Trains, Cape Town

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  • Trains
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Train Between Cape Town & Simonstown
    Train Between Cape Town & Simonstown
    by Jacqueslovesholiday
  • Lovely train ride - about in the ocean
    Lovely train ride - about in the ocean
    by Jacqueslovesholiday
  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Catch Metro rail down the False Bay coastline

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Apr 5, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    South Africa is notorious for its lack of public transport, so it is a rare pleasure to be able to report on a functional public transport link that's also of use to the tourist (particularly for those on a limited budget).

    The Metro rail network links the Cape Town CBD to a string of small stations along the False Bay coastline, of which the southernmost is Simon's Town. The Muizenberg-Simonstown stretch of the route is literally just above the high watermark of the coastline and is incredibly picturesque - or would be if you could see it, as the windows weren't so scratched that it's often difficult to see more than blurred images! There are quite a few stops along the way, so consider getting off somewhere like Kalk Bay for a bite to eat, or stopping off at one of the little beaches along the way.

    The scenery on the stretch from Muizenberg into Cape Town is much less spectacular, but it's still interesting to have a look at suburban Cape Town, which is a perspective that most tourists don't get.

    As of the time of writing (April 2012), a one way ticket from Cape Town to Simon's Town was R** - an absolute bargain!

    An exciting initiative that sounds ideal for tourists (but which I have yet to trial) is the Hop on Hop Off Metroplus rail pass. The publicity blurb has the following to say:

    "There are seven stations on the route namely Cape Town, Observatory, Newlands, Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town. All these stations offer various tourist attractions that can be reached within a two kilometer radius of each station.

    "Special MetroPlus train tickets or tourist rail passes at R30 for a One Day and R50 for a Two Day Pass, will allow unlimited train trips between Cape Town and Simon’s Town for the day of validity. Tickets are valid between 08h30 – 16h00 and can be purchased at any of the participating stations.

    "Our Hop on Hop Off Ticket (a daily pass) allows you to visit various attractions along the Southern Rail Route – hop off at Newlands to visit the SA Rugby Museum, hop off at Muizenberg for a surfing lesson or Kalk Bay for an ice-cream as you make your way South to Simon’s Town."

    There is a visible security presence on the train itself (since the Cape Town trains have a reputation for periodic crime) - last time we took the train, we had 4 policemen in our carriage alone!

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Closure of the Fishhoek - Simonstown rail line

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jun 26, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Muizenberg-Simonstown railway is probably one of the most picturesque sections of coastal railway line in the world, and if you're lucky, you can watch whales frolicking in False Bay. The line skirts perilously close to the high water mark for most of its route, and it's safe to say that it would never have been granted planning permission today!

    This is the southernmost extent of the Cape Town rail commuter network, and certainly isn't luxury rail travel! The carriages are battered and graffitied and the windows are so scratched that it's often difficult to see out, but it's still a blast to clatter along through the sea spray - and at less than R10 for a return trip (2010), it's a bargain that's hard to beat!

    There are quite a few stops along the way, so consider getting off somewhere like Kalk Bay for a bite to eat, or stopping off at one of the little beaches along the way.

    It is possible to travel on this route right into the heart of Cape Town, but I can't honestly say that it's worth it from a senic point of view, as the inland section is rather dull. Cape Town station is also a rather dingy place with dubious security. There is a visible security presence on the train itself (since the Cape Town Metro trains have a reputation for crime) - last time we took the train, we had 4 policemen in our carriage alone!

    It used to be possible to travel between Cape Town and Simonstown in a more upmarket restaurant car called Biggsie's, which we did in 2006/07, but I'm not sure whether this service still runs. If it does, it's well worth doing, as the dining car was far more comfortable and well maintained (and you could see out the windows!) but I do recall that the set menu that we opted for was somewhat grim - the toasted sandwiches that our carriagemates had looked a lot tastier and were doubtless much cheaper!

