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January 25, 2013

Five things you didn’t know about Cape Town Railway Station

The bustling Cape Town Railway Station is the central transport hub in the Mother City. Photo courtesy of mikecogh

Much like New York’s Grand Central Station, Cape Town’s bustling railway station on the Foreshore is the arrival and departure point for many local and international visitors to the city, and for commuters, students and residents.

Within walking distance of the Grand Parade, the Castle of Good Hope, the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the Artscape Theatre, and home to a variety of cafés, a social forecourt and a flea market, Cape Town Railway Station offers commuters a holistic travelling experience unlike any other mode of transport in the city.

Located in an impressive building on the corners of Strand Street and the Heerengracht, the station houses the Metrorail train service, the deluxe Blue Train and Rovos Rail, as well as luxury bus transport services. It is the central point for all of the railway lines travelling throughout the Mother City, and as such is often referred to as Central Station.

Here are five interesting things you didn’t know about the Cape Town Railway Station:

1. One, twice, three times a station: Like the old Lionel Ritchie classic, this grand dame of history has had three incarnations. The first station, built in 1861, was a rather unimpressive single-storey wood-and-iron building, situated close to the present-day Golden Acre Shopping Centre, which is adjacent to the present station. In 1875 the station was replaced with a stone-faced brick building, which was substantially enlarged and altered over the years. Present-day Cape Town Station was built in 1964.

2. All aboard since the 1800s: By 1889, Cape Town was home to a vibrant and fast-growing community, with the station the hub of much activity. Every day there were no fewer than 125 trains entering and leaving the station. Today, more than 120 years later, no fewer than 667 trains enter and leave the station daily.

3. Next stop, Info desk: Cape Town Railway Station is the only Metrorail station that has a tourism information kiosk, and it is fully managed by Metrorail staff. Get all of your updated Mother City information right here.

4. The little engine that knew it could: Blackie, a little 150-year-old locomotive first used to construct the line to neighbouring town Wellington, and the first steam engine to be landed in South Africa in 1859, took pride of place at Cape Town Station, mounted in the concourse opposite the main line platforms, before being moved for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa refurbishments.

5. More than just pretty pictures: chances are you’ve wondered just what the attractive facade of mosaics on the wall of the building means … well, wonder no more – those gorgeous pictures depict the evolution of transport in South Africa.

So, do you enjoy travelling around Cape Town? Why not try the MyCiTi bus, the eco-friendly Green Cabs, the scenic City Sightseeing Bus and the cheap but effective tuk-tuk taxis?

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