Sunday saw Louis Trichardt’s launch of the re-introduction of Shosholoza Meyl’s passenger train service between Johannesburg and Musina. Among the special guests attending the launch were (from left to right), Mr Jaco Voigt (chairman of the Soutpansberg Chamber of Commerce and Tourism), Ms Daisy Daniel (head of marketing and communications at PRASA), Ms Nokuzola Mancoba (PRASA marketing and communications), Mr Abby Lehola (Makhado Business Forum secretary), Mr Ben Makinita (PRASA marketing and communications), Mr Ntsieni Mbulumgeni (Thulamela Business Forum) and Mr Jonas Malada (deputy chairman of the Makhado Business Forum).
Date: 10 March 2018 By: Andries van Zyl
The railway station in Louis Trichardt was a beehive of activity once more on Sunday afternoon, following a four-year period of almost complete quietness.
Sunday marked Louis Trichardt’s official launch of the Shosholoza Meyl passenger train service, which was re-introduced between Johannesburg, Polokwane and Musina last week by PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa). Louis Trichardt’s launch was preceded by a similar launch in Musina earlier that day and in Polokwane on 1 March.
Speaking at the launch, Ms Daisy Daniel (head of marketing and communications at PRASA) started off by apologizing to the community of Makhado for suspending the service in 2014. The service was suspended as the route between Musina and Johannesburg had performed below 30% cost coverage. PRASA had since then, explained Daniel, revisited their decision as it went against their mandate to transport all South Africans in all nine provinces. “I stand here on behalf of management to say: We took a wrong decision to discontinue the service. I hope my apology will be accepted by the community,” said Daniel.
Daniel urged the Makhado community to make use of the service and act as ambassadors for the service. “What we as PRASA are saying is: Here is the service, use it to your benefit ... The service is not ours, it is yours,” said Daniel.
Sunday’s launch was attended, among others, by members of the local business fraternity including Mr Jaco Voigt, chairman of the Soutpansberg Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Mr Ntsieni Mbulumgeni of the Thulamela Business Forum and members of the Makhado Business Forum, including secretary Mr Abby Lehola and deputy forum chairman Mr Jonas Malada. All of them expressed their excitement about the service’s being re-introduced to the region.
This journey between Johannesburg and Polokwane takes eight hours and the journey to Musina 10 hours from departure. The Shosholoza Meyl train will depart from Johannesburg on Wednesdays at 17:15 to arrive in Polokwane on Thursdays at 01:15. It will depart from Polokwane at 22:35 on Thursday to arrive back in Johannesburg at 05:44 on Fridays. On Fridays, the train will depart from Johannesburg at 17:15 to arrive in Musina on Saturdays at 08:45, from where it will depart back to Johannesburg at 15:25.
The cost of a one-way tickets starts from as little as R100 for Economy (Sitter) Class and R160 for Tourist (sleeper) Class. “If we are saying that we are the cheapest means of transport, it means we must be cheaper than any other mode of transport. That is how we got to the price of R100 throughout,” said Daniel.
Security is available on board to ensure all customers enjoy a pleasant and safe experience. The train will have a dining car that provides meals, tea/coffee and refreshments at an affordable price. The train stops at intermediate stations such as Germiston, Pretoria, Hammanskraal, Bela Bela, Naboomspruit, Mokopane, Polokwane, Soekmekaar, Makhado and Mopani.
Customers can book tickets by visiting their nearest station or phoning 015 519 4202 (Louis Trichardt), 015 534 7225 (Musina), 015 299 6205 (Polokwane), 011 773 6566 (Johannesburg) or 012 315 2090 (Pretoria).
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.