Sunday, March 22, 2015

Republic of South Africa 2010 - Celebrating 150 years of South African Railways: 1860 to 2010

 :: THEME: South African Railways 150
  :: NOMINAL VALUE: 2.40 R
    :: ISSUE DATE: 25 June 2010
      :: STAMP DESIGN: Hein Botha    

Celebrating 150 years of South African Railways: 1860 to 2010

by Jean Dulez
courtesy of South Africa Post

Trains-on-stamps is one of the most popular topics among thematic collectors. Train lovers will therefore be delighted to know that no less than ten stamps celebrating 150 years of South African railways will be issued in June 2010. The trains represented in the colourful artworks by Hein Botha, range from the 1860 four-wheeled 'Natal', to the modern-day Gautrain Electrostar to be introduced in 2010.

The first railway to be opened in South Africa was in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and was called the Natal Railway Company. On 26 June 1860, the four-wheeled 'Natal', shown on the first stamp, hauled this train to The Point and back ¬- all of three kilometres.

Six months later, in December 1860, the Cape Town Railway and Dock Company opened a longer railway from Cape Town to Salt River. However, some trains on this route may have operated for construction work prior to the official opening of the Durban line. This Cape Town line was later extended to Wellington and another railway to Wynberg was also opened. All these systems were laid out to standard British gauge of 4 ft 8 ½ in, or 1.435 m.

In 1875, both of the above colonial governments took the decision to narrow the track gauge to the so-called 'Cape' or 3ft 6in (1.065 m) to reduce costs required to forge new provincial railways inland over difficult terrain. The last of the old private standard-gauge railways was eventually closed in 1881.

Between this time and the start of the Anglo Boer War in 1899, the new railway networks were forged inland from various coastal centres and the line reached Kimberley in 1885. The railway was eventually extended north to Bulawayo in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), by 1897. Meanwhile, a railway from Delagoa Bay, in Mozambique, to Pretoria in the former Transvaal Republic, was completed in 1894. The Cape and Durban links to Johannesburg were completed in 1892 and 1895 respectively.

After the end of the Anglo Boer War in 1902, the Central South African Railways (CSAR) administered the rail systems of the former Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics.

Further railway and locomotive development continued until the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. At the same time, the provincial railway of the Cape and Natal colonies, plus those now falling under CSAR, were combined to form a new administration called South African Railways (SAR). Harbours were later included to form South African Railways and Harbours (SAR&H).

New railway lines were added, systems upgraded, rolling stock improved and steam locomotives designed and placed into service until the 1950s. In 1936, the SAR route network extended 22 200 km, of which only 350 km was to the narrow gauge, 2 ft (610 mm) standard.

The SAR assumed the administration of the railways of the former German colony of South West Africa (SWA) (now Namibia) in 1922, and also alternated operation with Rhodesia Railways of the railway through the former Bechuanaland (now Botswana) until 1959. During the 1980s, Namibia and Botswana established their own state corporations to operate their respective railway systems.

SAR's first electrified railway was opened in Natal in 1924. Electrification continued in phases over the main track routes and also within the main metropolitan areas of the Rand, Durban and Cape Town. The early electrification was to the 3 000 Volt direct current (dc) standard but, in 1975, electrification projects for heavy-haul traffic lines were launched to the 25kV alternating current (ac) standard. Eventually, some 18 classes of electric locomotives will have seen service on the SAR and eight different basic types of suburban multiple-unit electric sets.

Steam locomotive development for SAR continued in the mid-1950s, with larger and more powerful locomotives being built. The vast majority of these were supplied from the UK, Germany and the USA. The last Cape gauge steam locomotive was delivered in 1959 and for narrow gauge (610mm) in 1968. In all, more than 250 different types and classes of steam locomotives were placed in service throughout the country over the 100-year period between 1860 and 1968, comprising an impressive total of over 4 250 locomotives.

