Outeniqua Choo Tjoe

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Crossing the Kaaimans River into Wilderness
Train with Diesel locomotive No 32042 from Transnet

The Outeniqua Choo Tjoe was the last remaining continually-operated passenger steam train in Africa, ending operation in June 2009. The railway was completed in 1928, and links the towns of George and Knysna in the Western Cape, South Africa. The scenic 67-kilometre (42 mi) route took 3 hours, following the rugged coastline of the Garden Route, passing through Victoria Bay, Wilderness, Goukamma, and Sedgefield before ending by crossing a bridge over the lagoon in Knysna.

It was declared an officially preserved railway in 1992, carrying about 40,000 passengers per year at the time. A decade later, it carried 115,000 passengers per year, 70% of whom were foreign tourists.

The trains were usually pulled by SAR Class 19D steam locomotives, of 4-8-2 wheel arrangement with Vanderbilt-like "torpedo" tenders, although SAR Class 24 steam engines were also used occasionally. When dry conditions in the summer increase the risk of wildfires, diesel locomotives (SAR Class 32s) were used instead.

During August 2006 the line was damaged due to heavy flooding.[1] As of November 2006 it was rescheduled to run between George and Mossel Bay (with a stop at Hartenbos).[2]

In 2007, the train's owners, Transnet Limited, announced that the train was not regarded as part of its core business, and initiated a tender process to dispose of the train to a new owner/operator. In August 2010, Transnet announced that they had not found an operator, and the train would cease operating. The Western Cape Provincial MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, said that he was resolved to keep this heritage tourism asset operational.[3]

As of 2019, the line is still closed. In May 2018 after a miniature steam locomotive mounted to a trolley crossed the causeway into Knysna in February 2018, it was revealed in the British Magazine "Heritage Railway" that while there is ongoing discussion between Transnet and a private enterprise called "Classic Rail" there remains no agreement to franchise the line and re-open it for tourist traffic.

In 2008, the train and the Kaaiman's River Bridge were featured in a television advertisement for Stella Artois.


  1. ^ "Outeniqua Choo-tjoe History". Archived from the original on 6 April 2010.
  2. ^ Mulder, Jane (28 November 2006). "Choo-Tjoe train back in action". IOL Travel. Archived from the original on 7 January 2007.
  3. ^ "Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe Reaches End of the Line". Friends of the Rail Forum. 24 August 2010. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011.[user-generated source?]

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