South Africa and Zimbabwe, July 1992

This gallery contains photographs from a journey on the “Union Limited Zambesi” train from Johannesburg, in South Africa, to Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe.  This was organised by the Transnet Museum and featured haulage by a variety of steam locomotives together with photographic run-pasts at scenic locations.

The train consisted of vintage museum carriages that had been restored and had some mod-cons fitted, such as one or two shower cubicles and a public address system so the travellers could be kept informed of what was happening.  Included were carriages where the compartments could be transformed into sleeping berths, dining cars, a bar car, and, most importantly, a refrigeration van at the rear with food supplies.  The track is “Cape Gauge”, 3ft 6ins.

The train was usually berthed somewhere each night with only a couple of occasions when the journey did continue overnight.

Each day, a list of the run-pasts was posted with little hand-drawn maps showing the best photographic locations and indicating how agile you had to be to reach them.

South Africa, Johannesburg to the border with Zimbabwe

The journey from Johannesburg, in South Africa, to Beit Bridge, across the border in Zimbabwe, took three days due to the scenic route taken and stops for the photographic run-pasts.

Photographs around Johannesburg, South Africa, to Beit Bridge, Zimbabwe.


Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe was the ultimate destination of the tour but, on the way, there were excursions with the ‘Union Limited Zambezi’ tour train along the West Nicholson branch and along the main line towards Plumtree and Botswana.  There were many run-pasts with the tour train at scenic places throughout the time in Zimbabwe, and also the chance to photograph the numerous steam-hauled freight trains operating at the time.

A run-past with class 15CA 4-8-2 no. 2850 at Nylstroom

Photographs from Beit Bridge to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Photographs from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls.

Photographs at Victoria Falls.

Photographs from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo.

Photographs from Bulawayo towards Plumtree (near the border with Botswana).

Photographs at Bulawayo Railway Museum.

Photographs from Bulawayo along the West Nicholson branch.

Class 15A 4-6-4+4-6-4 'Garratt' no. 407 'Ukhozi' at Heany Junction
16th class 2-8-2+2-8-2 'Garratt' no. 608 departs from Mbalabala with a freight train

Return from Bulawayo to Johannesburg

The return journey from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg was completed in a couple of days, since a direct route was taken and there were only a few run-pasts.

Photographs at Bulawayo locomotive shed.

Bulawayo locomotive shed
From Bulawayo towards Plumtree
From Bulawayo to Victoria Falls
'Garrat' on Victoria Falls bridge
'Garrat' between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo
Bulawayo Railway Museum

Photographs from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to Johannesburg, South Africa.

88px-CC-BY-SA_icon.svgThe photographs in these railway photograph galleries are available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.  Attribution should include a link to

South Africa & Zimbabwe