24 April 2007South Africa’s famous ultra-luxury Blue Train is set to go private. State rail company Spoornet is to offer the Blue Train to investors on a long-term lease, as the operator focuses on its core business of bulk freight transportation.According to Business Day, Public Enterprises Director-General Portia Molefe told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises last month that the department had received a disposal strategy from Spoornet’s parent company, Transnet, with bidding to start by the end of April.According to the newspaper, bidding will be open to both local and international rail operators, with speculation that Chinese, Indian and British investors are interested in the sale.“Unlike other previous privatisation attempts, the disposal of the Blue Train has received the blessing of trade unions, which see the train as not being strategic to the interests of the working class,” Business Day adds.‘Moving five-star hotel’The Blue Train is synonymous with the ultimate in luxury and personal service. “Kings and presidents have travelled on this magnificent moving five-star hotel,” the Blue Train website proclaims.The train’s regular route between Pretoria and Cape Town, which includes a stop-over in Kimberley, is described as “a 27-hour journey of 1 600 kilometres through some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery offered by the African sub-continent”.The train also offers trips between Pretoria and Zimbali Lodge outside Durban during November, and specials such as a Mother’s Day trip between Pretoria and Sun City.There are currently two Blue Train “sets”. The one accommodates 82 guests in 41 suites, while the other carries 74 guests in 37 suites and includes a conference or observation deck at the rear of the train.The train is the epitome of luxury, with butlers on board are ready to attend to any of the guests’ needs. Two engineers are also always on hand to share their knowledge about the train with enthusiasts or curious travellers.According to the website, a meal on the Blue Train is an experience in itself, with the menus featuring a selection of local cuisine – from Karoo lamb and ostrich fillet to Knysna oysters – accompanied by award-winning cultivars from the Cape winelands.The train has received numerous awards through its 61-year existence, including Diners Club platinum awards for its wine lists, a “superior status” award from the AA Grading Council, and numerous “world’s leading luxury train” awards in the World Travel Awards.Christina Patterson, in an article published in London’s The Independent in March 2006, wrote: “Truly, the train, celebrating its 60th birthday, offers the luxury, and opulence, of another era.“We shriek with delight over our beautiful compartments, each with its own mini wardrobe, telly and tiny bathroom. We also shriek with delight at the ‘club lounge’. In spite of our resolutions, we’re soon toasting our trip in sparkling wine and biltong.“Perhaps the Queen, who made the same journey with Princess Margaret in 1947, did the same.”SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
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Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts to a call during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)NEW ORLEANS — Sean Payton was glassy-eyed, calm and shrugged his shoulders at times, seemingly resigned to New Orleans’ bitter fate — as unfair as he thought it was.And the Saints coach said NFL executives he spoke with by phone after a 26-23 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Rams agreed with him that officials on the field missed two obvious penalties on one late, game-turning play that might have prevented the Saints from advancing to the Super Bowl.ADVERTISEMENT “Certainly I’m not going to complain about the way it was officiated, but I thought it was a competitive play,” McVay said. “I thought they let the guys compete within the framework of the rules and that’s part of what NFL football is about.”Had a flag been thrown, the Saints would have run the clock down to the final seconds before setting up a short field goal try clinch the franchise’s second NFC title, Payton said. Instead, the Saints had to try the kick with more than 1:40 left — enough time for the Rams to drive for a tying field goal. The game then went to overtime, when an interception by Rams safety John Johnson III set up Greg Zuerline’s 57-yard game-winning field goal.“We’ll probably never get over it,” Payton added.Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who at age 40 is running out of chances to get to a Super Bowl, said it was “tough to swallow” the non-call.“Plenty of times throughout the season, there’s calls that go against you, go for you,” Brees said. “But obviously in a situation like that where it seemed like everybody in the world saw it, it’s tough.”Both Payton and Brees suggested that the way the call tarnished the result of a conference title game could stimulate discussion about widening replays to look at reviewing certain penalties committed at certain points of the game, as has happened in the NBA.“There’s just too much at stake,” Payton said. “And listen, it’s a hard job for those guys. It’s happening fast. But I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference.“We all want to get it right, right? We’ve got plenty of technology to speed things up,” Payton added. “Look, I’m on the competition committee. So, hopefully that provides a voice. I hope no other team has to lose a game the way we lost that one today, though. We were in position. … We’d be on our knee for three plays and — it’s disappointing.”Brees said he expects the NFL’s replay rules to “constantly evolve as they try to make this game batter and try to make sure that it is as fair as possible.”“There’s a lot happening out there and it happens very, very fast,” Brees said. “Obviously, if they were replaying pass interference or if somebody got hit early before the ball got there, then I’m sure that would have been reviewed today — and it would been found that that was P.I. MOST READ LATEST STORIES Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem Dwayne Wade Day: Marquette gets in on the ‘Last Dance’ US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next “I bounced up looking for a flag and didn’t see one, so I was kind of shocked about that,” Lewis said. “I saw what everybody else saw.“You all feel like it was obvious? There it is. Everybody knows it was obvious,” Lewis added. “I don’t know what else to say about it.”Even Robey-Coleman seemed surprised.“Came to the sideline, looked at the football gods and was like, ‘Thank you,’” Robey-Coleman said. “I got away with one tonight.”Rams coach Sean McVay, now headed to his first Super Bowl at age 32, was less inclined to scrutinize the call publicly.ADVERTISEMENT SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte “It’s easy to sit here and criticize. I’m sure that because of this, as a result of this, I’m sure there will be a lot of talk about potentially reviewing penalties,” Brees added. “Just like all the reviews that go up in the booth inside of two minutes. Maybe that’s something that will happen in regards to certain penalties as well that are game-changing penalties, which obviously that was today.” Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Officials could have called pass interference and helmet-to-helmet contact on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman as he flattened Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on an incomplete pass inside the Rams 10-yard line with 1:45 left in a tie game. The play occurred in close range of two officials along the sideline who never pulled out their flags.NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron “couldn’t believe” no penalty call was called on the play, Payton said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“It’s tough to get over it,” Payton said. “My problem with it is, I just don’t know, if we were playing pickup football in the backyard … it was as obvious a call — and how two guys can look at that and arrive at their decision? It happened though.”As anger-infused, full-throated boos rained down relentlessly from the Superdome stands, replays on the stadium’s expansive video screens clearly showed Robey-Coleman’s high hit occurring before Drew Brees’ pass toward the right sideline arrived at the spot where Lewis might have tried to make a play on the ball if he weren’t being knocked to the turn. PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town View comments