The Blue Train
The luxurious journey is made possible by the first train set which is a 455-metre-long model that accommodates a maximum of 82 guests in 41 suites and features a conference or observation car at the back of the train. Of the 19 carriages, 11 are used for accommodation. The second train set can accommodate up to 54 guests (this train set does not have a paraplegic suite and is not wheelchair friendly).
The train travels at 90km/h and weighs approximately 825 metric tons, excluding the locomotives. It carries 31 000 litres of water and two diesel-powered generators – one of which is always on standby – supply the train's power requirements.
Each generator is capable of generating up to 550 KVA, with a 650 volt supply to the train. Each journey is accompanied by a mechanical and electrical technician.
The kitchen car is a masterpiece of stainless-steel design. The fully air-conditioned car features walk-in cool rooms and freezers, ensuring that wines and hors d'oeuvres remain at optimal temperatures.
All the public cars are fitted with gas-filled air-conditioning systems. A standard internal temperature of between 20°C and 21°C is maintained throughout the journey. For the comfort of guests, each suite has individual temperature controls that range from 18°C to 24°C. These systems are water-cooled and each suite has its own fresh air intake.
During cold weather, all systems are provided with heating cycles from the air-conditioning units, as well as under-floor heating. Heating systems have been fitted under the floors of all suites and the marble tiles in all the bathrooms.
Safety and Comfort
To ensure that our guests’ experience is as reliable and sound as it is luxurious, safety and technical excellence are of paramount importance.
All the suites and every public area are fitted with constantly monitored smoke detection systems. Two highly qualified technicians are always on board and the trains are thoroughly serviced at the Pretoria depot after every return trip.
The train's suspension, braking, lighting and under-floor heating systems have been designed and customised with guests' comfort as the primary consideration, allowing them to experience a smooth, pleasurable ride.
Every modern convenience, including a telephone service and a choice of digital entertainment channels, makes the journey all the more memorable.
The Blue Train owes its origins to the Union Limited and the Union Express, which, from 1923, linked Johannesburg with the mail ships departing Cape Town for England. Ordinary coaches were used until 1927, when articulated saloons were imported. The two Union trains travelled the distance in 30 hours and introduced a new standard of luxury.
The service of the Union trains was suspended in 1942 during the Second World War and only resumed in February 1946.
It was then that a coat of paint in royal blue and cream would later give ‘those blue trains’ their distinctive livery – The Blue Train, a ‘Palace on Wheels’ was born.
In 1997 an all-new Blue Train was introduced and a year later, a second identical train came into service, allowing The Blue Train to increase its destinations – besides the Cape Town route, the Hoedspruit route, is now also available.