The economic downturn threatens to knock most surviving South African branch lines – even some main lines – off the map. One of these is the 215km Groenbult-Tzaneen-Marulaneng (Hoedspruit) section in Limpopo province, which sees little traffic. There are still drivers based at Tzaneen but only one locomotive and (we are told) they mainly sit around. In the days of Bushveld Train Safaris, as many as six trips were run in eight weeks over this scenic line.

At Port Shepstone, endpoint of the 111km south coast line from Durban, limestone traffic to Saiccor – which was under threat of withdrawal in mid-February – is still running on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, our correspondent reports, at the rate of six wagons per train. One imagines there can be little enthusiasm at Transnet Freight Rail for continuing this operation, considering the cost of keeping open Port Shepstone station, where a shunting locomotive is still based. Passenger service ended many years ago and the narrow-gauge to Harding is closed.

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