Twin Steel Through Namibia

Namibia, previously known, as South West Africa, is a vast, sparsely populated country, well known for its rugged desert scenery, large game parks and wilderness areas. There were only a few years of initial German colonial development between 1897, when the first railway was opened to the capital, Windhoek, and the outbreak of war in 1914. Thereafter, followed 75 years of South African administration, during which the railway system was rebuilt, expanded end operated by the South African Railways. This programme tracks aspects of the initial railway and locomotive development history over this period.

During the mid 1980s, Trans Namib, the local state transport organization, was formed and consequentially inherited the spread out railway network from the S.A. Railways. Since steam traction had been withdrawn relatively early in 1960, the country was seldom visited by railway enthusiasts.

In the late 1980s, two class 24 steam locomotives were donated by Transnet from South Africa to Trans Namib. Scenes are depicted when one of these were put back into service in 1992 in order to haul short tours around Keetmanshoop, in the far south. Regular diesel trains in this area are also recorded.

In 1998 the Union Limited Tours, based in Cape Town, operated the first cross border steam tour to Namibia since 1960. Hauled by two oil burning class 19D 4-8-2 locomotives, the two week tour covered an incredible route of over 5000 km from Cape Town to Walvis Bay and back. On board footage and line side action is catered for on both sides of the border.

In view of severe logistical obstacles encountered during the course of the 1998 steam safari, it seemed unlikely that another such operation would be possible. However, in 2004, the UK based Railway Touring Company chartered the Union Limited train set for another and final steam trip in Namibia. We cover the majority of this journey, once again hauled by two oil burning class 19Ds. As a variation, the final two days of the tour in the Western Cape, featuring a 4-8-4 class 25NC and the Class 26, are shown.

Finally, we bring the viewer some action featuring modern traction (ex SAR class 32s and 33s) on the line between Windhoek and Swakopmund during 2006 and 2007. Recent developments with the introduction of new diesels built in China are also briefly reviewed.

Credits: VIDRAIL Productions


Twin Steel Through Namibia - Part 1: 1991-2004
Part 2:2004-2006