Umgeni Steam Railway
Umgeni Steam Railway - a railway preservation group, started in 1982 subsequent to the donation of a small Dubs loco by Illovo Sugar, now located just outside Durban in a small village called Inchanga. The history of the line they use dates back to the 1880s when the first railway line was built to run from Durban-Pietermaritzburg (90 km by road). The line runs through a 53 metre long tunnel at Drummond built in 1878, and is probably the oldest tunnel in use today in South Africa. The Class-3BR loco, in use every month, was built by North British Locomotive Company (Scotland, UK) in 1912 and she celebrated her 100th birthday in February 2012. The coaches used range from 1908 through to 1953, with most being built in the 1930s.
At the old Station Master's house next to the Inchanga Station, a SAR Museum called the Inchanga Railway Museum has been opened. The Museum is open to the public every Sunday, and tea, coffee, breakfast and lunch are served in the tea garden. On train running days, a buffet is served at lunch.
Bookings for breakfast, lunch or the buffet can be made on the Umgeni Steam Railway website for running days, or at Bevelart for all other days. To organize school excursions or to make appointments to view the museum other than on Sundays, go to the Bevelart website and email Bev.
The Umgeni Steam Railway currently operates trains on the last Sunday of all months of the year between Kloof and Inchanga, with special trains running from Pietermaritzburg to Inchanga and Nottingham Road. The route from Kloof to Inchanga follows the old main line from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and traverses some of the steepest railway gradients in South Africa (1:30 to 1:50).
The fleet of steam locomotives includes a Class 3BR, Class 12R, Class 14R, two Class 19Ds, a Class GF Garratt and a Class GMAM Garratt, along with the locomotive that the company was started with - namely an 1892 vintage Class A "Dübs A".
(Click to enlarge)
The firebox of Maureen, a 1912 built Class 3BR locomotive No.1486
A view of KwaZulu-Natal from the Umgeni Steam Railway