Railways have a distinctive appeal far beyond other modes of transport. There is excitement in the sound of the wheels clacking along the track as the train approaches a station, and the blare of its horn as the train passes in the distance, late at night, sparks dreams of adventure in places far away.
Transnet has more than 150 years of rich history, and its legacy is well looked after. Working according to its Heritage Asset Management Strategy, the company conserves and manages items on its assets register.
The Transnet Foundation loans out retired locomotives to municipalities for display and steam locomotives to clubs and tour operators who organise day-long outings.
Transnet’s two transport museums, the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George in the Western Cape and the Kimberley Transport Museum in Northern Cape, exhibit items great and small from the heyday of rail traffic – everything from passenger coaches and vintage cars to cutlery and crockery.
Schoolchildren and tourists are frequent visitors to these institutions. In George they can see the oldest steam engine, the Emil Kessler, which arrived in Durban in 1869 and was brought by ox-wagon to Johannesburg. President Kruger’s coach, used on the Royal Train in 1947, and old dining cars, sleeper coaches and 16 different classes of steam locomotives are displayed here. The museum at George has received a certificate of excellence from the influential Trip Advisor tourism rating agency.
For rail aficionados, there is also a heritage library which includes annual reports, journals, books, old timetables and hundreds of thousands of train-related photographs.