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“Shosholoza Tourist Class ...”

Shosholoza Meyl Train
Attraction details
Reviewed July 30, 2013

Cape Town to Johannesburg in 26 hours, private sleeper compartment for two persons,
licensed restaurant,... for around 600 Rand ... its a great deal with the opportunity to watch this amazing country - but dont forget - TIA!

Took the mycity bus - its main station is in easy walking distance to the train station.

We were early at the station and sat outside and enjoyed a nice breakfast from one of the many vendors - the check in was easy, the staff friendly and the train left almost on time.
Our compartment was very small and we made ourselves a home in a few seconds (the little sink can be turned into a table, the bunk bed makes a great couch) - I had read so many bad reviews, we were equipped for the worst...sleeping bags, water, food - we had everything...

...when I walked around I saw that most of the travellers were similar prepared, food, drinks and cushions were wherever I looked - a relaxed atmosphere

Nevertheless we went to the restaurant (you cannot lock the compartment from the outside - so we asked our neighbours to have an eye on it, no problems here..) and had something to eat and drink (they offer burger and co - more or less what you would find in a bar - the prices are completely ok and it wasnt crowded as we had expected) - and enjoyed the scenery the windows are big and you have a wonderful view (drawback of the 2bed-compartment - small window)

spectacular sunset!

After a good nights sleep we got up early - didnt wanna miss a thing - the train arrived late, we had lots of time - you shouldnt take it if you have a flight to catch !

good: the staff tried to keep the toilets nice and clean during the whole trip - and made a good job - everyone was really friendly
not so god: showers - they didnt look to inviting, we dicided not to enter

- be careful when you open the windows when coming nearer to JHB - we saw people from the train throw candy to the kids...but sometimes a not so happy child will also throw something - a stone..

...the restaurant separates the sleeper compartments from the seated passengers - and I am pretty sure that the seated people are not allowed in the sleeping wagons, we witnessed a brawl with security about that

Its a long journey and many things can go wrong, but if you have some time and come prepared (and have a bit of luck) -its simply excellent!

10  Thank orlandos66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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108 - 112 of 143 reviews

Reviewed July 14, 2013

We enjoyed a premier class trip from CT to JHB. Our family of 3 includes our 9 year old son who absolutely loves trains and my husband comes of a family of train lovers so this trip was much anticipated. Rovos Rail and the Blue Train are way outside our budget so the premier class was the next option that looked like it would deliver a reasonable level of comfort and fun.

As a child I travelled on the much rougher Trans Karoo service from CT to JHB. This style of service is still available at even cheaper rates than premier class if you book the standard Shosoloza Meyl (rather than premier class). This is more of a no frills commuter services that stops at various stations whereas the premier class service is a direct service with added creature comforts.

We had a great experience starting from the comfortable waiting room at CT station with it's separate entrance and porter service. As soon as the train left we were served bubbly with snacks in the bar/ lounge area and we watched the CT suburbs (and the morning traffic!) slide by. The cabins were well appointed with nice touches like separate bedside lights, adjustable heating, blackout blinds, lockable cupboards (use these for valuables as the cabin does not lock) and high quality crisp, white linen on the beds that are set up for you in the evenings. There is a basin in the cabin and separate shared toilet and shower facilities at the end of each coach. I found the toilets to be reasonably clean each time I used them and when I attempted my morning shower on a moving train the facilities were also clean and adequate. The water is hot but the pressure is low so don't plan to wash your long locks before dinner!

We used our time to read, play board games (take your own) chat to the other guests and eat our way through the ample menus. My son had a ball exploring every inch of the train and wasn't bored for a minute.

There are three main meals on the train, lunch (3 courses), dinner (5 courses) and breakfast (2 courses). It's a lot of food considering that your exercise consists of walking to the dining car and back! The food is wholesome rather than gourmet, but it was always hot and tasty. We always ate in the dining car so I don't know what the options are for food in the cabin, but drinks will be sent to the cabin if you ask them to. The wine list is very restricted and I noticed a couple of people who had brought their own tipple which is probably a good option if you have specific tastes.

I noticed a number of people who commented on the poor service aboard the train. We had a good team on board that was clearly being held together by two competent senior staff (one responsible for the train journey and the other for the passenger service and meals). As a result, we had no issues with the service but I can imagine that it could have been a lot more patchy without the leadership that we had on board. There certainly is room for improvement in terms of the information that is provided to passengers. The intro letter that was provided explained mealtimes but didn't provide information on how the heating works, how to get service or on the train journey itself. A missed opportunity I think.

There are some things to take into account on a journey like this. Sometimes the train comes to a stop for anything from 2 min to 20 min. We found that it was mostly due to red signals (we checked) but why there are these stops is beyond me. There are also a few scheduled stops like the one in Beaufort West where they change heads. As a result, delays are possible. This is a journey not a commute so you have to be prepared to go with the flow and not make plans for directly after the end of the train trip. Secondly, this is not a fast, smooth riding train - it does bump and rattle a bit and this may interrupt your sleep. It did disturb me, but the overall experience makes up for it!

