shosholoza meyl train

Image via: Flickr

Buses dispatched as Shosholoza train runs ‘out of steam’ in Prince Albert

Shosholoza Meyl train passengers have been left stranded in Prince Albert following locomotive failure.

shosholoza meyl train

Image via: Flickr

A Shosholoza Meyl train en route to Cape Town has broken down in Prince Albert in the Western Cape on Monday 6 January 2020. 

According to Shosholoza Meyl spokesperson Daisy Daniel, the passengers have not been left stranded for two days as earlier reports have stated. 

Shosholoza Meyl train experiences locomotive failure  

According to Daniel, the train departed from Johannesburg on Sunday 5 January at 10:30 and was expected to arrive in Cape Town at 19:35 on Monday 6 January.

The Shosholoza then experienced a breakdown at about 21:20 on Monday after a delay.

Daniel confirmed that the breakdown was due to locomotive failure. According to locomotive engineer James Moe, any mechanical or electrical problems that prevent the locomotive from moving the train, would be considered a locomotive failure. 

“It could be a simple electrical relay problem, or it could be catastrophic diesel engine failure, like a blown piston, or destroyed turbocharger,” said Moe. 

Buses dispatched to Prince Albert 

Nine buses were dispatched on Tuesday morning to rescue hundreds of Shosholoza Meyl train passengers. 

Daniel said another train was arranged to fetch the stranded passengers. The train, however, was delayed at Wellington.

“Passengers have been informed that there’s a locomotive on the way to Prince Albert and they will depart at 10:00 to arrive in Cape Town at 20:00. It’s one of those incidents where you don’t plan,” said Daniel

“Buses will rescue [sic] them to make sure that at least they are at their destination at 16:00 this [Tuesday] afternoon,” she added. 

Daniel said that passengers were given the option to get on a bus or stay and continue their Shosholoza train journey. 

Statement of apology

It was no secret that the passengers were deeply disatisfied with their Shosholoza experience. MLPS management released a statement on Tuesday saying that they acknowledge and regret the the unpleasant experience encountered by customers.

“The train was expected to arrive in Cape Town on Monday at 19:35, but unfortunately, the train is now expected to arrive in Cape Town on Tuesday at 23:01.

“We sincerely apologise for all the inconvenience that these challenges have caused to our customers at large and their loved ones.”

The Shosholoza Meyl

Shosholoza Meyl is a division of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) that operates long-distance passenger rail services. It operates various train routes across South Africa, carrying about four million passengers annually.

“Shosholoza” is the name of a popular South African song about workers on a train and it means “moving forward”. “Meyl” is a word that is related to a South African word for “long-distance train”, according to the Spoornet/Shosholoza Meyl website.

Prior to the name change, the company operated as Mainline Passenger Services.

In August 2010, Shosholoza Meyl suspended services, claiming either contract difficulties (between Transnet and Prasa) or unreliable trains. Some of its services however resumed in November 2010.