Tag Archives: metrorail

A Train and the Colourful Changing Rooms of St James Beach (2017-10-30) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 APR 2018

Ah, the brightly coloured Victorian bathing boxes of St. James Beach. What Cape Town travel blog could truly call themselves local without including at least one post detailing this internationally recognised view, right?

St. James itself is a suburb of Cape Town, situated alongside the Atlantic Ocean on the shores of False Bay, tucked away between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. As with a lot of old Cape Town suburbs, St James is constrained to a piece of land that is sandwiched between a rocky shore and the steep slopes of a mountain.

Deriving its name from the early St James Catholic Church (built around 1880), the majority of the current suburb was built between 1910 and 1950, following the completion of the railway line that connected Cape Town to False Bay.

(Incidentally, this line remains the most scenic train ride that you can catch in Cape Town today).

The main attraction for the area is of course St James beach, a lovely sheltered spot that provides a welcome break from the westerly winds, centered around a large man-made tidal pool that provides a splash free seawater experience that is perfect for families with kids.

The small stretch of sand quickly makes way for some fantastic naturally formed rock pools, perfect for observing small pockets of ocean life, and for added excitement, every now and then sees a train pass by right above your head!

And then there is of course the iconic row of little Victorian bathing boxes to provide a brilliant burst of colour to the scene.

In order to reach the beach you need to either cross underneath the railroad line using one of the the railway tunnels near the old train station, or you could perhaps take the enjoyable stroll along the lovely St James walkway which stretches all the way from St James beach to Surfers’ Corner, Muizenberg.

So, pretty much all the ingredients needed for a nice, free to enter, family friendly weekend visit then.

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(Seeing as I’m more of a Helderberg basin, Overstrand and Stellenbosch Winelands travel blog these days, this just so happens to be my very first post featuring the famous St. James beach – though to be fair I have had the brightly coloured bathing boxes synonymous with Muizenberg’s Surfers’ Corner appear on these pages before!)

Related Link: St James | Cape Town

The Day Metrorail Tried to Kill Me My Life 29 JAN 2010

I used to be a loyal train commuter for a number of years when I still worked at the University of Cape Town, so I know Metrorail pretty well – still, the last thing I expected was for them to try and kill me a couple of weeks ago!

So there I was, happily driving home from work, happy because I had left a little earlier in order to make it through to the karate camp in Betty’s Bay on time and thus had managed to miss rush hour traffic. Which is awesome.

Now if you know Muizenberg you’ll know where the Muizenberg Train Station is, and more importantly, you’ll know of the railway crossing that is directly next to the station. Well anyway, as I turned the corner and came face to face with the railway crossing, I was delighted to see that the booms were still up and so merrily began to cross over the train tracks – when all of a sudden I noticed that without any warning whatsoever, the booms were starting to descend!

Already past the first boom and in the middle of the tracks, I hit the accelerator and sped across, literally making it to safety just as the booms came down, without so much as a second to spare! And I swear, it wasn’t much more than a second or two later when a train came hurtling past anyway, racing through that very spot where I had been cruising long just moments earlier!

My heart pounding a little faster, I could barely believe my lucky escape but that feeling of relief was soon replaced by anger when I thought about the situation and couldn’t come up with a single reason as to why there weren’t any audible siren or alert to mark the change in boom position, nor any visible control lights at driver eye-level (there are a couple sitting on the edge of the booms – quite useful when the booms are down, utterly useless when they’re raised it turns out!).

Funnily enough though, at the karate camp I bumped into a person who had suffered a very similar fate at the exact same railway crossing just a month or two prior to my incident. Apparently as he entered the crossing, the booms also all of a sudden descended, but this time the front boom actually landed on his bakkie’s bonnet, forcing him to hastily reverse, and in the process leave a couple of deep scratches on his car. Nevertheless, he did manage to extract his bakkie before he and his elderly dad got slammed by an oncoming train.

So come on Metrorail. That railway crossing is particularly dangerous because the station and overgrown fencing blocks off any view you might have of oncoming trains and the lack of a siren or some sort of audible alert seems completely ridiculous in this day and age! And while you’re at it, put up some proper, more visible traffic control lights too!


Update:  I drove that way again last night just to make sure I wasn’t spouting complete bullshit seeing as the incident happened three weeks ago already. As it turns out, they do have signal lights next to the crossing, but they don’t seem to be in working order, so that’s still pretty useless. Still think they need to put up some sort of siren or audible warning system though – but I guess too many complaints from people living around the crossing will squash that one :(

Training Gripes General Nonsense 14 JUN 2007

MetrorailI’ve been travelling into work here at UCT via the train for quite a couple of years now. And to be honest, I really don’t mind it at all. Using the train has a number of advantages, the most compelling one being the cost effectiveness of it as a mode of transport. If I was to travel into Cape Town with my car every morning, I could easily be looking at a monthly petrol cost of R900 upwards – compared to the R130 I spend on a monthly first class train ticket. Then there is the whole missing of traffic advantage which I thoroughly enjoy because I absolutely loathe traffic and the N1 into Cape Town is becoming more of a nightmare with each passing year.

The service that Metrorail offers really isnt all that bad either – I would say that the peak hour trains fun on schedule 90% of the time. Unfortunately their ever decreasing number of active train sets is pushing the percentage likelihood of getting a seat downwards, but this should be resolved when they can start pushing out the new train sets which need to be secured for the upcoming 2010 World Cup (so the tournament does actually benefit me in a small way :D) and the sets currently undergoing maintenance – the recent spate of train crashes and major vandalism against the trains has really contributed to this number :(

So all in all, I like the train service. Generally.

What bugs me to no end though is when something does go wrong. Metrorail has a nasty habit of keeping information under wraps. You will be standing on the station only to hear the announcer say: Train 3506, the 6:30 train from Somerset to Cape Town via Maitland has been delayed for 30 minutes. We apologise for the inconvenience caused. Or even worse, Train 3245 the 7:00 train to Bellville has been cancelled. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

And thats it. Thats all they will say. A hollow apology for the inconvenience and thats it. Damn it, surely they could tell us why the bloody thing isnt arriving when it is meant to. People are curious by nature. We are creatures of logic and reason. We want to know the reason behind anything and everything. Metrorail could save itself a lot of grumbling by simply adding a little more info to their broadcasts. If the train is delayed because of a power outage, tell us. If the train is delayed due to cable theft, let us know. That way you shift the blame from yourself and leave your customers grumbling at the thieves or the weather, but not you Metrorail.

Man, do I have to do all their thinking for them!?