Steam dream offers opportunities

If you fancy doing volunteer work on a steam train in and around Kimberley, or on route between Kimberley and Douglas whilst enjoying the Northern Cape landscape, get in touch with Steamnet 2000, a non-profit organisation.

This club also needs sponsors to make the dream of a steam train experience in the Northern Cape a reality.

Peter Odell, one of the directors of this steam train club in Kimberley, says they have exciting plans to boost steam train tourism in the province. This dream has been brewing for 20 years.

“We already have a locomotive called Sianni, which has been restored over the past ten years. It is in tip-top condition, but needs some alterations for tourist expeditions,” Odell says.

“The one trip option is to run a triangular steam train trip around the Kamfers Dam in Kimberley. The other route is to Douglas.

“There are several options to run such a train service between Kimberley and Douglas, depending on the costs and necessary permits.

“It seems that the locomotive can run on its own steam between Belmont and Douglas, which is a two-hour trip. In between we might have to use busses or be pulled by a diesel locomotive from Kimberley to Belmont, where the steam locomotive will run independently to Dou­glas. The train will also pass the Mokala National Park.

“Whilst stopping next to the Vaal River near Douglas, tourists can enjoy the facilities of the local holiday resorts,” Odell says.

Sightseers can also be taken by bus to admire the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers and taste wine at a local cellar.

“To run a steam train service legally, safely and effectively, we need volunteers in specific portfolios. We need a person to do marketing, advertising, manage international and national bookings and sell tickets. An administrative officer must liaise with Transnet and the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) for permissions, permits and certification.

“In Douglas we would need a destination coordinator who will liaise with local tourist destinations, resorts and other attractions.

“We also need locally-based firefighting teams with their own firefighting equipment to follow the train in vehicles between Belmont and Douglas. We will cover these volunteers’ costs,” he says.

“The services of certified first aid volunteers who can perform substance abuse tests are also required.”

Cleaning staff must clean the inside and outside of the train before and after trips.

The maintenance mana­ger and his crew will maintain and fuel the locomotive, arrange formations and ensure that the locomotive and coaches are roadworthy.

The club needs money for public liability insurance, RSR accreditation, outstanding maintenance and steam tests, electric wiring for catering and sanitation, water piping, advertising and bookings.

“We can only estimate costs for the trip once we are assured of the availability of volunteers and confirmation of sponsors to cover maintenance, permits, liability and administrative costs,” Odell says.

Those interested to help can send an email to s2000@­vodamail.co.za