Overall, we found the journey a fun and relaxing way to travel up to JHB - an experience rather than just a commute!

7  Thank Rollingstone2000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2013

Well it had been a long time ago that I had travelled by train and boy I was very pleasantly surprised.The Premier Train between Cape Town and Johannesburg was a great 15hours.
After tea and biscuits in the Premier lounge it was "All Aboard" and off on our adventure.
After a briefing in the dinning carriage with regards to our safety and an introduction to the staff we settled in our compartment.
We organised ourselves and were off to the lounge to have a drink .The scenery of different pictures out side the large windows of the train were changing all the time as we chugged along.You are never bored.
We met some Aussies,Americans and good old South Africans.The food was good as well the service You feel safe on the train as there were two burly guys seeing to security.
The bunk beds were comfortable but you must realize that you have to manage you space.
After breakfast the next day we arrived at Johannesburg station.You can hire a car from there or go up the escalator and take the Gautrain to Santon, Pretoria or to Johannesburg International Airport.
The price of a journey to Jo'burg with three meals and accommodation was well worth it and I will use the Premier train again one day.

1  Thank wayneadventures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2013

Train travel have been my passion, I where even a stoker or fireman on the locomotive when i where young and still did not know where or what to do. It where all a little’s boys dream to run a steam locomotive or red fire truck. Well my dream where then to drive electric unit, but you must start at stocking coals down the thought of the hunger beast. It only last for a few months then i wander on to new horizons.

My first overseas holiday where attendant by a grey hair agent that only have said a few words. If you travel you get Europe on 10$ a day and a Eurailpass. So off I go, zooming with night trains, day trains the whole of Europe. Alas it ends nearly when they introduce high-speed and where you have slept on the train and save hotel money, now you in the next city. I even have don Amtrak and the Maglev in Shanghai. Also the local trains in Thailand.

To come home train travel in Africa is still up and running. The lack of information to a foreign tourist visiting South Africa they do not even know about the budget to luxury trains.

Well I where fortunate to have free train travel but not use it much and just last month I went on a trip from Cape Town South-Africa to Johannesburg on the Shosholoza Meyl. They do advertise it as A pleasant experience. From a tourist side of it, if you in South-Africa it give you time to mingle with the locals. Really mingle. If you one male you well share a overnight compartment with locals or if you are two you can request a coupe apartment for two only.

It only takes about 27 hours to Johannesburg if on time, the only trains I know that travel on time is the Swiss. Along the journey you landscape will change from the vineyards of the western cape to the semi dessert of the Karoo. I do prefer to travel Cape Town to Johannesburg due to the scenery that you will experience in the day light. The berth where comfortable to sleep on and the food that are the regular hamburger and chips and other snack range from about ZAR35. Tea and coffee are around ZAR7.00 and you can get serve in the compartment but the best is to sit in die Dining Car. To give tips, take a spare toilet roll with and some hand wipes, also some hand sanitizer. The showers onboard got hot showers. There are two classes, sitter and tourist. I only recommend the tourist class on this train. The wall of some coaches where dirty and some toilets really need a spring clean. You can take your own snacks, booze and even you stove you can load into the baggage car if you travel with one. Along the way the train stop a numerous stations where you can get out and walk up and down and look at the other passenger activities and what they load into the baggage car.

The cost range between ZAR600 +- per person. At least you do not worry about overweight baggage. Disembark at Parkstation in Johannesburg and take the Gautrain to your destination like Sandton or on you way to the airport. Just remember do not fly out on the day of arrival if you take this train, it did have delays up to 18 hours! Nothing bad only: A hole in the floor, shavers not electricity to use or charged your cell. Walls full of dust and dirty. Toilets that are wet and not clean. That’s why i have mention the above you must take. You can take your own sleeping bag with cushion if you want to. The bedding I saw where clean and look very comfortable. Just remember you have to get 2 meters in the air to reach the top bunk... there is a ladder if you cannot reach it. If it is available. The heaters where not switch on.... well that is why you must take about 5 lt of wine with, and snacks.... after that the journeys only can get interesting.! You really can class this as a backpacker train...cheap, comfortable, affordable.. Please note this is not the Premierclasse...

Other more expensive train with luxury are Premier classe.
The blue Train and Rovos rail, very nice if you could afford it.
Feel free to contact me for any info.

6  Thank Johannes B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2013

I was somewhat disappointed by Premier Classe - everything from the name to the brochure boasting a journey of luxury are very deceptive. This is a journey from JHG to CPT with a meal and bed to sleep on and little more.

'High tea' never materialized and when I queried this they said they could bring a cup of tea to my cabin if I liked! The food served in the restaurant car was very basic.

The cabins were not lockable, so you had to take care of valuables at all time. Where else a room to leave your belongings and not be able to secure them?

Poor value for money and misleading.

4  Thank Steve P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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