News: Garden Route`s Choo-Tjoe’s fate in the hands of Transnet


Transnet, owner of the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, has said that its revival is not an option without the R150 million required to repair its flood-damaged rail infrastructure, according to a report in Business Day.

"Transnet does not have the R150m required to put the Choo-Tjoe back on track but we will listen to anyone who is prepared to put up the money,” said Transnet CEO, Brian Molefe. Before the floods of 2006, the Choo-Tjoe attracted up to 150 000 rail enthusiasts from around the world to the Garden Route every year, generating about R10 million a year in ticket sales alone and tens of millions more in general tourist revenue.

The service was brought to an abrupt halt when the railway line was severely damaged by massive land slips, mainly in the Kaaimans Pass region at Wilderness. Molefe said he was a supporter of preserving SA’s railway heritage, hence the parastatal’s continued support of rail museums in George and Mossel Bay but money was a big factor in the case of the Choo-Tjoe. "There is no guarantee that the considerable investment required will eventually be covered by the potential returns."

According to the report, Western Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, and the Garden Route Cycleway Association have been championing for the Choo-Tjoe’s restoration to its former glory.

However, the minister recently said he was losing hope because of Transnet’s long silence – which was despite an earlier decision in principle to transfer the steam engine, coaches and railway line to the Western Cape government. He vowed to keep trying to save "this valuable tourism asset".

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