By the late 1950s, the SAR administration decided to begin phasing out Cape gauge-steam traction in favour of diesel-electric designs, as had become the main practice in the USA and Europe. By 1991, steam locomotives had largely been withdrawn on the SAR and the remaining locomotives transferred for use and storage by the SAR Museum (later Transnet Heritage Preservation) and also various private steam preservation groups.

In 1972, the motive power position was as follows (approximate figures)

Steam locomotives 2 360
Electric 1 290
Diesel 450
Electric multiple unit coach sets 700

As far as the SAR diesel fleet was concerned, standardisation reigned supreme with only some 10 basic types introduced over 40 years between 1958 and 2009.

During the 1980s, SAR was reconfigured into a new parastatal transport organisation called the South African Transport Services (SATS). By 1990, it was renamed Transnet, and its railway arm, Spoornet.

In 2007, the railway operation was renamed Transnet Freight Rail. Later, in 2009, the metropolitan and intercity passenger trail services were separated from Transnet into another organisation, called Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) which functions directly under the Department of Transport.

New heavy-haul routes have been opened from 1975 to 1995 but, by 2009, many secondary and branch lines had to be closed owing to declining traffic levels and heavy competition from the deregulated road transport sector.

The Transnet route system now comprises:

Heavy haul lines 1 610 km
Main lines 6 990 km
Secondary lines 7 900 km
In total, much less than in 1936.

In 2010, the 150th anniversary year, extensive recapitalisation programmes at both Transnet and PRASA are underway. Meanwhile, two provincial railway systems have been established, Kei Rail (Eastern Cape) and the Gautrain rapid transit standard gauge system in Gauteng.

Since the 1960s, both diesel and electric locomotives have been built locally at various South African assembly plants using high-technology imported components, such as electronic equipment and traction motors.

The approximate locomotive motive power position in 1984 was reflected as follows:

Steam 750
Electric 2 160 (350 withdrawn)
Diesel 1 600 (400 withdrawn)
Multiple coach sets 550 (150 withdrawn)

By 2009, this had changed somewhat, owing to the complete phasing out of steam and the withdrawal of older types of electric and diesel locomotives:

Electric 1 410 (156 new units on order, some 500 now refurbished)
Diesel 1 030 (50 new units on order, no significant refurbishment, but a new series of 100 diesels on tender)

Motor coach sets 350 (refurbishment programme underway, 150 completed)


The Natal 0-4-0
The first locomotive to arrive in 1860 and operate the Point railway was a four-wheeled 0-4-0 tank engine was built at a factory in Leeds, UK and supplied through Robert Legg & Co, London. It measured just over 4 m and weighed only 12 tonnes in working order, much less than a modern-day empty freight wagon! After the Natal Railway was rebuilt to Cape gauge in 1875, this locomotive was sold to a local farmer for use as a stationary boiler. After subsequently falling out of service, it was buried in a riverbank for more than 70 years. Some research indicated its last locality and it was excavated in 1944, cosmetically restored and is proudly displayed today in the new Durban station forecourt.

Class NGG 16 Beyer-Garratt 2-6-2+2-6-2

As a result of success in using articulated Beyer-Garratt steam locomotives on the SAR's extensive 600mm narrow gauge lines, an order was placed for an upgraded Garratt design in 1937 with overseas suppliers. More Class NGG16 orders followed; the last of which in 1968, supplied locally by Hunslet Engine Company, Germiston, had the distinction of being the final of all steam locomotives to be placed in service by the SAR. In all, 34 of these locomotives were ordered.

Many of these engines are now in preservation service and some have been exported to the UK, their country of origin, where the best-known examples now serve on the 2ft (610mm) gauge Welsh Highland Railway. Locally, several are in service with the Sandstone Heritage Trust railway (outside Ficksburg, eastern Free State).

Class 24 2-8-4
The Class 24 is a medium-duty locomotive designed for use on lightly laid branch-line tracks, as was typically the case in the South West African (Namibian) railway system, prior to dieselisation in 1960.

