South Africa’s main line passenger trains ended service on a whimper earlier this year, battered and bruised after a bad accident. The Shosholoza Meyl service prior to that had been precarious, with long delays and breakdowns. (To read an account of a recent horrendous trip, on Daily Maverick, click here.)

shosholoza meyl trains johannesburg south africa passenger
Shosholoza Meyl trains going nowhere. At the Braamfontein depot in Johannesburg.

Recent events at the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa – a clean-up of management, a crackdown on cable theft and destruction of infrastructure and a complete insourcing of security personnel – might make things go a bit more smoothly now. But only time will tell.

Main Line Passenger Services, a division of Prasa, has announced that on 27 November it will restart Johannesburg- East London, Johanesburg- Port Elizabeth, Johanesburg- Durban, Johanesburg-Musina. The Cape Town line has not been opened again – at least not yet.

In February the railway safety reguator issued Prasa with a directive that “prohibits all Shosholoza Meyl operations with immediate effect” after a collision between a Prasa train coming from Cape Town and a goods train near the Horizon View station in Roodepoort. One person was killed and several others injured. The train had 36 passengers and 14 staff on board.

The latest publicity says that passengers will have to bring their own food and bedding because of COVID protocols. There is no booking online yet, and the site still hasn’t been updated for months. Main Line Passengers Services can be reached on 086 000 8888.