A freshly-painted class 34 is framed by the latticework of the overbridge at Rosmead junction in the Eastern Cape on a quiet Saturday afternoon. Although the section is electrified at 25kV ac, the Algoa express swaps power here from electric to diesel rather than at Noupoort, 50km away, where the non-electrified section to Bloemfontein begins.
Rosmead was once the junction for three lines - the Cape Midland main line, the trunk route to Graaff-Reinet, and a secondary main line to Stormberg Junction. The Graaff-Reinet line has been officially closed since 2001 (although work to repair it is well advanced) but most of the rail on the Stormberg line has been stolen by scrap thieves.
These days, apart from the thrice-weekly Algoa passenger, only manganese and container trains now rattle through here.