention. In that situation, I understand that an NRZ diesel loco is borrowed from TJ.

The main tour party was at the mine on the afternoon of 7 June and morning of 8 June. There was shunting within the yard on 7 June but not on 8 June, and no daylight trips to TJ. I understand that 11 did work a trip to TJ on the afternoon of 6 June.

11 posed at night, 7 June.

Rob Dickinson