CapeTalk

Atlantic Rail

Biography

It’s not the Chatanooga Choo-Choo, its Atlantic Rail! Most people get pretty wound up by their jobs, but for Ian Pretorius, his career is all about letting off some steam! Having previously operated the Union Limited steam safari tourist train for Transnet, Ian launched is company, Atlantic Rail as a way of preserving South Africa’s steam train heritage. He says that Atlantic Rail offers people a relaxed day out while also contributing to the education of a younger generation, by providing regular weekend steam train journeys from Cape Town to Simon’s Town. Ian says that seeing the joy it brings to all his passengers is wonderful, and that at the same time, he is offering a unique and nostalgic tourism product to the city of Cape Town. Of course, he feels he needs to spend more time working out new products and routes, not to mention modifications to coaching stock, so that he can provide a more upmarket experience to the passengers. One real challenge is that currently, the train can only accommodate a maximum of 200 passengers, thus limiting its income. The good news, adds Ian, is that Atlantic Rail has been offered seven Transnet coaches, each of which will be capable of transporting an additional 80 passengers. The bad news is they are in Waterval Boven and will cost around R2 million to move to Cape Town and be repaired. Nonetheless, he is confident the business will continue to grow, pointing out that it has recently been appointed by Ceres Railway Company to operate its tourist trains. They are in final negotiations with Transnet and the local community to re-open the branch line through the Wolseley/ Ceres/ Prince Alfred Hamlet region. Ian adds that Atlantic Rail is also looking at operating an overnight, steam-hauled diner sleeper train from Cape Town to Ceres over weekends, as well as a day trip on the branch line, to complement its existing service.