From 1948, the North British Locomotive Company in Scotland built 100 of these engines. After diesel traction displaced steam in South West Africa, these engines were dispersed over various branch lines on the SAR. The best known and longest operating locomotives have been a feature of the scenic George to Knysna tourist branch line. This train (known as the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe) continued to operate until the line was closed due to flood damage in August 2006. Several locomotives still remain in local service to Mossel Bay with the Transnet George railway museum and two other preservation groups, but the majority have now been scrapped.

Class 25C 4-8-4
The North British Locomotive Company and Henschel of Germany supplied 90 of these large steam locomotives, built to the popular North American 'Northern' wheel arrangement, between 1953 and 1955. They were designed to operate through the arid Karoo on the main line between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

To conserve scarce water supplies on the Northern Cape routes, they were fitted with special steam condensing equipment. Used steam from the cylinders was collected and fed to the ultra large water tender, which was equipped with five large condensing fans. Water savings of up to 85% could be achieved under ideal conditions. The condensing equipment on all but two locomotives was removed by 1980 and converted to regular Class 25NC (non-condensing type); this was necessary to reduce the mechanical maintenance and, besides, much of the Karoo route had since been electrified. Only one locomotive, No. 3511, remains intact for museum purposes and is currently stored out of service at the Kimberley locomotive depot.

Class 26 4-8-4
At the same time that the Class 25 condensing locomotives were built, another 50 were also supplied by the same manufacturers, but without the condensing equipment. They were classified Class 25NC (non condensing) and were fitted with regular coal/water tenders. In 1980, SAR selected one of these locomotives, No. 3450, for a radical rebuild programme to improve power output and efficiency.

By this time, SAR had already decided to phase out steam power completely and No. 3450 subsequently operated regular revenue-earning duties on the De Aar to Kimberley main line until the early 1990s. To identify the locomotive, it was painted red, together with its tender, earning the popular nickname 'Red Devil'. After being relegated to tour train services during the late 1990s and early 2000s, it operated its last tour trip in 2004. It is now stored out of service at Cape Town's main station as part of the Transnet museum collection.

Class GMA/M Beyer-Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4
The Class GMA/M may be considered the ultimate of the articulated Beyer-Garratt steam designs to have been placed in service on the SAR. 120 of these were delivered between 1954 and 1959 by the three firms of North British, Beyer Peacock and Henschel & Sohn.

The difference between the GMA and GMAM classification was the coal-carrying capacity of the bunker at the rear. The front water tank served as ballast or for emergency use, hence these engines always operated with an auxiliary water tanker to increase operating range. Most of these locomotives saw final regular SAR duty until 1985, with the majority now scrapped. Several survive as static exhibits or preservation usage..

Class 35 Co-Co Diesel-Electric Locomotive
The Class 35 diesel electric locomotives were introduced in 1972 as replacement for aging steam locomotives on the SAR branch lines. Altogether 170 of these were imported and built locally under licence to the General Electric Corp (GE) USA and another 250, also in the USA and South Africa, to the General Motors (EMD) design. The GE version depicted on the stamp is rated at 1160 KW continuous power output and weighs in at 81 tonnes. The units are powered by a V8 diesel engine driving a dc generator, which in turn supplies power to six axle hung traction motors. The majority of Class 35s are still in service. However, following many branch line closures in recent years, some have seen service on multiple unit operations over main lines in order to supplement the regular main line Class 34-diesel fleet.

