By Umamah Bakharia
Durban’s iconic Umgeni Steam Railway is looking to fundraise more than R1 million to get trains up and running after the devastating flooding in KwaZulu-Natal last month.
The Steam Railway has been forced to cease operations after the railway line was badly damaged in the severe flooding.
In an interview with Radio Islam International, Umgeni Steam Railway’s Ashley Peter says the impact of the floods affected the railway tracks for approximately 34km by rockfalls and mudslides.
“We have got a big job on our hands to try and get things up and running again,” says Peter.
He adds: “We have started some of the repair work that we can do on the track, we’ve got contractors working on about four of those places but it’s a long road ahead to try and get everything up and running.”
Umgeni Steam Railway was travelling 4 days a month with a thousand passengers during the month.
The operation and basic maintenance of the steam trains are done by unpaid volunteers, however, Peter says it becomes a challenge when specialised work is required to execute the task.
According to Peter, the tracks that the Umgeni Steam Trains use are owned by Transnet. However, Transnet has not used the tracks in over 25 years. And thus allowed Umgeni Steam Railways to make use of it as long as it is maintained.
“So at the moment, we are on our own in terms of trying to get the track up to running condition,” says Peter.
Transnet has been working on repairs to its tracks in Johannesburg and Durban.