About 500 people celebrating Human Rights Day on Tuesday with a trip on a steam train were stranded just outside Pretoria when it derailed after a section of track was stolen.
The steam train was 4km into the trip from Rayton, a town in northeastern Gauteng, to Cullinan, 30km east of Pretoria, when it came to a sudden halt, Friends of the Rail train manager Steve Appleton said on Tuesday.
“The stop was caused by a locomotive running off the end of the rails because about 180m of rails from that point were missing. We presumed they were stolen,” Appleton said.
Three staff members were injured and some passengers had minor bruising.
“We were travelling very slowly so the injuries were not serious.”
Buses took passengers to Cullinan or back to the Friends of the Rail depot at Hermanstad Station in Pretoria.
Appleton said the locomotive was damaged, but none of the coaches went off the line.
“The locomotive will probably be re-railed today. We are taking the empty coaches back to the depot,” he said.
Transnet would repair the damage to the track.
“We hope this is done by the time of our next trip. We normally run steam trains once a month, towards the end of the month, but on public holidays, like today, we get people who want to travel out to tourist attractions like Cullinan.”
About five years ago, another steam train was derailed because of railway sleeper theft, Appleton said.
“And about two to three years ago, there were rails being stolen, but we saw it in time and were able to stop it.”