While the opportunity to time travel is not (yet) available to us, the opportunity to feel as though you have traveled back in time and to enjoy an Olde Worlde experience on board an authentic vintage steam train is,
and it’s something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The Ceres Steam Train, run by the Ceres Rail Company, offers a unique and family friendly outing that will see passengers sitting back in comfort whilst traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Witzenberg region. The departure point for the trip is opposite the Royal Cape Yacht Club situated in Table Bay Harbour, right next to the V&A Waterfront.
History behind the Ceres Rail and the trains that make it all possible
The Ceres railway track, on which the Ceres Steam Train runs, was originally built in 1910, with construction being completed in 1912. After many years of active service it was later closed, only to then be reopened in 2012.
“Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) stopped operating rail lines such as the Ceres railway in the 1990’s because they were not profitable,” explains James Vos, Shadow Minister of Tourism and the member of Parliament for Witzenberg (including the town of Ceres). “However, because branch lines are a vital link with the rural areas, partnerships between public and private enterprise are now exploring the re-commissioning of some of these branch lines.”
Ceres Rail, one of only two steam train operators in the Western Cape, and one of only a handful in the whole of South Africa, run three steam trains – Jessica, Bailey and the Red Devil. Jessica, as the oldest of the trio, was manufactured in England in 1948, whilst the famous Red Devil is a one-of-a-kind South African built train manufactured in 1981.
Part of the Ceres Rail Company’s mission is to help preserve and promote South African Rail Heritage, which involves restoring and refurbishing old locomotives and coaches. The Ceres Rail trains are comfortable and include a dining cart which served on the Blue Train in 1935.
The Current Ceres Steam Train Experience
Lovers of train travel, vintage enthusiasts, sightseers, families, friends, and in general anyone looking for a wonderful day out of the city that is memorable, unique and fun will love a trip on theCeres Steam Train.
The train departs from the V&A Waterfront precinct and steams its way past vineyards, orchards, olive groves, mountains, wheat and canola fields. There’s even a bit of game viewing on offer whilst on board. Passengers can sit back, relax, spend time admiring the view, enjoy refreshments from the dining cart and leave all modern day problems behind whilst heading towards their destination in Ceres.
The picturesque Ceres valley is not only the origin of some of South Africa’s best fruit and wine products, but also one of the top tourism destinations in the country – and it is not hard to see why, with its breath-taking scenery, exciting activities (including cherry picking in summer and snowy visits in winter), and a plethora of indigenous fynbos.
Minister Vos says that the Ceres Steam Train, in addition to offering a great tourism experience in one of the most picturesque valleys of our province also represents the rebirth of our rail transport system – something which is crucial in South Africa. “Not only will it pave the way for economic growth, it also reduces the number of trucks on the roads, decreasing emission and fuel costs and improving safety. Many small town economies rely on tourism infrastructure to thrive and grow economic opportunities. Therefore this steam train service increases the tourism potential of the Witzenberg district,” explains Minister Vos.
Details at a glance:
The Ceres Steam Train runs every second weekend and the costs per one way trip are as follows:
- Adults 13y+ – R400pp
- Children 2y-12y – R250pp
- Infants 0-2y – free of charge since they will be on laps
The dates for the remainder of 2016 are below:
Fridays: 11 Nov | 25 Nov | 9 Dec | 30 Dec |
- Ceres > Cape Town departing 10:30am
Saturdays: 29 Oct | 12 Nov | 26 Nov | 10 Dec | 31 Dec |
- Cape Town > Ceres departing 07:30am
- Lunch at Ceres Golf Estate (additional cost: R150pp adults / R50pp children)
- Ceres > Cape Town departing 14:00pm
Sundays: 30 Oct | 13 Nov | 27 Nov | 11 Dec | 1 Jan ‘17|
- Cape Town > Ceres departing 09:30am
To book your tickets – book and pay online here: http://www.ceresrail.co.za/book/