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Rovos Rail Journeys
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Headquarters of Rovos Rail

The gracious colonial-style railway station, Capital Park, 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. In 1939 Capital Park was chosen as the site for a new locomotive shed and marshalling yard. Completed in 1943, the yard in its heyday was extremely busy housing some 140 steam locomotives. Technology and time moved on and with the arrival of electric and diesel engines the steam locomotive sheds at Capital Park experienced a steady decline. In January 1998 Rovos Rail was successful in obtaining a long-term lease over Capital Park. The property has recently grown to 56 acres, has 15 lines totalling a distance of 7km, of which a hundred meter section is under roof, and has a coal stage with 40 loading chutes. All the rolling stock, consisting of 75 carriages and 6 locomotives, the administrative offices, stores and workshops are now based at Capital Park. The loco sheds are being rehabilitated and the loco department will take occupation in November 2006. The aim was not only to rebuild the site to a world beating standard, but also to transform it into a working railway museum.

The power and Glory of Rovos Rail

Five superbly reconditioned locomotives are the soul of Rovos Rail and a sight to gladden the heart of any rail enthusiast. Each has a story behind its acquisition and restoration. Each has a distinctive character and charm and they are all named after owners Rohan and Anthea Vos’s children. The oldest and smallest engine in the stable is 439 TIFFANY – one of 40 Class 6 Locomotives manufactured by Dubs & Co in 1893. Rohan and Anthea Vos first saw this petite loco on the platform of Winburg Station in the Eastern Freestate and it was love at first sight. The loco was purchased in 1987 and Dunns Locomotive in Witbank was commissioned to return the Class 6 to running condition. She is named after their youngest daughter. 2701 BRENDA, 2702 BIANCA and 3360 SHAUN are named after Rohan and Anthea's other three children. They are Class 19D Locomotives which were all built during the 1930’s. All three locomotives were saved from scrap metal dealers and, after extensive restoration by Dunns Locomotive and the Rovos staff, were put back into service in 1989. 3484 MARJORIE is named after Rohan’s mother. Built in 1954 by the North British in Glasgow, she is a Class 25NC Locomotive that has been converted from a coal burner to an oil-fired engine. She can cover a distance of 700 kms without needing to stop for oil or water whereas the steam locomotives have to stop after 100 kms for water and 300 kms for coal. 3442 ANTHEA is named after Rohan's wife and is also a Class 25NC, built in 1953 by Henschel of Germany. She has been restored in original coal burning condition.

The use of steam has become increasingly difficult over the years as more and more water and coaling facilities have been scrapped. Wherever practical the trains may be drawn by any one of the five vintage steam locomotives. Where facilities no longer exist, diesel or electric locomotives will be used. Rovos Rail will, however, endeavour to ensure that arrival and departures in Pretoria are steam hauled.

Step aboard the Pride of Africa
Since its establishment in 1989, Rovos Rail has earned an international reputation for its truly world class travel experiences. Step aboard the wood panelled coaches - classics remodelled and refurbished to mint condition - and enjoy fine cuisine in five-star luxury as some of the most varied scenery imaginable unfolds beyond the windows. Recapture the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era, when privileged travellers experienced the magic and mystery of Africa in a relaxed and elegant fashion.The trains - which may be hauled by steam, diesel or electric locomotives at various stages of the journey - carry a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 superbly appointed suites. Pride of place in the Rovos stable goes to the historic and newly rebuilt Capital Park Station and locomotive yard, which is the heart and new headquarters of this private railway company.

inside the drivers cab   Sideview of loco


World Class Comfort and Style

The rebuilt sleeper coaches contain the most spacious train suites in the world, offering every modern convenience and comfort. The epitome of luxury, with handsome wood panelling and period Edwardian features, the air-conditioned suites accommodate two people offering the option of twin or spacious double beds. All are equipped with a writing desk and, for valuables, a personal safe. There is also a bar fridge filled with beverages of the passengers’ choice and room service is available 24 hours a day. In the en suite bathrooms original fittings combine with the modern technology of hot showers, hair dryers and shaver plugs. The Royal Suites, each of which take up half a carriage, are spacious and elegant, measuring 16 sq metres in size (172 sg ft). Each has its own private lounge area and full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower. The Deluxe suites (11 sq metres/118 sq feet) also accommodate two passengers in either twin or double beds and have a lounge area and en-suite bathroom with shower. A third level of accommodation, the “Pullman” suite will be 7 square metres in size and while it will include the identical bathroom to that of the deluxe suites, the bedroom will be smaller with a one up one down bunk for twin requirements or a double bed for couples. During the day this can be converted into a comfortable couch.


A Superb Collection of Restored Coaches

Rovos Rail operates two classic 20-coach, 72 berth trains as well as a third 13-coach, 42-berth Edwardian train which is available year round for charter. Each one of these carriages, from kitchen cars to sleeper coaches and guards vans, has its own story. A few dating back to 1911 were constructed in Europe and shipped to South Africa in the first half of this century. Some carriages have carried royalty, while others have ended up serving as restaurants or lying derelict and forgotten on sidings for decades. These coaches have been collected from the far corners of the country and are now cherished members of the Rovos fleet of 75 carriages. The coaches have been painstakingly rebuilt and the use fine wood panelling, traditional furnishings and period décor has ensured an atmosphere of elegance and grandeur. Exquisite pillared dining cars are a signature of the Rovos Rail trains. Each one has a proud history and has been meticulously restored from a derelict state. For example Dining Car No 195 ‘ Shangani ‘, which was built in 1924, was found parked in a siding in Alberton near Johannesburg before its acquisition by Rohan Vos in 1986. Three of the magnificent teak pillars had been removed and these were faithfully crafted, restoring the Victorian atmosphere. Each of the trains has two 42-seater dining cars to accommodate the maximum complement of 72 passengers in total comfort at one sitting. Each train has a non-smoking Observation Car at the rear of the train, while the coach next to it contains a small smoking lounge. A unique feature of the Observation Cars is the enlarged windows and open-air balconies. At the centre of the train we have, when numbers dictate, a non-smoking Lounge Car, which houses the Gift Shop.


Simple Elegant & Entertaining

An enthusiastic team of chefs is responsible for overseeing the very important task of ensuring guests every need is catered for, while considerable thought and meticulous planning goes into making up the menus. Unlike many of the great trains of the world, travellers are on board the trains for several days at a time, requiring a much wider selection of meals. There's an accent on fresh local ingredients, and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty. Every morning there's a full breakfast with dishes cooked to order. A selection of cold meats, croissants, pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals and preserves make up a tempting breakfast buffet. For lunch and dinner there is a starter and a choice of fish, meat or vegetarian dishes, followed by a tempting dessert and are complemented by a selection of excellent South African wines. All meals are served in one sitting only in the charming Victorian atmosphere of the Dining Cars. Many of the passengers aboard the Pride of Africa enjoy the formality of fine china, crisp linen and silver, and dress accordingly.During the day dress is more casual, with cool, comfortable clothes and hats recommended for the excursions, especially in the game reserves where it can be very hot. The Observation Car seats 32 passengers and is positioned at the rear of the train. At the centre of the train we have, when numbers dictate, a non-smoking Lounge Car, which seats 26 passengers in comfort. In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets onboard.




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