’n Foto van die ou stoomtrein, SAS- Klass 15AR no 1840, op Klipplaat in die Oos-Kaap van Suid-Afrika.
Die eerste spoorlyn in Suid-Afrika is op 31 Maart 1859 begin bou by die huidige Woodstock naby Kaapstad. In Oos-Kaapland in 1855 het John Patterson ’n spoorlyn tussen Algoabaai en Graaff-Reinet ondersoek en ’n hele uitgewerkte netwerk van spoorlyne voorgestel. Op 25 Aug 1879 vertrek die eerste trein vanaf Port Elizabeth na Graaff-Reinet met 200 passasiers.
Spoornet het in 2001 die treinroete tussen Klipplaat en Rosmead met Graaff-Reinet as middelpunt gesluit, wat ’n groot leemte in die plaaslike toerismebedryf tot gevolg gehad het.
In the heyday of railways in South Africa, Klipplaat was an important railway junction, being the point at which the main Cape Town to Port Elizabeth line branched off towards Graaff-Reinet. Sadly those days have passed and Klipplaat has become a quiet little place.
The railway from Uitenhage goes over a dusty plain before reaching the Eastern Cape town named Klipplaat. The Afrikaans name stems from the many vertical rocky formations in the area. Over the years the railway junction developed in an important railway centre, and the town grew with it. In 1979 dieselation caused many of the railway personal to be relocated and several businesses in town had to close down. The town started to die. In 2001 the line to Graaff Reinet was also closed and Klipplaat was no more a junction to carry traffic to Middelburg and Noupoort across the Lootsberg pass. Subsequently the station was demolished by vandals – even the cables were dug out of the ground. The lonely SAR Class 15AR No 1840 rusting away just adds to the feeling of desolation. (Source: Old Steam Locomotives in South Africa)
In 100 years from the opening of the first railway, from Durban to Point, in 1860, 21000km of railway were built in the country. About half the system comprised rural branch lines to farming communities. Some of the branch lines were viable, others, built to please country voters, were hopelessly unprofitable and expensive to maintain and operate. In 1993 Spoornet began shedding its loss-making railways. The agricultural branches in the Cape Midlands were the first to go, with eight lines closed at the stroke of a pen. More lines have been closed since. Country stations were demolished to deter squatters, staff were deployed elsewhere or retrenched, and the rails were left to return to the earth. (Source: Paul Ash)
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