South Africa’s extensive rail infrastructure is of vital importance to its people and economy. After a slow
initial start the development of railways reached full steam at the end of the C19 after the discovery of
mineral resources, gold and diamonds. One of the agents of rapid rail expansion in South Africa was the
Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij (Netherlands South African Railways Company)
which was active in the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (South African Republic, the Transvaal). Over
a period of thirteen years, the NZASM constructed and operated five main lines and one branch line,
including associated infrastructure. In the process it founding towns and cities and changed the physical
and socio-cultural landscape of South Africa forever. This shared South-African–Dutch built legacy lies
scatters across the Highveld and Lowveld regions of our country.
The NZASM Footsteps Along the Tracks Project (FAT) – part-funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Pretoria – endeavoured to assess the built residue of the short, but energetic period, for purpose not of nostalgia, but to serve as basis for actualising this often latent shared heritage resource.
This publication of the research findings is based on primary field work. This has been subjected to
double-blind peer review by academics knowledgeable on the topic of research.
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