On the Magaliesburg Express, whether you’re three or 93, from the moment you stand on the platform waiting to board the gleaming iron Grande Dame, to the moment she chuffs you breathily back to the station before sunset, you’re in for an unforgettable rail adventure.

Did you know?

3046 Janine, a class 15F steam locomotive, transported King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on their visit to South Africa in 1947. 

The Magaliesburg Express is one of five historic steam locomotives operated by Reef Steamers, a voluntary group of rail enthusiasts.

A nostalgic reminder of the days when trains were the major means of long-distance travel for the majority of South Africans, if you’re not a trainspotter already, this old-fashioned steam train ride will rekindle the romance of rail travel.

Your steam train trip to Magaliesburg begins with the preparation of the locomotive. Children (and grown-ups) are barely able to contain their excitement and swarm around the obliging crew to see the age-old rituals of coal trimming, firing, ash-pan cleaning and lubrication, or watching the wheel tapper at work.

After a short passenger briefing from the controller, you board the train. Clouds of steam whooshing from the train’s pistons, and smoke billowing from its chimney, followed by a shrill whistle, signal your Magaliesburg Express adventure has begun.

On board, the rhythmic clickety-clack lullaby of the train sends some passengers to sleep. Others join the kids at the window to laugh and chatter, breathe in the coal scent, and feel the patter of cinders on their cheeks and hands as the wind whips their hair and the countryside steams by. Rail buffs tend to congregate at the bar coach, where comfy sofas and hard tack fuels long train tales.

En route, the train stops at the original Krugersdorp station building, built in 1896, and little over an hour later you arrive, relaxed, at your choice of destination, at either the Magaliesburg Country Hotel, or the Swallows Inn, in the town of Magaliesburg.

You’ll have just under four hours to explore the quaint village’s craft shops, enjoy a leisurely lunch, or swim, braai, or picnic. Then it’s all aboard once more for a slightly more sedate trip, as sated passengers snooze, or take it easy and enjoy the scenery, en route back to Johannesburg.

Whether you’re an adult who has fantasised about being a locomotive driver, or a little 'un besotted with Thomas the Tank Engine, or are simply looking for a fun, unusual way to spend a Sunday, you’ll be stoked you took a steam train ride on the Magaliesburg Express.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Reef Steamers
Tel: +27 (0)11 888 1154
bookings@reefsteamers.com

Swallows Inn
Tel: +27 (0)14 577 0054/5940
Email: office@swallowsinn.co.za

Magaliesburg Country Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)14 577 1109
Email: info@magaliescountryhotel.co.za

How to get here

The train departs from different stations at different times, so consult www.reefsteamers.com

Best time to visit

The Magaliesburg Express operates on selected public holidays and special occasions like Valentine’s Day. Make a booking well in advance. Visit the Reef Steamers website for the latest timetable.

Around the area

Antique and curio shops

Get around

By rail and on foot

What will it cost

R250 per adult, R165 per child (3-12), under three free, provided the child does not occupy a seat. The cost to picnic or braai (barbeque) at the Swallows Inn is R20 p/p. The Magaliesburg Country Hotel offers a buffet for approximately R120 pp, half-price for children under 12, and free for under three

Length of stay

Currently, the Magaliesburg Express is a day trip, and operates on a round-trip basis, so overnight stays are not possible.

What to pack

Magaliesburg Express trains sell refreshments (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), snacks and sweets on a cash-only basis. Bring your own picnic, book a buffet lunch at the Magaliesburg Country Hotel, or bring-and-braai (barbeque) at the Swallows Inn. There are also fast food franchises in the town of Magaliesburg.