About South Africa’s Premier Classe train
Luxury train travel in South Africa has changed dramatically in recent years, thanks largely to Trasnnet’s Premier Classe service. Gone are the days where luxury train travel is reserved for Royalty and the super-rich.
South Africa’s Premier Classe service, going between Cape Town and Johannesburg, harks back to the good old days of rail travel when time was of little concern. Modern, air-conditioned trains are being deployed across the country.
Luxury Train Experience on a Budget
If your South African travel budget can’t quite stretch to the Blue Train or Rovos Rail, the Premier Classe train service could be a good option. It offers luxury lovers entry level access to the world of luxury trains at surprisingly affordable prices, on par with many 4 star hotels, especially considering that all meals are included.
The history of the Premier Classe trains date back to 2001, when the service operated with only two coaches hooked onto the Transkaroo Tourist service accommodating just 28 passengers.
Refurbished stock was introduced in 2007, bringing new features such as a conference coach and a smoking lounge, complete with a plasma screen TV and DVD player, bigger sleeper compartments, and communal, but well appointed bathrooms.
Where & when does the Premier Classe train go?
The most popular South African train trip is perhaps the Johannesburg to Cape Town line, at ZAR 2650 per person (around £170 pounds). The Premier Classe train offers a service every Thursday from Johannesburg, and departs from Cape Town on Tuesdays.
What to see on the Premier Classe train journeys
The outlying districts of the North West Province disappear quickly after breakfast, setting the stage for entry to the City of Gold, as Johannesburg is often known.
South Africa is a land of stark contrast and extreme beauty of course. None more striking than the mosaic of colour offered by a carpet of autumn vine leaves in the Hex River Valley. Enjoying a welcome drink in the Lounge Car is ideal way to cruise through the scenic wine lands and mountain valley views this train serves.
History buffs will enjoy spotting the numerous Anglo-Boer war block houses en route to Beaufort West. The Lord Milner Hotel recalls the Karoo’s colonial history in Matjesfontein.
Birders may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the blue crane, the national bird of South Africa, can be spied feeding in the Karoo fields as well – and few things top the vast night skies of the Karoo.
There is a train service for everyone in South Africa, starting with the basic Shosholoza Meyl service operated by the South African Railways (Prasa). New luxury train trips are being rolled out all the time, with the latest one going between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. This train trip is perfect for travellers who want to start their Garden Route Safari, before seeing the rest of the Garden route to Cape Town.
Monthly Journeys to Durban
There is a once a month trip to Durban on the last Friday of the month, returning on the Sunday. Ticket prices for this trip to Durban cost R1050 per person (around £67 currently) including all meals. Children under 9 pay 50% of the adult rate.
Special train trips from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth with Premier Classe depart every Friday and Sunday in both directions, from R1950 per adult (around £125) with all meals included.
Ticket prices are subject to change, so for all these routes, please see our partner site South Africa Safaris for the full schedules and latest deals.
Food, Drink & Service with Premier Classe
Sleeper Accommodation on South Africa’s Premier Classe train
What’s special about the Premier Classe train?