Fun for EVERYONE!
Keeping steam on the rails! Giving you the opportunity to travel back in time!
Welcome to the Umgeni Steam Railway! A non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of railway heritage in South Africa. USR runs trains on the last Sunday of each month for the public in order to share the experience of railways past, and also to raise funds for ongoing and new projects. The Inchanga Conservancy run the Craft Market at Inchanga Railway Station every time USR run a train. Craft goodies, food, and refreshments are always for sale on the train days. Trains run from Kloof Station (Stokers Arms) to and from Inchanga Station, on the last Sunday of each month along the edge of the picturesque Valley of a 1000 Hills. Inchanga is a colonial station (built in 1895) & is 45 minutes ride away along the old mainline. The line was built in the late 1800`s and is one of the oldest active railway lines in South Africa today. We are registered as a Section-21 non-profit making organization our surplus funds are used for the preservation of steam locomotives & “railwayana” in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
You are required to arrive half an hour before departure.
Please bring cash as there are no card facilities on the train.
3 - 4 hours, depending on the trip that you book.
Everybody is welcome. We can cater for special events like birthday parties, corporate events etc. Otherwise just come with your friends and family and enjoy a day out.
Valid for Inchanga Choo Choo customers ONLY! Book for 5 or more adults on the train and receive our 3 for 2 offer. Purchase 3 main meals at Stokers Arms and receive 2 free up to the maximum value of R100 each. Subject to the purchase of 1 drink per customer. This offer is valid for a month from the date of traveling on the train. The train boarding pass needs to be presented to the waiter.
Come as you are comfortable.
All bookings to be made in advance.
Children under 2 years old are lap passengers and therefore not booked on the train. The train is not wheelchair accessible so wheelchairs and prams will be stored in the baggage compartment.
Click to See Additional Info on this Adventure
Umgeni Steam Railway is a non-profit organization run by volunteers. The organization is dedicated to preserving the heritage of railways in South Africa.
Umgeni Steam Railway is associated with the Railway Society of South Africa – Natal (RSSA-Natal). Together the volunteers run trains from Kloof to Inchanga at least once a month, and are the custodians of rolling stock, books and documents representing the different eras of railways in South Africa. The volunteers run, maintain and operate the trains, the library, and the museum.
Volunteers are always welcome to join. There are no qualifications required to join USR/RSSA, all you need is a passion for railways and history. Current members consist of young, old, male and females.
Umgeni Steam Railway was formed by RSSA-Natal in 1982 at the Umgeni Power Station in New Germany. Since then USR had to move to Pinetown and has since moved to a permanent home in Inchanga.
Umgeni Steam Railway Facts
The organization is run entirely by volunteers and is self-funding, relying almost exclusively on revenue generated from running public and charter trains to continue operating and preserving our railway history. Over the years Umgeni Steam Railway has managed to collect a sizeable array of historically significant rolling stock and other items, including approximately 10 locomotives; 50 coaches and a variety of goods wagons. Unfortunately, due to ongoing financial constraints, many of these irreplaceable items remain in storage awaiting preservation.
Trains run through the picturesque Valley of a Thousand Hills between Kloof and Inchanga on the last Sunday of each month, with additional trains during school holidays and for special events, such as Christmas Holiday trains in December. At Inchanga the local Conservancy hosts the Inchanga Community Craft Market whenever the Inchanga Choo Choo runs.
Inchanga Choo Choo Trips
The Inchanga Choo Choo runs on the last Sunday of each month unless otherwise stated on the Schedule. Additional runs are planned during special holiday periods like Christmas and Easter.
The “Pace-The-Train” events take place on the last Sunday in September in honor of heritage transport for “Heritage Month”.
Normal running days normally include a “Morning Train” and an “Afternoon Train”. Morning trips are 3hr excursions while afternoon trains are 3½hr excursions.
All trains stop at Inchanga, the morning and evening trains except for “Carols-by-Candlelight” trains, stop for 1hr. The afternoon trains stop at Inchanga for 1½hrs.
On train days only, the Inchanga Conservancy organize a “Craft Market” with food stalls included. They also organize the picnic area to sit and relax.
