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“Great fun but in need of an overhaul!”

Premier Classe Train
Attraction details
Western Cape, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
44 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Great fun but in need of an overhaul!”
Reviewed December 4, 2012

We decided to travel from Jo'burg to CT and enjoyed the journey. We were late leaving Jo'burg (90 mins) but once on the train it was good fun. Our compartment was comfortable and we really enjoyed the scenery once we left Jo'burg behind, the publicity bumph and glossy brochure are rather misleading, e.g. we were provided with 2 threadbare hand towels and the promised 'fluffy gowns' never materialised, the train manager, Gary explained that the 'stuff didn't come back from the laundry' - I don't care - they mustn't promise and then not deliver, Gary however, managed to find some somewhere after I made a fuss!
Dinner was okay, but chipped glasses are not (no replacements!) and breakfast could include some fresh fruit - this is SA in midsummer for goodness sake.
Unfortunately due to a derailment, we reached our hotel in CT 7 hours late (without any food since lunchtime) but on the whole we enjoyed the experience and would probably do it again! I do feel that the train could do with a good spring clean - there's not much point in having viewing windows if they are covered in sticky/sweaty marks!

Visited November 2012
1 Thank LP519
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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185 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Level 6 Contributor
99 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“Why fly when you can take the train?”
Reviewed December 3, 2012

Having flown south from Johannesburg to Cape Town we decided to take the train back. The Premier Classe service is brilliant value if you bear in mind that you get a night's accommodation plus all meals and a wonderful journey across the Karoo, all for only twice the equivalent air fare.

We started with a welcome coffee in the Blue Train lounge at Cape Town before being escorted to our compartment prior to leaving at 11 am. There were welcome drinks in the club lounge on board plus nibbles and then just enough time to organise our accommodation before lunch. Each couple is given their own compartment with toiletries and towels. In the evening whilst you have your meal, the staff prepare your compartment for sleeping by converting the bench seats into what turned out to be really comfortable beds.

The whole journey is about 26 hours and travelling south to north you get the superb views as the train climbs towards the Karoo. There are several stops in daylight (Worcester, Beaufort West and Klerksdorp) that give you time for a leg stretch if you need it. But the beauty of train travel is that you have the space to wander, stay in your compartment or visit the club car and the separate restaurant car for meals. The food is good rather than great and the drinks (that you pay as extras) at a modest price.

It's a fairly fairly leisurely ride - speeds typically at around 50 mph, or less - but the views are spectacular. You miss Kimberley and the other mining areas as it's night-time and the approach to Jo' burg reminds you that life for many in SA is still pretty hard.

I gather that the rail network is sometimes 'stressed' and the service can be late but we were 10 early into Jo'burg after what was a truly memorable trip.

Others have commented on security concerns. There are none. You are looked after from beginning to end. However it's probably wise to plan ahead for any transport when you arrive in Jo'burg as the immediate environs of the station are not wonderful.

Visited November 2012
4 Thank BiggerAl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town is home
Level 6 Contributor
231 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 143 helpful votes
“Enjoyable but a little rough around the edges. Good value.”
Reviewed November 16, 2012

First of all the website is badly designed and mostly doesn't work. It is almost impossible to book from outside South Africa, as I was when trying to book, so this alone would deter the average non-South African. You have to call an 0861 Sharecall number, these are not accessible from outside the country, and to pay by online banking from a SA bank account as the part of the site that takes credit cards doesn't work. The booking process can be summed up in one word - pathetically inadequate. I was only able to book as I managed to find a helpful lady in the Durban office who did everything for me, but I still had to get someone to pay locally in SA. I emailed management about these matters but they did not even bother to respond.

Johannesburg Park station is a disgrace, the parking area is quite intimidating and anyone not used to South Africa would probably feel threatened by the people asking for parking tips or to carry baggage. Actually it's all reasonably safe but you have to know the ropes.

The Premier Class boarding lounge offers tea, coffee, drinks, and plates of snacks like biltong and nuts, cake and so on, a lovely idea, but it's not big enough and the 'overspill' goes out into a charmless corridor. Poor planning.

