On the one hand, Gauteng's old stations and well-preserved steam trains evoke the romance and nostalgia of rail travel in the golden age of steam and on the other, there is the hustle and bustle of modern day commuter travel in the modern Johannesburg railway station.

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Gauteng province is well serviced when it comes to rail infrastructure and includes lines from Vereeniging in the south, Nigel in the east, Randfontein and Oberholzer in the west and Oliefantsfontein in the north.

Gauteng province is well serviced when it comes to rail infrastructure and includes lines from Vereeniging in the south, Nigel in the east, Randfontein and Oberholzer in the west and Olifantsfontein in the north.

Historic highlights include The Old Station Building in Krugersdorp, a national monument which dates back to the construction of the first railway line between Springs and Krugersdorp in 1887. The Cullinan station experience includes an exquisite turn-of-the-century station. Germiston Station in Ekurhuleni is a little gem which steam locomotive enthusiasts should make a point of visiting to see the many well-preserved 'Puffing Billies' that have come to their final stop here. Also available is a ride on a coal train.

There are many museums in the province with wonderfully preserved period trains. In the West Rand, on the road between Krugersdorp and Randfontein Millsite, is the Railway Preservation Centre which houses a historic rail collection that includes locomotives and other equipment still in working order.

Based in Rosettenville Johannesburg, opposite the Rand Stadium, the James Hall Museum of Transport is an incredible collection of various modes of land transport that range from steam driven vehicles, trains, trams and trolley buses, to animal drawn carriages, early bicycles and cars.

In Sedibeng, there's the Nigel Train Museum. This museum is a private endeavour with an impressive collection of historical trains and can only be visited by prior arrangement or appointment on +27 (0)11 360-6000. The gracious colonial-style railway station, Capital Park, built in 1939, just north of Pretoria, serves as an elegant departure and arrival stage for Rovos Rail journey. The once derelict locomotive yard is now a permanent base for the world's most luxurious train. The site has been transformed into a working railway museum.

In our more recent history during the apartheid era, many residents were housed in hostels used to accommodate labourers from rural areas. The remaining hostels in Atteridgeville are a reminder of that time of oppression. Hostel dwellers used to board the train at the Saulsville Railway Station, built in 1958, to their places of employment.

Johannesburg's main station is Park Station, just north of the central business district, a destination for both local and mainline trains and the largest railway station in Africa. It was completely renovated in the late 1990s and is now a major transport hub. To the east of Park Station are Doornfontein, Ellis Park and Jeppe stations. To the west are Braamfontein, Grosvenor and Langlaagte stations, as well as the particularly well preserved art deco Mayfair station, while the south has Faraday, Westgate, Booysens, Crown and Village Main stations.

The old Park Station from the 1930s can still be visited. It is situated on the southern end of the 'new' station down a flight of stairs, on the old station concourse. This gracious and grand Victorian atrium includes the venerable Blue Room, which has been used for numerous commercial shoots and where scenes from Pure Blood were shot in 1999, and the now defunct but still extant tea room with hand-painted tiles depicting scenes in the history of South Africa. Visit http://architectafrica.com/bin1/johannesburg_station.html for extraordinary images of 50 year old graffiti in unused passages in the bowels of Park Station. According to the website, this humid but otherwise stable environment has allowed these paper posters to live on as self preserved macabre art forms in the deep dark dungeons of Park Station. Contact Makgati Molebatse from Intersite on +27 (0)82 786 2708 to find out how to access this fascinating location.

The very original Old Park Station was removed from its original site and moved to Carr Street in Newtown where it overlooks the railway line to the North and Brickfields to the South. The metal and glass shell of the original old Park Station, erected in Johannesburg in 1897, sits on a heavy concrete platform overlooking vacant land. For more information on using this location, contact John Kennedy of Propnet on +27 (0)82 297 4562

The Pretoria Station in Tshwane was the first public building Sir Herbert Baker designed and built in South Africa in 1910. Today the Station still includes its beautiful quarry tiles, teak doorways with brass knobs, and high arches and marble columns.

