Johannesburg’s steam train

Reefsteamers News 2018


To all the Members of Reefsteamers Assoc.

I have deliberately delayed writing this open letter to you, the members of Reefsteamers until I was in a position to give you a factual report on the dreadful events that unfolded at Germiston Depot on Friday 23rd February 2018 at about 9:30pm. Having now been fully briefed on the facts I wish to share the information with you.

At about 9:30pm that evening I received a call from a Reefsteamers member informing me that a fire had broken out on our train which had been formed up ready to go to Magaliesburg the next morning. I was at that time in the U.K. having been called to be with my Mother who was very seriously ill. I contacted other Board members by telephone who later confirmed my worst fears.

It would appear that three of our coaches including a day sitter were ablaze and that George Hoddinott who was the Loco minder that night, had single handedly driven the 12AR from the Loco Shed across the yard and then coupled to the blazing train, detached the blazing coaches and hauled the rest of the consist to safety. The local fire brigade had been co-ordinated and directed to the scene by Mark, the Paramedic and were in attendance. Although they attended very promptly they were unable to save the three coaches that were on fire and they were completely destroyed. I would like to commend George Hoddinott on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Membership for his quick thinking, as without him we would have lost our complete train.

As a result of the fire and loss of three coaches plus smoke damage to the rest of the consist, I had no choice but to cancel the next day’s train and another the following week. This has hit Reefsteamers very hard financially and it will be a massive task to overcome in the future.

Our rolling stock is insured and as a result an insurance assessor was called to examine the wreckage with a view to ascertaining what had caused the fire. This examination has now been completed and I have been advised that the fire was most likely caused by an electrical malfunction in a light fitting in the roof of one of the vehicles destroyed.

The loss of these three vehicles will have a huge impact on our activities as we can no longer carry 500 passengers. We are actively searching for replacement vehicles and are receiving help in this regard from PRASA who have been most supportive.

I will come back to you all if there are any further developments and hope you understand my decision to not publish this letter until I was in possession of all the facts.


Clive Holliday

Acting Chairman