Beaconsfield South (Last modified 2003-Nov-28)

Please click on the images to see a larger image and a brief description.



As the Johannesburg-Cape Town mainline heads southward out of Beaconsfield there is a junction located only a few kilometers south of the Beaconsfield locomotive shed. The junction was a good location for photographing steam locos during the years of steam operation.

The junction was actually the location on the main line where some of the goods trains would enter or leave the Beaconsfield South goods yard. The exception seemed to be the block load trains, which were air braked and diesel hauled, would be routed to the yard located near the Beaconsfield loco depot and would therefore continue straight through this junction.

The Beaconsfield South junction was great for railway photography as it had a manned signal cabin with a mechanical interlocking and semaphore signals. It was a perfect location as the signal cabin operator would let photographers know about the steam train runs planned for the day, or if the runs had been cancelled. The steam hauled goods trains heading south to De Aar would have to struggle up the long grade toward Modder River and this allowed for some good steam loco photography.

Now this section of railway (Beaconsfield to De Aar) is finally being electrified at 25kv 50 Hz and the AC/DC exchange yard is to be located at this location. Therefore, the De Aar based 7E class 25kvac electrics will work up to the Beaconsfield South location and swap tonnage with the direct current electrics.

The layout of the AC/DC exchange yard required the addition of one road to the existing two roads. In order to fit the additional road into the layout, the old red brick signal cabin had to be removed. I missed the removal of the semaphore signal mast located just a few yards south of the signal cabin by only a few days. That semaphore signal was in the background of my 1985 steam shots. Oh well.

During my brief evening visit to this location, the Alstom Signaling crews were active in installing the points machine and signaling equipment. The railway traffic was low as this day was a South African public holiday (Notice no rest for the signaling crews!) and this resulted in only one north bound empty block load mineral train passing through during the time of my visit.


These images show the foundation of the former signal cabin and the general area.

The foundation of the former Beaconsfield South signal cabin. The catenary poles are located. The area of the former signal cabin. The new road alignment.


These images show the construction work from a location a few hundred meters south former signal cabin then back toward the new colour light signals complete with route indicators.

I was out this far looking for the foundations of the distant semaphore signal. Not a trace, the construction crews have done a good job of cleaning away any old equipment. In the year 1985 I used the frame of the distant signal as a good photo perch.

New ballast. New railway taking shape. New colour light signals.


While out on the beginning of the hill a diesel hauled empty block load train came down grade. I could not take a normal head on photograph as the train was northbound and the sunlight favored a southbound move.

Northbound empty mineral train. Rotary dump wagon.


While walking around the track work near the former signal cabin I spotted these rail roll markings.

Rail markings. Rail markings.


These images show the track layout to the north of the former signal cabin. Perfect lighting for a southbound train. To bad nothing showed up.

New cat poles. Enter the south yard. The works in progress. Poles are up.


I remember during the late evenings in 1985 I could watch the steam locos pull the yard shunt up onto the incline. So I walked up the embankment and found the incline to in good shape. Complete with the old red coloured kerosene lamp at the stop.

I then took three images of the area. The light is fading fast, but the layout of the area can be seen. Notice the livestock pens in the first image.

Looking west into the setting sun glare. Looking northward. End of the shunting incline.