Trips like these are, I fear, going to be the final nail in the PREMIER CLASS coffin.
We were over 5 hours late, and in fact, the train never actually made it from Johannesburg to its schedule destination, Cape Town.
It is a scheduled 27 hours overnight trip; arrival time advertised as 16.15.
We eventually arrived at 21.40.
The train didn't.
Some of the problems we encountered were understandable, quite a number of definite own goals, others very questionable central management and safety issues.
Even the booking process is so convoluted / contrived with a never ending series of emails, and (for visitors outside of SA) a direct payment process that would give my bank manager cause for concern.
Johannesburg Park Station would not be S A travel authorities choice of tourist spots, even our excellent taxi driver was very wary of the Car Park.
Inside the lounge we were quickly and efficiently seated in the comfort of the Premier Class lounge; those arriving after us had the joys of a corridor. The train was due in at 14.45; we eventually left J'burg at 17.25. This delay was due we found out later, to problems with the car carrying transporters.
Over two hours late start, and this was to be critical later on in the journey, particularly on the scheduled single line sections, where trains have to wait in "passing loops" for the oncoming train to exit (clear) the next block (or section) of line. We were constantly stopped for 15-30 minutes at a time.
On board the train, the facilities were OK to Good; however the drink, food, and service was "take it or leave it" - all for twice the price of a flight.
Our welcome drink, and a chance to meet other passengers was Orange juice or sparkling wine (no charge and as many refills as possible); i asked for a bottle of water (I am diabetic) and it really was just sooooooooooo much trouble, and i got charged for it.
There were many other examples of this attitude;- there was no menu nor any choice of dinner. A diner opposite was vegetarian, and despite explaining this, on numerous occasions, all she was either the veg that accompanied the meat dish and a small salad that accompanied the fish course. On some occasions the meat was also served............
Whilst at dinner our cabin was transformed into sleeping accommodation, which was surprisingly comfortable. We enjoying looking at the stars in the unpolluted light.
Awoke at De Arr the next morning, to wonderfully wide open space view, and saw wild ostrich and lots of fynbos vegetation.
A change of loco at Beaufort , and that delay in Johannesburg was really effecting us. We also found out that we were now 3 hours late,. And getting later.
Our westward journey encountered more problems : some of which were not the railway fault, like kids in the strike areas of Ceres throwing stones at the train windows, and locals starting fires track side.
More extended delays waiting for single line sections, then pushing through wonderful mountain ranges, and miles of vineyards.
We reached a small dormitory town some 10 -15 miles from Cape Town, and here in local station that the tracks ahead were blocked by a derailed train (on its side ?). This has happened in the previous 30 minutes: the delay at the start had come back to haunt us, so we were trapped.
We waited some more.
Eventually we heard why we were not moving.
The derailment was not "PREMIER CLASS" fault, as these things unfortunately can happen - usually due to too much speed, tight corners and in the case of S A a narrower rail gauge than you would have in Europe and North America.
However, Premier Class management subsequent lack of action/ / inability to plan / make a decision was indefensible.
At 7.20pm, with no prospect of getting through to Cape Town by rail, a coach was promised. I made inquiries about hiring a taxi; only to be told that this was either impossible or too expensive (we really had no idea where we were).
Many guests and quite a number of staff jumped ship and left us.
8.20pm came, and so eventually did the coach: we struggled with our cases, from the station platform to the car park, up over and down the steps in the semi darkness.
8.40pm we were seated in the coach in the darkness.
9.20pm our coach finally leaves, having waited for the staff, the stock of alcohol, and annoyingly, the dirty laundry.
9.40pm arrive, by coach in Cape Town Railway Station, which should have been at 4.16pm, nearly 5 1/2 hours late.
I question the wisdom and customer service of Premier Class Management; why could they not have ordered the coaches earlier ? And why not two coaches- surely it would have been much more customer friendly, given the circumstances to have one for the staff after they had cleared and secured the train? Obviously the paying customer actually counts for nothing,.
Customer service ? - anything really is too much trouble.
Miserable pathetic attitude.
Strongly suggest flying instead of using this non service; you can save money and a great deal of uncertainty and frustration.
Premier Class are anything but.
They do not have passenger interests in mind.
I really question whether these problems, and safety issues would ever be resolved before your trip.............
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.