If it's trains you are after, the best place for filming period trains must be in Tshwane at Friends of the Rail. Friends of the Rail offer fun vintage steam train outings. They bring the old SA railway history and technology alive in a living museum that is located in a real working railway environment. Regular vintage steam train trips run in and around Pretoria-Tshwane as well as to Rayton, Cullinan and Bela Bela. Friends of The Rail itself is a non-profit heritage club that comprises a group of willing members who voluntarily tackle jobs, both large and small, to preserve and keep our heritage steam trains running for the education and enjoyment of future generations.

Departure is from the Friends of the Rail newly-established Hermanstad station. The station is located in what was once the small-goods loading yard alongside Hercules marshalling yards. The corrugated iron goods shed and platform are both original structures, as is a cattle loading dock.

The route takes you through many of Tshwane-Pretoria's suburbs, travelling on tracks that follow routes that were established by the former Pretoria-Pietersburg Railway Company (1897-8), the Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg Maatschappij'NZASM (built c 1893), the Central South African Railways;CSAR and the South African Railways.

Friends of the Rail has painstakingly restored into service a variety of ex-South African Railway steam locomotives. The core of the passenger fleet is made up of 'slam-door' suburban sitter-type day coaches dating from around the 1950s and 1960s. Metal bodied, but internally wood panelled, these coaches were marshalled as part of the multiple-unit train sets running in most of the major urban areas until the arrival of the Metro sliding door sets (5M and later) seen today. Besides the 5 day-sitter coaches in regular use, Friends of the Rail has turned one coach into a bar-lounge ('Shades of Steam') while another remains totally open giving the ability to create any configuration needed (conference coach, party or dance coach, children's play coach, etc). Amongst the other passenger vehicles in Friends of the Rail's care is the former 'Regional Manager's Saloon' which is ideal for VIP entertainment. Equipped with sleeping accommodation, a fully-equipped kitchen and a full bathroom, complete with bath, this coach would make a super home away from home on wheels. Their operational locomotives include the 15F, 19D and 24.

In line with its objective to preserve as wide a variety of railway heritage as possible, Friends of the Rail has accumulated a number of units of historical value, which will be restored as and when time and funds permit and some, like the fairly modern cabooses, will probably remain for the near future on roster as convenient storage facilities. Rolling stock includes sitter coaches, third class sitter coaches, first, second and third class sleepers, wooden luxury coaches, and a variety of goods wagons.

Friends of the Rail are definitely 'film friendly' and receive many requests for filming from BBC documentaries to magazine programmes to commercials, which they are more than willing to accommodate. There are various options available for filming:

  • A train can be chartered for the day at a cost of R30 000
  • Filming inside the depot including a locomotive put on steam costs R12 000
  • Filming when there is a scheduled trip or while the train is parked at Cullinan Station - with movement costs approximately R5 000
  • If a train is stationery or happens to be passing by while doing a trip - a donation is appreciated or mention of Friends of the Rail in credits.

Contact Arno Victor on +27 (0)82 293 4616 or email him on sales@friendsoftherail.com or visit www.friendsoftherail.com for more information on what is available at Friends of the Rail.

Production companies wanting to film on standard Transnet lines should take note that Transnet Freight Rail has confirmed that it has placed restrictions on all filming on its railway tracks due to safety reasons. The filming of trains will only be allowed if they do not adversely interfere with the company's day to day operations. Transnet Freight Rail is not responsible for train stations as the company does not operate passenger services. Such requests have to be forwarded to the relevant passenger operating services. These restrictions are applicable country wide.

The Gauteng Film Commission has requested that all Transnet Freight Rail and Metrorail filming applications applicable for Gauteng are submitted via the GFC offices in order to ensure an efficient application process. For assistance with all permit applications please contact Seitiso Mogoshane on +27 (0)11 833 0409 or +27 (0)83 608 4324 or via email seitisom@gautengfilm.org.za

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View the 'The Golden Age of Steam' gallery