While at Inchanga, you can also buy beverages in the station building and can visit the Museum in the Station Master’s House next to the station. Just ask someone in uniform for directions to the Museum.
In the early 1980’s concern was being expressed amongst local railway enthusiasts about the fact that much of the country’s rich railway heritage was simply being lost. The then South African Railways’ preservation policy encompassed only the sterile, static display of certain steam locomotives on station platforms around the country, and the development of a so-called “National Collection”, located near Johannesburg. Virtually nothing was being considered in the other centers and much of Natal’s valuable railway heritage was either being moved up to Witwatersrand or scrapped on site.
It was thus felt that, seeing as the national authorities were totally ignoring the local railway scene, by default it was up to the enthusiasts to try and save at least some of KwaZulu-Natal’s railway history before it had all disappeared.
Subsequent to the donation of a small standard gauge shunting locomotive by Illovo Sugar Mill a group of enthusiasts from the Natal branch of the Railway Society of Southern Africa, formed Umgeni Steam Railway (USR) in September 1982.
Since then, other locomotives, coaching stock and goods wagons have been donated by various organizations, including the old S.A.R. and its successor, South African Transport Services (S.A.T.S.), or have been purchased from scrap yards or other bodies. Certain items have also been received from the Transnet Heritage Foundation and other organizations on long-term lease-lend.
Umgeni Steam Railway’s first public train ran in 1984 from the Umgeni Power Station at New Germany, on the 3km privately owned service line to Sarnia station. Interestingly enough, this coincided with the advent of Cyclone Demoina, resulting in torrential rain falling all day – not that this deterred the 80 intrepid passengers who still turned up to travel with us. As the Society’s capabilities improved and, following negotiations with S.A.T.S., these trips were gradually extended to Malvern, and eventually Bellair stations. This came to an abrupt end with the closure and eventual demolition of the Umgeni Power Station.
In June 1985 Umgeni Steam Railway was at the forefront of celebrations to commemorate the 125th Seeing as the very first public train ran between Durban and Point in June 1860, U.S.R. organized a special train, consisting of eight pristine coaches, hauled by an immaculate 1892-built Dűbs Class “A” tank locomotive to retrace the steps of the original trip, albeit along a revised route, the direct line having been lifted back in 1936. This train conveyed numerous dignitaries, including the Minister of Transport, General Manager of the S.A. Transport Services and the Mayor of Durban, as well as hundreds of railway enthusiasts. A further three shorter trips were operated out of the harbor for the public of Durban during the afternoon – exactly as happened on the inaugural day of the Point Railway. anniversary of railways in South Africa.
Overseas railway enthusiasts, who travel the world in search of the last remaining vestiges of steam train travel, recognize the value of U.S.R.’s contribution to railway preservation by incorporating our locomotives and/or coaches into the itinerary of their expansive steam safaris. The use of U.S.R. assets and personnel, combined with the incomparable scenery and spectacular railway engineering feats required to conquer the tortuous terrain prevalent in the province, have made extended visits to KwaZulu-Natal an essential component of such tour trains.
Today, 27 years on, U.S.R. is still run by volunteers, and without any financial support from outside (!), and has moved its base to Inchanga and Mason’s Mill, outside Pietermaritzburg. Currently, public trains run from Kloof Station (Stoker’s Arms) to Inchanga – a distance of 25km – on the last Sunday of each month at 08h30 and 12h30 and from Inchanga Station at 10h30 and 15h00. Inchanga has a colonial station (built in the 1890`s) 45 minutes ride away along the picturesque Old Main Line, as it winds its way through the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The line was completed in 1880 and is one of the oldest active railway lines in South Africa today, renowned for its 1:30 gradients and 90m radius curves. It also sports the country’s oldest remaining railway tunnel still in regular use. From a small beginning, we now carry up to 600 passengers each regular running day and up to 800 people on special trains such as Santa Specials over the Summer holiday period. Corporate year-end functions and birthday parties and wedding anniversaries are also celebrated on the train – with even a wedding or two over the last couple of years being an unusual event to remember.