    Update (September 2010): clearly I wasn't understating the matter when I said that the rail line was just above the high water mark, as the section between Fishhoek and Simonstown has been closed since last (Southern hemisphere) spring to repair wave damage to the retaining wall and foundations of the line! Metrorail assure me that repairs are underway and that in the interim there is a bus service operating between Fishhoek and Simonstown. Alternatively, you could consider getting the water taxi between Kalk Bay (a couple of stops before Fishhoek) and Simonstown (see my travel tip) - more expensive, but probably more fun!

    Further update (March 2011): I am reliably informed by my "Cape Town correspondent' Gerald_D that the repair work is complete and that the section of rail between Fishhoek and Simonstown has been reopened. Oh yes, and sadly Biggsie's is a thing of the past ...

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  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo

    scenic train around cape town

    by lynnehamman Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Simonstown-Cape Town train along the seaside

    Buses and taxies are easy and plentiful in Cape Town, and go just about anywhere. But to get to the really beautiful coastline, suburban trains run frequently (like every 20mins) from Main Station in Cape Town Centre. The trains run all the way to the little Village called Simonstown, on False Bay. The first 15 mins of the trip takes one through suburbia, but after a while, the route soon ends up alongside the sea, for about another 30 mins. Beautiful beaches, whales, rockpools, fishing boats can be seen from the train. And Simonstown is a naval base,but very old village, with lots of historical buildings and restuarants & coffee shops. Oldworld charm.

    Related to:
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  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo

    Training it from Cape Town to Simon's Town

    by Jenniflower Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Metrorail train at Fish Hoek Beach

    Cape Town has a train service that runs from the centre of Cape Town all the way to Simon's Town, running along the coast from Muizenburg, through St James, Kalk Bay, Clovelly, Fish Hoek and Glencairn through to Simon's Town.

    I have done this trip MANY times, for both work and social purposes. It isnt that frequent a service if you compare it to other First World country train services, but is excellent if you compare it to other African services.

    I always try and sit in a carriage that is already occupied. Be aware as there have been criminal activities on these trains, when you get 'chancers' that will try and rob you etc. I never had anything happen to me in many years, but things do happen. Dont look like a tourist, hide your expensive camera and watch and just be alert. Having said that I have had many a superb trip on this service and always enjoyed it.

    Metrorail is the company that runs it and it's core business is to provide rail services that meet the country needs for affordable public transport. Security has always been a huge challenge to them as Cape Town has a high unemployment rate.

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    • Beaches
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  • dobbelking's Profile Photo

    Metrorail

    by dobbelking Written Nov 12, 2010

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    We used the train to get into the city centre. We did it in peakhour traffic so due to the fact that there were many commuters we felt quite safe, but also made sure that we did not flash camera's or cellphones around.

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  • dobbelking's Profile Photo

    Metrorail

    by dobbelking Updated Nov 12, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We used the train to get into the city centre. We did it in peakhour traffic so due to the fact that there were many commuters we felt quite safe, but also made sure that we did not flash camera's or cellphones around.

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  • mvtouring's Profile Photo

    Metro Railways

    by mvtouring Updated Jul 22, 2010

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    Cape Town Station
    2 more images

    When you use our public transport system, please try and use it during peak hours when there are lots of other commuters around as we have a lot of muggings happening on the trains. If you cannot then please look for the compartments where the security personel is located and travel in that wagon

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  • Jacqueslovesholiday's Profile Photo

    Train to Simonstown

    by Jacqueslovesholiday Written Aug 12, 2008
    Kalk Bay - Brass Bell
    4 more images

    Take the metrotrain from Cape Town to Simonstown for a day outing. It is very safe (there is a lot of security guards patrolling the train) and dirt cheap - a return ticket cost R23- first class! The "plus" on the metro plus carriage indicates it's first class. The route is very scenic right on the beach from Muizenberg and takes about an hour from Cape Town if you don't hop off. Have breakfast at the Brass Bell at Kalk Bay - the train stops right at the restaurant's entrance. Take a later train to Simonstown. In Simonstown you can walk to the pengiuns - about 3km's walk to the Boulder's from the station

