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Bumpy ride

Features |

Not all runs smoothly for Simon Courtauld

It all began well. We assembled in a comfortable station lounge, were given coffee and biscuits and, ten minutes later, were ushered on to the train, the Shosholoza Meyl, leaving Cape Town at 9.05 am for the 26-hour journey to Johannesburg. We were travelling ‘Premier Classe’, the two-berth compartment was quite spacious, and soon after departure we were invited along to the bar for a glass of South African sparkling wine and sandwiches.  After a welcome from the train manager, with information about meal times in the dining car, she mentioned that the train might be delayed. How much of a delay? Well, she said, there were signalling problems along the route and speed restrictions, and there had been flooding on the line. This sounded a bit like train travel in England, but when we were told that the previous journey had been nine hours late, I was inclined to...

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