South Africa & Zimbabwe

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South Africa and Zimbabwe, July 1992

This gallery contains photographs from a journey on the “Union Limited Zambesi” train from Johannesburg, in South Africa, to Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe.  This was organised by the Transnet Museum and featured haulage by a variety of steam locomotives together with photographic run-pasts at scenic locations.

The train consisted of vintage museum carriages that had been restored and had some mod-cons fitted, such as one or two shower cubicles and a public address system so the travellers could be kept informed of what was happening.  Included were carriages where the compartments could be transformed into sleeping berths, dining cars, a bar car, and, most importantly, a refrigeration van at the rear with food supplies.  The track is “Cape Gauge”, 3ft 6ins.

The train was usually berthed somewhere each night with only a couple of occasions when the journey did continue overnight.

Each day, a list of the run-pasts was posted with little hand-drawn maps showing the best photographic locations and indicating how agile you had to be to reach them.

South Africa, Johannesburg to the border with Zimbabwe

The journey from Johannesburg, in South Africa, to Beit Bridge, across the border in Zimbabwe, took three days due to the scenic route taken and stops for the photographic run-pasts.

A run-past with class 15CA 4-8-2 no. 2850 at Nylstroom

Johannesburg, South Africa, to Beit Bridge, Zimbabwe.


Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe was the ultimate destination of the tour but, on the way, there were excursions with the ‘Union Limited Zambezi’ tour train along the West Nicholson branch and along the main line towards Plumtree and Botswana.  There were many run-pasts with the tour train at scenic places throughout the time in Zimbabwe, and also the chance to photograph the numerous steam-hauled freight trains operating at the time.

Class 15A 4-6-4+4-6-4 'Garratt' no. 407 'Ukhozi' at Heany Junction

Beit Bridge to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

16th class 2-8-2+2-8-2 'Garratt' no. 608 departs from Mbalabala with a freight train

From Bulawayo along the West Nicholson branch.

Bulawayo locomotive shed

Bulawayo locomotive shed.

From Bulawayo towards Plumtree

From Bulawayo towards Plumtree (near the border with Botswana).

From Bulawayo to Victoria Falls

From Bulawayo to Victoria Falls.

'Garrat' on Victoria Falls bridge

Victoria Falls.

'Garrat' between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo

From Victoria Falls to Bulawayo.

Bulawayo Railway Museum

Bulawayo Railway Museum.

Return from Bulawayo to Johannesburg

The return journey from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg was completed in a couple of days, since a direct route was taken and there were only a few run-pasts.


Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to Johannesburg, South Africa.