Class 9E Co-Co 50KV ac Electric Locomotive
The original electric locomotives introduced between the 1920s and the 1970s, operated on the early 3 kV dc system. In the mid-1970s, 25 kV ac traction was introduced as a more efficient power distribution system, along with more effective air-braking installations, for lengthy freight trains. However, for the long haul 860 km iron ore export railway between Sishen, in the Northern Cape and the port of Saldanha, in the Western Cape, a decision was made to adopt the 50 KV ac distribution system. A total of 31 Class 9Es were built at the Union Carriage and Wagon Works, Nigel, Gauteng from 1978, using imported high-technology components. In view of increased traffic levels on this export railway (trains now comprise 342 wagon, 35000 ton loads) insufficient 9E availability has necessitated supplementing motive power with additional Class 34 diesels, as depicted on the stamp design. This power problem will be alleviated with the introduction of the 44 new Class 15E upgraded 50 kV locomotive design from 2010 onwards; these new electrics units will be the heaviest (180 tonnes) and most powerful (4400 kW) to be placed service on this Transnet heavy-haul system (see inset).

Class 19E Bo-Bo Dual Voltage Electric Locomotive
The Witbank coal fields to Richard Bay heavy-haul export railway was initially electrified to 3000 V dc standard as far as Ermelo, in Mpumalanga. The electrification of the newly upgraded section from Ermelo to Richards Bay port terminal in KwaZulu Natal was completed later to the more efficient and cost effective 25 kV ac standard. This necessitated a switch from dc- to ac-powered traction at the extensive Ermelo interchange marshalling yard. The 110 Class 19Es ordered by Transnet Freight Rail are based on technology previously applied to the dual dc/ac locomotive type, the Class 14E. Placed in service at the end of 2009, the Class 19Es are able to switch voltage supply automatically between the dc and ac transmission network at Ermelo station, hence may operate straight through without stopping and changing locomotives, saving much train marshalling and time.

Gautrain Electrostar Bo-Bo
The first provincial railway in Gauteng is due to be partly commissioned by mid-2010. The rapid transit system is being built to European standard-gauge track (the first in South Africa since the early 1880s) and is designed to provide rapid rail high-class commuter service between OR Tambo International Airport to both Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The 24 train sets supplied are based on the UK Electrostar intercity type, operating currently in the UK. Apart from the pilot train sets imported directly from the Derby factory in the UK, the remaining units have been assembled locally at Union Carriage & Wagon Partnership, Nigel, from imported 'knock down' kits. The sets operate to the standard 25kV ac supply system.

The maximum operating speed of the train sets is 160 km/hr, the fastest regular train service in the country today. Passenger capacity (with standing room) ranges from 77 to 165 persons per car, depending on the specific coach application.

Cover One
Germiston-based Reefsteamers Preservation Group operates this Class 12AR 4-8-2 'Susan' on local day trips, mainly as far as Magaliesburg. The Class 12 and Class 12As were an early SAR main-line steam design dating back to 1912. This locomotive type underwent boiler modifications (designated 'R' within the classification) in the 1950s and has also recently undergone mechanical refurbishment. This particular engine has seen service for preservation and steam tour duties for over 25 years, something of a record for preserved steam locomotives in this country.

Cover Two
The Class 6E1 Bo-Bo 3kV dc electric locomotive, of which 960 have been locally built, today provide the mainstay of motive power on the older Transnet main electrified lines. Over 500 of these have now been refurbished into upgraded Class 17E and later Class 18E units.

The semaphore (mechanical) signals shown have now largely been phased out of the rail network in favour of more modern colour light signalling (operated by centralised traffic-control systems on the main trunk routes) or alternative radio-operated traffic-control systems along non-electrified routes.

Line drawings on self-edge of stamp sheet
(from top, clockwise around)

Class 4E 1Co-Co1 Electric Locomotive
Between 1952 and 1954, 40 Class 4E locomotives were built by UK suppliers for use on the steeply graded electrified lines in the Western Cape between Worcester and Touws River. They operated on 3 kV dc power, were rated at 1 880 kW and weighed 157 tonnes, the heaviest electric locomotive to see service in the SAR until the appearance of the Class 9E, also depicted on one of the stamps. This class saw service until the 1970s, being replaced by the more modern and powerful Class 6E/6E1 designs, which still dominate Transnet's 3kV dc systems today.

