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​Historic timeline of events

            

Photo Gallery

View in the photo gallery the origins of rail in South Africa dating back to 1853

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Timeline - 1800s

  • 1835

    First meeting of the Preliminary Committee of the "Cape of Good Hope Western Railway" with Harrison Watson, prominent Cape banker as chairman.

  • 1850

    Milne's wooden track oxen-powered railway between the Bluff and the Harbour, Port Natal, the forerunner of the railway in Africa.

  • 1851

    Estimates for the construction of the Cape Town-Wellington railway submitted by the Cape Government, with a cost of 500 000 pounds and a guarantee of six percent interest per annum. The estimate was prepared by Sir Charles Fox, the eminent railway engineer.

  • 1853 August 21

    Cape Town Railway and Dock company formed.

  • 1859 January

    Natal Railway Company formed.

  • 1859 March 31

    Turning of first sod Cape Town – Wellington railway.

  • 1860 June 26

    Opening of the first railway line in South Africa - Point to Durban.

  • 1862 February 13

    Opening of railway from Cape Town to Eerste River.

  • 1862 May 1

    Opening of railway from Eerste River to Stellenbosch

  • 1863 November 4

    Opening of railway from Stellenbosch to Wellington (Cape Town to Wellington)

  • 1864 December 19

    Opening of railway from Salt River to Wynberg.

  • 1867 April 4

    Opening of railway from Durban to Umgeni.

  • 1873 January 1

    Transfer of the Cape Town – Wellington Railway to Government and leasing of Salt River - Wynberg Railway to Government.

  • 1876 January 1

    First sod of Durban – Pietermaritzburg railway line turned.

  • 1876 June 16

    Cape main-line extension to Worcester opened.

  • 1877 May 1

    Line opened from East London to King William’s Town.

  • 1879 August 26

    Port Elizabeth railway reached Graaff-Reinet.

  • 1880 February 5

    Line from Worcester to Beaufort West opened.

  • 1880 May 5

    East London railway reached Queenstown (Old Cape Eastern main-line).

  • 1880 December 1

    Natal railway reached Pietermartizburg.

  • 1881 June 1

    Line from Port Elizabeth to Cradock opened.

  • 1882 April

    Electric lighting introduced on African Continent by Cape Government Railways at Table Bay Harbour.

  • 1884 March 31

    Cape Town and Port Elizabeth Railway linked up at De Aar.

  • 1884 November 3

    Cape railway reached Orange river from De Aar.

  • 1885 September 2

    East London railway reached Aliwal North.

  • 1885 November

    De Aar – Kimberley railway line opened.

  • 1886 June 21

    Line from Pietermaritzburg to Ladysmith, Natal opened.

  • 1887 June 21

    Establishment of the Netherlands South African Railway Company (Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij (NZASM)).

  • 1888

    Electric lighting of trains introduced by Cape Government Railways.

  • 1890

    Johannesburg Station laid out by Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij, then known as ‘Park Halt’.

  • 1890 March 17

    First railway in Transvaal between Johannesburg and Boksburg, known as ‘Rand Tram’, subsequently extended to Springs and Krugersdorp.

  • 1891 April 7

    Natal main-line opened as far as Charlestown.

  • 1891 July 1

    Line between Portuguese Border and Komatipoort opened.

  • 1892 September 15

    Arrival of the first train at Johannesburg from Cape Town, via Bloemfontein.

  • 1894 October 20

    Railway from Delagoa Bay (Maputo) reached Pretoria.

  • 1896 January 2

    Opening of complete service between Johannesburg and Durban.

  • 1896 February 19

    Braamfontein Station Dynamite explosion.

  • 1897 November 4

    Formal opening of the railway to Bulawayo from Cape Town .

  • 1897 November 4

    Formal opening of the railway to Bulawayo from Cape Town .