Phelophepa (pronounced pay-lo-pe-pa) means "good, clean health". It's the name of two custom-built trains that deliver primary health care to remote areas of South Africa. Brought to life in 1994 as a three-coach eye clinic project, our “Miracle Train” has grown to reach 375;000 people every year. 90;000 patients treated, 68;000 prescriptions written running two trains of hope. In conjunction with our outreach programmes, we have reached over 20 million people since inception.

With about 20 resident staff members using on-board, state-of-the-art medical equipment, the trains serve about 360 000 patients annually, spending 35 weeks each year on the rails, and visiting 70 stations to provideg facilities for health, oral and vision screening programmes and basic health education.

It is this hope that we give to the people, and the smiles we bring out of our patients that has kept Phelophepa on the rails for the past 20 years. Long live Phelophepa!

Services available on the train

Eye Clinic

The Eye Care Clinic was the original focus of the train and consists of pre-screening areas and refraction rooms that are fully equipped with phoroptors, eye test projection charts and biomicroscopes.

Dental Clinic

The Dental Clinic, partially sponsored by Colgate Palmolive Company, is equipped with six dental chairs, x-ray units and state-of-the-art dental equipment. The Dental Clinic provides an ideal platform to treat each patient thoroughly, delivering preventative, holistic dental advice.

Health Clinic

The Health Clinic, sponsored by Roche Ltd., focuses on health education, the treatment of minor diseases, diabetes and cancer screening. It also provides education on preventable conditions and early detection to reduce unnecessary suffering.

Psychology Clinic

Rural communities face continuous challenges on a daily basis — poverty, illness, unemployment, HIV/AIDS and violence are causes of acute depression and other mental disturbances. The Psychology Clinic offers solution-focused individual counselling as well as psycho-educational workshops.

Educational Clinic

The EduClinic, sponsored by Canon Collins Trust, offers basic healthcare awareness education to volunteer members of the community. Sixteen community members attend a five-day training session that provides them with the skills necessary to assist their community long after the train has gone.

Pharmacy Clinic

The Roche-sponsored Pharmacy dispenses up to 20;000 prescriptions annually. Two pharmacists and their pharmacy students educate the people on the importance of taking medication correctly and provide other supplementary information.

Outreach Programmes

Health Clinic

Additional outreach programmes supplement the services the trains provide. For example, the Health Clinic Outreach Programmme targets surrounding primary schools identified by the community as being in need, and arranges visits by a chief professional nurse and two nursing students.

The Community Counseling Programme

This programme conducts workshops that reach approximately 7;000 adults educating them in alcohol and drug abuse, child discipline and HIV/AIDS. Community counselling workshops are also provided to approximately 20,000 children on topics relating to conflict resolution, teen-age pregnancy, career counselling, abuse and violence.

The Dental Clinic

This Outreach Program consists of a dental educator, along with a final-year dentistry student, who visit-surrounding schools identified by the community, and offer oral hygiene education and toothpaste. The goal is to screen and educate 66,000 primary and pre-school children.

The Eye Clinic

This Outreach Programme involves the resident optician, together with an optometry student, visiting surrounding primary schools selected by the community. Children with suspected eye problems undergo testing, after which they are referred to the Phelophepa Train if they need further testing or spectacles.

St Johns home-based care training

This programme is run in conjunction with St Johns to provide key people with detailed home-based training in order to have valuable members within the communities who can provide this essential service.

AIDS Action Programme

This Outreach Programme has reached nearly three million people since 1994 and is focused on providing AIDS/HIV related training.


Outreach Programmes Patients Treated 1994-2014

Total Patients Treated: 100%
6 043 368
Phelophepa Train: 16%
949 010
Outreach Psychology Clinic: 8%
465 034
Outreach Journey Councelling: 1%
50 588
Outreach Health Clinic: 5%
350 505
Outreach Eye Clinic: 1%
67 737
Outreach Dental Clinic: 22%
1 342 125
Outreach Edu Clinic: 1%
12 858
Outreach AIDS Action: 46%
2 805 826

Patients Treated by Region 1994-2014


791 562
Eastern Cape

256 812
Northern Cape

333 128
North West

322 795
Northern Province

466 887
Free State

322 631
Western Cape

382 379
Kwa Zulu Natal

361 663

3 237 857
South Africa Total

"Brought help to over 13 million people "

"Travels for 35 weeks of each year, visiting one rural community a week."

"Serving communities for over 20 years."

"Over 100 000 meals are prepared on-board the train for staff and students within 37-week period."

"Travels for 35 weeks covering nearly 30 000km"

"Every week, for 35 weeks a year, over R130 000 is spent in the local village on food purchases."

"The two trains have 18 coaches each, and combined are over 780 metres in length and 1,350 tonnes in weight"

"Over 1.9 million children have been screened and educated with the outreach programmes."

"Three thousand, nine hundred and fifty Edu-Clinic volunteers have been trained within the Home Based Care programme."

Communities visited per year: 70
Each train is operated by around 20 resident staff
Each train is supported by 40 student volunteers.
Total number of combined coaches: 36


Brought to life in 1994 as a three-coach eye clinic project, our “Miracle Train”, Phelophepa has a single objective of delivering quality health-care to the less privileged South African

With about 20 resident staff members using on-board state of the art medical equipment, it serves about 360;000 patients annually, spending 35 weeks each year on the rails, and visiting 70 stations providing facilities for health, oral and vision screening programmes and basic health education.

It is this hope that we give to the people, and the smiles we bring out of our patients that has kept Phelophepa on the rails for the past 20 years. Long live Phelophepa!

Virtual Tour

Latest Pictures View Image Gallery

Latest News Articles

Latest news articles related to Phelophepa. View Blog / all articles.

Phelophepa Healthcare Trains undergo a refurbishment programme

Transnet’s Phelophepa Healthcare trains will commence a maintenance programme after servicing over 150 000 patients across the country in the past few months. The two Phelophepa Healthcare trains (I and II) are heading back to Salt River, Cape Town at one of Transnet Engineering’s maintenance site for annual refurbishment programme. The two trains operates simultaneously from January to October offering primary health care to remote communities.

Uniting South Africa through sport

Although South Africa is rich in sporting talent, much of it goes undiscovered because it is hidden away in underdeveloped, far-flung areas and communities. Fortunately, our company does not shy away from these areas, but rather focuses on them and provide real opportunities to youth who fall outside the target areas of traditional sporting bodies. Through our Sport Development Programme, we can identify and develop young sports talent across the country and nurture it to excellence.

Ready, AIM, work

Our company’s Port Terminals (TPT) department recently launched its flagship student exposure programme called AIM in KwaZulu-Natal. The intention of this programme is to give youth residing in South Africa’s port cities access to the world of operations, maritime logistics, and the blue economy.


Phelophepa I

The green line represents the path of the Phelophepa I train

Phelophepa II

The red line represents the path of the Phelophepa II train