Once on board, things are better. The train is spotlessly clean and the staff welcoming and helpful. Compartments rather small but adequate. The dining cars and bar area are comfortable and well-designed and I found the service good although possibly a little lacking in finesse. The food is good, nothing special, but portions small and I am not a big eater. The wine list is limited but good and reasonably priced. Drinks are inexpensive. I had an excellent bottle of Shiraz (Darling Black Granite) for R110, and with a couple of cool drinks and beers the next day my bill was well under R200.

The rolling stock is old Shosholoza Meyl and although the interiors have been refurbished the mechanicals are unchanged, meaning that the poor condition of the track is very evident, with a lot of rattling, vibration, and shaking. The a/c didn't work for most of the trip - good for me as I hate a/c but it would trouble many people. The windows in the corridors and compartments can be opened which is a definite plus.

We departed on time but arrived in CPT over 2 hours late. The train manager kept us informed and the delay was partly due to a cable failure (theft?) at Brackenfell near CPT meaning we got an enjoyable scenic diversion round Stellenbosch and Lynedoch, passing Spier Estate. The 25 hours scheduled journey became 27 hours but it was a pleasant way to spend the time, with lovely views and congenial company on board.

The publicity material is somewhat imaginative in its use of photos, someone's been let loose on Photoshop and it is a little deceptive, but the views are dramatic and beautiful, as is so much of South Africa.

A little disappointing that whilst we spent over an hour stopped in Potchefstroom, which if you've never heard of it, you're not missing much, but went through Matjiesfontein where a short stop and wander round the hotel would have been a great feature.

Overall, most enjoyable and I will certainly do this again.

Visited October 2012
5 Thank Mike340
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
Level 6 Contributor
50 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Relaxing, great scenery- But poor service !”
Reviewed October 25, 2012

Traveled Jo'Berg to Capetown on what was my first long distance train trip.

Overall this is a unique way to see the country side as you travel through it. Its a plus having scenery it really makes the trip as the service was poor.

We boarded the train in Jo'Berg. The lounge was difficult to find. Of course there was a delay with the train. Your bags are delivered to your carriage. The carriages are nice and comfortable and you are provided with a robe, towels, and toiletries.

There is no menus for dinner and no choice ! However they do ask people for dietary requirements at start of journey. In contrast with the brochure and the pictures i must have been on a different train. The wine menu has seen better days it is worn and had peoples own personal notes written on it. The bar has an ok selection of drinks however you will be doing well to find anyone to serve you. We had to help ourselves. The service on board at the restaurant and bar was terrible, the food was edible at that.

However house keeping did a great job. When you go for dinner the bed is turned down for you. A little note for people, when you go for breakfast they put your bed back up and take the bedding away. Personally i would have rather kept it and rested for another while, but you can pull the bed back down. They also take the towels and ropes out and you have to go looking to get more.

Overall traveling by train was great. A note for others this is not a luxury experience the train is run down and this whole service seems to have been neglected and needs an overhaul.

NB- great photo opp's when leaving Jo'Berg as attached

Visited October 2012
5 Thank Hjs007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
20 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Premier Shoshaloza Meyl Train JHB to CPT”
Reviewed October 22, 2012

One brilliant way to combine accommodation, food drink and travel with superb countryside and scenery. Carriages + bedding are clean, evening meal was great , cooked breakfast needs a little more attention. Service was excellent and the catering staff pulled out the stops to accommodate a wheat intolerant customer.
Shower & head facilities were a little tired & would probably benefit from a refurbishment, though that said, showering at 100km/ h In the Karoo looking out at the dry plains and mountains beats a flight in terms of activities and scenery.

Booking was a bit of a challenge as credit card confirmation was a little unorthodox but the journey was well worth the additional hassle.

We felt comfortable and as secure as anywhere else in the world offering sleeper service.
Good selection of wines available onboard too.

Visited October 2012
3 Thank Phil E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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