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  • Eish's Profile Photo

    Trans Karoo train to Cape Town from Gauteng

    by Eish Written Nov 9, 2007

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    Beautiful valleys along the way
    1 more image

    The train is a wonderful way to get to and from Cape Town from Gauteng. It takes 26 hours from Joburg, or 27 hours from Pretoria. This is certainly not as luxurious as the Blue Train or Rovos rail, but it travels the same route, and is no less fun. There is very little difference between 1st and second class - first class has showers in the same coach. First class compartments sleep 4 people, and coupes sleep 2. Second class compartments sleep 6 people, and the coupes 3. You will get a whole compartment or coupe to yourself if you book a family, or a mixed sex group. If you book a single bed, you could be put with someone else, unless you pay the premium for booking the whole coupe.

    You can buy bedding for the night on the train for R25, and in the late afternoon they will come around and "make up" your bed for you. This means rolling out the pre-folded sheets and blanket onto your bunk.

    There is a small basin in each compartment/coupe. There is a communal toilet (the sort that flushes onto the train track) at each end of the coach.

    The food is awful: greasy, tasteless, and really recommended only if you have a steel-lined stomach. You can take food onto the train, and I would highly recommend this option.

    People come past at each station and try to sell fresh fruit or curios through the windows. Do not leave valuables in reach - passersby have been known to grab what they can see from the inside of the coach. However, they are not pests as a rule.

    The Trans Karoo is run by Shosholoza Meyl, the mainline passenger services of the South African Railways (Spoornet). It costs probably about the same as a coach journey, but you can stretch your legs and take in the passing scenery.

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  • Huntress_7499's Profile Photo

    Local Train System in Cape Town

    by Huntress_7499 Updated Nov 27, 2005

    Be VERY careful on the local trains. Robberies, assaults and similar occur on a regular basis and although the Rail service provider have done their best to provide security guards on the trains (according to them), it is not enough to deter criminal activities.

    Believe me when I say that these occurances are not the exception, but the rule and I speak from experience.

    In December 1999 a couple of hoods grabbed my handbag and threw me from a running train in full view of numerous other people. I suffered servere head injuries.

    A few months ago a young man was killed for his cell phone. They did not ask him for it first. They killed him with a knife and then just took it, according to eyewitnesses.

    TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS:

    1. Wear any jewelery inside your clothers if you must wear any at all.
    2. Keep your bag close to your body and zipped tight.
    3. NEVER TRAVEL ALONE
    4. NEVER TRAVEL AT NIGHT
    5. Position yourself so you can see all entrances to your compartment / coach.
    6. Be watchful of any unusual behaviour - like people standing at the door when there are enough seats available, or wearing long sleeves on a hot day.
    7. Keep parcels to a minimum as it will enhance your chance of running away in case of trouble.
    8. Do not fight to keep a grabbed bag / jewelry - it is not worth your loosing your life over!
    9. Never display expensive equipment openly. I.e. keep your phone, camera, mp3 player, palmtop etc. hidden from view.
    10. If you have to travel on the trains, travel during peak hours when there is lots of people around or be smart and hire an accredited taxi.

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  • cokes's Profile Photo

    Blue Train

    by cokes Written Dec 19, 2004

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    Blue Train

    Well this is a luxury train which travels between Pretoria and Cape Town. This train travels through the scenic parts of South Africa which is a excellent way of travelling knowing that its luxurious.

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  • Gypsy_Saskia's Profile Photo

    From Jo'burg, the Trans Karoo...

    by Gypsy_Saskia Written Sep 7, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    From Jo'burg, the Trans Karoo is a great way to get to Cape Town. The train ride takes about 24 hours and crosses the Karoo. Wonderful experience.
    The city center can be explored by foot. There are buses and trains going from the suburbs to town.

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  • never10111's Profile Photo

    just use the private ones for...

    by never10111 Written Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    just use the private ones for life's safety.
    explore the place and you will see the beauty of the city.

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