/ 19 September 2008

Travel in style from Jo’burg to Durban

A luxury train service that promises not to ruin one’s bank balance is set to begin operating between Durban and Johannesburg in October.

Shosholoza Meyl’s acting business development manager, Zola Mankoba, said the twice-weekly service will start operating from October 14.

The Premier Classe train, which will transport 84 passengers between Durban and Gauteng, is the latest route to be offered by Shosholoza Meyl.

Currently it offers a regular service between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

At a preview launch in Durban this week it was revealed that it plans to expand its Premier Classe service to operate between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth as well as between Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

While not in the league of the famed Blue Train, all the coaches have a wood panel finish with dining cars and a bar, as well as a conference coach that can be converted into a dance facility for after-hours entertainment.

And for those who have retired to the sleeping compartments — all of which are air-conditioned — there is a handset should they require room service.

Shosholoza Meyl, the long-distance passenger rail arm of Transnet, claims that it has an award-winning wine list and five-star cuisine aboard its coaches.

For those who want to take their car with them, a coach that can load ordinary cars as well 4×4 sports utility vehicles is available.

Getting a place aboard the famed Blue Train will set a person back by nearly R10 000 in the low season. However, the Premier Classe coach will cost only R750 a person. During October, discounted fares will be available.

The purple, grey-roofed train leaves Johannesburg on Tuesdays and Fridays and travels from Durban on Wednesdays and Sundays.

The Premier Classe began in 2001, when four train cars were attached to the TransKaroo passenger train, and in May 2006 it became a separate train carrying 126 passengers between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The trains will have their own dedicated security personnel who will open and close doors at stations, also ensuring that they are properly locked.

Shosholoza Meyl communications manager Du Dlamini said: “I am confident that it will deliver a tourism product that is demanded.” — Sapa

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