Repair work on the railway line over the Outeniqua Mountain between George and Oudtshoorn is well underway and is expected to be completed by end November, according to Mike Asefovitz, executive communications manager of Transnet.
He said the Transnet Freight Rail team was on site, responding to photos taken by a concerned George resident, Steven Alton, of bolts that had been unscrewed along a long stretch of the line near the FM tower.
Alton said he saw fresh marks from a train that must have passed on these tracks.
According to Asefovitz, it would be the train that drops off the materials on site. No other trains may were using the line at the moment.
They plan to open the line by the end of November.
“The team is replacing old rotten sleepers with new ones and those loosened bolts are part of the activities they are busy with.”
The line between George and Oudtshoorn has been lying dormant since 4,000 sleepers were damaged in the fires in November 2018. This has had a significant impact on operations of the Power Van, which had to redirect its outings to the line between George and Mossel Bay.
Nicol Marais, Power Van operator, welcomed the repair work that is at hand and said he is hopeful that the track will be ready by the end of the year.
Marais said they were ready to operate along the mountain route whenever it opens. His business has been severely impacted by the closure of the route after the fires of 2018. He kept his business afloat by offering Power Van trips along the ocean route to Great Brak River, but the mountain route has always been the biggest drawcard.
“About 85% of enquiries I receive from visitors who are coming to George for this coming December holiday, is for the mountain route.”
Marais stressed the importance of repairs and maintenance of the railways in the region.
“We have three lines from George and they are a huge asset. It is not just about getting the Power Van to run, but about other passenger trains that bring people to George, as well as freight trains that provide relief for our roads. It is a legacy worth billions for future generations.”