All aboard in a fond farewell

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All aboard! Former railway station operating inspector, Hennie Ferreira is people to join him in the last train trip from Grahamstown to Alicedale.

All aboard! Former railway station operating inspector, Hennie Ferreira is people to join him in the last train trip from Grahamstown to Alicedale.

The chugging and whistling of trains died away in Grahamstown since the railway line was closed earlier this year. Since it’s existence in 1878 the Grahamstown railway station has had a fascinating history and saw trains (and people) of many different types all different types passing through. According to Ferriera trains all the way from Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) carried passengers travelling to Grahamstown.

More recently the train travelled to Alicedale, where passengers could catch a connecting train to Johannesburg. Locals and tourists have now been given the opportunity to board the metallic millipede as it travels to Alicedale for the last time.

Ferreira says he is arranging with Transnet to assist him in the organisation of the last passenger train to run on Grahamstown’s scenic railway. According to Ferreira, Transnet assured him that the train can be arranged if he manages to organise 500 passengers who can pay a R50 fee to bid farewell to the railway line. Sharing memories about the railway’s heydays, Ferreira recalled a Class GDA maiden locomotive which made its last run on the Grahamstown line in December 1968.

 Ferreira says he is displeased that the train was stopped and nothing has been done to bid farewell."I feel sorry and disappointed to see that after 130 years of the railway line’s experience, it has now been abondoned," says Ferreira.

Makana Tourism’s board director, Willem Makkink supports the idea of having one last ride and says it might also be a tourism opportunity during the National Arts Festival. In support of the idea, Makkink says, "I’m doing it in good faith". He also says it’s sad that it has all come to an end because students and tourists often travelled to Grahamstown by train.

A date for the train’s last run hasn’t been decided on yet but since July is a busy period in Grahamstown, Makkink suggested that the date should be set during the Festival. Ferreira says he needs to gather numbers of interested individuals before he can provide further information with regards to dates. For further information, contacted him on 072 010 1004 or 046 624 8476.

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