Class 15E Co-Co 50kV Locomotive
Forty-four Class 15E locomotives to 50kV standard are currently on order for service on the 860km Sishen to Saldanha iron ore export railway. The first of these units have been delivered for testing at Saldanha late 2009 and will supplement the Class 9E fleet and so reduce usage of helper diesel locomotives (see Class 9E main stamp). A further 18 units of this type are envisaged in the future.

Class NG 15 2-8-2
Between 1931 and 1953, 21 of these large outside frame locomotives were delivered to the SAR from two European firms, and were intended for use on the remaining narrow gauge (610 mm) lines in SWA. Owing to their period of service in SWA, they became known as the 'Kalaharis'. Following the conversion of last narrow-gauge railway in SWA to Cape gauge in 1960, these locomotives were redeployed on the various South African narrow-gauge systems and several still remain in preservation service. Some have also now been sold to overseas operations, but two or three remain in use on local preserved railways, such as the Port Elizabeth-based 'Apple Express'

Class 7E Co-Co Electric Locomotive
The Class 7E series locomotives were designed for freight service on the lines electrified to 25kV alternating current (ac) standard and 99 of these were delivered between 1978 and 1979. Subsequent variants of this design (7E1, 7E2, 7E3) were later ordered and placed in service between 1979 and 1985. Although allocated to all of Transnet's six separate 25kV systems, the largest number of this class is currently employed on the heavy-haul Ermelo to Richards Bay coal link. During the late 1990s, many of these units, allocated the coal line, have been upgraded with modern microprocessor control and more powerful braking systems. This braking enhancement was necessary to cope with the heavy downhill gradients evident on this railway, which terminates at the coal terminal near Richards Bay harbour.

Class 23 4-8-2 Steam Locomotive
Between 1937 and 1939, Henschel & Co, Germany, delivered 136 of these general-purpose steam locomotives, one of the largest orders placed by the SAR at the time. These engines weighed 110 tonnes and their large tenders 104 tonnes. Most were placed in service on the Cape main line between Klerksdorp, De Aar and Touws River but were withdrawn relatively soon (by the early 1970s) owing to the introduction of the more powerful and modern Class 25s (depicted on one of the stamps) and also owing to the later electrification of various of these main lines.

Class MH Mallet 2-6-6-2
In 1915, the North British Locomotive Company delivered five locomotives of this articulated Mallet design. At this time they were the most powerful steam locomotives on the Cape gauge system worldwide. Eventually such steam designs were superseded by the more versatile Beyer-Garratt concept. The Class MH locomotives saw some 32 years freight service before being withdrawn by 1940.

Class NG15 2-8-2 Narrow Gauge Steam locomotive
See above description 

Class 34 Co-Co
The 111-tonne Class 34s comprise the mainstay of Transnets' mainline diesel-electric traction fleet. Consecutive orders were supplied between 1971 and 1981, locally to alternative General Electric and General Motors designs. In all, 690 units have been delivered. The specific locomotive depicted is the General Motors EMD (type GT 26MC). These locomotives are fitted with a two stroke V16 turbo-charged diesel engine driving an ac alternator, which, in turn powers, 6-axle hung traction motors. Five have been refurbished as upgraded, more powerful Class 39-000s. These units will eventually be superseded by a similar type Class 39-200 series (50 built as new) and 100 proposed Class 40 diesel electric main-line locomotives, from 2010 onwards.

ISSUE DATE: 25 June 2010
CIRCULATION: 500 000 sheets of 10 stamps
STAMP SIZE: 60mm x 23.20mm
STAMP SHEET SIZE: 150mm x 146mm
PAPER: 110 gsm stamp paper
PHOSPHOR: 4 mm in L shape, on top and right of stamp
PRINTING PROCESS: Offset Lithography
PRINTER: Joh. Enschedé Stamps B.V., The Netherland

Celebrating 150 years of South African Railways: 1860 to 2010

PRICE: R15.00