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The Blue Train: South African Luxury Train


February 3, 2013 by Jools Stone

The Blue Train

Image: Train Chartering Company

The Blue Train

The Blue Train in South Africa is world renowned and celebrated as one of the most luxurious passenger trains in the world. The train is not used for commercial routes and serves to transport people along four main routes within South Africa for a hefty, but worthwhile, price. Adorned with a colonial, luxurious interior and absolutely breathtaking scenery flashing past the palatial windows, train travel has never looked more elegant.

History of the Blue Train

The Blue Train has an intriguing history, which can be tracked to the 19th century Gold Boom in South Africa. The Union Express and Union Limited steam-trains linked Johannesburg, the economic hub of South Africa, with the port town of Cape Town. With the advent of electricity, steam trains were transformed into diesel-fueled machines. The Union Express train became known as the Blue Train, acquiring its name from its blue-coloured locomotives. This five-star hotel on train tracks has received some famous guests, such as the British Royal Family in 1947.

Royal Routes of the Blue Train

  • Pretoria -Cape Town
  • Pretoria-Durban
  • Pretoria -Bakubang

From Cape Town to Pretoria

The most famous of the Blue Train paths is the one that runs from Cape Town to Pretoria. This 27 hour train ride showcases landscapes that rival the most beautiful in the world.

Five Star Luxury

Food on the Blue Train

Image: Train Chartering Company

The Northbound train leaving from Cape Town en route to Pretoria seats 83 passengers. From the luxurious dining cabins to the bedrooms aboard the Blue Train, the interior has a nostalgic effect on the passenger taking one back to a forgotten period of grand rail travel. The dining aboard the train is nothing short of delightful, allowing passengers to truly experience South African cuisine at its finest and paired with award winning wines from Western Cape wine valleys. The Karoo lamb will melt in your mouth, the ostrich fillet will cause firework sensations on your pallet and the Knysna oysters live up to their meaty expectations. The menu is designed to broadcast foods from the different regions through which the train passes.

Breede River, South Africa

Image: Ifijay

The train emerges from its tracks at Cape Town station to reveal the stunning views of the iconic Table Mountain, over which a beautiful stretch of cloud covers the mountain peak. The train makes its way through:

Paarl and Stellenbosch wine valley
These valleys are famous for their rolling vineyards and magnificent tasting-wines. Having the ability to witness the perfectly manicured valleys aboard a train is a privilege.

The Breede river
The famed Breede River rises in the mountains of the Boland and flows into the Indian Ocean at St Sebastion Bay
During the winter season snow covers the mountain range. This region is one of the country’s biggest fruit-growing regions and home to the Ceres Group that makes delicious fruit juice Karoo. This desert area is beautiful in its harshness, offering views of endless palpable mountain ranges in the distance.

The cost of the Blue Train can be anywhere between $1500 -$2800. Celebrating opulence and countryside wonder aboard the Blue Train is worth spending money on as it affords the passenger both on-board and off-board natural luxury.

Book the Blue Train

Book the Blue Train now, from as little as £892 in low season, per person based on 2 people sharing a Deluxe Double cabin, inclusive a free night’s luxury hotel stay in either Pretoria or Cape Town.

Last year the Blue Train also scooped two prestigious plaudits. The train came Runner Up as Favourite Specialist Train Operator at the Conde Naste Traveller magazine Readers’ Travel Awards, while also holding down the award for Africa’s Leading Luxury Train at the World Travel Awards for the fourth consecutive year.

Looking for a cheaper alternative? Check out South Africa’s Premier classe train.


  1. One day I will take the Pretoria-Cape Town trip. Luxury train travel is nice every now and then but you can’t beat a third class sleeper!

    Love the blog, regards

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Si, yep, there’s a train for every occasion. South Africa’s Blue Train is worth pushing the boat out for I think!

  2. Baron's says:

    Delightfull…I will try it

  3. Debesree says:

    Itz really a nice to know about the blue train in South Africa.

    In india Train Journey is not the same. Though there are some good luxury cabinet according to people’s wish. If you are in budget, a sleeper class is your perfect choice. If you are in trouble to book a train ticket for india have a look over the article, it will come up with necessery information you need …

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