Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Details of movements for train spotters and photographers.
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Pierre-Noel Rietsch
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Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by Pierre-Noel Rietsch »

Dear colleagues,

I may do a business trip next month to Johannesburg, that will be my very first journey to South Africa. As a railfan, I naturally would like to take pictures and videos of the south african railways, but I've heard serious concerns about criminality in Johannesburg, and particularely in the railways stations...

What would you recommend? Are there some good and "safe" spots in Johannesburg and around?

After the work, I also may take one week holidays, and I consider going out of Johannesburg, perhaps to Pretoria (thinking in particular to FOTR and Rovos). What is the situation here? Is it more safe, and are there good spots?

With much thanks,
Pierre-Noël Rietsch
Wattwil SG, Switzerland

http://www.trainweb.org/railphot
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John Ashworth
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by John Ashworth »

First of all, welcome to the FOTR forum. We hope you will be a regular poster.

In Pretoria you would certainly be welcome to photograph the FOTR site. Some of our members are keen photographers - contact Nathan Berelowitz or Chris Janisch and they'll be able to advise you.
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Aidan McCarthy
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by Aidan McCarthy »

Hi Pierre-Noel,

I wouldn't recommend central Johannesburg as it is not that safe, one option would be to visit the Reefsteamers depot in Germiston and there is normally quite a bit of freight and Metro traffic on the lines around the depot. The lines I photograph are all about an hours drive out of Jo'burg and you will need your own transport and a GPS. The best lines are:

Magliesburg line with diesel freight
Klipriver - Vereeniging line with Metros and electric freights mainly 6E1 class locomotives
Delmas area - Mainly electric hauled coal trains.

Cheers

Aidan
Aidan McCarthy

See more of my railway photos at http://mccarthyam.rrpicturearchives.net/
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John Ashworth
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by John Ashworth »

Probably not directly relevant to railway photography but I was looking at iol.co.za just now and my eye was caught by this upbeat article: 48 hours in Jozi
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Pierre-Noel Rietsch
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by Pierre-Noel Rietsch »

John Ashworth wrote:my eye was caught by this upbeat article: 48 hours in Jozi
That's always the same problem: If you see the travel tips of the ministery for foreign affairs (see here, swiss version http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/tra ... outha.html or here, french version http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/consei ... index.html), it seems that it is almost impossible to walk in the streets withoud being robbed / raped / killed / etc..., and when you see this blog, it looks like "No problems, all safe!". I suppose, the truth is anywhere in the middle.

And what is the situation in Pretoria? Good spots? Much traffic? Steam? Safe to walk?
Pierre-Noël Rietsch
Wattwil SG, Switzerland

http://www.trainweb.org/railphot
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John Ashworth
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by John Ashworth »

You're probably right - somewhere in the middle!

Pretoria always seemed very safe to me in the 7 years that I lived there, during which I never had any brushes with crime, but you'll also hear the opposite. Friends of the Rail and Rovos Rail both operate steam, but you'd need to know when and where. Busy Metro scene, and quite a bit of freight action in places. Contact some of our Pretoria-based photographers - Nathan, Chris, etc - by Private Message or e-mail. And check the main FOTR website - www.friendsoftherail.com - for the steam train schedule for the rest of the year.
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Derek Walker
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by Derek Walker »

I would like to add in one thing though, especially at stations. Depending on how officious they feel on that day you may pick up problems with security guards at some of the stations and probably at some of the depots. There seems to be some unwritten rule about no photography at Park Station. Gautrain first time around I did not picky up problems but when I did the Pretoria trip I was approached by guards while taking pics, however, they werent nasty or officious, but were probably just doing their job. I believe the high res vest and hardhat always looks official so you could try that disguise.
Not quite on the rails.
Check out my train vids. http://www.youtube.com/user/nixops
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Pierre-Noel Rietsch
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by Pierre-Noel Rietsch »

Now I already had my first experiences here: I'm here since tuesday, and as expected I had very good opportunities to shoot great pictures of the Gautrain, at the workshops of Midrand and during test runs in the night, including travelling in the cabin (I'll place my best pics soon on my website). Naturally no problems with security: the Gautrain stations looks to be very safe, and when we are there at 1am... Nobody here excepted us!

I hope I can make a visit to FOTR tomorrow (sunday the 11th), together with a colleague who also had his "coming-out" as a steamfan. It will only be hard to stand up early enough to catch a taxi to Sandton, then the Gautrain to Pretoria, then a taxi to Hermannstad, and finally the FOTR to Cullinan at 08.30!
Pierre-Noël Rietsch
Wattwil SG, Switzerland

http://www.trainweb.org/railphot
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John Ashworth
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by John Ashworth »

Sounds good, and be sure to give us the link when you post your pictures. FOTR is running steam trains to Cullinan on 10th and 11th December, so hopefully you will get some photographic opportunities. Introduce yourself to the crew as a forum member.
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Pierre-Noel Rietsch
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Re: Train photography and criminality in Johannesburg

Post by Pierre-Noel Rietsch »

John Ashworth wrote:Introduce yourself to the crew as a forum member.
Of course, I will!
Pierre-Noël Rietsch
Wattwil SG, Switzerland

http://www.trainweb.org/railphot
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