Shosholoza Meyl Returns to Service in South Africa

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Train service in South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg has returned after being suspended due to infrastructure issues.

"In a welcome piece of news for holiday-makers and travellers alike, the iconic Shosholoza Meyl train service has triumphantly returned to the tracks, rekindling the joy of rail travel between Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town just in time for the December holidays."

Shosholoza Meyl returns
 
Apparently the electric grid in South Africa is on the verge of collapse with everyone sometimes getting multiple hours of controlled blackout every day. I wonder if the electrified railroad is also affected by this and if that is part of what cause service to be suspended.
 
Apparently the electric grid in South Africa is on the verge of collapse with everyone sometimes getting multiple hours of controlled blackout every day. I wonder if the electrified railroad is also affected by this and if that is part of what cause service to be suspended.
Too bad they don't still have the steam locomotive fleet they were still running up until a few years ago.
 
Considering that their electricity production is primarily from coal I'm guessing steam (even if from oil) would be equally affected...
No. It has nothing to do with the technology used. It has more to do with poor management, lack of maintenance and failure to build enough new power stations of any technology, to account for rising demand. ;)

Apparently for domestic consumption, people who have the means are all running their little diesel generators at home. I have a relative who lives in Durban. They are now loudly complaining about the cost of diesel in addition to the cost of electricity when it is available from the grid. They have to run their own generator several hours a day apparently.
 
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The video in the article linked above provides some background information on the infrastructure issues faced by passenger rail in South Africa. The issues with the power grid were not mentioned.
Yup. Pretty much the same problem that the power grid has faced. Neglect, poor management, deferred maintenance and such until reliable operation became impossible. And like other infrastructure, there is some attempt at mending going on.
 
I see some reference to vandalism being a serious problem on these lines. What does this mean? Are people running off with the wiring?
Vandalism of wiring happens even in some part of India, specially low voltage or ground return circuit wires for electric traction. Copper is a very desirable commodity. It gets problematic when there is vandalism of track parts. I don't know what the deal is in South Africa.
 
Considering that their electricity production is primarily from coal I'm guessing steam (even if from oil) would be equally affected...
South Africa has plenty of coal mines and coal reserves. Oil has to be imported - during the trade embargoes in the apartheid era, SA was manufacturing oil from coal. That was also why they kept steam locomotives in operation longer than other countries.
 
Vandalism of wiring happens even in some part of India, specially low voltage or ground return circuit wires for electric traction. Copper is a very desirable commodity. It gets problematic when there is vandalism of track parts. I don't know what the deal is in South Africa.
Without getting too deep into it, the ANC has serious corruption issues which have blown up at various times (but them having essentially had the run of the place since '94 brings with it all of the issues you might expect in a single-party dominant scenario). Basically you've had three decades of dubious management combined with a lot of (generally well-educated, mostly white) folks leaving the country starting in the 1990s. They've had two bouts of economic stagnation (the 1990s and the 2010s were both pretty rough based on real USD data) and unemployment has been spectacular for decades (aside from a one-year blip in 1995, it's been stuck over 20% since 1991 [even in the 2000s, which were good years, it improved...from 27% to 22%]), and there's non-trivial adult illiteracy (around 10-12%).
In short, it's a situation that is not-at-all unlike what I understand India looks like, just trading lower illiteracy and higher GDP for an even worse unemployment situation.
 
Vandalism of wiring happens even in some part of India, specially low voltage or ground return circuit wires for electric traction. Copper is a very desirable commodity. It gets problematic when there is vandalism of track parts. I don't know what the deal is in South Africa.
I think cable theft is a problem the world over. It has happened in the Uk in the last few years too. the thieves are very crafty and seem to be in the know when power is switched off for maintenance. They also steal rolls of new cable from work sites. Network Rail now stamps identification codes onto its cabling. Scrap dealers accepting cable are expected to check that its provenance is legal. I understand that some individuals have already been arrested when trying to sell stolen cable.

In Hungary I have even heard of a case of metal thieves stealing new rails that had been delivered to a works site to rebuild a disused branch line as a tourist line. As a result of this loss, the rebuilding had to be abandoned. It took them another 10 years to try again. This time they were succesful.
 
In short, it's a situation that is not-at-all unlike what I understand India looks like, just trading lower illiteracy and higher GDP for an even worse unemployment situation.
Just focusing on property theft from infrastructure, I don't think India has ever had the problem as bad as South Africa has had, and their problem is not just post apartheid. Or so I am told by my relative who lived there under both regimes.
 
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